Thursday, February 7, 2008

Baptism by Water

As Baby's baptism nears, I was thinking that I didn't know the official symbolism or meaning of the event. I knew what I thought it meant, but there was not the preparation I expected. We just show up at the church all ready to go. With marriage and communion and confirmation, there is at least some spiritual preparation. I would think this event would have more than just an informative class where we filled out paperwork. Baby will be baptized in the Catholic Church. As I'm not Catholic, I'm definitely not knowledgable in all its traditions and sacraments. Neither is Husband who couldn't tell me when you can start receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday. So, this is what I found out. From Wikipedia, some Christian groups assert baptism is a requirement for salvation and a sacrament. It continues to say that, for Roman Catholics, baptism by water is a sacrament of initiation into the life of children of God. The liturgy makes clear reference to baptism as not only a symbolic burial and resurrection, but an actional supernatural transformation, one that draws parallels to the experience of Noah and the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea divided by Moses. Thus, baptism is the literally and symbolically not only cleansing but also dying and rising again with Christ. Catholics believe that baptism is necessary for the cleansing of original sin and for that reason infant baptism is a common practice. I don't really like the idea of original sin. Babies are innocent. Life is hard enough without the shadow of original sin.

So, technical jargon aside, I always loved baptisms. I loved how my church handled them. I always viewed them as a welcome into the Church and a formal introduction into God's love and family. Plus, in the Protestant churches to which I've belonged, there was a section where the congregation promised to help raise the child with the Word of God which I always liked.

Sadly, I'd have to say Husband and I would seem so much more religious except for the actual attending of church. We enjoy it, but we just never seem to go. We plan on it because we want Baby to grow up with religion, but I can't say exactly why we don't go regularly or when we'll start.


Linda Wallace said...

I was baptized (sprinkled) in a tiny church in Arrow Rock, MO., population 75, where my mother at 84 still lives alone nearby on a farm. I'm still listed on the church register but obviously don't attend services as I'm now a resident of Seattle. My husband and daughter are members of the LDS (Mormon) church. I'm not because, among other issues, I don't approve of the role of women in their church, but I do like the way the church gives infants a blessing. Children aren't baptized until they're eight when they're supposedly old enough to make choices. For a blessing the men, considered priests, (only men!) gather around the individual holding the baby to give the blessing. Somehow, it always makes me think of a wagon train encircling the settlers for protection. I always hope the protection of the blessing will keep the baby safe.

Midas said...

All my children had bris (I guess it's your equivalennt to baptism) and then we just don't go to religious services anymore. I kind of like it this way. Orthodox Judaism is very intense.