October mega-baptism should keep vampires at bay

Charlie baptized

Halloween season is upon us and timing is, as they say, everything. Gracie and Emily, my 5- and 3-year-old granddaughters, are all over the holiday. The spookier, the better. Grandson Charlie, age 2 1/2 years, not so much.
“Scaaaaary, Mimi!” wide-eyed Charlie pointed out to me of the various Halloween trappings decorating their front entry.
Perhaps that’s why upon arriving at Gilroy’s St. Mary’s Church one recent Sunday, Charlie  was in such a state. Because he was certainly not his normally happy self. And standing near the large, beautiful baptismal font with wide-eyed wonder, he was probably thinking he was in for the bath of his life.
“Scary, Mimi!” he assured me seriously during a calmer moment.
Little did Charlie know that he, 3-month-old brother Cal, and 3-year-old cousin Emily were there to be baptized. And I wasn’t about to enlighten him.
Now this group baptism was a long time in the making. First we waited to baptize Emily until her family had moved here from Long Beach. Then we waited until Charlie came along so they could be baptized together. And as it always does, time flew and suddenly we had one more baby, Charlie’s brother Cal, on the way.
But finally it was time to baptize the youngest three of our grandchildren. And because my two daughters and sons-in-law are also the godparents for their niece/nephews, it became a group thing. They attended classes together, went to church together and set up the late October day for the baptism to take place.
The church filled with people as there were three other little ones being baptized that afternoon. Although our kiddos represented half of the children baptized, Charlie provided 100 percent of the entertainment. At least to those not named “Mommy” or “Daddy” to Charlie.
Now, let me interject right here that I was beyond grateful that Father Dan Derry, parish priest at St. Mary’s, was doing the baptism. Father Dan, who is retiring at the end of December, is beyond patient. And down to earth. And just about anything else you can name that makes a man a much-loved priest.
With his vast experience, Father Dan can spot a troublemaker at the get-go. And Charlie was in rare form. Whenever Father Dan approached him, Charlie launched into full-blown meltdown. So when it was time for the actual baptism, we were holding our breath.
Wisely, Father Dan let Emily go first, as she was the oldest child and she could show others (Charlie) how it was done. With sweetness and grace, Emily obligingly sat on the edge of the baptismal font, leaned back and with the pouring of water, officially became a child of God.
Now, let’s just say it’s a good thing Charlie’s daddy works out. And is super-strong. With a few instructive words from Father Dan, my son-in-law unceremoniously upended Charlie as the water spilled quickly over his forehead, dampening his golden curls and leaving him shrieking to high heaven.
“The Irish say that when a child screams like that, it’s the devil coming out of him,” quipped Father Dan knowingly amid Charlie’s wails of protest.
“In that case, Father, can you please do that again?” asked my son-in-law. Father Dan, along with our anxious family, howled with laughter.
Baby Cal was appropriately baby-like and pretty much slept through the majority of his Rite of Initiation, although Charlie was again beside himself as he witnessed baby Cal’s forehead being moistened – flashbacks of his own harrowing experience, no doubt.
Soon, we were at the closing moments when Father Dan again approached the families and the children with a last anointing of oil. He imparted that a scent mixed into the oil has been known to calm children. My son-in-law, never one to miss a trick, assured Father Dan that if it worked he’d buy a gallon right there on the spot.
So if, on Halloween Eve, there are any mischievous spirits wandering about here in South Valley, they can just move right on along. With three newly baptized little souls in our midst, vampires can take a permanent vacation.
Charlie should feel really good about that.

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