Sunday, December 12, 2010

New Life and Old

There was a baptism at Mass in our church this morning. It has been a long time since I have attended a Catholic baptism, so I am not familiar with the ritual, especially when it takes place in conjunction with a Mass. At any rate, at the beginning of the liturgy the family, including parents and godparents, stood at the front of the sanctuary with the baby while the priest introduced them and said a few prayers. The actual baptism took place at the end of Mass. (And even with a homily, we still managed to finish in an hour.)

What touched me at this special Mass happened at the homily. The priest, a man in his seventies, came down from the pulpit and from the sanctuary, went over to the pew where the couple were seated and took the baby in his arms. He held the infant, gently rocking him back and forth, like the most loving mother would cradle her only child, throughout the entire homily as he walked up and down the aisle, back up to the pulpit where he read words from the first reading, and down into the aisle again. The child made no sound and hardly moved while the priest held him.

There was no suggestion that the baby was a prop for the purpose of illustrating the homily. To me, in fact, the priest and the child were the homily.

The expression of love can be so simple and yet so profound.

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