“Faith comes from what is heard” (Rom 10:17).
Whether you were baptized as an infant or an adult, for every Catholic, the day of your baptism is one of the most significant days of your life. It was when, by God’s grace, you became a beloved son or daughter of God the Father, a member of the body of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. You were washed clean from original sin and began to live a life of grace: that is, the very life of God began to live in you.
The gift of baptism is the gift of a relationship with God and an identity as his son or daughter. This is all too easy to forget in the midst of the challenges of life. All too often we believe that who we are is defined by what we are able to do or to make of ourselves, but in God’s eyes, we are defined by to whom we belongand in whose image and likeness we were made. The church teaches that the mark of our baptismal relationship with God is indelible. It cannot be erased or separated from who you are. Sadly, the relationship can be strained, wounded or even broken by mortal sin. But there is always hope. By God’s free gift of divine mercy, the relationship can be restored in the sacrament of reconciliation. The grace of your baptism and the bond of your relationship with God can be healed.
On Easter, the church invites the faithful to renew the promises of baptism. Easter is the time not only to reflecton the power of the paschal mystery, the death and resurrection of Christ, but also to renewyour participation in the dying and rising of Jesus you experienced first in the waters of baptism. A priest will ask the same questions that were answered by your parents and godparents on the day of your baptism as an infant, or that you answered for yourself when you entered the church as an adult. It is important to hear these questions of faith and to respond to them. It is important to reflect upon these questions in your heart, but it is equally important to profess your response with your voice. Your faith is strengthened by what you hear, as St. Paul wrote, “Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17). What you hear in the renewal of baptismal promises is a reminder of who God is; how you respond to them is an assurance of who you are: his beloved son or daughter.
To prepare yourself to renew the promises of your baptism this Easter, consider the questions that will be asked of you and spend some time in prayer about your response.
Do you renounce sin, so as to live in the freedom of the children of God?
REFLECT: Does freedom mean I get to do anything I want or that I have every opportunity to do the will of God?
PRAY: Lord Jesus, you freely gave yourself up to death that I might be free to do your will. Make me free to choose your holy will.
Do you reject the lure of evil, so that sin may have no mastery over you?
REFLECT: Do I call upon the grace of baptism to give me strength in moments of temptation?
PRAY: Lord Jesus, your love is stronger than even death. Give me your strength to fight against sin.
Do you reject Satan, the author and prince of sin?
REFLECT: Do I hold to the truth that I am a beloved son or daughter of the Father, or do I fall into the deception of the evil one who wants to convince me that I am not?
PRAY: Lord Jesus, you never doubted the goodness of your Father. Give me this same confidence to call upon God as Father, too.
Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
REFLECT: Do I know that the Father who made all things longs to share his creation and his very self with me?
PRAY: Lord Jesus, help me to see the goodness of God in all creation and in me as well.
Do you believe in 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?
REFLECT: Do I recall the love that God has for me by sending his Son to die for me?
PRAY: Lord Jesus, help me to receive the gift of your salvation won for me by your dying and rising.
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?
REFLECT: Do I allow the Holy Spirit to guide my call to holiness and my life of mission in the church? Do I see others as the temples of the Holy Spirit they truly are?
PRAY: Lord Jesus, renew within me your life-giving Spirit and send me out to help renew the face of the earth.
If you are a parent who will be baptizing a child this year, or if you are asked to be a godparent, you will renew your baptismal promises then, too. Your words of faith stand in for the baby who is unable to speak these words. By offering your baptismal faith, you are promising to share that faith with the child, so that in the sacrament of Confirmation, he or she can confirmwhat you spoke at his or her baptism.
Being a parent or a godparent of a new Catholic is an awesome responsibility! The blessing given to the ears and the mouth of the child at the end of baptism is an encouragement for you to support and sustain the new life of grace that God has given, by sharing your faith with the child: The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May he soon touch your ears to receive his word, and your lips to proclaim his praise to the glory of God our Father. Amen.