Today I am celebrating 17166.75 days of being Catholic. That staggering figure gives a whole new meaning to the term, “cradle Catholic.” Besides the celebration of my Baptism in the Catholic faith, today is also my birthday. I am 47 years old today. I suppose few people celebrate their Baptism day. Tried as I have, I have never found a Hallmark Card that heralds, “Happy Baptism Day!” There should be however. In my case, my Baptism day and my birthday coincide. Being a premature baby in 1960 warranted almost immediate Baptism ex utero. I have always felt that such immediate urgency in receiving Baptism has been a hallmark of my Catholic and theological life. Namely, Catholicism for me has always been an integral part of my life…well since birth. We as Catholics need to mark this day that provides us with a theological new birth. The rite of initiation should always be celebrated and remembered for what it is: our participation in the life of God’s Divine mystery. Most Catholics are unaware of the date of their Baptism, and I think this is an unfortunate thing. Throughout our lives we celebrate wedding anniversaries, anniversaries of a person’s death, holidays such as Christmas and Labor Day…but for some unknown reason we never seem to commemorate the day when we became members of the Body of Christ. Catholic baptism permits us to participate in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Once we have experienced the waters of baptism, we not only participate in the sacramental life of our Church, but we also share in all of the events of the mysterious life of the People of God. The initiation of Baptism welcomes us into participation and a common sharing of our Catholic faith with everyone that has ever been, is and will be in ontological and eschatological glory.

That is quite a mouthful when describing my celebration of my Baptism. Well not only has there been quite a bit to describe, the journey of faith is perpetually unfolding in my daily life. Given the opportunity to consider my sacramental journey of faith permits me to recall also the chronological journey that is my life. Baptism was the first sacrament to share my chronological life, followed by the other sacraments of Initiation, Reconciliation, and Marriage and so on. In experiencing all of these graced and special events there have never been a moment in my life that the power of God has not been present. The presence of God is the real celebration of Baptism. The celebration of the chronological number of days since my Baptism indicates a unique connection to many individuals that I have never physically met, but have been spiritually with me along the sacramental road.

As Catholics, we should quite frankly celebrate our births and our baptism. The baptismal moment is when the ember of glowing faith becomes a flame. It is very appropriate then that on birthday celebrations, as well as my unique baptismal celebration we ignite candles on our birthday cakes. Candles banish darkness. Baptism banishes original sin. Both the celebration of a baptism and a birthday involves the incorporation of,”new light.” When I blow out the candles on my birthday/baptismal cake the event will remind me that as Catholic we are called to new light and life in Christ Jesus.

I don’t know if my desire to celebrate one’s Catholic baptism will ever gain in common popularity. However the dualistic celebration will remain in my ritual observation of my baptism/birthday event. Perhaps I am just a baptismal optimist joined with a birthday realist. Whatever the case might be, I am thankful for both life and faith which were given to me at my birth. Let’s celebrate as Catholics our initiation into light through our Baptism, and our arrival in life with our birthday cakes with equal fervor and celebration.

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