The symbols of Baptism - The CARF blog
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04 Nov, 20

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Symbology of Baptism

Knowing the importance and symbolism of Baptism allows us to understand the importance of this sacrament. Thanks to Baptism, we are purified from Original Sin and become part of the Church and the body of Christ. Once we have received the sacrament of Baptism, we have access to the other sacraments and begin to embark on the path of the Spirit. Purified by God's unconditional forgiveness, we become, to all intents and purposes, his children.

"We are called to live our Baptism every day as an actual reality in our existence. If we succeed in following Jesus and remaining in the Church, even with our limits, with our frailties and our sins, it is precisely because of the Sacrament in which we have been made new creatures and have been clothed in Christ."

Pope Francis, General Audience of January 8, 2014

What is Baptism?

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states (n. 1213) "Holy Baptism is the foundation of the whole Christian life, the portico of life in the spirit and the door that opens access to the other sacraments. By Baptism we are freed from sin and regenerated as children of Godwe become members of Christ and we are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in its mission. "

A Brief History of the Sacrament of Baptism

The word Baptism comes from the Greek βάπτισμα, baptisma, "immersion". That's exactly what it is, an immersion in purifying water.

The symbology of the water and its saving powerin the Old Testament, it was considered to be instrument of God's will. It happened in the Universal Flood, and in the crossing of the Red Sea by Moses and the chosen people to flee Egypt.

Also in the baptism of St. John the Baptist, which is the closest thing to the sacrament of baptism as we know it today. Jesus appeared to John to receive Baptism, he really accepts his own destiny. Coming out of the water, Jesus sees the sky open up and the Holy Spirit He appears in the form of a dove, while a voice is heard from heaven: "You are my beloved Son, my beloved Son". The Holy Spirit descends upon him, investing him in his role, transforming him into the Lamb of God. It is the beginning of a new life and the premonition of death, which will lead to the Resurrection. The destiny of a man and of all mankind is achieved on the banks of the Jordan.

From the day of Pentecost, the baptism of fire of the Holy Spirit or descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, fifty days after the Resurrection of Jesus, begins the mission of the Apostles and the beginning of the Christian Church.

From this moment on Peter and the other disciples begin to preach the need to repent of their sins and receive Baptism in order to obtain forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

"We Christians live in the world and are not exempt from darkness and gloom. However, the grace of Christ received in Baptism brings us out of the night and into the light of day. The most beautiful exhortation we can make to one another is to remind ourselves of our baptism, because through it we have been born for God, being new creatures." Pope Francis, General Audience August 2017

Symbology of baptism.

Baptism, like all the Sacraments, implies the use of sacred elements to be able to impart it. Since they are sacred, they are used only for that purpose and must be blessed by the bishop or by a priest. There are also symbolic gestures and non-verbal signs that together give light to this precious and indispensable sacrament in the life of a Christian.

The symbols of Baptism

There are many symbols of baptism so that we humans are able to imagine what is happening in the soul of the baptized person, which we cannot see with our eyes:

Holy water

"Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God" (Jn 3:5).

Water is the central symbol of the sacrament of Baptism., represents the love of God. It is poured on the forehead of the baptized as a source of inexhaustible love. It has the function of purifying, washing the body and soul of sin. Water is also an element universally recognized as a symbol of life.

At the time the priestpour water three times over the head of the baptized person, the faithful are united with Christ both in his death and in his resurrection and glorification.

As Pope Francis explains, "Baptism immerses us in the death and resurrection of the Lord, putting to death in us the old man, dominated by sin, so that the new man may be born, who participates in the life of the Most Holy Trinity." It is also the bath of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, because God has saved us by his mercy with the water that makes us new creatures. He inserts us as members of his body, which is the Church, and makes us missionaries in the world, each according to his own vocation, so that the world may believe and be transformed." General Audience 

Jesus was baptized in the waters of the Jordan at the beginning of his public ministry (cf. Mt. 3:13-17), not out of necessity, but out of redemptive solidarity. On that occasion, water is definitively indicated as the material element of the sacramental sign.

Light of the paschal candle

"I am the true light," Jesus said to his disciples, "You are the light of the world... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Mt 5:16).

In the Old Testament, the Light, was a symbol of FaithWith the advent of Jesus, this symbolism has been enriched with new fundamental meanings in the life of the Christian. The light in Baptism is a symbol that represents the guide on the path of encounter with Christ which in turn is light in our lives and in the world. It also symbolizes the resurrection of Christ.

Pope Francis tells us "This light is a treasure that we must preserve and transmit to others. The Christian is called to be a "Christophore," a bearer of Jesus to the world. Through concrete signs, we manifest the presence and love of Jesus to others, especially to those who are going through difficult situations. If we are faithful to our Baptism, we will spread the light of God's hope and pass on to future generations reasons for living." General Audience 

Chrism, Holy Oil or Oil of the Catechumens

"Moreover, the heavens are opened, the Spirit descends in the form of a dove, and the voice of God the Father confirms the divine filiation of Christ: events that reveal in the Head of the future Church what will later be sacramentally realized in her members." (Jn 3:5)

The Holy Oil is a perfumed and consecrated oil used in the sacrament of Baptism. The anointing with chrism oil symbolizes the full diffusion of grace.. The priest uses the oil to trace a cross on the chest and another between the shoulder blades of the baptized. He can also use it to anoint the head, stamping it with a seal that consecrates it to its new role.

All this symbolizes strength in the fight against temptations, a kind of shield against sin. The purpose of this symbol of baptism is to consecrate the entrance of the Christian into the great family of the church by symbolizing the gift of the Holy Spirit.

It is also used in the Sacrament of Confirmation, the priestly ordination and the anointing of the patients. The Holy Oil is blessed once a year by the bishop during the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday.

The white garment

The white garment symbolizes that the baptized person has "put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27): he has risen with Christ.

The purity of the soul without stain, symbolized by the white garment, after the sacrament of Baptism, the profound change and inner renewal that the sacrament has brought to those who have received it. White is a symbol of a new life, the new dignity that covers the baptized. In ancient times, those who were to be baptized wore a new white robe before joining the other faithful in the Church.

Symbology of Baptism
"In Baptism, Our Father God has taken possession of our lives, incorporated us into Christ's and sent us the Holy Spirit." St. Josemaría Escriba

The gifts of the Sacrament of Baptism.

 

  • We are children of God. With baptism we receive a new life, a new life. life of grace that makes us participate in the divine life. It is a real filiation and not an adoption, for the life of God will be within us.
  • It makes us members of the Church. By receiving baptism, we become part of a family; the family made up of all God's children, which is the Church. Baptism opens the door to receive all the other sacraments.
  • It forgives all sins. Unlike John's baptism, the baptism instituted by Jesus does forgive the sins of the recipient, including original sin. This means that if a person dies having just received baptism, will not go to purgatoryIt needs no purification whatsoever.
  • It instills in us the theological virtues. In baptism, God gives us three gifts: They are Faith, Hope and Charity.. We receive them as seeds and it is our duty to make them grow so that they reach their maximum development within us.
With the collaboration of:

Catechism of the Catholic Church
Vaticans.news
Opus Dei.com

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