Jonathan TuttleOctober 18, 2010 - 11:47am0 comments
I came early to this year’s Easter Vigil. I wanted to get a seat in the back, right beside the baptismal font. I was not being baptized that night. I was not the godparent or the friend of anyone being baptized. My interest was selfish. As a catechumen in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, I was scheduled to be baptized a year from that day. I wanted to see what would happen to me.
Before I began attending the parish, I had snooped around the Web site for photos of past Easter Vigils. Men and women, hair dripping, stood in the center of an octagonal shallow pool. I scanned the photo albums for a picture of the big moment. What did it look like to lose your life in the water? And just how much water would be used? (When my Unitarian parents finally swallowed the idea of my baptism, they asked: “But you won’t be dunked. Right?”)
The preparation for baptism seems designed to be as embarrassing as possible: the dismissal from Mass, the sharing of “spiritual journeys,” the oil stuck in your hair. The church seems to stress again and again that conversion happens in front of people. There is a time for internal revolutions and dark nights of the soul, and there is a time for very public wrangling and submitting, where you feel like a tantrum-prone child dragged into the bath.
Each week, by Sunday afternoon, I have studied the day’s Scripture readings, read the assigned chapters in the Catechism, and maybe even gone on a Wikipedia theology spree...