Blog # 349 conclusion of Blog # 348
Blog # 348 turned out to be very long . I thought it would be better to conclude it where I did and then publish the conclusion I was planning for it in a new Blog. In # 348 I wanted to focus upon and emphasize a feature of the supernatural gift of Sanctifying Grace which we receive through faith and Baptism that I think many of us do not keep ourselves constantly aware of. Baptism seems to be experienced as a ceremony, for a day, rather than as an event that modifies in a very practical way our whole identity for the rest of our lives on earth.
Our Catholic theology concerning Baptism proclaims definite privileges and responsibilities that are ours in the gift of new life bestowed upon us in Baptism. These privileges and responsibilities will not be personally fulfilled in us in our everyday relationship with God and the world around us unless we keep ourselves consciously aware of them.
It is through Baptism that we are officially joined to Jesus as branches on a vine and made members of the Catholic Church. Through our union and identification with Jesus in Baptism we become God's children and receive the privilege to pray to God as our Father, receive the power we need to conquer temptation and obey the Father's will, unite ourselves with Jesus in the worship He offers the Father on Calvary and in the Sacrifice of the Mass, and accept a commitment to fulfill our personal unique share in the missionary mandate Jesus gave to the Church through His command to the whole Church before He ascended into Heaven, to preach the Gospel to the whole world and Baptize all who would come to believe in Him.
All men and women, formed by nature in the image and likeness of God, our Creator. are given the mandate to form and follow their personal conscience, to do good and to avoid evil. We, as Baptized Christians, are given this mandate too, but in addition we are privileged to do it not only in obedience to our conscience, not only in imitation of Jesus, but. sharing in His divine life, in union with Jesus, not merely for Him but in Him.
For those of us who can remember the content of religion classes in our parochial grade school education, the term 'State of Grace' was a very familiar one. A goal of faith was to remain in the State of Grace which meant avoid all mortal sin which killed the life of Grace within us. We were constantly instructed as well to cultivate virtues in our lives which strengthened our faith and prepared us to be kind generous strong and successful in overcoming temptation to sin. I don't remember a strong and explicit identity given to all of this by way of a direct connection with Baptism nor a reference to faith in living out in our lives the motive of an actual Baptismal share in the life of the Risen Jesus which included not only personal virtuous lives but a definite share in the mandate given the Apostles on the occasion of the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven. Recent Popes on the other hand have left no room for doubt in proclaiming our Baptismal responsibility for doing our share in bringing justice for all in public as well as private endeavors as a requisite of bringing peace to all.