Monsignor volunteered to baptize baby Edward.
I had stopped him after Mass one August morning to ask him who I should contact at the parish to get the process started.
“Me,” he said and grinned.
“You contact me.
I’m going to baptize your baby.”
“You are?” I asked, surprised.
“I thought the deacons usually do the baptisms.”
“I’m going to do yours,” he said.
I thanked him and every Sunday after that, whenever he saw me, he would ask how I was feeling and tell me how excited he was to baptize our unborn baby.
When we finally scheduled the actual ceremony for this past Saturday, January 18th, the godparents booked plane tickets from Boston and Florida and both sets of grandparents made plans to attend. We invited a few friends to celebrate with us and everyone was excited about The Big Day.
But then... things went a little haywire.
Two weeks prior to the event, we had some major paperwork issues. We also had a miscommunication with the parish secretary, which ended with her promise to cancel the baptism if she didn't have the original copies of the godparent forms from respective parishes before the ceremony.
I went a little dental, but then I calmed down and put the whole event in Mother Mary's hands.
And things worked out: Aunt RaRa overnighted (that's a word, right?) Uncle Ted's paperwork from Florida. (Ted is Edward's godfather). We pestered the parish in Boston for Aunt Christine's paperwork, Edward's godmother, and on the Wednesday before the Saturday Baptism, all engines were go.
I spent the rest of the week making menus, purchasing groceries, coordinating table colors and decorations with my mom, having the house cleaned, and cooking.
But then things went haywire--again. On the evening before, Uncle Ted missed his flight and was forced to take a flight out early the next morning. And I awoke at 3:00 am--the day of the baptism--in a cold sweat with stomach cramps and vomiting.
Bad timing, I thought. Really bad timing.
I was up most of the night, running back and forth between the toilet and my bed. When morning broke, I felt so horrible, John told me to rest while Aunt Christine completed the party tasks I had listed out. John kept the children occupied and entertained his college roommate, who had driven five hours one way to be present with us.
"I already know what we're supposed to learn from this," John announced later that morning, as he came in the room to get dressed. I was laying in the fetal position under my down comforter trying to talk myself out of feeling sick.
"It's all about the sacrament, the rest isn't important," he said, looking up at the ceiling as he put one leg in his pants.
I groaned in agreement.
"Yeah, the baptism," I said. "That's all that matters."
The thing is? I really meant it.
But on the day of the baptism? I just wanted the deed done.
At noon, I willed myself out of bed and into the shower, at 1 pm, I dressed the children, and at 2:00 pm, my family--immediate and extended--filed out the front door and made the 19 mile drive to church.
(I would have crawled there if need be in order to see Edward's initiation into it.)
All went off without a hitch.
Monsignor was present with two seminarians who assisted him. Our family and friends were there and Edward was received like a Catholic champion into the church. It was a beautiful ceremony.
Don't get me wrong, nothing about the day was perfect: Right after the baptism, Edward puked all over the floor. (Father exorcised the demons, I suppose.)
Aunt RaRa, the designated photographer for the day, captured the vom for posterity's sake.
I was afraid to touch the food so my sister-in-law really stepped it up and orchestrated and served during the actual party.
My extended family had to help watch the kids, especially Edward, because I wanted to limit the amount of exposure he received to my germs.
Just as all 30 of us arrived back to the house, a truck was parked in front of our house delivering wood we had ordered, making it impossible for our guests to park close. (You can be sure, the big pile of dumped wood added to the aesthetics of the celebration. Ahem.)
And half way through the party, I had to leave and go upstairs to my room because I was miserably ill--an act of sheer torture for this extrovert.
Ten years ago, these disruptions in plans would have destroyed me, ruined the entire celebration for me.
I don't know if I've matured or if God simply lavished radical grace upon my control freak, type-A tendencies (perhaps it's both?), but the next day, any time I thought of Edward's baptism and the party that followed, I felt nothing but joy and gratitude.
The Catechism states:
"The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the Body of Christ, and finally, to give worship to God."
And this is what happened at Eward's baptism and celebration--even amidst the chaos and imperfection
. My family, my friends, Monsignor and the seminarians, were all sanctified, we built up the Body of Christ, and we worshiped God together.
I can't help but think He must have been pleased.