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Father Muench Says...

Called to renew our Baptismal Promises

March 18, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, I would like to take a further look at Baptism with you. Last week, I wrote a bit about the importance of the Sacrament of Baptism during Lent. Lent is the time for the catechumens to enter their final stages of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) Program as they prepare to enter the Catholic Church and receive the sacrament of baptism at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. For you and I who are already baptized, Lent is a yearly time of preparation for us to renew and reaffirm our dedication to live out our baptism.

At the Easter Vigil Mass, all of us – all the baptized – are asked to again proclaim their faith in their baptism by accepting the Baptismal Promises. For many of us, these Baptismal Promises were made for us by our godparents. Now, each and every Easter, we are asked to personally accept again these Baptismal Promises. So, today, I would like to remind you of your Baptismal Promises.

At the Easter Mass, the priest celebrant begins the renewal of the Baptismal Promises with an introduction: “Dear Friends, through the Paschal Mystery we have been buried with Christ in Baptism, so that we may walk with him in newness of life. And so, now that our Lenten observance is concluded, let us renew the promises of Holy Baptism, by which we once renounced Satan and his works, and promised to serve God in the holy Catholic Church.”

In Scripture, we are reminded of the meaning of baptism in the Letter to the Romans: “Are you unaware that we 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 from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might have a newness of life.”

So, baptism is about death and resurrection for people of faith. The image is a wonderful one: in Baptism we are buried in the waters of Baptism for we must die to all that keeps us from God so that we can rise to new life, a resurrection like that of Jesus. In the spirit of Our Lord, we dedicate ourselves to living well and following in life the message of our Savior, Jesus. Jesus rose from the dead on Easter to a new life. We believe we will find a new life through our baptism.

We do this by accepting again the Baptismal Promises. These promises are in the form of questions. We are asked to respond to our dedication by saying, “I do.” The first questions are our rejection of evil: “Do you renounce sin, so as to live in the freedom of the children of God?” “Do your renounce the lure of evil, so that sin may have no mastery over you?” and “Do you renounce Satan, the author and prince of sin?”

We understand the Baptismal Promises when we recognize that living our baptism demands rejecting sin that brings us freedom as children of God. Baptism calls upon us to reject all that keeps us from God’s love. Baptism is a certainly a challenge that calls upon us, the baptized, to live well in the Spirit of our God. Baptism guarantees the help and strength and power of God to support and guide us. Baptism unites us all together in our Catholic Church, a community working together to help each one of us to live out our Baptismal Promises.

In these Baptismal Promises, we are asked to declare our belief in God, to be a people united in faith. So, we are asked: “Do you believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?” “Do you believe Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father?” and “Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting?”

Our task for these last weeks of Lent is to properly prepare ourselves to be ready to reaffirm our Baptismal Promises. We need a strong and alive faith for this task. Use well the time that the Lord has given you for this prayer and growth in faith.

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