This past Sunday, Daniel received the sacrament of baptism.
He was one of a handful of children baptized that day, which was a pleasant surprise. In my traditional Filipino family, we’re accustomed to baptism being part of the Mass and that only one candidate — one baby, a month or two months old — be baptized. Also, we’re accustomed to a priest doing the baptism. For instance, this was the case with my nephew Vincent’s baptism.
In contrast, Daniel was just one of about four babies, and — at nearly eight months — he wasn’t the oldest baby. Also, a preschooler (I’d guess him to be four years old) and a little girl (she looked to be six or seven years old and looked like the Littlest Quinceaneran — sooo cute!) received baptism as well. With the various family members, friends, parents, and godparents in attendance, Daniel’s baptism had the communal feel of children’s first Communion — a small body of children, sharing this one, singular experience.
This communal act of baptism was so appropriate. For what is baptism, after all, but an initiation into a faith community — in this case, the Roman Catholic Church? The Hubby volunteered to read the First Reading, and he read, not only for Daniel, but also for the other children being baptized. Same went for the young Hispanic woman who read the Second Reading. And the sense of “personal community” even extended to the celebrant, for it wasn’t a priest administering the sacrament: it was a married deacon, whose wife — a woman the Hubby and I know from the University of Dallas’ Registrar’s Office — provided the simple music of voice and guitar.
In one group, the parents and godparents signed the cross on their respective children’s forehead. In one large group, everyone in attendance relocated from the Daily Chapel to the baptismal fount in the narthex of the church. In one large group, the children received an annointment of holy oil on their little chests. In one group, they received the oil of chrism on their foreheads — “He’ll smell good all day,” the deacon quipped with a smile after he annointed Daniel’s forehead. In one group, the children received the final act of baptism — the pouring of holy water on their foreheads. In one group, the children received their baptismal garments — a little white scapular with a gold Chi-Rho stitched on the front. In one group, the children had their baptismal candles alighted from the church’s Easter candle, to signal the lighting of their new faith.
For the Catholic adults there, the children’s baptism was a reminder of their own baptism, a reminder of what it means to be a member of the Catholic Church — one people, one faith. together — as the children became members of that faith community. For the non-Catholic adults there, it was a moment of shared community, as well, as they supported those children with their presence and well-wishes.
It is my hope that this sense of community experienced that day will hold fast, that Daniel — as well as the other children that day — will always feel a place they spiritually belong, in good times as well as bad. That day was their day. May they experience many days such as that!
P.S. Oh, yes, photos to follow, once my brother — who took the pictures — gives me copies from his digicam.