Last Friday we celebrated the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, the one who prepared the way of the Lord through a baptism of repentance. He prepared the way for the Messiah, Jesus, who instructed his disciples “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28: 19.)
Even John used flowing waters to baptize the people who came out to hear him. Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John in a flowing stream. Most of us were baptized in small fonts in churches either in a small area off the vestibule of the church or possibly within the sanctuary. It sounds strange now to say that I was baptized with stagnant water reserved in a font that often had a greenish hue. With the renewal of the sacraments and how we celebrate them after Vatican II, baptizing with flowing water in a pool or font is highly desirable. It is not easy to recreate nature’s flowing water inside a building. An installation requires pumps, motors, and filters to make water recirculate through pipes into the pool or font.
When the church here on McKean Road was conceived, Father Bob Hayes and the building committee in collaboration with the architect and builder decided to create a baptismal pool with flowing water. Water emerges from within the bowl a stone pedestal possibly quarried in Utah, gently pouring down into a pool lined with glass tile and surrounding tile that complement the colors of the stone and surrounding church environment. Gratefully, we were able to renovate the font five years ago to its current beauty today.
Hopefully, it is a connecting point for many children who were baptized there and for future children or grandchildren who will be baptized in the church. Baptism is the great sacrament that unlocks the door for celebrating other sacraments, becoming fully initiated in the life of the church. It is a good practice to periodically reflect on our baptisms and ask: What does it mean for me to be a baptized Christian? How do I claim the name Catholic Christian? How does the life of the sacrament propel my faith to follow Christ? How willing are we to follow Christ, to follow the Lord on his terms, not our terms?
As we approach the annual observance of Independence Day, the Fourth of July, what are the privileges and responsibilities we share in being part of the United States? How do we honor our forebears who laid down their lives for our independence? How do we preserve and cherish the freedoms we experience every day? Let’s say that I have more questions than answers, but these questions are important as our country continues to grapple with serious, significant issues in an upcoming presidential election. May we bring all of this to prayerful reflection as we honor the 4th and celebrate our Independence Day!
Father Larry Hendel