RCIA 226: Baptism

img_6803Baptism pokes into the news now and then, especially with recent irregularities on words and form. Let’s read how RCIA instructs it be done:

226. The celebrant baptizes each candidate either by immersion, option A, or by the pouring of water, option B. Each baptism may be followed by a short acclamation (see Appendix II, RCIA no. 595), sung or said by the people.

[If there are a great number to be baptized, they may be baptized in groups and baptized by assisting priests or deacons. In baptizing, either by immersion, option A, or by the pouring of water, option B, these ministers say the sacramental formulary for each candidate. During the baptisms, singing by the people is desirable or readings from Scripture or simply silent prayer.]

A. If baptism if by immersion, of the whole body or of the head only, decency and decorum should be preserved. Either or both godparents touch the candidate. The celebrant, immersing the candidate’s whole body or head three times, baptizes the candidate in the name of the Trinity.

N., I baptize you in the name of the Father

He immerses the candidate the first time.

and of the Son

He immerses the candidate the second time.

and of the Holy Spirit.

He immerses the candidate the third time.

B. If baptism if by pouring of water, either or both godparents place the right hand on the shoulder of the candidate, and the celebrant, taking baptismal water and pouring it three times on the candidate’s bowed head, baptizes the candidate in the name of the Trinity.

N., I baptize you in the name of the Father

He pours water the first time.

and of the Son

He pours water the second time.

and of the Holy Spirit.

He pours water the third time.

Commentary:

The rite calls for music. I think the baptismal acclamation needs some attention. It should be singable, memorable, and sturdy. There’s something to be said for using the same acclamation for infant baptisms, either at Mass or at liturgies outside of the Eucharist. As a pastoral liturgist, that says to me the acclamation should sing well without accompaniment. At the Vigil, obviously, one would presume instruments offering a festive arrangement not unlike what would be provided for the alleluia before the Gospel or the Eucharistic acclamations.

The provision for large numbers of baptisms is interesting. Did you notice the explicit priority for music? First, songs. Second, Scripture readings. Third, silent prayer.

Touching and body contact: note the importance given to the physical contact of the godparent(s). Note also the prescription for a threefold soaking; not one immersion with the threefold formula. There’s not any reason why a threefold soaking shouldn’t take place.

Notice also in option B that pouring on a forehead is not an option given in the rite. The choreography the Church gives is that the candidate bows her or his head–not tilts–and that water is poured over the head, not the upper face.

See anything else in the rite you may have missed? I have to say I never noted the preference for Scripture readings above silent prayer.

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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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