Signs and Symbols of Baptism

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"Signs and symbols of baptism" by Michele Faehnle (CatholicMom.com)

Copyright 2018 Michele Faehnle. All rights reserved.

Recently I attended the baptism of my newborn nephew. It was a glorious and joy-filled day. Each baptism celebration I attend holds a special place in my heart. It’s such a beautiful way to welcoming our into our Church family as a child of God, rich in symbolism and flowing with grace.  

I am especially blessed that my dad is a deacon and has had the opportunity to preside over the baptisms of many of his grandchildren. At each baptism, he reminds us to look more deeply into the signs, symbols, and rites of the celebration which comprise the sacrament of baptism and how important it is for us to be aware of these to help us understand how they help us to see physically what is happening in the spiritual realm. In focusing on these meanings, we will be able to experience the fullness and beauty of the Sacrament. He shared:

At the beginning of the celebration, we begin with the Sign of the Cross, which according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church “ marks with the imprint of Christ the one who is going to belong to him and signifies the grace of the redemption Christ won for us by his cross.” (CCC 1235). Then we read from the Holy Scriptures, which reminds us that God is present here in the Sacred Word. The oil of catechumens anoints the child as a sign of strength. Holy water the celebrant has asked that the Holy Spirit be sent upon is poured over the child’s head three times in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, signifying grace pouring out, washing us, purifying us from death until life. The child is then anointed with the oil of chrism, which signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit to the newly baptized. A white garment is placed on the child, as we are reminded we are clothed in Christ and a candle is lit from the Easter candle, calling to mind we are to carry the light of Christ in our hearts always. The godparents also serve as a sign of the support and love the the Christian community.

"Signs and symbols of baptism" by Michele Faehnle (CatholicMom.com)

COpyright 2018 Michele Faehnle. All rights reserved.

In addition to the words spoken, I was moved by the engraving on the Baptismal font at the parish my nephew was baptized at from St. Cyril of Jerusalem:

When you went down into
the water
it was night
you could see nothing,
when you came up again
it was finding yourself
in the day
That one moment was
your death and
your birth,
that saving water was
both your grave
and your mother!

An amazing reminder of what this day truly was! One special tradition we began for family baptisms to help them remember the special day are beautiful, personalized baptismal candles created byGina Switzer, a liturgical artist who is a friend of mine. Each candle designed with the baby’s name, baptism date and church, and one of seven images. Gina writes, “The little light of the baptismal candle is brought home but too often forgotten. Many cultures cherish the baptismal candle as a sign of that great birth into the family of God. The candles accompany the person to the rest of the sacraments and they are brought out each year to celebrate the baptismal date, Christmas, Candlemas and Easter.”

We use these special candles in our family. They not only add a special touch to the baptism, but we are keeping it displayed in the baby’s room as a reminder of the day. While we don’t quite get these candles out as often as some cultures, we light them on the anniversary of our children’s baptism and have a small celebration. It is our small way of reminding us that each of us is baptized in Christ and we are commissioned to go out and bring everyone to Jesus! 

Baptism is a way of life and it is very important that we die to ourselves to be risen with the Lord. (If you are looking for a special baptismal gift for your children, grandchildren,your godchildren visit the Regina Candles for more information.)

How do you celebrate baptismal anniversaries in your home?


Copyright 2018 Michele Faehnle

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About Author

Michele Faehnle is a wife, mother of 4 and a school nurse. In her free time she enjoys volunteering for the church and is the co-chair of the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference. She is also the co-author of The Friendship Project and Divine Mercy For Moms: Sharing the Lessons of St. Faustina through Ave Maria Press. She blogs at divinemercyformoms.com and The Friendship Project Book.

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