Baptism is the first sacrament that a Christian receives in their pilgrimage through life. It is the first “sacrament of initiation,” marking the beginning of our Christian journey. (The other two sacraments of initiation are the Eucharist and Confirmation.) All the other sacraments are intended to strengthen and sustain the divine life in our soul.

All of us have so much potential from the very beginning of our lives. Just think: Beethoven, Fra Angelico, Einstein, and Gabriela Mistral were all newborns at one point. And over time, with our effort and others’ help, each person grows and unfolds their abilities. We may not compose great symphonies or discover groundbreaking theories, but our lives can be very fulfilling and happy (in addition to being a service to humanity!) if we open our lives to Christ and his teachings.

Our spiritual growth, the development of our “inner life,” is possible too, but holiness is a high goal, and God has to help us reach it. As a good Father, the first thing He does is get rid of the obstacles that stop us from walking toward the happiness that satisfies our deepest longings and finds total fulfillment in Heaven.

The first obstacle that would be insurmountable on our own is that of original sin. We are born with it, and it comes from Adam and Eve’s first transgression. We inherit this stain with our human condition: every human is born with original sin in their soul. It’s a serious obstacle that blocks spiritual life and, in turn, that wonderful possibility of entering Heaven.

Hold on… You’re probably wondering about people who die without ever having been baptized, through no fault of their own. Are they deprived of happiness? The Church teaches what God has revealed: that Baptism is the doorway to Heaven. God isn’t limited, and He can use any way He wants to bring the millions of people who never knew the Christian faith to eternal happiness. Remember: He is a good Father and He wants us to be happy.

But if the door is open to you, it only makes sense to follow the teachings God has given us. That’s why the Church recommends baptizing newborn children. Parents who do so give their child a great gift: the real possibility of being very happy on this earth and the eternal happiness of heaven.

In the case of adults, baptism, in addition to erasing original sin, forgives all personal sins. Unlike children, adults preparing for Baptism go through a journey of faith called the catechumenate. Since they are aware of the step they are taking, it only makes sense for them to get ready for it and learn, little by little, to incarnate the divine life they receive in Baptism in the day-to-day.

But let's go back to the ideas of a password. Baptism opens the doors of Heaven for us. In addition, in his infinite fatherly love, God invites us to join his family. Baptism makes us children of God: we are no longer isolated individuals struggling to be good. Now we’re a family, God's family. This great truth was revealed to us by Jesus when He taught us the Our Father.

The most concrete dimension of this reality of divine filiation (being children of God) is that with this sacrament, we become part of the Church. We’re at home. Everything is now familiar to us. It’s symbolically significant that the rite of Baptism is meant to begin outside the church, showing that the child will be able to enter the Church when they receive this sacrament.

You are no longer strangers and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God's household.
Ephesians 2:19

Baptism opens the doors of Heaven for us because it gives us a real chance to reach infinite glory and happiness. But it does more than allow us to move toward Heaven as a personal goal: it gets us ready to receive all the help we need to get there. Specifically, it makes us capable of receiving the other sacraments instituted by Jesus and administered to us by the Church: Confession, the Eucharist, Confirmation, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick.

Let’s be grateful to God for the undeserved gift that allows us to be audacious enough to set our sights on an incredibly high goal: holiness.