It’s funny that the things that have the greatest impact on our lives top the list of things that most of us can’t remember. For example, few, if any, recall being born. Yet everything in our lives depends on our birth. Likewise, few of us remember being brought to the font, but all our Christian faith and Catholic identity flow from Baptism.
It’s been a fairly common practice for kids in parochial schools and religious education classes to learn about the first sacrament of initiation by “baptizing” a baby doll. While that hands-on and enjoyable activity might provide an opportunity to take a closer look at the Rite, it’s unlikely to help children understand or better appreciate the great gift they received in Baptism. How, after all, doesn’t really tell us why.
If your parish, however, has an active RCIA, why not consider asking one of the sponsors and catechumens from this year’s or last year’s group to talk with your children about why he or she chose to be baptized, what it was like to be Baptized, and what Baptism means to him or her. Textbooks can do a good job with the language and theological aspects of the Sacraments. But a living, breathing, brand-new Catholic in-the-flesh can help kids see that the Sacraments can be—and are—intensely personal. That is because God himself is personal; he calls each one of us by name.
We share Baptism with every other Catholic who has ever lived. All of the great saints of history were baptized; many brought to font as infants just like most of us were. It’s amazing to consider that the saints weren’t baptized with especially holy water, or extra prayers. It’s just that they did more with the grace they received than most of us manage to do. By frequently recalling their Baptism—even though they may not have been able to remember the event—the saints remained closely connected to the source of their faith in Christ, and his life in their hearts. We can help the kids in our lives do the same.