Watching the administration of the Sacraments of Initiation at Easter Vigil this year, I was reminded of how simple—and profound—the rituals of the Church can be. It reminded me of the time we witnessed a wedding on a Saturday night in our church—during the 5:00 o’clock Mass—with the general congregation in attendance.
At that time, a middle-aged couple went up to the altar, and there, standing before God and our local community, simply, and without fanfare, exchanged their vows. I looked at my husband and commented, “That’s all it really takes, isn’t it? Just a simple ‘I do.’”
For all the planning, expense and fretting over weddings, the most important action taken by the couple on their wedding day are saying those two little words. Our 5:00 o’clock couple were just as married as the couple who spent thousands of dollars and endless hours of lost sleep on a myriad of details.
Whether it is the Sacrament of Baptism, Confirmation or Eucharist at the Easter Vigil, or our participation in the Sacrament of Marriage—or any of our seven Sacraments—our encounters with Christ in the Sacraments is both uncomplicated and profound.
As I sat and watched, listening to Father recite “I Baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” my heart gave way to sheer delight in what was happening before my very eyes—the stripping away of original sin, the outpouring of grace and the Holy Spirit; the person, kneeling before me in the Baptismal font, being transformed by the power of God. It was almost too much to take in. Here, one who presented himself to the Church was receiving what he most desired—to die to self and be reborn anew as a member of the People of God. So uncomplicated, yet so profound.
Also, those who were received into full communion with the Catholic Church that night, who made a Profession of Faith, turned a simple “I do” into a profound, public witness, as they professed their belief in God and their desire to reject evil in their lives.
The fact is, choosing God does not have to be hard. Sometimes it may feel complicated when marriages, annulments, and various other details have to be worked out, but in the end, when you are standing before God and your community, fully engaged in the Sacraments of the Church, there is no greater sign of the presence of God in our world today. There is no greater sign of his continuing love for His people, and there is no greater revelation of his limitless mercy available to us today.
The pastoral spirit flowing through the church today is committed to healing and compassion. If you, or someone you know, has put off or avoided entering full communion with the church, encourage them to call their local Catholic church and talk to a member of the staff. You may just find yourself standing with them at Easter Vigil next year as they proclaim “I do!” for all the world to see!
Copyright 2011 Janet Cassidy