Remembering our baptism in the sign of the cross

Posted by Caitlin Sica on Jul 4, 2019 7:00:00 AM
Caitlin Sica

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Whether we realize it or not, every time we bless ourselves “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of Holy Spirit” (or “in-name-of-father-son-holy-spirit-amen” if we’re trying to eat dinner quickly), we are not only making a prayer to God, but we are recalling our baptism.

There’s nothing I love more on a Sunday than walking into Church and finding out that a baby is getting baptized because: 1) Babies, 2) We are gaining a new member of the Church and this sweet little babe will be transformed into a beloved child of God, and 3) Babies.

If you’re like me, you probably don’t recall the day you were baptized. And, if you’re also like me, while you love watching a baby be baptized, you’re more concerned about catching a glimpse of the adorable child, than you are about listening intently to the words the priest says during this sacrament. But these words are so beautiful and something worth remembering.

After pouring water over the child’s head three times, and baptizing her “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of Holy Spirit,” the child is anointed with Chrism oil. Before being anointed, the priest says the following:  

“God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into his holy people. He now anoints you with the chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.”

And after being anointed:

“You have become a new creation, and have clothed yourself in Christ. See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example, bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven.”

Through our baptism, we are freed from sin and given a new identity—a new life. We are a new creation, brought into God’s family as a member of his chosen people and as a beloved child of God. And through our baptism, God offers us the gift of everlasting life in heaven and calls and invites us to dwell in the Trinity for the rest of our life.

Each baptism is such a beautiful and simultaneously complex gift. So why don’t we remember this gift more often when we make the sign of the cross? One reason could be that we are creatures of habit, and it’s easy to mistake something routine as something simple or even unimportant. But, more often than not, the biggest reason we don’t recall our baptism is that we neither understand nor fully realize the depth of the prayer we make in the sign of the cross.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” It is a simple prayer, but it is a profound prayer; a prayer that is at the essence of our faith; a prayer that demands action. When we make the sign of the cross, dip our hand in holy water or profess the creed, we recall in a physical way what was begun and instilled in us at our baptism. We are new creatures, clothed in Christ, sons and daughters of God, and part of his chosen, holy people. May we have the courage to give our ‘yes’ to God, to dwell in the Holy Trinity and to allow the Trinity to dwell in us, so that we may attain the promise of eternal life in heaven.

Topics: baptism, Sign of the Cross, sacraments, vocation

Living and Handing on the Faith

The McGrath Institute Blog helps Catholics live and hand on their faith in Jesus Christ, especially in the family, home and parish, and cultivates and inspires everyday leaders to live out the fullness and richness of their faith in the simple, little ways that make up Church life.

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