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Baptism is a ‘Bath of Regeneration,’ Says Pope

Jeffrey Bruno

Elise Harris - Catholic News Agency - published on 11/13/13

The Holy Father reflects on the Sacrament of Baptism during the Wenesday audience from Rome

 During his general audience, Pope Francis devoted his reflections to the sacrament of Baptism, stating that it opens the door to a journey of faith, and helps to sustain us along the way.

“This sacrament constitutes a true immersion in the death of Christ to rise with him in a new life. It is a bath of regeneration by water and the Spirit and that illuminates us with the grace of Christ,” the Pope expressed in his Nov. 13 address.

The pontiff offered his words to the thousands of pilgrims present in Saint Peter’s Square for his general audience earlier this morning.

“Dear brothers and sister,” he began, “I would like to continue our catechesis on the Creed by turning to the Sacrament of Baptism.”

Each Sunday when making the Profession of Faith, we pray the words “I believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins,” noted the Pope, adding that this Baptism is “the door of faith and the fountain of Christian life.”

It expresses “our relation with God as children, as well as the starting point of a path of conversion that lasts our whole life,” he explained, and it “constitutes a true immersion in the death of Christ” in order “to rise with him in a new life.”

Focusing on three main elements of the proclamation, Pope Francis explained first that the words “I confess” are a “solemn declaration” which “highlights the importance of Baptism and affirms our identity as children of God.”

“In the Sacrament,” continued the pontiff, “our faith is also linked to the remission of sins. When we confess our sins, we renew and strengthen our Baptismal identity.”

Baptism “illuminates us with the grace of Christ, so that we may also be light for others,” he went on to say, and it is in this sacrament that “God’s mercy intervenes in a powerful way to save us and forgive our sins, opening to us the doors to a new life.”

In the second part of the proclamation, when we confess our belief in “one Baptism,” the word for the sacrament “literally means immersion,” the Pope revealed, and through this process “we are immersed spiritually in the death of Jesus Christ and we rise with him as a new creation.”

“Regenerated by water and the Holy Spirit, we are illuminated by grace which dispels the darkness of sin.”

“For the forgiveness of sins,” reflected the Pope, referring to the third part of the proclamation he wished to specify, “Baptism forgives original sin and personal sin.”

“The door to a new life is opened and the mercy of God enters our lives,” he noted, warning that despite receiving the grace of the sacrament, “human weakness remains,” and that “our responsibility and our effort to fight each day against evil impulses and Satan’s action, which are always lurking,” are not “diminished.”

“The Church teaches us to confess our sins with humility” stressed the Pope, “because only in forgiveness, received and given, do our restless hearts find peace and joy.”

Pope Francis concluded his reflections by challenging those present, asking them “Brothers, are we conscience that Baptism is the fountain of our relationship with God? Is it a live reality for us?”

“Do we often reflect about this gift that we have received, this profound union with Jesus who gave His life for me,” he continued, “Do I trust in the love of God that dwells in the depths of my being?”

The pontiff then offered a few words in various languages to the 45,000 pilgrims present, and spent some minutes greeting the handicapped.

Originally published at Catholic News Agency on 13 November 2013. Used with permission. All other rights reserved.

Tags:
PopePope FrancisSacramentsVatican
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