Tag Archives: paschal

Exodus 12-15:

http://rnrorganisation.co.uk/event/localgovcamp17/ The Passover Ritual of the Sacrificed Lamb:
Yahweh prescribes the ritual for the Passover: on the tenth of the month of “Abib,” later known by the Babylonian name of “Nisan,” (this day, in the March-April timeframe, would now mark the beginning of the Jewish liturgical calendar) each family should procure a lamb, which “must be a year old male and without blemish.” (Ex. 12:5)  Yahweh is again instructing the Israelites to slaughter a god of the Egyptians, such as the ram-headed god Khnum.  This may have played a role in the Israelites overcoming a psychological barrier to their liberation.  By sacrificing one of the Egyptian gods (ie, a lamb), they psychologically prepared themselves to stand up against a collective 400 history of slave mentality. Each family should “take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb.  That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.” (Ex. 12:7-8)  The exodus covenant is sealed in blood.

cytotec express online Eat the Flesh of the Lamb:
“Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the Lord’s Passover. For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord.  The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” (Ex. 12:11-13)  The blood on the door is “a sign” for us, not God, to assure us that He will spare the Israelites despite the death happening all around them.  The Bible states five times that they must “eat” the flesh of the lamb. The Passover ritual would not be complete until they ate the flesh of the lamb.  So, it was not enough just to sacrifice the lamb, they also had to eat it entirely.  This is a foreshadowing of Christians eating the flesh of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Prefiguring Christ, the Lamb of God:
The year-old male lamb without blemish to be sacrificed has obvious typological significance: It prefigures the Christ as the unblemished Lamb of God sacrificed for our redemption, and the lamb eaten at the Passover meal anticipates our eating the flesh of Christ in the Eucharist.  Jesus celebrates and transforms the Passover ritual at the Last Supper, where the memorial meal becomes the new exodus from sin.  Just as the Passover had led to the freeing of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and from the bondage of Pharaoh, so too would Christ’s sacrifice free us from the bondage of the world and the devil’s slavery to sin.  The blood of the lamb was put on the doorpost as protection against the destroyer and death. So too, it is Jesus’ blood that covers us and protects us from evil and death.  Just as they ate the lamb, so too, do we eat the flesh of Christ in the sacrament of Communion.  Through Christ’s sacrifice of the Cross and the Eucharist, we passover from death into life in the new exodus to the eternal promised land.  St. Paul uses this same paschal imagery too: “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.” (1 Cor. 5:7)

Remembrance and Civilization Progress:
Yahweh tells them “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate..” (Ex. 12:14)  The idea of remembrance is a very important one in the Torah.  Thomas Cahill writes in his book The Gift of the Jewsthat the Jews were the first to break out of the cyclical worldview that dominated history, that is, nothing progresses scientifically, culturally, or morally.  The Jews were the first to break out of this cycle.  He writes, “The Jews were the first people to break out of this circle . . . It may be said with some justice that theirs is the only new idea that human beings had ever had.”

Feast of Unleavened Bread:
“Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. . ” (Ex. 12:15)  The unleavened bread (“matzah”) is a reminder of their hurried departure from Egypt.  The bitter herbs are meant to remind them of the bitter bondage of slavery they endured, and from which, Yahweh freed them.  Leaven is also symbolic of sins and evil influences that Israel must now remove from themselves.  This is why Jesus warns the Jews with the same paschal imagery, “Beware of the leavenof the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (Lk. 12:1)  Leavening is a process of fermentation of dough, which chemically breaks down and degrades the substance.  It is a form of decay and decomposition.  Symbolically, it represents sin and death.  The number seven echoes the seven days of creation, as the Israelites pass over in the exodus into a new world.  Yahweh is deadly serious that the Jews must observe the seven days of unleavened bread or they “shall be cut off from Israel.” The Feast of Unleavened Bread was intertwined with the Passover meal, just as the sacrifice of Christ became one with the bread of the Eucharist.  The unleavened bread clearly denotes the Blessed Sacrament, which Christ transformed into His very own Body and Blood.

