Baptismal Consecration: The Theological Virtues and the Life of Faith

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August 29, 2021

Originally hailing from Houston, Texas, Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Marie Kolbe Zamora writes a series of articles on Baptismal Consecration. She holds an S.T.B., S.T.L. in Dogmatic Theology, and S.T.D. from the Pontifical Gregorian University, specializing in Bonaventure and Ecclesiology. She soon serves in Vatican City for The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

Previous columns have focused on how, at our Baptism, the Father invests us with the life of His Son by gift of the Holy Spirit. God does not just give us “tools” to help us obey His commands; rather, we are given God’s very self! God’ own life and love have been “poured forth into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given us.” (Romans 5.5) Jesus, the Son of the living God, takes up His own divine life within us, so that, with St. Paul, we can say that “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2.20) Because the life planted within us is divine, we are empowered to not stay dead after our death! Christian belief
is that the final fruit of our Baptism is our own bodily rising from the dead! What a day that will be!

Another way of putting this all of this is to say that our humanity receives a divine-upgrade so that what would have been a merely human life becomes a “divine-human” life! Our capacity to freely engage in relationships with others, the world and even ourselves has widened and deepened: by God’s grace, we can now directly engage in a relationship with the living God. All of my human knowledge, love, desire, emotion and virtue now unfold in
the presence of the living God and are infused with God’s own divine life. Baptismal life is the life of faith, hope and charity.

When it comes to these three Theological Virtues, the Church’s teaching has focused on the truth that they are “divinely infused.” However, when we focus only on this truth, we easily lose the human reality that Jesus’ Incarnation requires us to keep in view. The Theological Virtues are infused, but let us not forget that they are infused into our humanity. If, as St. Thomas famously said, grace (God’s life) truly does build on nature (human life), then we must pay attention to the ground (our human nature and life) in which God’s life is planted.

We begin here with Faith, and will continue with Hope and Charity is upcoming articles.

Regarding Faith: The bare minimum necessary for relationships to exist is that we are able to believe as true that which is affirmed by those around us. More deeply, for human relationships to flourish and bear fruit, we must be able to  believe that the other person is now, and will be in to the future, who they represent themselves to be. Fruitful human relationships are grounded in truthful persons even more deeply than they are grounded in the truthful exchange of
information between persons, though the latter remains important. Fruitful human relationships require us to give our word to one another and keep it, the most profound word being ourselves. They require us to faithfully BE what our
words speak. Faith / fidelity is the bed-rock and soil of human relationships.

We live this human truth in many ways: we teach our children to make promises and to keep them and to speak honestly; we require that our teenagers go to basketball practice long after the glamor of playing on the team has worn off; we insist that our children show up at school and at work with consistency.

The Gospels show us that Jesus, in His humanity, believes what the Father has spoken to (and in) Him as true. More deeply, they show that Jesus demonstrated his belief in his Father’s fidelity, and HIS unwavering fidelity to mission to Him by His Father. Jesus demonstrated Himself to be a man of his word, to be a man of good-faith by remaining faithful to the Father’s Word (which he was and is). Because our Baptism invests us with Jesus’ own life,

Baptism “embeds”, if you will, His faith and fidelity within our human faith and fidelity! Our human capacity for faith / fidelity is fueled by Jesus’ divinity, transforming all of our human choices to be faithful into occasions to meet the living God. Our ability to receive the word of another and believe it as true is transformed into the ability to receive God’s own Word to us (in the Scriptures, but also in the depths of our own consciences) and believe it as true. Our capacity to count on others (and have others count on us) becomes an occasion to count on the living God. We are no longer alone, and all human communication is transformed into life-giving communication! Perhaps most profoundly, the power we have to give our word to another and keep it is transformed and upgraded into the power to give our word to the living God and keep it! Our entire life becomes a “vow of obedience,” so to speak. May it be so!

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