Eli received the sacrament of baptism and became a member of the Catholic church on November 24, 2012. For Catholics, the sacrament of baptism is the first step in a lifelong journey of commitment and discipleship. Whether we are Baptized as infants or adults, Baptism is the Church's way of celebrating and enacting the embrace of God, who first loved us from the moment of our conception.
Good stuff, that. But it can also be a little bit scary to a four year old boy.
We chose a private baptism at our church instead of having it performed at a mass, in order to reduce the stress on Eli. And we talked with him before his baptism and tried to explain what would happen.
It was a beautiful ceremony, with Eli's closest family members gathered around him to celebrate his union with Christ.
Eli did really well during the ceremony, until it was time for the sprinkling of water.
Although we had talked about this part with Eli in advance, when Brad and Paul lifted him up to the baptismal font, he was terrified. He kicked and thrashed. Brad cut his finger on Eli's belt and bled on Eli's white shirt. It was distressing for all.
|Grandpa trying to soothe a teary Eli after his baptism.|
A trip back to the votive candles with his Uncle/Godfather Paul helped soothe him.
St. Paul, the first great theologian of baptism, expressed its meaning in terms of a break with the old and a beginning of a new life in Christ. And this played out in a surprising way at Eli's baptism.
Before leaving for his baptism, Eli's Godparents gave him a Saint Christopher medal.
It had been worn by their son Max at his baptism, so it is very special. Max left our family at age four, the same age at which Eli joined our family.
Eli eagerly put the medal around his neck, where it joined the Gambellan necklace he was wearing when he entered the orphanage, and we all left for his baptism. About halfway through the ceremony, Eli turned to me, clutching his Gambellan necklace, and said "this, off."
He'd said this to Brad and me a few times in the past, and it had always been when we were out somewhere and not able to remove the necklace. The necklace is beads on a string, and needed to be cut off.
When he'd asked for it to be removed in the past, we always told him we'd do it when we got home. Both because we needed scissors and because we wanted to keep the necklace safe so he'll have it forever. In the past, he no longer wanted the necklace removed once we got home.
So when he asked during his baptism to have it removed, I again told him we'd take it off when we got home. But this time, when we got home, he asked again to have it removed.
I cut the string at the knot and allowed him to take it from his neck. Then together we put the necklace in a ziplock bag. I assured him that I would keep it safe for him because it is a very special necklace.
A break with the old and a beginning of a new life in Christ.
And then it was time to open gifts.
Including his first pair of hockey skates, from his Godparents.
I love this photo of Eli with his Grandparents. Very happy boy.
Eli's friend Dylan stopped by to show Eli his new Alvin the Chipmunk from Build-a-Bear. And Eli and Dylan sat down to teach Alvin to play the piano.
And then we were off to a celebratory lunch. At GB's Fish and Chips, of course. The staff at GB's gave all the kids stickers; Eli's cousin Bailey affixed hers to her suitcase, along with lots of other stickers she's collected on her travels.
Eli followed suit, putting his sticker on the backpack in which he stores all his most important possessions.
The following Monday, Eli wore his Saint Christopher medal to school for show and tell. He was so eager to share it with his teacher and classmates. While playing after school, the delicate chain broke. He thankfully did not lose the medal, so we'll be hunting for a new chain or cord on which to hang the medal.
Because he loves it and I love seeing it on him. To me, it's more than a symbol of our faith.
It's a symbol of our family.