What makes a birthday such an important day?
Sure, it’s something that you’re required to know whenever you need to pick up medicine from a pharmacy or fill out an important form, and, depending on if it has passed or not, is the determining factor for when you are eligible to vote, legally able to consume alcoholic beverages and rent a car.
But a birthday is so much more than that. It celebrates when you first came into the world, and it celebrates YOU in recognizing your life. I hear that as you get older, birthdays aren’t as fun because you start to cringe at the number associated with it instead of appreciating the day.
When you were born, I’m sure there was a moment when you were a newborn baby and someone held you and thought, “What a beautiful, precious little person. I can’t wait to see you grow and share life with you.”
Why can’t we go back to a time like that? A time of wonder and appreciation of a birthday simply because it is a day that honors you for your presence in this world and for your chance to make an impact on the world in the unique and beautiful way that only you can.
On this past Sunday, a day that is recognized in the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar as Divine Mercy Sunday, seven individuals were brought into full communion in the Catholic Church. Katlyn Glendenning and Hayley Woebse were considered “elect” who received the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and first Holy Communion. Kelsey Milliron, Grace Dennis and David Lyons received confirmation and Holy Communion for the first time, and Jeffrey and Jessica Edmondson were confirmed.
All of these people were students at Gannon, either undergraduate or graduate, and they had been preparing for this day for months with their sponsors and the campus ministers.
Some of them, including Grace Dennis, had been looking forward to it since the beginning of last semester. She said that it was “…an absolutely amazing experience… I was extremely nervous, but equally as excited. I’m so grateful for the entire experience… I couldn’t be happier to finally be able to say I am a member of the Catholic Church.” Grace is planning on living in the Bishop Trautman House next year to go even deeper into her faith.
So, what’s the connection between birthdays and becoming a member of the Catholic Church?
Well, the sacrament of Baptism is considered to be a rebirth of sorts into new life. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you are born of the water and the spirit, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven (John 3:5.)”
When you are baptized, I believe that you are given new life in the spirit, and the original sin that is passed on through human generations is washed away. You are clean; you are made new. That’s why some of those seven new members of the Catholic Church got a “Happy Birthday.” from me after the Mass on Sunday.
I’d like to give congratulations to Katlyn, Hayley, Kelsey, Grace, David, Jeffrey and Jessica for receiving the sacraments to become full members of the Catholic Church this past Sunday, and a reminder to you, dear reader, to remember the significance of a birthday the next time you or a friend have one. Peace.