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  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Courageous Words from a Montgomery County Pastor

Maryland

When the vote was over, despite all the work of the Maryland Catholic Conference and our own Archdiocese of Washington, the same-sex marriage initiative passed. The day after, when analysts were looking at the numbers, it was noted that Prince Georges County had voted against the measure by a razer thin margin. No doubt while there were many Obama supporters, this was also the church mecca of the state, a county with a 93% minority population. The more affluent Montgomery County voted for the measure, almost two to one. Msgr. Filardi is a Montgomey County pastor. Here is his message:

WELCOME TO SODOM

Pastor’s Letter
Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Bethesda, Maryland

Welcome to Sodom. Yes, that is what Maryland has now become. Sodom with its neighbor Gomorrah was a city of antiquity whose disregard for the natural law of human love led to its destruction. That same disregard is now written into state law. The distinctive physical and life-cultivating complimentarity of woman and man has been dismissed as a basis for marriage. Additionally, those who cannot honor this diluted definition in their personal and business activities will be held legally liable for discrimination and punished accordingly.

Already, the owner of a trolley service in Annapolis seeing this coming announced he will no longer offer wedding services. By doing so he will lose much of his business, but he cannot in good faith go along with treating as normal what is not, neither can we.

It is a great sadness that many of Satan’s helpers in ushering in this demonic distortion of marriage were Catholics, such as our governor. In promoting this desecration they have not only brought dishonor to our holy faith and shame to all Catholics, but invite the real possibility of damnation on themselves. We must pray that they recognize this error, repent and make reparation.

Some may interpret my words as an unfair disregard for individuals who bear same-gender attraction. It is not. Such brothers and sister must be loved and embraced. Indeed, we must make greater efforts of proper inclusion and support. At the same time true love is not allowance for any activity. It has no authority to overlook what is written in nature. Love cannot comply with a lie. It first honors what God has designed, and then encourages all to live in authentic love that leads to true fulfillment. Nothing changes for us, because God defines marriage. This has not changed. The purposeful union of man and woman was the crown of God’s creation. Anything else by that name mocks what God has created, and therefore mocks God.

Maryland is our home. It is where we are placed, and it is where we will continue to live. But especially now we must live upholding in word and honor the truth of marriage with clarity. We cannot betray what God has created without betraying God. This means never placating or playing along with a false notion, no matter how “well intention” some may be. It will not be easy. We do so at the risk of the ire and even legal sanctions this will invoke.

Our beloved state is now a modern-day Sodom. We should not be surprised at the coming of confusion, conflict, and even catastrophe. We reap what we sow. May God have mercy on us.

Msgr. Edward J. Filardi
Pastor, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish
Bethesda, Maryland

Catholic Bandita / Courageous Priest / Parish Bulletin / A Culture of Life / Father Z’s Blog / Deacon for Life

The Baptism of the Lord: What is Baptism?

jesus-baptismLast week I preached about how the Epiphany was the first of three theophanies (revelatory moments) where the divinity and power of Jesus was made manifest. At one time the Church celebrated them upon three consecutive days (a triduum): the Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord and the Transfiguration. Today, the first two are in close proximity but the Transfiguration is elsewhere in the liturgical year (August 6).

Today also brings Christmas or Epiphanytide to an end. On the Epiphany, Christ the child is honored as the new king, God joining himself to the human family. When he is baptized by John, our Lord is a man beginning his public ministry. But, here too, he is made manifest as the long-promised Messiah, the one who would “increase” just as John would “decrease.” The Holy Spirit appears as a dove and there is the voice from above announcing, “Here is my beloved Son upon whom my favor rests.” It fits with the message of Christmas because while Jesus (the God made man) resembles us externally, his objective is that we might be more like him, internally.

This feast provides a wonderful opportunity to speak about the meaning and importance of baptism. Several years ago I had the privilege to visit Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. There were various caves and much of the old settlement had been excavated. I was taken by these large tubs of stone or rock. Steps led up the sides of them and then more steps down into the tubs. These were ablution baths used by the Jews for ceremonial washings. There were several occasions in the New Testament where such things were mentioned. Remember the men suffering leprosy that were healed by Jesus and told to bathe and show themselves to the priests? Remember the poor man needing healing but there was no one to place him into the pool when the water stirred? Jesus would heal him outright. What John the Baptizer was doing was not something new to the Jews. They were familiar with ceremonial washings where people would beseech God for mercy and healing. But, like their sacrifices, these washings were never able to fully accomplish what they hoped. What drew people to John was that, even according to ancient standards, he was a peculiar character, unkempt and living off the land. There was also a strangely compelling and powerful element to his message of repentance. John’s baptism of people in the Jordan was really a baptism of PREPARATION. He was making a straight path for the Lord— preparing a people— disposing them to receive the one who was coming after him. Notice how his disciples quickly became followers of Jesus.

The second type of baptism was unique to our Lord. The waters of baptism were made holy by the one being baptized. Through the symbolism of a dove, along with the voice, the whole Trinity was present at the scene of Christ’s baptism. Jesus was identified as God’s Son. His baptism was precisely one of REVELATION. Jesus had no sins that needed repentance or forgiveness. Jesus was the one they had long awaited. Jesus’ identity was made manifest.

Turning to the third type of baptism, we recall our Lord’s words at the end of the Gospel of Matthew. He tells his apostles to go out to the entire world and to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” When he spoke about salvation, he insisted that we must be “born again.” While the baptism of Jesus reveals his identity, our baptism CHANGES our identity. We are remade as a new creation, something different than before. Baptism makes us members of Christ’s kingdom. We become brothers and sisters to Jesus, spiritually adopted sons and daughters of the Father. Sin is washed away, both original and personal. We are made holy and living temples of the Holy Spirit. This third baptism makes us into new Christs, molding us into his likeness. This is a baptism of TRANSFORMATION.

We recall this baptism every time we enter a church and cross ourselves with the holy water from the basin at the door.  As members of the divine family or royal household of God, the world needs to see Christ living and ministering through believers. Creatures of God have become sons and daughters. We are given a share in the divine life and abide as a people of faith in the real hope of salvation.

For more on this feast and the mystery of baptism, read Msgr. Charles Pope’s blog entry.