Part of the Mary Moment Monday series

He’s held all of my children at the most important moments of their lives, within hours of their births and at their baptisms. He officiated at my wedding and, a few years before that, welcomed me into full communion with the Catholic Church by baptizing and confirming me.

So I found myself, on Saturday evening’s baptism Mass for our son, a little choked up. Here was a man I admire so greatly representing a faith I embrace so heartily and welcoming the newest member of my family to this larger family of faith.

Luckily for me, God answers prayers. Even prayers that are prayed during Mass when one finds oneself facing a large group of fellow parishioners that go something like “PleasepleasePLEASE don’t let me make a gibbering fool of myself.”

He answered my prayer with a three-year-old who started the baptismal Mass by running down the center aisle, just as things were getting started, with the proclamation, “Time for me to go now!”

Then He answered it AGAIN with the same three-year-old, who marched up to the altar and joined us at the baptismal font, keeping her mother from certain tears.

And THEN, during the Knights of Columbus presentation at the end of Mass, that same answer-to-prayer came up to the front AGAIN and proceeded to lift her skirt and smile fetchingly at all the people who were chuckling (or horrified perhaps).

So to say that it was an interesting Mass is an understatement. (To say that I had to swallow my tongue, at first, to see the humor in all of this is also an understatement.)

What I felt, more than anything else, was the joy of the moment. It was the Fourth Sunday of Advent, after all, and our Joy is so very, very near now. To have a baptism at that Mass seemed appropriate, a heralding of sorts.

When Father took the baby to the altar for the Our Father (which is, he says, a rubric that’s in all the books…one that always shocks and delights people, one that he considers standard but which many others do not), I felt a part of myself give a bit. Just a bit. But added to the other bits, I can’t help but realize, once again, that this parenting gig has really changed me.

And then there was the expression on my sister-in-law’s face.

Don’t you just feel uplifted? All of these pictures make me smile: a pure sort of smile, one that makes me a better person for having seen her unblemished delight in this new life. I feel like my son is a gift to her, and that I am some sort of vessel. In that feeling, I sense a shadow of Mary. I don’t mean to say that I’m anything like Mary, because I’m not. I mean that somehow, in a year that has been nothing short of harrowing, here’s hope, packaged in the very best sort of wrapping, that of a baby.

It’s the best glimpse I’ve ever had of what Christmas truly means. It’s also the closest I’ve ever felt to the Blessed Mother, watching this woman I admire love my son so openly and joyfully.

Mary certainly shared her Son with many other people. I’ve had this sense before, with my two daughters, of sharing my children and somehow giving a larger portion of myself to the people on the receiving end. It requires a humility I’m unacquainted with, one with that’s uncomfortable and new.

The fruit of this humility, though, leads me closer to Mary and all the virtues she embodies. The practice of this strangeness helps me to see beyond the confines of my small world and gives me, more than anything, an empathy I wouldn’t naturally have.

It is, perhaps, one of very best ways in which parenting has reshaped me and molded me into a different (and, I hope, better) person.

A special thanks to our very wonderful friend who not only took these photos, but uploaded them the very next day. Heather, our usual photographer, was busy being the other godmother, along with her husband, the godfather, and was off the hook. 🙂

In other news…