Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Grace to you and peace. On this feast of the Baptism of the Lord with which the Christmas season comes to an end, it seems appropriate to reflect on our own Baptism. What is Baptism all about? “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments.” So says the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Baptism sounds like an important sacrament. What is a sacrament?
A sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. An outward sign is something you see or hear, smell, taste, or touch, that points to a person, an idea, or another thing. When I say your name, this is something that is heard that points to you, that picks you out from other people. Your name is a sign for you and we say it signifies you. The important difference between most signs and a sacrament is that a sacrament has the power to do what it signifies. I can say your name a thousand times and it will never make you appear out of thin air. But by God’s power a sacrament not only points to something, it makes something happen. A sacrament is a visible sign of an invisible reality, a sign so powerful it brings about the spiritual reality it signifies.
The sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ. Jesus himself ‘invented” the sacraments. He established the sacraments and they have power because God freely and lovingly chooses to do his work through them. The “work” he does is sharing his life. The divine life shared among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is what is given to us in the sacraments and we call this share in God’s life “grace.”
Grace is a free and undeserved gift that God gives to us because he loves us. In Baptism God the Father chose you to receive his grace so that in time you could respond fully to his call to be his adopted daughter or son, the brother or sister of his Son Jesus Christ, and a temple of his Holy Spirit.
Here is another definition of sacrament from the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Asacrament is an efficacious sign of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us through the work of the Holy Spirit.” “Efficacious” means that the sign has an effect— the sign does something.
What does Baptism do? Baptism is a sacrament which cleanses us from original sin, makes us Christians, children of God, and heirs of heaven. In Baptism, water is an outward sign that you see and feel. The words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” are an outward sign that you hear. Together they are a sign of being cleansed of sin, a sign of being born again in Christ—given a new life— by the power of the Holy Spirit. But the difference between this water and these words and other signs is that the words and the water together actually do what they signify. The words and the water aren’t just a sign of cleansing and rebirth; God
actually uses the words and the water to free us from sin and give us a share in his divine life. Sharing in God’s life among other things means having a share in the mission he has given us as his Church to share his life with the whole world.
Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!
Fr. Christopher, O.P.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Grace to you and peace. Have you ever heard of Dwight
Moody, or D.L. Moody, as he’s commonly known? He was a
nineteenth-century Christian evangelist and businessman who
founded the Chicago Evangelization Society, which later
became the famous Moody Bible Institute. I frequently recall a
funny story I heard about D. L. Moody. A lady criticized him
for the way he talked to people about Jesus. He said, “I agree.
I don’t like the way I talk to people about Jesus either. Maybe
you can help me. How do you talk to people about Jesus?” “I
don’t,” she said. He replied, “Well, I may not like the way I
talk to people about Jesus, but I like the way I do better than the
way you don’t.”
We talk a lot in the Church today about the “New
Evangelization.” We Dominicans are especially blessed by
God as the Order of Preachers to aid the Church in her mission
to evangelize, that is, to proclaim Jesus Christ and his Gospel.
As an Order, we are celebrating our 800th anniversary this year,
but we hope we’re never getting stale! Our life of community,
prayer, and study as brothers is meant always to breathe new
life into the preaching for which we exist as a brotherhood.
We’re so happy to be with you at St. Raymond, not to preach at
you, but to preach with you. All of us baptized disciples of
Jesus are called by the Lord to profess his holy name and
announce the mercy he offers in his Catholic Church. The task
of the New Evangelization for us together is to renew our zeal
for this call from Jesus by renewing our relationship with him
and discovering fresh ways to herald our joy.
It was Pope Saint John Paul the Second who first used the
expression “New Evangelization” back in 1979 in a homily in
Poland soon after his election to the papacy. He spoke of a
wooden Cross that had recently been erected not far from where
he was preaching. He said: “Where the Cross is raised, there is
raised the sign that that place has now been reached by the
Good News of Man’s salvation through Love. […] With it we
[are] given a sign that on the threshold of the new millennium,
in these new times, these new conditions of life, the Gospel is
again being proclaimed. A new evangelization has begun…”
Just a few years later, he described the New Evangelization in
Latin America as the proclamation of Christ to the world with a
new enthusiasm, and new methods and expressions.
The New Evangelization is the courage to forge new paths in
responding to the changing circumstances and conditions facing
the Church in her call to proclaim the Gospel today. One such
changing circumstance would seem to be that few people will
come to us these days. Rather, like Jesus’ first disciples, we
must go to the people. We must go to them to talk about Jesus
Christ. Like D.L. Moody, perhaps we’ll find we don’t like
much the way we talk to people about Jesus. But, however we
do it, we’ve got to learn to prefer the way we talk about Jesus to
the way we don’t. How can we do this? Let’s begin the
Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend
To attend a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend,
call David & Karen at 650-350-1469 or go to
We’ll be having some “town hall” meetings in the parish
center next Sunday on January 10th, after the 8 a.m. and 10
a.m. Masses. Our parish Pastoral Council and I hope you’ll
join us—we’d love to hear from you as we continue to grow as
a parish family!