GICI 18-21: The Waters of Baptism

img_6803These sections give guidance on the water used for baptism. The image I’m using for this category, RCIA, is from my own parish, an adult baptism from a few years ago. The Church doesn’t say a whole lot about the water used for baptism, but what it does say is important:

18. The water used in baptism should be true water and, both for the sake of authentic sacramental symbolism and for hygienic reasons, should be pure and clean.

19. The baptismal font, or the vessel in which on occasion the water is prepared for celebration of the sacrament in the sanctuary, should be spotlessly clean and of pleasing design.

The movement toward immersion fonts is pretty strong in the Western Church. Alternate vessels, presumably for blessing water, may be in the sanctuary, as it says. The implication is that this is not a usual practice. Our parish’s font, at right, is octagonal and the pool within is cross-shaped.

20. If the climate requires, provision should be made for the water to be heated beforehand.

In a conversation with an Orthodox priest, he explained once when he forgot to turn on his church’s font. He said that unheated water relaxed the muscles of the baby’s lower torso so effectively they had a “double elimination.”

21. Except in case of necessity, a priest or deacon is to use only water that has been blessed for the rite. The water blessed at the Easter Vigil should, if possible, be kept and used throughout the Easter season to signify more clearly the relationship between the sacrament of baptism and the paschal mystery. Outside the Easter season it is desirable that the water be blessed for each occasion, in order that the words of blessing may explicitly express the mystery of salvation that the Church remembers and proclaims. If the baptistery is supplied with running water, the blessing is given as the water flows.

I had not been aware of these preferences. In my last parish, a temporary font was used for adult baptisms, but the custodial staff usually disposed of it all a few days after Easter. Fifty days of standing water can be a problem, and it w0uld seem the considerations of GICI 18 trump the “if possible” clause in GICI 21.

Not many comments on this topic so far: anything on these four sections?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in post-conciliar liturgy documents, RCIA, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

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