Learning To Say I Do
Sara: Five days after he was born, Gus was baptized. Months ago, we had scheduled our child’s baptism for the last weekend before Justin’s mother had to go back to work as a school teacher. We wanted both sets of grandparents present at our child’s baptism, and didn’t know the next opportunity we’d have for Justin’s parents to come from North Dakota. It was important to us to have the baptism as soon as possible following our child’s birth.
If Gus would have been born on his due date, we would have had nearly three weeks between his birth and his baptism. As we continued past his due date, I became more and more nervous about being ready for the scheduled baptism. However, since we had family coming from three different states, we ultimately decided to keep our plans to have Gus baptized on August 11 as planned.
Gus’s baptism was not a decision Justin and I took lightly. We knew that baptizing Gus meant we were promising to raise Gus as a Catholic Christian. When Gus is confirmed, he will make the same promises for himself that Justin and I made for him at baptism.
It was really great to see our family and friends for the baptism, but it was a tough day. Five days following Gus’ birth, I was still very weak. In fact, the baptism was both Gus’s and my first outing out of the house since coming home from the hospital three days earlier.
Justin: It was kind of neat because Gus was actually baptized before his first Mass.
Sara: The baptism was very beautiful. We had requested that Gus be baptized by full emersion – meaning Fr. Ron dipped Gus’s whole body into the water of the baptismal font. Baptism is a visible sign of God’s invisible grace in Gus’s life, and we felt a full “dunking” more adequately showed the visible sign of Gus dying to himself.
Justin: The signs and symbols during baptism are among my very favorite of all the sacraments. In baptism, water serves as the sign of the invisible reality which takes place. Most of us associate the sign of water as washing, but actually according to the catechism the dunking in the water symbolizes death. Or as Paul says in Romans 6:3-4, “Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in the newness of life.”
The reality is that during baptism a real spiritual death and resurrection occur!
Sara: During the baptism liturgy, Fr. Ron asked Gus’s godparents how they planned to help raise Gus in the faith. This inspired both Justin and me to ponder how exactly we are inspiring my goddaughter (our niece) in the faith, despite the five hour trip to see her.
Justin: As Sara is actually the godmother, I hadn’t given it much thought that I would have a role. However, Sara and I are a unit and my example to our niece is just as important as Sara’s example.
Sara: At nine months old, she currently doesn’t need as much instruction as she will at a later date. We decided, as she gets older, we need to make calling and visiting a priority.
Justin: I was also really glad Fr. Ron asked the question and hope that it is a regular practice. I think often baptism has become a custom as much as a spiritual reality. There is a temptation, with baptism and the other sacraments as well, to perform them out of habit. We spend all of our time focusing on the externals like travel plans and family meals (which are important), and lose sight of the spiritual reality (literarily the miracle of death and resurrection) which takes place before our eyes.
Sara: The baptism itself was tough. We probably stood for twenty minutes, which was very difficult for me in my weak condition. Many of the pictures of our family following the baptism show my fatigue. Then, we headed back to our house for dessert. After a bit, it was very apparent that I was very tired and emotional, so family and friends began to leave so I could rest. Watching my mom leave was one of the hardest post-birth moments for me. In fact, I cried (and not just a little bit, either). I wanted my mom to stay, but knew she couldn’t. Thankfully, after some rest, I felt much better and we look forward to seeing my parents again soon.
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