Getting ready to go back to school, to start a new job, to meet another autumn? What is the most important item of clothing in your wardrobe? The most versatile? The one which feels most like “yourself”?
What is that single item of clothing that gives you confidence when you wear it and makes you feel ready for anything? What is the only item of clothing that you can’t do without?
This can be only one thing: your baptismal gown.
If you, dear reader, are a Christian, then one day you were brought to the baptismal font and made a Christian by the waters of baptism. From the power of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, original sin was washed from your soul, and the divine life of filial adoption was given to you. You became a new creation in Christ. Through the faith of the Church and your godparents you made promises to follow Jesus and reject Satan (these are the promises we renew at every Easter Vigil and in the rite of baptism).
The white garment you wore that day may have been large or small, but it is singular among any and all other garments you may now have hanging in your closet. Our baptism is the baseline for our whole lives: the source of our identity and our great inheritance promised to us if we are faithful to the end.
Along the road of life we may “hang many outfits in closets”: the student’s school colors, the team player’s uniform, the prom dress, the hipster jacket and scarf, the sharp business suit of the young professional, the bride’s wedding dress (or the religious habit), the well-worn jeans of everyday life, the patient’s hospital gown, the black funeral jacket suit.
Different seasons of life will come when we need the warmth of a winter coat, or the cool sundress to endure the heat. Yet these will not last. Sometimes clothes just wear out, get stained, or go out of fashion. Sometimes we change, and suddenly the clothes don’t fit if we get taller, fatter, skinnier, more daring, or more modest!
But the one item of clothing in your wardrobe that will outlast all of these changes is your baptismal gown. To be a child of God, a disciple of Jesus Christ, and a person who has been freed from sin and death is the great vocation of a Christian each and every day.
At the end of our lives the casket is draped in a white pall to symbolize our first death and resurrection in baptism when we were born into a new life in Christ. May we live in such a way here on earth so as to be truly “dressed and ready to go” on that day. Let us go out to meet Him marked with the sign of our baptismal hope, the most important item of clothing in our wardrobe!