Monday, September 16, 2013

Happy (re)birthday, Anna!

Anna, the Christian community welcomes you with great joy. in its name I claim you for Christ our Savior by the sign of his cross. I now trace the cross on your forehead, and invite your parents and godparents to do the same.

One year ago today.

She was absolutely welcomed with great joy.

"You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training her in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring her up to keep God's commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?"

We couldn't have anticipated the joy (or incredible challenge) we'd have exactly one year later, when daily Mass was punctuated by a little finger excitedly pointing towards the altar and repeatedly calling out "Dees!!" (Jesus).  She also folded her hands and said "men" at the end of a prayer (the first she's said Amen, but not the first time she put her hands together in prayer).  She also mistook Father's raised hands at the opening prayer as a wave and excitedly waved back to him.  She was thrilled to dip her fingers in the holy water font as we left.

We take her with us almost every Sunday (we've tag-teamed Mass only a handful of times in her life), and while it is certainly can be a challenge to keep her quiet and still and minimize the distractions to ourselves and those around us, it has been wonderful to watch her begin to grow in excitement and understanding of the practice of the faith.

This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I get chills every time the priest says that part at a Baptism (right after the renewal of Baptismal promises by the parents and godparents).

Justin and I try to be very intentional about making our home what the Catechism calls a "domestic Church," where, as parents we are "by word and example....the first heralds of the faith" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1656).  Today, as part of that commitment, we celebrated the anniversary of Anna's Baptism.

I researched some traditions of how families often commemorate the occasion.  It is popular to have a cake (much like a birthday), and to light the Baptismal candle.  I wanted to find some traditions that we could adopt and use each year for each member of the family.  I've included some links at the bottom of the post for anyone who wants to celebrate a Baptismal anniversary for your children (or yourself! - I just learned today that there's a plenary indulgence for renewing your Baptismal promises on your anniversary!)

I decided to set the table with her Baptism candle and a picture of her Baptism.  I took a few minutes to make it "company special" instead of our more casual typical dinners.  We were just having left-over lasagna and some garlic toast I made quickly from the remainder of a loaf of bread.  The little touches were enough to remind us that it was a special day.  Again, I wanted to set myself up for success in future years!

I also saw an idea on Shower of Roses blog where she made shell-shaped candies as favors for a Baptism party.  (The shell is a symbol of Baptism, and you can see in our pictures above that Fr. Jeff used a shell to pour the water over Anna's head).  I thought this would be a simple dessert that I'd be able to make each time we celebrate an anniversary.  Some years I may get fancy and make a cake or something else to go with it, but we just had some vanilla ice cream this year!  (I let Anna have approximately 1/4 of a teaspoon, and she thought it was the best thing ever - that's my girl!)

We said two special prayers (links below), lit her Baptismal candle, and blessed her with holy water before enjoying our dinner and treats.  I think Anna realized something exciting was happening (or at least unusual!), and it was also a great reminder for Justin and I of great privilege and responsibility of sharing this awesome faith with our family.

You have become a new creation, and have clothed yourself in Christ. See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example, bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven.

This is my other favorite part of the Baptismal rite.  It speaks to the immense grace we receive in Baptism, and the incredible responsibility we have to live as Christians.

Today, I put Anna back in her Baptismal gown.  You can imagine how big it was on her at 2 weeks old since it fit her perfectly now!  Clearly, we should have gone down a pattern size...or 4...when we made it from my wedding gown.  Although she won't be able to put it on again in the future, I was thinking that it might be nice to have a tradition of having the family member celebrating their Baptismal Anniversary wear a white shirt on that day as another tangible reminder of the Sacrament.

I'd welcome other suggestions of ways to celebrate this joyful anniversary each year!

Here are some links I found useful:

Catholic Liturgical Library -
Full Baptismal Rite (source of the italicized quotes above):  HERE

Loyola Press -
Baptismal Anniversary Family Prayer service (this was lovely, we used it tonight): HERE

Catholic Culture -
Renewal of Baptismal Promises (for adults or older children; Justin and I will use this on our own anniversaries): HERE

Raising Little Saints blog -
Baptism Anniversary Prayer (scroll down; we also used this one today in conjunction with the prayer service above; she also links to some other lists of ways to celebrate and other prayers): HERE

National Catholic Register -
Celebrating your birthday in the Church (article on why it's valuable to celebrate the day): HERE

Catholic Answers forum
Other ideas on ways to celebrate the day: HERE

Catholic Prayers -
Prayer to One's Patron Saint on the Anniversary of your Baptism: HERE

Catholic Mom -
Celebrating your birthday in the church (more ideas!): HERE

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