Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Our Pilgrimage to the Ceiling

Wednesday greetings to all. Please take the time to read the comments posted on yesterday's blog post. Some fascinating stuff there.

I hope that your own observance of Lent is going well. In Paragraph 138 of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, we read this:

"In the liturgy and liturgical catechesis of Lent, the reminder of baptism already received, or the preparation for its reception, as well as the theme of repentance, renew the entire community . . ."

This line has helped shape my own Lenten spirituality. I grew up, as have many of us, on a steady diet of the "theme of repentance" during Lent. With the re-awakening of the catechumenate in the last several years, the baptismal dimension of the Season has had more and more of an impact on the lives of the Elect, naturally, but also on the faithful, who are rediscovering that Lent is a time to prepare intensely for the renewal of baptismal promises at Easter.

Several years ago, I led a pilgrimage through Italy with a group of like-minded "Baptism Geeks." We spent two weeks in search of Baptism fonts. Our tour brought us to the city of Padua, to the Duomo there, the Cathedral of Saint Anthony. (I was baptized at Saint Anthony Church in New Bedford, Massachusetts on May 25, 1958.)

Here is a photo of the Cathedral:

The baptistery is the round builing on the right. Here is a closer view:

The remarkable thing about this baptistery is its ceiling. Just imagine yourself being baptized here. Coming up out of the waters of new life, you raise your head and look directly above you, and this is what first captures your eyes as a new Christian, one who has just "put on Christ:"

Here's a detail from that ceiling:

This is a breathtaking baptistery ceiling. I like to tell people that our Christian journey is a pilgrimage from the font of our baptism to our own image painted on that ceiling. The eschataological dimension of the sacrament of baptism is often overlooked. We call upon the saints in the great Litany of Saints as we march to the baptism font and it is our hope that one day we will share their company, a journey that begins at the font.

So, as your Lenten sojourn continues, remember that you live in hope of the day when you will join others on that ceiling.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Anonymous said...

Wow! Stunning!

Too bad so many of our modern Catholic churches hardly have an image of Mary and Joseph, let alone the communion of saints!

Bob said...

If you ever get to Pheonix, check out the baptismal font at St. Thomas Moore in Glendale, AZ.