Browsing Amen Corner

Amen Corner - April 25

Easter is the season for celebrating new life.  One way we at St. Thomas celebrate Easter’s new life is to baptize children during mass. While it is a common practice to celebrate a child’s baptism outside of Mass with only the family and perhaps a few close friends present this misses the connection to the larger Church community. Celebrating the baptism of a child during Sunday mass helps everyone to see more clearly the rich connection between baptism and the community. When children are baptized, they not only begin a relationship with God, they begin a relationship with the community. By baptism, they are incorporated (from the Latin corpus, meaning “body”) into the Body of Christ. Further, as the Rite of Baptism for Children tells us the responsibility of raising a child in the life of faith belongs not only to the child’s parents but also to the community:

The people of God, that is the Church, made present in the local community, has an important part to play in the baptism of both children and adults. Before and after the celebration of the sacrament, the child has a right to the love and help of the community. RBC #4

The community is called to help support and nurture the faith of the child as he or she grows in communion with Jesus Christ.

The ritual text then goes on to affirm that sacraments are communal by nature:

… The faith in which the children are baptized is not the private possession of the individual family, but it is the common treasure of the whole Church of Christ. RBC #4

Celebrating baptism during mass also helps to bring out the meaning of the sacrament. To be baptized means to share in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Witnessing a baptism during a Eucharistic liturgy, where we commemorate Christ’s dying and rising, further acknowledges the paschal focus of baptism and the child’s incorporation into that reality.

Since many of us were infants at the time of our own baptism, we don’t have a strong memory of the event. Experiencing the baptism of an infant or a child can renew our own baptism. Witnessing the child’s innocence, dependence and vulnerability helps us to recall the meaning of baptism—a lifelong surrender to the will of God. 


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