By ARCHBISHOP WILTON D. GREGORY, Commentary | Published April 30, 2015 | En Español
Every Easter, the entire Church is invited to renew our baptismal promises. We do so in response to Christ’s triumph over sin and death, which serves to spur us on to follow Him ever more courageously.
Each year, we reaffirm our identity as God’s people, and we promise to serve Him and to love one another more effectively. Every year we make those promises again.
At the annual Chrism Mass, we priests and bishops renew our commitments to minister faithfully within the Church and to tend the flock of the Lord entrusted to our care and to do so more perfectly in the future.
In our archdiocese each fall, we have begun the tradition of inviting our married couples who are celebrating their 50th or 60th anniversaries during that year to gather and to renew their marriage vows as a source of inspiration for us all.
These renewal rituals are traditions intended to remind us that our faith life is, in fact, a journey and that we all need regular reminders of the promises we have made in the past because they are essential to our ongoing life of faith.
The deacons of the Archdiocese of Atlanta last Monday evening followed a similar pattern by renewing their commitment to serve the works of charity and Sacrament that belong to the Office of Deacons. I am not certain if other local diaconal communities have such an opportunity for their deacons to renew their promises of service, but I am delighted that we have established that tradition here in the archdiocese. During the course of the year, most of our deacons renew their baptismal promises, their marriage vows, and their diaconal commitments. It might seem to some of them that they are forever renewing some vow or promise that they have made at some point in time.
Renewing a promise transports the heart to a moment of joy and encourages a person to recapture the enthusiasm and hope of that past event but also invites a person to look forward to the future and to the journey that still lies ahead.
Unlike God, we are all finite people. Our memories have their limits. Our life promises are progressive. We all benefit from the reminders of the heart that spur us into the tomorrows that lie ahead. Renewing vows and promises allows us to seek forgiveness for our failures in the past and to take hope that the future will be better.
Renewing a promise does not mean that promises have ceased or been declared null and void, but that we once again seek to hand over our lives to the Lord, to those we love, and to the community of the Church.
Many married couples regularly renew their wedding vows as a way of inspiring and deepening their love for one another. Whether they renew their vows at the time of special anniversaries or during the course of a moment of ordinary tenderness, the renewal of these life-giving promises assures a spouse that they remain the very source of joy and life and hope for a husband or wife.
We are now in the midst of the season of renewals. All of our clergy have recently renewed their ministerial commitments. The entire Church itself has voiced its renewed desire to be God’s people, and many couples have just celebrated wedding anniversaries and replenished their love for one another.
With much hope we now embark upon our futures filled with new energy, determination and joy. May the Lord who has begun a good work in us, bring it to fulfillment.