Tag Archives: Water

Lent Week 4

During the season of Lent, I am leading a group study on baptism and the triduum at the Church of St. Matthew & St. Timothy in New York City.  We meet on Wednesday nights in English and Thursday nights in Spanish.  I am only posting the English handouts on the blog, but can provide Spanish translations on request.

Week 4: Wednesday, April 2

New Life Dawns: Easter Vigil

“What we gather to celebrate in the Easter Vigil is not a fond reminiscence, but a present reality. We gather to participate in the death and resurrection of Christ, principally in the baptism of new members, but also in the renewal of all the baptized.”[1]

Story: An early account of the Easter Vigil according to Hippolytus (A.D. 215)

“The candidates for baptism fast on Friday and Saturday; others fast with them on both days if they are able, or on Saturday if ill or pregnant. Saturday night is spent in vigil, listening to readings and instructions. At cockcrow the baptismal water is blessed, a prayer of thanksgiving is said over the “oil of thanksgiving” (chrism), and an exorcism said over the “oil of exorcism.” The candidates renounce Satan, his servants, and his works, then are anointed with the oil of exorcism. They are baptized, assenting to a baptismal formula which is a profession of faith, the basis for the “Apostles’ Creed.” When they emerge from the water they are anointed with the oil of thanksgiving in the Name of Jesus the Christ (the Anointed One). They are then led into the assembly where the bishop says a prayer with laying on of hands, completes the anointing, and signs each on the forehead. The newly baptized participate then in the prayers of the people, the exchange of the peace, and the Eucharist. On this occasion they receive water (an internal baptism), and milk and honey (the food of babies, the Promised Land) as well as the elements of bread and wine.”[2]

  • What symbols do we read about in the above passage?
  • What do symbols do? What do they mean?
  • Our Prayer Book states: “The sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace.”[3] What does this statement say about the symbols we’ve named?
Dean Patrick Malloy pours chrism onto Amelia Hall, held in the arms of her father, M.Div. Junior Pickett Hall. Photo: John Bethell

At the General Theological Seminary, Rev. Patrick Malloy pours chrism onto Amelia Hall, held in the arms of her father Pickett Hall at her baptism. Photo: John Bethell

“In the Great Vigil of Easter we celebrate and make present (anamnesis) the pivotal events of the Old and New Testament heritage, the Passover of the Hebrews from the bondage of slavery in Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land, the Passover of our Lord Jesus Christ from death, and our own Passover from the bondage of sin and death to the glorious liberty of new life in Christ Jesus.”[4]

  • What are we making present? What are we making real?
  • How do your answers this week compare to your answers from Week 1?
  • Ponder what it is we are participating in, and be prepared to share your stories when we gather together next week.

 

[1]Jeffrey D. Lee, Opening the Prayer Book (Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 1999), 91.

[2]Marion J. Hatchett, Commentary On the American Prayer Book (San Francisco: HarperOne, 1995), 240.

[3]Church Publishing, Book of Common Prayer Chapel Edition: Red Hardcover (Unknown: CHURCH PUBLISHING INC, 1979), 857.

[4]Hatchett, Commentary On the American Prayer Book, 242-3.

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Lent Week 1

During the season of Lent, I am leading a group study on baptism and the triduum at the Church of St. Matthew & St. Timothy in New York City.  We meet on Wednesday nights in English and Thursday nights in Spanish.  I am only posting the English handouts on the blog, but can provide Spanish translations on request.

Week 1: Wednesday, March 12

Water and Spirit: An Introduction To Baptism

Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.” John 3:5

Story: Read A Rite Of Passage by Aidan Kavanagh [1]

  • What do you think and feel upon hearing this story?
  • Have you ever thought of baptism as initiation? Initiation into what? How does it compare to other initiations you have experienced?
  • Euphemius and the other candidates never even see a Eucharist celebrated before their baptism—what does this mystery create?
  • What are the symbols used in the story—what do they symbolize?
  • This story describes the tradition that shapes our liturgy. But the tradition and liturgy (then and now) are based on certain beliefs we hold to be central. How does our baptism illustrate our beliefs?
  • Does your baptism shape your identity? How so?
This is me celebrating the excitement of baptism in an early church baptismal font outside Ephesus, Turkey.

This is me celebrating the excitement of baptism in an early church baptismal font outside Ephesus, Turkey.

What about this “Triduum” thing?

Triduum means “three days” and it begins when Lent ends on Thursday evening, lasting through Sunday evening, encompassing Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil. “The Triddum, the very soul of our year, is what it is because of the baptizing: there is the passion, the dying and the rising of the Lord Jesus, met in our midst. There is the encounter with these death-dealing yet life-giving waters that forever define each of us as Christian and all of us as church.”[2]

“Even more than the participation in any of the liturgies…the manner in which this time is kept by individuals and by households will establish the Triduum as a holy time and will make the Vigil with its baptizing the center of our year. Fasting, praying (alone or with large or small groups), freedom from work when possible, time for the reading of scripture, an atmosphere of quiet: these being to make the Triduum presence in our lives, a presence to be received and honored and attended to. Likewise, the hours of Sunday need to have something more than “it’s all over” to them. The element of feasting, of some once-a-year foods, of another kind of restfulness filled with the sounds of the Vigil’s alleluia bring Easter Sunday into the home.”[3]

  • What traditions did you practice in your home or church growing up leading up to Easter? Who passed them onto you, and what did they mean to you?
  • What traditions do you continue to practice today—why?
  • How might celebrating the Triduum shape us?

 

[1]Gabe Huck, The Three Days: Parish Prayer in the Paschal Triduum (Chicago: Liturgy Training Pubns, 1981), 107-9.

[2]Huck, The Three Days: Parish Prayer in the Paschal Triduum, 1.

[3]Huck, The Three Days: Parish Prayer in the Paschal Triduum, 6.

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