One of the most significant changes in the lives of those who have become Catholics, particularly through the gift of the ordinariates, is the beautiful realization of what it means to be fully a part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of Christ. These four characteristics, inseparably linked with each other, ‘indicate essential features of the Church and her mission’, and so are necessary for us to correctly identify, in order to find the authentic Christian life in all its fullness, and thus the path to our salvation. United to our Redeemer through baptism, Christians are incorporated into his mystical body, the Church, in order that we might share in his passion, death, and resurrection. Our communion with God is made a reality by this very union with him in Christ, and thus his mystical body, first through the waters of the sacred font, and then by our continuing reliance on grace in the sacramental life of the Church. Our union with the Church is a sign and instrument of our communion with God, which is why—as an example—we confess our sins to a Priest; because our reconciliation to communion with God is by and through his holy Church.
Through the sacrament of holy baptism, the Christian receives new life in Jesus Christ. At the moment of our incorporation into the mystical body of Christ, the Church, the ‘old man’ is crucified with Christ ‘in order that our body of sin might be destroyed’, and the new man emerges (Rom. 6:6). Going down into the water of the font we see nothing, but rising from it we find ourselves in the new day and new light of the resurrection life. As Saint Cyril of Jerusalem puts it, ‘That one moment was your death and your birth; that saving water was both your grave and your mother’.
Reconciled to God through this configuration to the eternal life of Christ, the Christian is restored to the fullness of man’s nature: of what it means to be human. If Jesus Christ is perfectus Deus, perfectus homo, then through our incorporation into his life we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity. What we forfeited in the Garden of Eden through sin, the first act of disobedience, is restored to us by means of the perfect obedience of the Son to the Father – the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary.
Through incorporation into the Church in the sacrament of baptism, Christians come to share in the victories won by the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. At the font, which is both the tomb of our former selves and the womb of our birth into new life, we come to die and rise with Christ, and so share with him in eternity. By becoming reconciled children of God, restored to the relationship forfeited at the fall, we are made for the glory of heaven, and so strive in our earthly lives to live with faces turned toward eternity.