In the space of three days (May 26 & May 29) the Sebastian extended family quickly increased by two to eleven. The family gathers after the Baptism of Baby Anselmo Dante Spiotta. From left to right are grandparents Paul & Jaga, Daniel, Stephanie, & Baby Anselm Spiotta; John-Paul I, Elizabeth, & Baby John Paul II; Joseph, and Naomi Sebastian Faro. John Faro, a medical student at the University of Cincinnati, could not come due to an important capstone end of the third year exam.
When the Archangel Gabriel asked Mary if she would be willing to accept the great mission that God had for this young and simple virgin in her teen years and she gave her “Fiat” or "Yes" for the ages. He also informed her that her cousin Elizabeth was with child and was already in her sixth month. “Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste......” to help. In that same spirit Jaga with me tagging along traveled to Dallas to help our daughter-in-law Elizabeth and daughter Stephanie who were both with child. So began a ten week (May 1 to July 7) shuttle between the two homes a couple of miles apart.
On Monday evening May 24, already two days overdue, our son John-Paul took his wife Elizabeth Herrera-Sebastian to the hospital to be slowly induced because Dr. Carmichael didn't want the baby to be too big. Our daughter Naomi, a labor & delivery nurse, gave Elizabeth some reassuring coaching through texting from Cincinnati while her mother Nancy Herrera was on the scene with her support.
After 46 hours of labor and suspenseful waiting......It's a boy! John Paul and Elizabeth wanted the gender of the baby to be a surprise and indeed he was. He's no longer "Little Nugget", his prenatal nickname, but John Paul Herrera-Sebastian II, who made his appearance on the world stage and came home this past Friday to a joyous welcome as Act 2 began in his life with his Mom directing. Elizabeth's theatrical plays at Nimitz High School are fantasy. This is for real as Baby John Paul will have many scenes full of adventures in his life. A second John Paul entered the life of Elizabeth and her life has changed forever.
With the compound last name, Tony Herrera has a grandson to carry on his family name. We're very happy about that. My grandfather, Rev. Vladimir Mihalich had five daughters with no one to carry on his name. I did to some extent in Peru, signing all of my articles in the city's two newspapers as Pablo Sebastian Mihalich. It's customary in Hispanic countries for the child to carry the surnames of the father and the mother in that order.
Including Herrera as part of the surname honors the Latin Amercan heritage of Baby John Paul II. That name honors his Polish heritage and the great St. Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) from Poland, now a canonized saint for the ages. See "Accomplishments of St. Pope John Paul"
http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2011/10/accomplishments-of-blessed-pope-john.html and "Memories of Seeing St. Pope John Paul II Three Times When He Visited Detroit September 1987"
http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2012/10/memories-of-seeing-blesseed-pope-john.html. Baby John Paul grandparents were there. At the same time Baby John-Paul II was named after his father.
One born, one more to go. Anselmo already named was due on June 5. So the day after little Juan Pablito came home, May 29, we were happy to have a few days to relax and enjoy him. However, it seems, Anselmito didn't like the idea of being upstaged. Stephanie came to greet her new nephew for the first time on that Saturday morning. However, since 9 am, Stefcia was starting to feel contractions and vomited. She asked Jaga, her mother, to accompany her to her home and to the hospital when the time comes.
I started to write an e-mail requesting prayers, but after Stephanie took a shower as her sister Naomi suggested from Cincinnati, the frequency of Stephanie's contractions decreased. Seeming like a false alarm, I got ready to take a shower myself and a text message came from Jaga: “Water bag broke. We're going to the hospital”.
It was a race against time and traffic. The contractions were getting more intense. They arrived at the hospital, a labyrinth of buildings in Fort Worth, with an entrance difficult to find. In the parking lot they somehow ran into their obstetrician, Dr. Melisa Weider, who led them to their room. Later she related: "I wondered to myself what would have happened if I had not met them in the parking lot." The doula, Kaitlyn G'sell admitted that she was nervous that the baby might be born in the car.
In contrast to Elizabeth........after 7½ hours of labor it only took a couple of strenuous pushes and the baby popped out within half an hour with the support of her husband Daniel along with the coaching of her mother Jaga and the doula, Stephanie had a relic of St. Therese the Little Flower with her and prayed for a birth that was not too hard because she is too little for a difficult one.
Baby Anselmo landed on planet Earth at 4:24 pm, Saturday May 29. Jaga promptly sent another message as I finished my shower: "Baby is here." Wow! This baby means business!......Anselmo Dante Spiotta checked in at 8 lb. 9 oz, 21 in, and of course, big Sebastian feet.
