From a reader…
I was Baptized in the Presbyterian Church and converted to the Catholic faith 9 years ago at the age of 9. Becoming very interested in my own baptism I watched a video of a Presbyterian ministerconferring baptism. He traced the sign of the cross on the child’s forehead whilst using the Trinitarian formula, [I suspect that that isn’t typical.] also I believe that it is common for Presbyterians to touch water to the head of the child without pouring it. Is this type of Baptism Valid? Also would it be prudent to try to contact the minister of my baptism and ask about the manner by which he administers the sacrament, to be sure of my Baptisms validity?
When I requested to be received into the Church my Parish Priest organized for me to prepare for the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist with my class at Catholic School with no ceremony of reception into the Church. Is this all that is necessary for reception in the Church?
It would be prudent to inquire of your church of baptism, ideally the very minister, about the method of your baptism.
Once upon a time, it could be assumed that major, mainstream denominations followed the Christian tradition and baptized validly, by pouring water with the Trinitarian formula. Now? Not so much. The Church still presumes the validity of baptisms conferred in most mainline Protestant ecclesial communities, but… many don’t even seem to follow their own rules.
When you were received into the Church, you should have been asked to make a formal profession of faith, been confirmed, and received Holy Eucharist.
Many of our own priests don’t follow our rules, either.
As I have written before, for baptism to be valid, water must be used along with the Trinitarian formula. In baptism, conferred in the rites of the Latin Church, water must touch some part of the the head, even it it runs only on the hair. Water touching the head for baptism is part of the most ancient of all Christian rites. Some authors says that if, say in some emergency situation, water is poured on some other part of the body, the baptism is doubtful and, if possible, should be repeated conditionally as soon as possible.
Here is a message for priests:
If you are too thick to do immersion properly, just don’t do it. Next time, throw yourself into the immersion pool, preferably wearing a millstone.
Here is a message for bishops:
You would do well either to quiz priests about how to baptize and to confer other sacraments or to send out occasional reminders. Some might find this insulting, but I have heard some pretty crazy things. It may be that men trained – this includes permanent deacons, by the way – in certain places in certain years cannot be assumed to know how to baptize properly. Most dioceses have a letter that goes out from the chancery to priests every week, or at least regularly. Perhaps that letter could include a brief “refresher” paragraph about important things like the matter and form of baptism, the obligation to use the proper formula of absolution and the like. I have heard some strange things in confessionals and I have had to insist on the correct form (which is easier when you are a priest).
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