So we’re baptizing the kiddos. I’ve mentioned the bifurcated situation in which we live, which at times reminds me of leaving the house with a Birkenstock on one foot and a Manolo on the other. Interfaith, intercultural, inter-what-have-you. But culturally (and, I suppose, spiritually), it’s important to us to live the life divided, as gracefully as possible.
And so the pesky Catholic rite of baptism.
My baptism was Felliniesque. Raised among the gypsies, I was twelve when I felt like I could give a good answer for the hope within me. Grilled in a Spanish cafe by two thirtysomething missionaries, I was given the stamp of approval and joined a group among the pines, at the shores of a lake high above Madrid. Wearing a bathing suit and a t-shirt with a picture of a hammock sprouting a naked female leg cooing “Welcome to the Tropics”, I was dunked in the slightly cloudy water to rise to clear blue skies. I lost one of my jelly sandals in the process.
BUT. The kids. My faithful companero is insistent, and so I acquiece. After a shortlived attempt at our first parish (the blog entry linked above), our present priest will perform the rite next Sunday. The problem is, we’re only half Catholic, and R’s family is in Colombia. We’ve not been attending our present parish long enough to have made many contacts. And so, this is how I’ve been imagining the ceremony:
Priest: In the name of the Father, and the Son-
(Stops. No one is crossing themselves except R (the father) and V, the Godfather Proxy. All the Protestants bow their heads in respect, but no one joins in the signing. Except St. Adelaide the Righteous, who crosses herself six times: on the forehead, on the heart, on the ear, on the other ear, on the hip, and on the belly button. The priest suddenly realizes that this is going to be a LONG ceremony. He’s looking forward to his reruns of Project Runway, which his housekeeper Tivo-ed for him).
Priest: – and the Holy Spirit, amen. St. Adelaide the Righteous and Prophet Isaiah, what do you ask of the church of God?
(A silence. St. A starts “Umm, my brother? He can’t talk yet-” and is silenced by Evenshine. Bewildered glances as we try and figure out who answers. THE GODPARENT. OK. My friend E (godmother- Protestant) nudges V (the Spanish-speaking proxy for the official godfather, who is located in Colombia).
Godfather: UH. El bautismo?
Godmother (who has done some research): Faith.
Priest: And what does faith offer you?
Godmother: Life everlasting.
Priest (sighing with relief): If then you desire to enter in to Eternal life, keep the commandments.
…(Some time later)…
Priest: Do you renounce Satan?
E and V: I do renounce him.
(Everyone dimly hears the strains of the “Godfather” theme)
Priest: And all his works?
E and V: I do renounce them.
Priest: And all his pomps?
E and V: I do renounce them.
(At this point J and A, siblings to Evenshine, are church-giggling. “Pomps”. Huh huh huh. She tosses a withering glance in their general direction. Pastor S, Evenshine’s father, resists the urge to chime in with a resounding “Amen”. Father Harrison meditates on Korto’s chances at Bryant Park.)
Priest: Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
E and V: I do believe.
Priest: And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord, who was born and who suffered?
E and V: I do believe.
Priest: Do you believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the Forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
V: I do-
E: Yes, no, yes, yes, yes and yes.
Priest: St. A and Prophet Isaiah, will you be baptized?
E, V, and St. A (who has decided that she’s had enough with this “someone answering for her” nonsense): I will!
Pastor S: AM- en. (Realizing too late that it may not be time for an antiphon).
Priest (hoping he didn’t finish off the scotch last night): I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
(At this point the Prophet Isaiah decides to raise his prophetic voice and begins to scream. St. Adelaide the Righteous wants to be dunked and so sits at the altar to remove her shoes. Pastor S adds a hasty “AMEN” as J and A, still struggling to contain themselves, chortle into their Missalettes behind their pews. Father Harrison wonders why he can’t just have normal Catholic parishioners, the kind who confess and recite the rosary and cross themselves. And Evenshine vaguely wonders about the etymology of the word “chrism”.)
Priest: Receive this burning light-
(Oh dear Lord. Fire? Godparents grasp candles as children alternately scream and strip.)
Priest: -and keep thy baptism so as to be without blame; keep the commandments of God, so that when the Lord shall come to the nuptials, thou mayest meet him with all the Saints in the heavenly court, and (hurrying now) mayest-have-eternal-life-and-live-with-him-foreverandever.
All: a- MEN.
Priest (resisting the urge to shout the first word twice): Go in peace and may the Lord be with you. Am-
Pastor S: -MEN!
(Evenshine’s family and friends vaguely clap, sensing some kind of joyful response must be in order. R wearily gathers St. A’s socks as she runs down the aisle. Everyone is hoping there’ll be wine with lunch.)