The first essay established the fundamental teaching that the Church is the Communion of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The human person is created to become a participant in that Trinitarian Communion.

The means to participate in the new life of restored communion is the event of baptism.  Jesus the Christ taught: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…” (Mt 28:19).[1]  The word baptism comes from the Greek βαπτίζω (baptizo) meaning literally immersion.[2]  By the event of baptism, a person is “immersed into the life of the Trinity.”[3]

For the newly baptized person, therefore, a new life begins but not as a disconnected and autonomous individual.   Such an idea is rooted in the unhealthy modern notion of rugged individualism marked by a false sense of autonomy.  That mistaken thinking leads to erroneous ideas such as the “Me and God” mentality. [4]  Participation in the life of the Church, for example, is viewed as optional or unnecessary; the life of the Church is seen as artificial and inorganic; the personal acts of sin are viewed simply as private acts that affect one’s self and probably one’s immediate circle of family and friends, however, no further; the individual sees the Church and one’s parish as a means to serve personal objectives and tastes, and the individual sets himself or herself as the final arbiter over all ecclesial matters.

Baptism, however, incorporates one into the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13, 27).   Similar to natural life, where a child is born into a family, so also, in the event of baptism one is born into a supernatural family.  The baptized person becomes an organic and integral member of the Church – the Trinitarian Communion of Selfless love.

Saint Paul aptly describes the incorporation: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).  In another letter, the Apostle Paul teaches: “…present your bodies as a living sacrifice (offering), holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your liturgical worship.  Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed (metaneized) by the renewing of your mind (nous)[5](Rm 12:1-2).  And still one more poignant apostolic teaching: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one, so it is with Christ.  For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:12-13).

So organic and integral is the communion shared by all the baptized as one Body that the Apostle writes: “But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored all rejoice together” (1 Cor 12: 25-26).

In his own epistle, Saint Peter the Apostle realized the chosen people of the Old Testament as the prototype or foreshadowing of the kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex 19:5).  He calls the baptized the fulfilment or realization of the prototype: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people…” (1 Pt 2:9).

The various Apostolic passages by Saint Paul and Peter declare a similar truth about baptism.  It is neither a private nor individualistic event or experience, but rather a profoundly personal and communal event that incorporates one into the life of the Church.  One becomes a participant by grace in the Trinitarian communion of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, joined to a Holy Body, a Heavenly Family.

The Acts of the Apostles gives the first account of how the baptized lived the new reality: “They devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles, a communal life, the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).  A few lines later, the author of Acts gives another description about the early communal life of the baptized: “All who believed were at the same place and they were having all things in common, selling their properties and possessions and distributing the proceeds to those in need.  And day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food…” (Acts 2:44-47).

The Book of Acts identifies five apostolic practices of the Church’s life on earth: 1) devotion to the teachings of the Apostles, 2) a communal life, 3) the breaking of the bread (Eucharist), 4) assembling for the hours of prayer, and 5) corporate works of selfless love or works of charity.  The apostles and first Christians assembled both in the sacred temple and the homes of the baptized to live their communal life as members of the Church.  The designated homes for assembling were called “domestic churches.”  The parish is equivalent to the domestic church where the baptized faithful of a certain geographical area assemble.[6]

Parish life, therefore, is not an accessory to the person with a lived-faith.  It is vital and integral to one’s faith formation and the work of divinization.  As an organic and integral member of the heavenly family, within one’s parish a baptized person is able to live and experience the five distinct apostolic practices.  First, the members of the parish are devoted to the teachings of the Apostles (Tradition) through homilies, faith formation and catechesis.  Second, the members cherish a communal life, where they assemble for socials and fellowships.  Third, the parish assembles every Sunday and on the days of Great Feasts to celebrate the breaking of the bread (Eucharist=Divine Liturgy).  Fourth, the parish members assemble regularly for prayer, i.e., Liturgy of the Hours, especially Vespers and Orthros.  Fifth, the members of a parish, as a corporate Body, practice the works of selfless love called charity (selfless giving and other acts of stewardship).  Participating in the same Apostolic Tradition, parishioners, throughout the week, visit regularly the sacred temple for liturgical celebrations, formation and a communal life.

[1] See also Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5; Acts 2:38; Gal 3:27

[2] Βαπτίζω means literally: I dip, submerge, but specifically of ceremonial dipping; I baptize.  See

[3] “The mystery which gives us an entrance into the life of the Holy Trinity and participation in the presence of God in His Church is baptism” See Light For Life: Part Two The Mystery Celebrated, page 73.

[4] The idea of individualism is a rather new phenomenon in the history of mankind.  Individualism begins with the human person as an isolated unit.  It does not appear in human history until sometime until after the French Revolution.  Before then, every individual understood himself only in relationship to other groups.  See Alexis de Tocqueville’s work: The Old Regime and the French Revolution, 98.

[5] The Greek word for nous, νοῦς, has no equivalent single word in English to express its meaning adequately.  The word ‘mind’ refers to the faculties of perceiving and understanding, feeling, judging and determining.  It applies also to the faculty of the soul that perceives/grasps divine things and recognizes goodness and reject evil.  See Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 429.

[6] The Parish has a long history and from the outset, it has played a fundamental role in the life of Christians and in the development and pastoral work of the Church. We can see this in the writings of Saint Paul. Several of the Pauline texts show us the formation of small communities as domestic churches, which the Apostle simply calls a “house” (cf., for example, Rm 16:3-5; 1 Co 16:19-20; Phil 4:22). With these “houses”, we get a foretaste of the birth of the first “Parishes” … Since its inception, the Parish is envisioned as a response to a precise pastoral need, namely that of bringing the Gospel to the People through the proclamation of the faith and the celebration of the Sacraments. The etymology of the word makes clear the meaning of the institution: the Parish is a house among houses…(See:, 6 and 7)