The Joy of Baptism
by Howard Mondloch
Almost everyone wants their children baptized, yet many of us can be quite, "ho hum" about our
own. We have some notion it's important, but we're not quite sure why; something to do with original sin,
perhaps. To understand Baptism we need to understand sacraments. To understand sacraments we need to
understand what Church is, and to understand what Church really is we need to understand that when Jesus
rose from the dead He never died again. He instituted a visible Church with visible sacraments so He could
visibly continue to care for us.
We need to get rid of the notion that Jesus is some kind of ghost who hangs around among us.
Jesus is Almighty God physically present. As Catholics, we see Him alive and touchable. As Charismatics
we underline this visible incarnation and insist loudly on its reality. We know that where the touchable
Jesus is among us, and in us, and through us, the inseparable Holy Spirit and Abba Father are also here.
He would take His Bethlehem-born body to the Father, and send us His enlivening Spirit into our Flesh!
In the Gospels, when Jesus told the Apostles that He was going to take His Glorified, Bethlehem-born body to the right hand of the Father, they argued with Him. "No! No, Jesus, We need you here. Stay and be our, everlasting pope!" That sounds like a good idea, even to us today, doesn't it? But we're not ready for that until Jesus comes again in glory. The Lord had a more fitting idea for this present age. He would take His Bethlehem-born body to the Father, and send us His enlivening Spirit into our Flesh! This way Jesus could be physically alive all over our planet, wherever people gathered as Church.
Baptism is the way Jesus chooses to incorporate us into His Mystical Body, and give us the basic empowerment to function in our assigned places.
Church is so much more than a 'Good Guy's or Girl's Club'. It is the living Body of Jesus in one flesh with us, the Bride of Christ. That's really fantastic when you think about it. It is your spirit that makes your body alive. When it leaves you are dead. Likewise, it's the Holy Spirit of God who makes Jesus alive in His visible Church.
Baptism is the way Jesus chooses to incorporate us into His Mystical Body, and give us the basic empowerment to function in our assigned places. Baptism is the Marriage between God and man that makes us one. Baptism is a Sacrament. That means it is a personal action of Christ Himself, alive in His Church. It is a visible sign by which Jesus actually accomplishes what is signified. Baptism is the necessary gateway to all the other sacraments. It is the first of the three sacraments of initiation into the full life of Christ in His Church. Baptism opens the door, Confirmation strengthens, and Eucharist nourishes us in the life of Christ within us.
All the seven sacraments are the Lord's idea, and all are ministered through Jesus alive in His Church. While as a living Church we continue to grow in our understanding of sacraments and while the living authority of Jesus, alive in His Bishops, may adapt some ways they are ministered, all seven have been present in some form since the time of the Apostles. Even the Pope cannot create a new sacrament. Sacraments are the main way Jesus alive ministers visibly to us today. He does it through His Body, the Church.
The reality of the sacraments does not depend on our personal faith. Only the faith of the Church is necessary. Eucharist is Eucharist whether we believe it or not, and Baptism is Baptism even for a baby who doesn't know what is going on. God however, does not force Himself on us, so for full effectiveness of sacraments, we need to accept them in faith. A child, for example, sometime as it grows in reasoning, needs to realize and accept what happened at infant Baptism.
"The Holy Spirit is the very life of the Body of Christ; the Church. Without the Holy Spirit, the Church would be dead."
The time comes when he needs to trade in, so to speak, the second hand faith of his parents, and sponsors, for a personal faith of his own. We all need to continue to grow in our understanding and acceptance of our Baptism. We are only Baptized once, but, like other sacraments it is an on-going event; we live our Baptism all our lives, so long as we are not in mortal sin If we should ever lose our Baptismal relationship, Jesus alive in His Church provides the Sacrament of Reconciliation to restore it. In all this, the mark of our Baptism itself is never lost. Even a soul in hell, to his shame, could not get rid of that mark. Both Baptism and Confirmation, (and Ordination for priests) mark us for Christ forever.
We cannot live out our Baptism on our own power. We cannot accomplish our function in the Body of Christ without the Spirit of Jesus; the Holy Spirit whom He sends. The Holy Spirit is the very life of the Body of Christ; the Church. Without the Holy Spirit, the Church would be dead. In the Gospel, Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be born again with water and the Holy Spirit. Catholic teaching sees a reference to Baptism here. The Holy Spirit is an essential and normal part of every Baptism. Every Baptism is, de facto, a Baptism in the Holy Spirit. In a baptized adult it is expected that the Holy Spirit would show Himself in both the gifts and motivation to live out this new Church life. If we look around us, however, we see this is not so obvious. In fact it's often hard to find.
The main thing the Lord wants to do in restoring His Full Gospel Church is to restore the Full Gospel power of Baptism. He wants to revive the priesthood of the Baptized. This is distinct from the ordained priesthood which is also a sacrament. We are all sent by God on priestly and prophetic missions. We cannot properly function in these missions unless we are properly equipped with our assigned gifts of the Holy Spirit. We need the fullness of what our Baptism offers.
In Charismatic Renewal the Lord is recalling to us His Full Gospel Baptism. Our Sovereign Lord, alive in our time, has sent us this renewal as His principal instrument for teaching us how to regain our full baptismal action. Church, at the highest level recognizes this. It's at the local level we all have work to do.
"Charismatic Renewal is not an option. It is not a private spirituality. It is a sovereign move of God in our time."
Charismatic Renewal is not an option. It is not a private spirituality. It is a sovereign move of God in our time. Who can dare ignore it? It's not, of course, a new revelation, but a divine reminder of what was always there.
If Charismatic Renewal for the Church is not the initiative of the Lord, as it claims, then it is a fake and the Sacrament of Baptism is simply a ceremony that really makes no discernible difference. This is impossible. My own experience of living out my Baptism in the joy and power of the Holy Spirit shows me the impossibility of a powerless sacrament. The witness of saints, living and in glory, confirm my experience. Look into your
own lives and see if you don't agree. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, as experienced in the Charismatic Renewal is simply the Divine uncovering of the charisms we've had all along. It is the blossoming of what is and has always been planted in the Sacrament
of Baptism, and confirmed in Confirmation, and nourished in Eucharist, for the Full Gospel mission of our Holy Catholic Church. Every Baptized person needs to be shown how to uncover the fullness of the Joy of Baptism.