Do you celebrate your baptismal anniversary? If you don’t, you are certainly not alone. While I have a copy of my baptismal certificate safely tucked away with other important papers, without looking at it, I can only remember my baptism occurred sometime during the month of August, 1976. Given I don’t even remember the exact date, it’s a little hard to make an annual celebration out of it.
But baptism is THE event that establishes our beginning of life in Christ, so remembering it annually as we do for birthdays, wedding anniversaries and the like makes perfect sense. As the Catechism states: “Holy baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit” (No. 1213). “Thus the whole organism of the Christian’s supernatural life has its roots in baptism” (No. 1266).
I would like to foster some baptismal celebrations traditions with our family and have been researching. Here are few touching ideas I’ve found.
- Begin a novena for your child on the day of his/her baptismal anniversary. The novena could be to the saint whose feast day falls on the baptismal anniversary, the child’s patron saint if named after one, the saint whose feast day lands on the person’s birthday, or just a saint close to your family.
- Attend Mass, and if possible, ask for the intentions to be in your child’s honor.
- Bring out the keepsakes! Keep the white garment, baptismal candle, prayers, photos, and other symbols of the baptismal ceremony to share with your child in future years. These keepsakes can be brought out on the child’s anniversary of baptism or birthday and serve as powerful reminders of the ongoing importance of the event.
- Hold a family prayer service celebrating the baptismal anniversary (see below for sample text).
Question for you: Does your family celebrate baptismal anniversaries? If so, I would enjoy reading about your traditions. Comment box is open!
Baptismal Anniversary Family Prayer Service
(Source: Loyola Press)
Materials needed: Bowl with water (holy water when possible), Bible, candle (baptismal candle, when possible)
Set the bowl of water onto a table. Place a lit candle near the bowl. Use the celebrant’s baptismal candle if it is available. Gather around the table and select a reader and a leader for the following prayer.
Leader: Today is the day that you, [name], were baptized. On this day you were welcomed as a Christian by your family, and by the Church. Today we will again sign you with the cross, to remember that you were baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Let us listen to the words of the Scriptures.
Reader: A reading from [name of book].
(Reader reads the selected passage.)
Reader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.
Leader: In Baptism we have been filled with the light of Christ. May we walk always as children of the light and keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts. May we live each day knowing our true identity as beloved children of God. And when the Lord comes, may we go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom to live with him forever and ever.
Invite the group to make the Sign of the Cross on the celebrant’s forehead; then invite everyone to sign their own foreheads with holy water. Offer hugs all around and celebrate with a special meal or treat.