Catechesis on Baptism

Baptism of the Lord
Beloved in Jesus Christ,[i] when we enter a Church, the 1st thing we do is bless ourselves with Holy Water. Why? Well, holy water does bring us protection and wards off the demons. But Holy Water is also a sign: A sign of our Baptism. Just as we sign ourselves with water before physically entering the Church, so does the sacrament of baptism allow us supernaturally to enter the Church. Baptism is the door to the Church, it is the door to salvation.
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Today we celebrate the Baptism of The Lord. Jesus Christ, who is perfect God and perfect Man, did not need to be baptized.[ii] In fact, John said, it is you who really should be baptizing me ! But Jesus does this as an example for us.
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The Son of God was born into the world, he took on our life. Jesus was born, he grew up, he worked, he suffered, and died. Then he rose in his glorified Body and ascended to Paradise. Well, we follow him – we are followers of Christ. We grow and work and suffer in our life, we will die and be buried – and we will rise in our glorified bodies and ascend to Paradise. What happens to Jesus is supposed to happen to us.
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But how can we do this, how can we live this Divine Life? We need supernatural power. As Christ came into this world to share our human nature, we humans must share in his Divine nature. So the Lord gives us baptism, that we may enter into the Divine Life of God.
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What happens in baptism? really 3 things. Firstly, Original sin is washed away. We came into the world lacking grace, this is the state of Original Sin. But washed in baptism, we are cleansed of original sin, and brought into the family of God. We are ‘regenerated.’
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We in baptism, become sons and daughters of God by adoption. Adoption is real, and can never be undone. You can never be ‘unbaptized.’ You can leave your family, reject your family, but you can never stop being a member of the family of God.
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Perhaps the most wonderful thing that happens in baptism, is that the Holy Spirit takes up his life in our soul. We become a living temple of the Holy Spirit. And here is the beginning of greatness, of growth in holiness.
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Our protestant friends make a grave mistake when they say that baptism is merely a sign of faith. This is false. Baptism actually produces a supernatural change in our soul, elevates us to the supernatural organism. The apostles and the first Christians believed this, just as we do to this very day, and that is why Jesus says that baptism is necessary for salvation.[iii] ‘Unless you are born again in water and the Spirit you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.’[iv] When the people had repented of their sins, they asked St. Peter, what shall we do? ‘Be baptized every one of you, he said. Save yourselves from this evil generation.[v]
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Baptism is so essential for salvation, that the Church urges us to baptize our children promptly; canon law says: ‘parents are obliged to have infants baptized in the first few weeks.’ Can 867  Therefore, we must never play fast and loose with our children’s salvation; we must never delay baptism for months and months, in order to arrange a party or wait for relatives.
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Some say, ‘we’ll allow our child to decide when he grows up to be baptized. But baptism is not a decision to join a club or an organization, it’s adoption. If we adopt a baby, we don’t leave it in the yard until it decides whether to join our family, it would die. We don’t let our kids wait until they grow up to decide for themselves whether to go to school. In baptism, they are adopted into God’s family, and given Life.
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Now as a baby, that Divine Life at baptism is a seed, waiting to grow. But when the child gets to be about 7 years old, the age of reason, he starts to make decisions of right and wrong. This child can begin to cooperate with God’s grace, or not. If that child, each step of the way, tries to do what he is prompted to do by grace, trying to be good – he or she will grow up to become great – to become a saint who will shine in this world. If the person at some point chooses serious sin instead – then they lose the Divine Life in their soul. They lose sanctifying grace.
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Does God give up on those who fall into serious sin? No. He has given us the rescue sacrament: Confession. Confessing serious sins to the priest restores the Divine Life and allows that Christian to be happy again and grow in holiness.
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Some people say they want to be ‘born-again’ Christians, and leave their sins behind. Well, that is what Confession is for heaven’s sake! That is how we are ‘born-again,’ we begin again.
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Now the normal minister of baptism is the priest or deacon. But because baptism is so essential for salvation, in an emergency anyone can baptize. If there is an emergency – if you are at the mall and a person collapses, and they are dying, and they say: I want to be baptized – what do you do? What if a baby is dying and there’s no time for a priest, what do you do? You get some water – it does not have to be holy water, and pour it on their head – and say: I baptized you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
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What if a person wants to be baptized but cannot? They receive baptism by desire. If a person is in RCIA, preparing to be baptized at Easter, and they die before they can, they have received baptism by desire.[vi]
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What is baptism by blood? When a person gives their life for Christ as a martyr – even if not baptized, they have been baptized in their own blood for Christ.[vii]
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Jesus leads the way; he shows us that we must be baptized, and then follow in his way, as a disciple.
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We ask the dear Blessed Virgin to help us be great disciples; help us Mary, to follow Jesus in his way; because if we do, we will follow him, right up to heaven.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of Venerable Mother Maria Kaupas]

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[i] This homily had to be shortened due to a speaker at Mass.

[ii] St. Maximus says, says that Jesus was baptized, not to become holy,

but to make water holy, so that we may come to share in his Divine Life.  Brev I, p. 613.

[iii] Mark 16:16

[iv] John 3:5; He who believes and is baptized will be saved: Acts 2:37

[vi] This is like the person is serious sin on his way to confession,

who gets hit by a car – his intention to confess is accepted by God.

[vii] By the way, why should we take the name of a saint at baptism?

So that saint will pray for and help us,

and ever be a friend and example for us.

 

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