Washing in water, anointing with chrism, lighting a baptismal candle, wearing a white garment. The rite of baptism is full of beautiful traditions that trace their origins to the earliest days of Christianity. We gather as a believing community to witness these rituals and welcome new members into the fold. But this sacrament of initiation is more than a cultural milestone. It is a response to Jesus Christ’s clear instruction to baptize people of “all nations.” We are all invited to receive the priceless effects of baptism: forgiveness of sins, adoption as children of God, initiation into the Church, and the indelible spiritual mark of belonging to Christ once and for all, bearing his Spirit in our hearts (cf. CCC #1279). Through baptism we also follow the example of Jesus himself who was baptized in the Jordan River, and we heed his solemn teaching that, “Unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (Jn 3:5). We are truly “born again” in this sacrament of new life in Christ! As St. Paul tells us, “We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.” (Rom 6:3-4).