Thou shalt not be baptised! Or shall thee?
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I was raised a Catholic, so when I announced to my family that we weren’t planning to baptise our son, it caused quite a bit of uproar.
Well, to be fair, I didn’t exactly announce it, this information was prised out of me.
My mother and various siblings had already had to cope with the fact that we got married in a registry office, along with comments about how surprised they were that the registry office was nice, and not at all what they were expecting. They were almost incredulous that this could even be possible! But little did they know the shock that was coming several years later.
My brother, despite being a lapsed Catholic himself, plans to play the game with the church in order that his daughter can go to a good Catholic school. Naturally I was the target of much alarm bells in the family as they all pictured our son in the fiery pits of Hades, deeply lacking in God’s blessing while meanwhile his little cousin was baptised and living a charmed life!
Anyway, I called mum for a catch up this weekend and her latest topic of nagging was of course Operation X; where X stands for Christ. Trying a new, cunning tact with me, she lowered a voice a little, made it a little quieter, and actually pleaded: “please will you baptise C?”
I laughed! “Why is it so important to you? We aren’t religious mum, I’ve gone over this several times”.
“But without God’s blessing, what future does C have?!”
It was the earnestness, the seriousness of this claim that stopped me in my tracks.
“Please don’t make me do I what I did with ‘M’, when I baptised him in the bath while [your aunt] wasn’t looking.”
The plot thickens, I’m thinking. My mum, the phantom baptiser. God’s secret enforcer, protecting the heathen children from harm! At this point I began to laugh hysterically because I could exactly picture her doing it. It’s not the sort of thing she would make up. She is well known for doing things like this. So I decided to have some fun with the idea.
“I would like you to baptise my baby.”
“No no, I’m not going to baptise him, I’m not properly qualified, it would need to be a priest, mine was only a quick baptism while [your aunt] wasn’t looking. I splashed some water on his head.”
“No really, I only want you to do it. You obviously have skills in this area.”
I pictured us lighting candles and incense sticks in the bathroom and praying reverently, perhaps chanting like monks while she entered the darkened room. We would step back, allowing her a path to walk slowly towards the bath where our baby awaited, anointed with lavender oil and ready for the holy one to give her blessing.
But suddenly, in an obviously pre-meditated strike she hit me with a divine thunderbolt of her own.
“Of course, it would only be a small ceremony, you’d only need a few witnesses, and the priest. I’ll arrange it for when you come down at Christmas. I’ll organise everything”.
Now I could really sense how important this was to my mum, and I’m a sucker for small ceremonies, so her arrow really struck home. It seemed like all I had to do was turn up.
“Thank you! Ooooh I’m so excited!” (I think she may have made a little squealing noise too, but I can’t be 100% certain).
She later commented, that it was the greatest thing that anyone could give her for Christmas, it meant more than any gift ever could.
It made me realise that whatever your feelings on a subject, they are irrelevant if you make someone else 100 times more happy, simply by not going with your own instincts of apathy. We always thought it would be hypocritical for C to get baptised as we don’t go to church, but hearing how delighted she was really changed my views.
Aww. Mums are great.