Every year around this time, I find myself nostalgic. Do you experience something similar?
It is such a bitter-sweet time for so many reasons. The excitement of the festiveness, football season, new colors and smells, more decadent foods and drinks, and memories of pilgrimages past. Oh, and the pictures of your friend’s babies dressed in Saint costumes that pop up on your social feed!
But then there’s the cold weather, the lack of sunshine (and Vitamin D), lack of motivation to exercise. And then, the dreariness that causes me to obsess about death. But my friends say that’s because I’m Irish. And it’s true, we Irish folk think about death all the time pretty much. What can I say! After all, Saint Benedict recommended: “Keep death daily before your eyes.”
My Baptism Anniversary
For me, during this time of year, I feel another pull too. I always feel even more challenged to renew my commitment to the faith of my parents (whom I will always be indebted to) baptized me into those many years ago. Why? Because my baptism anniversary falls on the Solemnity of All Saints’. (I am so incredibly proud of this and, at the same time, humbled by it. “The Solemnity of All Saints!? Are you sure that’s right?” I said to the secretary when I inquired at church about my baptism date.)
On what liturgical day does your baptism anniversary land? If you don’t know, consider this your invitation to find out. In many ways, this day is more significant to celebrate than our birthdays!
How did I discover my baptism anniversary? In 2012, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI declared a “Year of Faith.” This designated year’s central theme was baptism, to emphasize that baptism is the beginning of our life in Christ.
Renewing Our Baptismal Promises
The first day of the “Year of Faith” marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth anniversary of the Catholic Church’s Catechism.
Now, even though the Council documents and the Catechism would take a lifetime and beyond of study and prayer to do them justice, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Try, especially because that’s what Benedict asked of the faithful during 2012-2013, to dive into these writings.
He also invited us to renew our baptismal promises at the church where we were baptized to receive an Indulgence. My 25-year-old mind and heart were blown when I learned this was a thing, and I jumped at it. But I wanted to do it on my baptism anniversary (which wasn’t required for the Indulgence).
I called up the Catholic Church secretary, where I was baptized (fun fact, wherever you were baptized – they keep all your sacramental records; first communion, wedding, etc.) and asked her for the date.
Every year now, I renew my baptismal promises on the anniversary of my baptism. But why?
At the moment of our baptism, each one of us (if we were baptized in the Trinitarian formula, cf. CCC, no. 1240) is claimed by Christ for his own and given the gift of supernatural faith.
Baptism is “The Door of Faith”
The Year of Faith was a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world” (The Door of Faith, no. 6).
I have taken the renewal of my baptismal promises to mean the same thing. It is a renewed conversion each year and a total gift of myself surrendered before the Tabernacle, where the Lord resides fully present and available to each one of us.
The Year of Faith catechized the faithful that baptism is “the door of faith.” When we renew our baptismal promises, we open that door of faith once again, thus recommitting ourselves to a relationship with Christ and his beloved bride, the Church.
If you would like to learn more about renewing your baptismal promises, contact me. In the meantime, you can use this prayer as a guide. And consider saying a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing over your parents and godparents, who brought you to the Church for this initiation, to begin your relationship with Christ.