Today is the fifth anniversary of Bella’s baptism. We aren’t doing anything elaborate or fancy but last night before I went to bed I unpacked her baptism candle and put it in a candlestick on the dining table. This morning she found a little letter B from her alphabet puzzle and declared that “B is for baptism” and put it next to the candle.
Later we’ll make cookies, a special treat. Tonight after dinner we’ll light her candle and renew our baptismal vows. I’d thought to take her to Mass this morning; but I didn’t get myself together in time.
She asked me what her baptism was like and so I looked back in my blog archives to find what I wrote on that day. I read her a bit of it and teared up as I did so. Then we looked at the photos of the day and we talked about the meaning of the day and all our friends and family who were there.
The blog post I wrote then, Princess Isabella, meshes nicely with the pieces I wrote for Calah about the catechesis of little children. I didn’t go back to read this when I wrote them; but I’m glad to see that my memory of what that day meant was clear and an accurate reflection of what I wrote:
A perfect day for the baptism. Sunny for the first time since Tuesday, a welcome relief from the too abundant rain. And Trinity Sunday, we didn’t realize that when we set the date. If I were to go looking for readings for a baptism, I couldn’t have chosen better ones. It was almost eerie.
The church was full of friends and family, so joyful. We walked down the aisle almost exactly ten months after our wedding when we promised among other things to accept the children God would send us. And we asked the Church to receive our daughter into the body of Christ. She was so quiet, not a peep the whole mass, even when Father Murphy poured the water over her head and when he annointed her with the sweet smelling oil. In the epistle St Paul reminded us that by our baptism we are co-heirs with Christ. Father Murphy elaborated and said that Isabella is a princess as she is baptised into Christ’s royal family.
My sandal strap broke as we entered the church and so I was hobbling a bit, very self-conscious throughout the mass. I almost spilled the chalice at communion, not quite used to receiving while holding a baby, I knocked the bottom. But after communion as I knelt and meditated I was drawn back to Father’s sermon.
He talked about the Trinity as a family. God is a loving family. And he told the story of a boy carrying his brother: “He ain’t heavy, Father; he’s my brother.” Thinking about Isabella, not too heavy in my arms, but still an unfamiliar weight. Thinking about the vocation of parenthood, the weight of responsibility. Christ calls us to pick up our cross and follow him. If he calls me to be a wife and mother then I suppose Isabella is my cross, in a way. If so, then he has lived up to his promise: this burden is very light. This yoke is easy to bear. What a joy to have this great responsibility, even if sometimes quite frightening to think of how much rides on how I act, what I say, to form this little immortal soul. How great a relief that we received the final blessings for the parents, to know that all we have to do is say yes and do our best, the rest we can trust to more capable hands.
She was so pretty asleep in her long white dress, so unaware of the world. She woke up just before the actual baptism, staring about with her huge alert eyes. She doesn’t know yet and will not know for quite some time the import of today’s events. How quiet this new birth in comparison to three weeks ago when the doctors pulled her out and she screamed as they cleaned her off. How deceiving appearances can be. We walk by faith, not by sight.
Welcome home, my little princess.
She is still my beautiful princess, a dear child of God. As I renew my own promises to her I ask God to help me to always be his face for her and to always help me to see him in her face.