Sunday, January 20, 2013

Baptism (Part II)

Pope Benedict XVI baptizing a baby on the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord

IN addition to being incorporated into Christ and becoming heirs to the kingdom of heaven, through the Sacrament of Baptism we receive the indwelling of the Holy Trinity. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit remain in our souls so long as there is no mortal sin there. This is what is meant by the state of grace. Also, the Holy Spirit grants to the newly baptized his seven gifts: Wisdom, Counsel, Knowledge, Understanding, Fortitude, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. These gifts are strengthened in the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Baptism is necessary for salvation (John 3:5). Jesus emphasized its necessity when He told his Apostles to go to all the nations and to baptize (Matthew 28:19). It is the first of the seven Sacraments; it must be received before any of the other six.

There is, in addition to the Baptism with water, Baptism of blood and Baptism of desire. The former means that a person, who was never baptized, in fact, receives this Sacrament if he or she were to die for Christ. Baptism of desire happens when a person really wants this Sacrament but there is no one to administer it.

If we know what Baptism does for a person and we appreciate it, then there are two things we should want. First, we should want everyone to be baptized as Christ does. We cannot be satisfied for others to have only natural goodness and qualities such as honesty, kindness and generosity. If we want good things for others, we would want them to have the indwelling of God Himself. This comes in Baptism. Without Baptism a person is deprived of this and His Gifts.

Our second desire should be that each new born receives Baptism within a reasonable time after birth, usually within a couple of weeks. We would not prolong anything good for a baby, so why delay a Sacrament that gives them God Himself?

It is always good for us when we contemplate this Sacrament. It reveals God’s great love for each of us. It causes joyful hpoe because we know by being baptized we are on our way to heaven. 

Father Stanley 

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