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Do you celebrate your baptism? That was the question Pope Francis recently asked pilgrims during a Wednesday audience in St, Peter’s Square. Before you answer that try an exercise in imagination.

Imagine! You have made a life-changing decision to embrace the Gospel. You receive a phone call from Pope Francis inviting you to be baptized in Rome at the Easter vigil. (He has been know to do things like that!) That would certainly be a day you would never forget!

This thought came to mind when I reread Pope Francis’ Wednesday audience on the feast of the Baptism of Jesus from the perspective of the eve of Lent

In off-the-cuff remarks, the Pope asked the pilgrims present if they know the date of their baptism since most of them likely received the sacrament when they were children. If the answer is no, he told them to “go home and ask your mom or dad, your grandmother or grandfather, your godmother or godfather,” because it is the day of grace and forgiveness that we should all remember.

It caught my attention because I have come to view Lent as a preparation for the renewal of baptismal vows… my baptismal vows. Almost 80 years ago I was not yet at the age when I could make a conscious choice life-changing choice. But my parents wish for me set me on a path that was just as momentous as being baptized in Rome.

If we are to renew our baptismal vows at Easter, it seems fitting to view Lent as a time to prepare for our renewal and celebration of Baptism.

The font where Vincent was baptized.

Full disclosure –  Another reason I connect the Baptism of Jesus to the beginning Lent is that starting Ash Wednesday we will begin a daily series of one to two-minute videos on the virtues of the virtues St. Vincent believed should be characteristic of followers of Christ the Evangelizer of the Poor. These videos will present the views of a cross-section of Vincentians and collaborators as live out this mission rooted in our Baptism. Focusing on living these virtues during Lent in whatever state of life will prepare us for the renewal of our Baptism commitments.