Having decided my son was going to follow the footsteps of his forefathers into Catholicism, the next step was to get him christened.
I had not attended a christening since my own so I had no idea what to expect. Not being a regular down at Mass since I was 15, I felt a like Canal Street counterfeit nested among the Prada in BTs, as I sat waiting until I could go up and ask the priest how to arrange the christening. So you don’t have to endure this discomfort, I have a mini-series to help you on your way.
First thing, lets understand the terms – nothing says ‘I’m a Christmas-Mass-Only Christian’ than getting the lingo wrong. Baptism is a religious ceremony when a baby is welcomed into the Church. Christening is the giving of a name at the time of baptism. For babies, ‘to be baptised’ and ‘to be christened’ are almost interchangeable and you may use either. They belong together.
Secondly, there is no rush.
Catholicism has been around for 2015 years, the church at the end of your road has probably been there since St Patrick was wandering about. None of it is going anywhere.
There was a rush in the old days to get the child christened because there was a belief that un-christened souls had original sin that if not absolved condemned the soul to purgatory and the body to a separate area in the cemetery. Grisly stuff.
The Church has wisely done a total U-turn on this guff. There is no more purgatory. (What happened to all the souls who were floating around there? Who knows, apparently it’s impolite to ask.) There is no more original sin and thank Jesus, medical science and human ingenuity, the death rate in children has dramatically decreased here in the first world. All this means there is no rush for the Christening.
We waited until my son was six months old, which gave plenty of time for me to recover and for us to get used to him and his ways. The only thing I would say is that once they are mobile, few babies are content to sit still for too long, so there is a sweet spot where they are big enough, but not too big, that I would be aiming for – somewhere between starting to roll and starting to crawl.
This article originally appeared on HerFamily.ie