Q: If God was with us all the time, why do we feel sad or get hurt when we think we are on the road to heaven?
A: You are right in saying that God is with us all the time. Unfortunately for ourselves, we don’t always pay attention to God being with us all the time. This is a reminder of our incompleteness without God’s presence. In other words, as a result of Original Sin, when Adam and Eve, our first parents, decided they did not need God, the world was sent into disarray.
What I mean by disarray is that paradise was taken away from us and so the results of the sin of our first parents resonates throughout the world in the form of our being sad or hurt or even recognizing the bad things that happen in the world this day. We know as Christians, though, that this is not the end of the story for we will celebrate next year the great week of Holy Week in which we remember Jesus’ Suffering, Death and Resurrection in order that paradise be returned to us. It is Jesus whose enduring presence accompanies us in our sadness and provides healing when you and I hurt. In other words, Jesus completes us. So, may we remember the next time that we are hurt or sad that God is with us and find great comfort that he knows how we feel and he is always listening.
Q: Why, during Baptism, do some priests dunk the baby under water while others pour the water over the baby’s head?
A: This is a very good question as well for we are blessed with so many profound and beautiful symbols in our Catholic Tradition. Some of these symbols accompany us in the great celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism.
The priest or the deacon determine, for pastoral reasons, the proper formula for the individual, whether a child or older, such as an adult, would receive the baptism of immersion (dunking) or the pouring of the water on the forehead (infusion). While it is imperative that we use water, especially holy water, what is also necessary is the formula of the words mentioned by the baptizing cleric; namely, the priest or the deacon. The cleric must use the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” These words connect us directly with the various words of Jesus that he imparted on his disciples before he returned to his Heavenly Father ( “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Mt 28: 19-20). So, we are sharing Jesus’ very words.
There is a tremendous amount of history of the celebration of this sacrament and, of course, it all begins with Jesus being baptized in the Jordan by St. John the Baptist for Jesus is the source of our baptism.
Q: In the Bible, it says that we should not worship idols. When we genuflect to the statue of Mary or Jesus, is that bad?
A: We have within our tradition of the Church the use of statues as well as images of the saints for private and public devotion. What I mean by devotion is that we honor St. Mary, the mother of Jesus, and all the saints, as well as devote our prayers for their intercession into our lives. Remember, the Catholic Church does not contain just all the Catholics here on earth, but also the saints that are in Heaven. They too are our brothers and sisters in the Catholic Faith.
When we bow (genuflection is not necessary or required in front of a statue or an image of a saint) or make a sign of the cross, we worship Jesus Christ through our honoring that saint. Remember, St. Mary, the mother of God, has shown us the way to Jesus Christ for St. Mary is the Mother of the Church. Her life here on earth is a model for all Christians.
In honoring the saints through prayerful devotion and gesture we do not worship any saint; we worship Jesus Christ the Son of God through our loving devotion to that saint. There is only one God, the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity.
How blessed we are as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ as God has deemed us worthy for Eternal Life with Him and all the saints. As we prepare to exit this extraordinary Ordinary Time for the new liturgical year, which begins at the First Sunday of Advent, please know of my prayers for you and all your loved ones. May we keep each other in prayer.
To “Ask the Bishop,” address questions to Joseph M. Taylor, catechetical consultant and youth ministry coordinator in the Diocese of Steubenville Office of Christian Formation and Schools, P.O. Box 969, Steubenville, OH 43952; email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or telephone, (740) 282-3631.