By Fr Seán McGuire
In my article in the 3rd Edition of Totus Tuus, we were reminded that the day of our baptism is the most important day in our lives. In that article, I reflected on the symbolism of the different rituals during the Baptismal ceremony. To recap, we saw how we are intimately united to Jesus in baptism. We die with Christ in the baptismal waters and rise from them to live a new life with Jesus. In baptism, we are cleansed from original sin, we put on Christ, we receive his light and are called to spread his aroma in the world. The baptised are commissioned to share in the kingly, prophetic and priestly mission of Jesus.
Pope Francis has also explored the Sacrament of Baptism in his General Audiences in the weeks after Easter. So in this edition, I will unpack some of what Pope Francis has to say about this important sacrament. On the 11th of April, Pope Francis taught that in baptism, we “begin to belong to Jesus, who is the Lord of our existence”. We belong to Jesus and we hope to return to him at the conclusion of our earthly pilgrimage. Baptism “is the door which allows Christ the Lord to dwell in our person and allows us to be immersed in his Mystery.” This is something we ought to become aware of everyday – that Jesus dwells within us and we dwell in him.
The Pope goes on to explain that the Greek word “to baptize” means “to immerse” (cf. CCC 1214). So in baptism, we are immersed from head to toe, body and soul in the life of God. The soul is immersed in the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit. The baptismal font has always been referred to as the womb of the Church. Indeed, the shape of a womb has been carved into many fonts, symbolising that Mother Church begets spiritual children in baptism. When we are baptised, we are spiritually reborn as children of God and cherished members of the Church. Because of this, the Pope suggests that we should find out the date of our baptism and celebrate it every year! Pope Francis says: “I thank the Lord for that day, because it is the very day on which Jesus entered me, the Holy Spirit entered me.”
The gift of baptism “takes root and bears fruit in a soil nourished by faith.” So our baptism will bear fruit when we live a life of faith. Daily prayer is obviously important in sustaining our faith. We would soon lose the gift of faith were we to cease to pray.
The Pope concluded his first catechesis on baptism by saying that our baptism must “christify” in us each day. We are “christified” in baptism. In other words, we “resemble Christ, are transformed in Christ” and baptism renders us “another Christ”. Earlier in his teaching, the Pope said that ‘we are Christians to the extent that we allow Jesus Christ to live in us’. So the more we allow Christ into our lives, the more Christ-like we become!
The following week, the Pope continued his catechesis on Baptism. He encouraged his listeners to remember their baptism and renew their baptismal promises as often as possible because returning “to the wellspring of Christian life leads us to renew our commitment to conform [to our baptism] in the condition in which we find ourselves today.” The Pope challenges us therefore to conform ourselves to Christ and in doing so, we will respond to the call of our baptism.
In the next article, I will continue to explore what the Pope has to say about this sacrament, but in the meantime, we can contemplate how intimately united we are to Jesus in baptism: “Baptism allows Christ to live in us and allows us to live united with him”.