QUAERITUR: baptism during Sunday Mass… seemed incomplete

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.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. SkiingCatholic2010 says:

    “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” “Receive the light of Christ”

    Did the priest say that exactly, or did he say “I baptize you…” If he didn’t actually mention the baptism but simply poured the water and said “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” would it still be valid?

  2. Skiing: I have had quite a few entries on this blog under the ASK FATHER category about valid form of baptism. What I don’t want to get into here is speculating about what might have been said in the ceremony described above. The main point was that it seemed that some things were left out.

  3. RichR says:

    Latin tempers the desire to ad lib.

    There’s something to be said for “old school.”

  4. I know that baptisms are permitted during Sunday Masses, though I am not especially a fan of that practice.

    We’ve had our last three children baptized during Sunday Mass, largely because the process for participating in the individual rite is cumbersome. It is offered one Sunday a month and is suspended during Lent. (We tend to have winter/spring babies, so the suspension affects us.) The “standalone” rite also includes pointless liturgical-catechetical instruction and a general expectation that parents should wait several months after birth. So we opt for the first or second Sunday Mass after our child is born.

  5. jbalza007 says:

    I’ve seen (for the first time!) a traditional form of Baptism done earlier this year and was there to record it as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdnGYfFrdmo

    When our first baby comes out next year (the due date is on January 21 — coincidentally the feast of St. Agnes which also happens to be my wife’s name!), we’ll certainly ask for this traditional form!

  6. FrCharles says:

    First of all, I would say congratulations on your fatherhood and on the baptism of your son. May he grow up strong in the Lord!

    For how to combine infant baptism with Sunday Mass, see the Introduction to the Rite of Baptism, no. 29. Nothing is omitted from the baptism rite, though it is split up over the course of the Mass and certain parts of the baptism rite replace parts of the Mass.

    A related question in my ministry is the question of “supplying rites” for baptism. The older Roman Ritual provides ceremonies for this for both adults and infants, but I’ve never seen anything in the current books. It continues to be a pastoral need, especially for those of us who work with ethnic groups that insist upon (validly but illicitly) baptizing in the home, e.g. the ceremony of echar agua among Dominicans, and then try to present infants for a second baptism in church.

  7. Jason Keener says:

    Hmm…It looks to me that even the proper formula was not used. If I had any doubt about the validity of the formula itself used at my child’s baptism, I would personally give my child a conditional baptism using the correct words. The validity of a baptism doesn’t seem like something I would want to remain in doubt about. The other non-essential elements of the Rite of Baptism don’t affect the validity of the sacrament, although it certainly is sad that they were possibly left out here.

    I also agree with Fr. Z that the older form of baptism offers a much better encounter with mystery.

    Moreover, perhaps these concerns should be taken to the priest who performed this baptism so that nothing like this happens again.

  8. Briangar21 says:

    “It is fitting that
    baptism be celebrated during the Sunday Mass so that the entire community may be present and the necessary
    relationship between baptism and eucharist may be clearly seen;” (RBC)

    How could you not encourage Baptisms during the Sunday Mass?

  9. Mitchell NY says:

    How is adopting this minimalist form allowing for the greatest participation of the laity? I would seek the EF and tell everyone I know to do the same..How sad that as a parent they were disappointed by the very sacrament that brings their child into the Church. What a disappointment. I think this never would have happened before the change in rites. It is like receiving your college diploma in the mail with no graduation ceremony.

  10. Re: Dominican baptisms —

    I thought that if a layperson baptized with an emergency baptism, the priest still had to do the chrism, exorcisms, etc. afterward, if the baptized person survived. So surely what these Dominican folks want wouldn’t be a “second baptism”, but rather a filling-out of the baptism already done?

    Re: Sunday Mass baptisms —

    Like marrying during Sunday Mass or daily Mass, it’s not as nice in some ways but nicer in others. Yes, it’s not as exclusively focused on the sacrament of Baptism or of Matrimony, and that’s not as nice. OTOH, you get to see the whole parish as your family and they get to see you as theirs, and there is a connection seen between the Sacraments.

