15 July 2007

Stay for the coffee and doughnuts

We went to several parishes over the past half dozen years trying to find a parish we liked within 45 minutes from our cabin. I won't ramble on about all the problems since it's the same old song and dance, sometimes literally, that we all are familiar with. What bothers me isn't the clothes people wear or the songs that are sung, but the "check-list mentality."

During the spring, the parish we regularly attend in the woods of NW Wisconsin has a baptism during Mass fairly often. Sometimes the children being baptised are toddlers, sometimes infants. Most of the people showing up to have their kids baptised are completely unfamiliar to me (it's a small parish with only one Mass). A good deal of the time, the families don't go up for Communion and leave before Mass is even over. Some families, and their entire entourage, leave as soon as the "baptism part" is completed. Their seats are reserved for them in the front pews, so their leaving is obvious.

Aren't the parents supposed to be parishioners in good standing, meaning practicing? Why go to the trouble of having your child baptised Catholic if you don't adhere to the beliefs yourself? Baptism appears to be a novel idea, like the first time riding a bike or losing a tooth. A chance to take pictures to fill in the requisite pages in the baby book.

When my kids were baptised, the priest mentioned several times how this was THE MOST IMPORTANT day in their lives. To treat baptism as just a fulfillment of an expectation, or as an obligation, or some rite of passage, is to miss so much of the beauty God has provided in the sacrament.

Thank goodness they are getting their children baptised, but it's like getting a post card in the mail from a far-off place as a souvenir. Kind of a let-down, a disappointment. Instead of just getting a suitable-for-framing-baptismal-certificate, they should give their child and themselves the "real deal."


Mary Anderson said...


It is a wonderful parish and worth the drive, Fr. Cycenas is superb.

swissmiss said...

Thanks for the link! Will have to check into it. Our cabin is actually by Hayward, WI, but we are willing to drive.