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Living Our Baptismal Identity and the Universal Call to Holiness

the baptism of the lord feast day devotional

When St. John the Baptist baptized his cousin in the Jordan River, the heavens opened above Jesus and God the Father proclaimed, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:13-17). Here we are given the privilege to enter into the love of the Holy Trinity and see Jesus’ identity as the beloved Son.

As Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He began with the words, “Our Father.” These words are so familiar to us today, but let’s listen to them more closely. Here, Jesus is not only teaching us how to pray, He is teaching us how to live our baptismal identity.

The Our Father and Our Baptismal Identity

Yes, we dare to pray His words, “Our Father.” So, what does this mean?

  1. First and foremost, we are not alone. We have been chosen to be part of His family.
  2. Our Father is good and will provide for all of our needs.
  3. We are beloved.
  4. We are daughters.

Baptism “is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments”  (CCC 1213).

Gifts We Receive at Baptism

Here are some of the gifts you received at your baptism:

  • The washing away of original and actual sin
  • An indelible mark on your soul, consecrating you to belong entirely to God
  • New life in Christ
  • Membership in the Mystical Body of Christ
  • Adoption
  • Sanctifying grace
  • Theological and Cardinal Virtues
  • The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
  • Body becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit
  • The offices of priest, prophet, and king
  • The light of Christ (represented by the candle)
  • A home in Heaven

A Home for Him

Isn’t it incredible that God desires to dwell in us? St. Therese of Lisieux describes it beautifully in her poem, “To Our Lady of Victories”:

Through Him, the holy waters of Baptism
Will make of the tiny little newborn babe
The temple where God Himself
Deigns to dwell in his love.

 

You can dive deeper into learning about this Sacrament of Initiation in our Blessed Conversation Series.

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Celebrating Your Baptismal Day

Another way to live your baptismal identity is to celebrate your Baptismal Day. Think of it as your spiritual birthday. Remembering our Baptism will help our baptismal identity to grow.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Look at pictures or watch a video of your Baptism.
  • Thank your parents and godparents.
  • Visit the Church and the font where you were baptized.
  • Renew your Baptismal promises and renounce Satan.
  • Profess your Faith by reciting the Creed.
  • Use holy water and have a font in your home.
  • Frame and display your Baptismal certificate.
  • Light your Baptism candle on your Baptismal Day.
  • Make the sign of the Cross and read about Jesus’ death and Resurrection in your Catholic Journaling Bible.
  • Grow in devotion to your Baptismal Saint. If your parents did not give you a Saint name, look up the Saint of the day you were baptized.

The Universal Call to Holiness

Each one of us receives a call to holiness when we receive the Sacrament of Baptism. Every Baptized Catholic is called to be a Saint! And you are called to help your siblings, parents, spouse, children, godchildren, roommates, colleagues, and priests get to Heaven. How our days would be transformed if we had this at the front of our minds!

You can read more about the universal call to holiness in chapter 5 of Lumen Gentium, a Dogmatic Constitution on the Church from Second Vatican Council.

One Call, Many Ways

You can also see the diversity in the universal call to holiness by reading the lives of the Saints. Let the courage of St. Joan of Arc, the sacrifice of St. Gianna, the purity of Maria Goretti, the devotion of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the fidelity of St. Faustina, the poverty of St. Clare, the trust of St. Teresa of Calcutta, the simplicity of St. Bernadette, the perseverance of St. Monica, the zeal of St. Catherine of Siena, the humility of St. Josephine Bahkita, the obedience of St. Rose of Lima, the prayer of St. Teresa of Avila, and the generosity of St. Elizabeth of Hungary call you to deeper holiness!

Living Purely from Within

St. Edith Stein is another Saint who lived her baptismal identity and call to holiness so beautifully. Edith was born to a Jewish family in Breslau, Germany in 1891. She abandoned her Jewish faith, became an atheist, and went on to study philosophy.

After reading St. Teresa of Avila’s autobiography on night, she experienced a deep encounter with Truth and asked to be baptized. She became a very gifted teacher and then felt a calling to the Consecrated Life. She became a Carmelite nun in Germany, taking the religious name Sr. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

During the Nazi occupation, she fled to the Netherlands. The Nazis eventually found her, arrested her, and sent her to the concentration camp in Auchwitz.

Confident in Her Identity in Christ

Although Sr. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was stripped of her religious habit, taken from her religious community, and did not have access to the Mass, she still remembered her baptismal identity and radiated holiness to those around her. Witnesses remember her motherly care, especially to the women and children around her. A few of her letters from those barracks survived and she described:

We are very calm and cheerful. Of course, so far there has been no Mass and Communion; maybe that will come later. Now we have a chance to experience a little how to live purely from within. -Letter 340, Self Portrait in Letters

 

Sr. Teresa Benedicta lived purely from within by knowing she was a Beloved daughter of the Father. She trusted that God would remain with her, even in the horrible conditions of Auchwitz.

Dear St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, please pray that we might also live purely from within. May we know our Baptismal Identity and grow in holiness even amid our suffering. Help us to pray gloriously, from our identity as beloved daughters of the Father. 

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Rose Coleman is a regular contributor to the BIS blog and a devotion writer. She is a contemplative in action who delights in all things beautiful. Her adventurous heart has traveled many places—from circumnavigating the globe on a ship during college to some years in the convent as a religious sister. Exuberant from her childhood, she is an elementary school teacher who learns so much from her students. You can find out more about her here.

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