One of the things that I am honored to do in my work as Director of Liturgical Life is to oversee and teach our baptism program. Every Monday, for over a year now, I have met individually with families that are seeking to bring their sweet babies and children into the Catholic faith. Many families that I talk with simply think that they are fulfilling tradition, they are baptizing their kids because they were baptized. I get to take time to explain to them the importance of why we do this as Catholics.
Baptism is the first Sacrament of Initiation and is incredibly important to begin a life of faith for several reasons.
1. Baptism is the first step we take in entering the Catholic faith. Most children under the age of 7 and babies are brought forth by their parents who make promises to raise them as Catholic.
2. This is a necessary purification that cleanses that child of their Original Sin, the sin that each of us inherits from Adam and Eve's sin against God. The recipient receives justifying and sanctifying grace and we believe the Holy Spirit now dwells within them.
3. It leaves a spiritual mark, or an indelible mark, upon that person's soul that can never be removed and signifies that they belong to Jesus Christ.
4. We believe that in order to be saved one must be baptized. Of course God can work outside of the Sacraments, but what we know for sure through revelation is that this is a necessary means of salvation.
5. Partaking in baptism brings us into God's family as adopted sons and daughter, and also makes us a member of the pilgrim church on earth.
The Rite of Baptism, an act of purification, comes to us from the example of St. John the Baptist and Jesus. We celebrate this feast of the Baptism of the Lord every year on the first Sunday following the Epiphany of the Lord. This year, 2023, we will celebrate it on January 8th, but it is considered a moveable feast. In the Novus Ordo calendar, this feast day brings a close to the Christmas season.
This day commemorates the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist. On this occasion, Jesus entered into His ministry and acquired His first disciples, St. John proclaimed Christ the Lamb of God, whose way he had prepared, and the Triune nature of the Godhead was manifested. (EWTN)
Through this humble act of Christ, who had no sin, he enters fully into the human reality through Baptism and sanctifies the waters. It is in imitation of Him that we too are baptized so that we can live our own human reality with sinlessness, virtue, and closeness with God. By being baptized, Christ affirms the necessity of this action and is further emphasized when we read that the Heavens opened up and God the Father affirms His Son.
When we look to commemorate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we should really think of our own baptisms and consider how we can renew those promises in our every day lives.
O Lord, your Baptism shows us that you are not remote. You are at our side. You know sin but are not a sinner. Give us the grace to renew our baptism through a frequent reception of confession and the Holy Eucharist. By receiving one, we strengthen the others. By receiving You, we receive God Himself. Amen. (Prayer from My Catholic Life)