Pope John Paul II called the day of his Baptism the most important day of his life.
Easter is a joyous time in the Church when it’s particularly easy to call to mind the many blessings that the sacrament of Baptism has brought us. On Sundays during Easter the priest often celebrates the Sprinkling Rite, where he specifically calls to mind our baptism, as we are sprinkled (or doused) with holy water:
Dear brethren (brothers and sisters),
let us humbly beseech the lord our God
to bless this water he has created,
which will be sprinkled on us
as a memorial of our Baptism.
may he help us by his grace
to remain faithful to the spirit we have received.
However, as important as our Baptism is, how many of us know and celebrate the day of our entrance into the Church?
During his pontificate, Pope Francis has continually challenged us to celebrate our Baptism day. He said in a General Audience in 2014, “Many of us have no memory of the celebration of this Sacrament, and it is obvious why, if we were baptized soon after birth. I have asked this question two or three times already, here, in this square: who among you knows the date of your Baptism, raise your hands. It is important to know the day on which I was immersed in that current of Jesus’ salvation. And I will allow myself to give you some advice… but, more than advice, a task for today. Today, at home, go look, ask about the date of your Baptism and that way you will keep in mind that most beautiful day of Baptism. To know the date of our Baptism is to know a blessed day.”
In a similar manner, when someone asked St. John Paul II what the most important day of his life was, he answered, “The day I was baptized.”
The Catechism says, “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, 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).
Baptism is that “gateway” or “door” to new life in Christ and is extremely significant. All the other sacraments depend on that first sacrament of Baptism. Do we realize how important that is in the life of grace?
Let’s take up Pope Francis’ challenge and find the date we were baptized. Then, let’s put it on our calendar and celebrate each year with the solemnity that it deserves. It was our birthday into the Church and opened up the doors of grace to us that will lead us to life eternal.