Today is Pope Francis’ 77th birthday. Today is also my daughter’s re-birth day, or anniversary of her baptism. She will celebrate her 7th re-birthday. (I just realized all the sevens in this shared birthday of theirs, which is such a significant number in the Bible, but that is for another blog post).
Pope Francis is the reason I know my daughter’s re-birthday date. Back in September, he gave us all a “homework assignment” to find our baptism dates and celebrate our birth into the church every year, just as we would celebrate our birth into this world. During this talk, he referred to the church as our “mamma” and went on to explain Her importance:
One doesn’t belong to the church as to a company, a party or any other organization. The link is vital, like that one has with one’s own mom, because the church is really the mother of Christians.
A good mom helps her children come out of themselves, and not stay comfortably under the maternal wings, like a brood of chicks stays under the wings of the hen. The church, like a good mother, does the same thing: accompanies our growth, transmitting the word of God, which is a light that shows us the path of the Christian life; administering the sacraments.
Sometimes I hear, ‘I believe in God but not in the church’. But the church is not only priests: we are all the church. And if you say you believe in God and don’t believe in the church, you are saying you don’t believe in yourself, and this is a contradiction.
Now this had been something I had been meaning to do for years–of course, it always got pushed down on the priority list. But when Pope Francis asked me to do it; I finally looked them all up and put them on my Google calendar. Hopefully after a few years of doing this, I won’t have to look at the calendar to know the dates, and neither will my children. They will know when they became part of the church and realize how it is just as significant–if not more–as their birth into this world.
So how are we going to celebrate our re-birthdays? First, I’m going to bring out her baptism candle, gown and certificate and remind her what happened on that day. Then we will say this prayer:
Remember this, Faith.
You have been washed
In the saving waters of baptism
And anointed with holy oil.
Place on your head and in your heart
The sign of the cross of salvation.
You created all the people of the world,
And you know each of us by name.
We thank you for Faith,
Who celebrates the anniversary of her baptism.
Bless her with your love and friendship
That she may grow in wisdom, knowledge, and grace.
May she love her family always
And be ever faithful to her friends.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.
(Place hands on head or shoulders of one being blessed)
May God, in whose presence our ancestors walked, bless you.
May God, who has been your shepherd from birth until now, keep you.
May God, who saves you from all harm, give you peace.
Then I will let her pick her favorite dessert because, what would be a celebration without sugar? Thank you Pope Francis for the important reminder and Happy Birthday!