April 29, 2015

The Water (and Blood) of Baptism [ACNM]

Ten years ago I took the plunge, literally. This Easter season marks ten years since I received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion. What a ride it has been. When people ask me what I remember most about my baptism from ten years ago, four things come to mind:

  • I was wet.
  • I was worried.
  • I was (very slightly) bloody.
  • I wish I could do it again.

The wet part makes sense; after all, it was a baptism, right? But I mean really wet. This was a full immersion baptism, courtesy of the walk-in baptismal font at St. John Vianney in Round Rock, Texas. By the way, a decade later I am still thankful to whomever decided to make it a heated baptismal font.

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Image credit: St. John Vianney - Round Rock, TX


The amusing thing about it is that I was expecting the priest to push me under water three times, once each for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. At least that's the way the dutiful coordinator said it would happen. But actually he just dunked me once. He may have said, "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." But all I heard was, "I baptize you in the name of the... [sounds of water and bubbles] Spirit." (I'll stipulate that he did indeed mention the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, therefore making it a valid baptism!)

What's the first thing I did as soon as I emerged from the font? I hustled to the men's room. That was all part of the intricate plan. All of us who were baptized that night had to hurry off to the bathroom to change out of our wet clothes into formal, dry clothes and be back in the front pew of the church in just a few minutes.

That's what I was worried about. You'd think on such an amazing night I'd have faith and trust in God. But I must admit that I did far too much unnecessary worrying. Before Mass I had to hang my suit and towel in the men's room so I could dry off and change quickly. And so I worried:

  • What if I get to the men's room soaking wet after getting baptized and my suit isn't there?
  • What if I get to the men's room and someone is locked in the stall with my suit?
  • What if my suit is there but my dry shoes and socks are missing?
  • What if I somehow commit a sin on the way to the men's room and immediately ruin my new-found holiness? (I probably did that just by worrying so much.)

Of course, my clothing and towel were there exactly where I had left them. But something else did go slightly wrong. That's where the bloody part comes in. I don't know exactly how it happened. But in the mad rush to get out of my wet clothes, dry off and change in the men's room stall, I cut the top of my left hand. I must have scraped it on something in the bathroom.

I did my best to try to stop the blood with my towel. But the clock was ticking, and I knew that the Easter Vigil couldn't continue until the new entrants into the faith returned to the church.

When I got back to the pew, I noticed my hand was still bleeding...

[To read the rest of this story and see a rare photo of me on the night of my Baptism, jump over to Austin Catholic New Media.]


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