By Kate Dugan
A friend of mine and her partner baptized their baby this weekend. While I wasn’t able to attend because of distance, I have spent much time thinking about them this weekend. As I mull over the readings for this week, I can’t help but think about the baptismal ritual. I know the monastery and the church where the baptism happened. I have been imagining the ceremony and sending positive energy to their family.
This weekend, they agreed to allow Jesus to call their sweet baby his, too—as he is depicted doing in this week’s gospel: “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me.”
I am married, but we don’t have kids. Still, already this question haunts me: will we baptize our kids? Send them to Catholic school? Raise them with weekly Mass? One of the essays in From the Pews of the Back writes about this very thing. While many of her instincts lean away from baptism, she wants her child to have a deep-seated appreciation for the divine. And so…baptism. Shrouded in hope and optimism, but also with question marks.I mean, it’s just sort of a big deal to agree to have Jesus call something “his.” Jesus promises to protect and to love, as a shepherd loves and cares for his sheep. But in Catholic baptism, we also assent to the institutional church and agree to believe and live by its set-up. And that is also a big deal. A decision not to take lightly.
I love that my friend has decided to baptize her child. I wish her all the best in the next few years, as she, wisely I’m sure, navigates the ever-tricky waters of a child’s spiritual life. I am inspired by her willingness to engage these questions and I look forward to learning from her example.
Kate Dugan is a co-editor of From the Pews in the Back and celebrated May Day and her friend’s baptism at the first day of the Shelton Farmers’ Market.