Feast Day: No particular day, and every particular day.
The best analogy for Baptism that I have ever heard, and one that captivates confirmandi’s around the diocese when I ask it of them starts “if your mom and dad were to give you any car of your choice, what would it be?” I have gotten a lot of Lamborghinis and Ferraris in response, as well as a few Teslas, Mustangs, Ford F150s, … and one tractor. It is a good image because a free car would be a tremendous gift, and so is the grace of baptism. I am sure that Fr. Alford and Fr. Vahling will explain more of the nuts and bolts of the graces of this first and fundamental sacrament, but I want instead for you to sit in your ‘car’ and take a minute to look around.
Cars do a lot for us. They carry us from place to place, they protect us in a cocoon of metal and glass and plastic, they make it possible for us to go places that would be far more arduous and dangerous without them. They have lights to illuminate dark roads; air-conditioning to keep us comfortable; seats and belts to keep us secure; screens to tell us where, how fast, and how far we are along the way; speakers to entertain us; mirrors to amplify our vision; and cupholders to keep us hydrated.
Baptism does more for us. It is the supernatural gift of divine life that pervades and transfigures every moment of our lives. It is the first dose of God’s protection against the Evil One, and a continuous promise of His watching over us and protecting us. It allows us to receive graces, insights, and truths of faith that we could not acquire without it. It illuminates and transforms the dark days of life into encounters with the Crucified One. It strengthens and supernaturalizes our ability to look within, and without, seeing ourselves as God sees us, and loving others as God loves them. It makes every other adventure in the Christian life possible: watching our sins get demolished by God’s mercy, receiving the influx of the Holy Spirit Himself, approaching the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, giving ourselves absolutely to a spouse and family, or God’s holy church, and allowing the hardest days of life be transformed by the divine physician.
How’s your car looking right now? Does it give you a thrill every time you use it, to know that Someone loves you that much? Do you know, and celebrate, the day when it was given to you? When is the last time you vacuumed out the cheerios and blasted off the clumps of mud? Have you engaged it to its fullest, or just gone back and forth to work? If a free car was available to everyone, would you tell a friend if they were still traipsing through life on foot? If somebody else was lost, broke-down, and smashed-up, would you point them in the right direction, and mention that it only costs humility to get everything fixed up?
This week’s saint is all of us. That is, all who are baptized, and everybody that could be baptized … so all y’all (that’d be “you lot” in the UK, “yous” in Ireland, Scotland, and Australia, “you-uns” in Pennsylvania, and “yees” in Ireland…), and me as well. This month we celebrate all the saints, and pray for all those who have died already, but what remains to be done is to choose today to live well the graces we were given at our baptism. We have been given a great gift, let us not neglect it!
– Fr. Dominic Rankin was baptized the same day that he was born. Eyewitnesses claim that this was because he and his twin were born a few months early, and for evidence point to the few more months that he, his sister, and mom, and dad, and the rest of the anxious family spent in the hospital after that emergency baptism. He would like to think that really it was because of all the zeal he had to get those graces early.