Once upon a time an eager disciple asked the master, “How much water does one need for a valid baptism? How much water is sufficient?”

This was, so it seems, a very frequent question, as some folks baptize in the river, some folks baptize in a baptismal pool, while others baptize with just a few drops of water on the head.

The master  turned his gaze towards the disciple and answered, “A valid baptism needs as much water as it would take to drown in.”

Source | Philip Chircop sj


The word “baptism” derives from the Greek baptizein meaning “to immerse, to drown, to submerge”. The Greek verb bapto, from which the verb baptizo is derived, also means  “to dip, steep, dye, color.”

What if baptism is all about “drowning”, dying to the old self and being born to the new self? What if it is about shedding the false self and putting on the true self? What if it is about marinating in the Source until one reflects the dye, the colour and the texture of the source?


Two monks were out for a walk one day

One older, the other much younger. They had both taken vows of silence and chastity. As they continued along the trail, they came to a creek where they saw a girl standing on the bank, she told them that she needed to get across. Without hesitation the older monk picked her up in his arms and waded across the creek with her. Once they both got to the other side, they went on their way.

An hour on down the trail the younger of the two broke his vow of silence,

“You know with our vow of chastity we are not to even touch a woman, let alone make eye contact with one!”

The older one, who had been admiring the beauty of the woods and the songs of the birds, replied, “Brother, I set her down on the bank an hour ago. You, however, are still carrying her.”


  • Let go of your past and you will be able to enjoy the present in its fullness.


A young missionary priest was assigned to work in Central America. Upon arrival, and after settling in, the leader of the community picked up the young priest and took him to meet the people. At that time, as was the custom, everyone was having a bath in the river men, women and children, all stark naked. No malice!

When the priest saw this, he was shocked and very upset!  He called  the leader and he commanded him to let the people know that  it was not proper for men, women and children to bathe naked together in the same river. “From now on”, the priest said, “bathing will happen separately.”

One of the man, sensing the upset,  got out of the river, ran towards the priest and said, “Father, what’s wrong with you! What’s the difference, if we take a bath separately or together, it is the same water!”
  • When we project our fears and our unease onto others aren’t we judging them?
  • Can it be that wrongdoing and rightdoing exist only in our heads?
  • Can it be that our unreflective intrusions and the enforcement of our way of thinking wound and disturb the innocence of the others whom we are trying to teach and help?