A question from a reader:
I thank you for taking the time to read this. I have been a loyal daily reader of your blog for a long time now.
My son was baptized in our parish church this morning during the 9 AM mass. The priest conducted the ritual after the gospel and before his sermon. I knew before that this priest was very liberal and has taken liberties before, but I was disheartened at what happened during the baptism. We were invited up to the font and immediately Father began by lighting a candle and asking what name did we give to my son. He then continued by saying some "off the cuff" commentary, crossed the sacred crism on the baby’s head then proceeded to pour the water "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." "Recieve the light of Christ" was then said and the candle was handed to us. No other rites were observed or administered and we were then told that he had finished and we were to go back to our pew.
Being an altar boy for many years during my childhood, I know that there are a few other rituals that accompany baptism and I was disappointed that they were not done. I know that the baptism was still valid in its most basic form, but I wonder how much my son was deprived of. Is this a common trend of many priests presently? Should I try to find another priest who will administer the other parts of the sacrament? Did my son receive all of the grace that is intended my the Church for baptism? If you have time, please advise. Thank you in advance.
I know that baptisms are permitted during Sunday Masses, though I am not especially a fan of that practice. I have not been in a parish where baptisms are done that way, nor have I as a priest ever done this. Therefore, I am not as familiar with the rite of baptism during Mass as some other priests may be.
That said, I do know that when baptism is integrated into Holy Mass on a Sunday, parts of the regular rite of baptism are distributed over different parts of Mass. For example, the right of reception is integrated into the beginning of Mass. The Creed can be substituted by the baptismal form of the profession of faith, and so forth.
I am not quite sure exactly what happened at the Mass and baptism for your child, but I think your reaction is telling. You sensed that there should have been something more. You said that there was the anointing with chrism. That was supposed to be done. There was to be an exorcism before hand. You said something about an "off the cuff commentary". Not sure what that might have been.
Some people will say that baptism during Mass is "so very meaningful". I think that the rite of baptism itself is meaningful and that rite, as a matter of fact, is the norm for conferring baptism.
To the meat of your question: No, you don’t have to find another priest to supply the parts of the rite you might not have witnessed. If the priest poured the water and said the words of baptism, then your child is baptized. Those other elements of the rite wouldn’t cause the child to be more baptized. They might cause all of you who participated in the rite to have experienced the rite more fully, but the child wouldn’t be more baptized. While we must avoid a "minimalist" attitude about our rights (i.e., so long as the matter and form were valid, that’s enough), in this case where the moment is over and in the past, I wouldn’t say that you should want to do anything over.
I want to add another thing, since this is the anniversary of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.
The provisions of Summorum Pontificum make is clear that the older, traditional form of baptism can be used. Priests can use the old Rituale Romanum. My personal view is that the older form of baptism brings people to an encounter with mystery in a way that the newer form does not. I regret that some elements of the older form of baptism were omitted from the revised post-Conciliar form.
Finally, priests need to SAY THE BLACK AND DO THE RED. Whatever rite they use, traditional or revised, they should stick to it especially so that doubts are not raised in the minds of the people present.
People have the right not to doubt or wonder whether or not a sacrament was valid or licit or whether something that should have been there was changed or left out.