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The act that touches the depth of our existence.

Dove, Jesus's Baptism Detail  By: Giusto De' Menabuoi

Dove, Jesus’s Baptism Detail
By: Giusto De’ Menabuoi

(From Catholic.org :- Bold type my emphasis.)

At his public audience on January 8, the first general audience of the calendar year, Pope Francis inaugurated a new series of catechetical talks, devoted to the sacraments.

Noting that the coming Sunday will be the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the Pope spoke on the importance of Baptism, which “grafts us to Christ and his Church.”

Baptism, the Pope emphasized, is “not a mere formality,” but “an act that touches the depth of our existence.” He strongly encouraged the faithful to learn the date of their Baptism, and celebrate that day each year. He observed that in the absence of some such celebration, “We end up considering it merely as an event that took place in the past – and not even by our will, but rather by that of our parents.”

Baptism makes the faithful “bearers of new hope,” the Pope continued, and that vocation should be lived out every day. He added that Baptism is a gift that we receive through someone else, since each Christian is baptized by another person in “an act of brotherhood, an act of affiliation to the Church.”

I have highlighted the main parts to the piece above. The phrase that stands out for me is ‘….not by our will, but rather by that of our parents’. The other statements contain a depth of meaning that continues to unfold for me as an adult Christian. Which sentence jumps out at you?

Baptism is a huge and pivotal milestone in anyone’s life, regardless of when you are Baptised. It is deemed to be so important  that my parents (probably urged on by my grandmother) wasted little time in having me Baptised – Grafting me to Christ and His Church. Parents only want the best for their children. To do what’s right. I know this because this is how we feel as parents, and we made the very same choice for our children.

Baptism is a sacrament which accomplishes several things, the first of which is the remission of sin, both original sin and actual sin—only original sin in the case of infants and young children, since they are incapable of actual sin; and both original and actual sin in the case of older persons. Holy Baptism holds the first place among the Sacraments, because it is the door of the spiritual life; for by it we are made members of Christ and incorporated with the Church.

baptism-at-font-a1

(From the Catechism of the Catholic Church)

1213 Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua),and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.”

1214 This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to “plunge” or “immerse”; the “plunge” into the water symbolizes the catechumen’s burial into Christ’s death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as “a new creature.”

1215 This sacrament is also called “the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” for it signifies and actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one “can enter the kingdom of God.”

1216 “This bath is called enlightenment, because those who receive this [catechetical] instruction are enlightened in their understanding
. . . .” Having received in Baptism the Word, “the true light that enlightens every man,” the person baptized has been “enlightened,” he becomes a “son of light,” indeed, he becomes “light” himself:

Baptism is God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift….We call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious gift. It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own; grace since it is given even to the guilty; Baptism because sin is buried in the water; anointing for it is priestly and royal as are those who are anointed; enlightenment because it radiates light; clothing since it veils our shame; bath because it washes; and seal as it is our guard and the sign of God’s Lordship.

1229 From the time of the apostles, becoming a Christian has been accomplished by a journey and initiation in several stages. This journey can be covered rapidly or slowly, but certain essential elements will always have to be present: proclamation of the Word, acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion, profession of faith, Baptism itself, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and admission to Eucharistic communion.

1230 This initiation has varied greatly through the centuries according to circumstances. In the first centuries of the Church, Christian initiation saw considerable development. A long period of catechumenate included a series of preparatory rites, which were liturgical landmarks along the path of catechumenal preparation and culminated in the celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation.

1231 Where infant Baptism has become the form in which this sacrament is usually celebrated, it has become a single act encapsulating the preparatory stages of Christian initiation in a very abridged way. By its very nature infant Baptism requires a post-baptismal catechumenate. Not only is there a need for instruction after Baptism, but also for the necessary flowering of baptismal grace in personal growth. the catechism has its proper place here.

1232 The second Vatican Council restored for the Latin Church “the catechumenate for adults, comprising several distinct steps.” The rites for these stages are to be found in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). The Council also gives permission that: “In mission countries, in addition to what is furnished by the Christian tradition, those elements of initiation rites may be admitted which are already in use among some peoples insofar as they can be adapted to the Christian ritual.”

1233 Today in all the rites, Latin and Eastern, the Christian initiation of adults begins with their entry into the catechumenate and reaches its culmination in a single celebration of the three sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. In the Eastern rites the Christian initiation of infants also begins with Baptism followed immediately by Confirmation and the Eucharist, while in the Roman rite it is followed by years of catechesis before being completed later by Confirmati.

I sourced two family celebrations of Holy Baptism from way-back-when:-

Claire and Dawn

Dawn, Godmother to my sister Claire, wearing a mantilla in the 70’s. A beautifully serene photo.

306130_10151348907724825_795786205_n

This, a picture of my brother-in-law’s Baptism which took place in 1959.I think this one’s particularly fetching of Richard, delineating a proud and upright sense of formality by the adults with an interesting take on the baby’s position during Baptism.

Anyone got Baptism pics to share that tells a story?

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