beninese baptism

Can you spot us?

Andy was raised Catholic and has said all along that he wanted to have Flynn baptized. That was just fine with me. Religiously I’m Unitarian if anything, which in case you don’t know is of the all-religions-have-some-truth-and-should-be-embraced persuasion. So Catholicism? Sure. He can be Catholic. He will also learn about other religions and be free to make his own decisions when the time comes, which is perhaps not exactly what the Catholic church has in mind, but so it goes.

Anyway, though we agreed to baptize Flynn, we’ve been a little overwhelmed since he was born so we put the whole baptism thing on the back burner until now. Looking back I’m not sure why we didn’t pull the trigger sooner. It really was no work at all. Luckily for us Flynn’s nanny Marie is very very Catholic and was very very excited about the idea of helping facilitate Flynn’s baptism. All we had to do was give her the okay and she ran with it — finding a church near our house, arranging a meeting with the priest, shuttling us to said meeting, helping us decipher exactly what paperwork was needed, delivering said paperwork back to the church, wrangling us to a practice session and then finally escorting us to the baptism itself, where she served as Flynn’s stand-in godparent in the absence of the godparents we chose for him who live back in the States.

We had a choice between a private or a group baptism but decided the group one would be more interesting. It definitely was. At the practice session the night before we learned at least one interesting thing: American babies are whiny. Flynn is actually a generally good, quiet baby, but he’s a baby and when forced to sit still for an extended period of time, babies fuss. Or so I thought. Apparently it’s just American babies that fuss. Every last one of those Beninese babies was quiet and angelic. It was bizarre. Marie says it’s because Flynn’s American and not used to the heat, but he’s lived in Benin just about as long as these other babies so I’m not sure he can really get away with that excuse. It remains a mystery.

Outside for five minutes and already pink all over.

Probably 30 to 40 babies and their parents and godparents all gathered out in front of the church for some administrative rigmarole. The priest went around one by one to confirm each baby’s name, and because of both language and religious barriers I thought at first he was asking for the Catholic name. “Oh my God we didn’t pick one! I can’t think up something like this on the spot!” I panicked to Andy. He, being an actual Catholic, was able to reassure me that the naming thing happens at confirmation, not baptism, and that the priest was just asking for Flynn’s actual name. Phew.

Another phew: just about as soon as we moved into the church Flynn fell into a deep, deep sleep. This was very good news because the options at this time of day were either sleep or an overtired mess of awfulness, which would have seemed even more awful compared to those quiet, angelic Beninese babies. But luckily he slept through the songs, through the readings. He slept through being blessed. He even slept through having a whole cup of water poured on his head.

Yep, still sleeping.

He did wake up right at the end of the ceremony just in time for some photos.

Flynn's fan club.

And by the time we left the church and arrived at the ice cream parlor to celebrate, he was of course wide awake. Definitely awake enough to demand to sample some out of everyone’s bowl.

“We’re awful parents,” I complained to Andy as I spooned ice cream into Flynn’s wide open mouth. “He’s eaten nothing but junk today. First pancakes, then graham crackers and now this.”

Andy’s reply: “Eh, we got his soul saved today, so I think in the end we come out ahead.”

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4 Responses to beninese baptism

  1. bfiles says:

    this is so sweet. what a great experience. do you say congratulations about a baptism? not sure. anyway, you guys are adorable.

  2. Greta says:

    This is awesome! We are baptizing in June in Ukraine. Oleg can’t take the guilt any longer.

  3. Daniela says:

    Loved the pictures and the story!

  4. carolyn says:

    Love it! Flynn is ahead of Charlotte. Her baptism isn’t until the end of June. Hope all are doing well!

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