With the dawn of Easter, we proclaim our Alleluia with joy. Jesus Christ is truly risen from the dead, just as He prophesied (Mt 17:23; Mk 8:31; Lk 9:22); as He promised His apostles. He lives forever. And His dying and rising is the pledge that we, too, are destined to live an everlasting life.
At the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night – the first Mass of Easter – it is fitting that catechumens are baptized. They are also sacramentally Confirmed, and they receive their First Holy Communion in the Mass.
All Catholics present at the Easter Vigil, as well as those at Masses on Easter Sunday, are called to renew the promises of their own Baptism and to make their Profession of Faith. We are sprinkled with Holy Water. We are reminded of that day when we were brought into Christ; into His Church. We were washed free of Original Sin. We “passed over” from death to life, just as the Jewish people passed over from slavery in Egypt, through the waters of the Red Sea - to the beginning of life in the Promised Land (Ex 14:22). Just as the Angel of Death had “passed over” the homes of the Israelites marked with the blood of the lamb (Ex 12:13), so also we are saved from everlasting death by Christ’s blood; we are ransomed from death by His death.
We are baptized “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” When we were born, God’s life, His sanctifying grace, was not in us. But in baptism we began to live in the life of grace. We received the life of the Triune God, the Most Holy Trinity. We were “infused” – drenched! – with the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. For many, perhaps most, of us baptism took place shortly after our birth. We could not yet be aware of the mystery that was nonetheless real in our heart, mind, and soul. Jesus saved us from death and darkness.
Jesus Christ had been put to death. The Creed teaches that it was real: “He suffered under Pontius Pilate. He was crucified, died, and was buried.” He rose again from the dead. Those who first heard about the crucifixion might have considered it a tragedy (like the Disciples on the road to Emmaus, Lk 24:20-21). Almost all of His apostles ran away in fear. But Calvary was the moment of complete triumph. On the Wood of the Cross, Jesus destroyed the finality of death – what St. Paul calls “death’s sting.” (I Cor 15:55) Jesus Christ, “Prince of the world to come,” defeats the devil, who in John’s Gospel, He calls the ‘prince of the world.’ “Now is the judgment of the world; now will the prince of the world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself.” (Jn 12:31. See also Jn 14:30-31; Jn 16:7-11). He took us from Satan’s grasp. He opened heaven’s gates for us.
Baptism is the necessary sacrament for us to be joined to the living Christ. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 846; 1257) It is a sign of this washing and this action of ‘passing over.’ And we say it is an ‘efficacious sign, because in [this washing] Christ Himself is at work’ (CCC, no. 1127) The sacrament of Baptism does what it signifies; it truly accomplishes what is represented in the sacramental sign of the pouring of water, or in some cases, being plunged under the water, to rise again; to “be buried with Christ in Baptism” (Rm 6:4; Col 2:12) and to rise with Him.
The Jewish people placed at the doorway of their house (Deut 6:9) the mezuzah: a little box that contained the scroll of the Torah with the great Command: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (cf. Deut 6:4-5ff) We Catholics fittingly keep near the door of our churches (and homes) the holy water. As they go in and out, the Jews kiss the mezuzah. We Catholics bless ourselves with holy water, the reminder of Baptism. The holy water of Easter is the pledge of eternal life with God, Whom we seek to love with all our mind, heart, soul and strength; and our neighbor as our self (Lk 10:27); or better: to love one another as Christ loved us. (Jn 13:34)
When you renew your baptismal promises shout them against the devil. In our sinfulness we remain vulnerable to his temptations, but he has already lost the ultimate battle. To Jesus Christ belongs the victory. Sing joyfully to your Redeemer; “Save us, Savior of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection You have set us free.” Alleluia!
Renewal of Baptismal Promises and Profession of Faith
Do you reject Satan?
R. I do.
V. And all his works?
R. I do.
V. And all his empty promises?
R. I do.
Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
R. I do.
V. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?
R. I do.
V. Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
R. I do.
V. God, the all-powerful Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and forgiven all our sins. May he also keep us faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ for ever and ever.