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Schoenstatt
Apostolic Movement

Baptism day is a day worthy of cakes and candles

By: Sr M. Irmengild Schmitt

Pope Francis recently met with confirmation candidates to remind them of their baptism day. Yes, he asked them to celebrate the day of their baptism properly: everyone should honor the day of their baptism – on which they were “born to Christian life and to eternal life” – and celebrate it as a second birthday. [1]

This begs the question: Do you know the date of your baptism, or has the day of your baptism simply vanished? For Sister M. Emilie, the day of her baptism was the greatest day of her life.

Emilie Engel was born more than 130 years ago in Husten/Sauerland. Two days later she was baptized in her parish church in Drolshagen. Remembering this day, she wrote in her diary notes: “44 years ago today was the greatest day of my life, the day of my baptism…” (8.2.1937).

Every year she celebrated her baptism

Two years later, her diary reads:

“The mystery of this day is so great, so indescribable, that I cannot even comprehend it …. Triune God, I renounce with all the strength of my will to everything that is contrary to God and I abandon myself to you as a daughter unreservedly forever and for eternity. Glory to the Father in me, to the Son in me and to the Holy Spirit in me. Amen” (February 8, 1939).

Throughout her life, this day was very special for Emilie Engel.

By observing the symbols of baptism, we can delve into its deepest meaning. Let us be inspired by Sister M. Emilie, who provides us with an answer through her life.

Holy water

In baptism, holy water represents the act of purification from original sin and initiation into Christian life. It is a symbol of the beginning of a new way of life in faith and of the will to turn away from everything that separates us from God.

This is expressed in a special way when the baptismal water flows over the child’s head and the baptismal formula is pronounced: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”.

Emilie Engel became God’s property, God’s child, when she was baptized. She expressed her undivided devotion to God by saying yes in a life dedicated to God.

The baptismal candle

The baptismal candle is lit with the paschal candle. It symbolizes the light of Christ entering into the life of the baptized. This light must accompany the baptized for the rest of his or her life.

Emilie Engel has made the tiny seed of baptism blossom and mature in her life. She has let the light of grace shine and radiate in her life. This splendor in her face fascinates people time and time again. It is a radiance that comes from within.

The Chrism oil

The tradition of anointing with oil has biblical roots. Kings, prophets and priests were often anointed in the Old Testament to signal their sacred vocation. It symbolizes the special vocation of the baptized to the “royal priesthood,” which is inherent in all the baptized.

With her exemplary and “holy” life, Emilie Engel bore witness to the efficacy of baptismal grace. She cooperated with grace and set an example of a credible and noble life.

The baptismal vestment

The white color of the baptismal gown represents purity and innocence and has deep roots in many cultures. Worth noting: In baptism, we have become a new creation and – as Scripture says – have been clothed with Christ. The white robe is a sign of this dignity, which must be preserved for eternal life.

Emilie Engel wore this white baptismal vestment with dignity and nobility. Years later, when she received the dress of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, she also wore this garment with dignity – as a reference to another world, as a living testimony of the presence of God and the Blessed Mother in our world.

Prepare a special cake as well – with candles

Schwester Emilie

We thank Sister M. Emilie Engel for her testimony of faith and exemplary Christianity.

Dear Sister M. Emilie, we can see in your life what a person can become “when the day of baptism becomes the greatest day in one’s whole life”. Encourage us as well to be living and committed Christians in a troubled and turbulent time. Be our companion on the path of our life and faith.

In a meeting with confirmation candidates, Pope Francis addressed the parents present and asked them to “also prepare an extra cake – with candles – for this “”very important”” date”.

 

[1] Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Confirmands of the Archdiocese of Bari-Bitonto. Paul VI Audience Hall. Saturday, 27 January 2024.

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