He called the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “if any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” Mark 8
One of my colleagues shared a wonderful story of a family that brought their six month old son to be baptized. At the time of the baptism, the infant was brought to the font, baptized with water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and then, as is our custom, had the sign of the cross traced on his forehead using Chrism, holy oil. The worship continued to its conclusion, and, following the service, the family returned home and celebrated with a big backyard party. Family and friends ate burgers and chips and played volleyball under a summer sun. The newly baptized infant, being only six months old, was left to nap in his backyard stroller. When the child’s mother went to get him out of the stroller, there, tattooed on his forehead, was the image of the cross. Mom had forgotten to wash the child’s face following the baptism, and the oil that the priest had traced onto his forehead acted as an anti-sun screen. The Cross of Christ was imprinted on baby’s forehead, and for several weeks, it was a wonderful reminder of the meaning of Baptism and a reminder that the Cross of Jesus had “marked” the child. And what a powerful witness it was, my friend told us. The parents of the child had to explain the cross to the pediatrician, to the neighbours, to the stranger in the grocery store. For a few weeks, the infant was nothing less than a living homily.
We who gathered for Ash Wednesday had a similar mark placed on our forehead, but unlike the infant in the story, most of us washed ours off after leaving the service. I cannot help but wonder, what if. What if we wore the mark of our baptism as a visible sign for all to see. What if we had to explain to our work colleagues, our bridge partners, or our medical professionals how the mark got there, and why it couldn’t be removed, a constant reminder to ourselves and to others, of the responsibility we bear as Christians. Our Ash Wednesday readings remind us that it is less important how we adorn ourselves in faith, and of utmost importance how we put that faith into practice. The prophet Joel calls us to “rend our hearts and not our clothing” and Jesus himself commends us not to “practice our piety before others in order to be seen by them”. As one of our baptismal promises requires, we are to proclaim by what we say and by what we do, the saving love of God through Jesus Christ, which, when we think about it, becomes the physical sign to the world that we are followers, disciples of Jesus Christ.
If this is your first visit, it is a joy to welcome you to our Cathedral web site. Perhaps you are looking to find the presence of God in your own life journey, a search that in the midst of the noise and confusion of our age, can at times seem overwhelming. Maybe we can be of some assistance. Contained within this site are examples of the ministry that we share as the cathedral church of St. Paul’s. We enjoy a wonderful mix of young and old, those who are new to the faith, as well as those who are mature Christians. In the midst of a wonderful blend of personalities comes the blessing of a variety of gifts and ministries. May the information you find here encourage you in your own faith journey. We invite you to come and make your spiritual home with us at St. Paul’s, but pray that wherever you are, you will find a Christian community where you can deepen your faith, and explore what it is that God is calling you to. Wherever you are, your prayers for the ministry of the people of St. Paul’s Cathedral are appreciated, and know that you will be in ours.
We are thankful for the people of St. Paul’s, who offer their gifts for the ministry of the church as we seek to live out the commission that our Lord gave to us all, and we are thankful that you have visited us here… we wish you every blessing as you continue your journey in faith.