So, last night was our first day back. Father P taught, and we went over (in very basic form) the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist.
It was, as I said, a basic overview.
A sacrament is an outward sign of an inner change. So while yes, water is required for a valid baptism, as is the formula 'In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost', the water is not in itself, 'magically washing away sin.' As circumcision is a sign of belonging under the Old Covenant, baptism is a sign under the New. It is, in a way, a circumcision of the soul. Father P mentioned that he has, in order to protect the sacrament, refused to baptise children, if he felt that the parents were baptising, not for the right reason, to bring their child into the covenant and raise them in it, but to impress visiting parents, or because it's family tradition. We'll cover, at a later time, immersion vs. sprinkling, and why the Church practices and upholds infant baptism.
The Eucharist, I feel, is at the same time very simple and complicated. Look in the Synoptic Gospels, and you find the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. You have the miracles of the multiplying of the loaves and Jesus walking on water coming before the Last Supper, giving evidence for what Jesus would be able to do in the Eucharist. He was not subject to the laws of nature, like everyone else. You have Jesus telling his followers that He will give them His flesh for food and His blood for drink, and you have them leaving Him in droves, because they believed He was teaching cannibalism. They didn't understand the true meaning of his words. Why wouldn't He stop them, if His teaching was merely metaphorical? It's very easy to look in the Gospels and see the Lord's Supper, but it takes, in my opinion, an act of faith to believe that Jesus literally meant what He was saying.
Then, of course, there was the discussion of who can take Communion in the Catholic Church. It's closed Communion, which means that you must be Catholic (or Orthodox, in extenuating circumstances), in order to receive. And a little, peripherally, about Confession, and it's role in preparing us to receive, but we didn't get into it much.
Father P likes to fancy himself a comedian. His ring tone, we learned last night, is a chicken clucking. Very cute. He likes to tell stories, both funny and otherwise. Last night, he was going through the argument, do Catholics have to go to church? Can't we just be Catholics at home? The story:
There was a married couple, both Catholic. The wife went to Mass every Sunday, and urged her husband to come with her. He declined, saying 'You go for the both of us.' Over and over. She lived her faith, and he paid lip service to it. One day, the couple is killed in a car accident. At the Pearly Gates, Saint Peter turns to the wife and says, 'You can come in for the both of you.'