Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Reminder of Our Baptism and its Salvific Effects

At the door of the tabernacle was a laver of water wherein the priests washed; at the door of the temple of Solomon was a brazen urn filled with water, where the priests bathed to purify themselves for the ministry. They were figures of baptism. They were placed by command of God. And on entering the church you see water; it is a continuation of that ancient custom among the Jews. That water is placed at the entrance of the church to remind us of baptism and how we were washed from sin at the moment the water touched us, "and that we were born again of water and of the Holy Ghost." We take the water to put on our foreheads, for there it washed us when we were baptized; we put in on the forehead, for that is the noblest part of man; within that forehead is the brain, the instrument of the imagination in thought, and by that putting on of water we signify that all unholy thoughts are to be driven far from our minds in the church, by that water we are reminded of the promised we made at our baptism, to renounce the devil with all his works, and all his pomps; by the sign of washing ourselves with water we wash our souls with sorrow for all the sins we committed since last we entered the church, and that sorrow, sincere and lowly for past sins with take the water wipes out the little sins that we call venial. We make the sign of the cross. By that we signify that we bear the cross on our bodies, like St. Paul says: "For I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus in my body." Thus we as it were bear the cross on our bodies, not the visible marks of the wounds made by the nails and the spear, as on the bodes of St. Paul, St. Francis of Assisi, and many other saints, but by frequently making the sign of the cross on us we say that we are Christians, that is followers of Christ carrying our cross. Putting our fingers in that water, blessed and sanctified by the prayers of God's ministers, first we put our hand and touch our foreheads first because we must first have a knowledge of God; then our breast, because after knowing God we must love Him-the hear is the sea of love; then the left and right shoulders, the sign of work and labor, for after knowing God and loving Him, shown forth by the forehead and heart, we must work for Him with our hands, signified by touching the shoulder , saying" "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," the Trinity, the Three in One; in the name, not the names, to show that there are not thre Gods, but one God, not three natures or substance in God, but on nature and on substance, and for that reason we say in the name, the singular number, telling that there is but one God-head in the three diving Persons.

-Teaching Truth by Signs and Ceremonies or The Church, its Rites and Services, Explained for the People, Father James L. Meagher, Christian Press Association Publishing Co., 1896, Page 28-29.