The Spiritual Family The Work

"Christian, know your dignity!"

2nd part

An Indelible Character
In the sacrament of Baptism we received an indelible character, invisible to the eye. Christ conferred his likeness on our souls imprinting his seal on us. For this reason the disciples of Jesus were soon called Christians (see Rev. 11:26). By means of Baptism we belong forever to Christ. He made us his brothers and sisters. "Baptism has given us a new family name: Christian" (Mother Julia). Pope Leo the Great called out with astonishment: "Christian, know your dignity!" Being baptized, we should bear witness to Christ, give honour to His name and let our lives echo and reflect His life. St. Paul says: "... I beg you to live lives worthy of your high calling" (Eph 4:1).
Baptism is a powerful gift, at the same time it brings with it a lifelong responsibility.
Called to Holiness
By means of Baptism we were admitted into the life of God, but human frailty, fickleness, and inclination to sin which the teaching of the Church calls concupiscence, remains. It is part of the responsibility of the baptized to walk the way of holiness. Grace, which has to be nourished by our willing cooperation, enables us to do this. Striving for holiness means that our whole life, speech, conduct, thinking and understanding be permeated by the supernatural light of our Lord. The world has urgent need of Christian witnesses, men and women who accept the grace of redemption in faith and radiate it in their being. Redeemed men and women are 'discerning' individuals; they perceive God and His truth. Their heart is not stone, but flesh; they are enabled to love and to serve. By faith-inspired self-denial and love, they overcome the various kinds of self-centredness. Thus they are strengthened in will and mind to overcome evil and, in the spirit of discernment, to do what is right.
»Baptism has given us a new family name: Christian«
Mother Julia Verhaeghe
Members of the One Family of God
The Church needs people who are happy, joyful and, in the proper sense, proud to belong to her and to be allowed to cooperate in her mission in the world. Mother Julia writes:
"The Sacrament of Baptism unites those who are baptized as members of the Mystical Body of Christ to the family of God. This implies for everyone the holy obligation in justice and love to co-operate with and participate in the redeeming and sanctifying mission of Christ - according to the grace that is bestowed on each for the good of all."

Many baptized are troubled in their relationship to the Church. There is dissatisfaction, ignorance, inner resistance and misconception about the Church. The Church needs members who understand and love her, who are convinced of her spiritual greatness and glory and who, by their bearing and lifestyle restore trust in her. Her strength lies not, initially, in the number of baptized, but in the holiness of her members, the strength of their witness and the maturity of their consciences. If all of us - bishops, priests and deacons, Religious, lay men and women, as young people and children, families and single people - abstain from moaning and complaining, which hinder constructive growth, and instead radiate the joy and peace of redeemed people, we will have appeal and attract those around us. In this way we will bear witness to that wonderful creation of God which we call the Church:

"The Church is life and splendour from our heavenly Father. How much we have to love her, to proclaim her and to radiate her in our lives."

Mother Julia

Renewing Baptismal Awareness
The writings of the Old and New Covenants teach us that we must never forget the blessings God has bestowed on us. Holy Baptism is one of these blessings which we have received in our lives. We invite you to take up one or other of the following suggestions to help you become more aware of the great gift of Baptism.
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church contains a passage on Baptism, which we could read and discuss (CCC 1213-1284).
  • When visiting a church, or entering or leaving our home, we consciously cross ourselves using holy water. Parents are invited to bless their children frequently, giving a parental blessing by making the sign of the cross on their forehead (for example, at night before bed-time, before important steps in their lives such as tests, examinations, special tasks, before a journey, etc.). A holy water font might be mounted in the home if one does not exist.
  • It is good to remember one's baptismal anniversary as a day of thanksgiving; make a celebration of the children’s anniversary.
  • In the manifold situations of life, in times of temptation and testing, in joy and sadness we are called to renew our baptismal vows and consciously to affirm: "I renounce Satan" and "I believe in God".
  • Priests might include references to this sacrament in sermons or might occasionally use the baptismal commemoration during the Sunday liturgy. Catechesis offers many possibilities for increasing awareness of the meaning of Baptism. Godparents should faithfully fulfil their responsibilities to their godchildren.
  • Religious are invited to be mindful that the three evangelical counsels are rooted in baptismal grace and are meant to develop the fulness of this sacrament.

Our Lord called us to eternal life. As a consequence of our Baptism, we already participate in a hidden way in this eternal life. Let us pray to Mary, the Mother of the Church, that we may be given grace to remain faithful to our baptismal covenant, to live out our faith in daily life and thus to arrive at life's ultimate destination: the joy of heavenly glory.