Last Updated: Thursday - 09/30/2010
September 27, 2010
Baptismal waters spill onto parents too
Classes given to parents when their child is baptized enlighten them too
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
From the early centuries of the Church, a common Catholic practice has been to administer the sacrament of Baptism to infants.
Parents want to pass along their own faith to their child. Baptism marks the beginning of this faith life from which their values will flow.
Lawrence Banaira attended the Baptism preparation class Sept. 11 at Good Shepherd Parish because he intended to have his son baptized Sept. 25. He was a practising Catholic while living in the Philippines, and hopes to pass on this way of life to his child.
"My father used to work as a lay minister in the Church. I lived in a church from age seven until high school," he said, promising to encourage his son to grow in grace and be a disciple of God.
By taking the class he learned more about the meaning and importance of Baptism, as well as the Trinitarian formula. He learned the fruits of Baptism are its immediate effect - forgiveness of original sin - and its lasting effect of conferring the baptismal character.
Baptism, like other sacraments, is a visible sign of God's invisible presence, said Patricia Morris, a pastoral assistant who leads the program at Good Shepherd. Just as parents prepare their children's nursery, crib, car seat and home, she said that spiritual preparation is also vital. What is precious to parents, they pass on to their children - and faith should be no exception.
"What I hope to achieve in the class is giving them a basic understanding of the meaning of Baptism, not just a ceremony that happens once in a lifetime. We live our Baptism every day, and I try to connect that through stories," said Morris.
BAPTISM LASTS FOREVER
While people often say, "I was baptized," she said the more accurate statement is, "I am baptized" - emphasizing that Baptism lasts forever.
Water, the tangible symbol in Baptism, represents the invisible spiritual reality, the supernatural grace given in the sacrament. Through the body's immersion in water, Baptism is a symbolic process of death and resurrection.
An individual's sins are cleansed, and the person begins a new life in Christ. Throughout their lives, people rid themselves of old ways of life and start anew. These experiences are forms of death and resurrection. This is seen in such occurrences as marriage, career changes and moving into a new house.
Morris said many couples that come for Baptism preparation have fallen away from the Church. Once their child is baptized, they never return. This is a common occurrence.
"If a couple is coming for Baptism preparation, we can't really refuse them because obviously if they are asking for their child to be baptized, then that flame is still flickering, so we have to help fan that flame," said Morris.
"That's what I hope to do by having them come to Baptism prep, fan that flame a little bit more and make them enthusiastic about their faith."
Barbie Umali also attended the Baptism preparation class Sept. 11 at Good Shepherd Parish. Umali agreed that some parents, after having their child Baptized, are seldom seen again in the church pews. As a practising Catholic, she hopes her children will continue attending Mass for many years to come.
"The sacrament of Baptism is very important because I grew up in the Catholic Church, and I hope that my kids can practise the same way I did. I want them to learn the same things and in the same way as I was brought up to learn," Umali told the WCR.
Through Baptism preparation, Morris has seen faith lives restored, marriages mended and things that are wrong in one's life corrected.
Many ask why Catholics baptize infants whereas other Christians wait until the individual is old enough to decide for himself. Without consent, children are given names, families and countries of origin.
Likewise, the parents give their children, through the gift of Baptism, entrance into the family of faith. Baptized infants do not know they are Catholic Christians, but they have an identity and share in the privileges that only members can enjoy.
In preparation for their daughter Tory's July 11 Baptism at St. Dominic's Parish in Cold Lake, Rolly and Amanda Mahé took a private course.
"We took a course in St. Paul. They allowed us to do a private class because Rolly's work schedule did not allow for us to take the group one. We did not have to meet the priest," said Amanda.
The program was straightforward, consisting of listening to the instructor and reading a pamphlet, which allowed them to gain a broader understanding of the sacrament. They also learned what to expect at the Baptism ceremony.
"We went into the course not expecting much, but actually we really enjoyed it and learned a few things neither one of us ever knew before," she said.
They learned that Baptism holds the first place among the sacraments because it opens the door to a spiritual life.
The married couple was asked about their personal faith journey and opinions on raising a child. She appreciated the fact that their viewpoints were not "judged" by others.
"We did not attend church regularly during summer vacations and travelling, but we do intend to. We were going to church regularly before summer."
Serving as role models of the faith, godparents play an important role in a child's spiritual life. The child should be able to look to their godparents as an example of how the Church teaches people to live their Catholic faith.
The godparents not only support the child, but the parents as well. In their role as godparent, they represent the larger Church community. Therefore, being a godparent is both an honour and a tremendous responsibility.
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