    I’d say that the important thing, as far as worthy liturgy is concerned, is that the priest be very sure in his mind that the Baptism or wedding is important and good to have happening, not a Rude Interruption. If Father thinks this is an extra treat and an occasion for sacred and solemn rejoicing, everybody else will be happy about it too. If Father is a wet blanket who just wants to get it over with, and regards the whole thing as an imposition… it’s not fitting, and nobody will be happy.

    I’m happy to say that our parish priests and deacon don’t have that kind of attitude. They are happy when they get to baptize or officiate over marriages or get somebody convalidated. And so they should be!

    Given that some people get married, christened, etc. during Mass because of money issues or not having family to invite, it’s particularly important to be nice about it and not slight them. People get very touchy, and then they hold grudges. A tiny bit of decoration – a white ribbon or something – can make them feel much better about being in no position to do the “normal thing”.

    But here’s my idea. If Father really really hates baptizing during Mass, and certainly he might, then Father should make it easier to have babies baptized at other times. Then everyone will be contented and able to do justice to the holy occasion. :)

  11. Fr Martin Fox says:

    I don’t encourage baptism during Mass, but I don’t forbid it. When it comes up, the pros and cons are discussed, but if parents ask for it, we do it.

    Why wouldn’t I simply encourage it?

    Well, several reasons:

    > It isn’t particularly easy to carry off Sunday Mass in a busy parish without there being all manner of what I call “add ons.” Certain things need to be announced; this or that will be sold–or this or that meeting will be held–after Mass. Once a month, we have anointing after Mass for the elderly and infirm. We have baptisms after Mass. Once a year, I do a financial report to the parish after Mass.

    Then, during Mass, we often have a couple celebrating an anniversary–so we have a blessing for them (allowed); or else we have some group present and the priest needs to remember something particular about that.

    Meanwhile, the priest has a homily to focus on–and sometimes, I haven’t written a draft, so I have mental notes to keep track of–and the priest is also keeping an eye on the servers, who may or may not remember all they are supposed to.

    So maybe you can appreciate why this priest is not eager to add something else. Under such circumstances, it is easy to mess up the rituals of baptism that are inserted into Mass at various points; and doing a baptism less well is not a good thing, even if it is valid.

    > Parishioners do not always react well to a baptism at Mass. Fair or not, it is often perceived as adding time. It turns what should be a positive into a negative.

    > It isn’t easy to integrate the baptism into the homily on all occasions; it isn’t easy to connect the baptism to many of the readings; and it seems odd to ignore it in the homily.

    > The family with the child to be baptized is often under stress–other children to keep track of, guests to keep track of; and sometimes the child to be baptized, or older children present, melt down before Mass concludes. Stress!

    Meanwhile, when I have a baptism after Mass, it is far less stressful. If a child needs to be taken aside by a friend or relative, it’s a lot easier to do; if we need to pause the ritual, we can do that reverently without any pressure; and the family seems less stressed. I don’t get too bothered by the little ones making noises, not saying I prefer it, but I soldier on; that’s more of a downer as part of Mass for all concerned, than it is at a baptism after Mass. I can, if need be, do the proper baptism ritual relatively briefly–no homily, for example.

    > At baptism outside Mass, I can easily do a homily that gives a fuller explanation of the sacrament; it always seems to work out just fine and people say how much they benefited from it. During Mass, time is much more a pressure; maybe it shouldn’t be, but it is.

  12. Amy MEV says:

    You have my greatest sympathy. Having my first three all baptized by Priests who are quite liberal with the liturgy, I know how heartbreaking this can be for a parent who cares. I am so very thankful that we have since moved and have an orthodox pastor, whom will be baptizing our next child, due in January. I cannot wait to witness the full Rite of Baptism without anything silly or illicit.

