Sunday, September 27, 2009

Flowering of Baptismal Grace

I just had a much needed revelation as I was reading over my notes on the Sacrament of Baptism. This particular lecture started with the issue of infant baptism, why some reformers (Anabaptists) disputed its validity, how the Church justifies it now, and how clearly Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition both attest it (the former implicitly—e.g., Col. 2:11-12—and the latter explicitly).

One statement in my lecture really struck home: "Post-baptismal catechesis [is] necessary for the flowering of baptismal grace." Now, while the turth of the statement in itself is obvious, it's actually the image that struck home with me.

My daughter, on her own choice, came into the Church when she was in the 5th grade. I did what I could to prepare her, and she had some good instruction in the parish. However, it wasn't very long after she hit 7th grade that she started showing some dissatisfaction and even a bit of hostility. I finally had to confront her with this and discovered that the issues came back to the typical objections: didn't "feel" the presence anymore, didn't understand the prohibition against women's ordination, didn't think abortion should be illegal (although she was personally appalled by it), and didn't think it was fair that homosexuals couldn't marry.

Now, why a 7th grader would suddenly be so concerned about these things is another issue. However, my explanations weren't going to suffice since she was clearly hearing these arguments from someone she took to be somehow more authoritative. I don't know who that would be, and the suspects are people I wouldn't be able to keep her from anyway.

I think back to my own formation (which was weak). Hers has been spotty, I must admit (since it didn't start until mid-elementary age). My mom did a bit of work on her when she was younger, and I did as well, once I was back on the road to the Church. However, what she has been given has been more sophisticated than what I received, which might be part of the problem. Nonetheless, it wasn't the weak, childish view of God that I received, and it wasn't the touchy-feely God as best buddy pap that some children have received in the last 40 years. I don't know if that's good or bad.

Anyway, my own experience is that baptismal grace did not flower in me until I had a good healthy dose of fertilizer. I had to get down in the dirt and rot before I realized how much I needed God. I pray that her experience will not be the same. However, clearly she's getting some of that fertilizer tossed into her spiritual flower garden. So, I'll continue to pray for her conversion and flowering (and I ask you to pray for her, too). Consider it Miracle-Gro for the soul.
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