Renewing the Promises of Holy Baptism

I was praying the Liturgy of the Hours in the morning with a religious community of priests and brothers when they did something that really edified me. In the course of the prayers, the prayer-leader said, “Let us briefly renew our religious vows and consecration in silence.” They all paused for about ten seconds before continuing their communal vocal prayer.

No matter the successes or failures of the past day, they paused at the beginning of a new day to silently renew their vows of religious consecration. That act impressed on me the truth that what is not consciously and constantly renewed and deepened will surely die. If you doubt this truth, just try traveling out of the country with an expired passport and see what happens!

What we have just contemplated and experienced in the Lenten season is God in Christ constantly renewing and deepening His love for us sinners despite all our infidelities. This deepening of divine love reached its climax on the cross when Jesus gave Himself completely and proclaimed, “It is finished.”(Jn 19:30) Only Jesus Christ can say those last words because He has indeed given all and there is nothing left for Him to give.

On this side of life, we can never utter our own, “It is finished,” because we can still renew and deepen our baptismal promises. To be Easter people means that we can always begin, renew, and grow in our commitment to God by renouncing evil and embracing good.

The grace of the Resurrection enables us to constantly renounce Satan and His empty promises so as to embrace the Triune God, unite in faith with Christ, participate in the communion of the saints and be fully engaged in the very mission of Christ in His Holy Catholic Church. As Easter people, if we do not consciously and constantly renew and deepen our baptismal promises, our faith, hope and love will surely die.

St. Paul reminds the Corinthians that, since “Christ, the paschal lamb has been sacrificed,” they must get rid of the old evil habits and tendencies so as to embrace the new life in Christ, “Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”(1Cor 5:7-8) In the face of the resurrection, St. Paul calls them to a renewal of their commitment to live for Christ.

Most likely we have come to experience in our lives moments when we did not understand what the Lord was asking of us. We may even feel abandoned by God or deceived by Him in our commitments. We may feel like evil seems to have the final word. We just cannot seem to reconcile our calling with what we are experiencing in the present moment. What do we do when we just cannot understand life’s events in the light of our vocations?

Mary of Magdala and the two disciples were really puzzled by the empty tomb. Grave robbers usually rob the grave of artifacts and leave the dead body. But now, they see the burial clothes of Jesus all intact and in order but no dead body. We are told, “For they did not yet understand the Scripture that He had to rise from the dead.”(Jn 20:9) They had believed everything else except the truth that His resurrection was inevitable. In short, they did not mature in their faith.

This is what happens to us when we do not constantly grow in faith, hope and love – our faith waivers in the face of the unexplainable things. We do not grow in these theological virtues because we do not consciously and constantly renew our baptismal promises just as God renews His promises to us. We hardly pause and consciously renounce the many deceptions of the devil so as to choose Christ and His will for us at that moment. Doesn’t’ life and world events easily make us forget that we are members of the Body of Christ by baptism and called to be on mission for Him in the Church?

We may not understand all things in this life but the more we choose to renew deepen our baptismal promises, the more our faith will be renewed and we will recognize the power of the risen Christ in our midst. No matter the mysterious things we face in this life, we can remain faithful to our vocations to the extent that we are striving to faithfully live out our baptismal promises.

St. Louis de Montfort teaches us that our life of total consecration to Mary is a renewal and deepening of our baptismal consecration. When we give ourselves and all that we are to May through this total consecration, we begin to share in that invincible faith of Mary. In faith, she gave herself completely to God at the Annunciation as she pronounced her fiat, “Behold the Handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.”(Lk 1:38)

In faith, our Blessed Mother also constantly renewed and deepened her self-offering to Him, until she too gave herself by standing with Jesus on Calvary even though she could not understand everything. Her faith in her Son’s resurrection is so strong that she did not come looking for His dead body in the grave but confidently awaited her Son’s glorious resurrection. She can and she will surely help us to renew and deepen our baptismal promises each day.

The Eucharist is the Easter sacrament where Christ renews His promise of abiding presence with us and His saving sacrifice in His body and blood. Because He renews His promise at every Eucharist, we are indeed Easter people who can renew and deepen our own promises at every moment.  If we choose to consciously renew and deepen these promises through our participation in the unwavering faith-filled fiat of our Blessed Mother Mary, our faith will never die, our hope will remain strong and joyful, and our love will endure till the very end even if we do not understand everything.

Happy Easter to all God’s Easter people.

Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!

By

Fr. Nnamdi Moneme OMV is a Roman Catholic Priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary currently on missionary assignment in the Philippines. He serves in the Congregations' Retreat Ministry and in the House of Formation for novices and theologians in Antipolo, Philippines. He blogs at  www.toquenchhisthirst.wordpress.com.

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