Bearing Baptismal fire

Parents and Godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. She is to walk always as a child of the light. May she keep the flame of faith alive in her heart. When the Lord comes, may she go out to meet Him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom. – Rite of Baptism for Children, §100

The Church does not dispense the sacrament of baptism in order to acquire for herself an increase in membership but in order to consecrate a human being to God and to communicate to that person the divine gift of birth from God. ― Hans Urs von Balthasar

A dear friend shared with me this absolutely remarkable music video by the very Catholic contemporary sacred music composer and performer, Audrey Assad.

The video, accompanied by the song, Be Thou My Vision, is an allegory of the perilous journey of life from baptismal innocence to eternal life. It is filled with rich symbols of faith, but the most prominent one is the “flame of faith” that is lit at baptism and entrusted to our parents/godparents when we are children, but then to us as adults.

The key, according to the baptismal rite, is to keep the flame burning throughout life. Life, however, is filled with innumerable distractions and threats to that flame; to the resolute journey toward the Kingdom of God in the Age to Come. Both colorful and dark threats confront God’s pilgrim people, as we are tempted by both seductive beauties and fearful horrors to abandon the Way that leads to life and allow the flame to dim and die.

Audrey reminds us, throughout this allegorical tale, that the most important element for “success” on the journey is prayer. Listen carefully to the song’s words that accompany the woman’s journey, addressed directly to God. Faithfulness is not possible apart from this divine-human colloquy of personal prayer. God wishes to walk with us along the Way, but always awaits our responsive opening to His offer; awaits our unfolding in prayer like flowers to the Sun above the canopy.

The woman’s final act before fully entering the spacious land of Paradise is to cast the fire, the whole of her life of faith, into the sacrificial Wood by which the whole cosmos was redeemed. “The Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done” (1 Cor. 3:13).

Watch when you have a free 4 minutes. Lyrics below.

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art –
thou my best thought, by day or by night;
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord.
Thou my great Father; I thy true son,
thou in me dwelling and I with thee, one.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise;
thou mine inheritance, now and always;
thou and thou only first in my heart,
high King of heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

6 comments on “Bearing Baptismal fire

  1. Jennifer says:

    May I borrow liberally from this for Baptism Prep?
    (and Audrey Assad is amazing…That voice!)

    • What I write here is not copyrighted precisely so it can be stolen liberally. 🙂 She IS amazing!! Blessings, dear Jennifer!!!

      • Jennifer says:

        Sorry, I’m being Canadian. I knew you’d say yes but I can’t flat out assert my intention to borrow without asking permission. Thanks though. It really does a great job of capturing the exciting gravity of what begins with this sacrament (Well, gravity sounds too glum, how about the astounding immensity of the life the person is being invited into…?) God bless you too!

      • Thank you for that respect. And for playing along with my playfulness. “astounding immensity of the life the person is being invited into” is marvelous and adequate to the task!

  2. Katy says:

    Tom, thanks so much for writing. I have enjoyed your blog for many months now, and passed it on to many friends, but have yet to comment. It is a treasure.

    If there were a music video to “Till We Have Faces” this might be it. Especially marking the journey of Psyche. Thanks be to God, he tends to the flame of our hearts, whether it be big or small, throughout our lives.

    “The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.”
    CS Lewis, Till We Have Faces

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