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This Sunday wraps up the celebrations around the new calendar year with the close of the Christmas Season for the feast of Our Lord’s Baptism.  This day makes clear for us once again that baptism is a cornerstone of the Christian life.  Everything starts there and flows from there, by which we have been “incorporated” into Christ Jesus (“become a member of His body” which is the Church). 

The true identity of the Christian is found within this sacrament, and this is why churches have so often had a dedicated space to it, if not a building of itself.  For example, the leaning tower of Pisa, though I’ve never been there to see it, is actually the bell tower of the cathedral, and is not the most marvelous structure of the complex.  The masterpiece, I’ve been told, is the baptistry, which sits out in front of the Cathedral.  Many of the old churches in Rome and throughout early Christendom also have similar structures (attached or detached from the church) that are dedicated just to this sacrament, often larger than small churches.

Given the great architectural emphasis on Baptism, I wonder if Christians have a deep enough sense of the importance of baptism in their lives.  If the Church itself is a sort of sign of the importance of the Eucharist in our lives, then it seems Baptism should be a close second, something that leads us to our number one goal of unity with the Lamb of God in Holy Communion.  But perhaps we overlook it too much because it was something from so long ago in our lives.  I think there is more to be pondered here, but this is one thing that comes to mind.

One of the best helps for us to remember regularly our baptism is the use of holy water.  This simple sacramental when we enter and leave the church can be a strong reminder for us, day by day, of the importance of what happened perhaps long before we were old enough to understand a bit of it.  When you bless yourselves with holy water, tell God thank you for choosing you as His own through the blood of Jesus that has made you clean, and ask for the grace to live from that identity.

The saint’s name that you drew for this calendar year might also be a good help for you in this year.  Their lives show us how to live our baptism.  I strongly encourage you to do what you can to discover more about your saint.  Learn their story.  See if you can find a prayer that they prayed (or a style of prayer they commonly used) and try to make it your own.  And above all, ask for their intercession.

 Saint Thérèse, the little flower, pray for us!