Priest: What names have you given your children?
Pierpaolo & Chiara: Ettore Maria, Mattia Maria, Elena Maria, Lucia Maria, Virginia Maria, Maria Bernadette.
Priest: What do you ask of God’s Church for Ettore Maria, Mattia Maria, Elena Maria, Lucia Maria, Virginia Maria, Maria Bernadette.?
Pierpaolo & Chiara: Baptism.
Priest: You have asked to have your child baptised. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training them in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him/her up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbour. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?
Pierpaolo & Chiara: We do.
The priest to the godparents:
Priest: Are you ready to help the parents of this child in their duty as Christian parents?
Godparents: We are.
Priest: Ettore Maria, Mattia Maria, Elena Maria, Lucia Maria, Virginia Maria, Maria Bernadette, the Christian community welcomes you with great joy. In its name I claim you for Christ our Saviour by the sign of his cross. I now trace the cross on your forehead, and invite your parents and godparents to do the same.
When we, Christian parents, asked for baptism for our children we promise to co-operate with the Church in bringing our children up as true children of God and to teach them to love him and to serve Him every day of their life.
There are many baptisms over the year in our parish, but I wonder how many people truly recognise the weight of those words pronounced by the priest in response to our request:"You have asked to have your child baptised. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training them in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him/her up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbour. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?" This is serious stuff...we are entrusted and are given the privilege to bring up the children of God.
Growing up as a young mother I remember being afraid of losing my children along the way, I still have a vivid the memory of the many prayers sent up to heaven for the boys to remain in and find strength in the Church.
What were we to do? How could we prevent them from leaving when they were older... that brought real anxiety at times. I was so afraid to fail that task I was being assigned.
God has been a true Father throughout this journey of Faith. He little by little showed us that we as parents had nothing to worry about, that He had everything thought out.
In Baptism, our parents made our first 'profession of faith' on our behalf and from that day on the Church has nourished us, has fed, enriched us, has given us values and we have found freedom in her teaching.
Do you renounce Satan, and all his works and empty promises?
Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who today through the Sacrament of Confirmation is given to you in a special way just as he was given to the Apostles on the day of Pentecost?
Do you believe in the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
The Creed is, as St Ambrose states, the spiritual seal, our heart's meditation and an ever present guardian; it is unquestionably, the treasure of the soul.
Here was where I found the answer to my prayers and the end to my anxiety!
That profession of faith that my parents once made on my behalf, those words proclaimed not long after I was born into this world, were not meant to stay dormant. The seed planted at Baptism had to become a solid tree with its roots in Christ.
We Christian parents are called to profess the Creed, day in and day out as a witness of that LOVE that saved us all, so that we could enter in communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the whole Church.
The mother Church is there to guide us as individuals as well as parents, she has the right words for the right times (even if sometimes these words seem harsh, it is is always a relief to trust in her wisdom), the right 'activities' and resources for us and our growing family.
Based on her tradition and her teaching that has been successful over thousands of years we have nothing to worry about and nothing to reinvent. It is all there ready for us to access.
So to the question 'What are you doing now in the hope of keeping your kids in the Faith?'... we are living with coherence the same Faith of our ancestors, traced back all the way to the apostles and Christ himself...
We pray together, we receive the Sacraments together, we talk openly together, we discuss life in all
its aspect in the light of the faith,we eat together, we celebrate together, we moan together, we argue but we never let the sun go down on our anger, we suffer but have been given a meaning to our suffering and in turn we remind one another of this.
We fully live and draw strength from the strong liturgical seasons however badly we end up living them because of life... which shows us that no matter how imperfect, sinful, forgetful we are He still comes for us.
On Crafts and Activities:
Though we love our crafts and the odd activity here and there, I feel that the weight of the liturgical season and its focus can sometimes easily shift towards those pretty, fun and disposable projects... and these end up replacing the beautiful liturgies and the continuous life-giving gifts that the Church has to offer.
Crafts and activities are a lovely way to accompany some of the teaching especially for younger children but should never take the place of the wonderful traditions that have been passed on from one generation to another for centuries.
Children need to be part of the greatness of the Church. It is important not to underestimate the understanding and intuition of the children. Their participation will increase with age and God will slowly establish a personal relationship with them.
Taking young children to Sunday Mass, the Triduum, Penitential Services can be very tiring and at times disheartening, but the sacrifice that us as parents (and in particular mothers if the spouse is active in the choir, or a cantor or is involved in any other kind of service) is of immense value and won't be for long... Thanks to our persistence, coherence and service, our children will little by little have access the the immensity of the Faith.
I claim you for Christ
Our life should speak of Christ... we are not perfect, we fall daily, we have many weaknesses but it is in Him that we find our strength, the children have witnessed this many times in us and as they grow up they are discovering it for themselves.
So what happens if they will one day lose faith or fall away... well they have been anointed... they have been claimed for Christ... God wants to save them more than I do, so I know He will be on their case.