“Receive this lighted candle, and during your entire life strive to shine with the light of faith and good deeds, that when the Lord comes, you may be able to meet Him with light together with all the saints and enter unhindered into the court of His heavenly glory and reign with Him through all eternity. Amen.” -- from the The Ritual of Holy Baptism
We all know of the intimate connection between the Paschal Mystery and Holy Baptism. Everything that happens to us post-Baptism as members of Christ and His Church should reinforce our initial entry into Him and His Church. In a sense, each day we ask ourselves the fundamental questions: “Do I want to be a Christian? Would I do it all again?” We also answer these questions each day, each moment.
As with most things, we answer loud and clear with our deeds, even if we use other words. As also happens, one question, even if answered, leads to many other questions. After we have already accepted Christ and His Church and Holy Baptism, we continue to grow in our understanding of the faith. Again, this is part of our Lenten journey, which is, as we always say, reminiscent of our faith journey through life. We are made in the Image and Likeness of God to begin with, and we are to continue growing and transforming into the Image and Likeness of God throughout our lifetime. We need to be reminded and brought back to the fundamentals of our faith.
Perhaps for some, we need to hear them for the first time. Some of us were steeped in the faith like teabags in hot water. We may know some who are nominal Christians, who celebrate the big holy days which they call holidays, and whose celebrating may or may not include going to church. We know a lot of people living virtual lives, watching it happen on a hand held device. Let the questions begin. What does it mean to be a Christian? What does it mean to be baptized? How is my life, as a baptized Christian, any different from the person who is not a believer?
Why have so many people in our own families or circle of friends opted out of the life of the Church? Why is my own faith knowledge or participation so minimal? Why don’t I receive the sacramental Mysteries of Confession and Holy Communion?
Why don’t I make more of an effort to observe the Great Fast? There are questions for those who do participate, as well. Do you get anything out of the Sunday Divine Liturgy or the Lenten services? Does Sacred Scripture open the eyes of your mind to understand the Holy Gospel? How can you grow more into the Image and Likeness of God? How can you assist others in growing more into the Image and Likeness of God? Just a few more questions.
Let’s hearken back to the Day of Baptism. The priest asked you, and we ask again: Do you renounce Satan, and all his works, and all his angels, and all his pride? Have you renounced Satan? Do you commit yourself to Christ? Have you committed yourself to Christ? And do you believe in Him? In the ritual of Baptism we were signed by the Cross, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and delivered to God. How is that working for you? How are you doing with your baptismal promises? Think about it. Love the questions.
The writer is a priest of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh.