After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

We are going to jump ahead one day and reflect on the Baptism of our Lord which is tomorrow and with that celebration, closes the season of Christmas in the Catholic Church.

I am a “cradle” Catholic and, as such, don’t remember my baptism.  I’ve heard stories from my Parents, Uncle and God-Parents (God rest their souls) and I got the impression from them it wasn’t the peaceful baptism we will read about in tomorrow’s liturgy; my Uncle swears he read the prayers but no one heard them over my screaming.  But I believe those “flowing” waters that were poured over my head did what it was meant to do because they brought me into the faith and I remain in love with God, Jesus, the Spirit and the Church to this day.  And upon further reflection, I love being around water too. Always have; as a child, we either owned a “pool”; swam in the neighbors pool or were members of Normandy Athletic Club (a pool).  We loved going with my Uncle downtown to the Missouri Athletic Club to swim or he would take us on occasion to either Blanchette Park in St. Charles or Babler State Park in Wildwood to swim.  I joined the Navy.  I now have a vacation “home” in Palm Beach FL – right on the water.  There is in my mind, nothing more refreshing that diving into a pool and having the waters surround me and refresh me.  I love that initial dive, when your body is “shocked” by the coolness of the waters and how refreshing that feels.  I imagine when people were baptized by John the Baptist, that is the feeling that rushed over them.  So, the next time you dive into the pool, imagine that as being “baptized” and let that feeling of that refreshment remind you ofthe graces of Baptism.  What are those graces?  From our Catechism…

The Graces of Baptism

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Simplified

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Two Main Effects (1262)

The immersion in water signifies Baptism’s two main effects – purification from sins and new birth in the Holy Spirit. Peter promised his hearers (on Pentecost) that by Baptism they would receive “forgiveness for your sins” and “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Forgiving Sin/Removing Punishment (1263)

Baptism forgives all sins (original and personal) and all punishment for sin (Council of Florence). Nothing remains to impede entrance into heaven.

Consequences Remain (1264)

Some consequences of sin (sickness, death, weakness of character) remain. There is also an inclination to sin called concupiscence with which we struggle. However, this inclination does no harm if resisted by Christ’s grace (Council of Trent).

Effects of Baptism (1265-1266)

Baptism makes the believer an adopted child of God, a sharer in God’s nature, a co-heir with Christ, and a temple of the Holy Spirit.

By sanctifying grace (the grace of justification), the baptized:

  1. Are enabled to believe in God, hope in him, and love him (theological virtues)
  2. Can live according to the power of the Holy Spirit (the sanctifying gifts)
  3. Can grow in goodness (the moral virtues)

Baptism bestows the whole organism of the supernatural life.

Joined with Others (1267-1268)

By Baptism “we are members one of another” (Eph 4:25). This Body of Christ transcends all cultures, because “by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor 12:13).

The baptized have become “living stones.” They are a royal nation, a holy priesthood, God’s own people (1 Pet 2:9) sharing in the common priesthood of all believers.

Duties of Baptized (1269-1270)

The baptized belong to Christ and have the duty to serve others in the Church and to obey Church leaders. They have a right to the sacraments, to the nourishment of God’s Word, and to all the Church’s spiritual helps. They must participate in the Church’s missionary activity.

One with All the Baptized (1271)

Baptism is the sacramental bond of unity (even for those not in full communion with the Catholic Church). By faith and Baptism, all “are incorporated into Christ, have a right to be called Christians and to be accepted as brothers” (Second Vatican Council).

Effects of Baptismal Seal (1272-1273)

Baptism seals the Christian with an indelible spiritual mark (the “character of Baptism”) which sin cannot erase. Therefore, Baptism cannot be repeated.

This sacramental seal consecrates the person for Christian religious worship and requires them to participate in the Church’s liturgy and to bear witness by their holy lives.

Sealed Forever (1274)

This “seal of the Lord” is for “the day of redemption.” The Christian who is faithful to this seal will die “marked for eternal life” with hope in seeing God. “Baptism is the seal of eternal life” (St. Irenaeus).

Do something great for our Lord today – celebrate your baptism; celebrate His baptism.  Live your life as a member of God’s family.  I hope your Christmas season brought you many joys and memories.  God Bless, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if you wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness.  Compete well for the faith.

 

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