My Dear Friends,
Today is my birthday. I don’t say that because I want gifts or people wishing me birthday greetings. I say this because birthdays are special moments not only in the life of the person having the birthday but also in the life of the parents, especially the mother, who gave life to the one celebrating the day of his birth. We of course know the day of birth, but we also believe as Catholics that life began at conception, a day that we can never be sure of. It is for this reason that we celebrate not only Christmas but also the Annunciation on March 25th. And we believe that the Incarnation began on the day of conception, not on the day of our Lord’s birth. But since the visible beginning of life is celebrated on the day of birth, we celebrate that life has entered into the world with every child being born. But there are two other birthdays besides the day of your birth that we celebrate.
Our second birthday is the day of our baptism, for we are born anew in water and the Spirit. It is our spiritual birth into the life of the Trinity. We begin to live in the life of grace. The third birthday is the day of our death, the day we leave this world behind and enter into eternity. For this reason we celebrate in our church the days that the saints have died. Most of the feast day of our saints, if possible, occur on the day of their natural death or martyrdom. There are exceptions to that in our Roman calendar but for the most part the dates match up with the day they return to the Father. Most of us know and celebrate, of course, our natural birthday and we remember our loved ones’ day of their death every year, but not many of us remember to celebrate our day of baptism every year.
So we have three days that are important in the life of every Catholic that are associated with birth or new birth. We also have other days that are important to recall and celebrate on a yearly occasion, e.g. wedding anniversaries, ordinations and religious professions. I have never heard of anyone who has celebrated a yearly recollection of his or her confirmation, but I presume that for some people this could be an important day as well. At the very least, let us celebrate the great gift of life, both natural life and the life of grace.