By Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the Sacrament of Baptism as “the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.” (CCC 1213)
The sins we are washed away with in baptism is both original sin and all actual sins. Since most Catholics in the Philippines were baptized when they were infants only original sin is washed away since babies don’t have actual sins yet. Actual sins according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church are any willful thought, desire, word, action or omission forbidden by the law of God. (CCC 1871). Actual sins are willful and since children until the age of reason which is seven are not yet conscious of their actions, then they don’t have actual sins yet. Actual sins washed or erased refer to adults who get baptized such as converts from other religion. Baptism enrolls as to being official members of the Catholic Church and raises us to the dignity of being children of God. Before baptism we were just creatures of God but after baptism, we become children of God. The radical transformation from creatures of God to children of God is caused by sanctifying grace, the grace that makes us holy or the grace that makes us share in the divine life of God, which is what Christianity is all about, to share in God’s life.
In summary, the benefits we get from baptism are the cleansing of original sin and all actual sins, together with all the punishment due to them, infused virtues especially the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity; makes us children of God; makes us members of the Church; confers on us with the baptismal character (an imprint of on our soul that we are literally “owned by God”) and gives us the right to heaven. The baptismal character or imprint marks us forever as Christians even if the soul does not end up in heaven but in hell.
Because of the new identity as Christians, or as followers of Christ, it brings with it two duties. The duty or calling to become holy as God is holy or be like God or be like Christ and the duty to spread God’s kingdom by apostolate or by evangelization or bringing others closer to God. These two duties correspond to the two greatest commandments which is love of God and love of neighbor. The best way to show our love for God is to become like Him and be holy or to obey His will and His commandments actions befitting as His children. And best way to show our love for our neighbor is to give them the greatest good that they can have in this world, which is an intimate relationship with God or in short giving them God.
We are born in this world when we came out of our mother’s womb and that day is our birth day, which we celebrate every year. Baptism is our birthday to the spiritual world or to the spiritual life, we should remember it and celebrate it too every year considering the many spiritual benefits we receive from it and because the soul is more important than the body, and likewise it is the day that God came into our soul or God’s birth within us or Christmas within our souls.