We have embarked upon the great season of Lent. Since Lent is (among other things) a time to prepare for the sacrament of Baptism, I would like to write about that sacrament today and the next several weeks. The first of the sacraments, Baptism is rich in its symbolism and in its effects. The primary purpose is the forgiveness of sins and the new life that comes with that. Since water is essential to preserve our natural life and is the means to cleanse our bodies, it is fitting that Baptism makes use of the same element to symbolize and truly effect our new life in Christ and the cleansing of our soul from all sin. According to Scripture (see the Acts of the Apostles) and extra-biblical accounts, the Church received and baptized children as well as adults. Of course, babies and little children are not guilty of any personal sin. But as all are born into sin – Original Sin – all have need of cleansing. The sin of Adam and Eve affects all human beings. Baptism cleanses and restores one to a right relationship with God. The Baptism of children is a clear sign that the Church wants to “welcome the little children” as the Lord Himself did. In the case of adults who are baptized, the sacrament is the means of forgiveness of all personal sins as well. A second effect of Baptism is that it makes one a child of God. We become, as St. Paul said, adopted children of the Father. At the same time one becomes a brother or sister of Christ, since Jesus is truly the Son of the Father. In Baptism one receives also the first gift of the Holy Spirit (with Whom one is “sealed” at the time of Confirmation). Baptism is not just something that “happens” to you, but is the means to come into a true relationship with God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Finally, as a child’s birth introduces him into a human family, so by Baptism a child becomes a member of the Family of Faith, the Church. I’ll have more thoughts on Baptism next week.
The Holy Father and Bishop Callahan have asked for fervent prayers for the people of Ukraine and for the end to the war initiated by the invasion by Russia. Our Holy Hour & Vespers today at 3pm will be offered especially for that intention.
May God bless you!