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Keeping Our Baptismal Promises

At Baptism, we are asked six questions as our “baptismal promises.” (When we are baptized as infants, our parents answer for us.) At Confirmation we renew our baptismal promises ourselves. Each year at Easter time, we renew them.

We respond, “I do,” to each question. How much do we think about what we are saying “I do” to? Let’s take a look at the questions.

They come in two groups of three. For the first three there are two options. For reflection purposes I will focus on the first option. (In option B, the questions are “Do you renounce sin, so as to live in the freedom of the children of God? Do you renounce the lure of evil, so that sin may have no mastery over you? Do you renounce Satan, the author and prince of sin?)

Do you renounce Satan?
This should be an easy question. Who would choose evil? We do not want to do evil. However, Genesis 3:1 says, “Now the snake was the most cunning of the wild animals.” Satan is cunning. As he did with Eve in the Garden, (Genesis 3), he will twist God’s words and our own words to his advantage. Jesus himself refers to the devil as a “liar” (John 8:44). We need to be careful. Lord, help us resist the cunning snares of the devil.

And all his works?
If we recognize something as a work of the devil, we would try to resist it. The question is do we recognize it as a work of the devil? In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray, “lead us not into temptation.” What makes it tempting? Generally, it is because there is some pleasure. We want that pleasure. Hedonism is a way of life that puts pleasure as the supreme goal. We are called to put what is good ahead of pleasure. One way to look at it is to ask yourself how much you seek to accumulate money to use for pleasure while not caring who you hurt in the process. Power and greed are things of Satan.

And all his empty show?
Satan tries to make his way look attractive and even good. In Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus faces repeated temptations by the devil. First, Jesus has been fasting for forty days. Knowing this, the devil tries to tempt Jesus to use his power to become bread. He tries to tempt Jesus to use that power to satisfy his own hunger. Would it be that bad? It may not seem bad but it is not the Father’s will. Then, the devil uses scripture (where it says the angels would support you) to tempt Jesus to sin, going against the Father’s Will. Remember what I say about Satan being cunning? Lastly, the devil tries to tempt Jesus by offering him the whole world. Jesus refuses. Are you tempted by the offer of power?

Now, the three remaining questions shift specifically to our belief in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?
First, I note, as I often do, that “believe” is a verb. That requires action. Do you just say you believe or do you live like you believe? Do you believe in God as “almighty,” the one who is all-powerful and all-knowing? If you believe in him as “all-knowing,” then you should count on him for the truth of what is right and wrong. Do you see him not just as a distant being but as your Father, meaning do you have a relationship with him? Do you see God as the Creator of all things and, thus, respect what He has created?

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
The name “Jesus” means “God saves.” Do you believe in Jesus as your savior? “Christ” is a title meaning “messiah” and “chosen one.” Do you believe that Jesus is the long-awaited messiah? In calling Jesus “Lord” do you believe him to be your Lord, your ‘ruler” to whom obedience is due? He was born of the Virgin Mary, meaning He willing gave up his divinity to come to save us (see Philippians 2:5-11). He willingly suffered because He loves us absolutely. He appeared in the Resurrection to his disciples so that we might have the hope of eternal life. Do you?

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?
Do you know that in Baptism you received the Holy Spirit and were sealed with it at Confirmation? The Holy Spirit gives us gifts of knowledge, wisdom, understanding, courage, counsel, piety, and fear of the Lord. Do we accept these gifts and use them to make the world a better place, for the building up of God’s Kingdom? Do you believe that our Catholic Church is founded upon Jesus and guided by the Holy Spirit? Do you believe that God wants to forgive you (because He does!)? Do you seek your place in Heaven by following the truth that Jesus offers?

If you find yourself lacking in living up to these baptismal promises, do not be afraid. Jesus willing gave his life for the forgiveness of our sins. If you have fallen into sin, ask God for forgiveness with a contrite heart and He will.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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