Having Faith – Deciding Whether To Baptise Or Not.

3 min read
Having Faith – Deciding Whether To Baptise Or Not.

Waiting in the rectory, like a naughty schoolgirl anticipating punishment, I shot a furtive glance into my lap, realising my rumpled pants, dishevelled hair and grubby five-month-old gave the impression I was not taking this pre-baptismal meeting seriously. And, truthfully, I wasn’t. This would be our third child baptised at the church, and since we’d had two successful baptisms there previously, the inconvenience of attending what felt like an ‘entrance exam’ seemed unnecessary.  As a non-Catholic, not-completely-sold-on-organised-religion believer, I also feared I was underqualified and fraudulent for attending this meeting. My husband, the true Catholic in the family, was unable to be there and had left me to carry the cross, so to speak.

The priest materialised and was naturally excited to welcome another baby into the fold. We chatted briefly about our family connection to the Church, our collective commitment to the Faith, and the practicalities of our baby’s Big Day. During this discussion, I realised that our child wasn’t just one of three or four babies to be baptised at the purpose-built service (as we’d previously experienced), but one of six. Furthermore, because so many families were participating in the day, only some families (not ours) were invited to do readings our sole contribution would be standing around like a devout rent-a-crowd. By the end of the meeting, I basically left the church deli counter with a number so that my baby could assume a spot in the queue for eternal salvation, made available today only for the cost of a $50 administration fee (additional donation to the church excluded), appropriate garb and a willingness to publicly affirm one’s faith.

Of course, christenings and baptisms as a rite of passage should be treated seriously and with respect. It is for this reason that I left the meeting feeling sick in my stomach this was not the baptism I envisaged for my child, for our family. I did not want to stand before God (whomever He/She is) and affirm a fudged faith (as tasty as it sounds). I want to conduct my life as a parent with honesty and integrity. And, embarrassing though it is to belatedly cancel a baptism, this is precisely what we did. It is more important to honour one’s beliefs than it is to blindly follow another’s.

Thankfully, our family and friends let us off lightly, partly because there have been very few christenings in our peer group. Many are opting to let their child choose his/her own faith, others are finding middle ground in Naming Days and Dedication Ceremonies. We also have friends who baptise purely to get their children ‘on the books’ for private school education. And, just quietly, some parents are not entirely sure why they baptise their children, but do so because “it’s what you do” and everyone likes an excuse for a celebration, after all.

Whether you decide to formally baptise your child, organise an alternative ceremony or do nothing, this decision requires faith. This might be rooted within the Church, or it might be your faith that breaking old traditions which no longer serve is the right choice for your family. For us, my husband and I better honoured our combined beliefs by returning to the Anglican church in which we were married. Our baby was christened in an intimate ceremony witnessed by our closest family, friends and members of the parish. While we had to re-write invitations, re-book caterers and do some fast negotiations with the new minister, it was a small price to pay for giving our daughter a meaningful start to her spiritual journey.

About Author

The Bowl

Ask a Question

Close sidebar