Baptism. The Sacrament often taken for granted. Many of us, unless having converted in adulthood, don’t remember our Baptisms. Yet, for each and every Baptized Christian, it is arguably the most important day of our lives. Through Baptism we are grafted into the paschal mystery of Christ, we are made new and purified, justified, and sanctified. We also experience four major effects of receiving this Sacrament; the “basis of the whole Christian life” (CCC 1213).
Freedom from original and all sin
The first effect of Baptism is that the person being baptized is freed from original sin. Before the age of reason, a child can not fall into voluntary sin, because in order for something to be sinful, one must willingly choose to do something that they know and understand is wrong. However all people are born with original sin, the sin passed down to us from our first parents, Adam and Eve. Baptism frees one from original sin and allows the soul to be open to sanctifying grace!
Baptism is a rebirth – of water and the spirit. The next time a Christian asks you if you have been “born again” tell them absolutely – at Baptism!
Come Holy Spirit
Speaking of being born of the Spirit, this isn’t a passive thing. We’re talking a full on invasion, indwelling, take-over by the Holy Spirit who cannot WAIT to take up residence within the newly baptized. Often we associate the sacrament of Confirmation with the Holy Spirit, but the reality is that it is Baptism that invites the spirit to come and live within a person. It is at confirmation that the life in the Spirit that was started at Baptism is further confirmed in a person. It starts with Baptism.
A minor what?
Every Baptism includes a minor exorcism. In fact, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism.” During the Rite of Baptism, one of more exorcisms are pronounced over the child or catechumen. This allows for the profession of faith to made freely either by the catechumen or by the parents on behalf of their child.
Baptism is a homecoming! Whether the newly baptized is an infant or an adult, their baptism has grafted them into the Paschal Mystery of Christ and made them a part – a member – of the Church, the Body of Christ. Before Baptism they were spiritual orphans but at the moment of baptism everything changes! No longer orphans, but members, and more than members – because at baptism one becomes a part of Christ!
At the moment of Baptism the newly baptized receive a mission – the Church’s mission. Each baptized Christian is a sharer in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly mission of Christ. This tri-fold mission can be explained as a mission to teach, sanctify, and to rule. Every ordained priest carries out this mission in the person of Christ: sanctifying us by offering us the sacraments, teaching us through their preaching, direction, and instruction, and ruling through the governance of the Church. But each and every baptized Christian is also called to this mission. The laity primarily carry out their priestly, prophetic, and kingly mission in family life and in their spheres of influence. Through the living out of their baptism, by being sharers in the mission of the church, baptized Christians sanctify their families and family life, teach each other and their children, and establish proper and just authority – at home, in society and even through their involvement in their parishes.
The doorway of the Sacraments
“Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua),4 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'” (CCC 1213). Let’s all take a moment and appreciate the awesome gift that was our Baptism!