  13. CarpeNoctem says:

    I echo the sentiments of Fr. Fox and add that in my experience that the current ritual books are a big part of the problem. When a rite is added to the Mass– some common examples are Baptism, Marriage, RCIA, and Anointing of the Sick — the ritual books are rather clumsy in integrating the rite into the Mass… there are great lacunae of how one gets from “point A” to “point B” without some kind of “pastoral rambling” which serves as (necessary) instruction, transition, and glue between the elements of what is going on. Lots of the ritual ‘license’ we witness today, I believe, is because of the ambiguities which can be found even by sincere and knowledgeable folks trying to interpret and perform correctly what the Church wants.

    I will go in the camp that says I don’t need or necessarily want every single word scripted, but certainly to have models (“these or similar words”) which better facilitate pastoral instructions and ritual transitions would be helpful… particularly if I were celebrating in a non-native language.

    All things being equal, “the people” should have opportunity to witness Baptism, Anointing, RCIA rituals, and even Marriage at the Sunday Mass in order engage them in these mysteries of the faith and invite their prayers for those who are being baptized, etc–but it does need to be done very sparingly so it does not become an undue imposition on the regular cycles of parish life (reading/homily themes, liturgical seasons, and the sheer frequency of such events). I like the approach of the pope, where he will celebrate baptism during Mass once a year on a pastorally-relevant feast day, the Baptism of the Lord. I believe that this is the correct blend of permissiveness and restraint in celebrating the rite in a ‘meaningful’ way before the gathered Church.

  14. FrCharles says:

    I agree very much with CarpeNoctem. The ritual books do make things hard, especially when you are working in a foreign language. Worse, none of them match, e.g. an American English marriage ritual and the Mexican one usually used for Spanish speaking weddings where I live are arranged entirely differently. In both cases you need a sacramentary besides, but for different reasons and different texts. So you walk around with a library or have dedicated servers for each book, but whatever you do, the comment on “pastoral rambling” is very much the case. :)

  15. ssoldie says:

    So what is so wrong with recieving your diploma in the mail? Is the fact that you did not walk the line so every one could see you, so important and ‘meaningful’ BULL. For those who don’t but should know what the Sacrament of Baptism is all about, Get the book “My Catholic Faith” by Bishop Louis La Ravoire Morrow; pg 252-257,the important thing is children should be baptised as soon as possible after birth, if possible-within-a week. This practice dates from the Apostles.

  16. ssoldie says:

    An after thought or opinion; Just bacause something can be down, dose not mean it should be done.

  17. Ygnacia says:

    At Mission San Juan Bautista yesterday we had a Baptism according to the older rite of Baptism after our High Mass. If you have ever attended an older rite Baptism, you would never want to have a child Baptized any other way – it is so much more beautiful and symbolic, not to mention thorough…

  18. Robert_H says:

    We had our first child baptized while we were still Lutheran (ELCA but at least that parish still had their communion rail), our third during the Sunday Mass at our old NO parish (Fr Martin is right that there is ton more stress on the parents doing it this way) and our fourth using the EF form after the NO Mass at our new parish (which also offers the EF.) Father thought putting our mainly Protestant family – who disapprove of our conversion, some more loudly than others – through the EF might be bit much. (Baby number two miscarried at 16 weeks.)

    I much prefer having a separate ritual and will try to have the rest of our children baptized the same way.

  19. Mitchell NY says:

    What’s wrong with receiving your diploma in the mail, is that yes, many of us do like the ceremony, do like the walk up the aisle and the spotlight, if only for a second. We have birthdays too and we celebrate them with acknowledgement, parties and cake..Anniversaries as well. For those of us who wish to have a more meaningful experience than the bare minimum on everything we should have the option. Obviously this father was disappointed and we should validate his feelings as to why.