Death of the First-Borns:
“Now it came about at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle.” (Ex. 12:29)  “There was not a house without its dead.” (v.30) This could also serve as a means of despoiling the Egyptians (who adhered to the firstborn primogeniture laws) of their priestly class and proper sacrifices. At last, Pharaoh and the Egyptians have finally had enough.  Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron, and demands them “Leave my people at once, you and the Israelites with you!” (Ex. 12:31)  The Lord also made the Egyptians well disposed to give the Israelites “whatever they asked for.”  (v.36)

The Departure from Egypt:
The Israelites had been in Egypt for 430 years.  “Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children.” (Ex. 12:37)  This was a crowd of mixed ancestry, so not just Jewish Israelites. There may well have been up to 1-2 million+ men, women and children total departing from Egypt.  The dough they brought out of Egypt was not leavened, so “they baked it into unleavened loaves.” (Ex. 12:39)

The Passover Regulations:
The Lord then lays down His regulations for partaking in it.  “No foreigner may partake of it.” “No transient alien or hired servant may partake of it.” Anyone who wishes to join in the observance of it “must first be circumcised, and then they may join in its observance just like the natives.” (Ex. 12:48)  This is no ordinary meal.  This is a covenantal ritual.  Only those circumcised into the covenantal relationship with Yahweh may partake of it and eat of the flesh of the lamb.  This is the same in our Catholic Church.  You must be baptized and initiated into the Catholic faith in order to partake of the Mass and holy Eucharist.  You must be brought into the sacramental Catholic fold in order to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Lamb of God.  It is not surprising then that Yahweh instructs them “you may not take any of its flesh outside the house.” (Ex. 12:46)  So too, we are not to offer the Eucharist outside the house of God or the Catholic community of believers.

Not Break Any Bones:
Next, Yahweh tells them, “You shall not break any of its bones.” (v.47) This, of course, is directly applicable to Christ on the Cross showing Him to be a prophetic type of paschal lamb.  St. John tells us: “but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.. . enter site  For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.” (Jn.19:36)  Contrary to typical Roman crucifixion practices of breaking the bones of the condemned (in order that they may die more quickly), the Roman soldiers do not break Jesus’ bones.

Paschal Lambs “Crucified”:
Later, sacrificial Paschal lambs were in a manner of speaking “crucified.” According to the Mishnah, at the time of the Temple, after killing the lamb, the Jews would pierce it with “thin smooth staves” of wood through the shoulders in order to hand and skin it.  In addition, a second skewer of wood was thrust “from its mouth to it buttocks.”  The two beams of wood then would form a cross shape, upon which the lamb was hung.  A second century Christian, St. Justin Martyr, describes the same thing.  He wrote: “For the lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of a cross.  For one spit is transfixed right through from the lower parts up to the head, and one across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb.” (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 40)  One can imagine the crucifixion of thousands of lambs across Jerusalem each year at the time of the Passover feast; thus, preparing the Jewish mind to accept the reality of the crucified Christ as the ultimate and final sacrifice.

Consecration of the Firstborns:
The Lord then instructs Moses to consecrate to Him “every first-born” of “both man and beast, for it belongs to me.” (Ex. 13:1)  This means to set apart for the service of divine worship.  The eldest sons and animals of Israel belong to Yahweh because He spared them in the tenth plague of His passing over Egypt.  The firstborn sons likely would be brought into sacred and priestly ministry, while the firstborn animals are kept for religious sacrifice.  Note: Later, in Num. 3:12 and 8:14-18, the Levites are chosen as substitutes for every firstborn son consecrated to God. The change occurs after the golden calf rebellion at Mt. Sinai.  The tribe of Levi ordained itself “for the service of the Lord” after the apostasy and idolatry of worshipping the golden calf.  Firstborn sons, thereafter, have to be redeemed or brought back into the liturgical ministry at the price of five shekels. (Num. 18:15-16)

Phylacteries:
The Lord tells Moses: “It shall be a sign on your hand and as a reminder on your forehead.” (Ex. 13:9)  This is what inspired the Jewish practice of wearing the small leather boxes containing Scripture verses, phylacteries or tefillin, to their left arm and forehead during prayer.  This is also described in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.  This was probably meant figuratively, although later generations took it literally as well.  The phylactery contains the Shema prayer (Deut. 6:4): “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”  The prayer, quoted by Jesus (Mk. 12:30), continues: “Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”  “Jesus later criticized the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees, who “do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.” (Mt. 23:5)

The Mark of the Beast:
It is interesting to note that in this monotheistic declaration in worship of Yahweh bound to their foreheads and hand, is later mocked and mimicked by the Antichrist with the mark of the beast.  The Book of Revelation reveals that anyone who “worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand . .” (Rev. 14:9)  The Holy Spirit seals us on our heads, and Satan, in his demonic counterfeit seals, and condemns, his followers with a mark on either their forehead or right hand.

