The Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord was recently celebrated on January 9th. When we are renewed in the waters of Baptism, the 5 symbols of water, light, a white garment, holy oil, and words are used to convey the mystery of salvation. Pope Francis said, “Baptism is the door that permits Christ the Lord to make his dwelling in us and allows us to immerse ourselves in his mystery.”
Take time this New Year to reaffirm your Baptismal promises and continue to strive for holiness and follow Christ. Here are 5 ways you can reaffirm your baptism using the 5 symbols of the sacrament.
The most common and obvious symbol for Baptism, water has many uses not only in our daily lives, but the life of the Church as well. While we may rely on it for cooking or washing, the Church uses it to symbolize the cleansing of our Original Sin and adoption as children of God.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte ‘a new creature,’ an adopted son of God, who has become a ‘partaker of the divine nature,’ member of Christ and co-heir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit.”
The mystery of Our Lord’s Baptism in the Jordan River represents Christ’s spiritual anointing as the Messiah for mankind. That same Spirit that sealed and consecrated Jesus’ whole being as Christ, the second person in the Trinity, descends upon us at our own Baptism.
One way to bring to mind this salvific gift of cleansing through the water of Baptism, could be to bless each family member with the sign of the cross and holy water. The Church authorizes parents to bless their children every day which is a reminder of God’s love and spiritual adoption.
The light of the Baptismal candle is a reminder of every person’s call to be a light in a dark world. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Mt 5:16) The world is filled with darkness, but through our Baptism, the light of Christ shines forth and allows us to follow Him.
To reaffirm this call to be the light in a dark world, light your own Baptismal candle, or your child’s, and explain to your family the ways in which you can share the light of faith within your local community. If you don’t have a Baptismal candle, read the stories of saints such as Pope St. John Paul II or St. Luke, examples of those who took the light of their faith into the world.
3. A White Garment
A white garment is worn during the sacrament of Baptism to symbolize clothing oneself in purity and a new life in Christ. In St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, he tells us what kind of garments we as Christians should put on as well: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.” (Col 3:12-14)
To reaffirm this symbolic clothing of virtues, put on a white shirt, dress, or veil the next time you attend Mass and reflect on the purity you received at Baptism and will be clothed in when you attain Heaven. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The white garment symbolizes that the person baptized has ‘put on Christ,’ has risen with Christ.”
4. Holy Oil
The holy oil of the catechumens and chrism oil, blessed during Holy Thursday Mass, are used to anoint the newly baptized person. This is to imbue the new brother or sister in Christ with strength to combat evil throughout their life. During the Baptismal rite, a cross is traced on the crown of the infant, marking him or her as a Christian.
The anointing with oil is reminiscent of the anointing of priests, prophets, and kings in the Old Testament, consecrating someone or something to the service of God. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Pt 2:9)
To call to mind this significance, pray for vocations to the priesthood in your local diocese, take time to read through some of the Prophetic books in the Bible, and pray for your local government and religious leaders.
During the Mass, when we celebrate the Baptism of a new baby or catechumen, we verbally renew our own Baptismal vows as a reaffirmation of our commitment to Christ and His Church. These words are rich with the renunciation of evil and confirmation of the cleansing of sins through the Holy Spirit.
You and your family can renew your Baptismal promises on the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, Easter Vigil, or at home on the anniversaries of Baptisms. Feel free to include other symbols for Baptism when your family reaffirms their promises such as blessing your children with holy water, lighting your Baptismal candle, or wearing white.
St. John the Baptist, Who Baptized Our Lord in the Jordan River, Pray for Us!