Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Eucharistic Revival Series: An “Amen!” for Baptismal Responsibility

Every once in a while, I read something that makes me ponder. Recently, I came across a sentence that says, “Eucharist is an acceptance of baptismal responsibility.”1 We declare this every time we proclaim, “Amen!” when we hear the words, “The Body of Christ” during Communion.

“Baptismal responsibility.” I had never come across this phrase, and it made me think deeply. I’ve mentioned before that a lot of us don’t really think about our baptism too often. Most of us were baptized as children and the memory of that event has been lost to us. However, the reality of that event was as significant as our birth and should be celebrated. The reason I say this is because our baptism is the moment in which we were born into the Church, became a son or daughter of God, and the stain of Original Sin was removed.

As I pondered the words “baptismal responsibility,” I had to see what Google had to reveal about it. I soon discovered that most of what it had in its database dealt with the responsibilities of the Godparents. But what exactly is my baptismal responsibility? In searching further, I came upon a Prezi presentation2 probably written by a group of individuals preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation.

It was significant that these students began their explanation by quoting Canon Law. “It is our responsibility to participate in the life and mission of the Church according to our state of life and includes the holiness of life, building up the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ and proclaiming the Gospel.3 The presentation then turned toward an explanation of each of these aspects. These aspects below, in bold, were included in the presentation, but the explanations are mine.

Holiness of Life – This is achieved amid the world. In a sense, it is the ability to synthesize what our faith teaches and bring it into our life. In short, it is being present to God where we find ourselves at this very moment. It is allowing the head knowledge of our faith to sink down into our hearts and then into our hands. Our faith impels us into action, building the Kingdom of God. This leads us to the second responsibility:

Building up the Church – This is not about renovation but rather renewal and reform. Let me explain. We can think that “building” means brick and mortar, but it goes way beyond that. We cannot reform or renew the Church unless we ourselves undergo renewal and reformation. We are obliged to seek conversion of ourselves and then continue to educate ourselves in matters of the faith. This is why adult catechesis as well as a daily prayer life is so important. We are “living” stones of the Church. If we seek to live the virtuous life, God will be present. If God is present to us, then the Church is strong.

Mystical Body of Christ – Because of our baptism, we have been incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ. Back in 1943, Pope Pius XII wrote an encyclical on the Mystical Body of Christ. You can read it here. It means that every man, woman and child that walks the face of the earth are my brothers and my sisters. My actions, both good and evil, affect them. The reverse is also true. Looking at it in a different way, the joys and the sorrows of my brothers and sisters are my joys and sorrows and vice versa. Because we the baptized belong to the Mystical Body of Christ, we should be one heart and one soul all serving Christ according to our state in life. Doesn’t that make you pause!

Proclaiming the Gospel – Because we are sent out to love and serve the Lord after the Liturgy, we must take part in the apostolic work of the Church. Through the way we live, our life should be a living example of the message of salvation. Besides this, we are called to promote social justice and to give to the poor. By doing so, we demonstrate how the Gospel is brought into our world and our time. This brings us back to the beginning of the list. It is truly a circle of life in which we are called by our baptismal responsibility.

So the next time that you say, “Amen” as the priest, deacon or Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist says, “The Body of Christ” you can understand in a more profound way what your baptismal responsibility truly is.

Do I hear an “Amen” in the house?

1 Bernier, P. Eucharist: Celebrating its rhythms in our lives. Ave Maria Press. 1993. P. 138.

2According to Google, a Prezi is “a presentation software that uses motion, zoom and spatial relationships to bring your ideas to life.” If you want learn more, visit prezi.com.
3Prezi presentation – Rights and Responsibilities of the Baptized

By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, The Catholic Witness

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