Diversion into the Wilderness of the Sinai:
God could have led the Israelites directly into Canaan and the land where the Philistines dwelt.  However, “God did not lead them by way of the Philistines’ land, though this was the nearest; for He thought, should the people see that they would have to fight, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” (Ex. 13:17)  The Egyptians patrolled this area in north Sinai with a series of military forts.  So instead, God led them south from Ramses and Pithom to Succoth towards the desert along the way of the Red Sea.  Again, the Israelites are leaving not as slaves but as a conquering army. “In battle array the Israelites marched out of Egypt.” (v.18) They also brought Joseph’s bones along with them to bring back to Israel.

A Column of Cloud by Day and a Pillar of Fire by Night: 
“The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.” (Ex. 13:21)  The column of cloud and the pillar of fire never left its place in front of the people. Yahweh marches at the head of the Israelites.  It is God’s preternatural power and manifestation of His holy presence.  Isaiah wrote of it as  “He who put His Holy Spirit in the midst of them.” (Is. 63:11) St. Ambrose wrote the fire designated Jesus Christ and the cloud the Holy Spirit.  The cloud foreshadows Baptism and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, who cools our passions.  St. Paul in writing to the Corinthians said, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea;and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;” (1 Cor. 10:1-2)

Yahweh the Warrior:
Pharaoh remained obstinate and changed his mind exclaiming, “What have we done!”  With that, “Pharaoh’s whole army, his horses, chariots and charioteers, caught up with them as they lay encamped by the sea, at Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.” (Ex. 14:9)  Pharaoh came back for revenge and vengeance upon Moses and Israel.  Just then the Israelites look up and see the Egyptians, and become terrified.  They complain bitterly to Moses, “Far better for us to be the slaves of the Egyptians than to die in the desert.” (Ex. 14:12)  Moses answered them: “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” (v.13-14)  Yahweh is the divine warrior ready to fight for Israel.  Then, Yahweh does some defensive battle maneuvers to guard the rear. The angel of God, who had been leading the Israelites, now moved behind them.  This angel is the one who mediates and manifests God’s presence to the world. The column of cloud also left the front and went behind them.  Thus, they stood in between the Egyptian camp and the Israelites; blocking the Egyptians and protecting the Israelites.

The Miraculous Crossing of the Red Sea:
“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided.The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” (Ex. 14:21-22)  This is undoubtedly a miraculous event, and not simply a freak natural phenomenon.  It is perhaps the greatest miraculous event recorded in the Exodus and the Old Testament.  Yahweh is manifesting His divine power and delivering His people Israel with powerful miracles and wondrous signs.  The Israelites march through as with a “wall of water” to the left and to the right.  The Israelites passed through the water as on dry land.  Soon, the Pharaoh and the Egyptian army were in hot pursuit through the midst of the water.  The Lord cast “a glance” through the fiery cloud that threw the Egyptians into a “panic” and they “sounded the retreat.” (v.24)  “For the Lord was fighting for them against the Egyptians.”  Yahweh then tells Moses to stretch out his hand again over the sea, and “at dawn the sea flowed back to its normal depth.” (v.27) Pharaoh and the charioteers were caught in it and drowned.  “Not a single one of them escaped.” (v.28)  “Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses.” (Ex. 14:30-31) This is Yahweh’s mightiest act of deliverance for Israel and is frequently called as such in the Old Testament (Ps. 66:6; 106:9; Is. 51:10; 63:11-13)

Allegorical Baptism of the Red Sea:
The crossing of the waters of the Red Sea is a type of Baptism.  The people of God are brought out of bondage and slavery by being baptized in the waters of the Red Sea to free them from the oppressive Egyptians.  Similarly, Christians are Baptized in the sacramental water and made free of the stains of original sin.  We cross over into a new life in Christ.  St. Paul made the same allusions too: “and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” (1 Cor. 10:2)  The Egyptians were the stain of sin that the waters removed from the chosen people, Israel.  The waters of Baptism end the control of the devil in our lives and put to death our enmity with God.  We reemerge on the other side with a new faith and a new life.

