By Fr. Justin Clemente. August 9, 2022.
Dear New Creation Family:
Over the past month or so, I’ve had the privilege to stand next to the Niehoff family in preparation for the Baptism of their daughters. It’s been a great joy to hear of their desire to bring their girls to waters of Baptism and to raise them up in the Faith.
Let each of us, through prayer, prepare to support them in their vocation as parents (and daughters!). When we come together on the 21st, each of us need to be ready to answer the question posed to us in the liturgy: “Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ?” Answer: “We will!“
We should remember that the Church does and should grow through what Brooke and I refer to as “organic church growth.” Yes, the Kingdom of God does come into the world as Christian mothers and fathers take seriously their vocation to have children, baptize them into the people & promises of God, and raise them up in the Faith. What a blessing to be part of this!
Remember what the Catechism says?
“What is the inward and spiritual grace given in Baptism? The inward and spiritual grace is death to sin and new birth to righteousness, through union with Christ in his death and resurrection. I am born a sinner by nature, separated from God. But in Baptism, through faith in Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, I am made a member of Christ’s Body and adopted as God’s child and heir.“
“Why is it appropriate to baptize infants? Because it is a sign of God’s promise that they are embraced in the covenant community of Christ’s Church. Those who in faith and repentance present infants to be baptized vow to raise them in the knowledge and fear of the Lord, with the expectation that they will one day profess full Christian faith as their own.”
God loves it when our children are brought to the waters of Baptism in faith and dependency upon him. Psalm 8:2 says, “Out of the mouth of babies and infants (the weak!), you have established strength.” And Jesus gave us the child as a picture of how we must enter his Kingdom: “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14) That is to say, we must become as dependent upon God our Father as a child is to his parents.
This is one of the most joy-filled moments of worship for me. Together, we get to see these young Christians embraced by our Father and forever adopted as children of God. Baptism certainly isn’t the end of the road of Christian discipleship (the liturgy says as much!), but it is the beginning. During our first session together, Larissa shared with me that she is certain her daughters’ Baptism will follow them all their lives. Indeed that is true.
As the hymn Water, Blood, and Spirit Crying puts it:
Water, blood, and Spirit crying,
By their witness testifying
To the One whose death-defying
Life has come, with life for all.
In a wat’ry grave are buried
All our sins that Jesus carried;
Christ, the Ark of Life, has ferried
Us across death’s raging flood.
Dark the way, yet Christ precedes us,
Past the scowl of death He leads us;
Spreads a table where He feeds us
With His body and His blood.
Through around us death is seething,
God, His two-edged sword unsheathing,
By His Spirit life is breathing
Through the living, active Word.
Spirit, water, blood entreating,
Working faith and its completing
In the One whose death-defeating
Life has come, with life for all.
Or, if you have a thing for hip-hop, Mark Them, by rap artist FLAME simply says, “Bring them babies to the font!”