Monday, August 31, 2009

Minister of Baptism

I have been wondering whether or not I should baptize my grandchildren. I don't mean arrange for them to be baptized but actually do it myself. And, no, I'm not yet an ordained deacon. I'm simply aware that bad things happen to good people, and my stepchildren don't have the same understanding that I do of the necessity of the sacraments.*

By the way, my fall theology course is on the sacraments. The first lecture talks about the requirements for a valid baptism, and Dr. D'Ambrosio brings up an instance where a baptism isn't valid—a child dunking his friends in the pool and saying, "I baptize you..."

If it's in jest, it's not intentional, hence, not valid.


I think I may have performed two valid baptisms when I was a child.

I had a couple of playmates across the street on Fairchild AFB. We lived in the officers' housing area, but many of the residents weren't officers' families. (My father was probably a major at the time.) Anyway, we had quite a mix of people in the neighborhood, from my Southern Baptist friend on the corner (a fan of Gen. Lee and my comrade in arms against the other neighborhood clubs), to my Mormon next door neighbor, or the guy across the street whose black father was a running back at UCLA and whose mother was from Puerto Rico and barely spoke English, or my Japanese and Korean classmates. Life in the military in the 70s was not segregated by any means, and I never thought for a moment about our differences.

Except for the people whom I met who were not Christians. That was new to me. I didn't understand the whole Catholic/Protestant divide, but I knew that we were all Christians (with the exception of Dr. Srinivas and his wife who arrived much later).

Anyway, into this fairly homogeneous religious mix my friends across the street. I don't recall their names, but there was a boy and a younger girl. They were friendly, but they sometimes couldn't play because they were on restriction. It was rather rare that both were out at the same time. I remember a couple of time commenting on some injuries they had on their upper arms—very uniform. They indicated that their parents had punished them with a knife. I didn't understand that they were being abused, but I understood that their home lives were quite different from mine.

I don't know how we ever got on the subject of baptism, but this was a time of some religious fervor on my part. I had seen baptisms before, and I knew what the intent was (as well as a 7 or 8 year old can understand the sacrament). At some point, I asked if they were Christians, and they said they were not (as far as they knew). Naturally, I told them about God and Heaven and Jesus. And I told them that to have all of that they needed to be baptized. And they said they wanted to be baptized.

For the life of me, I don't know where I got it into my head that I could baptize them. However, we turned the hose on, running lightly, and I did what I had seen done. I took the hose, poured water in my hand, and I poured it on my friends' heads, saying, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost."

I don't know what other words I would've used since that was what I had witnessed.

There are five elements required for the objective validity of a sacrament:

- Valid minister
- Valid recipient
- Correct intention
- Valid matter
- Valid form

Anyone can baptize. Even a nonbeliever can baptize if the other conditions are met. So the first condition is met. Both of my friends wanted to be baptized. Their understanding as to what it meant may have been deficient due to their age, but the desire to know God and be His friend was certainly present. My intention was to do what the Church does in the sacrament. I used running water (although with affusion). And to my knowledge, I used the words I had heard.

Subjectively, my friends needed to be prepared to receive the grace of the sacrament, but from what I can recall, the sacrament was administered validly.

I do wonder, though, if that action had any impact on their lives. I recall my horror at their rather lackadaisical acceptance of their parents' abuse. I pray that they were given other opportunities for faith. My wife suggests that perhaps I was put in their lives on purpose. That would be oe of those mysterious workings of God if so.

*I'm saying this all sort of tongue-in-cheek. I wouldn't baptize our grandchildren without their parents' consent, and if they consented, we'd have it done by the normal means anyway.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Archbishop Chaput on Health Care

I have been a fan of Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver for sometime now. He along with other bishops like our neighbor to the West, Bishop Vasa, have been great witnesses to an authentic Catholic understanding of social justice. Here are his latest comments on the matter of health care reform.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Missing Israel Photo: Forgot to mention...

The last time I was in Jerusalem, there were quite a few visitors to the Holy City, it being Pentecost and all. I ran into this little fellow when I went to the Basilica.

I asked him to light a candle for me, but he said, "What? Are you nuts? I'm a freakin' squirrel!"

So much for pious woodland creatures.

Belmont Abbey College and Reversal of EEOC Rulings

If you follow what's happening with Catholic colleges and universities, particularly those trying to maintaon their Catholic identity, you may have heard that the EEOC recently reversed their own previous ruling on Belmont Abbey College concerning the coverage of contraceptives by the college's health plan. As it turns out, it looks like the EEOC was prompted by Washington to reverse the ruling.

Any likelihood those conscience clauses for doctors and pharmacists are going to stand if this is the current atmosphere?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gig Tonight

Went surprisngly well considering we were down one guitar player. The question period went on for a good half an hour, so we were waiting on the back patio of the Stone House for everyone to come out. When the questions did finish up, everyone stayed inside! We were halfway through our set before people started to filter out.

Anyway, it went well. We sound good as a three piece, but it sure would be nice to have some back-up vocals.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Reservations about the Reserve

As some of you might know, I applied to several police reserve programs a few months back and was contacted and interviewed for one department. O have actually come some distance through the screening process and was beginning to believe it very possible that I might be accepted.

However, I've been conflicted as well. The last semester at Holy Apostles coincided with a very in-depth course on Catholic social doctrine. Essentially, I took two graduate level courses along with my regular work/travel schedule. I resolved the isue of overloading on coursework. However, if I had been selected for reserve duty, I would be attending POST academy this fall--meaning I'd either have to try to maintain all three programs or I'd have to postpone one (most likely the theology class, which would mean a longer time to complete the MA degree). I kknew I had to make a choice.

Then I received the list of courses for the fall, and I saw two of the classes required for the degree. I knew what my would have to be. I removed myself from consideration from the reserve program. This option was a little difficult for the following reasons:

- I've wanted to be a cop since I was a child.
- I'm 44 and running out of time.

However, I'm also half of the way through the degree program and one year into diaconal formation.I really need to finish what I've started before I take on something new.

So I will be redoubling my efforts for the theology degree and perhaps increasing the pace a bit. I want to finish, write my thesis and complete my comprehensive exam in the next three years. We'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, I'll continue with my other training (self defense) and maybe do a bit more shooting to hone my skills.

And I'll do a lot of praying about the future.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

How I Spent My Afternoon

I went to sight in and shoot my new AR-15!

I purchased this rifle back on November, while I was clinging to my bible (RSV) and religion, but it took me some time before I could get the right optic for it. Then things got busy. Finally, I picked an Eotech red-dot sight, and started haranguing my friend Mark to go out and help me sight it in (since I've never done this). Anyhow, today was the day.

After a little confusion as to how to attach the optic, we got it installed, and I took a few shots. It really took far less time than I expected, and we were away and turning our targets into shreds in no time.

I left my phone in the car, but Patrick, ever the conscientious uncle, caught this shot of Kellina at her time up.

Then Mark asked Kellina if she wanted to shot something with a bit more punch--a 1917 military-issue 30.06. Kellina stepped right up.

Mark's son David let Kellina take a few shots with his .22 semiauto rifle. Kellina seemed to feel a lot more at home with it.

All in all, it's not a bad way to spend an afternoon.