Monday, April 17, 2006

 

Baptized, Confirmed, Contented



Saturday night was a huge night for Wendy and me. I was baptized, and Wendy and I were both confirmed as members of the Roman Catholic church. We both also received our first communion as members of the church. I've written plenty about our studies and experiences over the past year, so I won't write too much here about how much it meant to us. I think I've probably made that clear. I will record a few memories, though, while they're still fresh.

If there was one disappointment about the evening, it was that my mom and stepdad chose not to come to the service. I'd hoped that my mom would be there when I was baptized. However, mom's a fundamentalist, a Southern Baptist, so naturally she and I don't quite see eye to eye on a number of issues. In fact, that afternoon, my mom called and tried to persuade me that only baptism by immersion is valid. This is a typical Fundamentalist belief, based on a certain rigid interpretation of Mark 1:9-10. No argument against that rigid interpretation from the Catholic viewpoint will convince many Fundamentalists otherwise. My mom is one of those who can't be convinced. It was a little bit of a downer; this eleventh-hour reminder of the bullheaded mentality that caused me to leave behind the Fundamentalism of my childhood in the first place.

Service at our church begain at 9:30, and although I wasn't very nervous this past week, I was sweating and trembling by 9:15 Saturday night. The service was two hours long, but it flew by in what seemed like half an hour.

We had four readings from the Old Testament, and three of them were read by some of the people who were so helpful to Wendy and me during RCIA. That meant a lot to us, and made the night more memorable.

Three of us were baptized Saturday night, by having the holy water poured over each of us as we knelt before a baptismal pool. I went first, and I tried to brace myself for the possibility that the water would be cold. For whatever reason, that was one of the main concerns in my mind: It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be cold... The main physical memory that I have of the baptism itself, though, has nothing to do with the temperature of the water. The main thing I remember is how loud the water was. Leaning into that pool must have been just enough to cause me to catch a real echo as Father poured the water over my head from above, and the water sounded to me, at that moment, like a waterfall. It was surprising, and really caught my attention. I think it's good, really, that I'll have a memory of my baptism that incorporates a loud sound. Kind of like an alarm: Wake Up.

After baptism, my case of nerves went away and I was just on cloud nine for the rest of the night. It was simply a matter of absolute joy. When Wendy and I were confirmed with the oil of Chrism, it was almost like being married again. We plan to have our marriage blessed, and that will be really nice... but coming into the Catholic church together, hand in hand, really meant a lot to both of us. It was a major milestone in our marriage.

First communion was another experience involving tangible memories. I'd planned to receive the host on my tongue, in the old-school way, but before I got in line to receive I noticed that the inside of my mouth felt like sandpaper. My mouth had dried out like a desert. I got nervous about the host dropping off my tongue, so I decided at the last minute to receive the host in my hand. The experience of drinking from the Lord's cup was tangibly memorable for me, too... since it's been years since I've tasted wine. All in all, receiving first communion was really intense. Intense, but not unpleasant in any way. I just had an extremely strong sense of the... well, the communion of it all. I felt that I was in communion with the Lord and the angels and saints, with everyone in the room and with every other Catholic who is alive or who's ever lived. OK, yeah, I guess that might sound a little hokey, especially to non-Catholic ears. It's the only way I can explain it, though. I felt not only that I was part of something larger than myself, but something that welcomed me, forgave me, accepted me and was glad for my presence. Yeah, it was absolutely communal.

If there's one bad thing about having been confirmed, it's that RCIA is over. Wendy and I absolutely LOVED RCIA. It was wonderful to get to meet and spend so much time with such a wonderful group of like-minded Christians. It was a learning experience, but it was also a lot of fun. It's not very often that you get a chance to do something that's as enjoyable as it is good for you. That's what RCIA was for us.

Next Sunday, all three kids will be baptized, too... and Willow and Hailey will receive first communion. The kids have each spent Easter with their other parents, and it is a little weird for Wendy and I to officially be Catholic (!!!) Before them. Nonetheless, it feels good.

For five years, we've tried to find just the right church home for our family.

We've finally found it.

We're home.


Comments:
Mazel Tov!
 
Darrell (and Wendy),

I am so happy for you guys that you have found a way to revitalize your faith! I hope and pray you continue to find the "spiritual connection", so to speak, within your new church.

Sorry to hear that your mom didn't attend. As a Baptist myself who came from the liturgical world, I find that very sad. Nothing against your mom, but I don't understand what it is about people that makes them cling to their denominational beliefs, placing them over the salvation of others' souls. I pray God makes the scales fall from her eyes and that she can rejoice in your salvation and not mourne your loss to "them there Catholics".

On a side note, it is amazing how similar (yet in some ways opposite) our stories are. When I was baptized by immersion, the hot water wasn't working, so the baptistry was filled with ICE COLD WATER!!! I mean COLD!!! It wasn't on my mind until I was underwater. Heh heh.

And yes, I believe your baptism is perfectly valid in the eyes of the Lord.

Do not lose hope on all Evangelicals. There are many like me, and we put the FUN in FUNdamentalism!!! ;) Unfortunately, many of my beliefs put the MENTAL in Fundamentalism. *sigh* There are many of those in every denomination, however.

Rambling again... sorry.
;)

Anyway, welcome to your spiritual rebirth.
 
NH, Jerry, thanks a lot to both of you. NH, I'm glad to hear from a fellow Christian who considers himself Fundamentalist and who believes that my baptism is valid. I try to couch my comments (I try to say things like "The Fundamentalists I grew up with" instead of "All those Fundamentalists," etc.) so that I won't be generalizing.

As far as mom goes, the more I think about it, the more I think that her appeal to me for baptism through immersion might have been a result of pressure from other family members. Mom herself has told me that she's glad I'm going to church, even if it isn't the exact faith for her.

Anyway, thanks guys. You rock!
 
That's wonderful Darrell for you and your whole family. Maybe one day you can post what the heck the differences are anyway between Baptists and Catholics and Catholics and everyone else. When I moved here I was so taken aback at how many people would shift away from me when they found out I was Catholic. Very strange as in NY no one cared what, if any, religion you practiced. So I've always wondered why the disdain...
 
So I've always wondered why the disdain...

Close-mindedness and bull-headedness from members on both sides. It is truly sad.


so that I won't be generalizing.

Much appriciated, as I try to do the same. It is easy to generalize, though, isn't it? ;)


Mom herself has told me that she's glad I'm going to church

Ah. I stand relievedly corrected.
 
Welcome, welcome, welcome!
=)
 
I loved reading about your experience. You are really blessed. And inspiring.
 
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