  20. restoration says:

    If you knew the priest was liberal, why were you even attending this parish, let alone allowing him to offer any of the sacraments to your family? People need to vote with your feet. Orthodox Catholics need to leave these parishes and stop donating. Attendance and donation figures matter to the bishop. Enough people hit the road and there will be changes. In addition, you can reward a holy priest in another parish by adding to his census and offering figures.

    I am amazed that one reader admitted to allowing a liberal priest to baptize 3 of her children. Why would you allow the priest to continue after the first illicit baptismal rite? I had to travel an hour to find an orthodox priest to baptize my first child, but I gladly did it because it was their first encounter with Christ in the Sacraments and is certainly worth the extra effort.

    As Catholics we must stop settling for what is convenient and demand orthodox liturgy. Some do more research on where to get their oil changed than they do on the men who perform the sacraments. In the internet age, one can often find out if a priest is faithful to the rubrics long before you even darken the door of the parish. In addition, in one visit to Mass, it is usual evident as to where a priest stands.

  21. MichaelJ says:

    I do not necessarily disagree with your opinion, there is the question of proportion. When weighed against the eternal fate of the baby’s soul, any considerations made to make the ceremony “more meaningful” seem to pale in comparison.

  22. Briangar21 says:

    To MichaelJ, I’m sure that God takes care of the innocent souls regardless of the status of their Baptism.

  23. It isn’t particularly easy to carry off Sunday Mass in a busy parish without there being all manner of what I call “add ons.” Certain things need to be announced; this or that will be sold—or this or that meeting will be held—after Mass. Once a month, we have anointing after Mass for the elderly and infirm. We have baptisms after Mass. Once a year, I do a financial report to the parish after Mass.

    FWIW, we usually target the first Mass on Sunday, which tends to be less busy. Parents wanting a baptism at Mass might bear that in mind.

  24. I only do private baptisms “in extremis.” All baptisms at Holy Redeemer, El Dorado, Ark., are done at the Sunday Mass on the last Sunday of the month. I do this, first, because it is recommended in the ritual itself, and second, because every member of the Church should have some participation in the acceptance of new members. If it were to be too long, I can always cut my homily short. If we all do the Baptismal Promises, then the Creed need not be said. Or vice-versa. I always say the black and do the red, and everyone is used to having baptisms on Sunday once a month. When you explain things to the people, they generally want to do what the Church wants them to do.

  25. Prudentius says:

    What are folks thoughts on “children’s Liturgy” where kids actually leave the Church during the Gospel?

  26. Charivari Rob says:

    I don’t have kids yet myself, but…

    I grew up in a parish where baptism was usually separate from Sunday Mass. I was always under the impression (that is to say, I always assumed) it was because of our small church and tight Mass schedule turnaround time. As another poster said, a few minutes added to the normal mix can throw everything off. Even today, though, with more breathing room in the Mass schedule (having built a new church), they still have most baptisms separate from Mass.

    My wife and I primarily attend one parish and occasionally visit another. Both smaller, no rush, etc… not like what I grew up with. Good sense of the community of God’s people. Baptisms there have been during Mass. If we have a child, I couldn’t imagine baptism being outside of Mass (absent some specific need). Why would we not have our child baptized in the presence of presence of others of the Faithful, whom we would want our child to join? Why would we want to disassociate that sacrament from the Mass, when the other sacraments are usually kept close to the Mass? (Reconciliation is ‘separate (in some places) but works to bring us back closer to God (in the Mass),. Annointing takes place in circumstances of need, which by definition knows no time or place)

    Talking about in Mass or not, older or newer form, etc… Can that relate to the structure/layout of a church? I know of one neighboring parish church (an older building) where the baptismal font is in neither the nave nor the sanctuary. It is located in what one might call a baptismal chapel – an alcove of the sacristy dedicated to that purpose.

