Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Welcome Aboard!

We celebrated our son's baptism on Sunday, the Feast of the Holy Family (Picking that date without knowing this feast fell on it brought a broad smile to our faces. I think our guardian angels we're behind it). Now baptism is an amazing thing. Let's check out what the Triple C (Catechism of the Catholic Church) has to say about it: "This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to "plunge" or "immerse"; the "plunge" into the water symbolizes the catechumen's burial into Christ's death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as "a new creature." (CCC, 1214) "This bath is called enlightenment, because those who receive this instruction are enlightened in their understanding . . . ." Having received in Baptism the Word, "the true light that enlightens every man," the person baptized has been "enlightened," he becomes a "son of light," indeed, he becomes "light" himself... Wow, that's grand. "Becomes light himself"... What a goal to reach for, to become all light, to be clear in mind and heart. I'm all over this. Baptism is God's most beautiful and magnificent gift. . . .We call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious gift. It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own; grace since it is given even to the guilty; Baptism because sin is buried in the water; anointing for it is priestly and royal as are those who are anointed; enlightenment because it radiates light; clothing since it veils our shame; bath because it washes; and seal as it is our guard and the sign of God's Lordship. (CCC, 1216) Very cool. "Sin is buried in the water." We die to live. We die to the old ways, the grasping, the fear, the doubt that has seeped into our very bloodstream because of the fall of our first biological parents right up to our present day parents. The desire to sin will still be there, but the power of it over us is GONE. Death, where is your sting? And the life of God that sin swept out of us comes rushing back in like a warm summer breeze.... an eternal summer breeze, so long as we keep those windows open to receive it. I grew up going to Church hearing about this sacrament all the time. We have our sprinkling rites for the Big People, "to serve as a reminder of our Baptism," as the priest says. (I think he secretly enjoys spraying us in the face with the Holy Sprinkler Thingee, by the way. I know I would). But on Sunday, we got a much stronger reminder of what this all means as we watched our son "get religion." It means he is no longer his own, nor is he "ours." We are stewards merely; he belongs to God. This could be scary depending on your knowledge of Who God Is. But I believe our little one is now in the best place he can be, and the safest place - the State of Grace. The arms of the Father. Some people have issues with infant baptism. "Here you go, placing your child into a faith that they are incapable of freely choosing. You should wait until they can make their own decisions." Well, I think of it this way; if a person has poison in them, shouldn't you give them the antidote as quickly as you can? Is there really a need for dialogue on this? Another thought: Your little boat has struck a rock and you are sinking. You are lost at sea. A Bright Ship has set sail over the waters of time, and God Himself is at the helm. He casts out a set of life preservers (the Sacraments) to draw you into safety, into warmth, and into a community of others who were shipwrecked once too. He wants us all to be safe now on the Bright Ship. I'm on the Ship now. Why should I wait to cast out that first line, Baptism, to rescue him? Why wait until he can "dialogue" about it, or discern if this life preserver is the one for him? There are no others! In this dangerous sea of sin, all that floats about are fakes and failed attempts to save. When the flood came in Noah's day, it was the Ark or the bottom of the sea. We chose baptism for our son. It was an easy decision. As he grows up and finds himself, walking about on the sunny deck of this Bright Ship we call the Church, he will look out at the watery world, and we will be there with him. We will point to the thin line of the horizon and say to him "There is our destination. A Blessed Realm beyond the world's edge." He will feel the salty breeze upon his face and hear the gulls cry, and feel that pine for More within him. He will learn to read the signs, and study the great books and scan the maps. He will explore the many levels of his Ship from the galley to the Crow's Nest, and he will decide whether he will stay on this Bark of Peter's or remain behind on one of our many island excursions. As for us, his parents and godparents, we pray that we will be there for him; guiding, inspiring, exploring, and learning our way right along with him. Welcome aboard son! And may God help you stay the course!
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