IT is with sorrow that I am forced to admit that I did not really enjoy any. of the baptismal ceremonies of my nine children. Most of them are a blurred memory.
But perhaps one of the more pleasant memories is of the Baptism of our eighth child. Our two eldest children were godparents (so I did not have to tidy up the house for visitors!).
For the ninth Baptism, we had the full works. A kind friend organised everything, incorporating the Baptism into the Mass, and managing to get her Catechism class in at the same time.
During the days after returning home from hospital, and before the service, every time I trudged downstairs I noticed something perched on top of the grandfather clock, wrapped in blue paper, looking like a packet of spaghetti.
I was too tired and dopey to ask anyone, or get a chair and climb up to see why there should be a packet of spaghetti on top of the grandfather clock, and it wasn't until we reached the church, and kind friend asked us for the special Baptismal Candle that she and her class had spent hours decorating, that I realised what the packet really was.
A few weeks ago I attended the christening of the daughter of our local vicar and his wife. He is slightly Charismaticminded, and two of the four godparents were Catholics. He said he had chosen them because he thought they were good Christians, and only considered their denominations afterwards.
The English. as a race, are always taught to keep a stiff upper lip, and not to admit to feeling unwell; but in spite of having what is called an "easy time" with the birth of my children (ie, I did not have 400 stitches, or go completely mad), I do not think I was in any fit state to enjoy the Baptism of a new baby only a few days after its birth, Looking back, there seem to be two remedies for someone like me. Either have the baby baptised at home, and received into the Church at a later date, or wait for a few months until you are stronger mentally and physically.
But what happens if you drop the baby and break its neck before it has a chance to be baptised? Was the old teaching that it was denied Heaven? I think the new teaching poohpoohs that, but even so, the terrible sub-conscious burden of fear is there.
What is Baptism? Baptism is a Sacrament. But surely Sacraments should be enjoyed? Do we not become so bogged d vn by material things — cluthes, people, food, transport — that the Sacrament itself becomes little more than a date-stamp. I feel that somewhere along the line I missed out on the love and joy part. Or does the fault lie entirely within me?