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For almost half my life it has been my job to work with individuals who are converting to Catholicism, and baptism is a huge part of this.
Everybody is always super jealous of the Elect who will be Baptized, because everything bad they ever did in their lives is drowned in the waters of Baptism and they get to totally start over. They go into the water their old, broken selves, and come out a new creation in Christ. But before being baptized, they really scrutinize themselves to see what needs to be left in the water—what they need to die to in order to rise to Christ.
Each year on the morning of the Easter Vigil (the Elect will be Baptized that night) we get together for a retreat. And each year I read them one of my favorite passages from C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. It’s from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. If you’re not familiar with this story, why the heck not?! Read it! The books in this series are short, easy reads and they are AWESOME. (Note: the movies are NOT a substitute for the books.)
The section I read to them takes place after a jerky kid named Eustace becomes a dragon. He came across some dragon treasure, took a bracelet and (naturally) became a dragon himself because dragon treasure is cursed. He has a lot of time to think about what an ass he had been (and he really had been). He is alone with his thoughts and regrets.
From out of nowhere a huge lion, Aslan, shows up and Eustace understands that Alsan wants to help him become a boy again.
Eustace understands that the dragon skin has to come off, so he starts scratching at it and manages to pull off a layer. He does this a couple of times to no effect. Then, Aslan takes his massive claw and plunges it deep into Eustace’s scales, ripping away at the dragon skin. It hurts while he is pulling it off, but there’s relief, too. Then, Aslan throws him into a pool and he is refreshed and soothed and sees that he is a boy again—but, not the boy he started out as. He has humility, has been given another chance, knows himself better and wants to live differently.
Since I don’t get to be re-baptized, I relish Confession. It’s like a mini-baptism. You get to dump all the things that prevent you from being truly happy and truly free. You give them to God, who kills them, and then you leave them behind you forever.
I cannot let sin follow me around like toilet paper on my shoe. I believe that God is stronger than sin, so if He says it’s gone, I have no business letting it tag along. I try to let it fall away like scales, and become who I am truly meant to be.
Looking at myself with clarity is an opportunity to see what no longer belongs to me, what I want God to root out of me. I choose to be a new creation, like a dragon without its scales.
The original version of this article was published on The Rogue.