06 Baptism by Ice - Fr Joshan Rodrigues

posted Jan 9, 2019, 8:57 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 9, 2019, 8:58 AM ]
How a social media craze reminded me of my baptism and the call to live it in my daily life.

The Ice Bucket Challenge went viral on social media a couple of years ago, first in the US, and then quickly spreading across the globe. The challenge required participants to be filmed having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads, either by another person, or by doing it oneself. Once completed, the participant had to nominate others to take the challenge, which had to be completed within 24 hours, or else make a charitable financial donation as a forfeit. The Ice Bucket Challenge began as a novel idea to increase awareness of the ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) disease and raise money for research.

Videos popped up in the hundreds on my social media pages, of people dumping ice cold water over their heads, and barely being able to utter the names of their nominees over the sound of chattering teeth. The videos were amusing, but I was left wondering – how many of those people actually knew anything about the ALS disease? Had they made any financial contribution towards medical research on this disease, or even talked about it with their friends and colleagues? Had an ingenious way of promoting awareness about Lou Gehrig's disease simply ended up becoming the current temporary social media hysteria? Thankfully, I was not nominated.

The challenge of Christian Baptism

When it comes to me, however, my favourite ritual involving water is pouring the blest waters over an infant's head three times at the baptismal font. Seeing the beautiful baby in the arms of his/her proud and beaming parents, being welcomed into the Church, into the Family of God, is a sight to behold. The Ice Bucket Challenge, for whatever it was worth, really did manage to bring together a wide and diverse group of people from all over the world under a common cause. The ritual of pouring ice and water over one's head in the name of stopping an illness was connecting people at a human level, regardless of whether s/he was a celebrity or a regular college going kid.