“Domenico, come here”. This is how the parish priest of Santa Croce al Flaminio began his catechesis a few days ago.
“Read what is written here in this book.” Fr. Andrea placed the parish register of Baptisms in Domenico’s hands and showed him the line to read.
And the child: “Domenico C…….Rome, February 4th 2014 ….”
“But … that’s me!” Domenico replied amazed, confused and happy. “Here is the date of my Baptism.”
“That’s right, Domenico,” reaffirmed the parish priest, happy to see a bright light in Domenico’s eyes.
“It is your Baptism. This is the day when, as Pope Francis would say, you were immersed in that inexhaustible source of life which is the death of Jesus, the greatest act of love in all of history. With Christ you have been reborn to new life in the Holy Spirit. It is a happy date, it is as if it were your birthday because now you know that you are not only the son of your mother and father, but you are first and foremost a child of God, thus sharing in his divine nature; God makes you share in his own life. What is His life? A life of joy, of love, of everything you want to be happy. Do you realize what this means?”
So, Fr. Andrea continued his catechesis by explaining step-by-step the rich symbolism of the rite of Baptism: the immersion (the term comes from the Greek verb baptizein meaning “to dive”, “to immerse”), the anointing, the white robe, the candle, and the consequences of Baptism in our daily lives.
In this short meditation, we cannot deal in-depth with this sacrament, but will limit ourselves to a few aspects of Baptism.
I would like to focus on the fact that the Christian is conformed to Christ the King, Priest and Prophet. Let us see above all what it means that the Christian is a priest (participates in the common priesthood of the faithful).
Who is the priest? The Latin term sacerdos means ‘the one who gives sacred things, that is, things that are made precious because they have the taste of the divine’.
Through Baptism we are made capable of making all aspects of our lives become a sacred and precious reality because Christ the priest lives and acts in us and offers to the Father all that we are and all that we have.
Conformed to Christ, we become one with Him, we become ‘almost heavenly’ persons, beautiful because touched by grace we have the capacity to transform everything into an instrument of holiness and love.
One day St. Dominic Savio (who died at the age of only 14) was asked: “What would you do if you were to die right now?” The young man replied, “I would continue to play.”
This is the wisdom of the saints: they understand that everything: play, rest, work, joys, sufferings, failures, really everything — if done or accepted by letting Jesus act in us, if done in His company — becomes an offering pleasing to God, becomes something sacred, is transformed into a precious treasure, into a fruit with a divine taste.
It is not necessary to seek the holiness of the Christian life in extraordinary things. If your mother-in-law suffers from dementia and repeats the same things repeatedly, when you listen to her patiently (or even when you lose patience, but then repent), you are sanctifying this moment. When you play with your child, both when you enjoy it and when it costs you, when you do your work conscientiously (or at least try to) … you are exercising your baptismal priesthood.
Through your humanity Jesus caresses, heals, and encourages with words and gestures, He welcomes and guides.
When we live a true Christian life, “anointed” with the Holy Spirit (the word Christian means “of Christ” and Christ means “anointed”), when we allow ourselves to be guided by Him in all that we think and do (or at least attempt to do), we become luminous and contagious. Our joy becomes almost palpable.
I remember a young man, Terry, whom I met at the University of Illinois in the USA. He was honestly searching for the Truth. When he encountered Christianity and understood what Baptism meant, he wanted to be Baptized.
I have his happy look and the smile on his face vividly in my mind when he was Baptized. Can we, too, rekindle that joy of being immersed in Christ?
Ideas for a concrete resolution for this month:
If possibile, I can try to make a small “pilgrimage” to the Church in which I was baptized, and I can prepare myself by deepening its meaning and praying with the prayers of the rite itself: Rite of Baptism for One Child
I can choose to begin my day by intentionally offering it to the Lord and during the day, call to mind from time-to-time the fact that I am in the Presence of the Lord by saying a small prayer; for example: “Jesus, I lend you my feet, my hands, my eyes, my voice… I want to do this work with You.”
I can mark on my calendar the day of my Baptism and celebrate it every year as the day that I was reborn to new life in Christ. As I celebrate that day I can especially remember the celebrant at my Baptism, my parents and my godparents (or my sponsor, if I was baptized as an adult).
This month’s meditation is written by Sr. Loredana.