This week is the Feast if the Baptism of the Lord. One of my favorite Sacraments to celebrate as a priest is Baptism. The sad thing is that for me and many priests this is becoming a much rarer event then it was in past generations. Many of you no doubt know relatives and friends who have had children but not brought them to be baptized or the priest has actually refused Baptism. Why? Because so many people today don’t know or understand Original Sin and its consequences, nor the real danger of hell that exist for us all. There is a saying that, “if you don’t know the bad news you won’t care about the good news”. I believe that is true today.
Why would a priest ever refuse Baptism to a child? The church actually requires that for a priest to Baptize a minor their parent or guardian must make a commitment to raise them up in the faith. Otherwise, they will have made a commitment for the child that the child cannot live out due to ignorance. This then lies with the parents/guardian and the godparents. Yet sadly today many make the commitment and attend the class and then don’t strive to live it out. Hence most of the children I have Baptized I don’t see them again either till First Confession and Communion time or not at all.
This is of course a great tragedy for the child and for their family and for us all. What can we do to change it? On a wide scale not much. But on the local level we can do much. We can do as some already have in our parish. They drive and pick up their grandchild/God child/niece or nephew/friend’s child/neighbor’s child and make the commitment to bringing them to religious education and to Mass every Sunday they can. It’s not easy but it could save a soul and a family. How do I know? I was that child once whose parents Baptized him and then didn’t bring him to church. Without my grandmothers stepping up and out to bring me, I might not be a practicing Christian today and perhaps you would not have a priest to offer you the Sacraments. Their sacrifice has become a blessing for me and for you. May you now do the same.
Your brother and father in Christ,