    There is also an altar elsewhere in that sacristy for priest’s Masses. It was probably a very handy feature back in the glory days of many, many priests assigned to that parish. There are two side altars in the sanctuary, in addition to the main altar. Unfortunately, there is only one exit from the sacristy to the sanctuary, and none to the nave (and only one gate in the center of the sanctuary rail). So, any priest going out to use the side altar would have had to march straight through anything happening at the main altar.

  27. pjsandstrom says:

    There is a real theological/practical problem with Baptizing babies during Mass — and especially with the notion of tying Baptism to the Eucharist by baptizing during Mass. The whole purpose is put in a rather strange situation in the Roman Rite since one can not give the Eucharist to babies. So one is inviting someone to (and giving them the right to receive) the Eucharist and then immediately refusing to nourish them with the Eucharist. This problem does not arise for Greek Catholics since they give Baptism, Chrismation (Confirmation) and the Eucharist to the newly initiated person — babies or adults. And then the child is given the Eucharist whenever brought forward by their parents from that time on. After all the Eucharist is the ‘normal nourishment for the Christian Life.

  28. introibo says:

    I was fortunate to have my 9th baby baptized, just about two years ago, in the old rite, just after Summorum Pontificum went into effect. We were the first in our parish and the several babies born in the parish since then (it’s an older ethnic parish) have all been baptized in the old rite.

    I kind of wish my others had had the exorcism rite…

  29. I would certainly recommend (though never insist on) Baptism during the Sunday Mass. I have found that the presence of parishioners sets ‘the tone’ for a prayerful celebration of the Sacrament. It is also a wonderful catechetical opportunity as the children of the parish get to see more closely the various rites being used. It makes the ‘new birth’ something to be celebrated by the whole parish community. Now, I know this all sounds terribly ‘modern’ but I do believe it is a possibility that is a positive product of the liturgical reform. Of course, the priest must follow the ritual and not ad-lib, and the parents whose comments you have posted were denied their right to the proper celebration of the liturgy. I have also celebrated Baptism according to the extraordinary form and appreciate its value too, particularly the more powerful exorcisms. In the case of Baptism and Sunday Mass, perhaps there is a case for a reform of the reform. Also, Baptism in the Mass does not unduly lengthen the Mass. FWIW.

  30. MichaelJ says:

    Are you so sure that you would be willing to trade places with someone who, through no fault of their own, was invalidly baptized and then died before this was corrected?

  31. Melody says:

    Goodness, even at the liberal, freewheeling parish I grew up in, baptisms were done in place of the sermon, with the full prayers and the replacement Credo. Granted, they also had the deacon do them sometimes, which is probably a lot worse.

  32. Fr Martin Fox says:

    FYI, I don’t mind that some of my fellow priests have a different take on this. But I would say this: the ritual does, indeed, encourage baptisms as part of Mass; but it doesn’t require them.

    The way I look at it–and I may be wrong–the Church in her rituals expects pastors to exercise some judgment in these matters. Goodness knows the Church seems to allow a great deal of leeway in the celebration of the rituals and sacraments!

  33. Briangar21 says:

    Fr. Fox,

    The CHURCH has a different take on it. Read the ritual. Prepare your homily on time. Put sacraments before fundraising and 50th Anniversary blessings. Or, like the previous learned priest recommended, shorten your homily! The sacraments belong to the community…not to you!!!

  34. Briangar21 — Permissible options are permissible. A priest is entitled to have opinions about liturgy, and to use whatever permissible option seems good to him. Ars celebrandi includes such choices.

    And the Sacraments belong to Jesus Christ and the Church. They don’t belong to “the community” any more than they belong to the priest.

  35. jfk03 says:

    We had an adult baptism last Sunday (the Feast of the Dedication of the Church of the Resurrection) in my Eastern Catholic parish. The ceremony began at Saturday’s Great Vespers with the exorcism and profession of faith. The baptism itself took place on Sunday, after Matins and at the beginning of Divine Liturgy.

