I was nervous about today.
My mom wasn’t very pleased that I wouldn’t be at home today, so I got up early with my squeaky toy lovin’ dog and walked her, clean the cats’ litter box, and helped paint the deck before I left. I picked up my best friend and we went to rehearsal for vigil.
The entire church was dark, but there were already white flowers and lilies everywhere. We practiced coming forward for communion, and we learned what the bread tasted like and what to do with our hands. Father took all of us being baptized into the sacristy and we each filled up a pitcher with water and brought the water to the baptismal font, which I thought was a really neat thing to do. We were also anointed with the oil of the catechumens before we left. After rehearsal, we ran a few errands, cooked dinner, took an entirely inadequate nap, and then left for church again.
That’s when the nerves started to hit. My friend from school wasn’t able to come, and neither of my friend’s friend’s were able to make it, so the only family we had present was our godmother. She found a couple people who were willing to take pictures for us, and then we found out later that another family with children being baptized took pictures and video of us too. But before that, before the vigil even started, I started to have second thoughts.
What would my mom think when she inevitably finds out that I’m Catholic? said my doubt. Won’t she be mad, or will she be mad that she wasn’t here? Maybe I’m making a mistake. Maybe I should check out other denominations first. And none of my friends are here, either.
I wasn’t able to pay attention to the readings. I just wanted to grab my godmother’s hand and tell her what was going on and to talk me out of bowing out. I had a feeling this was another spiritual attack on me, though, so I prayed, closed my eyes, and my Father told me that as soon as that water hit me, all my fears would fall away. I would know this wasn’t a mistake.
He was right.
I was the first to be baptized. The water was cold. Somebody I couldn’t see was standing on my left side. Then we were prayed over and confirmed. Our godmother had handkerchiefs monogrammed with today’s date and our saint’s name, and she said to use it to blot the oil from our foreheads after we were anointed with the chrism. You keep the handkerchief in a plastic bag with your bible and it smells like the oil, always. I think it smells like really good, warm gingersnaps.
I started crying when I was confirmed. I couldn’t help it. Tears of joy. God really does want me. The entire church broke into applause as we returned to the pews, and that’s when our catechist grabbed my best friend and I and another boy who had just been baptized. He carried the red book (I don’t know what that is), my friend carried the bread, and I carried the glass container of wine up to the priests at the altar! I didn’t expect that to happen, and I was thrilled! I felt so special!
I don’t even have words for how beautiful the Liturgy of the Eucharist was from this new perspective – as a newborn Catholic. Suddenly I wasn’t on the outside anymore, thinking that this liturgy isn’t for me, I’m not included. I didn’t even feel ashamed of things I had done, how bad a friend I’ve been, or like I was unworthy. I just felt loved. Wanted. I was afraid of messing up, but I didn’t have time to think. Father let those making first communion go first, and the kids went before adults. After all the kids had gone, their dad, who had just been confirmed, motioned for me to go, and so I did.
Something deep inside me knew that that wasn’t bread or wine. Something different entirely. Something holy.
I didn’t even know what to pray after that. I stumbled over words in my head, and then I heard Jesus quietly say, with a smile, “Welcome to the table of the Lord.”
After mass, Father called the children in the church forward to get an Easter egg out of the basket of eggs (hilarious), and before we left our RCIA group held back to get our certificates. My godmother mentioned something about my singing (I, um, kind of like to sing) and said I needed to talk to the choir leader. So she introduced me to her and two other ladies in the choir.
I have choir practice next Sunday at 10:30 for the 11:00 mass. And I was just baptized tonight.
I’ve been wanting to get into a choir for a long time, but I had no idea it would happen like this. As we were leaving, I said, “Thank you so much!” and I heard a chorus of “THANK YOU!” in return.
I’m still in shock. I feel like a completely new, different person. I have been claimed by God. I am totally, officially, signed, sealed, and delivered, daughter of the King.
And then our entire parish (and a couple other parishes nearby) flash mobbed the local IHOP. The one thing I said I would not do is go to IHOP after vigil, but we finished early, so we went. First we saw BB and her brother and family (also baptized and confirmed), then more people, and then Father and his family. Hilarious.
Surreal. All of it. I am home. I am part of the story of forever. I am loved. I’m in a choir! I have a family, here on earth AND in heaven, and my own spot at the table now.
Hope has been born. Love has come to life. We are forgiven. We are wanted.
I plan on being a little scarce this week unless something interesting happens, but I’ve been planning a series of music posts to celebrate the overflow of Easter joy, and there are a few songs I want to share that really changed my perspective on things last year when I started preparing for today.
I don’t care if someone disagrees with me being Catholic now. I am home. All my fear is gone. All I have are love, joy, and trust. I trust my Father with everything.
I hope – I know – he can help me get some sleep tonight.