Responding to the Mass of the Baptism of the Lord

At this time when we remember and draw encouragement and hope from the Baptism of the Lord it is natural to call to mind, and give thanks for, our own baptism too.

Saint Pope John XXIII wrote how he considered the most significant day of his life to have been the day he was baptised – more significant than the day of his ordination, or the day he was installed as Pope.

It is that day that for all of us brought us from the world and way of life that is ‘just’ natural to a world and way of life that is explicitly lived in communion with God in Jesus Christ.

Many of us were infants on the day of our baptism and may have no memory of it, still less any sense of choosing baptism. And the baptised life can be simply something we take for granted.

The prayer of Blessing of Baptismal Water used at the Easter Vigil reminds of its awesome quality and the wonder that we are invited to participate in, and that in a unique way Baptism makes possible..

O God, who by invisible power
accomplish a wondrous effect
through sacramental signs,
and who in many ways have prepared water, your creation,
to show forth the grace of Baptism;

O God, whose Spirit
in the first moments of the world’s creation
hovered over the waters,
so that the very substance of water
would even then take to itself the power to sanctify;
O God, who by the outpouring of the flood
foreshadowed regeneration,
so that from the mystery of one and the same element of water
would come an end to vice and a beginning of virtue;

O God, who caused the children of Abraham
to pass dry-shod through the Red Sea,
so that the chosen people,
set free from slavery to Pharaoh,
would prefigure the people of the baptised;

O God, whose Son,
baptised by John in the waters of the Jordan,
was anointed with the Holy Spirit,
and, as he hung upon the Cross,
gave forth water from his side along with blood,
and after his Resurrection, commanded his disciples:
‘Go forth, teach all nations, baptising them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,’
look now, we pray, upon the face of your Church
and graciously unseal for her the fountain of Baptism.

May this water receive by the Holy Spirit
the grace of your Only Begotten Son,
so that human nature, created in your image,
and washed clean through the sacrament of Baptism
from all the squalor of the life of old,
may be found worthy to rise to the life of newborn children
through water and the Holy Spirit.

May the power of the Holy Spirit, O Lord, we pray,
come down through your Son
into the fullness of this font,
so that all who have been buried with Christ
by Baptism into death
may rise again to life with him.
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Prayer for Blessing of Baptismal Water (at the Easter Vigil)

  • What is the anniversary date of your baptism?
  • How do you – or how might you – mark it?


  • Prayer: The Roman Missal, (c) 2010, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation.
  • Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
  • Photo (c) 2016, Allen Morris. Detail of Blessing of baptismal water, Baptism Window in Shrewsbury Cathedral.

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