Several times during the course of his pontificate, Pope Francis has asked the faithful if…
Remembering the gift of baptism
I was baptised on May 4, less than a month after my birth. I’m not good with dates or numbers, so the fact that I know my baptismal day is a gift. My first confession and Eucharist and my confirmation are events I still hold in my memory, but their dates have since been forgotten. But my baptism, arguably the most important event in my life, is one I don’t remember.
Yet, the reason I remember the date is very simple. As a gift for my baptism, a family friend cross-stitched a small bookmark with the date embroidered. Currently it is lost in one of my many spiritual readings, but that simple gift imprinted the date forever in my mind, making up for my lack of memory.
A couple months ago, I was sharing with my spiritual director how easily the Faith came to me. For one reason or another, I’ve never truly doubted the Church and in God’s existence. Yes, I lacked the knowledge to know why, but I trusted what I was taught was true. And while I claimed the Faith as my own once I reached high school, I still can’t think of a specific moment of clarity where I decided that I wanted to be part of the Church established by Jesus Christ — by God who became man and who desires to have a personal relationship with me. The reversion, if I can even call it that, was so gradual that it, too, has faded from memory.
As I was sharing this with my spiritual director, he encouraged me to imagine my baptism. I know the church, the one my family attended for the first five years of my life. I know the main characters who were active in bringing me into the Church — my parents assisted by my godparents: my aunt and my dad’s best friend from college, who is now a priest. I know the instruments — the baptismal font, the water, the chrism. And I know the one who adopted me as his own — my heavenly Father, who knew me before my parents even imagined my existence.
Even though I don’t remember this event with clarity, I know it in my heart, for that moment, which marked my new life in Christ and in the Church, impacted every moment afterward, even if I didn’t realize it. My ability to trust those in authority and believe that the Faith was real was a gift from my baptism. The choices I made to claim the Holy Catholic Church as my mother and guide were gradual, but they were each aided by the fruits of my birth from sin when the holy water touched my head.
We don’t have to remember our baptism to recognize its graces. Whether we never left the Church or came back years later, whether the truths of the Faith came naturally or you fought against them, every “yes” we have said to God and to the Church is a fruit of our baptism.
A reader recently wrote a letter to us explaining that through a lack of good catechesis, she never urged her nonpracticing children to baptize their own kids — her grandchildren. In her letter, she shared her regret that she didn’t act differently. Yet she is not alone. Within the Church, so many have received the sacraments without understanding or believing their supernatural depth, and then they have chosen against raising their children in the Faith. But these baptized parents, even those who were confirmed in the Church but may not have attended Mass since then, can still receive the graces of these sacred events. And we can pray that the fruits of these moments can touch their hearts and be instruments of reconversion. For nothing is impossible for the God who calls us his own.
As we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, let us remember our own baptisms that cleared us from the stain of original sin and gave us new life in God. If you can, pull out your baptismal certificate and commit the date to mind. And, if you remember, try to celebrate that day in one way or another. Find your baptismal candle and light it on the anniversary, and remember that, no matter what, the gifts of your baptism are always working in your heart.
Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor.