Baptism


Baptism is our birth as Christians, our birth as "other Christs."  Through many centuries Christians loved to view the baptismal font as the womb of holy Mother church; for at the font her children come forth alive with a new and higher life --- that of God Himself.

This second birth into God's own family at the sacred font is the source of new and wonderful privileges.  The first of the baptismal graces which needs emphasis in twentieth-century United States is that of our incorporation into Christ, the fact of the Mystical Body.  Baptism makes us members of Christ:  "We were all baptized into one Body  .  .  .  you are the Body of Christ and severally His members" (1 Cor. 12:13, 27).  Our head is Christ, and consequently the thoughts which fill our minds must be His thoughts:  "We have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16).  As in a body many cells share the same dignity, so the many individuals who form Christ's Body all share the same godlike dignity;  there is then no place for mutual indignities or antagonisms;  fraternal charity must reign supreme.  Because Baptism has made us all one in christ, the efforts of each are to the advantage of all, the suffering of one brings tears to many, a single song of praice gladdens countless hearts.

Baptism, secondly, makes us the dwelling-place of the most Blessed Trinity, makes each of us a holy temple, for "holy is the temple of God, and this temple you are" (1 Cor. 3:17).  God's active, energizing prexence in the baptized soul transforms it into a creature most pleasing to Himself.  Too frequently we may have limited our attention to the negative aspect of holy Baptism, that is, its power to remit sin and to cleanse away all guilt.  More marvellour is its fulfillment of Jesus' last prayer:  If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and will make our abode with him" (St. John 14:23).  And where Father and Son are, their Spirit must of necessity be:  "Do you not know that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16).  As we become conscious of this unspeakable gift our hearts spontaneously welcome the command:  "Glorify and bear God in your body" (1 Cor. 6:10).


Though Baptism confers such great gifts, it is not a final stage in God's generosity toward us --- it is only a beginning.  Baptism plants the seed, the remaining sacraments bring it ot harvest.  All the sacraments are directed toward the Holy Eucharist, particularly Baptism.  Baptism gives me the right to receive the Holy Eucharist while the Holy Eucharist preserves and makes fruitful my baptismal privileges.  Baptism, by making me share in the priesthood of Christ through the "character" it imprints, enables me to share in the offering of the one only Sacrifice;  by offering this Sacrifice with Christ I again renew my baptismal descent with Christ into death in order to rise again with Him in newness of life.  Baptism makes me a cell in Christ's body, the Eucharist nourishes that cell, makes it healthy, makes it function in a loving, sacrificial spirit of unity with countless other cells, makes it ever a more fitting dwelling for the triune God.

Baptism is our birth as Christians.  A little reflection, and this age-old truth becomes fresh and dynamic.  Its power produced the Age of Martyrs and the glories of patristic Christianity.  If we but give holy Baptism the thought and attention it deserves, its power will vitalize and transform our weak devotions into a spirituality strong with the strength of Christ our Head and holy with the holiness of the indwelling Trinity.  Its power will make us pleasing and acceptable to the eternal Father, for through it we have been enabled to offer the perfect Sacrifice in and through His Son Christ Jesus.  Truly, holy Baptism is a great sacrament, making us Christians, making us "a kingdom of priests, a holy people" (1 Pet. 2:9).

The Sacrament of Baptism