The gift of Divine Sonship and the Seal of Eternal Life
Baptism and Confirmation are two of the Sacraments of Initiation into the Church, which is the universal Sacrament of salvation – the visible making-present of Jesus Christ on earth. In receiving these two Sacraments, the candidate is drawn into visible unity with the Church (Baptism), and then that unity is deepened as we grow in maturity and responsibility (Confirmation). This, however, is simply the visible effect of the Sacraments – this visible effect is important because it expresses the more important invisible change that comes over us through the reception of Baptism and Confirmation. The Church is inseparably bound into Christ: this we are told by Christ Himself. It follows that whoever is bound into visible unity with the Church, is also bound into the person of Christ Himself. Thus, in receiving the Sacraments of Initiation into the Church (of which Baptism and Confirmation are two), we receive, as pure gift from God, the very person and life of Jesus Christ. Each of the seven Sacraments achieves this in a different way and for a distinct function. Baptism and Confirmation were designed by God as the specific means of visibly incorporating the disciples of Christ into the new creation – which is the Church. Baptism is the most fundamental Sacrament of all. It has the most dramatic effect on the recipient and is literally life changing. All of the ministries we carry out in the Church and in the world (such as reading at Mass, singing in the choir, acts of charity, work for justice etc., even up to the vocation to marriage and raising families, and the vocation to Holy Orders – deacons, priests and bishops) all and without exception flow from Baptism – they are specific ways God has called us to live out the implications of our Baptism. In a nutshell: Christ challenged us to “be holy as your heavenly Father is holy”. This is completely beyond us without the grace and strength of God – so He provides this grace (His divine life – Himself) in Baptism. What we then go and do to become holy (marry, work for the sick, seek ordination etc.), is only made possible because of the grace of Baptism, giving us the strength to choose and pursue the good to which Christ invites us.
“Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptised into one body … and all made to drink of one Spirit. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Cor. 12:12-13, 27)