Not a few Catholic parents today are wringing their hands over children who have gone astray. Parents are asking a litany of questions, including:
- What can I do about a child who has left the Church and no longer practices the faith?
- What can I do about a child who has been swept up by the culture and lives a life contrary to the values of our faith?
Having asked these questions myself, I share some of our own family struggles in my new book, Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God. I also offer this advice: Pray, pray, pray, and never give up! One of the most potent forces in the universe has to be a parent’s heartfelt prayer! Further, I suggest that one of the most powerful prayers we can pray as parents is to call upon the power of our child’s baptismal vows.
Why, you may be asking? And what does that mean, exactly?
Our Jewish ancestors were explicitly instructed by God to consecrate their eight-day-old infants to God, wherein their children were incorporated into the covenant God made with Israel, binding them to God as his own people. The Old Covenant was fulfilled through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and our children are incorporated into this New Covenant through the Sacrament of Baptism. St. Paul is unambiguous on the point that Baptism replaced circumcision (Col. 2:11-12), and St. Peter goes so far as to say that Baptism “saves you now” (1 Pt. 3:21).
As parents, it is vitally important that we understand the effects of Baptism, and what our children’s baptismal vows mean. Many of us “sacramentalize” our children without fully grasping the significance of the sacrament, and fully understanding what happened to our children souls at Baptism can give us great hope! I believe that God does not take our children’s baptismal vows lightly, and therefore, nor should we! As such, below is a quick review some of the spiritual consequences of Baptism.
At Baptism, a person is:
- Born again and recreated in the image of God
- Consecrated to God and set apart for his purposes
- Freed from all sin, original and actual (if the child is above the age of reason and therefore responsible for personal sin)
- Made an adopted child of God
- Filled with the Holy Spirit and marked and for all eternity with the Spirit’s seal
- Anointed priest, prophet and king
- Infused with the theological virtues of faith, hope and love
- Claimed as God’s own property and possession and empowered by grace to live as his own child*
Further, our baptismal vows (whether made directly by us or by an adult on our behalf) include renouncing Satan and the world, and binding ourselves to Jesus Christ through living faith.
I offer a small review of the effects of Baptism in Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God to remind parents not only to persevere in prayer, but to claim the power of their children’s baptismal vows and promises as a form of intercessory prayer. As I wrote in Mary’s Way:
Baptism makes us God’s own sons and daughters, and just as we do not let our children get lost or move into destruction without parental intervention, God does not allow us to lose our way without continually intervening and pursuing us, ever calling us back to himself. This should give us great hope in praying for our children. When life gets dark and hope seems dim, we can and should call upon the power of their baptismal vows as we pray for them, reminding God to whom they belong and the promises that were made either directly by them if they were old enough or by us on their behalf if they were infants (not that God forgets, but we often do). One of the prayers I habitually pray for my children, especially when they are facing struggles, is as follows:
“Lord Jesus, I call upon the power of [child’s name]’s baptismal vows. I pray that the waters of [child’s name]’s Baptism will rise up like a mighty river within him/her to bring faith, hope, and love alive in him/her and to protect him/her from temptation and all evil. Amen.”
Let us never cease praying for our children, and let us continually remind God and ourselves to whom they belong.
*Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1262-1284.
* Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God, page 68
Copyright 2017 Judy Klein