Our life as a Catholic family is wrapped up in the sacraments of our Church. When we got married we made a vow to raise our children in the Catholic faith. Last weekend, on September 2nd, we had our first public affirmation of that vow when Walter was baptised.
Growing up in a Fundamentalist Christian church, infant baptisms were taboo and thus something I have no experience with. Parents would often choose to have a dedication for their baby, where the whole church would commit to raising the child in the faith, but I only remember my brother’s and, being 6.5 years old at the time, just remember it as being something dreadfully boring which my parents were really excited about. As a Catholic I’ve been present at numerous baptisms, but they were never for families that I was friends with so they flit in & out of consciousness.
I did not really have any expectations for Walter’s baptism, therefore, other than that I would not get much sleep the night before (true), it would be stressful trying to get everything to the church on time (true, but not so bad), and that Walter would probably scream & fuss (also true, but not nearly as bad as I expected). We ended up having a wonderful, blessed day and I was able to see why David was so incredibly excited about it. Apparently it isn’t an inventive form of torturing already worn-out new mothers!
|See--we do not look like we are worn out with exhaustion!|
We decided to have Walter baptised at our church in Cambridge. Since we have several months of no fixed address coming up it seemed to make the most sense to do it at our home church. We also really didn’t want to travel with an unbaptised baby! The downside was that our families, and Walter’s godparents, couldn’t be with us. However our church community left us feeling so honoured and blessed by the end of the day that we knew we’d made the right decision. It really felt as if our whole community was supporting us in our commitment to raise Walter in our faith. We wouldn’t have had this if we waited until we moved, as we wouldn’t have the same relationship with a parish right off the start.
The Baptism Mass begins with the priest claiming Walter “for Christ” and with us (and our friend Imogen, who stood in as a Godparent) committing to raise Walter as a Christian. Partway through the Mass is the actual baptism, and the whole congregation renews their own baptismal vows and promises to support Walter as he grows in the faith. There are special blessings and prayers for both Walter and for us as a family throughout the Mass. It was lovely. Every time I looked over the congregation I could see my friends smiling at us. As Fr Alban said afterwards, you could just feel the warmth of the sacrament pouring over everyone.
After Mass we had a tea & cake party next door. Imogen had baked a beautiful ‘W’ shaped cake for Walter, and I had made a not-so-beautiful cake with his name & baptism date (baking/cake decorating is not one of my skills).
|not-so-mad skillz (and David helpfully pointed out I could have bought a nice cake for less than I spent on icing & implements!)|
Loads of people stopped by to have some cake. A couple of the older ladies at our church gave Walter special blessings, something that I had never seen done before but thought was quite beautiful. Our friends had all brought lovely gifts for Walter and he got quite spoiled. All in all it was a lovely party and we felt so blessed to come to the end of our time at Fisher House, at least for now, with so many of our friends around us.
|My little angel taking a post-baptism snooze|