Sunday, May 29, 2011

On Baptism - Part II

Like every Mystery of the Church, Baptism is a response to what Christ has already done, and is presently doing. It’s our choice to receive (or continue to receive) the gift(s) which He has already given, and is presently giving. Although Baptism took place when we were “unaware”, our parents/guardians and Godfather believed for us, and promised to raise us in the Christian faith. When realize that Baptism is a gift from God that needs to be received, accepted, loved, and appropriated by each one of us, our Baptism needs to move beyond comprehensive knowledge and into experiential action or participation, where it is lived out through our entire being. God initiated the relationship, and we must make a personal response to commit to what God initiated. The first response is made by our parents and Godfather. Afterwards, the goal of the Christian life is for each of us to actively participate in the life and mission of the Church (our Godmother).

St. Mark the Ascetic wrote, “Everyone baptized in the orthodox manner has received mystically the fullness of grace; but he becomes conscious of this grace only to the extent that he actively observes the commandments.” Baptism is not meant to be a static event, something that merely happened in the past, and to be remembered in thought alone. It is ongoing and dynamic; a very present event. Our Baptism is to be lived out, continually at the forefront of our minds, reminding us of the words proclaimed over us, reminding us of the promise of the Holy Spirit, and our salvation in Christ through the Church. The following is an excerpt from an Eastern Orthodox Symbol of Faith which summarizes this thought – “For a Christian the path to the confession of the grace-bestowing gifts of Baptism lies through living faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, a life according to faith, membership in Christ's Church, and a constant sense of prayerful repentance.”

What are some practical ideas to help us keep our Baptism in the forefront of our minds?
  • Make it a practice to read the words and prayers spoken over you as you were being baptized. Read them often, or work them into your prayer rule.
  • Remember your Baptism whenever you see, drink, or swim in water.
  • Keep pictures of your baptism nearby, where they are visible.
  • If you are a parent, show your children their baptismal certificate, and explain to them the meaning behind their baptism, or perhaps their baptismal name.
  • If you are a Godfather, then become active. Being a Godfather is not just a status symbol, but comes with much responsibility. Spend time with those of whom you are responsible. Write letters to them. Lead, guide, and encourage them in the faith.
  • Celebrate your Baptism as a “re-birthday”.
  • Confess your Baptism through a life pleasing to God. Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father Who is in heaven”.
In conclusion, it is extremely essential and vital to our spiritual state for us to personally reaffirm our Baptismal pledge. Placed on the path of salvation, (a dynamic process), we eventually need to take responsibility for our faith by living out our Baptism. God initiates communion with us, and in turn we respond and pursue communion with Him through a life of worship. Have we accepted what was given to us by God at the Holy font, and if so, how are we responding? Let us commit to walking with Him on a daily basis, and in doing so, live out the eternal significance of our Baptism.