My first full-immersion baptism
The first time I really experienced the full power of the baptismal ritual was also the first time I saw a naked baby in church. I was working in my first job as a parish liturgist, and the pastoral team had decided to do a full-immersion baptism at the Easter Vigil that year. You may have been to an Easter Vigil and may have seen a full-immersion baptism (someone completely submerged underwater), but I had never seen one back then. Neither had anyone else in the parish. We did not have any adults to baptize that year, but we had lots of babies.
When it was time, I led the parents up the three granite steps of the sanctuary toward the altar. The altar was up another three steps on a platform looking out over the assembly. On top of the altar was the biggest pottery bowl I’d ever seen. It was bigger around than my arms when I tried to lift it. Mom and Dad removed their newborn from its blanket and handed their naked infant to our pastor. The pastor, who was a tall man, took the child and held it high above his head for everyone to see.
The assembly gasped when they saw the baby squirming in his hands, and they went dead silent.
Then the pastor lowered the baby into the bowl, all the way underwater. As he did so, he boomed out, “I baptize you in the name of the Father.” He raised the child up high again. The water from the baby flooded down the pastor’s arms, soaking his white Easter vestments. The baby squirmed. Mom’s eyes were as big as saucers.
He lowered the baby again. “And in the name of the Son.” The assembly leaned forward. The baby was underwater, and they were straining to see. With a whoosh, he lifted the child above his head. Water was everywhere. I felt Dad tense his muscles as though he was getting ready to dive forward if he had to catch his child. Everyone except the baby was holding his breath.
The child went down again, under the water. “And in the name of the Holy Spirit.” The pastor lifted the baby out of the bowl a third time, high up toward heaven. The baby laughed and kicked showers of water onto everyone nearby. The assembly erupted in applause, and the parents cried as the pastor placed the dripping child in its mother’s arms.
Now that was a baptism.
You don’t have to be a liturgist to plan for good liturgy
You might not believe it, but you can celebrate liturgy that is that engaging and that powerful every Sunday. While there were certainly some unique aspects to that Easter Vigil baptism, the underlying principles that made it so effective are simple and easy to master.
Every RCIA team should have a basic understanding of how liturgy works and how it catechizes the catechumens. If the catechumens do not have a good experience of liturgy, their formation will be incomplete.
You may not think you have much say over how the liturgy is celebrated, but you will be surprised at just how much influence you already have. And you can increase your influence, and increase the quality of the liturgy, by learning a few simple concepts.
Benefits to your team
We are going to show you, step-by-step, exactly how to upgrade the liturgical celebrations in your parish. In this hands-on learning process, you and your team will learn how to plan and celebrate the major rites of the RCIA. And you will learn how to lead a catechetical process that based on those celebrations.
At that the end of your time together, here is what you will walk away with:
- A simple process for preparing the assembly for full, conscious, and active participation in the rites
- A firm grasp of the twelve liturgical principles and the four elements every liturgy must have
- A repeatable, easy-to-implement, mystagogical process to catechize directly from the rites
- A clear understanding of when it is okay and even necessary to adapt the rites and when it is better to just follow the book
Your next step
TeamRCIA institutes tend to sell out, so don’t wait too long to reserve your spot.
Just click on the link to the (arch)diocesan location you are most interested in attending. (You can find the links in the right sidebar.) That will take you to an information page where you can learn more and register.
We look forward to seeing you there!