The Catholic Defender: Living Our Baptism
The Baptism of the Lord not only begins his public ministry, it reveals the Trinity as the Father says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
The Holy Spirit descending “like a dove and coming upon him” (Jesus).
I wrote the following as a tribute to my Mother:
I was reading the Scripture readings preparing myself for Mass. This was the 4th anniversary of my Mother’s death and I was simply wanting to be at Mass. Everything I do in His name I want to dedicate for my Mother’s honor. I would not be where I am if it were not for my Mother. As I was reading the second reading from St. Paul to the Colossians, I read these passages:
“Brothers and sisters: If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God”.
A light bulb just clicked on as I read that. The letter to the Colossians was written by St. Paul, sometime in the springtime of 57 A.D.
Jesus was crucified on April 3, 33 A.D.. By the time St. Paul was traveling, many in his audience were, by this time, RAISED from birth or early childhood in the Catholic Faith. The reference “For you have died” in Christ, implies they were already baptized perhaps many of them as children. That is what “raised” implies as to differentiate from those who were converts at an older age.
As I pondered this revelation, I realized that the truths of the Catholic Faith go all the way back to the Apostles.
What a great gift we have that through the Apostolic Tradition, the truths of Christ can still be perpetuated all of the world. The Sacraments are the visible signs of Gods grace being poured forth upon those requesting them.
Baptism is one of the seven sacraments Jesus established.
It grew out of the Old Testament cleansing of impurities (Ezekiel 36:25). John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, began to baptize people, calling for repentance. Regarding the coming Messiah, he told the crowds, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming…. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3:16)
Jesus prepared the apostles through three years of teaching and enlightening them to the truth of scripture, during which time He opened their eyes to His commandments. Jesus told them, “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Baptism has always been an important sacrament. St. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, spoke to the Jews who were celebrating Passover. They had arrived from all over the Roman Empire. The Holy Spirit moved people to accept Jesus the crucified through the words of St. Peter.
He said to them, “Repent and be baptized everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38,39)
It is clear St. Peter taught that baptism washed away sins. St. Peter makes this more clear as he writes, “For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison (purgatory), who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. THIS PREFIGURED BAPTISM, WHICH SAVES YOU NOW. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3 Vs 18-21)”.
The Catholic Church teaches that baptism takes away all sin, original sin in the case of children and actual sin of those old enough to understand the concept of sin. St. Paul described baptism this way; “we were indeed buried with Him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.” This baptism could not be only a symbol! Christ was not raised symbolically! (Romans 6:4)
St. Paul could tell you from experience what this meant. He had persecuted the faith and was on the road to Damascus to hunt down Christians when Jesus appears to him asking, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” St. Paul ends up with the priest Ananias who states, “Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and his sight was restored. He got up and was baptized….” (Acts 9:17-19)
The early church saw the faithful as “one body and one spirit, as you were called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all.” (Ephesians 4:5-6).
The Church as always tried to echo Jesus as he states, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and spirit. (John 3:5).
About baptism our Lord warns, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15,16).
There are two authorized methods for water baptism.
Immersion is when the believer is taken and submerged fully under water. Pouring is when water is poured to flow out and run across the head of the recipient. In both cases the water must be flowing. It is valid if the person administering baptism repeats the words; “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
The effect of baptism is that the Holy Spirit infuses sanctifying grace, which leaves an indelible mark on the soul. A priest or deacon administers baptism only once usually. However, in emergency, anyone can baptize. A doctor can baptize in critical conditions. President John F. Kennedy once honored a woman for baptizing a person who had been attacked by a shark and was approaching death. The victim had been studying the faith before this accident took place.
There are three kinds of baptism. The most common form is water baptism. Usually a candidate studies the faith through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) program. This instruction helps give the candidate preparation and the opportunity to say ‘yes’ to our Lord.
Another type of baptism is related to the water. It is called baptism of desire.
The classical case of baptism of desire is the good thief on the cross (Luke 23: 42,43). The shark attack victim described earlier would be placed in this category, had he not been baptized. These individuals desire salvation and baptism. The third type of baptism is called the baptism of blood. It is a martyr’s death. Only the Lord knows how many have died for His namesake.
Division first arose in England concerning baptism. During the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation, two Lutherans, Thomas Munzer and Nicholas Storch, founded the Anabaptist movement in 1605. They began to re-baptize their adult followers because they rejected infant baptism. Much of the protestant movement treats baptism as a symbol, and renounces its necessity. It has become a public witness the individual makes before the community.
This picture was taken by a photographer who had promised the mother of the child he would give her a copy as she could not afford a picture.
The practice of infant baptism began during apostolic times. In the book of Acts, the households of Cornelius and Jason were all baptized.
About the year 250 A.D., the Church, during a council, addressed the question concerning the baptism of infants. Should infants be baptized on the eighth day after birth, or could it be any day? The point took issue with baptism replacing circumcision, as was the Old Testament Law. This was done on the eighth day! To baptize on the eighth day recognized the need for baptism in the New Testament.
The Church favored any day to be appropriate but stressed the importance to baptize as soon as possible. The Catholic Church recognizes the value of symbolism in baptism, but, she maintains the function of grace and the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38, 39).
Mother, I thank God for you and I ask for His blessing. May you forever enjoy the happiness of heaven with Our Lord and Our Heavenly Mother! Amen!