the first sacrament

the first sacrament

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perhaps it is the emotional climate of the recent days, or not, but i do have to say that nothing was as moving today as the classes that sr. terezinha and i taught for baptismal preparation. we are preparing about 30ish parents for their children to receive baptism – some are even getting baptized themselves, along with their children. we were so grateful to see that the third grade classroom was ready and prepared for us as soon as we arrived – the 3rd graders moved to the 2nd grade class, so that the empty classroom was simply for baptism prep. this school is so good to us.

i’ve never taught baptism classes before, and i don’t even remember my own baptism. but what i can say, is that i feel like i am receiving my baptism all over again. i am learning about the symbols again: the sign of the cross, the white garment, the oil, the candle, the baptismal water…and their significance. sr. terezinha and i prepare these parents by going through the baptism ritual with the parents and trying our best to communicate to them, what this all means!

but yes, it is true, that is one of the struggles – trying to get them to understand how beautiful baptism is, and how this is a formal welcome into the family of God – a new birthday if you will. do they understand everything 100%? um, probably, realistically, not. but we trust the holy spirit in the midst of it all. we do what we can, and we pray a lot through it all. some do not speak english, some are illiterate, and really, truly, the majority are super tired as soon as they get to the school cause they pretty much “hike” an hour to an hour and a half to get to school. just like their kids. but this time, they’re holding their babies with them.

we try to communicate to them too, that they, as the parents and god-parents, are responsible for bringing up their children, according to their new life in Christ. to prepare the parents, i have been reading the parts of the Priest, and the parents practice their responses…well, let me just say that reading the script of the Priest is pretty awesome for one thing (haha of COURSE i would say that), but also, it is some powerful stuff. it’s really beautiful.

it came to the part of the script where we were going through the “concluding rites” and sr. t and i announced that that is the part where everyone was already baptized…sr. t said, “are you all happy?” they all started clapping and there were visible huge smiles on their faces. i looked at the back of the room, and one of the dads was holding his baby and starting clapping his baby’s hands. he had the hugest smile on his face. i think that was really moving for me because he, himself, too, was also getting baptized, and he was so happy for his baby girl at the same time! it was absolutely priceless. and i don’t normally get affected by cheesy stuff like that, but it was super genuine and joy-filled. the holy spirit was apparent in that moment. absolutely. 🙂 i even noticed my voice crack a little, trying to resume reading the final blessing. ah it was a good moment! i’m grateful that i got to witness that.

today, i also got to teach one of the dads how to make the sign of the cross on his grown son’s forehead. after class i showed him again how to do it, and he spoke to me of some of the struggles he was having with trying to get his son to switch schools. two other parents showed up, both blind, because they wanted to have their child baptized. one of the parents asked me to be her daughter’s ninang (god-mother) because her daughter only received an “emergency” baptism in the sense that, when she was born, they thought she wasn’t going to make it, so she had an “emergency” baptism – even though we explained that once you are baptized, you are baptized…she is still requesting a formal one.

every parent, every adult there had their own story. i watched one of the parents struggle to write her childrens’ names because she herself was illiterate. some of the parents spoke to us personally because they couldn’t attend all of the meetings because they had struggling work schedules. other parents talked to us about what the correct attire was because they didn’t know if what they had, would suffice. some aunts and uncles showed up to try to get their nieces and nephews baptized because the childrens’ parents have either abandoned their kids or because they are overseas. the list of cases go on and on…after the class, sister and i spend a good amount of time talking with the parents, figuring out the best way to deal with their personal situations. it’s pretty cool – and we love doing it.

one of the parents spoke to me and asked me to be his daughter’s ninang. i accepted of course, and turns out she is one of the cutest girls ever! every time i see her, she gives me this huge smile – we already have a connection. yay! 🙂 i visited the church last week, and the parish secretary told me, oh, sister, you have so many god-children, huh? i said, are you kidding me? well, she was right. to my surprised, i looked at all of the typed up baptism certificates, and looks like i have 4! i thought i only had two..haha, and that was as of last week. it is probably up to 5 or 6 now. but i am happy to serve in that way, and also flattered that the parents chose me among their family members as well!

even though i told them i would only be a god-mother if they did not have anyone, i am ok with being among three or four ninangs/ninongs for some of the children. hahaha. in the meantime, looks like i have been commissioned to sing a song at the baptism program, which is also going to be celebrated on the feast of st. therese 🙂 yay! though they will be changing the feast to october 2nd, to go along with a sunday. the parish secretary called me to also remind me to have my song prepared. haha, i’m happy to do it. we are all just hoping and praying that the coming typhoon doesn’t hit that day…but, we shall see.

as sr. terezinha and i left the school with huge smiles on our faces, she explained to me how st. francis xavier, SJ (who mother cabrini eventually named herself after!) just baptized everyone and everyone and everyone on his missions…so much that his right arm was eventually super fatigued from the baptisms….we joked, and looked at each other, and in that instant we realized, hmmm that really might be us in the near future. hahaha, well, with father’s blessing, out we go!

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