When I walk into Sunday Mass and notice a crowd of especially dressed-up people mingling around the front pews of the church, perhaps speaking with our pastor or deacon, with an aura of excitement surrounding them, a buzz of anticipation runs through me and I immediately start glancing around hopefully for a baby in a long white gown.
You guessed it…I love it when the Mass I attend includes a baptism. Part of this stems from the fact that I find babies absolutely irresistible and watching their reception into the church — and sometimes hearing their sweet little shocked cries as the waters of baptism wash over their foreheads — touches all of my feel-good buttons.
But my true joy in baptisms comes from knowing that this tiny human (and sometimes a bigger one) is being received into the Body of Christ and given new life. It is such a joyful occasion, and you can see the love and delight on the faces of all the family and friends gathered for that child. I also appreciate being reminded of the promises that I made at my children’s baptisms and at my own confirmation, and I leave with my own sense of new life.
Baptisms: they are worth celebrating! One way to honor the child baptized is through a well-chosen gift, and while I’m not bringing presents to every child baptized at our parish, I do make sure to note the dates of my Catholic friends and family members’ children’s baptisms and to pick something special for that baby.
Here are a few ideas for baptismal gifts:
A Framed PrintA framed piece of art is an item that can be enjoyed immediately by a child and her parents, as there are so many artistic designs that would hang beautifully in a baby’s nursery. This In Your Presence print is a wonderful reminder that joy is always found in the presence of the Lord, and the bright flowers and lovely script are visual representations of that joy. This soft and soothing Madre Maria print is a visual depiction of Mother Mary’s gentle love for all of her children. And this Deep Waters print portrays the love and care that Jesus has for each of us and his message: “Take courage…do not be afraid.” Surrounding a child with religiously significant art is a wonderful way to contribute to their early faith formation.
There are all sorts of beautiful children’s books that make great baptismal gifts, but I don’t limit myself to picture books and stories that appeal to babies and toddlers when selecting a book to gift for Baptism. I know that children will age into spiritual classics, and that in the meantime, artistic covers and spines will fill their shelves with loveliness. For instance, the Quotations on the Spiritual Life series, with their colorful, block print covers and small, hardback design, are gorgeous to behold, and the wisdom of St. John Paul II, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and St. Maria Faustina Kowalska will nourish and guide the young reader as they journey towards adulthood.
A Piece of JewelryBoth of my daughters received several small pieces of jewelry for their baptisms, and I originally put them away in their baby boxes with the intent to pull them out in several years, maybe for their first communions. But then, about a year ago, when my then two-and-a-half-year-old was struggling to behave during Mass, I had a brilliant idea. I pulled out one of her baptismal bracelets, still much to large to fit safely on her wrist, and I used is as a segue to discussing reverence and its attendant respectfulness at church. “We show our love for Jesus and our neighbors when we are quiet and still during Mass, and we also show reverence by dressing up nicely,” I said. “Do you think that you can wear this bracelet and be quiet and still during church?” This strategy of pairing good behavior (desirable to me) with a fun accessory (desirable to my toddler) worked magnificently, and ever since then, we keep her “church bracelet” in our foyer cabinet, ready to go for Sunday morning. This is a long way of saying that I no longer shy away from gifting jewelry as a baptismal gift! This small Marian Pin, this Blessed Mother of Pearl bracelet, and this Servant Heart necklace are all great ideas.
Much like a book, a rosary is a baptismal gift that a child can grow into, and by being associated with this important sacrament of initiation, a rosary gifted at baptism will take on special meaning. Though a baby won’t be using their rosary, I still gravitate towards rosaries that have a delicate feel, or pastel color scheme. The wooden beads of this Little French rosary are lovely (and the rosary is handmade by Monastic Sisters in Lourdes, France!). The Seafoam Green and Madonna decade rosaries are small and a great way for the child to eventually begin learning to pray the rosary.