It was October 22, 2016, the feast of our family patron Saint, Pope John Paul II. Two-and-a-half years earlier, in the same stone cathedral, our beloved Passionist priest looked at my husband and me and said: “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” On this day, his gaze turned from us to the sleeping one-month-old in my husband’s arms as he gently proclaimed, “Charles Kolbe, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Grateful tears filled my eyes as I watched holy water flow over my baby son’s dark hair.
If there was ever a moment in which the beauty and tradition of our Catholic Faith took my breath away, this was one of them.
Now, as we’re preparing for the baptism of our second child, my thoughts have frequently returned to that beautiful October day. Too often, I’ve seen a baby’s Baptism either downplayed (to the tune of, “What’s the point of baptizing an infant?”) or over-emphasized, with the faith formation that is meant to follow the Baptism all but ignored. The Catechism states that “By its very nature, infant Baptism requires a post-baptismal catechumenate” (CCC 1231).
Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Your Baby’s Baptism
The following ideas for celebrating a baby’s first Sacrament properly acknowledge the great joy of the occasion. Even more importantly, though, they open up opportunities for encouraging the child’s faith in the years to come, and unite those who agree to walk alongside them.
(An added note as we weather the COVID-19 pandemic: This post was written before most of us in the U.S. were affected by stay-at-home/social distancing directives, experiencing canceled public Sacraments as a result. Both my daughter’s Divine Mercy Sunday Baptism, for example, as well as our attempted back-up plan (a private Baptism with proxy godparents), were canceled as our city’s restrictions tightened. We are praying for the opportunity to have her baptized as soon as possible and are learning how we can baptize her ourselves in case of an emergency (as directed by Canon Law). While we are holding on to the hope that our church doors will be safely opened again soon, please note that some of the celebration ideas below will not be appropriate for this extremely unique time.)
Write your child a letter.
One of my favorite traditions is writing my children letters on their birthdays each year. I reflect on the year, note what they’re like at that moment in time, and tell them how much I love them.
I’m eager to add to that tradition by starting to write Baptism day letters, too.
Unlike my birthday letters, these will focus specifically on why we, their parents, love our Faith and are excited and honored to raise them as Catholics.
I’ll also share any prayers we have for their lives and their personal walks with the Lord. I love imagining giving them these letters, maybe on their Confirmation days!
This would be such a meaningful thing for godparents to do as well.
Share the witness of your child’s patron Saint.
If your baby is named in honor of a Saint, their Baptism is the perfect opportunity to share that Saint’s story and why it resonates with you.
Consider displaying a print of the Saint in your home (if you’ll be gathering there after the Baptism), passing out holy cards to those you’re celebrating with, or leading your loved ones in a prayer that asks for the Saint’s intercession.
Gather for a meal.
A Baptism inspires a sense of true community, as parents, godparents, family members, and friends promise to encourage the child’s faith together.
What better way to immediately strengthen the bonds between loved ones than over a delicious meal?
Whether you opt to host in your home or reserve a table at your favorite restaurant, gathering for a meal can be as meaningful of a celebration as it is enjoyable.
Especially if you’re hosting at home, don’t hesitate to keep things simple. You’re caring for a baby, after all! If there is ever a time to ask for a hand with cleaning, opt for catering or takeout, or turn a party into a backyard picnic so you don’t have to set the table, this is it.
For a few easy, crowd-pleasing brunches (perfect for after morning Mass), consider setting up a buffet of bagels and cream cheeses, an assortment of pastries from a local bakery, or baskets of biscuits with toppings. For lunch, you can’t go wrong with a crockpot full of your favorite hearty soup, a big salad, and fresh loaves of bread from your favorite bakery. And take it from someone who attempted a dinner party for 20 after my one-month-old’s Baptism and then panicked and switched to barbecue takeout: if you’re serving dinner, outsource the cooking from the start!
For an extra special touch, consider opting for a cuisine that coordinates with your baby’s patron Saint. Another easy option is to avoid gathering at a meal time, and instead serving coffee and tea alongside a beautiful cake in the mid-morning or afternoon.
Another tip: Be a Heart Design carries the most adorable disposable plates, napkins, cups, and straws that would be a perfect fit for a Baptism celebration. I especially love the “Let Us Rejoice” cocktail napkins and All Saints cups. Bonus points for major Instagram-ability and effortless clean-up!
Start a Sacraments box.
Since you’ll need a safe place to store your child’s baptismal candle, consider picking up a special box to serve as their “Sacraments box.”
Along with the candle, save a small bottle of holy water from the fount the priest uses (Reliquary Supply makes beautiful holy water bottles and keepsake candles) and your baby’s hat/bonnet…especially if it smells of chrism at the end of the day!
Throughout your baby’s childhood, take out the box often to talk about the items inside together.
Be sure to add keepsakes and mementos from their First Reconciliation, First Communion, and Confirmation as well.
Do you have any special traditions for celebrating baptisms? We would love for you to add your ideas in the comments!Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Your Baby's Baptism #BISblog // Click To Tweet