People brought little children to Jesus, for him to lay his hands on them and say a prayer. The disciples turned them away, but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children alone, and do not stop them coming to me; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’ Then he laid his hands on them and went on his way.
Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The mystagogy of the celebration
1234 The meaning and grace of the sacrament of Baptism are clearly seen in the rites of its celebration. By following the gestures and words of this celebration with attentive participation, the faithful are initiated into the riches this sacrament signifies and actually brings about in each newly baptized person.
1235 The sign of the cross, on the threshold of the celebration, marks with the imprint of Christ the one who is going to belong to him and signifies the grace of the redemption Christ won for us by his cross.
1236 The proclamation of the Word of God enlightens the candidates and the assembly with the revealed truth and elicits the response of faith, which is inseparable from Baptism. Indeed Baptism is “the sacrament of faith” in a particular way, since it is the sacramental entry into the life of faith.
1237 Since Baptism signifies liberation from sin and from its instigator the devil, one or more exorcisms are pronounced over the candidate. The celebrant then anoints him with the oil of catechumens, or lays his hands on him, and he explicitly renounces Satan. Thus prepared, he is able to confess the faith of the Church, to which he will be “entrusted” by Baptism.
1238 The baptismal water is consecrated by a prayer of epiclesis (either at this moment or at the Easter Vigil). The Church asks God that through his Son the power of the Holy Spirit may be sent upon the water, so that those who will be baptized in it may be “born of water and the Spirit.”
1239 The essential rite of the sacrament follows: Baptism properly speaking. It signifies and actually brings about death to sin and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity through configuration to the Paschal mystery of Christ. Baptism is performed in the most expressive way by triple immersion in the baptismal water. However, from ancient times it has also been able to be conferred by pouring the water three times over the candidate’s head.
1240 In the Latin Church this triple infusion is accompanied by the minister’s words: “N., I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” In the Eastern liturgies the catechumen turns toward the East and the priest says: “The servant of God, N., is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” At the invocation of each person of the Most Holy Trinity, the priest immerses the candidate in the water and raises him up again.
1241 The anointing with sacred chrism, perfumed oil consecrated by the bishop, signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit to the newly baptized, who has become a Christian, that is, one “anointed” by the Holy Spirit, incorporated into Christ who is anointed priest, prophet, and king.
1242 In the liturgy of the Eastern Churches, the post-baptismal anointing is the sacrament of Chrismation (Confirmation). In the Roman liturgy the post- baptismal anointing announces a second anointing with sacred chrism to be conferred later by the bishop Confirmation, which will as it were “confirm” and complete the baptismal anointing.
1243 The white garment symbolizes that the person baptized has “put on Christ,” has risen with Christ. The candle, lit from the Easter candle, signifies that Christ has enlightened the neophyte. In him the baptized are “the light of the world.”
The newly baptized is now, in the only Son, a child of God entitled to say the prayer of the children of God: “Our Father.”
1244 First Holy Communion. Having become a child of God clothed with the wedding garment, the neophyte is admitted “to the marriage supper of the Lamb” and receives the food of the new life, the body and blood of Christ. The Eastern Churches maintain a lively awareness of the unity of Christian initiation by giving Holy Communion to all the newly baptized and confirmed, even little children, recalling the Lord’s words: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them.” The Latin Church, which reserves admission to Holy Communion to those who have attained the age of reason, expresses the orientation of Baptism to the Eucharist by having the newly baptized child brought to the altar for the praying of the Our Father.
1245 The solemn blessing concludes the celebration of Baptism. At the Baptism of newborns the blessing of the mother occupies a special place.
St. John Eudes, C.J.M. (French: Jean Eudes) (14 November 1601 – 19 August 1680) was a French missionary and priest, who founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary and the Order of Our Lady of Charity, and was the author of the propers for the Mass and Divine Office of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He has been declared a saint by the Catholic Church.
Eudes was born in 1601 on a farm near the village of Ri, in Normandy, the son of Isaac and Martha Eudes. After studying with the Jesuits at Caen, Eudes joined the Oratorians on 25 March 1623. His masters and models in the spiritual life were Pierre de Bérulle and the mystic Charles de Condren. As a student of de Bérulle, Eudes is a member of the French School of Spirituality. The French School was not a system or philosophy, but a highly Christocentric approach to spirituality, characterized by a sense of adoration, a personal relationship with Jesus, and a rediscovery of the Holy Spirit.
