“Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission.” (CCC 1213)
Upon reading the above quote on the meaning of Christian Baptism, we should no longer take lightly this holy, all important sacrament. Knowing that it is such a momentous occasion I often find myself flustered, trying to find the “perfect” gift for the newly baptized (either infant or adult). How could I ever give something that would celebrate the beauty and grace given in the sacrament? Here are a few personal thoughts from our experience that may help lead you to find a meaningful Baptism gift.
The gifts that were the most cherished by our family upon the baptism of our children were the ones that acknowledged the friend or family member’s support of our decision to raise our child in the Catholic Church. They helped us feel that “we are not alone” in this huge undertaking! The best gifts were meaningful and also practical.
Baby and Baptism Crosses: Each room of our house has a crucifix or sacred image. It should be no less for the nursery. A baby cross to adorn the nursery wall is always a good choice. Even better is one that the child will not be embarassed to take with them in each stage of life (i.e. big girl/boy room, college dorm etc).
Sacred Images: Children know and cherish what they see. If they see images of Our Lord hung in the house, they know that is important. It becomes second nature to relate to them. How wonderful to have an image of the Sacred Heart in the family room, or a Guardian angel in the nursery. Think also about images of Our Lady for the parents who may spend long hours during the night feeding and comforting the child.
Baptism frames: These items help the family acknowledge the importance of the day. The mother and father can put the picture of the newly baptized in the frame, or a picture of the godparents, which helps the child learn that these are the people who are constantly praying and supporting them in their faith journey.
Faith based plush animals and figurines: I do not want another stuffed animal or figurine in my house. Period. But, children love and relate to them. Because infants and young children learn through their senses, it is through items such as these that they will learn about the faith. A sweet lamb can be a cuddly friend at bed time and also a tool the parent uses to explain Jesus as the “The Good Shepherd.” The parent may simply explain that Jesus watches and takes care of us just as a shepherd does for his sheep. A double bonus is if the item has soft edges or music that may aid them in falling asleep.
Baby Books and Bibles: I feel as if I could never have enough books containing Bible stories or stories of the saints. Books are always both meaningful and practical. My favorite read aloud Bible is the St. Joseph Children’s Bible. Faith books also come in very handy for keeping the child appropriately occupied during mass.
Medals and Rosaries: A gift for the child to grow in to. Put in a special spot it becomes exciting when the child is old enough to wear the medal they received at Baptism. Especially meaningful is a medal honoring the saint they may have been named after. A personal rosary is very important as it aids the child in truly “owning” their invitation to faithful prayer (i.e. “I have a rosary just like mommy and daddy do”.)
Prayer: Last and not least is the gift of prayer. In a card you can promise the offering of a rosary for the intention of the family, or a mass for the child. Masses and prayers are truly the most cherished gifts of all. As parents raising children, and as children growing up in a crazy world, we need the grace given to us through prayer and the mass to keep us strong in our daily lives.
“For all the baptized, children or adults, faith must grow after Baptism”. (CCC 1254) With a small amount of thought we can use this gift-giving opportunity as a time to help ourselves and the newly baptized grow in their faith and celebrate the grace that has entered into their lives.