Last month, my family and I
celebrated the Baptism of our
daughter Riley. In many ways
it was a second chance to celebrate
her birth. Just a few months earlier
she had been born into our family,
joining my husband, Mark, and I and
her sister, Maddie, and brother, Alex.
Now she was being born into a much
larger family—the family of the
One thing I’ve become very aware of
as I’ve grown up and had kids is that
Baptism is one of those sacraments
that, unfortunately, sometimes people
do just because they think they should.
And I can certainly understand why.
I remember being taken aback when
I heard that a couple I knew were not
going to have their child baptized.
remembered that the parents were no
longer active churchgoers, but I was so
accustomed to everyone I knew having
their child baptized that it felt odd.
But then I reminded myself that, in
fact, Baptism is about much more.
There’s a real purpose behind the sacrament.
Beginning the Journey
Baptism is the first step on a very long
road of faith. Perhaps that’s what I find
exciting about the Baptisms of my kids.
It’s a beginning—and who knows
where it will lead or how the journey
will play itself out?
The Sacrament of Baptism is one of
initiation. And who doesn’t long to be
a part of something really special? But
since Baptisms are usually performed
on infants, they can’t really agree to
join the Church. That’s up to the child’s
parents—and godparents. It’s their
job to make sure that the child being
baptized is given the knowledge and
shown through word and example how
to live out his or her faith while growing
Baptism is also jam-packed with symbols of our faith—water, oil, candles, a
white garment. Each of these symbols
has its own special meaning.
The water, for instance, is probably
the symbol most people associate with
Baptism and represents a number of
things. It is a sign of cleansing us of
Original Sin, and also represents the
source of life.
During Baptism, blessed oil or chrism
is marked on the forehead and chest of
the person being baptized in the sign of
the cross. This symbolizes receiving the
gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Even though most children being
baptized wear a white gown or outfit,
they also receive another white garment
during the ceremony, which signifies “putting on Christ.” My children
received garments hand-embroidered
with a cross by someone in the parish.
The personalized touch always reminded
me that the white garment
was a welcome gift from a member of
our parish family.
The baptismal candle is lighted from
the Easter candle and reminds both
the baptized and his or her parents and
godparents to be light for the world.
An Ongoing Commitment
So while Baptism is only the first step
on our faith journey, it’s a very big and
important first step. Here are ways you
can continue to celebrate your initiation
into the Church:
• Send a note to or call your godparents
every year on the day of your Baptism
to thank them for agreeing to be your
godparents. Likewise, if you are a godparent,
make an extra effort to send
your godchild a note or call on special
days to let your godchild know you are
always thinking of him or her.
• Celebrate the Baptism of everyone in
your family. Have a special dinner or
recognize the day in some way.
• Make an effort to attend the Mass
whenever your parish performs Baptisms.
After Mass, congratulate the families
and welcome their children as the
newest members of the parish.
• If you’re preparing to have a child
baptized, give a good deal of thought to
choosing your child’s godparents. Don’t
feel that you automatically have to
choose family members. Neither of my
godparents were relatives and they
turned out to be wonderful role models
and mentors for me regarding my
• Look through your photo albums and
talk to your kids about their Baptism.
Did they wear a special gown? Why
did you choose the people you did to
be godparents? What did it mean to
you to have them baptized? Who
attended? How did you celebrate afterward?
• If you are a godparent, pray for your
godchild and reflect on the type of
faith example you are setting.
Next Month: Lent's Wake-up Call