I received a comment Friday about baptism being the "high point of the whole birth experience." I could not agree more. Because baptism cleanses the eternal soul of the stain of original sin, it is the Glorious culmination of everything that has happened since that eternal soul was fused into the baby at conception; it is the new birth of the eternal soul into the Body of Christ. Every time I have had my babies baptized, I have felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude to our Lord for instituting the sacrament.
I have written before about the fact that Sarah's baptism was the catalyst prompting Craig and me to dive in and learn more about our Faith. However, with every child, it has only intensified this desire for me.
On your part, you must make it your constant care to bring her up in the practice of the faith. See that the divine life, which God gives her, is kept safe from the poison of sin, to grow always stronger in her heart.During Sarah's baptism, it was this part of the Rite that commanded my attention and consumed my thoughts in the weeks that followed. I was literally afraid of what I'd committed to. I was afraid because, at the time, Craig and I still missed Mass fairly regularly. I was afraid because at the time, we were not fully in Communion with the Church regarding our family planning decisions.
How could I keep my daughter safe from the poison of sin, when I was mired in it, myself?
Sarah's baptism holds a very special place in my heart because my heart softened and opened in order to desire to be closer to God through His Church. I will be forever grateful for this. With the rest of our children's baptisms, this part no longer struck fear in me.
This part of the Rite of Baptism continues to command my attention but for different reasons. It provides me an opportunity to take stock of the state of my soul and whether I am in a state of Grace or not. When did I go to confession last? Have I been going as often as I should? What other sins are prevailing...Vanity? Pride?
Vincent's baptism brought on a new revelation. I was prepared for what I've already described...the gratitude, the awe, the Grace. This time my ears perked up to a part that hadn't seemed to cross my radar before.
If your faith makes you ready to accept this responsibility, renew now the vows of your own baptism. Reject sin; profess your faith in Christ Jesus. This is the faith of the Church. This is the faith in which this child is about to be baptized.
Whoa. Wait a minute. Is my faith strong enough to impart to my child? The Rite of Baptism, lays the responsibility squarely on the parents and godparents. "IF YOUR FAITH MAKES YOU READY TO ACCEPT THIS RESPONSIBILITY..."
Is it not a leap of faith in and of itself to accept this blessing of a new child into our family? But then our Church asks us to have the utmost CONFIDENCE in that faith. So, it's not just faith we must have, but we must have CONFIDENT faith?
I often think of the passage (and being the "good Catholic" that I am, I can't tell you the book or verse to find it in the Bible) where the disciples ask Christ how they can increase their faith (or maybe they simply ask Him to increase it directly, not sure).
I feel like those disciples on the day of one of my children's baptisms. I want to ask the Lord to increase my faith and to give me the utmost confidence in my faith that I can accept the responsibility of raising my child in the faith.
Truth be told...I'm scared that I don't have what it takes to keep these children on the way to Heaven. Sure, I have some faith. I'm doing my best to know and practice my faith in accord with Christ's teachings. I'm praying with my children before meals and before bed and every now and then we're getting a rosary in. We're getting to Mass every Sunday and sometimes a day or two in between Sundays. We try to attend prayer groups, adoration and Feast day Masses. But sometimes I am scared that it won't be enough. Sometimes, I am scared that I have faith, but I am not confident enough in that faith.
And so, I am struck by the awesome responsibility Craig and I have undertaken by cooperating with God to bring Vincent (and all my children) into this world.
I give myself a little pep talk to remind myself that God also imparted some pretty crazy-fantastic Graces on Craig and me in the Sacrament of Marriage. Those Graces are supposed to help us in this endeavor to raise our children to know, love, serve and fear the Lord.
I also try to remind myself that the Sacrament of Baptism imparts some crazy-fantastic Graces on Vincent that can help fill in where Craig and I might falter.
And so, consolation descends as I am also reminded that we are not alone. Christ instituted these Sacraments to give us the strength and wisdom and fortitude we need to do what He asks of us.