Baptism isn’t just about water

4 thoughts on “Baptism isn’t just about water”

  1. I attended an infant baptism this past weekend. The parents are Jewish and Catholic. At their wedding I thoroughly enjoyed the prayerfully poetry of the concelebration of the two faiths. (I myself am in a Jewish Catholic marriage and have devoted my professional and degreed life and ministry to caring for interfaith relations).
    I was a bit disappointed in the baptism that day partly because it did not seem to acknowledge the complexity of the Jewish audience and also because it simplified the magnitude/mystery of what was happening.
    Even if we bring the focus on the water, I would have felt better if some Pauline notion had been advanced—Not only is original sin washed away, but this infant is being plunged into the depths of the Paschal mystery to emerge a new creation.
    Why are we so joyful to celebrate thus? Because it is death to sin and a rising to a new life in the Body of Christ, whom we proclaim Raised—still in this Easter Season.
    This is certainly too much to summarize in one celebration and it is indeed up to parents,godparents and the faith community to continue this kerygma/mystery story. But that would have been enough.
    But I told the guests and priest thought it was a lovely day, lovely pictures. And the church and banquet hall were delightful.
    We’ll have to see how deep the mystery goes.

  2. This year at the Easter Vigil five adults were baptized, confirmed and received their first communion. It was the first time in over 20 years that we did not have preciously baptized adults also received into communion at the Vigil. (We are now celebrating the reception of baptized Christians into full communion other times during the liturgical year, such as at Epiphany and at Pentecost.) The focus on baptism was so much more clear at the Vigil and made the following renewal of baptismal promises of the rest of us also so much more clear. Thank you for encouraging us!

  3. Marjory Werstak

    This makes sense for catechumens but the sequence doesn’t quite follow for infants . For adults conversion comes before baptism as is practiced in many Protestant churches. For infants in the Catholic tradition this is not so. How do we reconcile the difference?

    1. Hi Marjory,

      The sequence of baptism, confirmation, and eucharist was the sequence followed in the Roman Rite until the 20th century. It is still followed in the Orthodox Rites and Eastern Catholic Rites, with all three sacraments celebrated at infancy.

      It has always been the teaching of the church that the grace of God’s friendship is a free gift. In the Roman Rite, the church has said that children have to have reached the age of discretion for the sacraments of confirmation and eucharist in order to be able to cooperate with that gift. However, the age of discretion is very young — usually between ages 6 to 8. Children of that age are quite capable of making a decision to follow Christ.

      Pope Benedict XVI said that we have to do more to help the faithful understand that eucharist is the goal of the whole process of initiation — for both adults and infants. He said we have to do a better job of helping parishes see the close link between baptism, confirmation, and eucharist. (See Sacramentum Caritatis)

      So, in the Roman Rite, the best way to accomplish this is to restore the order of the initiation sacraments so that children who are baptized as infants are then confirmed in conjunction with their celebration of first communion. So far, eleven dioceses in the United States and several dioceses in Canada have successfully implemented this model.

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