Moses’ Hymn to the Lord as a Warrior:
Moses sings a song to Yahweh, a victory hymn honoring the Mighty Lord.  In verse 2, he says the Lord is my “savior;” in verse 3, “The Lord is a warrior.”  (Ex. 15:3)  In verse 13, “redeemer.”  Moses mocks the gods of Egypt again saying “Who is like to you among the gods, O Lord?” (v.11) Pharaoh and his charioteers “sank into the depths like a stone.” (v. 5) There are similar visions of the wicked sinking like stones in the sea (Jer. 51:63-64; Lk. 17:2).  This also is a foreshadowing of the future destruction of the antichrist’s kingdom of “Babylon.”  “A mighty angel picked up a stone like a huge millstone and threw it into the sea.” (Rev. 18:21)  The second half of the hymn is directed at future conquests over Canaan, the Philistines, Edom, and Moab.  Nations will tremble before the warpath of Yahweh.  The prophetess Miriam, Aaron’s sister, takes a tambourine and leads the women in dancing and praising God.  She represents a type of the Church, leading the faithful in songs of divine praise.

Bitter Water at Marah:
Moses then leads them from the Red Sea for three days through the desert without finding any water.  They arrive at Marah, where the people grumbled again (already) that the water was “bitter.” (Ex. 15:23)  The Exodus generation is infamous for their “murmuring” and “grumbling” against God and Moses.  Years later, Moses will look back at them as “a perverse and crooked generation.” (Deut. 32:5)  This, however, is the first of their crises, a lack of drinking water.  Each crisis highlights their precarious situation in the desert and their reliance on Yahweh’s providential care.  The Lord then pointed out to Moses a “certain piece of wood. When he threw this into the water, the water became fresh.” (Ex. 15:25)  The waters of Marah are made fresh by the wood.  Tertullian pointed out that this is a prefigurement of the wood of the Cross of Christ making holy and life-giving the waters of Baptism. (Tertullian, On Baptism, 9)

Oasis at Elim:
At long last, the Israelites come to Elim, “where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.” (Ex. 15:27)  This oasis had plenty of shade and water for the weary Israelites.  This location is still a dramatic oasis in the desert today with water and palm trees.

The Octave of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday – March 25, 2016

Easter Sunday is not the end of our Easter celebration. After forty days of preparation with Lent, and the Easter Triduum, from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday, it is easy to miss looking ahead on the Church’s liturgical calendar. This is, after all, the climax of the Christian year with the celebration of the Passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Catechism calls Easter the “Feast of feasts” and the “Solemnity of solemnities.” Yet, Easter Sunday is actually just the first day of the Easter Octave, the eight-day festal period, in which we continue to celebrate the momentous conclusion to the Paschal mystery and the economy of salvation played out in liturgical time. The eight days of the Easter Octave are a special time to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection and more deeply contemplate its mysteries. The Church punctuates the special importance of this feast by assigning it the highest liturgical ranking, that is, as a Privileged Octave of the First Order. This means each of the eight days is counted as a solemnity, the highest-ranking feast day, in which no other feast can be celebrated. It begins the fifty days of the Easter celebration to the feast of Pentecost, but these first eight days of the Easter Octave culminate with the second Sunday of Easter: Divine Mercy Sunday.

It is entirely fitting that Divine Mercy Sunday is the culmination of the Easter Octave, for as St. Pope John Paul II stated in his Divine Mercy Sunday homily in 2001, “Divine Mercy! This is the Easter gift that the Church receives from the risen Christ and offers to humanity..” Divine mercy is the grace and merit won by Christ on our behalf in His Passion and Resurrection. The grace of Easter naturally flows into Mercy Sunday. Even before the official designation, the Church has historically designated these eight days of Easter to celebrate the Paschal mysteries of divine mercy. The early Church celebrated the Sunday after Easter as the feast day, Dominica in Albis depositis, “the Sunday dressed in white linen.” St. Augustine is attributed to have called it “the compendium of the days of mercy.” Indeed, in his Regina Caeli address on Divine Mercy Sunday on April 26, 1995, Pope John Paul II said “The whole Octave of Easter is like a single day,” and that Octave is “thanksgiving for the goodness God has shown man in the whole Easter mystery.” In these eight feast days, we offer thanksgiving for the divine mercy and salvation wrought for us on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

The modern Divine Mercy devotions began with the Polish mystic, St. Faustina Kowalska, who dutifully recorded in her well-known diary, everything that Christ commissioned to her regarding His Divine Mercy. These devotions included the spiritual practices of venerating the image of Divine Mercy, with its simple prayer “Jesus, I trust in You!,” praying the Chaplet and Novena of Divine Mercy, and establishing Divine Mercy Sunday. St. Pope John Paul II said he had felt spiritually “very near” Saint Faustina, and he had “been thinking about her for a long time,” when he began his second encyclical, Dives in Misericordia, “Rich in Mercy,” in which he calls mercy “love’s second name.” It is not surprising then that he later, on April 30 2000, at the canonization ceremony of St. Faustina, designated the Easter Octave, Divine Mercy Sunday.

