Thursday, February 27, 2020

Baptism - Entering The Christian Life On Our Conversion Journey

Beginning with the Apostles' Evangelization (hearing the "Good News" about Jesus), Conversion (coming to a belief in this person, Jesus, as the Savior) led persons to ask to be Baptized which they had heard was the way one became a Christian. These adults were baptized, received first Eucharist and became full members of the Church. As the first centuries passed, Christian adults began to ask that their children also be baptized soon after birth and before they had reached the "age of reason" when they were capable of making their own decision after evangelization and conversion.
This is the custom today in most Christian churches. It has led to minimizing the power of Baptism and the impact it should have in our lives. We have thousands of Baptized but uncatechized (never evangelized or converted to a personal relationship with Jesus, if they even know who he is!)
I was baptized as an infant but the evangelization and conversion part of my faith journey were not missing. I attended parochial schools from Grades one through twelve taught by dedicated Sisters of St. Joseph. During my elementary (grades l - 8) years the evangelization was by way of daily catechism classes while every part of the school day contributed to conversion and establishing a living personal relationship with Jesus. We "blessed" each hour of the school day by saying a brief prayer at the beginning of the hour. We were taught formal prayers like the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be as well as to pray quietly and spontaneously when we needed help or just to praise the Lord. We were taken to Church for special weekly feast days and for developing devotions like the Rosary and Stations of the Cross.
Finally, and most importantly, my parents and their children worshiped together weekly. Staying out late on Saturday night in High School was not accepted as an excuse to miss Mass on Sunday morning.
The Effects of Baptism
When we were baptized as infants, original sin (the sin of Adam and Eve) was forgiven as it is for adults. In Addition Baptism for Adults also forgives all personal sins which infants are incapable of committing.
Born Again
Baptism by immersion is the clearest sign of being united with Christ in his death - buried with him when the water covers us and rising to new life, born again as we emerge from the font. However, Baptism by the sprinkling or pouring water over the head is equally valid.
We are baptized with the words given to us by Jesus himself when he instructed his apostles to go forth baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
We are born again as adopted children of the Father who immerses us in his own Son's death and resurrection. He washes us clean and gives us his Holy Spirit to empower us to live in righteousness, free from sin and death.
At Baptism our relationship with Jesus becomes a bond of love that is strengthened by daily prayer, seeking the Lord and unwrapping the gifts of the Holy Spirit, that keep our lives focused on Jesus as we continue our Conversion Journey.

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