Faith is not something abstract or magical.
Neither is it something that is automatically poured into
the child’s soul through the waters of baptism.
Rather it is our day to day responding to God’s call
as we journey through life.
It is something eminently concrete and practical.
We see it being manifested daily in the lives of
ordinary people especially those burdened by
the trials and tribulations of life.
All of us know people of deep faith -
our parents and grandparents.
We are grateful for the formative influence
they have had on us.
We cherish the values that guide
and inspire them -
kindness, gentleness, goodness,
patience, faithfulness, self control,
self sacrifice cf Galations 5:22.
We admire the kind of life they led.
We long for that spirit of wisdom
and perception which has helped
them to negotiate their way through
the ups and downs of life.
We want our child to share the same
values and ideals as s/he grows up and goes forth into the world.
Training our children in the ways of faith
Children as we know are particularly adept at imitating their parents in a wide variety of ways. They talk like them. They imitate their mannerisms. The same holds true when it comes to the ways of faith. Children grow in faith by coming into contact with people of faith. You child will grow in faith only if you are people of faith. Faith is contagious. - it is caught not taught.
If we are not people of faith the seed of faith sown in baptism will come to nothing. The precious gift that God makes available to us will have fallen on the edge of life.
Our own personal faith-commitment
The faith which is presupposed at infant baptism is the parents faith, the godparents faith, the faith of the whole Christian community. In most instances it is a faith which is far from perfect, it is a struggling, stammering faith in constant need of nourishing and strengthening. Our own personal faith is nourished and sustained through contact with people of faith Sunday after Sunday when we come together to worship as the Lord’s family. It is there that we are exposed to the signs of faith. We come not just to be nourished ourselves but to nourish one another as well through our presence and participation.... By absenting ourselves regularly from Sunday Mass we are cutting ourselves off from the signs of faith and weakening the whole faith-fabric of the believing community. ..
Our faith is further sustained and nourished by our own personal and family prayers. During the celebration of the sacrament of baptism you will be reminded that ‘as parents you will be the first teachers of your children in the ways of faith .... you must also be the best of teachers, ‘ Your children will be people of faith only if they grow up in a household of faith.
Faith by its very nature cannot be static. It cannot stand still. It must either grow and mature or wilt and wither....
Do you value the gifts of the Holy Spirit
1. Wisdom - Someone balanced, easy, forgiving,
2. Understanding - someone who can see both sides, not blinded by selfishness or prejudice.
3. Right Judgement - Nobody’ fool, someone you would turn to for advice.
4. Courage - One who can stand on his/her own feet, someone with backbone and character.
5. Knowledge - Someone thoughtful, aware,
6. Reverence - someone with a regard for life and things and people and God. Someone respectful.
7. Wonder & Awe - Someone not sour and cynical. Someone who delights in all that is good
Would you like these for your son/daughter ? Yes?
Then you would like the Holy Spirit to come with all his gifts!
But who produces this man/women?
Is it the priest ? No.
Can it be done in a day? No.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t work in that way. He works through agents and the main agents, the main concelebrants are the parents.
Baptism is parents day too. All the gifts you wish for your child you need for yourself. Over the next number of years you will need an abundance of wisdom, understanding, right judgement, courage and so on.
It is a scary time. We are told often enough it is a terrible world. But fear is a pre-baptism word - your children are not afraid. Don't frighten them. Prepare them. Innoculate them. Arm them. Strengthen them and support them. You have much to offer your children, parish and community. This baptism time is an occasion for reviewing your relationship with God and with your community.
Don’t underestimate the power of example. - doing the right things, going to mass and passing on the faith.
Remember what they say about rules. They are laid down in childhood, flouted in adolescence and re established in adulthood. Faith is like that too.