The Baptism of the Lord
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
SUNDAY, JAN. 10th Mk. 1: 7-11 “And a voice came from the heavens, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’”
Part 1: Baptism – The Greatest Gift a Parent Gives… by Father Richard Veras
Part 2: CALLING TO MIND THE GRACES OF OUR BAPTISM by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
PART 1: Baptism – The Greatest Gift a Parent Gives… by Father Richard Veras
At the core of parents’ true love is the desire for their child’s happiness. But life shows us that parents are not able to guarantee happiness to their children. Were your parents able to spare you the suffering that life brings?
Yet parents’ inability to assure a happy destiny for their children does nothing to quell their hope for this happiness. Is this hope irrational, or is it rather deeper and more transcendent than reason can fathom?
Christian faith tells us not to give up on this desire, because all of our children have a Father who will never abandon them, and who sent His Son to die for them!
When parents present a child for baptism they are saying: “I cannot be with you always. I cannot promise the happiness for you that I so desire. However, Jesus Christ can! I desire that you be made a member of His Body, as I am, so that in Him we can walk toward the fullness of life together, through good and through bad, even when we are apart, because we will be united in Him.”
In the blessing of a mother and father after their child’s baptism, the Church prays that as the parents rejoice in their child now, they may rejoice with their child for ever before the Father in heaven! Baptism makes possible the fulfillment of the hope that we have for our children. And so we humbly and hopefully beg for Christ, and we rejoice when He comes in this first and foundational sacrament.
PART 2: CALLING TO MIND THE GRACES OF OUR BAPTISM by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
The Christmas season ends with the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Jordan River in his 30th year given by Saint John the Baptist. The clouds were rent asunder, the dove alighted upon Jesus, and the voice of the heavenly Father could be heard clearly: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” (Mt. 3: 13-17)
The Baptism of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ summons all of us who have received the great gift and grace of the Sacrament of Baptism to renew our baptismal promises. Listen and meditate on the profound but simple words taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Sacrament of Baptism:
Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door that 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 and the word. (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1213)
Spiritually and supernaturally, it all started at the moment of our own baptism when the minister poured water on our forehead and pronounced the words: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
The graces were a deluge, to say the least. Listen to all that happened the day and moment of your Baptism! Transformed into a son or daughter of God, brother or sister to Jesus Christ, intimate Friend of the Holy Spirit, temple and icon of the Blessed Trinity—all of these personal graces we receive in relationship to the Blessed Trinity when baptized.
However, more graces and gifts descended upon us in an invisible but very real way. The following are the many virtues that our soul was imbued with in the moment of Baptism: the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity; then the moral or cardinal virtues of justice, temperance, prudence, and fortitude. At the same time, we received the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord.
If that were not enough, in the moment of Baptism we became members of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, exorcised of the presence of the malignant enemy. With Baptism, we also received the right and privilege to the many heavenly inspirations that come from the Holy Spirit. Finally, if we live out our baptismal promises, one day eternal life will be ours! How generous and good our God is!
Given that it all started spiritually with Baptism, we are called to live out our Baptism by renouncing the devil and his seductions, renouncing the call of the world and its allurements, as well as renouncing the base promptings of our lower nature that we call the flesh. In a word, from Baptism we are all called to pursue a life of holiness, calling to mind the words of Jesus who said: “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.” (Mt 5:48)
What then might be some concrete ways that we can call to mind our Baptism and live out with greater energy and intention the responsibilities that flow from this great Sacrament? We will offer five practices for your meditation and reflection, as well as practical applications in your daily walk with the Lord Jesus, who was baptized in the Jordan River leaving an example for us all!
1. Baptism of Jesus. Every year we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus, and the priest in the context of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass blesses the people with holy water. At this moment, we should renew our baptismal promises with faith, fervor, and a firm commitment to renounce sin and follow Jesus with a determined determination. We should strive to leave the darkness of sin and live in the holiness of the light of Christ, who indeed is the Light of the world.
2. Parents and Baptismal Day of their children. It could be a very powerful teaching and catechetical moment for parents—especially for the little ones—to celebrate the Baptismal Day of their children, the same way they celebrate their birthday. Indeed, baptism is our second birth. Why not buy a cake and light the candles—according to the number of years, and celebrate the spiritual birth of your children. However, this should all be done in the context of faith and catechesis. Parents can use this moment to explain what Baptism is, what it does for our soul, and the responsibilities that flow from the Sacrament of Baptism!
3. The Sign of the Cross. Making the sign of the cross with both faith and reverence can be an efficacious means by which our awareness of the Sacrament of Baptism can be enhanced. The great Carmelite mystic, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity’s basic charism was a keen and acute awareness of the most Blessed Trinity living within her soul through grace. Therefore, every time we make the sign of the Cross, the sign of the Trinity and say: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” we can call to mind our dignity from Baptism, that we are sons and daughters of God the Father, brother or sister to Jesus Christ, and a close friend of the Holy Spirit. Indeed how many sins would we avoid committing with our bodies—temples of the Blessed Trinity—if only we were aware of our dignity and our destiny. Not only are we living icons of the Trinity starting at Baptism, but our eternal destiny is to live in the bosom of the Blessed Trinity for all eternity!
4. Holy Water. Every Christian-Catholic family should have holy water in their homes. Better yet would be to have holy water in a little holy water font at the entrance to all the bedrooms. Therefore, upon coming or leaving their bedroom, every member of the family could bless themselves with holy water for protection against the evil spirits and for the grace to live according to the dignity that flows from their Baptism. Holy water is a “holy” reminder of God in our lives!
5. Parents & Godparents: Recall and Live Your Responsibility. Godparents of a baptized child or adult represent a much more extensive family—we belong to the Church which is the family of God. Among the many roles of Godparents, let us highlight two primary roles: 1) Prayer—Godparents should pray for their godchildren, hopefully every day at least a Hail Mary, better yet, a Rosary; 2) Good example—Godparents are called to live out the symbolism of the lighted candle—that is to say, they are called to radiate the light of good example in all they say and do. Good example has a powerful influence on others; think of the example of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, as well as Saint Pope John Paul II—what burning torches in a world immersed in the darkness of sin! That said, parents have a more extensive and serious role and responsibility than the Godparents. True, parents must pray for and give good example to their children, but they must go way beyond these two roles. Parents are also called to educate their children and in all aspects: human and spiritual formation of their body, mind, heart, will and soul. In a word, parents should form their children to be excellent citizens of this world and future citizens of the kingdom of heaven.
In conclusion, let us call to mind our great dignity and our great destiny; and it all starts the moment we receive the Sacrament of Baptism! Dignity? We are temples of the most Blessed Trinity once baptized. Destiny? Our end goal in life is to be united with the Blessed Trinity forever in heaven. May Our Lady who is the Daughter of God the Father, the Mother of God the Son, and the mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit attain for us the grace to live out to the fullest extent the Sacrament of Baptism in our lives.
Copyright 2021 Oblates of the Virgin Mary
St. Peter Chanel Church, Hawaiian Gardens, CA