Baptism: An opportunity to share and support
By Karen and Derek Boylen
We love baptisms. It’s a special time when, as a whole family, we come together to welcome a new person into both our earthly and spiritual families. The power and significance came to mind for us recently because we celebrated baptisms for two new nephews on consecutive weekends.
For the baptisms of our five children we have always tried to invite everyone who is close to us; Catholic and non-Catholic alike. At baptism, a person receives the grace of God so that through them God can make his presence known in the world in a special way.
We include as many family and friends as we can in the baptism of our children so that they may bear witness to this milestone event. They come because they are our friends and they know it is something important for us.
However, in a gentle way, their attendance creates a new space and a shared experience that allows us to enter into a deeper dialogue with them about faith.
At one of the baptisms we attended we were inspired to see Fr Joe, at Our Lady of the Mission, Whitfords, take the time, at various stages, to explain the special significance of the parts of the liturgy to all present. He clearly understands that many who attend baptisms are unfamiliar with Catholic beliefs; both Catholics and non-Catholics.
In our cousins, who were not Catholic, we could see a real interest in what was happening. It was the Holy Spirit working through the priest and the sacrament to bless lives. At baptism, we tend to focus on what is happening to the person being welcomed into the Church. However, something else special also happens. We are united with them in Christ. In 2000, John Paul II said: “The Baptism we have received is one. It brings about a sacramental bond of unity among all who have been reborn through it… Christ is the door of our salvation, which leads to reconciliation, to peace and to unity.”
We are reminded that the formation of this person in the faith is a joint responsibility. The Church and the Holy Spirit working in unison. When we attend a baptism we are challenged anew to walk with each other, supporting and nurturing each other in our faith journey.
We feel blessed to be the godparents of four beautiful children. It gives us great joy watching them grow and mature. It’s a responsibility that we take seriously. Each Christmas and Easter we get them something special, a faith based book or a gift, which we hope will help them to discover and grow in their understanding of the faith.
We try to model the Christian life for them and we hope that in the future they will feel comfortable to discuss things with us if they have the need.
However, we don’t need to be godparents to support the faith growth and development of those around us; particularly children. Supporting and nurturing faith growth and development is something that we try to do for all our nieces and nephews as well as the children of our friends.
It’s a baptismal challenge for us all.