Thursday, January 8, 2009



“Grandma, it was so cool to have 2 birthdays in one year this year—one in April and one in November!”

“What a lucky boy you are! And you can celebrate both of them next year and every year. How does it feel to be 9 years old now?”

“Great! And I like the way you measure me every time I visit you—you put those pencil marks on the basement door to see how tall I’m growing. I’m glad you took pictures to remind me, but I’ll never forget my Baptism day—April 27. You were my godmother. Is that like the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella?”

“Not really. I sure don’t have a magic wand or a sparkling crown, but it means that I am responsible to help you grow up to become a faithful Christian man. I will pray for you every day for the rest of my life on earth and then I’ll keep praying for you after I go to heaven.”

“I remember that Father Matt poured three scoops of holy water on my head with a big shell. He said, ‘In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’ just like I do when I make the sign of the cross. Daddy had to hold me up over the silver basin because I wasn’t tall enough. I’ll bet next year I’ll be tall enough to bend over it myself. But you said I only get baptized once, right?”

“Baptism is a once-for-all Sacrament. It’s the Sacrament that begins your life as a Christian. Do you remember what invisible things happen to you at baptism?”

“Sure. A lot of things. I am now Born Again like Jesus said we had to be if we want to go to Heaven where He is.”

“Jesus called it “born again” because baptism is like beginning all over as if you were a little baby again. In the Catholic Church parents usually have their babies baptized soon after they are born like the little baby who was baptized by Father Matt the same day as you were, remember? Babies can’t speak for themselves so their parents speak for them and promise to teach them about God. Even grown ups who come to believe in Jesus and get baptized are like babies starting out in their Christian lives.”

“Father Matt said I was special because I told him I already asked Jesus into my heart and now I wanted to be baptized. When we read in the Bible about Adam and Eve disobeying God, you explained that everyone born since that time has sin passed on to them. Baptism washes that away, right?”

“Yes, that’s what happens. And now you belong to the Church which Jesus started before He took off from earth after He rose from the dead. That means that you are a Catholic Christian. Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Winchester is your home Church, but every Catholic Church in every city and all over the world is your Church too. The Church is always there to help you learn and grow as a Christian. You belong to a really big Christian family now—everyone else who believes in Jesus is your brother and sister in Christ. Can you think of other things that happened to you at baptism?”

“Something about the Holy Spirit, right? He was my Born Again birthday gift—Jesus put His Holy Spirit to live in my heart forever. Father Matt said he is in my spirit to guide me and teach me how to please God and He does all kinds of good things for me.”

“The Holy Spirit is the best birthday gift in the whole world! But there’s more—He brought along a whole lot of other birthday gifts for you that you will open one by one as you grow older and understand more about your faith. Do you remember what Father Matt did before he baptized you?”

“Yeah, he made the sign of the cross on my forehead and asked all of you to do it too. Then he read some things from the Bible that Jesus said. He asked me if I wanted to reject the devil and all his work and empty promises and all his evil spirits and all the bad things the devil wants to bring into my life. I said a loud YES! Then I think Father Matt had us all repeat with him the things we believe about God and Jesus, and we all said I DO! He did something with holy oil too, didn’t he?”

“Father Matt put holy oil (that is called anointing) on your head, your ears, your eyes, your lips….

“….He skipped my nose, ha-ha! Then he unbuttoned my vest and my shirt and put the oil over my heart and it tickled and I tried not to giggle!”

“When he did all that, it meant that he blessed and marked with the cross of Jesus all of you as a sign that every part of you belongs to Jesus. Then he said, ‘May Jesus soon touch Jeffrey’s ears to receive God’s word, and Jeffrey’s mouth to tell others of his faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father.’ And we all said ‘Amen!’”

“And after your baptism Father Matt gave Grandma a candle to light from the big candle by the altar and told me to give it to you to hold. Father said that was a sign that you were now enlightened by Christ. He prayed for you to walk always as a child of the light and keep the flame of your faith in Jesus alive in your heart. He said to you, ‘God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into his holy people. He now anoints you with the chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you, Jeffrey, live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.’ Then he said to all of our family and the friends who came to see your baptism, ‘Dearly beloved, Jeffrey has been reborn in baptism. He is now called the child of God, for so indeed he is. Later when he is Confirmed, he will receive the fullness of God’s Spirit. When he receives Holy Communion he will share the banquet of Christ’s sacrifice.’”

“Then we all prayed the “Our Father” prayer together with Father Matt. I knew how to pray that prayer since I was little. Then Father blessed us all and we made the sign of the cross with him and said ‘Amen’ then we took lots of pictures and I got to keep the candle and other people came up to me to shake my hand and welcome me into the Church and gave me presents. It was like a real birthday!

“It was a real birthday! You and I might not have remembered exactly the order in which those things happened because it was all so exciting….”

“Oh Grandma, we forgot that Father Matt asked me who I chose for my Patron Saint. I told him it was Saint Michael the Archangel, whose statue is in the stairwell at Church, with the big sword protecting me and stomping his feet on the devil! What did you say a patron saint does?”

“A patron saint is a holy person who lived on earth, but is now in heaven and you’ve chosen him or her to watch over you and pray to God for you. Sometimes it can be an angel, like the important Archangel you chose.”

“Is a Patron Saint different from my Guardian Angel?”

“Yes, God assigns your Guardian Angel to you even before you were born. He is with you day and night and takes care of you for your whole life until he takes you to heaven to be with Jesus forever.”

“Joseph is the name I call my Guardian Angel.”

“Jeffrey, I’ll bet Joseph was right there with you during your baptism jumping for joy. He probably notified all the other billions and trillions and gazillions of angels in heaven to celebrate your baptism birthday with you! By the way, whenever you enter the Church and dip your finger in the Holy Water font and make the Sign of the Cross, what is that supposed to remind you of?”

“I know—I know! It’s to remind me of my baptism!


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