The name Anselmo Dante Spiotta honors his rich Italian heritage. His patron saint to follow as a model is St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), a noted Doctor of the Church and Archbishop of Canterbury, England. Born in the Italian Alps, his birth name was Anselmo d'Aosta. Among his more noted books is “Why God Became a Man”. His theological method stressed by Augustine is “Faith Seeking Understanding”. The latter by its Latin name is “Fides quaerens intellectum”, which is the motto on the emblem of Thomas Aquinas College, the alma mater of Baby Anselm’s mother. For more detail on St. Anselm see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anselm_of_Canterbury.
Jaga, Joseph, and I helped to clean the Spiotta house the next day. Daniel's parents Ron and Anne Spiotta arrived early in the evening after a 14 hour drive from Chicago. Daniel's brother Raymond was about to drive north to Chicago from Kansas, but instead went due south to Texas. The next day May 31 there was another joyous welcome for mother, father, and Baby Elmo. Daniel's family and our complete family were there for a second joyful welcome.
Grandma Spiotta full of joy with her first grandson. Notice the beautiful peony flowers she brought from her garden especially for Stephanie (one of her favorite flowers). Ron and Anne enjoyed the scent throughout the 14 hour drive. So little Elmo was born during the peony season.
Joseph was already here since Baby Juan Pablito came home, doing his software development work for Epic from our bedroom which served as a makeshift office. Naomi arranged her schedule and vacation time to be with us for these momentous occasions in our family, having arrived the previous night. What does Naomi do as a labor & delivery nurse? Take a look at her t-shirt: “We take people out of tight spaces.”
Grandpa Spiotta made an exquisite Heirloom Baby Cradle with a lot of love put into it not only for his first grandchild, but also for all of his grandchildren and great grandchildren that will follow. It’s something out of pioneer days that you can’t buy anywhere. Ron Spiotta wrote a beautiful message for them to be handed down with the rocking cradle through many future generations of Spiottas. See Ron Spiotta's message in its entirety in the Appendix and how he did it.
Ron leads a family office, which provides wealth management and financial administrative services for high net worth families. Yet he has a remarkable versatility outside of finance to have fine woodworking as a hobby. The heirloom baby cradle is in the photo below.
Thank you, Lord for allowing me to live to see my first two grandchildren. What magnificent creations! And God allows us to participate in them. As He intended, each of our babies is the product of a man and a woman deep in love in complete mutual self-giving.......a certain reflection of the Holy Trinity.
The union of a microscopic sperm and ovum forms the baby's first cell, including the unique DNA molecule which has the complete complex program to form a unique little human being as a baby in the womb and after birth continue to develop him/her little by little into a mature adult while the parents provide loving care and food. Imagine, even if it were possible (of course it is not) to write a computer program to create a comparable robot.........that would require perhaps millions of lines of code.
God in His magnificent providence, planned and designed it all.......making the following Bible verse very true.“
You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb.
I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works!
My very self you knew; my bones were not hidden from you,
When I was being made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth.” (Psalm 139:13-15)
The two little angels seem to be flying with their wings as one asks the other, "Who are you, Bub?" "Don't you know I'm your cousin?" Baby Juan Pablito is on the left and Baby Anselmito is on the right. May the two cousins be good friends for the rest of their lives.
These two tiny babies really were created out of nothing for eternity as were their parents, grandparents, and ancestors dating back to Adam and Eve. The little baby has its intricate mechanisms and complex systems in place.......skeletal, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, nervous, reproductive, etc. and after further development able to think, to talk, to see, to hear, to express ideas, to feel, to walk, to run, to work, and to create. One must see design in it all. For more detail see
"God's Most Magnificent Creation........From the Perspective of an Engineer........Design, Design: You are amazing; you are a walking miracle".
It's fascinating to watch the baby develop each month in the womb through ultrasound and after birth continue to develop physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually for the rest of his life. The human being is God's most marvelous work, created according to His own image and likeness for eternity, each with a special mission. The human being has added dignity because Christ, the Son of God suffered and died to redeem him/her. To destroy that marvelous work of God......that's the tremendous evil of abortion!
Multiple Languages. You may have noted above that both babies are addressed by their official names and alternate names depending upon the situation or context. One is the language spoken. Both babies will have at least some knowledge of three languages……English, Polish, and Spanish. Grandpa Sebastian, Grandpa Herrera, Great grandmother Manuela, and others will speak to them only in Spanish. John Paul, Stephanie, their mother Babcia Sebastian, and relatives will speak to them in Polish.
According to research a child is capable of learning an unlimited number of languages and will not confuse one language with another as long as each person consistently speaks to the child in one and only one language. Then the child identifies the language with the person.
Three generations celebrate Father’s Day with a painting of the Holy Family behind them........Daniel & Baby Anselmo Spiotta and John Paul I & Baby John Paul II Sebastian with Grandpa Sebastian in the middle.
