About 25-30 years ago our parish priest used to say at the end of each Easter Vigil – ‘this will not really make sense until we have someone to baptise, let’s hope that next year there will be someone’. These words have obviously stuck with me together with a growing realisation over the years that the history of salvation people talk about being recounted in the Old Testament readings is at best part of the story – when we baptise this is the night we make salvation history – it continues and is renewed today.

I am always interested how liturgical texts come off the page and draw meaning from the celebration of the liturgy. This year I was struck by the psalm responses. I imagined them as a dialogue between the person preparing for baptism and the gathered Church.

  • Send forth your spirit, O Lord,
    and renew the face of the earth.
  • The Lord fills the earth with his love.
  • Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
  • I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!
  • I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.
  • With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
  • You have the message of eternal life, O Lord
  • Like the deer that yearns for running streams,
    so my soul is yearning for you, my God.
  • A pure heart create for me, O God.
  • Alleluia!

When you meet with your neophytes to reflect on the experience and meaning of the Vigil and their baptism – to do mystagogy – one way might be to have these responses on separate pieces of paper and invite people to choose first  one which expresses how they felt before baptism and then how they felt afterwards.