Today, I had the tremendous honour of baptizing a young woman who is severely physically challenged. It was a small ceremony, with only one family member and one godparent present. The young woman is no longer able to verbally communicate, but she is very expressive and communicates in other ways. She is a quadriplegic and yes, requires much care.
We gathered as a small group to celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism, as per her wishes.
There was no talk today of quality of life. There was no commentary on abilities versus disabilities. There was no discussion on what is a fulfilling life or what is a productive life. No one spoke about ‘end of life’, or who has a right to live, or who should be permitted to make that determination.
Today I used the Rites to baptize a young woman, and welcome her into the Church. Today I observed deep emotion as people prayed , renewing their own baptismal promises. Today I saw pure joy on the face of an innocent, as she received the waters of baptism. Today I witnessed true wonder in the face of a child of God, as I anointed her with the blessed oils of the Catechumen and of Holy Chrism.
Today, I looked into the eyes of Jesus; and I touched the image and likeness of my own Creator.
God is very good, indeed.
Deacon Chuck Stevens serves in the Roman Catholic diocese of London, Ontario. A singer-songwriter, blogger, and podcaster, his diaconal ministry includes spiritual direction, several chaplaincies, and ministry to a number of nursing homes and seniors’ residences. He and his wife Kathi have five grown children. His blog, “Thoughts from Theophilus” can be found at http://deaconchuckblog.wordpress.com/