Feast of the Baptism
of the Lord
January 11, 2015 4:00pm,
10:30am and 12 noon
Saint Margaret Parish, Bel Air
Living Baptism: My Early Years
I imagine that I am like most of you in that I was baptized as a baby.
Obviously, I don’t remember that event but I do remember this. From my earliest years, my parents made God, faith, and religion a priority.
They took my brother and me to Mass every Sunday. They made our First Reconciliation, First Communion, and Confirmation significant events.
They would always review our religion lessons and homework with us. They made sure that we learned certain basic prayers, like the Our Father, the rosary, and grace before meals.
They had religious images in our home, especially a crucifix in every bedroom. And they taught us right from wrong, like telling the truth and not telling lies.
Living Baptism: My Later Years
This faith that I got in my early years changed and, I think, matured as I got older.
So, for example, the prayers I learned as a child became enriched by the Scripture. The gospels became central to my way of prayer.
I came to realize that the sacraments were not just rituals to be done. Instead, they really enrich my relationship with God and help me on the journey of life.
Speaking of that, I came to understand morality as not just obeying or disobeying rules. Instead, I came to understand our moral code on sexuality and on everything as part of living life with commitment and integrity.
I also came to understood that social justice was part of morality. I needed to care for the little guy, as my father would say.
I have to say that all of this later development in my faith was built on what I got in my earlier years. It probably would not have happened without that.
Lessons about Baptism
Now, just to be clear, my family was imperfect and we had tensions and conflicts like any family.
I am only saying that as I look back, my baptism was the beginning of a lifelong journey with the Lord. And I am saying that I want the parents of this parish to look upon your children’s baptism in this way – as the beginning of a lifelong journey with the Lord.
So, please do not take the approach that you don’t have to bother with faith formation classes in the years when your children are not receiving First Eucharist or Confirmation. Please don’t do that because your child will be missing a lot of important faith development.
Faith and our relationship with God must develop step by step. It must develop in age appropriate ways and we adults, especially parents need to assure that this happens for our children.
One more thing: please don’t take the approach that you want your children to make up their own mind on religion and so you won’t emphasize it very much. Well, of course, they will eventually make up their own minds on everything.
But the important thing is to give your children a foundation for making up their mind about faith and religion when they get older. You know, when children are young, we guide them in what to eat – like Gerber’s fruits and eventually vegetables like spinach.
Someday, they will decide what they are going to eat, but we try to teach them good habits. We have to do the same with religion and give them a good foundation.
So my point is this: let’s make baptism for our children today the beginning of an entire life lived in relationship with God.
If you are parents with children at home today, I invite you to consider these ideas. And if you are not parents with children at home today, try to share these ideas with others who are raising their children.