Ten years ago I took the plunge, literally. This Easter season marks ten years since I received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion. What a ride it has been. When people ask me what I remember most about my baptism from ten years ago, four things come to mind:
- I was wet.
- I was worried.
- I was (very slightly) bloody.
- I wish I could do it again.
The wet part makes sense; after all, it was a baptism, right? But I mean really wet. This was a full immersion baptism, courtesy of the walk-in baptismal font at St. John Vianney in Round Rock, Texas. By the way, a decade later I am still thankful to whomever decided to make it a heated baptismal font.
The amusing thing about it is that I was expecting the priest to push me under water three times, once each for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. At least that’s the way the dutiful coordinator said it would happen. But actually he just dunked me once. He may have said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” But all I heard was, “I baptize you in the name of the… [sounds of water and bubbles] Spirit.” (I’ll stipulate that he did indeed mention the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, therefore making it a valid baptism!)
What’s the first thing I did as soon as I emerged from the font? I hustled to the men’s room. That was all part of the intricate plan. All of us who were baptized that night had to hurry off to the bathroom to change out of our wet clothes into formal, dry clothes and be back in the front pew of the church in just a few minutes.
That’s what I was worried about. You’d think on such an amazing night I’d have faith and trust in God. But I must admit that I did far too much unnecessary worrying. Before Mass I had to hang my suit and towel in the men’s room so I could dry off and change quickly. And so I worried:
- What if I get to the men’s room soaking wet after getting baptized and my suit isn’t there?
- What if I get to the men’s room and someone is locked in the stall with my suit?
- What if my suit is there but my dry shoes and socks are missing?
- What if I somehow commit a sin on the way to the men’s room and immediately ruin my new-found holiness? (I probably did that just by worrying so much.)
Of course, my clothing and towel were there exactly where I had left them. But something else did go slightly wrong. That’s where the bloody part comes in. I don’t know exactly how it happened. But in the mad rush to get out of my wet clothes, dry off and change in the men’s room stall, I cut the top of my left hand. I must have scraped it on something in the bathroom.
I did my best to try to stop the blood with my towel. But the clock was ticking, and I knew that the Easter Vigil couldn’t continue until the new entrants into the faith returned to the church.
When I got back to the pew, I noticed my hand was still bleeding, so I shoved it into my pocket (fortunately I was wearing a dark suit) and used my pants to stop the blood. I was thankful that it was my left hand. You can imagine how many hands I had to shake with my right hand that night. If you look carefully you can still see a small scar on my hand ten years later, but I’ll spare you from seeing a photo. I call it my mark of baptism.
Now on to the last bullet on my list. After all this time, I really wish I could go back to that night and do it all again. I’ve grown so much stronger in my faith over the past ten years that I wish I had known then what I know now. Don’t get me wrong; it was indeed a very spiritually powerful and overwhelming experience at the time. But now with ten years of Catholicism under my belt, I wish I could go back and re-live the moment again.
Without a doubt, the last ten years have been far more fulfilling and meaningful than the previous 33. As I opined back in December I came into the Catholic faith from a mostly non-religious life. Something important was missing from my life, but I didn’t realize it at the time. I recognized later that God had been calling me over and over. But I wasn’t answering. Thank God He is persistent!
One of the best things about being baptized as an adult is simply the fact that I have a clear memory of it. Every Easter when we renew our baptismal promises at Mass, I take joy in knowing that I fondly recall answering these same questions at my own baptism:
Do you reject Satan?
And all his works?
And all his empty promises?
Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
God, the all-powerful Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and forgiven all our sins. May he also keep us faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ for ever and ever.
Now don’t you wish you could be baptized again too? Well, if you answered these questions then you just did!