Friday, 30 May 2008

Baptism, Catholic Style

Finally, finally, finally. I've been meaning to post these for days! It's not like I've been super busy or anything, frankly I have no excuse. Liliane is currently installed in her new Jolly Jumper (although for her right now it's more of a Jolly Leaner) so here we go...

First I must thank my SIL Bari and our pal Ariel for taking the photos. I did not take ONE picture the entire day.

The whole baptism ceremony is really beautiful and I will take those of you who are not familiar with it (ie - me until about two weeks ago) through the steps.

To get us in the mood, here is the official program with Liliane's name (first billing, natch) along with the two other babies who were also getting splashed:

Here we are standing in the foyer before it all began:

Note Liliane's gorgeous dress. It was a gift from Gill Goudsward, mother of my dear friend Wendy and she gave it to me at my B.C. baby shower. Thanks again Gill!

My brother Matthew (and Liliane's godfather) and my sister Jennifer, a.k.a the Baby Guru:

So it all starts with everyone milling around the foyer until Père Michel kicks off the whole thing by making the sign of the cross on each baby's forehead, then inviting any family members who so desire to do the same:

You will notice that some of these pictures are a little blurry. This is due to the fact that a) Liliane was almost in constant motion and b) the flash on our camera needs to be fixed but I couldn't bear to be without it for this big event so Ariel had to shoot with natural light which wasn't always enough.

Moving on, then we all file in to the sanctuary and take our places with our friends and family surrounding us. This church is about three blocks from our house and its beauty never fails to impress me, no matter how many times I go there. ALSO, two of Stéphane's siblings were baptized at this church because, and this is so funny, many years ago Stéphane's parents used to live ON THE SAME STREET WE LIVE ON NOW. Crazy, right?
Stéphane's Dad read a passage from the book of Matthew (chapter 16 verses 13 to 17):

After this, the parents were presented with a New Testament.

Liliane kept us entertained by flapping her arms and legs and being generally excited throughout. Jen took this picture and you can see more of the details of her dress. Isn't it so pretty?

Next, Père Michel lays his hands on each baby's head after explaining the significance of the gesture. He invited everyone present to hold out their hands in the same gesture while he blessed each child.

Then Père Michel asks three questions to the babies, that we respond to on their behalf:

:: Do you believe that God is our Father?
:: Do you believe that Jesus Christ is His Son?
:: Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?

Then one by one we, accompanied by the godparents (Nathalie, Stéphane's sister and my brother Matthew), step up to the front and the deed is done. The key phrase here is:

I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Père Michel explained to us that anyone at all can perform a baptism, even if they are not Catholic or even Christian. The only essential elements are that the correct phrase must be employed and the person doing the baptising must believe that what they are doing is right for the baby. I thought that was pretty cool.

Welcome to the Kingdom baby!

Educational sidebar: The tradition of baptism for babies perhaps began as a way to make sure that if something happened to them (as was wont to happen back in the day) that they would be accepted into heaven but that idea is outdated. The purpose now is to mark the beginning of their Christian life. Not to mention an excellent reason to have a party. I think it also has something to do with their name, hence the whole christening thing. If anyone can shed any light on that, please let me know.

As a way of symbolising that the babies are now children of the King, each one is annointed with special oil. It's actually called the oil of Kings and Queens and has been blessed by one of the high-up clergymen in Montréal. He does this once a year at Eastertime. Père Michel made a cross on each of their heads:

Liliane thought that this was a good time for some extra arm flapping, hence the blurriness.

After this, there was another reading, this time Romans 8:31-38 which is just about one of my favourite passages. In fact we chose this passage for the sermon at our wedding! Made me a little misty.

The next step is for each godmother to come and place a white garment on their godchild to symbolise their envelopment into God's Kingdom. Père Michel said that it could have been anything, a cap or some booties, but suggested something that could be wrapped around them to get the full meaning. Jen and I found this cape (good for easy attaching) and Nathalie did a superb job of getting it on to our wriggly little bundle:

Then it was the Godfathers who each went up and lit a candle symbolizing the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and offered to the parents. I don't mind saying that we were a little nervous holding that candle what with Liliane wearing her new polyester cape and her hair now full of oil...

We gave her to Uncle Matthew for safekeeping.

For the final prayer, all the babies were placed on the altar at the front, and everyone else came up and held hands around us. Much like the sensation I had when we dedicated Liliane at my church and the congregation all prayed for us, having all of our friends and family there loving our wee daughter as much as we do, was profoundly moving.

One last bit of official business: the parents and godparents sign the register:

At the very, very end, the godparents came up to speak. Now, we three couples discussed this in our prep meetings and we thought that only the GODMOTHERS would be going up. That was not the case we realized as the other Godfathers also had something to say. We were ambushed! Nathalie graciously included Matthew in her piece and it was all very touching.

We took a few pictures before heading off to the reception:
A rare pic of Bari:

Sadly I don't seem to have any photos of the reception except for this one:
And these ones of the flowers that I took the next day:
But the food was great, the cupcakes were yummy (from Itsi-Bitsi) and so cute, everyone had a great time. Plus, we got heaps and heaps of presents!
My only regret is that we didn't take photos with the family at the church. Why didn't we do that? Not sure.
I will say that we are so grateful to everyone who came and celebrated so joyfully with us and spoiled us with gifts and love and time. A special shout-out to Matthew, Jen and Bari who worked really hard with us to get everything decorated, organized and ready.
I can't believe it's all over! Time to move on to the next thing on the BIG TO DO list.


Anonymous said...

Wow! Merci pour tous les détails... I think that everyone will feel like they were there!

Bari said...

This was great! Its like I'm finding out what went down along with everyone else. Totally wish we thought to do an english run thru before we went. Especially since I was wondering why people were shouting "NO CRAYONS!" and now I find out that they weren't ;) Awesome pics and posting!!! I love the one Ariel got of MP and Liliane in the pew. She looks so cute! Goooooooo TEAM!

Shawna said...

What great traditions the Catholic church has!

I wish our church was as official as seem so lack-luster when you compare!

Wonderful event and wonderful that all could come to celebrate!

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