Editor's Note: Today we welcome Sarah Damm as a contributor. Sarah's a wife and mom, like so many of us, and she enjoys a good cup of coffee, like so many of us. You'll find her blogging at More than Enough, and we hope you'll give her a hearty warm CatholicMom.com welcome today! -SAR
The diagnosis was clear.
And so was the next step: Go to the hospital. Immediately.
A wave of Divine strength rushed over me. I didn't break down nor did I feel faint. I stood strong for my son. Only by His strength.
As I comforted my baby boy, I called my husband and broke the news to him. It was Friday morning, and he, of course, was at work. His response was calm, too. He must have received that same wave. He would wrap things up and meet me there.
I called my mom, too, who was with a couple of my children. Two others were at school, and one was with me and the baby. My 6-year-old daughter was diagnosed with an ear infection moments before Joseph was diagnosed with RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages), and she had to come with me. It was the only way, because things were that serious.
Once I fed him and bundled him up on one of the coldest days of winter, we were on our way. A 20-minute drive or so.
Driving on the highway, I remembered something: Our son had not been baptized. In a sudden moment, an immediacy took over.
I called my husband again. “Greg, he hasn't been baptized yet.”
“I'll call Father,” was his reply.
We both knew that one of us could baptize Joseph it in an emergency. But there was something about letting our parish priest know that we were in an emergency that gave us comfort.
When we arrived at the hospital, we waited in the waiting room and then again in an ER exam room. They gave Joseph a nebulizer, which seemed to help his breathing, and they ran tests and took an X-ray.
Then, the door opened, and I thought it was a nurse, doctor or maybe my husband. But it was not. It was our associate pastor.
“We don't like to take any chances with the babies,” he said. Consolation filled my heart.
He told me he could wait a bit for my husband, but he had to leave at a certain time. He had to leave to bury someone. Life. The beginning in the ER with my 5-week-old son. And the end at the cemetery with a woman who lived a long, beautiful life. He would experience the entire cycle in one day.
Just before another nebulizer treatment, Father suggested that we go ahead with the baptism.
“Oh, how I wish Greg was here!” I thought to myself.
But I agreed, of course.
Baptism was what Joseph needed at that exact moment. And God gave us our priests to handle such important needs.
I brought him over to the little sink in the ER room. And I invited my daughter to join me. She walked over and stood close. Tall and brave through this entire ordeal, she never complained of the waiting or her aching ear.
Father then put some warm water into a Dixie cup. And asked me for Joseph’s middle name.
“A good, strong name,” he replied.
I held him over the little sink. And pouring the blessed water within the Dixie cup onto his tiny head, Father said, “Joseph Ignatius, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
And in that moment, Joseph was created new. A new creation. A member of God’s family. His original sin was washed away, and the outpouring of grace began.
Father left, and not two minutes later, my husband entered the tiny room. “I met Father in the hallway,” he said with a tinge of sadness. “I missed it.”
But even in his sadness, Greg understood that his son’s need for the sacrament was far bigger than his need to be there.
Even though the circumstances were not ideal, the guest list was too small, and the clothes were not quite right, Joseph was now a baptized Christian, a son of God. And that was the best thing that happened on that cold Friday in January. And without a doubt, receiving that sacrament aided in his physical healing, for that sanctifying grace is meant to heal. Praise be the Divine Physician!
I still sigh slightly when I think about not having a Baptism** in the church for Joseph. His dad, godparents, and other family members were not able to witness such a celebration. I have no pictures of the big event for his scrapbook.
But I also feel peace and joy knowing that his story is so beautiful. A true testimony to Jesus’ desire to come to us, in whatever circumstance we face, and give us what we need: Himself. What a gift my son received that day!
And the humble beginning of his journey as a Christian is forever written on my heart. And he will know well the beautiful, powerful transformation that took place for him that day, in an ER exam room.
(**Joseph still received the anointing of the oils of catechumens and chrism in a little ceremony known as a Chrismation on the Feast of St. Joseph. It was a wonderful celebration with his family and godparents.)
Copyright 2013 Sarah Damm