It is raining outside as I sit on my couch contemplating what to reflect on. I love the rain and always have. My favorite thing to do when it rains is to open my window and blinds so I can watch it fall gently on the roof. I love the smell of the water. It is so fresh and reminds me of cleanliness. I love the feel of the cold rain; so wet and cleansing. I love how it washes away dirt and old sidewalk chalk drawings. But most of all, I love how God uses the rain to show me how much He loves me.
I joined the Catholic Church on April 16, 2006. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I remember the excitement I felt as I prepared for my Baptism. The nerves, as I feared falling face first into the Baptismal Font. The stress of memorizing my responses to the Sacrament. Finally, the peace and joy that radiated from my being as I received Our Lord for the first time!
Much to my surprise, the water in the baptismal font was warm. I hiked up my grey poncho as I trudged into a deep marble Baptismal font in the back of the church. I took a deep breath and looked around as people began to surround me. I remember specifically asking the Lord to “remind me of this moment when it rains”. The priest then took a pitcher of water and baptized me in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I wish I could share with you exactly how I felt in that moment. I felt as if my heart and soul took a deep breath after being suffocated; my mind and body relaxed. I felt as if I was not walking, but gliding across the marble floor. I was stunned, completely unburdened. When I realized how free I felt, I sobbed uncontrollably.
The word “Baptism” is derived from the Greek word, bapto, meaning to immerse, to wash. It signifies, therefore, that washing is the essential idea of the Sacrament. Baptism, is a sacrament of regeneration by water. We are reborn to a spiritual life and relationship with Jesus Christ. “Regeneration” distinguishes baptism from every other sacrament. In Confession, we are brought back from death through sin. In Baptism, we are reborn. Baptism incorporates us with Christ’s mystical body and makes us participants in Christ’s mission on earth.
Baptism is not a magical event, but rather, a gift of the Holy Spirit who enables those who receive Him to ‘fight against the spirit of evil.” We know from experience that Christian life is always subject to temptation, especially that of separating oneself from God, from His will and from communion with Him. Baptism prepares us to fight. It gives us strength for our daily struggle, and even for the battle against the Devil.
Baptism washes away Original Sin. When we were conceived in our mother’s womb, we were conceived in a state of Original Sin. Our human nature is wounded to the point where we cannot achieve happiness without some essential help. We cannot make it to Heaven without the essential gift of grace from God.
Baptism is the first action in our lives that truly gives us grace. It is the doorway through which we enter the life of grace, become members of the Church, and share in the life of the Trinity. As the waters of Baptism are poured upon us, we are transformed by the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus.
Baptism also places what we call an “indelible spiritual mark” on our souls. We’re like animals who get branded. The physical mark is a permanent sign of who owns an animal. Similarly, in Baptism, our souls are marked with a permanent spiritual marking to reveal the fact that we forever remain children of God. Even if we seriously sin, this marking remains a constant source of grace, calling us back to God Our Loving Father.
When we are adopted as children of God. We enter into our family, the Trinity. We become one with Christ Jesus, are filled with the Holy Spirit and are made children of God the Father. It is the unity with Jesus that brings this about. Since Baptism has the effect of making us members of the Body of Christ, we are automatically filled with the Holy Spirit. When the Father looks at His Son Jesus, He also sees us as a member of His Son’s Body. Therefore, we can call God our Father!
Rain is a beautiful, peaceful and refreshing reminder that we are reborn as daughters and sons of God. Together, we are the Body of Christ, and are filled with a grace that draws us nearer to Our Lord. Grace, fuels a desire to be in communion with God and makes it possible for us to be holy like Him who created us. Through the washing away of Original Sin, we are made new! Our souls are marked with an indelible sign that we are daughters and sons of God. No matter the sin, pain, brokenness and disobedience, we are continuously called back into Our Lord’s arms through grace.
So, this evening, as I am sitting here listening to the rain, I could not be more grateful Our Lord called me to Baptism in the Catholic Church. His grace has provided me with a home, new friends, and a beautiful parish.
What in your life has grace brought you? How has Baptism brought you into a deeper relationship with Our Father? How does Our Lord communicate with you through His beautiful creation?