After the Lord was baptized, the heavens were opened, and the Spirit descended upon him like a dove, and the voice of the Father thundered: 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.' (Mt 3:16-17)Scripture makes it clear: baptism is a big deal. If it was important enough for Jesus to do it, and we are his followers, it's important enough for us, too. Ronda Chervin, a convert from Judaism, wrote the reflection on the topic I mentioned at the start, published in January's Magnificat, p. 120. She begins by affirming that "the purpose of baptism is not to provide the person with a conscious religious experience, but rather to open within him the door through which divine love can flow, to turn the soul toward God by implanting on it his first kiss, as it were." Beautiful, right? "... to turn the soul toward God by implanting on it his first kiss ..." Furthermore, she says that "to deny the child this expression of Christ's self-giving, on the grounds that the infant is too young to choose freely, would be similar to withholding parental love until the child is at the age of reason." Chervin questions that, "given the infinite gulf between the reality of divine love and even the adult's ability to appreciate it, who shall set a time when the entering of Christ's love into the soul would have its greatest efficacy?" Here's a related question I've had. If baptism is simply knowing we want to be in a relationship with Christ and stating that in public, what of those who cannot talk or think in a complex manner, such as the mentally delayed? Are these denied this gift? Would God turn them away because they could not publicly proclaim their desire to be in relationship with the Lord? "By comparison with the love on God's part, we are always half asleep," Chervin continues. "Just as Christ has infinite love for this fresh individual uniquely conceived, so the Church, manifesting the divine love, rushes to bring the infant into contact with it by making him a member of the Mystical Body of the Church." This has to be the most powerful explanation of infant baptism I've ever read. Catholics baptize infants because we want so much for them to be in contact with divine love. That simply cannot be a bad thing. Now then, here I am on Sept. 12, 1968, being given this divine gift of baptism as a two-week old infant. Copyright 2018 Roxane Salonen. All rights reserved.[/caption] Did I know at the time how it would affect my life? Of course not. But do I believe that it has made a profound difference to me? Emphatically, yes! And so I look back on this day that I don't remember at all, except for what I've been told and this photograph shows, with the utmost gratitude toward my parents for taking the initiative -- arranging the date with the priest, finding that beautiful dress, and summoning my Aunt Anne, who stood in for another aunt, my godmother Colleen Guler, to be there to witness this life-giving moment, and with such tenderness and grace. Copyright 2018 Roxane Salonen. All rights reserved.[/caption] As I was preparing to write this, it occurred to me that my middle son's baptism anniversary is coming up on Jan. 19. In fact, it will happen while we're on the March for Life pilgrimage in Washington, D.C., with our Catholic high school, where he is a freshman. The March itself will actually cross directly with his special day. I don't know if he'll understand the significance, but you can bet, as I'm marching down Constitution Avenue with him, I'll be pondering anew how "God works all things for the good, according to his purposes, for those who love him." (Romans 8:28) Q4U: Did you ever question infant baptism? Where are you at in your understanding of it now?
Copyright 2018 Roxane Salonen
About the Author
Roxane B. Salonen, a wife and mother of five from Fargo, N.D., is an award-winning children’s author and freelance writer who also enjoys Catholic radio hosting and speaking. Roxane co-authored former Planned Parenthood manager Ramona Trevino’s memoir, Redeemed by Grace. Her work is featured on "Peace Garden Passage" at her website, roxanesalonen.com