Saint Agnes: I would like to return to our old conversation in which you asked me about my life. I will tell you then about it in detail, but now I wanted to show you the differences in our approach of that time to the matters of faith and in your contemporary view of these matters. (…)
I will begin with baptism. In my time, baptism was the entry into the world of faith. It did not only bring grace, but also the deliverance from all external and internal bonds. The sacrament of course remained the same. Only the approach to it has changed and the awareness of those who administer and receive this sacrament. Baptism for me and for those, who received it in my times, was the absolute beginning, the beginning of a new life. For baptism, one waited as for the most important moment in life. It was preceded by preparation and purification, as well as the profession of faith. The profession of faith was absolutely necessary and with the whole heart. Nobody then received baptism as a principle or for the sake of social customs. The reception of baptism was a decision for life and death. The catechumen was then choosing death in the world and for the world, but instead eternal life. The death of Christians was at that time a daily occurrence and sooner or later it had to touch every one of us. Now also Christians come in contact with death, but much less often and for that reason the awareness of the fragility of life is much smaller.
Baptism signified the renunciation of happiness in this world and the acceptance with faith of the promise of eternal happiness. It was most often a conscious choice and for that reason it brought great benefit to all those who participated in it. It not only freed the baptized soul, but also brought avail to the whole community of Christians, which was fortified in faith, and to the godparents, who were accepting their office as an honor and with responsibility. Each baptism is a victory of Christ over Hell, death and Satan. This is a wonderful victory and this is why we always celebrated when the community was welcoming subsequent members and through baptism was including them in the Church.
Today baptism is received as a kind of symbol or custom, and therefore it comes so easily to give it up or to approach it in a sacrilegious way. In the early communities, it was unthinkable to designate unbelievers as witnesses for baptism. The godparents had to be exemplary and experienced Christians, because upon them rested the duty to watch over the spiritual development of their godchild, even though this child happened to be older than his parents. The participation in the sacrament put upon them the responsibility for the soul, which they had presented to God. You make light of this sacrament and this is why it is increasingly rare.
The Holy Spirit grants the fullness of gifts to the baptized soul, but her later spiritual development is inhibited due to the all-prevailing voice of the current world in your families through all kinds of media. Children are the most receptive and curious; therefore the access to these bad sources fills them up very quickly and forms in them bad models and tendencies. The grace of God can protect the most innocent souls, but prayer and knowledge are necessary. Great responsibility rests upon the parents, because the attitudes and tendencies molded in early childhood will be fruitful in later life, and then it is much harder to mold anything in the soul of the child. This first period after the baptism is very important. One does not have to wait until the child gains awareness. This awareness is not dependent on age but on grace, and the grace penetrates into the soul independently of age. The more grace, the greater the awareness. I knew many children more aware than their parents. Contrary to appearances, children are closer to God and understand much better the matters of God. May God bless you. Tomorrow I will come to speak about the next difference.
Translated from: Życie sakramentalne pierwotnego Kościoła według św. Agnieszki, na podstawie Orędzi na Czasy Ostateczne które własnie nadeszły, Grzechynia 2017, p. 14-19