Saturday, October 2, 2010

Worth More Than The Whole Universe

"I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."

Over the next several weeks I will devote this column to the seven Sacraments which Christ instituted to give us his Grace. The fact that He gives us the Sacraments is a manifestation of his infinite love for each one of us and his desire that we are in union with Him now and always.

St. Thomas Aquinas stated that the benefit and value of the Grace received during Baptism is greater than all the goods of the universe, greater than all created nature and even greater than the angels. Why is this so? Sanctifying grace is a share in God's Life. The Divine Life is infused into the soul at the moment of Baptism. It is an action of God whereby original sin (and all sin in the case of adult baptism) is taken away. The baptized person becomes a member of Christ's Body which is the Church. As such, the newly baptized is at once an adoptive child of God and therefore is an heir to Heaven. No one can take away that right to Heaven except for the person himself by committing serious or mortal sin. Here, effectively the sinner says I repudiate God's will now regardless of the consequences. But, promise of Heaven can be restored once that sinner makes a good confession in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Because the baptized person is configured to Jesus Christ, he or she is sealed with an indelible character or mark of belonging to Christ. Nothing can erase this mark, not even sin which prevents one from going to Heaven. The Holy Sprit has marked us with the seal of the Lord for the day of redemption (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994, no. 1274). Wherever we go, whatever we do, this indelible character remains on our souls. Since Baptism gives this to us once and for all, it can never be repeated. A person is baptized only once.

Next week, I will write about the ways one can receive Baptism.

Father Stanley