Your baptismal anniversary is an important event to celebrate year after year. Here's how to prepare.
As the Church celebrates the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, it gives believers an opportunity to pause and remember their own baptisms.
The majority of Catholics have no memories of their baptism, and that’s because they were baptized as infants. For some though, the memory is strong, as they were baptized as an adult after going through the RCIA process. Regardless of age, what do you know about your baptism?
Let’s pause and remember the facts of our own baptism: the where, when, and who of our baptism.
Where were you baptized?
The church of your baptism is important. In the Catholic Church, when you get ordained or married, you need to contact the parish of baptism and have them issue a new baptismal certificate with notations. The parish keeps a baptismal register and updates it with notifications when an individual receives significant sacraments and, where applicable, an annulment.
The church of your baptism probably had some significance in your family’s life. It could be the church where one of your parents grew up in or the local parish in the community you were raised.
In the lives of the saints, the churches where they were baptized often become stops on a religious pilgrimage. One time when I was driving through Illinois, I stopped at St. Mary’s Church in El Paso, Illinois, to visit the place where Venerable Fulton Sheen was baptized. In Lourdes, France, pilgrims visit the church where St. Bernadette was initiated into the faith.
When’s the last time you visited the church where you were baptized? Does it still exist? Maybe it’s time to make a visit and remember the sacramental grace bestowed on you that day.
When were you baptized?
The date of one’s baptism is also significant. Some religious communities of monks and nuns don’t even celebrate a person’s birthday, and instead celebrate their anniversary of baptism. It’s such an important date because it was on that day we became adopted children of God, claimed for Christ Jesus, and washed clean of original sin.
Do you know the date of your baptism? Have you ever celebrated it? If not, find out, and plan to do something special on that day, like a religious pilgrimage, going to Mass, or celebrating the sacrament of Reconciliation.
Who baptized you?
Were you baptized by a deacon, priest, bishop, or, by some rare chance, the pope? You may have been baptized by a lay person, too, in an emergency situation, if it was in the hospital.
I fostered a special bond with the priest who baptized me. I didn’t meet him until I was in my 20s, and he was a senior priest. He was a Franciscan living in the retirement community. When I would drive by the town, I would stop and pay him a visit. He was always proud that someone he baptized decided to choose a vocation in the Church. Last year, as a priest, I had the opportunity to concelebrate at his funeral Mass with his Franciscan confreres.
Find out who baptized you. Pray for them. Write them a note thanking them, or if you are brave enough, go and visit them.
Who are your godparents?
Hopefully you can readily answer that question because they have played an active role in your life. If not, that can encourage you, if you are a godparent, to be a better godparent to your godchild than they were to you. Godparents should be a part of the child’s life, especially in their spiritual life.
I was moved by a gift one godparent gave at a party I was at. The godparent said she would pay for all the religious education fees for her godchild. She took seriously that responsibility of assisting those parents in their duty as Christian parents. Pray for your godparents, and if it has been a while since you contacted them, send them a message letting them know you are thinking of them.
How will you remember your baptism?
- Each time you go into a church and bless yourself with holy water, you have an opportunity to remember your baptism.
- The very fact we call ourselves Christians is a reminder to us of who we are as baptized children of God.
- Besides remembering the facts of your baptism, consider renewing your baptismal promises to reject Satan and his empty promises on a weekly basis. This spiritual practice could be something you undertake as a family prayer at the beginning of each week.
- Bless yourself with holy water before retiring for the night.
These are simple ways for us to always remember our baptism. And perhaps the best thing we can do, is strive to live up to the words that the Father says of Jesus: This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased. Live a life pleasing to God each day as His beloved son or daughter.
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