My Son’s Baptism

My son was baptized today, the first Sunday of Lent. This was a different experience for me than my daughter’s baptism two years ago. At her baptism, which was during the Easter Vigil, I can remember thinking, “I know this is special. I know this is supposed to mean something.” I tried to cherish the moment, but in all honesty it was lost on me.

Although like at any other organized group event I was flustered and my head was spinning, I approached Chris Jr.’s baptism with a more secure knowledge in what was actually going on. I knew what we were asking for when we asked the priest to baptize him, and I wanted it this time. All this mad research I’ve been doing since beginning blogging has been invaluable to get me to this point.

Take, for example, my post on grace and free will. In summation, the Catholic stance on these matters is that we can do nothing without God’s help. We cannot even turn to God without His grace, yet we can at any time reject His grace in our lives by our own will. So if you apply the concept of our utter dependence on God’s grace to a baby, you see that it doesn’t matter that they can’t make the decision for themselves, because they can’t turn to God of their own power anyway. Also, the Catholic affirmation of free will, that we can turn from God and indeed lose our salvation and fall from His grace, silences the protest that a baby’s fate has been decided for him.

The Catechism has rather powerful language to describe the event. Baptism is a sacrament in which the grace of justification is conferred. The gift of faith is given gratuitously by God through no proceeding merit on our part. Through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit on the water, the baptized are “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5). We die to this sin and are given new life in Christ (Rom 6:3-6). Sins are washed clean through faith in Christ and by His merit. All sin is forgiven (Acts 2:38), including personal sin and original sin, that sinful nature into which we are born. We are made to belong to the body of Christ. For babies, baptism means original sin is washed clean and they are imprinted with God’s gift of faith, with the mark of those who belong to Christ.

I don’t pretend that I can fully wrap my brain around such things. The nature of a sacrament is something completely foreign to me. But it is wonderful to be able to appreciate my son’s baptism and the real grace of God in his life.

We can ask for God’s grace of faith for our child, wash clean the stain of original sin, promise to bring him up in the Faith, and graft him into the body of Christ, with this simple sacrament. Why would anyone not want to give these things to their child? So without reservation, I made the sign of the cross on my son’s forehead. I affirmed the Faith, and promised to bring him up in it. I asked the priest to baptize him. And I watched, as he was washed in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, made into a new creature and a little man of God.

Advertisements

8 Responses to My Son’s Baptism

  1. Irenaeus says:

    Beautiful — thank you for sharing. I had my son baptized this summer as well, and it’s so moving.

    I lways find it interesting that the same people — baptistic evangelicals — who accuse the Catholic Church of being all about works don’t baptize their babies, not seeing what an act of pure grace it is, but rather have their kids wait until they can do the work of making a decision for Jesus.

  2. Stacey says:

    Irenaeus,

    You make a good point. My parents are in the group that emphasize immersion (my son got a head washing). I don’t really understand why people who think there is no real grace in baptism and that it’s only symbolic would care so much how it’s done.

  3. Ragamuffin says:

    I like the new digs. Made the move to WordPress myself last week. πŸ™‚

    I’m on the fence with this issue. I want to believe in paedobaptism. I definitely see baptism as more than merely symbolic. Maybe it’s just the vestiges of my credobaptist upbringing but I can’t go through with having my children baptized without it being my honest conviction that it’s what I believe.

    I suppose that sums up a lot of my struggle overall with pretty much everything.

  4. stirenaeus says:

    Well, you know this already, but the church was doing paedobaptism for centuries.

    One thing that really helped me was Calvin’s idea that infant baptism was the new covenant counterpart to old covenant circumcision. If babies were brought into Israel, the people of God, why not bring them into the Church, the people of God?

  5. Stacey says:

    Ragamuffin,

    Thanks πŸ™‚ You (and Chris nagging me) inspired me to go ahead and finally make the switch.

    I can’t go through with having my children baptized without it being my honest conviction that it’s what I believe.

    I understand. I think I’m finally getting past the point of accepting Catholicism piece by piece. It’s making sense as a whole, especially since by their own testimony the Church Fathers show that Christ’s church has always been the Catholic Church.

  6. Ragamuffin says:

    The thing is, you don’t even have to become Catholic to believe in infant baptism. The Presbyterian and Anglican churches I’ve attended both did it as well as the Methodist church I attended as a kid. But the bulk of my Christian years were in credobaptist settings and I guess it’s just what makes the most sense to me.

    I tend to need to “marinate” on some things though. A bit of a reaction to my tendency in the past to flit from one novel (for me) idea to the next in Christianity, only to change my mind about it a few years later. I’m trying to be a little more prudent going forward.

  7. Stacey says:

    So what is it that you do currently believe about baptism? Do you believe there’s a real grace? Do you believe we have to make our own decision? And what do you believe about our utter dependence on God’s grace for every thing we do in accordance with His will? Sorry πŸ™‚ Lot’s of questions. I do that sometimes.

  8. Ragamuffin says:

    I’m not sure. It’s a tad muddled I suppose. I have this deep feeling that it’s much more than merely “an outward sign of an inward change.” This isn’t just a symbolic gesture and we’re not supposed to do it simply because we need to be obedient. It does something. What that something is I’m not sure. Does it actually cleanse us of our sins, or was that already done when we confessed our sins and repented of them (thinking of an adult baptism here)? I guess all I can say is that I believe that real grace is conferred through baptism (and Holy Communion for that matter). God’s grace/presence/blessing is conferred and experienced in a way that is different and more profound than merely His omnipresence or His abiding presence in the life of a believer. That’s about as far as I’ve been able to take it.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: