Lent and the Renewal of Our Baptismal Promises

Lent means "springtime." It is the springtime of our life in the Spirit. Lent is a special gift of God to His people. It is an opportunity to imitate Jesus as He fasted forty days in the desert. During Lent, we can walk with the catechumens as they prepare for the greatest event of their lives: receiving the sacrament of Baptism on Easter Vigil. In this way, we can prepare for one of the greatest moments of the year — the renewal of our baptismal promises. This renewal is so important that the Church offers this opportunity on the greatest day of the year, Easter Sunday, at every Mass in every Catholic church in the world. Pope John Paul II has taught: "It is no exaggeration to say that the entire existence of the lay faithful has as its purpose to lead a person to a knowledge of the radical newness of the Christian life that comes from Baptism" (Lay Members of Christ's Faithful People, 10).

The renewal of our baptismal promises is the goal of Lent. All our Lenten activities should move us toward this goal. For example, when we go to Confession during Lent, it has an added significance. Our Lenten Confessions should prepare us to reject Satan, all his works, and all his empty promises and to make a deep act of faith in the Father, Son, and Spirit.

When we give alms, pray, and fast during Lent, we should do so secretly and sacrificially (see Mt 6:1-18). We should let the Lord put us in a position where we need help, when no one but our heavenly Father knows our need. Then, when our Father provides, we will know that He did it, for He was the only One Who knew our need. Thus we will have a greater faith in our Father. This will encourage us to simplify our life-style, which will give God the Father more opportunities to father us. We will then be in a life-style of ever-increasing faith. This kind of life-style is the best context for renewing our baptismal promises.

When we read, pray, and study God's word during Lent, we are not merely reading for information or inspiration. We are reading to grow in faith, for faith comes through hearing and hearing through the word of God (Rm 10:17). With our faith growing deeper, we are preparing to make the greatest act of faith: the renewal of our baptismal promises.

When we see that all the roads of Lent lead to the renewal of our baptismal promises, we understand that a "good Lent" does not merely mean that we've gone to Confession and have been faithful to our Lenten practices. This is a necessary start, but a good Lent also means:

  1. I have repented of all sin in my life and have gone to Confession. Despite my weakness, by God's grace, I've committed myself to obeying the Lord. Therefore, I can renounce Satan and be protected from his retaliation (see Acts 19:13 ff). I can use my authority over him and bring down his strongholds (see 2 Cor 10:4).
  2. The extent of my penitential practices has put me in a position where I obviously needed God's practical help immediately. My heavenly Father has fathered me, and I now have a deeper faith than ever before.
  3. God's word is burning inside me (Lk 24:32). My communication with God is better than ever and my faith is stronger than ever.

If the Lord has His way, the renewal of our baptismal promises on Easter Sunday will be the greatest act of faith of our lives. Even if we previously have totally committed our lives to the Father, Son, and Spirit, this Easter's renewal of our baptismal promises should not be a re-run. The love which God has poured out on our lives since last Easter should bear fruit in the deepest expression of faith in God that we have ever made.

In preparation for the renewal of your baptismal promises, review the six questions of the baptismal promises.

Celebrant: Do you reject Satan?

Response: I do.

Celebrant: And all his works?

Response: I do.

Celebrant: And all his empty promises?

Response: I do.

Celebrant: Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?

Response: I do.

Celebrant: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?

Response: I do.

Celebrant: Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

Response: I do.

Now renew your baptismal promises. Answer "I do" to each of the six questions. Renewing these promises is a way of making a total commitment of our lives to God. This is the most important decision a human being can make. Give your life to the Lord. Decide to live for Him and not for yourself (2 Cor 5:15). Respond to His total love with your total love. After making this new act of faith, you will notice major changes in your life. Write and tell us the good news.

P.S. Check the date of your Baptism and celebrate your baptismal anniversary each year.


Nihil obstat: Reverend Edward J. Gratsch, January 23, 1992
Imprimatur: †
Reverend James H. Garland, Auxiliary Bishop of Archdiocese of Cincinnati, January 23, 1992