As promised...finally sharing some of our family's favorite Baptism traditions with you. :-)
Baptismal gown additions
When Sister Stinky was born, I sewed a beautiful and simple Baptismal gown for her. Rather than make a new one for each child, my plan is to add some detail to the gown for each child. For Sister Nugget, I added some simple lace at the hem and neckline (I went for lace that looked less girly and more like something you'd find on an alb/more liturgical looking, since we are hoping that we'll add a boy to our clan somewhere down the line). Simple, but a way to make each child feel special!
A Novena to the Holy Spirit
Sister Nugget and her stellar godparents - her godfather is the Abbot's brother, and her godmother is my dear friend and co-author of the book!
In the nine days before our child's Baptism, we offer a novena to the Holy Spirit. We did this one this time around. We also invited Sister Nugget's godparents to join us in the novena this time. Knowing that they were joining us as we prayed for her in the days leading up to her Baptism was a real grace. Even though neither of them lives close to us, we were all drawn together in prayer during those final days of preparation.
What do we offer the novena for? We not only ask the Holy Spirit to come to her in a special way during the Sacrament of Baptism, but we also pray that that particular child is given abundant grace to one day discern her vocation and give God her "yes."
One of the earliest things we do to prepare for the Baptism of our new child is to seriously consider who her patron saints will be. Yes, we give the girls names that we like, but we usually start the process of picking their names by considering our favorite saints. Once we have that list, we narrow it down to saints whose names we like. Sister Nugget's patron saints are, of course, the Blessed Mother and St. Faustina. Sister Stinky's patron saints are St. Therese and St. Helena.
We want them to have beautiful names, it's true, but the true beauty of our daughter's names is in the patron saints behind them. We know that these two women who they are named after will accompany them as dear friends throughout life. We also know that their patron saints will be not only powerful intercessors on their behalf, but also strong examples of lives of holiness. Incidentally, both girls actually each have one patron saint that was a religious and one that was married with a child or children - witnessing to the beauty of both of these vocations!
It gives me such consolation, as a mother, to know that my daughters are being prayed for by these amazing women, and it makes me excited to see how their friendships with these particular saints will play a role in their lives. (Sister Stinky already proudly says, whenever spotting a statue or picture of St. Therese, "St. Therese...she my favorite saint! She my saint!")
A Spiritual Bouquet
This is actually my favorite thing that our family does in preparation for the Baptism of one of our children. As our gift to our newest little one, we solicit the prayers of...well...almost every person we know! A week or two before the Baptism, I send our a mass e-mail to friends and family, asking them to offer prayers for our newest daughter and write off a note to her, saying what prayers they said. Then, I take all their notes and put them into an album, along with a picture of the baby/title page, and pages with explanations of why we chose their patron saints for them. (Of course, the Abbot and I add our own contributions to the spiritual bouquet, too.) Both girls have received amazing additions to their spiritual bouquets. In addition to numerous rosaries, Divine Mercy chaplets, Masses attended, etc. Sister Nugget also had at least nine Masses offered for her by priest friends. The Abbot and I were talking about her spiritual bouquet at some point and I was telling him how amazingly blessed and humbled I felt to know that so many prayers were being said for our little newborn daughter! When our girls are older, I'll give them these albums to keep, and they will hopefully be reminders for them of how loved and welcomed they are by the whole Church...not just by Mommy and Daddy! Hopefully, these gifts will serve as reminders to them that the whole Church rejoiced at their Baptisms!
After each of the Baptisms in our family, we throw a party. This may seem like an obvious sort of thing to do, but I think it's so important because it's an extension of the Sacramental celebration, in a way. By putting time and energy into planning an "after party" we're witnessing to the fact that this is a truly joyous event for our family! The party is not central to the celebration of the Sacrament, of course, but it does extend the celebration as long as possible!
What are your family traditions for Baptism?