GICI 22-24: More Requirements for Baptism

img_6803Three brief sections follow that touch on three post-conciliar issues with which we Roman Catholics wrestle. First, the Roman preference for immersion over pouring:

22. As the rite for baptizing, either immersion, which is more suitable as a symbol of participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, or pouring may lawfully be used.

Roman sensibility dictates that the second choice is licit, but in the custom of Roman documents, the preferred choice is listed first.

It is also opportune to mention the distinction between submersion, the “dunking” of the person, and immersion, in which the person stands, kneels, sits or is held in the pool of the font, and water is poured over the person.

The movement in modern church architecture toward immersion-capable fonts indicates a greater faithfulness to the suitability of immersion, not some vague appeal to ancient practice. Immersion was the ancient practice because of the reason given above: participation in the death and resurrection of Christ.

23. The words for conferring baptism in the Latin Church are: I BAPTIZE YOU IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

The caps are not mine. The conferral formula is written that way in the book. I’m sympathetic to the concern of sexism that has led some ministers of baptism to adjust the formula. That has been discussed on this site and elsewhere. The caps predate the recent controversy over voided baptisms–that will indicate the gravity with which the Church holds to this formula.

24. For celebrating the liturgy of the word of God a suitable place should be provided in the baptistery or in the church.

A “suitable” place for celebrating the Word of God implies that the liturgy itself should contain a “suitable” liturgy of the Word. While skipping a reading is rare in infant baptism, the Word is often minimized. I cannot recall seeing the Word proclaimed from a Lectionary. Usually it is read from the small version of the ritual book, or worse, a sheet of paper.

Roman sensibility gives local communities the flexibility, but the preference is for a place in a baptistery. If the baptismal font is in a church, it would seem the ambo is the place of first choice. That might imply a liturgy of baptism outside of Mass in which movement, that is processions, are part of the celebration.

Any comments on these? I will offer one that touches on the 1570/1962 Rite: Pope Benedict’s theory that the Traditional Latin Rite is somehow a separate offering in the Roman Church is somewhat damaged by the Church’s regulations in many places, including here in the GICI. A movement toward immersion, and the provision for the proclamation and preaching of the Word do not make for a new Rite. They reform and improve the old one. While Catholics are properly centered on the Eucharist as the foundation of practical faith, Baptism is not an insignificant sacrament in our spiritual spectrum. Whatever problems we Roman Catholics may suffer from a poverty of art and music is not addressed with the retention of unreformed and, frankly, inferior liturgical practices.

These reforms legislated into the rite inform all Catholics of the gravity of Baptism, the importance of spiritual and liturgical symbolism, and the role of the Word in the proclamation and preaching of the grace of God.

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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.

2 Responses to GICI 22-24: More Requirements for Baptism

  1. Deacon Eric says:

    I conduct all the baptismal preparation sessions for our parish. At each one, I ask the parents and godparents, among other things, what is baptism, and what is the symbolism of the water?

    For most of them, the only thing they know about baptism is that “it takes away original sin.” All of them think the symbolism of the water is a washing (presumably scrubbing away original sin).

    It is profoundly moving to see their faces light up when we then discuss the relation of baptism to Easter and Resurrection, and I tell them the story of the symbolism of immersion. I can’t tell you how many come up to me so gratefully afterwards and thank me for not talking down to them, and explaining this simple sacrament in a way they never understood it before.

    They leave so enthusiastic, that I wonder how we can so often just assume the worst of the People of God and thrust minimalism at them or assume they are having their children baptized so they can have a party. I’ve had proud parents come up to me after baptism and say “Look, Deacon Eric, my child is a priest, a prophet and a king!” That’s something no one ever bothered to tell them before.

    We’ve go to stop talking down to people and taking the easy way out all the time. I also think of the immersion baptisms I have witnessed where the parents and godparents take off their shoes, roll up their pants and get down into the water. The joy is palpable.

    Why do we continue to deny people such experiences?

  2. Pingback: RCIA 372-373: Emergency Initiation « Catholic Sensibility

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