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Father Muench Says...

A time to reflect on baptism

March 11, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

One of the basic purposes of Lent is concerning baptism. Lent is an important time for the catechumens who are preparing to be baptized at the Easter Vigil Service as they become members of the Catholic Church. These catechumens are part of the program of reception into the Catholic Church that begins with several months of investigation of the message of Jesus and of the Catholic Church.

Lent begins the final stage of preparation for the catechumens with a special service of election at the cathedral with Bishop LaValley. The catechumens are welcomed as ready for baptism. During the days of Lent, they are involved in a time that is called Purification and Enlightenment – a time of special prayer and reflection to prepare them spiritually for the Easter Vigil when they will receive baptism, Holy Eucharist and confirmation.

Lent is a special time for all of us who are already baptized. Each Lent is a time – a unique opportunity – for us to celebrate, to renew, to confirm our own baptisms. This is a time for special prayer and Lenten acts of mortification to remember our new birth in baptism in the Holy Spirit. Lent is our time to reflect on all that baptism should mean. Lent is our time to renew our dedication as adopted sons and daughters of our God.

Baptism is a call to holiness. I would like to share with you some ideas in this regard that I have found in the United States Catechism for Adults. First, from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans (6:3-4): “Are you unaware that all who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through Baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised forth from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.”

In the Gospels, Jesus says: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” We believe that in baptism, the Holy Spirit moves us to answer Christ’s call to holiness. In baptism, we are asked to walk by the light of Christ and to trust in His wisdom. As baptized Christians, we are invited to submit our hearts to Christ with an even deeper love. What is this light, this wisdom, this holiness? Jesus is clear about the high ideals to which he invites us.

In the Gospels, Jesus says: “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt 5:48) “Be merciful as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:16) “Love one another as I love you.” (John 15:12)

Lent is a time for us to develop a new and alive spirit of holiness. The Lord Jesus, our divine teacher and model of all virtue, preached holiness of life to everyone without exception. Our goal is to hold on to the gracious act of sanctification that we have received from Christ.

Living out our baptism is a lifelong responsibility. Growing in holiness and discipleship involves a willingness to continue to learn throughout one’s whole life about the faith an how to live it. It also involves a willingness to support and encourage others who share the faith and who have committed themselves to the ongoing process of conversion of heart and mind to God, which results in the holiness to which we are called.

This is a strong challenge that we cannot meet by human strength alone. We, Christians, will sanctify our call more and more by receiving all from the hand of the heavenly Father and by cooperating with the divine will, showing forth the love with which God has loved the world. The baptized are called to transform the world with the light and power of the Word of God. When you live your Baptism, you transform the world and make it a better place.

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