The fourth window in the Baptistry in many ways sums up the effects of the Sacrament of Baptism in the life of a Catholic Christian. The newly baptized is anointed with the Oil of Chrism, a perfumed oil which has been blessed by the Bishop and which is used when the prayer asks for the Holy Spirit to be present. As he anoints the person with the Chrism, the priest states that he is anointing him “…priest, prophet and king.” (USCCB, 2020 p. 40) This reality is vividly portrayed in the window.
The dove, superimposed upon the breast of the new Christian, indicates that he has received the Holy Spirit signified by the Chrism. The dove is embraced by his right hand and his left hand is extended in a sign of openness. Jesus, the Priest, stands behind him, with his hands extended in a gesture of offering. Jesus is both the priest and the lamb of sacrifice who has conquered sin and death. His Sacred Heart, surrounded by the crown of thorns and pierced by the lance symbolizes this. It is the source of new life in Christ and all the grace of the sacrament.
Light rays from the Sacred Heart fall upon the shoulders of the newly baptized Christian, calling him to his priestly, prophetic, and kingly roles. As baptized Catholics we share in the priestly ministry of Jesus at every Mass when we offer ourselves to God as the priest offers the bread and wine. We share in the prophetic ministry of Jesus when by our words and example we bring Christ into our families, workplaces, communities and the wider society. It is the Holy Spirit who inspired the prophets through all the ages and into our present time. The image of Christ as King is at the top of the window. He is holding a scepter, sign of His authority, and his right hand is extended in a sign of blessing. Jesus governs his people, the Body of Christ, as a ruler and king. We also share in this kingly role by exercising leadership in accordance with the teaching of Christ. We can have a Christian approach to leadership in our family; in our parish; in organizations and businesses; and in our participation in local and national government.
Entwined around the images in the window is a vine which forms the shape of a mandorla, a seed, symbolizing the new life in Christ that the baptized person has received. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me will bear much fruit…” (Jn 15:5) We have been baptized into Christ, and now share his very life: our life is in Him and His life is in us. The fruit we will bear is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, symbolized by the clusters of grapes.
In the bottom pane we are reminded that we are baptized into the Body of Christ, the Church. IHS is a Greek form of “Jesus”. A river flows from beneath his name and divides into seven streams. These represent the seven sacraments, with the large stream in the center representing Baptism. The sacraments provide us with the grace we need to live out our baptismal promises and our priestly, prophetic and kingly ministries. The sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist we can receive often. Confirmation bestows on us all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The sacraments of Matrimony or Holy Orders provide the grace to live out our vocation. The sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick provides us with grace in our time of need.
As we reflect on this window may we praise and thank God for the gift of our baptism and our faith. May we consider the ways that we can live out our baptismal calling to be priest, prophet and king. May we also consider what it means that we live in Christ and Christ lives in us.
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. (2020) The Order of Baptism for Children. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.