A Keepsake That Catechizes
A new book on Baptism helps children mark their special day
By: Lynn Morales
I am a mother of six children, ages five to nineteen. Like mothers everywhere, I treasure opportunities to celebrate special events in my children’s lives. I especially cherish the memory of their baptisms, each one a heart-knitting milestone in our family.
For each child’s baptism, we made it a point to gather with all our loved ones, celebrate with a festive party, and rejoice in the comforting assurance that the newest member of our family was being welcomed into God’s family. Even though my first child wailed through the entire ceremony, I felt so content: I was taking my first step to bring up my daughter in the Catholic faith.
Memories like these came flooding in when I opened up Jesus Speaks to Me About My Baptism, a children’s book that beautifully portrays the message of new life in Christ. Baptism is such a sweet sacrament, and both the author, Angela Burrin, and the illustrator, Maria Cristina Lo Cascio, have captured its fragrance.
Good Conversation. Since most children are baptized as infants, it’s important that they come to understand what the sacrament means for them. For this reason, Jesus Speaks to Me About My Baptism would be a meaningful gift for any family who is having their child baptized. I could see a parent, grandparent, or godparent taking it out on the anniversary of the child’s baptism and looking at it again and again, using it to spark conversations and to help the child embrace the gifts of this sacrament in newer and deeper ways.
In her book, Burrin describes different aspects of the baptismal rite and links each one to a Scripture scene and verse. For example, in her explanation of the Litany of the Saints, she writes, “At your baptism, the saints prayed for you!” The accompanying illustration presents St. Joseph as one of the many saints in heaven who work with Jesus to help us. This particular picture is one of my favorites because it shows a family moment in the workshop. Joseph stands hunched over, planing a board and scattering wood shavings everywhere, while Jesus sits nearby, hammering nails. Each is focused on his own work, but they share the moment together. How encouraging for a child to know that St. Joseph was an ordinary hardworking man!
At the end of each section are one or two questions or suggestions that can also lead into a good conversation with a child. Especially helpful are the open-ended questions like “Who is your favorite saint? Write his or her name here.” Or “Ask your parents why they chose your godparents. Have you ever thanked your parents and godparents for teaching you about the Catholic faith?”
For Eyes and Ears. Jesus Speaks to Me About My Baptism is narrated in the voice of Jesus. Right from the opening page, the tone is loving and child appropriate: “I am Jesus, and I want to tell you about that special day when you received the Sacrament of Baptism.”
Even though I am in my midforties, I connected with this voice, which gently reminded me of the blessings I have received from my own baptism. As I read this book to my four youngest children, it made my heart leap to “hear” Jesus say things like, “I was so happy the day your parents brought you to the church to be baptized” and “Baptism gives us power and strength” and “#8220;You were born again and received new life in the Holy Spirit.” My favorite is, “I want to take care of you all of your life.”
The message of new life also comes through in the book’s beautifully depicted Bible scenes, complete with lovingly detailed page borders. More illustrations appear in the final pages, where children can learn six simple prayers and learn about items used in Baptism—like the font, chrism, and baptismal gown and candle.
A Day to Remember. I enjoy scrapbooking and would love to make personalized keepsakes for all my family and friends to commemorate their children’s baptisms. With six kids, though, this isn’t a realistic goal for me! So this book is an appealing alternative—easily personalized and simple to complete. On the opening page, I can write the child’s name, the date, and the name of the church where he or she was baptized. Inside, there are places for the names of the officiating priest or deacon, the godparents, and even all the people who were present. There’s also a page for “special memories” of the day, and several pages for photos.
Here is a book that was crafted with much love, thought, and prayer. If you’re looking for a baptismal gift that is both attractive and spiritually helpful, this may be just the answer!
Lynn Morales and her family live in Texas.
Jesus Speaks to Me About My Baptism, by Angela M. Burrin, illustrated by Maria Cristina Lo Cascio (hardcover, 48 pages), is available from The Word Among Us at www.wau.org and from amazon.com. To read an excerpt, visit our online bookstore.