The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Baptism of Amelia Ann

Yesterday I baptized a beautiful little girl whose name is Amelia Ann. I really love baptisms even though I don't get to preside at very many these days. 

The congregation of our previous parish on Cape Cod included many young families, so baptisms were fairly common. But here in The Villages, certainly Florida's largest retirement community and perhaps the largest in the world, baptisms are understandably rather rare. Fortunately, this large community of seniors (well over 100,000 residents) demands services of every sort. This very practical need has attracted an increasing number of young people, including families with children, who have settled in the communities surrounding The Villages. And so we are seeing a gradual increase in the number of baptisms, something that makes me happy...very happy.

Back to Amelia Ann...

She is eight months old, very bright, and seemingly quite sure of what she likes and dislikes. I suspect she'll be a handful, but what child isn't? Amelia was also very interested in everything I did as the rite progressed. She was very willing to be anointed with both the Oil of Salvation and Sacred Chrism, and, surprisingly, didn't object to the actual baptism. She displayed only a mild surprise when I poured water over her pretty head three times. But she never once cried or showed any sign of real displeasure. All things considered, Amelia was one of those perfect baptismal babies who actually seem to enjoy what's happening.

For years now, whenever I preside at a baptism, I give the child a little gift. I use the child's birthdate and baptismal date and convert each to a scriptural chapter and verse. For example, Amelia Ann was born on December 6 (12:6) and baptized on August 12 (8:12). Then, using these chapter/verse combinations, I go through the entire Bible and select no more than ten verses that seem particularly appropriate. Once I've chosen the verses I create a PowerPoint slide with a scriptural background and enter the verses. I then print the finished product (8x10) on glossy photo paper, place it in a nice frame, and give it to the family as a gift. The entire process takes only about an hour and it's always very well received. I've included an example below; in fact it's the one I made for Amelia Ann and her parents.

Anyway, it's a neat thing to make for a child. I also made these -- with just birthday verses -- for teenagers when I taught pre-confirmation catechesis in my previous parish. It was my birthday gift to the kids who were in my class. Everyone received one, even those whose birthdays fell during the summer months. I found it to be a fairly effective way to get them to open their Bibles and read. I think it would also be a nice gift from a parent or grandparent.

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