Effects of the Sacrament of Baptism

By Rev. Fr. Oliver Onah

Do we receive Baptism just for its own sake? We noted earlier, the glory with which every validly baptized Christian is clothed. Concerning the effects of such great, necessary and door-opening Sacrament, the fundamental effect of Baptism is the impression of the indelible Baptismal Character which identifies us as God's children in the Church.

We also observed earlier that all the Sacraments produce grace of salvation. Besides, each of them produces also specific grace. As regards Baptism, its particular specific grace is graphically described by St Paul in his letter to the Romans thus; "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ were baptized into His death?

Therefore, we have been buried with Him by Baptism into death, so that just as Jesus was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life..

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ" (Rom 6:3-11). On this brilliant Pauline text depends all the synthesis of the effects of Baptismal Grace, in its threefold relation, namely;

(1) Christological (with regard to Christ) inasmuch as it is a configuration to Jesus Christ by means of the participation to His commune priesthood.

(2) Anthropological since it is the executive cause, protective and sign of the sacramental grace with the supernatural organism of the soul.

(3) Ecclesiological since it is the unitive sign of the faithful (the Church) among themselves and with Jesus Christ and distinctive of the faithful from the unbelievers.

With regard to Jesus Christ (Christological), by Baptism, Christ the Head puts in us, the grace that makes us His living members, participants of the divine life. Through this grace we become conformed to the image of the Son of God, imago Christi (Rom 8:29) just as a block takes the shape of its mould.

We become His brothers and sisters, He, being the First born among many brothers and sisters. He is Son by nature, we are so by adoption. Since we are so configured to Him that we now derive our ontological sufficiency from Him the Author of life, we can no longer die unless we choose to.

With regard to the supernatural (Anthropological), we are adoptive children of God. Do you not know that children receive from parents, some connatural inclinations by acknowledging them as their parents, trusting themselves to them and loving them. They also acquire right to be helped by them, to be fed and to inherit (cf St Thomas Aquinas, S.Th., III, q.60, a.5).

In the same way, every baptized person

(a) receives some dispositions to the grace namely, theological virtues of faith to know the Father, of hope to trust Him, and of charity to love Him (cf Denz., 1530; S.Th., III, q.66, a.5),

(b) acquires right to be helped with grace so that he could do the good and avoid the evil,

(c) acquires right to the supernatural nutriment of bread and wine (Holy Eucharist), and

(d) follows the right to the paternal credit (eternal beatitudine).

All these are meant to equip the baptized with the grace to live truly as adoptive child of God. With regard to the Church (Ecclesiological aspect), we become members of the same Head, brothers and sisters of the same parents, and children of the same Father.

Among them as members exists a communion of life of saints, which is a flow of the supernatural riches of our Lord Jesus Christ. All these being the case, the notion of division among believers is out of the question. Neither Greek nor Jew, slave/freeborn, masculine/feminine (cf Gal 3:27-28), white/black, Igbo/Hausa.

The origin of division, ostracism and osu syndrome among today's Christians is traceable to entrenched paganism. When Christians unnecessarily react against their pastors from whom God feeds them, are they not biting the finger that feeds them?

Ette Parish Catholics are presenting passing through Baptism of fire that will define their faith in Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism. Has the grace of Baptism any effect on them all? Have they really died and purified themselves with Christ? Are they regenerated and renewed in Christ?

Are they not living in fear as if at Baptism they received the spirit of timidity and fear? The truth is that they needed our earnest prayer to enable them "keep the seal" of Baptism, the indelible Spiritual Mark so as to depart this life "marked with the sign of faith" (Roman Missal, EPI Roman Canon, 97) in expectation of the beatific vision.

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