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Sacraments > Baptism

If someone asked you what are the three most important days in the life of a Christian, what would you say?

I have often pondered the question and I have always come up with the same answer: the day of our conception, when in a completely gratuitous and mysterious way we began the journey of life; the day of our Baptism, when we began our spiritual life in God; and the day of our death, when we made the final choice that determined our eternal destiny. Mind you, there are a lot of other important days in between - the day of our birth, our first day at school, the day of our graduation, our wedding day, the day we retired, etc. But I think none of these has the importance of the ones I have mentioned.

Why is Baptism so important?

To begin with, on that day, three divine Persons – Father, Son and The Holy Spirit- took up residence in our soul for the first time. We passed from the state of original sin, in which we are deprived of divine life, into what is known as the state of grace, in which we are given a share in God’s own life. By Baptism we become, as St. Paul puts it “temples of the Holy Spirit”. (1 Cor 6:19)

With this new state, the baptized person is raised to the dignity of a child of God, adopted by the Father in his Son, Jesus Christ. We are no longer merely creatures, like the rest of creation, but God’s very own children. The Father can say of us what he said of Jesus after his baptism by John: “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” (Mt 3:17) Moreover, in the words of St. Peter, we become “partakers of the divine nature.” (2 Pet 1:4). That is, in some way we share in the very nature of God. We are “divinized”, as many writers have put it. In a real sense, Satan’s words to our first parents – “you will be like God” (Gen 3:5) – become a reality through Baptism.

Why do we use water in Baptism?

Water is important for us humans in two principal ways. On one hand we use water for washing, and in this sense Baptism- which comes from a Greek word meaning “immersion” – symbolises the cleansing of the soul from the stain of sin. When an infant, who has committed no personal sins, is baptised, what is washed away is the stain of original sin, which prevents the child from sharing in the life of God. In the Baptism of an adult, in addition to original sin both the guilt and the punishment owing for all personal sins are cleansed, provided the person is truly repentant.

Water, in addition to being used for washing, is also necessary for life. We need to drink water frequently in order to remain healthly. Therefore we ought to constantly drink water from the spring of baptism in order to keep ourselves alive in our spiritual relationship with God and each other.

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