Dear fellow Pilgrims, I use that word “pilgrim” in its original meaning, not those fellows who came over on the Mayflower. The word pilgrim means traveler. We as Catholics use it whenever we speak of journeying to a holy place i.e. pilgrimages to Rome, Fatima or Jerusalem. The folks who go on those pilgrimages are pilgrims. We as Christians frequently refer to our spiritual Life as a pilgrimage or journey. We are moving towards the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven or to spiritual and physical union with the Body of Christ and with the person(s) of God. It is not as clearly a journey in which we board a plane, train, or automobile or even set out on a long hike, but, if we do some work like prayer and meditation, we can often recognize it as just that. The Church offers us tools to enable this work to become more fruitful and to guide us along the Way. The Sacraments of the Church are very important tools for us to use as roadmaps. They have the advantage of being tested through 20 centuries of pilgrimages by folks from every place and time in human history; rich and poor, powerful and meek, sick or healthy, gay or straight, black or white, etc. If we make the effort to better experience the Sacraments we may actually find that they work for us today as well as they did for the billions upon billions of other human beings who preceded us. Baptism is a moment in time (usually very early in our lives) when we admit that we are not perfect and that we will one day pass from the realm of the living to the dead and there is nothing we can do about it (original sin). In acknowledging our imperfections and our limits we become open to despair and to hope. Despair will always precede hope because it is only in the hopelessness of facing our own death that we can receive the hope of the resurrection. The twelve Apostles first were desperate when Jesus was crucified. In their despair they crouched in fear unable even to go out and live their lives in the world. After their encounter with the Risen One they went out to all the world and proclaimed the Gospel. Baptism is also that first encounter with the Risen Jesus. In the moment when we stare down our own mortality and its unavoidability for ourselves and our world, we meet the one person who has defeated the undefeatable and he offers us the way through. It is a truly powerful moment in the life of the Baptized and in the life of the Church. If you have not been to a celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism in a while maybe it would do you some good to try to go to one. We celebrate the Sacrament for individual families usually on Sunday afternoons (but not every Sunday) and as at any and all celebrations of the Sacraments, all are welcome. Take some time this week to ponder the sacred event of your own Baptism and where this first step in your spiritual journey has led and continues to lead you. Next week we’ll consider the Sacrament of Confirmation. Peace and God Bless you!