On Saturday, my daughter Molly and I attended a baptism at St. Bede’s the Venerable in La Cañada.
After two years of classes, Josh Lacey was to be baptized and we were honored that he wanted to share it with us.
Josh is 19, and he has dedicated every Wednesday for two years to learning his faith and preparing for the baptism and confirmation. I asked Josh why he wanted to be baptized and why St. Bede’s. He told me his dad had asked him to come to church several times, but he kept putting it off.
“Then one day I went to church and it all made sense to me. It just seemed right,” Josh said.
We are Episcopalian, so some of Saturday’s service at St. Bede’s was familiar. It was a long service, about three hours, but the church was beautiful and the music reflective. It was, however, a little like being at a concert and waiting for that main band to show. I had talked to Josh about this ceremony for so long I was anxious to see it finally happen.
A small pool sat on the altar stage. Women carrying jars of water walked down the aisles and poured the water into the pool. Twelve people were being baptized, all dressed in brown robes with rope belts. Their sponsors stood behind them and throughout the entire ceremony, until they stepped into the pool, they had their hands on their ward’s shoulders. For me, this was one of the most moving parts of the evening. These 12 people, who had been so dedicated with their studies and religious certainty, were not alone – someone had their back.
Msgr. Antonio Cacciapuoti, St. Bede’s pastor, told the 12 they were joining a family of Christians throughout the world.
For that moment there was no division between denominations. Josh was being welcomed as my children and I had been when we were baptized.
I guess this is what Holy Week is all about. For Christians, it is a time to remember our history, a time to reflect on why we chose to follow the teachings of Christ and why church is an important foundation that, despite dips in attendance, is still a strong institution in the world.
The pastor explained the act of baptism forgives all sins, clears the slate so to speak.
“It was amazing but in retrospect not a lot has changed,” Josh said after the baptism. “But it has made me more confident in my spiritual life and I am part of a family.”
And isn’t that a feeling we all want, a sense of belonging? What a great family to be part of.