This week’s five on Friday is a bit more philosophical and a little bit less stream of consciousness. And probably less swearing. Maybe. Maybe not. We’ll see. Nothing gets me going like a good theological debate.
Buddy’s baptism was three years ago on July 20th. Baptism days are important in our family. Growing up, we always celebrated the day of our baptism or (in the case of us poor almost dead babies) our welcoming into the church after they hastily baptized us at birth hoping at least maybe we’d enjoy eternity with God because things weren’t looking so peachy for this world
It makes sense- our welcoming into the Catholic Church is a huge deal and fundamentally affects our souls. It makes sense that we should celebrate this with our children. And I love celebrating Squeaks’s. Every year on April 3rd, I show her pictures of the day, and tell her all about what baptism is and how important it is that she is a child of God and all that jazz. And frankly, for a woman who was chilling with a box of wine at a totally different parish that day, finding pictures is more difficult than you’d think. But I digress.
But I always, without fail, drop the ball on Buddy’s baptism day. I dropped the ball on his actual baptism to be honest, although it wasn’t really my fault. I was literally insane and I don’t remember anything about that day except I liked the way my shoes looked and we gave him his first real bath the morning of the day.
(Yes it had been 17 days since he was born. Yes I realize I should have bathed him before. Again with the insane.)
Anyway, I always forget the anniversary too. This year I forgot until my aunt posted a picture at 9pm and then I was like oh crap, there goes another one. So I made sure to make a big deal of him the next day and even though I’m pretty sure he doesn’t understand what baptism is (or at least he can’t tell me because…well, he can barely tell me anything), I want him to understand that these things are important.
1.) Love is the most important thing in our faith.
That does not mean that there is no right and wrong. We believe there is, and I am doing everything in my power to raise you to feel that same way. But if we don’t love people no matter what, then there is no Christianity in us. If we pretend everything is fine and there is no evil in the world, then we are not loving people the way Christ loved them. If we allow our (however righteous) indignation at sin to stop us from loving people fully, then we are disobeying Christ’s primary commandment.
It’s not easy. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. But it is the most important thing.
There is nothing the Catholic Church and all of our sacred experiences and sacramentals can do to help the world if we refuse to love people to the fullest.
2.) Study the faith, and the Catholic Church.
I spent most of my college and graduate school career studying the history of the Church, Buddy, and I have never been stronger in my faith than I was then. I thought it was because I had so much free time and was able to go to daily Mass and was basically only concerned with myself.
But after reading something a year or so ago, I realized that that wasn’t it. Yes, I had loads of time. But it was really that I was in love with Christ and his Church. When you’re in love with someone, you want to know everything about them. You want to spend time with them. You want to have opinions about things important to them. I had to immerse myself in the Church by necessity of my studies and my career and it allowed me to fall in love with it.
I have never been happier than when I take you and your sister to Mass and see the recognition in your eyes as you grow in your faith. But having everything in my life- my free time, my family, my career path, the books in my bag, all of it- revolve around Christ and His Church was a close second.
3.) There will always be darkness.
Right now? Things are scary. Just in our own country, we have innocent people being killed, social unrest, a Presidential election that is basically a farce, a terrifying movement towards curbing religious liberty, and killing babies is basically a national past time.
That’s just our cushy little world. That is not counting the horrors in Syria, and Iraq, and countless other places where mothers have to watch their children die every day for reasons that we should be able to stop. The terror and evil in the world seems like it’s never been more influential.
But it’s not. There will always be evil. It might seem like things are lost. But if you’re feeling like that, thing about the Easter Vigil. We begin in darkness. Even our darkest moments are holy when viewed through the lens of the sacrifice of the Cross.
4.) The Eucharist is the biggest gift you will ever be given, and you should never take it for granted.
Seriously. Everything could change. (It won’t. But still.) It could be the worst time in the world. But because we believe that every single time we go to Mass, (and we can go basically whenever we want!) we get to become one with God through the Eucharist, it would be okay.
Really. Try super hard not to take it for granted. It is literally the most beautiful thing you ever get to do.
5.) The priesthood is a noble vocation.
Mostly because I don’t want to deal with a daughter-in-law.
But seriously, you should consider it.
So Buddy, that’s my seriously abbreviated guide to being Catholic. (Seriously. Get Mommy going on Vatican II or the Vatican policy towards the Soviet Union someday.)
I love you so much, precious Joseph Gregory.