ambrose_of_milanYou were asked: ‘Do you believe in God the Father almighty?’

You said: ‘I do believe’ and you dipped [in the baptismal font], that is: you were buried.

Again you were asked: Do you believe in our Lord Jesus Christ and in His cross?’

You said: ‘I do believe,’ and you dipped. So you were also buried together with Christ. For who is buried with Christ rises again with Christ.

A third time you were asked: ‘Do you believe also in the Holy Spirit?’

You said: ‘I do believe’ you dipped a third time, so that the threefold confession absolved the multiple lapse of the higher life.

[…] Thus, then, the Father dismisses sin; thus the Son dismisses it; thus, too, the Holy Spirit.

But do not marvel that we are baptized in one name, that is, ‘in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’ because He said one name, in which is one substance, one divinity, one majesty.

This is the name of which it is said: ‘Whereby we must be saved.’ In this name you all have been saved; you have returned to the grace of life.

So the Apostle exclaims, as you heard in the reading of the Gospel today, that whoever is baptized is baptized in the death of Jesus.

What is ‘in the death’? That, just as Christ died, so you also taste of death; just as Christ died to sin and lives unto God, so you, too, died to the former allurements of sins through the sacrament of baptism and rose again through the grace of Christ.

So death is [i.e., so we really do die in baptism], but not in the reality of corporal death but in likeness.

For when you dip, you take on the likeness of death and burial, you receive the sacrament of that cross, because Christ hung on the cross and His body was transfixed with nails.

You then are crucified with Him; you cling to Christ, you cling to the nails of our Lord Jesus Christ, lest the Devil be able to take you from Him. Let the nail of Christ hold you, whom the weakness of human condition recalls.

So you dipped; you came to the priest. What did he say to you? He said : ‘God the Father Almighty, who regenerated you by water and the Holy Spirit and forgave you your sins, Himself will anoint you unto life everlasting.’

See, unto what you were anointed, he said : ‘Unto life everlasting’ Do not prefer this [present] life to that life [life everlasting].

[…] Do not choose that in which you are not anointed, but choose that in which you are anointed, so that you prefer eternal life to temporal life.

Ambrose of Milan (c. 337-397): On the Sacraments, 2,7,20-24 in St Ambrose: Theological and Dogmatic Works, tr. Roy J. Deferrari, Catholic Univeristy of America Press, 1963, pp. 286-288.