It is fitting that Divine Mercy is a continuation of Easter because of its inherently Paschal and Eucharistic imagery. In the Divine Mercy image, Jesus is pictured with two rays of light coming from His heart, one red and one white. These depict the blood and water, which flowed forth from His heart after He was pierced by a lance on the Cross. The red ray of light reminds us of the blood of the Cross, and the blood of the Eucharist; whereas, the white ray of light reminds us of the waters that flowed from His pierced-side, and the waters of Baptism, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The image embodies the Paschal and Eucharistic mysteries.

In the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Novena there are similar Paschal and Eucharistic overtones. In the Divine Mercy prayers we offer up to the Father, the “Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity” of Our Lord Jesus Christ, “in atonement for our sins and for those of the whole world.” This hearkens us back to Holy Thursday, when Jesus instituted the first Mass, offering up His Body and Blood in the Eucharist; and then, on Good Friday, He suffered Bodily and Spiritually in His Passion and Crucifixion. The Divine Mercy prayers walk us through this same prayer language in Paschal and Eucharistic imagery. This is why we pray “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy upon us and the whole world,” for through His suffering, we have gained mercy. The Divine Mercy prayers encapsulate the Paschal mystery and the Eucharistic offering.

Therefore, we continue to celebrate the Paschal and Eucharistic mysteries in these eight days of Easter, culminating with the Easter Octave of Divine Mercy Sunday. Christ has promised us great mercies if we observe the Feast of Divine Mercy. As Jesus told St. Faustina, “I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the feast of My mercy.” This is a particularly great indulgence promised by Jesus for the complete remission of our sins and punishment. So, as we celebrate Easter, let us recall the spark that came from Poland with Sts. Faustina and Pope John Paul II, and put mercy into action by dedicating ourselves to the devotions associated with its message: the image of Divine Mercy, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the Novena of Divine Mercy, and the Sunday of Divine Mercy. Easter Sunday is not the end of the Church’s celebration. It is the beginning of the full Octave of Easter. Let us celebrate all eight days of this feast, all the way to Divine Mercy Sunday. How fitting it is, especially this Jubilee year, the Holy Year of Mercy.

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Baptism, Initiation into the Common Priesthood – October 15, 2015

“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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt.28:19-20)

“Baptism imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual sign, the character, which consecrates the baptized person for Christian worship.” (CCC 1280)

The sacrament of Baptism initiates us into the mystery of Christ. It is the essential rite to eternal life, and the beginning point of the whole Christian experience. (CCC 1213) In Baptism, God first demonstrates His self-communication to us. It imprints His indelible mark upon our souls configuring us to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The character of Christ is irrevocably sealed upon our minds and souls, configuring us to a new and eternal spiritual reality. (CCC 1272) It transforms who we are. A permanent ontological change takes place to our very being. Just as a material object or person is visibly sealed with a mark, defining who or what it is, or whose property it might be, so too, in Baptism, God marks our immaterial souls invisibly and permanently, claiming us as His own. It sets us apart. It can only be done once, and nothing can undo it. It is a necessary transformation. Jesus attests to it, saying, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.” (Jn.3:5) Baptismal water is a graced sign, a real symbol, which efficaciously applies the invisible grace it signifies. It does in reality, the sign it points to. We are washed of Original Sin, purified of all of our sins, and regenerated to eternal life. It consecrates us into the sacramental character of Christ’s paschal mystery, impressing upon us His saving grace of the Cross. (SC, 6) We are sealed with Christ’s imprimatur, conforming us to the God-man. (2 Cor. 1:21-22) He alone conquered sin, and death itself, so that by faith and grace, we too, who are flesh and blood mortals, may partake in His supernatural life. Baptism is necessary because Christ alone overcame death. We need His divine life in us, so we too will rise to eternal life. Baptism anticipates our own resurrection. Through it, we are grafted into communion with the Easter mysteries. The mystery of Christ becomes alive to us, and in us. Christ in His life, and in His Passion and suffering, and all that He was in His eternal and divine humanity, begins to unfold and live out in our individual lives. When we are immersed into the water, we are brought into His death, and rising from the water, we are brought into His life and resurrection. (Rom. 6:3-4) As the Catechism says, “It signifies and actually brings about death to sin and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity through configuration to the Paschal mystery of Christ.” (CCC 1239) We are made into a new living, Trinitarian reality; spiritually reordered towards the Father, configured to the Son, and filled with the Holy Spirit. We become adopted children of God, by faith and grace; baptized into the Son of God, we are made partakers in the divine nature by proxy, as He is in reality.

