“So, whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17)
The Church celebrates at the Easter Vigil, which is the “Mother of All Vigils,” the Lord’s Resurrection from the dead, culminating in his Ascension to the Father, and the sending of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. After 40 days of Lent, we come to the great joy of Easter, where we celebrate the most important event and the foundation of our Christian faith — Christ’s Resurrection.
Within the Easter Vigil, the Church receives and welcomes new members, the catechumens, through the waters of Baptism, the first sacrament of Christian initiation. With each Baptism, the number of faithful increases, making the celebration of Easter even more special. On this day, we see many brothers and sisters of different ages, backgrounds, and experiences become a new creation in Christ. They die to the old self and are reborn into a new life through participation in the resurrection of Christ.
“Jesus answered, Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit” (Jn 3:5-6). Jesus says that one only enters the kingdom of God by being born again.
Baptism is just the beginning of our new life though! It is not enough to just be born again, it is necessary to grow and persevere in this new life that Christ has won for each of us. While the Lord’s graces through Baptism have put to death original sin, concupiscence remains, which is the attraction or inclination to the disorder of sin. The temptations of our old ways of life, the seduction of the world and the disordered pleasures of the flesh will continue to attack. Our day-to-day life may still be surrounded by temptations to return to our old life. The Devil will persist with his lies and deceptions to steal, kill and destroy the graces of Baptism and the new life.
However, this fight against the Devil and sin has already been overcome by Christ on the Cross. We have confidence that everyone who is born and abides in Christ is also assured of his victory over the enemy and sin. But it is not enough to be born in Christ, it is also necessary to abide in a relationship with him. This new life must be constantly nourished and cared for in Christian community. Simple ways we can nourish this new life include attending Holy Mass, receiving the sacraments of communion and reconciliation, living the precepts of the Church, living a life of prayer, receiving ongoing formation in the Catholic faith and entering into a life of prayer and communion with other brothers and sisters. We take this action to nourish our spiritual lives in order to remain in supernatural unity with the church of Christ and to live in plenitude “the love of God that has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5).
Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila’s prayer intentions for April, which all the faithful of the Archdiocese of Denver are invited to join in, are for each of the new members added to the Church. All those who are being baptized or being received into the Church at Easter are not beginning this new journey alone! May this new life that Christ earned for these new members of the Church grow and endure in them until it is one day consummated with Mary, the angels, and saints in the eternal kingdom of heaven, with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.