    The baptism was outdoors in front of the door to the church, facing East. The choir chanted the baptismal troparion followed by the ectania (litany). The priest blessed the water and placed holy oil in it. The baptism was by three-fold immersion in the Orthodox tradition, followed by chrismation (confirmation) with holy oil. The congregation returned into the church and the newly-illuminated was clothed in a white baptismal garment. The Divine Liturgy proceeded with the Great Entrance. The entire ritual, including Matins, baptism, sermon, and Divine Liturgy, consumed about four hours.

    I felt a strong connection to the Apostolic age.

  36. Jordanes says:

    Briangar21 said: I’m sure that God takes care of the innocent souls regardless of the status of their Baptism.

    Of course we are all sure that God “takes care of” innocent souls who die without baptism. He “takes care of” everyone, even those who suffer a just final and eternal damnation. What we aren’t sure of is whether His “taking care of” the innocent unbaptised means they are saved or are sent to Limbo. God has revealed no sure means whereby original sin may be remitted except for Baptism. Baptism is necessary for salvation, so it’s necessary to do it properly, validly.

  37. Fr Martin Fox says:


    You can contact my ordinary, Archbishop Pilarczyk, if you think my conduct as pastor is in violation of the Church’s norms.

    P.S. I have read the ritual books, thanks.

  38. Briangar21 says:

    Jordane, With God, all things are possible. Plus, please look at the church’s current teaching on “limbo”.

  39. Tim Ferguson says:

    Briangar, the Church’s current teaching on limbo is the same as it always has been: limbo is one possible solution to the question of what happens to those who die without having received baptism but without having committed sin themselves. It is a solution that has never been taught dogmatically by the Church, but which carries considerable weight considering the Fathers and Doctors who have taught it.

    The Church’s teaching on limbo has not changed. Limbo remains a solid theological position held by many orthodox Catholics.

  40. Briangar21 says:

    Tim, there is not one responsible theologian or priest who would presume to condemn an infant to limbo or presume any judgment on the soul of one who has not reached catechetical age. This also brings up the conundrum of abortion, which presupposes an innocent being murdered. If you were to stake the claim that the an infant or newborn is born with original sin, one could conclude that abortion isn’t the killing of an innocent, no?

  41. Jordanes says:

    Briangar21, what Tim Ferguson said. I’m quite familiar with the Church’s current teaching on Limbo. The Church teaches that those who die with unremitted original sin on their souls will go to hell. The Church has not said, and cannot say, that “innocents” who die without Baptism are eternally deprived of the Beatific Vision; but neither has she said, nor can she say, that God saves them through some extraordinary means. The Church permits us to hope that there might be some unknown extraordinary means for them, but nothing in the deposit of faith gives us any certainty that such a thing exists. All we know is that if God doesn’t do something extraordinary to save them, they will definitely not go to heaven; whereas if they are baptised, they definitely will go to heaven.

  42. Briangar21 says:

    For me, quantification of God’s graces is a far mightier sin…and, YES, I am weighing sins.

  43. Jordanes says:

    Briangar21 asserted: there is not one responsible theologian or priest who would presume to condemn an infant to limbo or presume any judgment on the soul of one who has not reached catechetical age.

    For someone so ready to dismiss the measured and thoughtful opinions of Fathers and Doctors of the Church, you seem awfully sure of yourself. How do you know there are no responsible theologians who believe in Limbo, or that the Saints and Doctors in heaven don’t believe in Limbo today?

    But in a sense you’re right to say that no responsible theologians would presume to condemn and infant to Limbo, or to presume judgment on the soul of those not of the age of discretion. It is God who judges, not the theologian.

    This also brings up the conundrum of abortion, which presupposes an innocent being murdered. If you were to stake the claim that the an infant or newborn is born with original sin, one could conclude that abortion isn’t the killing of an innocent, no?

