I Baptize Thee…..

The Baptism of Christ by Andrea del Verrocchio and Leonardo da Vinci.

The Baptism of Christ by Andrea del Verrocchio and Leonardo da Vinci.

I don’t remember my baptism. Back in 1953, the Catholic Church taught that infants who died unbaptized didn’t go to heaven, but instead went to someplace it called Limbo. As nice as heaven but without the joy of seeing God, the nuns told us. And they could play this game where you tried to go backwards under a bamboo stick while steel drums and guitars were playing reggae music.

Oh, I’m just kidding about the last part. Newborns can’t even walk, much less dance.

Anyhoo, because of this belief, which (thankfully) is no longer part of Catholic dogma, babies were baptized as soon as possible – hopefully within days – maybe even hours — of being born. So undoubtedly most cradle Catholic baby boomers don’t remember their baptisms.

Bill was brought up Baptist, and so he was 12 or 13 when he was baptized. He explained to me that the Baptist church teaches that a person should be old enough to make the decision to be baptized, and so it is generally when they are a pre-teenager.  He was fully submerged rather than having holy water trickled on his head. Wow. When my son Court was baptized at age 1 month, he was inconsolable over that trickle of water. Of course, he was inconsolable for about the first four months of his life.

But I digress….

In Sunday’s Gospel from St. Luke, Jesus is baptized. I’ve always wondered why Jesus was baptized seeings as he had no sins, original or otherwise. I don’t have the answer, of course, but have believed that it was sort of God’s introduction of his Son – our Savior – to the world. After all, after St. John the Baptist baptized Jesus, God spoke from heaven and said, “This is my beloved Son.” So perhaps this was a sign that Jesus was human, but that he was going to fill us with the word of God because Baptism makes us one with God.

Not all of my grandchildren are baptized. This fact ranks among the top things in my life that hurt my heart. After the birth of one of my grandchildren, I met with our pastor.

“My heart is broken,” I told him, “and I don’t know what to do.”

His advice was stellar and I took it to heart, and continue to do so. “Do nothing but love your grandchildren and model your love for God to them,” he said. “They will one day make their own decision, and it will be the right one.” And he assured me that the Catholic Church no longer taught or believed in the notion of Limbo.

While the Catholic Church teaches that the sacrament of Baptism does, indeed, free us from sin, that’s not why I wish all of my grandkids were baptized. Kids don’t sin. They just are kids. However, I just think that Baptism brings us into relationship with God in a formal way, with friends and family in witness. It provides the opportunity for God to say, “This is my beloved (son or daughter). In you I am well pleased.”

Jesus’ baptism brought him into the community of the world. Baptism brings us into the community of the church. That fact seems important to me.

10 thoughts on “I Baptize Thee…..

  1. I agree with your pastor. Model God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness before your grandchildren. They will want to know about your joy and happiness and about Your God. Then you can show them how they can have their own relationship with God.
    Grandma’s have led many grandchildren to the Lord.

  2. Baptism Is important. It brings us into a cummunity of believers, and that’s how we are meant to worship. We had a baptism during last Sunday’s Mass. Father asked us all to respond with the parents and Godparents, because the church community is now this child’s family.

  3. Baptism is important cause of the special grace we received when we are Baptized. We have in our family some that are not Baptized and it think that not only becoming a member in God’s family but also that they are not receiving the special grace (sanctifying) spelling. I agree with you Kris, but we just have to keep praying that they understand what Baptism is.

  4. Kris, it hurts my heart too for my granddaughter. I am pleased you wrote about it. I do model, and my daughter in law (raised without religion of any sort) bit by bit uses religious icons, purchased a beautiful cross for me for Christmas, and so I just keep modeling what I believe. Fiona knows her prayers but has never been to church and I wish that for her so desperately. I have a second baptism story. Your Mother, my Godmother, told me the story of my baptism in her kitchen with Keith and Uncle Reinie sitting there laughing. I was, as it turns out, baptized with just your mom and dad. Aunt Marge said, “Kate, it was too hot and you were premature,, and so Reinie and I just took you up in your diaper.” Here I picture this pristine moment and lots of white lace and all the family there being glad about me, and — as it turns out — I was “too early” and it was “too hot”. I will never forget her telling me and that she thought it was merely an ordinary occurrence which made perfect sense.

    • A priest friend of mine to whom I was confiding my sorrow about my grandchildren who are growing up without the foundation of faith advised me to ask St. Monica to pray for them. He reminded me that St. Monica was the son of St. Augustine, who was quite an unbeliever in his youth and credited his mother’s prayers for his conversion. As for your baptism, at least you were wearing white……

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