Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Take the Plunge

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Take the Plunge

Article excerpt


By Timothy Radcliffe (Burns & Oates, 2012)


Adult Catholics understandably approach any new treatment of the sacraments with the plea, "Tell me something I don't already know" or, "Make me see it in a new way." Timothy Radcliffe's reflection on Christianity's foundational sacraments--baptism and confirmation--does not disappoint.

Chapter by chapter he focuses a slow-motion lens on the rituals, exploring the sacraments' histories, physical elements (water, oil, fire, white garment), actions, and spoken words. The author sees in the baptism ceremony the span of a Christian's life in microcosm, from beginning to end. "This is the love that makes us strong children of God, to whom the future is entrusted," he says. "It touches on the drama of being human, blessing our birth and death, our falling in love, our moments of failure, our struggle to understand the meaning of our lives, and our slow ripening into maturity."

Our baptism--no matter when we receive it--calls us to a life of grown-up faith: "[It] may be a brief and common ritual whose significance is usually hardly noticed, but it is the drama of being fully alive in Christ. …

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