The little girl is Lydia, my cousin (and now goddaughter) and the pretty lady holding her is Jen, her mom.
This photo was taken right after Lydia was baptized into the Church - yay!!!
I chose this picture for today because I witnessed the welcoming of another family into the Church today. It wasn't actually through baptism... not yet, anyway. Instead, it was a Rite of Acceptance that sometimes happens BEFORE baptism, specifically to folks who are old enough to understand and consent to their formation so they can continue on the road towards baptism (or, if they've already been baptized, reception of Eucharist, Confirmation or a combination of the two).
I didn't realize that was happening at my parish church until I saw an update from our Director of Liturgy up on Facebook. So instead of waiting until the 11 at Vince's new school parish, I hurried myself to get ready for the 10 to see what one was like.
Our pastor welcomed this family at the back of the Church with some words of welcome and blessing. The family was there with their sponsors and their catechist. Then, after this initial welcome, they processed down the aisle with our pastor, the deacon and the altar servers.
They were greeted at the doors of the Church because we, as the congregation, were welcoming them to their new life. Once they affirmed their decision to be baptized into the Church, they acknowledged they were walking away from their old lives and towards Eternal Life... the Life that lay in wait, hidden in the tabernacle. How wonderful, then, that they processed up the aisle towards Christ in the Eucharist! I'm sure that's the whole point of it, but haven't never witnessed it before, I was touched to see such a symbolic gesture take place before my eyes. I half imagined Jesus, there in the tabernacle, bursting to free Himself from His physical confines so He could throw His Arms around each one of these children who had found their way back to Him.
Upon reaching the sanctuary, our pastor then welcomed and blessed the candidates who were father along in their formation than those who hadn't been baptized. Each of them came forward to be marked with the cross. I was surprised at the number of them! My heart actually did a little dance when I realized that our Faith is spreading. Slowly, maybe, but Christ's call is being heard and little by little, folks are becoming unable to ignore Him anymore.
The rest of the Mass proceeded as normal. The entire time, I wondered how those candidates must have felt as they participated alongside us. Were they happy? Proud? Embarrassed? Excited? Maybe even a little jealous if they burned with desire to accept the Eucharist alongside the congregation?
Regardless, I'm sure they were prayed for a lot today. I hope the Rite of Acceptance was as heart-warming to the rest of the parish as it was to me. What a great way to start the week!