Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Touching a Sacred Heart

Tuesday greetings from a still-overcast Midwest.

Last night at the parish mission at Sacred Heart parish in Winnetka, Illinois, our focus was on reclaiming the power and potential of the sacrament of Baptism. I showed several of my "home movies" of baptisteries in Italy and Turkey. The one of the Arian Baptistery in Ravenna is one of my favorites because of the splendid ceiling mosaic.

Here is a photo of the entire ceiling, which depicts the baptism of the Lord by John. Surrounding the central image are the apostles.

Here is a close-up of the central image.

And here is a close-up of a few of the apostles.

I ask people to notice the feet of the apostles. Both feet are definitely not on the ground; the apostles are depicted dancing around in the circle, carrying crowns in their hands. I ask people why they are depicted this way. I know it is a bit of a stretch when I answer: "They are gazing down on the one being baptized below and they are dancing with pure joy as a new Christian is made just below them. And they hold those crowns, awaiting that day when that Christian will join them in the circle and receive the crown of glory." "The Apostles danced on the day you were baptized," I tell folks.

At the conclusion of my presentation, I asked the people to join me in the large sanctuary at Sacred Heart to surround the baptismal font. You can see it toward the back of the sanctuary, behind the altar, in this photo.

After a ritual of baptismal remembrance, I asked those gathered to reflect on the experience. One woman, a young mother, simply said, "I was grateful." And I said "Grateful?" And she said "Yes, I am grateful because in Baptism I have everything."

I was so grateful for this woman's words; they touched my heart deeply. Being a traveling "preacher," (such as I am), I really never know what ways the Lord speaks to peoples' hearts through my own words. But it was so obvious last night that what occurred at Sacred Heart touched her sacred heart.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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