The Miracle of Baptism
Two Babies; Two Rites East and West; One Church
Our two babies were baptized, one in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and the other in the Byzantine Rite, thus becoming baby Christians.........Anselmo Dante Spiotta on Friday June 4 in “Rome” at Mater Dei Latin Mass Parish in Irving, Texas and John Paul Herrera-Sebastian II the next day on his father's birthday in “Byzantium” at St. Basil the Great Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church also in Irving, a suburb of Dallas. For an explanation of the rites of the Catholic Church which adapt to diverse cultures, go to "The Diverse Rites of the Catholic Church........Our Byzantine Catholic Experience Deep in the Heart of Texas During the Eastertide"
The bi-ritual Benedictine monk from New Zealand, Fr. Christopher Andrews baptized them both …....Anselmito in the Latin Rite and Juan Pablito in the Byzantine rite of the Catholic Church. He also married John-Paul and Elizabeth.
Both baptisms have a short exorcism ritual of any possible evil spirit affecting the one to be baptized. That makes sense when one considers that the devil (sometimes called accuser and divider) has been very active throughout history.......persecutions from shortly after Pentecost until now still intense, heresies, schisms, the negative consequences in the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation to Catholics and Protestants alike, internal corruption, plagues, human sacrifice, abortion, genocide, wars, conquest, revolutions, terrorism, slavery, racism, discord, exploitation of the poor, strikes, crime, the drug epidemic, family breakups, abuse of women and children, promiscuity, etc.......in sum, old fashioned sin while the Church miraculously survives crisis after crisis, century after century because Christ is always with us as He promised (Matthew 28:20). The battle between good and evil is constant
Fr. Christopher Andrews baptizes Baby Anselmo Dante Spiotta in the Latin rite while his godfather Raymond Spiotta, godmother Claire Galin, and his parents look on. Since Baby Anselm’s parents belong to Mater Dei Latin Mass parish, naturally the Baptism was also conducted in Latin.
In the Latin Rite the form is pouring water over the baby's head while saying “I baptize you Anselmo in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”. If a baby is in danger of imminent death and no priest is available, anyone can baptize using this form.
In the Byzantine Rite the words are the same, but the baby is immersed in a large brass bowl of water, including his/her forehead. Then the baptized puts on a new robe or garment, signifying that s/he is a new person in Christ, aspiring to live a new and holy life.
Baby Juan Pablito received the three sacraments of initiation all at once.......Baptism, Confirmation to deepen the first sacrament, and the Eucharist with a morsel. The child will make his/her first confession at about the age of seven or eight. In the late 1990s we attended a Byzantine Catholic liturgy with Jaga holding our Baby Joseph. The priest came through the standing room only congregation, dispensing Holy Communion. We were taken by surprise when our Roman Catholic Joseph received his First Holy Communion at the age of one.
At the end of the Byzantine liturgy, the priest raised Baby Juan Pablito over his head and processed with him around the altar, consecrating him to God the same as Mary and Joseph consecrated their first born to God in the temple.
Godparents. Baby Anselmo's godfather is his Uncle Raymond Spiotta, brother of Daniel. His godmother is Dr. Claire Galin, a dear friend.
Baby Juan Pablito's godfather is Joseph Sebastian, the kid brother of John-Paul I. His godmother is Victoria Herrera, Elizabeth's sister.
Baptism is the first of the seven sacraments, a prerequisite to the other six.......outward signs instituted by Christ to give grace. According to St. Pope John Paul II the Great, it is the most important of the sacraments. He himself allowed St. John the Baptist to baptize Him with sinners (Matthew 3:11-17; Mark 1:4-11; Luke 3:15-22) to show His solidarity with the human race and taking on our sins for which He will make reparation on the cross. At the same time, the Holy Spirit anointed Him as priest, prophet, and king. Christ instituted the sacrament of Baptism when He gave the apostles the great commission to “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20).
The sin of Adam and Eve was blatant disobedience, a rejection of God's word and acceptance of the deceitful words of the devil. As a result all humanity was deprived of Heaven and the children of the first parents (us) bear much of their shame for committing the original sin. Thus every human being that comes into this world bears that stigma inherited from our first parents, a spiritual disease, a state or condition of sin, a propensity to sin with an absence of sanctifying grace or holiness. This is called original sin.
It took a redeemer, namely Jesus Christ, the Son of God to make reparation for the original sin and all the sins of the world. Christ instituted Baptism as a gift to be received by faith in order to wash away the stain of original sin and all other past sins, purify the soul, and instill in it a sharing of the divine life of God which is sanctifying grace. The water is a sign of life and of cleansing. Baptism opens the gates of Heaven to all who accept God and follow Him.