    So you deny that we are born in original sin?? If so, you are espousing heresy. When we say that newborns or infants are “innocent,” we mean that they have incurred, and can incur, no guilt of personal sin or actual sin. We do not mean that they are born free of original sin. If they are so born, when and how do they contract that deadly spiritual malady?

    As for aborton and the killing of the innocent, Pope Sixtus V in his 1588 constitution Effrænatam said that one of the things that is most horrible about abortion is that it deprives the slaughtered unborn baby from any chance of going to heaven. The Holy Father said that abortion should be punishable by death, saying,

    For who would not detest a crime as execrable as this — a crime whose consequence is that not just bodies, but — still worse! — even souls, are, as it were, cast away? The soul of the unborn infant bears the imprint of God’s image! It is a soul for whose redemption Christ our Lord shed His precious blood, a soul capable of eternal blessedness and destined for the company of angels! Who, therefore, would not condemn and punish with the utmost severity the desecration committed by one who has excluded such a soul from the blessed vision of God? Such a one has done all he or she could possibly have done to prevent this soul from reaching the place prepared for it in heaven, and has deprived God of the service of this His own creature.

  44. Briangar21 says:


    Please tell me that you are employing the use of hyperbole. Or COURSE denying the presence of original sin is not heresy. You cannot have it both ways, my friend. By denying the doctrine of limbo, the Church, herself, has denied the notion of original sin.

  45. laurazim says:

    I just want to chime in and mention that our first four children were baptized within the Mass. At the time, I just thought that’s how it was supposed to be done, and wasn’t really aware of other options. When our fifth child was baptized, we had to do it on a day other than Sunday, and so at a time other than within the Sunday Mass–because her Godfather is a priest. We were thrilled to have him say Mass for our family and friends on the Monday evening during the Octave of Christmas, on December 29th, with the readings about the Presentation of Our Lord. The Mass was offered specifically for our daughter.

    The baptism itself was presided over by our dear Monsignor, who did everything old school. He anointed her chest (which I had never seen done before). He anointed her head (a LOT–and we were sure to snuggle a handkerchief on her sweet hair before the Chrism faded!). He invited the children to come close to the font so that they could see what was going on, and he explained it to them beforehand. Of course there was also the Holy Water and the candle. (We had to chuckle when Monsignor Said the Black and asked Kateri’s Godparents about their willingness to act in that capacity, and about their faith. For Pete’s sake, her Godfather is, as I said, a PRIEST!) We went through our baptismal promises, and prayed the Litany of the Saints. It was long and terribly detailed, it was absolutely gorgeous, and I would want nothing less for any future children with which God would see fit to bless us.

    For you, Father Z., I shall post an Afterward Picture on my humble home on the web. :)

  46. Jordanes says:

    Briangar21, who told you that the Church has denied the doctrine of Limbo, or that if she were to deny it, it would require that she renounce her dogma of original sin?

    Let me make this absolutely clear: the Church has NOT denied the doctrine (not “notion”) of original sin. She has infallibly and irreformably declared that doctrine as binding on the consciences of the faithful. To deny original sin is to incur the anathemas of Trent, and since the Church is infallible, she cannot rescind any of her doctrines.

    Again, the Church has NOT denied the doctrine of Limbo. There is not a single magisterial declaration to that effect.

    You can’t have it both ways, Briangar21. If you want to be a Catholic, you are going to have to believe what the Church
    teaches. For the sake of your eternal soul, read the Catechism – it explains the doctrine of original sin very well.

  47. Gail F says:

    Our pastor baptizes during mass. My first child (when we lived in a different area) was baptized in a private ceremony after mass, and my second child was baptized during mass. During mass is GREAT. Our previous pastor did it this way and our current pastor, who takes liberties with the liturgy at times, does this one as written. At least in our parish I think that it works very well — that it’s prayerful, reverent, and also a “community” celebration (I know that word can be misused, but in this case it is true). It does not conflict with the Euchrist or cause confusion about it. It is an opportunity for the whole assembly to repeat their baptismal vows, and it is great for the children to watch. And as Fr. Boyle said, it doesn’t overly lengthen mass! I’m sure you could do this badly, but you can do anything badly. Even (gasp) TLM.

