Msgr. Schaedel’s letter for bulletin of January 16, 2000:
I am returning this weekend from my annual retreat.
I’m afraid that the concept of a retreat is something that’s being lost these days. "Retreat" is just what the words means—stepping back. We "step back" from the routine life we lead to take a look at our spiritual life. A good retreat includes time for personal prayer, daily Mass, spiritual conferences or meditations, and some rest or relaxation.
In former days, each parish had retreat teams of women and men. There were chairpersons or leaders who enlisted parishioners to "go on retreat." I wonder if we should be thinking about reviving this procedure.
Of course, there are many wonderful new approaches to spiritual renewal in the Church today. One of them is the CHRP (Christ Renews His Parish) program. It is actually based on the Cursillo, which is Spanish for a "little course" or a "short course" in Christianity. Seniors in our Catholic High Schools make a version of this same retreat called "Christian Awakening."
On the other hand, there is still a place for the traditional silent or preached retreat. This is the kind of retreat that I have been making this week. In any case, we all need to take some time out for God and God alone. Making a good retreat is actually a luxury. It’s something that spouses can and should give to one another. Think about it.
We have just celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus Himself showed us the importance of Baptism by being baptized Himself in the River Jordan.
Keep in your prayers the children who have been baptized here at Holy Rosary this month and all those who will be baptized in the year to come. Here are some practical reminders about baptism:
Pick a "Christian" or a saint’s name for the child. The saints are wonderful role models for us. Each child needs and deserves a patron saint to imitate. Their patron saint will pray with them and for them. There are some good books that list names of saints for boys and girls as well as more modern names that are popular today yet still have been derived from the names of saints. Some of the trendy names children get stuck with today seem more like names for one’s pets rather than for their children!
Godparents should be active committed Catholics who have been confirmed. Their role is to assist in the religious formation of the child. The best way for them to do this is to model what a Christian should be. Being a godparent is more of a responsibility than it is an honor. Picking godparents just to honor or recognize someone makes little sense. The concept that the godparent raises the child if the parents die is outdated and impractical today. They should be the kind of Catholic that the newly baptized can look up to and imitate.
When push comes to shove, the minimum requirement is that a person has at least one godparent who is a confirmed Catholic. A non-Catholic person may also "stand up" with the newly baptized, but they are actually known as the "Christian witness." (Sometimes this can be done in order to promote family harmony.)
Parents and godparents take on a serious responsibility when they bring a child to be baptized. (The children are generally so young—they don’t have the slightest idea of what’s going on.) It means that they solemnly promise to raise this child as a Roman Catholic. They imply that they will provide for the religious education of the child, see to it that they receive the sacraments, and attend Mass regularly.
Infant baptism makes perfect sense. Parents don’t hesitate to make choices for their children—choices they think are important. Parents decide what the child will eat or drink, when they will go to bed or get up in the morning, what their manners will be, what school they will attend, and so forth. They don’t’ wait until the child grows up so they can make up their own minds regarding things the parents feel are truly important. Nor should they do this in matters regarding the child’s spiritual life.
Not only does baptism take away original sin; it makes the newly baptized a member of the Body of Christ, the Church. An indispensable help to their growth in Christ!
In short: Baptism is a big deal. It’s not to be taken lightly.
Faithfully yours in God’s Providence,
Rev. Msgr. Joseph F. Schaedel