Catholic Activity: Baptismal Day
More important than our real birthday, the anniversary of the moment when our mother gave us our physical life, is the anniversary of the moment when we received the life of our soul as children of God. Why should we not start a new tradition in our young families, following an ancient custom of the first centuries where the Christians were much more imbued with awe for that great Sacrament of Baptism?
We should start to celebrate the baptismal days of our children, to which we should invite the godparents and anyone else who had been present at the baptism of that child. If the godparents cannot come, they might be asked to write a letter each year to their godchild, thus keeping the spiritual relationship alive. In the time of our great-grandparents such letters were reverently kept through life. That's why it is so important to choose godparents who can be relied upon to take their spiritual fatherhood and motherhood seriously.
When the children are little, we should tell them of their baptismal day in the form of a story. Later, we should go with them through the ceremonies and rites of the Sacrament of Baptism. We should take them, if at all possible, back to the baptismal font and there solemnly renew with them the baptismal vows. At the end of such a day the whole family might gather and sing solemnly, "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name," or another hymn of thanksgiving.
If on birthdays all kinds of secular gifts are given, on the baptismal day we might give, gradually, all that our children require for their spiritual life a missal, starting with a small missal for children, until they finally get the unabridged Missale Romanum; the New Testament; later the complete Bible; a holy water font; a crucifix; blessed candles for their little altar in their private corner. On this day, the baptismal candle should be taken out and put in a candlestick. The white garment which the child wore at his baptism and which we should keep for him should also be taken out, and the children should be reminded of the intention underlying the Church's words:
"Receive this burning light and safeguard thy baptism by a blameless life. Keep the Commandments of God that when Our Lord shall come to claim His own, thou mayest be worthy to greet Him with all the saints in the heavenly court and live forever and ever. Amen.If only we would start this tradition right now, and if the godparents could be persuaded to see their role on such a day, what a beautiful. solemn and sacred day it might become in our families!
“Receive this white garment which thou mayest wear without stain before the judgment seat of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, that thou mayest have life everlasting. Amen."
Activity Source: Around the Year with the Trapp Family by Maria Augusta Trapp, Pantheon Books Inc., New York, New York, 1955