Eudes was ordained a priest on 20 December 1625. Immediately after his ordination, he came down with an illness that kept him bedridden for a year. During severe plagues in 1627 and 1631, he volunteered to care for the stricken in his own diocese. He went about Normandy committing himself to the sick, administering the sacraments, and burying the dead. To avoid infecting his colleagues, he lived in a huge cask in the middle of a field during the plague.
At age 32, Eudes became a parish missionary, preached over 100 parish missions, throughout Normandy, Ile-de-France, Burgundy and Brittany. He was called by Jean-Jacques Olier “the prodigy of his age”.
Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge
In his parish mission work, Eudes was disturbed by the situation of prostitutes who sought to escape their life. Temporary shelters were found but arrangements were not satisfactory. A certain Madeleine Lamy, who had cared for several of the women, one day challenged him to address the problem. In 1641 he founded the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge in Caen, Normandy to provide a refuge for prostitutes who wished to do penance. Three Visitation nuns came to his aid temporarily, and in 1644, a house was opened at Caen under the title of Our Lady of Charity. Other ladies joined them, and in 1651, the Bishop of Bayeux gave the institute his approbation. The congregation was approved by Pope Alexander VII on 2 January 1666. It later also included a convent from which, in 1829, Sister Mary Euphrasia Pelletier established the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, better known as the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.
Congregation of Jesus and Mary
With the support of Cardinal Richelieu and a number of individual bishops, Eudes severed his connection with the Oratory to establish the Congregation of Jesus and Mary (Eudists) solely for the education of priests and for parish missions. This congregation was founded at Caen on 25 March 1643. Normandy was the principal theatre of his apostolic labours.
For the laity, Eudes founded the Society of the Most Admirable Mother, a sort of Third Order, which would eventually count among its members, Jeanne Jugan, the foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor, and Amelie Fristel, who founded the Sisters of the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary at Parame, in France.
The “Eudist family,” is composed of the Eudists, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Good Shepherd Sisters, the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and the Little Sisters of the Poor, and the Associates.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart
Influenced by the teaching of the French school and St. Francis de Sales, especially as set out in the Treatise on the Love of God, and also by the revelations of St. Gertrude and St. Mechtilde, he was the theoretician, so to speak, of devotion to the Sacred Heart and explained the expressions of his predecessors. Won over to devotion to the Heart of Jesus by Bérulle’s devotion to the Incarnate Word, he combined with it the gentleness and devotional warmth of St. Francis de Sales. He changed the somewhat individual and private character of the devotion into a devotion for the whole Church by writing for the benefit of his communities an Office and a Mass, which were later approved by several bishops before spreading throughout the Church. For this reason, Pope Leo XIII, in proclaiming his virtues heroic in 1903, gave him the title of “Author of the Liturgical Worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Holy Heart of Mary”.
Eudes dedicated the seminary chapels of Caen and Coutances to the Sacred Heart. The feast of the Holy Heart of Mary was celebrated for the first time in 1648, and that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1672, each as a double of the first class with an octave.
He composed various prayers and rosaries to the Sacred Hearts. His book “Le Cœur Admirable de la Très Sainte Mère de Dieu” is the first book ever written on the devotion to the Sacred Hearts.
Eudes taught the mystical unity of the hearts of Jesus and Mary and wrote:
You must never separate what God has so perfectly united. So closely are Jesus and Mary bound up with each other that whoever beholds Jesus sees Mary; whoever loves Jesus, loves Mary; whoever has devotion to Jesus, has devotion to Mary.
The most striking characteristic of the teaching of St. John Eudes on Devotion to the Sacred Heart—as indeed of his whole teaching on the spiritual life—is that Christ is always its centre.
Father Eudes wrote a number of books. His principal works are:
La Vie et le Royaume de Jésus (The Life and Kingdom of Jesus, 1637)
Le contrat de l’homme avec Dieu par le Saint Baptême, (Contract of Man with God Through Holy Baptism, 1654)
Le Bon Confesseur, (The Good Confessor, 1666)
Le Mémorial de la vie Ecclésiastique”;
Le Prédicateur Apostolique
Le Cœur Admirable de la Très Sainte Mère de Dieu (the first book ever written on the devotion to the Sacred Hearts)
He died at Caen on 19 August 1680.