What does a Catholic baptism mean? In this beautiful letter which a mother and a father residing in Malta wrote to their baby, they explain what Catholic baptism means and why they chose to baptise her.
You are old enough now to read this message from mum and dad. This message is about why we wanted you to be baptised when you were a little baby. And why in the Catholic Church? It is not a question that can be rushed because for us it is easy to fall into standard answers that do not come from the heart. We will try to be as sincere as possible.
So here it goes. We want you to be baptised:
- So you can have faith in a higher being we call God and you will cultivate this faith and not let it fade away.
- So that you understand that there is more to what your eyes can see and what your ears can hear. There is a source of great goodness, and it is not human.
- So you hear a positive and independent message, different from the sad and biased message that the world around you might give you. Everyday life can be full of distractions, “fads or full of messages of desperation that things are getting worse. The Gospel and the Church will give you steadiness and consistency in your morality that is not pushed around by daily life.
- So that your faith will help you deal with death and suffering in this world. They are things that are not to be feared if you have trust in God.
- So your faith can help you explain the meaning of the wonders and order in the physical world around you.
- So you have a framework (for lack of a better word) in your mind of what happens when we all die. You will not get a clear idea, but your faith will guide you towards living a good life on this earth as preparation to the next life. There is a next life. This life on earth is not for “grabbing as much as you can, while you can as if time is running out (as the material world would have you believe). Please ask your fellow Catholics how they deal with their preparation for the next life.
- So that by discussing and questioning us, your mum and dad, you help us and challenge us to know what we believe in. You can help mum and dad stay on the right path, because we all make mistakes. By discussing God will be in our presence and we will be a happier family.
- So you can stand back up if you fall spiritually. If you are overwhelmed by life, you know that there is God who will accept you the way you are and that you can always improve you situation. The Gospel is not for saints only but for everyday sinners to improve their lives after lapses of spiritual blindness.
- So you can have a share of old-time-tested wisdom that is true and not subject to current trends or socially accepted norms. You can ask us your parents advice, but another source of advice is available to you through the Church and the Bible.
- So that you can carry on the Christian tradition from your families. You could have been born in a Muslim, Buddhist, etc. family but we are Christian. Our heritage has a lot to do with Christianity and we want you to be part of it in an official way.
- So that you have a link with your ancestors. You can pray for them and ask them for guidance. Their life challenges were not different than yours, but they somehow decided to keep the Christian faith that has trickled down to you.
- So you will have a support network from other members of the Church during your life from your childhood, adolescence, adulthood all the way to your death bed.
- So you will have a sense of purpose in your everyday life and not just exist. The reason why we are born on this earth is not to make money or be successful in a material way. Instead it is a journey of self-discovery with its ups and downs and the goal that Christians believe in is to build a close relationship with God.
- So that, other than your family, friends and humans in general, you will have a higher being to confide in and to ask for guidance. By this I mean prayer. Think of it as a friend who is always with you, who sees what your situation is who is not limited by what you can see.
- So that if everyone around you is slipping away, you have a rope to pull you in the right direction.
- So that you have access to the other sacraments throughout your life. Your mum and dad married in the Catholic Church and this can be also available to you if you chose to do so.
- So that when you go to Church you will get a mini vacation from your life. A good vacation is a break Daily Faith Experiences where you rest and when you return you are calmer and you see life in a different way. No matter how distracted you are from you daily life, the Mass will make you spend time with yourself and help you grow your relationship with God. It will help you re-focus your scope in life. If you are going through a rough time you will get a positive message and when you are happy you will have a place to thank God.
So that you know that you can get forgiveness. We all make mistakes but we are entitled for forgiveness and the Christian faith gives us a community to obtain this forgiveness.
- So that being in company of your fellow Christians within the Church you will lead a righteous life. For your mum and dad that means you will live a good life. If you have a choice between the easy but unjust or the difficult and just, you look into your conscience and with prayer with you chose the latter. The teachings of the Christian faith will be a guide in making the right decisions when you are surrounded by insecurity or doubt.
- So that you can suppress our worldly survival instinct: egoism. The Christian faith will guide you to love your fellow humans even if it means going against your own personal interest. For your mum and dad that means being a good daughter, a good friend, a good worker, a good citizen, a good mother, a good person.
Mum and Dad