We are indeed remade into this new holy status as children of God, and temples of the Holy Spirit, and co-heirs with Christ. It makes us, first and foremost, Christian, and members of the Church, the Body of Christ, and gains us access to divine grace in the rest of the sacraments. It is our foundation for the supernatural life. But, it is also the first moment of a lifelong phenomenon of conversion. Baptism is more than just a single event, or a static state; it transforms us in such a way that we are perpetually drawn deeper into the living reality of Christ. It allows us to engage in the sacramental life and realize the mysteries of Christ in our being. It establishes a new dynamic in our consciousness, where our everyday circumstances are reinterpreted and contextualized within the divine humanity of Christ. Our humanity is elevated and divinized. We are afforded special offices. One of these is our incorporation into the common priesthood of the faithful, the baptized, and the ordinary. With a sacred chrism, the oil consecrated by the bishop, the newly baptized is anointed into Christ as “priest, prophet, and king.” (CCC 1241) We become sharers in Christ’s one eternal priesthood. As Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, says, “The baptized, by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated as a spiritual house and a holy priesthood.” (LG, 10) Even as Christ is the one true and eternal Mediator between God and man, He still graciously saw fit that we should also participate, to varying degrees, in His priestly office. As part of our baptismal right and dignity, we can exercise that priestly office by virtue of our association in Christ’s life, passion, and redemptive sacrifice.

But, what are our priestly functions? Scripture and the Church say we are to make spiritual sacrifices. We are to offer up interiorly all of our actions, words, deeds, suffering, successes, and all that we do, for the glory of God and for the intercession of souls. The magisterium teaches that the baptized should “present themselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” (LG, 10 ) Every common thing in our ordinary existence can be extended towards God as a sacrifice in our common priesthood. We can offer up everything, including our prayers, sacrifices, fasting, bodily weaknesses, illness, even patiently enduring the things that annoy us, or nearly anything that may otherwise seem useless and worthless in the eyes of the world. God’s eternal priesthood is mediated in the implements of our material world. Our physical operations can have spiritual significance. We can exercise our priesthood, in such a way, that we can, in effect, “sacramentalize” all that we do. That is, we spiritualize our activity through faith and with the intention of offering reparation to God. This is how we become living sacrifices. As the magisterium explains, we can “exercise that priesthood in receiving the sacraments, in prayer and thanksgiving, in the witness of a holy life, and by self-denial and active charity.” (LG, 10) By ourselves, a branch separated from the vine, our actions have no spiritual power. But, united with Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, our actions can be spiritually efficacious for reparation of our sins and the sins of others. This is our role in the communion of saints. We are mediators. Through initiation in Baptism and the imprinting of Christ’s priestly seal upon us, we become priests. We can use our willful intention to please God, in a particular activity, invoke the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and raise that up as a form of worship. So, we can, for illustration, use our being hungry on any given afternoon, or say, being stuck behind a slow driver in our morning commute, to invoke the Holy Spirit, and offer these annoyances up to God for the sanctification of souls. These are just two minor examples, but the possibilities are nearly endless. St.Paul explains these spiritual sacrifices. He says, I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.” (Col.1:24) Christ deemed us worthy to take part in His priestly ministry, and left for us a portion of the redemption to offer up to the Father. He made us a living Church, actively carrying on His mission. Christ’s presence and power remain hidden now sacramentally, just as it did in His life then when He walked the earth.  Some people today see just bread and wine, and not the body and blood of Christ, as before they saw just the carpenter’s son, and not the Son of God.  Christ continues His priestly mediation for the world today through us. In this vein, St.Paul is dutifully acting out his priestly character. He offers intercession and mediation for the Church, through his own sufferings, in unity with the sufferings of Christ. We are called to do the same. Christ has deputized us. He appointed us His priests. It is our role to live as mediators and intercessors here on earth in imitation of Him. We are to stand in the breach for those entrusted to us.  Baptism is everything, but it’s also just the beginning.

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