The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord gives us the opportunity to learn about our own Baptism and the sanctifying grace we receive. But what is sanctifying grace? And what is actual grace? This week we explore these very important topics through the Mass readings, and learn to understand more about the indelible mark on our soul that reveals us as chosen by God and never abandoned by Him. We look at the Sacraments and how they continually offer and provide for us that grace to be in union and communion with God – and each other!
The activity gives us an opportunity to practice that communion, and includes a free, downloadable wallet card suitable for all ages.
Catechesis At Home – Feast of the Baptism of the Lord– Year C
Grace Revealed, Grace Received
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Grace Revealed, Grace Received
REFLECTION – Sacramental Grace is Sanctifying Grace
We reflect on the grace of God in the gift of the Sacrament of Baptism as we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. When Jesus was baptized by John, we hear that God’s voice spoke plainly, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22) This is one of the great revelations of God in the Bible – He plainly speaks and reveals Who Jesus is – Jesus is the Son of God. Grace reveals this Truth to us, so that we might receive that same sanctifying grace in baptism.
Through baptism we are joined to God in very special ways.
- By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin (1263).
- Baptism makes the [newly baptized] “a new creature,” an adopted son of God, who has become a “partaker of the divine nature,” member of Christ and co-heir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit (1265).
- Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: “Therefore . . . we are members one of another.” Baptism incorporates us into the Church (1267).
- Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation (1272).
Last year for the Feast of the Baptism of The Lord, we discussed sanctifying grace and the second point in this list. You can access that TWMWU here. This year let’s focus on the first point: the forgiveness of sins and reparation for them – an actual grace we experience with our senses. Jesus did this through His death and resurrection, but He gave us Baptism so we can receive the gift of sanctifying grace that His sacrifice brought.
In the readings this week, Isaiah says that Jerusalem’s “guilt is expiated” (Isaiah 40:2). Which means that reparation has been made. And St. Paul in his letter to Titus says:
who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness
and to cleanse for himself a people as his own,
eager to do what is good.
When the kindness and generous love
of God our savior appeared,
not because of any righteous deeds we had done
but because of his mercy,
He saved us through the bath of rebirth
and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
whom he richly poured out on us
through Jesus Christ our savior,
so that we might be justified by his grace
and become heirs in hope of eternal life.
We are justified by Jesus’ grace, through Baptism. We are presented a gift of mercy and forgiveness, cleansing us so that we can go to heaven. Through this sanctifying grace, all sin is forgiven in the waters of Baptism. In the case of a baby or child under the age of reason, who cannot sin, this is only Original Sin. But, in the case of children over the age of reason and adults, it also means any actual sins that they have committed throughout their lives. This is an amazing grace and should not be glossed over.
God is GOOD. He loves us and wants all of us to join Him in heaven when we die on earth. Baptism makes it possible. He gives us this Sacrament – this Mystery of Faith – to show us in physical form (with water and the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit”), the invisible grace that sanctifies us. We can lose this sanctifying grace, when we turn away from God: when we sin. In His love and mercy, He always invites us back. We can ask for forgiveness and when we are truly sorry, He will forgive us. This is Reconciliation. Sacramental Confession is required for mortal sins to be forgiven. We also receive this forgiveness for venial (small) sins when we pray sincerely for it and when we attend Mass and receive Holy Communion. Sanctifying grace is given to us at our Baptism, AND when we partake in the other Sacraments. Sacramental grace is sanctifying grace.
DISCUSSION – Grace Upon Grace
What is sanctifying grace? This is the sacramental grace that makes us holy; it is the Holy Spirit breathing His life into us.
Discuss with your family or friends how we can cooperate with the sanctifying grace we receive in the Sacraments.
What is actual grace? This is the grace we receive that builds upon the sanctifying grace; it is God’s intervention throughout the course of the work of sanctification (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2000). God works through our prayers, the intercession of others, our conscience, and in countless other ways to give us these “boosts” of grace. When we overcome temptation, or act out of charity for another’s well-being, these are instances of actual grace. God provides the means to do these things, it is not under our own power that we can overcome temptations or act charitably. All goodness in us comes in the form of grace from God. We simply act upon it.
Discuss with your family and friends times that you can point out as moments of grace.
ACTIVITY – Responding to Grace
Baptism is only the beginning of our faith journey, just as it was the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
We are called to DO something with the faith and sanctifying grace we receive at baptism.
This week with your family, choose something concrete you can DO to build upon that grace. Some ideas are the Corporal Works of Mercy. You can download a handy card with those printed here.
DIG DEEPER – Other Grace Revealed, Grace Received resources from Holy Owned and Operated:
Links open in a new tab or window according to your settings so that you can compare and continue in this lesson’s theme.
Page: RCIA Adapted for Children
Printable: Works of Mercy Cards
Podcast: Grace – Episode 12
Podcast: Why Do Catholics Baptize Infants – Episode 63
Podcast: Death – Episode 52
TWMWU: Feast of the Baptism of the Lord – Year B
TWMWU: God Keeps His Promises
TWMWU: Receive The Holy Spirit
Lesson: Encountering Christ in Our Everyday Life
How Does it Feel to Have Sanctifying Grace?
by Beth & Kristofer Cowles
Other Help on HOO
What is the difference between lust and love?
During this “season of Valentines” Beth and Kristofer cover this (often unknowingly) confusing and vitally important topic before we dive headlong into the pink and roses and hearts and whatnot.
Beth and Kristofer share how to tell the difference between lust and love, and how to teach that to impressionable minds and hearts.
And they do this in the context of Mortal Sin and Theological Virtue: Lust and Love, respectively.
They also, right out of the gate, point to Nick’s seven-part series about Love as a great resource on our web site for this discussion, which is linked to in the show notes.
Living in this world, but not of it, is difficult, and Beth and Kristofer offer us some pointers on how to do that, particularly in this day and age.
And, no, there is no inappropriate or “parental discretion advised” content in this episode.
But they do get attacked by a tree!