RBC 18-19: Rites of Baptism, Conclusion

Getting to the Baptism ritual itself:

18. In the celebration of the sacrament:

  1. The immediate preparation consists of:
    1. the solemn prayer of the celebrant, which, by invoking God and recalling his plan of salvation, blesses the water of baptism or makes reference to its earlier blessing;
    2. the renunciation of Satan on the part of parents and godparents and their profession of faith, to which is added the assent of the celebrant and the community; and the final interrogation of the parents and godparents.
  2. The sacrament itself consists of the washing in water by way of immersion or infusion, depending on local custom, and the invocation of the blessed Trinity.

The completion of the sacrament consists, first, of the anointing with chrism, which signifies the royal priesthood of the baptized and enrollment into the company of the people of God; then of the ceremonies of the white garment, lighted candle, and ephphetha rite (the last of which is optional).

The post-baptismal rites are seen as the “completion” of this first celebration. Most clergy I know omit the ephphetha (the unsealing of the ears and lips)  but my current pastor utilizes it always.

19. Before the altar to prefigure the future sharing in the eucharist, the celebrant introduces and all recite the Lord’s Prayer, in which God’s children pray to their Father in heaven. Finally, a prayer of blessing is said over the mothers, fathers, and all present, to ask the outpouring of God’s grace upon them.

Even in parishes in which the font and altar are somewhat separated in the nave, my experience is that priests nearly always do this. Except when sheer numbers dictate otherwise.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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6 Responses to RBC 18-19: Rites of Baptism, Conclusion

  1. Anne says:

    There was a discussion on another forum regarding a priest who had good intentions and in an effort to involve the parents in the ritual had them pour the water while he said the words. The babies were re-baptized when this was discovered causing stress for the parents. Was the sacrament valid and was it necessary to re-baptize or was a conditional form all that was necessary? or none of the above?

  2. Liam says:

    I will defer to canonists on Anne’s question, but I will note that my initial instinctual reaction to that discussion point was that conditional baptism should have sufficed, but the little that I’ve been able to find on the point seems to indicate that the form and matter must be ministered simultaneously by the same person in order for the sacrament to be valid (the essential conditions appear to be that the ministering person infuse water upon the one to be baptized or immerse the baptised, while at the same time pronouncing the words (in substance according to approved translations): ‘I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’”)

  3. Anne says:

    I too have been trying to find something that actually states that it MUST be the priest (or minister) who does both. I’m not doubting that it’s true. Reflecting on this it would make sense. My other thought was the minister is a servant to the families. It wouldn’t make sense for the servant not to do all the work. However, I still wonder about validity. The priest, who represents the Church made the mistake.

  4. DavAnnb says:

    Anne’s situation is an unusual one, because baptism performed by a lay person is perfectly valid (although, not at all appropriate or licit in this situation). So the question really is whether the person pouring the water needs to be saying the words.

    I suspect that this isn’t covered anywhere, though, because this situation is so unusual that no one would of thought of discussing it. I think conditional baptism makes the most sense. As conditional admits that the first baptism may be valid, but we are just not sure.

  5. Todd says:

    A few things: a pastoral preparation for baptism would not spring a split-personality infusion on parents without warning. Whatever else the priest may have done, creating this distraction would be a big problem for me.

    That said, a lay person may baptize if the ordinary minister is absent or *impeded*, however, the extraordinary minister should be a catechist or another appointee of the bishop. I could foresee an instance in which a priest was temporarily or permanently unable to lift an infant or child to the font or perform the pouring. In that case, it would be known ahead of time and the bishop would resolve the situation.

    No sympathy for the priest in Anne’s case, though. Parents have a significant role in the baptism and in the rearing of the child. Unless there’s an emergency, we don’t need to be baptizing our own kids.

    Can. 869 §1. If there is a doubt whether a person has been baptized or whether baptism was conferred validly and the doubt remains after a serious investigation, baptism is to be conferred conditionally.

    While I do have sympathy for the parents, their own stress doesn’t seem to fit the prescriptions of canon 869. A serious investigation is required, and I would say that would need to be handled by a theologian. If the baptism were found to be valid (I suspect that it would be valid, but not entirely licit) then a pastoral and sensitive explanation should be offered to the parents to calm their stress.

  6. Liam says:

    As I noted above, my initial thought was that conditional baptism would be the first choice, but what little there is easily available on this topic appears to indicate that the baptism in question was not only illicit but invalid.

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