Baptism is an amazing sacrament in the Catholic Church. Through it, we welcome the baptized into the family of God and mark the beginning of their faith journey.
I recently attended Mass at my Mom’s parish which included an infant baptism. The priest reminded the congregation that some Christians do not believe in infant baptism, reasoning that the child should be able to choose their own faith. However, we as Catholics believe that baptism is the “birth” of a person as a child of God. Just as we don’t get to pick the family into which we are born, the same can be said of our faith. In baptizing an infant child, the parents and godparents agree to instruct the child in the faith, to help keep the light of Christ burning within the child as they grow.
As I watched the priest pouring water over the baby’s head, I recalled a comment I once heard: “I don’t believe that trickle of water can do anything. You need to be plunged into the water.” At the time, I had no idea how to respond to a comment like that, but it stayed with me. After all, the Greek definition of baptism is to “plunge” or “immerse.” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how limiting it was to believe that God could not wash away original sin and welcome a child into his family with that “trickle” of water. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “from ancient times it has [also] been able to be conferred by pouring the water three times over the candidate’s head” (CCC 1239). I would like to think that a single drop of water for each member of the Trinity, along with a serious intention of baptism, would be enough for a miracle worker like God.
I do enjoy being able to participate as a witness when a baptism occurs during Mass. Not only do we get the opportunity to meet a new member of God’s family, but we also get to share the joy of that special moment. It’s a reminder that we too were baptized into the faith and to ponder how we have nurtured that faith in ourselves and those around us.