Recently, we celebrated our little guy’s first baptism “birthday.” We broke out the candle he received on the day of his baptism, had a special breakfast, and read a blessing from our book of Household Blessings and Prayers (Thanks, Lisa!).
Nothing major, just a little way to set the day apart as special.
“To know the date of our Baptism is to know a blessed day. The danger of not knowing is that we can lose awareness of what the Lord has done in us, the memory of the gift we have received. Thus, we end up considering it only as an event that took place in the past – and not by our own will but by that of our parents – and that it has no impact on the present. We must reawaken the memory of our Baptism.”
We were so blessed to be able to have Tyler Jr. baptized just 11 days after he was born. Personally, ever since I heard that as a newborn, Joseph Ratzinger (i.e. the future Pope Benedict XVI) was taken from the hospital to be baptized on his birthday, I’ve been a little jealous that nowadays it has become more and more common within the Church to wait so long before baptizing babies.
Of course there are practical reasons for this delay. It’s certainly in the best interest of the child for parishes to make sure as best they can that parents and godparents are properly catechized on what Baptism means, as well as to inform the parents and godparents of the responsibilities they have to make sure the child is brought up according to the faith. These things take time, and ultimately it’s up to the discretion of the parents and their Pastor to see to it that baptism is performed in as timely a manner as possible. For some this can be accomplished within days of the birth, for others it may take more time. Personally, I think God understands so long as we are doing our best.
Often we Catholics are given a hard time for taking the “choice” of baptism away from our children by having them baptized as infants. And if baptism was merely a nice gesture of proclamation of one’s personal decision to follow Christ, I would better understand this—but our Christian faith teaches that baptism is more than this. Baptism is the moment that the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within a person. It’s the actual washing away of the stain of original sin that each of us is born with. Baptism is—literally— the birth of the Christian.
“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:27)
As both a symbol of one’s proclamation of faith as well as the actual supernatural gift of faith, baptism is of course not something that should be taken lightly. It shouldn’t be sought simply out of custom or tradition—it should be eagerly desired because it is the necessary beginning of the Christian’s walk with Christ. What greater gift can Christian parents give their children than Christ Himself?
Do you know the date of your baptism birthday? Put it on the calendar and make a practice of celebrating it!