Can we baptize outside the Easter Vigil?

7 thoughts on “Can we baptize outside the Easter Vigil?”

  1. Great post Rita. I wonder, though, what the hurry is. I understand the catechumen has been in the Order of Catechumens for almost two years, but is it such a bad place to be? Isn’t she active in parish life? Spreading the good news? Worshiping the Lord? Building community? Why not continue to do all that until the next Easter Vigil and celebrate initiation at the great high feast? After all, as you point out, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event. I’d think she’d want the fullest experience possible.

    I wonder if we make the catechumenate too much like class. If you have to stay in another year, it’s like being held back with the other slow kids while all of your peers graduate. I look forward to the day when the Order of Catechumens is seen as a legitimate order all its own, with a particular role to play within the Body, not lesser, just different than the other parts.

  2. Hi Rita –

    This situation is so nearly like my own, that I had to post.

    I’m a convert from the Episcopalian denomination, so I’m already baptized. But like the catechumen you describe, my husband was married previously and we had to wait until his first marriage was annulled before I could be accepted into the church and receive the sacraments of marriage, confirmation, and holy communion.

    Although the leaders in our parish and diocese tried their best, the annulment was not finalized in time for me to enter at Easter Vigil along with my RCIA classmates. However, I’m happy to say that the annulment came through a couple of weeks ago and I’ll be entering the Catholic faith tomorrow April 22nd at weekday Mass. As it turns out, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

    In response to Nick’s honest question about what the hurry is, well it isn’t a picnic to attend several Masses a week for years without the benefit of receiving communion, and also to live in a marriage not recognized by the church. I did my best over the past two years to live a Catholic life, just like the catechumen described, but the wait to fully experience Jesus as he meant to be experienced in the church fully and properly is long no matter if it’s one hour or 2 years.

    Rita, I pray that your catechumen enters the church in whatever way or manner is the absolute best for her as Jesus wills. Please let her know that someone who has walked in her shoes is praying for her right now. We’re sisters in spirit.

    1. Debra Vasquez

      Thank you for reminding us that the journey is to Jesus and we, who have the privilege of receiving Him, should not unduly delay one’s arrival, if the Church has provided for that. Even my own diocese cautions us against delaying people from receiving their sacraments (Eucharist & Confirmation) once fully prepared.

  3. Dear Tina,

    Congratulations and blessings on your reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church! Your sincerity, faith and joy are inspiring. May tomorrow’s celebration be the occasion of abundant blessings for you and those around you. You’ve brought us a bit of Easter joy by your witness.

    In fairness to our readers, however, I want to point out a couple of items in your post that don’t quite match up with what the church asks us to do when receiving a candidate into full communion.

    First of all, the ordinary setting for the Rite of Reception is Sunday Mass, rather than a weekday. See RCIA National Statutes #32. A weekday Mass is permitted, and you can even be received in a Word Service outside of Mass if there is some very pressing reason, but it’s better to celebrate the rite on a Sunday, when the whole community is gathered. You may have extenuating circumstances we don’t know about, but I want to make it clear for our readers that a Rite of Reception on a weekday would not be the first choice of a time to celebrate.

    Second, I know it’s a colloquial expression to call someone from another Christian denomination a “convert” but the National Statutes actually forbid us to use that term for you. It says in #2 that “the term ‘convert’ should be reserved strictly for those converted from unbelief to Christian belief and never used of those baptized Christians who are received into the full communion of the Catholic Church.”

    I’m going to write a post about that very issue soon, because it’s a common expression and many people find this confusing. The point the Statutes are trying to make, however, is a good one. “Conversion,” properly understood, is to Christ. You are already baptized into Christ. The step you are taking now is important. But it is about communion, not–as baptism would be–conversion.

    Thank you for writing, and prayers for you tomorrow!

  4. This same issue has just come up in our RCIA process about a marriage issue paperwork not being ready for the Easter Vigil. I see that Rita and Nick have had a disagreement. Can someone give me more information? If the paperwork of a marriage issue is not received by the Easter Vigil, and the Catechumen cannot be baptized, I want to know if we can Baptize outside of the Vigil?

  5. Thanks for your question, Dale. Allow me to clarify. Nick and I do not disagree. The fact of the matter is that there is more than one possible way to proceed in the situation you’ve described.

    As I said in the post, yes, one can baptize outside the Easter Vigil. The guidelines are in the rite itself. Take another look at the post, and you will see them. You would follow the steps I described, which essentially set up a period of Purification and Enlightenment out the season of Lent.

    But, as Nick said, it’s always an option to continue on in the catechumenate until the following Easter. He’s right and I agree with that. Especially if it turns out that the paperwork will not come for quite some time.

    It’s often the case that you don’t know when (or if) the annullment will come through, and there is no way to tell (and believe me, there are cases where it takes much more time than people think), so it is best to delay the whole thing.

    The point? The rites celebrated in Lent are intimately connected to what happens in Baptism. They are its final preparation. They should not be separated in time from the event for which they are preparing. The final preparation is not a one-day affair. It takes weeks.

    Have we gotten at your question? Or are you asking something else?

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