Nicolas was baptised last Sunday, along with 3 other babies. I always find it a bit strange to go to these baptisms. With Jean-Alexandre, it was a private baptism. We kind of just reserved the church that day, and my Dad did the whole thing, and I chose the music and everything. With Dominic and Gabriel, it was in Prince George, with DOminic it was right after mass and there was only one other baby and with Gabriel, it was in the middle of mass and he was the only one. So really only Maryssa and Nicolas have had the multiple baptisms/no mass involved/in the province of Quebec baptisms.
First of all, you go in, and it's like this big family reunion, nobody seems to have any idea that this is a church and an important religious celebration that deserves some solemnity. Don't get me wrong. I'm not the type to turn and frown because the kids in the next pew are making noise. Heaven forbid! I hate it when people do that to me! But lots of chitchat and noise between the adults? I mean a few scattered whispers here and there is nothing, but these people weren't even trying to whisper, and it's not like they don't care. They just don't KNOW any better. The noise did settle a bit once they started the baptism, but I did have to remind my own children that they were STILL in a church even if it wasn't a mass, because they were starting to do like the other children, pushing each other (and the cousins) around. I hate to sound like some uptight churchgoer, and in fact, while it is strange to me, it doesn't make me mad or anything, but I kind of regret the solemnity and the respectful silence of older times, when everyone, including the kids knew there was something important going on by the way everyone was behaving. How could the kids tell now?
The starngest part comes however, when the baptism starts and apart from a few scattered answers from certain people here or there in the assembly who know that they are supposed to answer, the celebrating deacon has to read out the answers himself.
My father read the Gospel, "The Lord be with you" he started.
There was virtual silence in which I said, in a small voice "And also with you" along with the other Deacon, and I am sure my mother and a few other people I couldn't hear. Maybe about 5% of the people there were answering, like me, in small voices, because they didn't really want to stand out since noone else was saying anything.
It is soooooo weird to go to this important Catholic celebration where people have no clue what it's all about nor even that they are to particiapte in it at all. It just blows me away.
"I'll bet baptisms in your parish are a bit different." I commented to my mother (they now live in this area that has become very catholic and quite conservative, lots of big families, Madonna House and the Academy Our Lady Seat of Wisdom...). The answer was in the affirmative.