Extraordinary Moments in Ordinary Time

Baptism shellI watched the five-year-old children in swimsuits step gingerly up to the font. Climbing the two stairs up seemed pretty easy, but every one of them waited before taking two steps down. What was their hesitation?

Every eye in the packed church was focused on the font as the four children waited their turns. Excitement was building among the assembly, as if each of us was willing the children to step forward. We held a collective breath as they held themselves back. Didn’t they know an extraordinary moment was right within reach?

When the elongated seconds finally gave way and a child slowly stepped down, the congregation breathed again. Each child cringed in anticipation before the warm water was poured on his or her head. What were they expecting? What had they been told?

Each one relaxed and enjoyed the flow of moisture. Their trepidation was gone. Once baptized, they knelt in the font, savoring the waters. Now they didn’t want to get out!

Smiles broad afterwards, each child stepped from the font to be wrapped in fluffy white towels. I saw a rich symbol of the love surrounding them in this congregation.

Two sets of twins were baptized at Sunday Mass. The parents served as godparents for each other’s children. The mothers were sisters.

We applauded raucously. Where did this joy come from that welled up within the already baptized? Was it the ability to be witnesses to this ordinary yet exhilarating ceremony? Was it the uniqueness of two sets of twins?

Next, a baby from another family was dipped into the waters. I felt like I’d witnessed a miracle. Baptisms don’t happen every week at our church. At the same time, it’s a common enough sight to witness a Baptism.

The symbols of our faith are profound. Simple, everyday water evokes images, expectations, and dread. I’m reminded of experiences of joy, comfort, and new beginnings.

And after the Baptisms, an enthusiastic presider took a pine branch and doused the congregation, some of whom cringed—as the children had—when the cool droplets hit their pew.

Perhaps we all fear something new, remember moments of hesitation, and give thanks when with courage we take the plunge and encounter an enveloping love. Our worst fears are unfounded.

As I remembered my own initiation into God’s growing family, I pondered the joyous miracles which come to pass in ordinary times.

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Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and the author of 2022: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Women in Conversation: Stand Up!, and Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. A spiritual director since 2012, Loretta is trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Her involvement in ministry and parish life includes 20 years in small faith-sharing groups and Christian Life Community. Loretta gives retreats and presentations on prayer and women’s spirituality and is commissioned as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.


  1. In a world obsessed with aberrant and often evil behavior on the “news” and on Twitter, the quiet beauty of extraordinary grace flowing under the ordinary sign of water is profound. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Thank you for sharing this extraordinary experience. As I read this reflection I thought about the families who had made the decision to baptize their five-year-olds and thanked God for whatever happened to prompt them to do so. That is a thought-out and heart-felt decision!

  3. What a beautiful narrative of an important spiritual moment in the lives of these children, their families, and really the entire church congregation. Very evocative and moving.

  4. This was a great read!
    ” The symbols of our faith are profound. Simple, everyday water evokes images, expectations, and dread. I’m reminded of experiences of joy, comfort, and new beginnings.”
    I feel Our Lords Refreshing as I read!! Blessings!!


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