The Basis, The Gateway, The Door
April 12, 2012 § 1 Comment
26 years ago today, I was baptized into the Catholic Church. I’d love to tell you all about it, the flowing white christening gown I wore, the flame of the baptismal candle burning bright and steady, the coldness of water on my forehead… But I can’t. I just don’t remember much from when I was 1 and a half months old. I’m sure my dress was pretty and that the candle did burn brightly, though! Oh man, I bet that’s where my appreciation for gently glowing candlelight in church started! And that’s probably where I got my love for fancy, lacy, white dresses too! (Oh my gosh you guys the liberal media is right I WAS indoctrinated GASP!!!) Since there is a video of my baptism, and plenty of people around who were there, I do know a few things about it and there are two rather cool coincidences occurring today that I want to share with you.
The Catechism of the Church says that “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments.” (CCC 1213) Even though I was reading that at 7 AM before I even had coffee or anything, the statement really jumped out at me for this reason: Tonight, I will be attending the first evening of a Life in the Spirit Seminar. See that? See what happened there? 26 years to the day when I received the sacrament which allowed me to even attempt to have a life in the Spirit, I am going to a meeting where the whole point is to strengthen my life in the Spirit!
Ohh yeah. That’s right. Pretty darn cool.
That’s also a lot of repetition of the phrase “life in the Spirit”. What does it even mean? I am no theological expert here, guys, just an FYI. (I wish I were, I really do, because I cannot count the number of times people have questioned me about my faith like I’m supposed to just spout off 2000 [that is a large amount] years worth of teaching and tradition like it’s ABC123.) But my (very) short take on the life in the Spirit is simply living out my vocation to God and to humanity. The Holy Spirit is our guide, our courage, the One who reveals God to us. So the goal of my ‘life in the Spirit’ is to unite myself with Christ through the Spirit and thus to live in Him. The logical next step that occurs to me is: how? I think this next step is often forgotten by those to whom we look for instruction. It is all well and good to tell me what I need to do and learn, but I’d like to know HOW. Again, I am no theologian, but my answer is simple. How do I unite myself with Christ through the Holy Spirit? Prayer. The sacraments. Scripture reading. Fasting or other sacrifices.
Prayer, because you cannot have a relationship without communication. The sacraments, because we receive Christ Himself at Mass, and about a million graces through Confession. Reading the Bible, because if you want to get to know someone, read what they have said. (I think anyone who reads my blog knows me really well, even if they’ve never met me.) Sacrifices like fasting, because if offering yourself up is the essence of love, then what better little ways to improve your ability to love? A final thing to note about the ‘life in the Spirit’ is something my dad told me when I emailed him about this post. He said that part of it is “understanding which gifts of the Spirit you have received or will receive, and how you have a responsibility to use these gifts for the upbuilding of the Church.” Thanks, Dad!
I’m sure there are plenty of other ways and reasons and thoughts, but this explanation of my life in the Spirit is already getting longer than I wanted it to be. I recommend just coming to the seminar with me if you want to learn more! (Or read the Catechism. Your pick!) Info on the seminar can be found right here. And do go check that site out, it’s a blog written by some cool dudes… spike their stats!!
Second cool coincidence: Father Leo is the priest who baptized me 26 years ago today. And guess which priest who is having Mass for us tonight, and whose parish is hosting this seminar? Father Leo!! I can’t wait to tell him about it. Although it might make him feel old. Sorry, Father.
One final note, although it is not a coincidence, just a memory. We always celebrated our baptismal days in my house. Growing up, we didn’t have big birthday parties or get presents on our birthdays. It was our baptism days when the fun stuff happened. I remember we had a special plate that had a big smiley face on it, and pink trim. It was only ever used for dinner on your baptism day. It was always the BEST.MOMENT.EVER when Mom set that plate down on the table in front of you. You were special. You were the baptism day girl. And we’d pull out our baptismal candles and light them. And later there would be a cake from the bakery in Nanticoke, one that you personally went and picked out with Mom. I always got chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing. Or sometimes the chocolate torte cake, because it was bigger. Gosh I loved those celebrations.
“Baptism is God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift….We call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious gift. It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own; grace since it is given even to the guilty; Baptism because sin is buried in the water; anointing for it is priestly and royal as are those who are anointed; enlightenment because it radiates light; clothing since it veils our shame; bath because it washes; and seal as it is our guard and the sign of God’s Lordship.” – St. Gregory of Nazianzus