With Baptism one is reborn as an adopted child (son) of God, and united with Jesus into His death and Resurrection…..dying of the old self and rising to a new and fullness of life in Christ.
Baptism joins us to Christ’s priesthood as well as to His prophetic and kingly mission. Our priestly mission is to offer sacrifices to God --our good works, praise, our crosses (suffering)-- and participate with the priest at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We share in Christ’s prophetic mission by being living witnesses to Him. We are royal heirs to the kingdom of God.
Furthermore, the baptized person is initiated into the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ. As St. Paul said, “We were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13). See https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/sacraments-and-sacramentals/baptism .
The two boys will never be so pure in their lives on this side of eternity. May each one of them, Anselm and John Paul, be always faithful to the Church and the special mission that God has for each one of them. May they lead their future siblings in that direction.
For more photos of the birth and Baptism of Anselmo Dante Spiotta, write “Daniel Spiotta” firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reflections of Bishop Barron on the
Sacrament of Baptism
The Heirloom & the Love That Grandpa Spiotta Put Into It
Mama Stephanie admiring her baby Anselmo and the Heirloom Baby Cradle built by his paternal grandfather, Ron Spiotta.
Ronald J. Spiotta
“Heirloom Baby Cradle”
Woodsmith Magazine – Issue 48
May 15, 2021
TO MY GRANDCHILDREN …
This Heirloom Baby Cradle was handcrafted by me, Ronald J. Spiotta. It is constructed from solid 4/4 walnut, and was completed on May 15, 2021. The cradle plans were originally published in Woodsmith Magazine, Issue No. 48 (December 1986).
When our oldest son, Raymond, was still in the womb 33 years ago, I purchased from Woodsmith Magazine the “Heirloom Cradle Kit,” consisting of 22 spindles and 6 knobs. I intended to build this cradle for Ray in 1988 – but only after completing the changing table I was then making to match a hutch that Anne’s dad (Paul Maxwell) made for her in 1981.
By the time I finished building Raymond’s changing table, it was obvious that the cradle could not be completed before Ray would outgrow it. So, I literally shelved the project, putting the spindle kit in my woodshop cabinet … and I waited … for over three decades!
In October 2020, upon learning that Daniel & Stephanie were expecting their first child in June 2021, I recovered the spindle kit from my woodshop cabinet and committed to build the cradle for my grandkids instead of for my own kids.
Soon thereafter, I began studying the published plans, devising my modifications thereto, and developing a production program. Walnut stock was purchased on January 15, 2021, and construction began in February, as time permitted.
This cradle was by far the most challenging of my woodworking projects – and in myriad ways, it was the most satisfying. Excepting the lathe, every single power tool in my woodshop was utilized in the cradle’s creation. Many new construction processes, joinery techniques, and finishes were employed in achieving the final product. Very fun!
Most delightful, however, is the hope that this “Heirloom Baby Cradle” will become just that – a Spiotta Family Heirloom to be shared by Daniel and Raymond (and their progeny) as future generations of Spiottas are rocked to soothing slumber within the lovingly-built basket of this cradle.
A MESSAGE FROM MY HEART TO MY GRANDCHILDREN AND THEIR CHILDREN
Although you will have no memory of spending any time in this cradle, know this: Your Grandpa built this cradle with you in mind, and the basket in which you slept was filled with my love for you.
Anne and I have been praying for you from before you were even a twinkle in your parents’ eyes. It has been our fervent prayer:
§ That you will grow up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
§ That in God’s perfect time, you will repent of your sin and cry out to the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, grace, and redemption – for “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
§ That, like Jesus, you will keep “increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:52)
§ That you will become a godly man or woman: embracing the gospel, zealous for the glory of Jesus Christ, and pursuing a life empowered and controlled by the Holy Spirit.
In Psalm 139 King David records a beautiful expression of God’s majestic, omnipotent, and creative power. Anne and I have marveled at these verses for a very long time – since the days our children, Raymond and Daniel, were yet in the womb. Even now, decades later as our first grandchild is being prepared by the Father to commence “the days that were ordained for me,” our marvel is rekindled afresh!
Psalm 139:13-18 –
13 For Thou didst form my inward parts;
Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Thy works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from Thee,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.
16 Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Thy book they were all written,
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
17 How precious also are Thy thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.When I awake, I am still with Thee.
May you never cease to wonder at the mighty, magnificent, and skillful craftsmanship with which God wove you together and imparted life to both body and soul …
May your heart cry out with David’s: “Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well!” …
May you cling to God’s infinite thoughts as intimately precious … and …
May you rejoice that He is still with you when you awake from sleep in your cradle.