Thursday, October 07, 2004

Uhmmm, a crazed monkey took over my body?
I don't know what has come over me. Perhaps it is the excitement I get from teaching and that I am still on a "teaching high" with 17 people in my RCIA class. More likely than not, it is simply because I am operating on very little sleep the last few days. Last night, after meeting with parents who have children in the parish Religious Education program, I stepped into the classroom of our first year confirmation students (31 in all!) for the final thirty minutes of their class. I hadn't planned to take over the class, to teach the material, but it just happened. I walked in and they were on the topic of Divine Revelation. The next thing I knew I was pacing around the room, waving my hands, reading from Sacred Scripture, explaining Revelation and its two principle components (Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition), foaming at the mouth and picking lice from... oh, wait, sorry, I carried the monkey analogy too far there. The kids were participating, smiling and laughing when I would make jokes, and asking questions. I took a few questions not directly on the topic, but related. The main question was why do Catholics baptize infants (remember we are deep within the good 'ol Bible belt here!), or why didn't the kids get to choose Christ for themselves when they were older. Well, I was on a roll already, and that question was like serving me up an enormous, lazy, won't-get-out-of-your-face softball -- in other words, it was ripe for blasting out of the park. I explained the Jewish custom, that many of the earliest Christians were formerly Jews and brought the custom of bringing even small children into God's covenant. I explained Jesus told his disciples to go and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them; he did NOT say go out and wait until they are 18 years old and then preach to them so they can make up their own minds! I pulled out passages in Scripture that talk about whole households (presumably more than just adults or old people!) being baptized after hearing the preaching of the apostles and then I connected it back to Revelation, specifically that component of Revelation known as Sacred Tradition (the practices and teaching passed on, handed over from Jesus to the Apostles, to their successors, and so on, and still guarded, preserved, interpreted, and, yes, passed on by the Church today). I said, "so it has never been foreign to Christ's Church to bring even infants into the New Covenant of Christ. Why?, because that has been the Tradition from the beginning. This has been handed on from the early Church to our present day and there was no problem with it [at this point I had my hand raised in the air, making the gesture of passing on from one hand to another the marker I was holding] until some time after the late 1500's when someone decided to abandon the Tradition, failing to grasp it and failing to hand it on to others [at this point I dropped the marker from my hand, letting it hit the floor]. And so, [here was the culmination of my being on a roll, and this is exactly how I concluded] when it comes to infant baptism, it ain't the Catholic Church that has some 'splaining to do! Rather, those people who abandoned the Tradition received from Jewish custom and from Christ, they are the ones who have some 'splaining to do. The next time one of your non-Catholic friends tries to tell you infant baptism is wrong, you tell them that they are wrong and that Father said so."

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