Easter Sunday and the Renewal of our Baptism Promises

Alleluia, He is Risen!

One of the parts of our Easter Masses which I so love is the Renewal of our Baptism Promises. Since, for most of us, those promises were first made by someone else on our behalf, it is a wonderful ritual to each year proclaim again our commitment to them. And so each year after “we have completed our lenten observance,” we communally remake those promises, after which the priest sprinkles us with holy water, reminding us of our rebirth in Christ. We renounce Satan, his works and his empty promises and we affirm our belief in the Trinity.

“Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?

“Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rosed from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the father?

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?

The words are so familiar to us, it is easy to mouth our “I do”s without giving the words much thought. Because I’m in the process of writing a book about my conversion from Catholicism to Buddhism and back to Catholicism, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to them. Writing the book is causing me to engage in serious reflection about what it means to call myself a Catholic. While I will have a lot to say on this subject in the book, some of which may find its way into posts here, what I will say now is simply: it is a very useful…albeit difficult…process.

When was the last time you looked seriously at the promises and asked yourself what they mean to you? What it is that you are affirming when you say yes? What the promiese say about who God is to you and who you are to be in the world? If you haven’t engaged seriously in this process in a while, this Easter week is a good time to do so.


Feast of The Baptism of the Lord

Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. We hear in today’s Gospel Luke’s account of the event. After Jesus is baptized by John and is praying, “heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you am well pleased.’”

Why does Jesus undergo the ritual of Baptism? Unlike us, he had no sins that required forgiveness. He had no need of repentance. He did not need to be baptized by John. Indeed, in Matthew’s account of the event (although not in Luke), John tries to argue with Jesus that it is John who should be coming to Jesus for baptism, not he other way around.

The answer has to do with the voice from heaven. In the words of one commentator, Jesus submitted himself to baptism “in order to invite us to share in his relationship with the Father announced from the heavens.”

And so when we received the sacrament of Baptism, we were baptized into Christ, receiving the same Spirit who descended upon Jesus from heaven. By Baptism, we become beloved sons and daughters of God. God looks at each one of us and says, “You are my beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

The Gift of An Awakened Heart – Our Baptism Vows

This podcast is the fourth in a series based on the 8-day guided retreat I gave this past summer at St. Ignatius Retreat House on the theme, The Gift of an Awakened Heart. In the first podcast in this series, I identified some qualities of an awakened heart and talked about what it means to live out of that awakened heart. The second and third podcasts looked at the misconceptions and wounds that inhibit our ability to fully open our hearts to the world.

This podcast seeks to help us get in touch with our call to gift the world with our awakened hearts, to know that we are each individually called by God to go out into the world. The vehicle I use for doing that in this podcast is our baptism vows. Reflecting on the radical nature of the three promises first made on our behalf at our Baptism, and remade by us each time we recite the Creed, helps us get in touch wil our call to gift the world with our love.

The length of this podcast is 19:11. You can stream it from the icon below or can download it here. (Remember that you can also subscribe to Creo en Dios! podcasts on iTunes.)

The Baptism of the Lord

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus goes down to the Jordan, where John the Baptist is baptizing people for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus, sinless, has no need to be baptized, yet he submits to it anyway. After he does, “he saw the heavens being torn open adn the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Jesus’ baptism is considered by many to be the source of our sacrament of Baptism. St. Paul says that at our baptism, we are baptized into Christ. When we are baptized into Christ, we receive the same Spirit who descended upon Jesus from heaven. And just as God declared Jesus to be His beloved son, we become beloved sons and daughters at Baptism. Thus we too can hear God say to us, “You are my beloved; with you I am well pleased.”