BaptismMany organizations and clubs have a procedure to bring in new members. Often a ritual is involved. Public officials begin their work by taking an oath of office. A new principal might be formally introduced at a school assembly. These are rites of initiation-something we do at the beginning of things. For Catholics, Baptism is that thing. During the Rite of Baptism, the bishop, the priest, or deacon pours water three times over the head of the candidate or immerses the candidate in the water three times. As the candidate is immersed or the water is poured over his or her head, the celebrant says, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." The water in Baptism symbolizes our sins being washed away.
CommunionThe Eucharist sacrifice is a reenactment of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross to restore humanity to friendship with God. It's the Paschal Mystery- the most important thing that has ever happened. It's something we experience every time we go to Mass. A meal. At its simplest, the Eucharist is a meal. Meals are for groups of people. You don't usually call it a meal when you eat alone. The group we share the Eucharistic meal with is the local community of Catholics, which usually includes people we know. The table we gather around is the altar. We listen to stories about our family (the Scripture readings). We remember and honor our leader (Jesus). We pray together and sing songs. Then we eat his Body and drink his Blood. The food is Jesus Christ himself, given to us in the most intimate way. It is spiritual food. It's the nourishment we need to become the people we were meant to be.