  48. What the Pope said about Limbo and unbaptized dead babies, born or unborn, was that we ought to remember that Limbo was a theological theory without any certain proof, and not teach it as a certainty in religious textbooks. He also invited theologians to come up with other ideas about the fate of the unborn, etc., or dig them up; and opined that we really needed to argue about this and develop the theology more fully.

    A lot of prominent theologians and saints throughout the ages have had concluded that Limbo is not a satisfactorily logical and elegant answer. With billions of innocent dead unborn babies, finding the right answer has become a lot more urgent. Given that the Church has always regarded the Holy Innocents as martyrs for the faith — despite them being unbaptized, under the age of reason, and Jewish — there’s clearly room for thought. “Let the little children come to Me” doesn’t seem terribly compatible with “Let the little children be forever shut out of My Life”.

    However, this no more means that original sin doesn’t exist than the “baptism of blood” means that original sin and baptism don’t exist, or that Jesus’ miracles of healing mean that hospitals and sickness don’t exist. God is not bound to act solely by His normal channels of grace. God can do whatever God wants to do, when it comes to saving our souls from original sin — or any other kind of sin. He has the power. Acting in this way is not separate from salvation through the Church, because Jesus is never separated from His Bride.

  49. Supertradmom says:

    Getting back to the point of whether a Baptism should be performed at Mass, I would add that if one really does not want this to happen in their family, please ask the priest for another time. If he refuses, which happened in one parish not too far away, ask why or go elsewhere. The confusion among the faithful at Mass seems to be the overlapping of two sacraments, not common in the Western liturgy, although common and the way it is done in the Eastern Rite, when all the Sacraments of Initiation are given at once-a tradition I would find happy to support in the West.

    Most of the Baptisms at Mass I have witnesses involved serious novelties and departure from the NO Rite.

    In our family, we asked the priest for the EF and he obliged without a problem at all.

  50. MikeM says:

    This is a side but kind of related question, if anyone here can answer it:

    Is it appropriate to have a renewal of wedding vows for a couple in the Mass after the Homily?

  51. Supertradmom says:

    I would not like this at a Sunday Mass.My parents renewed their fiftieth vows at a quiet daily Mass. Weddings are private, for families, and so should be renewals.

  52. byztex says:

    I find this an interesting discussion as – from my Eastern Christian perspective – a Baptism is very much an event central to the life of the parish and the Church. To quote Schmemann, “Although there are many personal effects of baptism, it is still an ecclesial, corporate, event in the life of the Church.” He goes on for quite a while in “Of Water and the Spirit” to good effect on the proper place of the Baptism in the liturgy.

  53. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Marital vows, like baptism, are not repeated; but it is appropriate to recall them. There is a provision for recalling a couple’s vows in the context of Mass.

  54. Yes, in the Prayers of the Faithful or the homily, but not, I think, in any other liturgical or para-liturgical form by way of renewal. If I am mistaken, I’d be grateful for chapter and verse.

  55. Greg Smisek says:

    briangar quoted the RBC as follows: “It is fitting that baptism be celebrated during the Sunday Mass so that the entire community may be present and the necessary relationship between baptism and eucharist may be clearly seen;” (RBC)

    That’s an interesting translation. The current approved translation of the Praenotanda of the Rite of Baptism for Children, n. 9, reads rather differently:

    On Sunday, baptism may be celebrated even during Mass, so that the entire community may be present and the relationship between baptism and eucharist may be clearly seen; but this should not be done too often.

    I don’t know if there were changes from the edito typica to the editio typica altera that might account for such a divergence in translation. Does anyone have the Latin text handy? Then we could answer the question “What does the praenotanda really say?”

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