The Days After

 There once was a rector (long ago and far away from Dallas) who would do baptisms only on Easter. That struck us as extreme—if your baby was born a day after Easter, tough: you had to wait until the next Easter to have it baptized. Nonetheless, the Easter-baptisms-only priest had a point: baptism is foundationally connected with the celebration of Jesus’ victory over death.

    Many are baptized, many confirmed on Easter Eve, often these days at the Easter Vigil. This is “meet and right” (or if you prefer, “right and just”). In baptism we are united with Jesus in his death and resurrection. Going under the water and emerging on the other side is a picture of dying and rising to new life, like the Hebrews crossing through the waters of the Red Sea, or like a baby emerging from mother church’s womb.

    A friend told me of a young man baptized at the Vigil. She knew he had been thinking about it for a long time, although she never learned what he was thinking. She went to her church and—there he was, among the people getting the sacrament. She saw him afterwards. He was glad she was there. He said (again without explanation), “Pray for me.”

    This strikes me as very important, to pray for those who have just received a sacrament especially in the days that come after. For once the candles are extinguished and the friends have all gone home, once one is back in one’s ordinary life, it is a temptation to think that nothing has changed. Or it can be worse: one may find it a time of back-sliding, of strange impulses to bad behavior. Decades ago a spiritual director said to me: “Victor, if you were the devil, where would you focus your energies?” One place, it seems to me, would be on those people who have just received sacraments. 

    The young man said, “Pray for me.” He knew his new life was only beginning. Maybe he also knew the meaning of the line at the end of the Lord’s Prayer, “Lead us not into temptation.” That line is a request that God give us perseverance to stick with him to the end of our life. It is our asking God to save us in the time of trial. It’s true what happened at the font: we have been brought out of death into life. Yet that is a promise and not yet a full reality. We need God to guide us and to defend us. We cannot get along without God.

    Which is why, even when baptismal water is still wet on our skin, it is wise to say, “Pray for me.”


    Out & About: By the time you read this I will be on pilgrimage; the next of these epistles will come to you from the Camino Francés. The first time I walked that path I learned (at the end) that a pilgrimage is not a retreat but rather an intensification of ordinary life. On the Camino is everyone, and knowingly or not we are all walking the Way of the Cross. Or to put it the other way, Jesus, on his way to the Cross, is walking alongside all of us. That thought, I find, is at once heavy and yet encouraging.

    I will next preach on Trinity Sunday, May 26, at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Dallas. And the next Good Books & Good Talk seminar will be at St. Matthew’s on June 2, on Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro.


The Rev. Canon Victor Lee Austin. Ph.D., is the Theologian-in-Residence for the diocese and is the author of several books including, "Friendship: The Heart of Being Human" and "A Post-Covid Catechesis.: