Lumen Fidei 41

Baptism is less the first moment of transmission. It’s far from being a membership card of a completed personal project, but the beginning of an ongoing process of formation:

41. The transmission of faith occurs first and foremost in baptism. Some might think that baptism is merely a way of symbolizing the confession of faith, a pedagogical tool for those who require images and signs, while in itself ultimately unnecessary. An observation of Saint Paul about baptism reminds us that this is not the case. Paul states that “we were buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4). In baptism we become a new creation and God’s adopted children. The Apostle goes on to say that Christians have been entrusted to a “standard of teaching” (týpos didachés), which they now obey from the heart (cf. Rom 6:17). In baptism we receive both a teaching to be professed and a specific way of life which demands the engagement of the whole person and sets us on the path to goodness. Those who are baptized are set in a new context, entrusted to a new environment, a new and shared way of acting, in the Church. Baptism makes us see, then, that faith is not the achievement of isolated individuals; it is not an act which someone can perform on his own, but rather something which must be received by entering into the ecclesial communion which transmits God’s gift. No one baptizes himself, just as no one comes into the world by himself. Baptism is something we receive.

A strong statement against individualism and magicalism. First, that this sacrament moves a believer into an “ecclesial communion.” From this I would interpret the Communion is more than me-and-God. Baptism is certainly an act of God’s grace, but it is also transmitted by a living faith community, with all the faults and benefits that entails.

And secondly, in the setting of this “new environment,” we are less finished products and more a community of believers that deals with the challenges, joyful and sorrowful both, of living together and of engaging the challenges of mortal life.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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