Baptisms and Funerals: Mirror Images

 By Leslie W. Bertucci

In the middle of April, I was blessed to attend both a baptism and a funeral, within days of each other, immediately before and after the feast of Divine Mercy.

At first glance, these two events seem to be polar opposites. Thanks to Mother Church and the beauty of the sacraments, the two are like mirror images of one another.

We gathered in church on the vigil of Divine Mercy for the baptism of my fourth grandchild and celebrated Mass, then witnessed precious eight-week-old Charlotte enter the family of God.

The sprinkling of holy water, the sweet smell of chrism, the joyful singing all testified that we are a people who celebrate with all five senses. The outward sign of the inward reality can be seen, heard, smelled, tasted and touched. The only part of the sacrament that remains invisible to our earthly eyes is the indelible mark left on our souls.

Two days later, we gathered in a different church for the funeral of my dear friend Angela, who was my age. We met two decades ago when our children were little, and we all quickly became best friends.

Just like at the baptism, we began with a celebration of Mass. The sprinkling of holy water on the coffin, the sweet smell of incense, the joyful singing all testified to the celebration of her life, and the belief that she would forever be in the presence of the God she loved so steadfastly. And that, for the first time, she was able to see with heavenly eyes the indelible mark her own baptism left on her soul, forever marking her as a child of God.

May we all end as we begin – immersed in God’s mercy, marked as his child, held in the palm of his hand.

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