A Word in Season
Baptized and Claimed for Christ through the Ages
Prior to the trip to Lourdes, I learned that my paternal grandmother's home village was located in the south of France. Intrigued, my husband and I rented a car and explored the little town of Lembeye, where my immigrant grandmother began her life.
As beautiful as Lourdes was (in terms of the grandeur of being a world famous sacred destination), Lembeye was, on a personal level, just as beautiful to me. There, I entered into the Eglise de l'Assomption à Lembeye, the Church of the Assumption at Lembeye, an old 19th-century church—the only one in town—and likely the place where my grandmother was baptized and received her first sacraments. I could not be sure, since I do not have Nana's baptismal certificate, but this little French church might very well have been the source of my faith origins. Today I continue to reap the benefits of the faith that has been handed on to me from earlier generations.
When I was a young first communicant, my grandmother gave me her rosary beads as a gift. I still have them today, but more important, I have the faith that they represent, long after her passing. As I walked the streets of Lembeye, and as my husband and I lunched on cheese and baguettes in the church courtyard, I imagined her presence as a little girl. I not only have a familial history, a blood relationship, with my grandmother, but a faith connection as well. Even today I am united to her through the body and blood of Jesus Christ who is the Head of the Body of Christ, and all its members. Both in Lourdes, and in Lembeye, I had a sense of the eternal communion of saints, found in the so-called church militant (or the church now striving) on earth, the church suffering (or being purified) in purgatory, and the church triumphant (those enjoying their eternal reward) in heaven.
We were made for this: to grow up, and live, ultimately, in a communion of saints through our families, among our friends, and within our churches.
Even a convert to Catholicism, who may not share a family legacy of faith beforehand, is now adopted in and yoked to this amazing familial communion in heaven and earth. Not only that, a convert's life—indeed, every Christian's life!—is an opportunity to begin a legacy that brings others to baptism, and to the fullness of faith that baptism initiates.
For some day, some very fine day, it won't matter where we were baptized, or why, or when -- it will just matter that we were on the receiving end of the grace that started it all, leading us to the meet the Father, the Son, and Spirit in their fullness, and the loved ones that are joined with them there.
Pat Gohn is a Catholic writer, speaker, and the host of the Among Women Podcast and blog. Her book Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood is published by Ave Maria Press. Subscribe to “A Word in Season” via email or RSS.