How stupid are things getting in this time of Coronavirus, you ask?

How stupid are things getting in this time of coronavirus, you ask?

Here are a couple of examples.

How NOT to do things.


This is wrong is so many ways.

Not that this nitwit doesn’t have a paten with host, or a chalice with wine.  He is “concelebrating” online.

This looks very much like simulation of a sacrament, specifically, simulating Mass. Canon 1379 threatens “a just penalty” for the simulation of a sacrament.

That said, to incur a censure a person has to commit a sin, know that something is wrong to do and do it anyway.  I suspect that this fellow is so clueless that he would simply be ignored.   But there it is: a photo on Fakebook.  Therefore something has to be said about it.

A priest cannot celebrated sacraments at a distance over the phone or zoom or another means.  A priest cannot consecrated the Eucharist or absolve your sins via skype.

No.  Just… no.

Next, this greeted me on my phone last night and I see that it is out in the wild now on Twitter.

Let’s leave aside the optics of pointing any sort of gun at a baby.

I want to think that this is just a joke. They are posing. They are trying to be funny. Whether or not this is funny could be left to the beholder.

Is this a photo of a real attempt to baptize?

Let’s assume that it is for a moment.

Assuming that this dopey priest said the proper form of baptism while using the squirt gun with water and that the water reached the skin of the head of the child, would this be a valid baptism?

Let’s dissect.

For baptism to be valid, water must be used. It could be dirty water, but it has to be water.

The “proximate matter” of baptism is ablution with water. This means physical contact of the water and the person’s body. The ablution symbolizes outwardly what happens in the soul.

There are different ways to accomplish this ablution. There is dipping or immersion (immersio), pouring (infusio) or sprinkling (aspersio).

However, in all cases, the water must flow on the head.  If the water does not touch the head, at least the hair of the head, the baptism is doubtfully valid. In the case of a person trapped in a wrecked car and all that can be reached is a leg, pouring the water over the leg would be doubtful and, if possible should be administered conditionally later.

To be sure about validity of the baptism, the water should be poured in enough quantity and on a place of the head where there is exposed skin, at the same time as the Trinitarian form is recited: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  In my opinion it is best to say the form in Latin, although approved translations are allowed.

The form is absolutely essential. In no circumstance can it be altered. These words must be pronounced simultaneously with action of making the water contact the head.  Not before.  Not after.

A good practice is to pour the water thrice, with the Names of the Persons of the Trinity, or continuously as the whole form is pronounced, directly on bare skin of the head.  That way there is no question about validity.

In the case of baptism by immersion, there does not have to be a three-fold immersion.

But… delivery of the water, from a distance, with a squirt gun (while saying the form)?

In the case of a normal, non-stupid, baptism, the priest will often use a baptismal shell rather than his hand to pout the water.  It is a good practice.  The point is, an instrument can be used to deliver the water to the skin of the head of the one being baptize.

In the case of a normal, non-stupid, and valid baptism, the ablution and the form must be performed at the same time.  You can’t pour and, afterward say the form.  One can say, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, [slight pause POUR] and of the Son [slight pause POUR], and of the Holy Spirit [slight pause POUR].”  In that slight pause the water is delivered to the head.  How long can the pause be?  I don’t know, but there is no good reason to wait.  So, if the water from the squirt gun (aspersio) arrives at the head of the infant and the water runs on the skin, and if the idiot priest is saying the proper form, even in intervals between the squirts from the water gun, then it seems to me that this could be valid.

However, if someone came to me, and described this scene, I would suggest a conditional baptism.  And I would suggest the whole rite as in the Rituale Romanum.


There is no good reason to FOOL AROUND WITH SACRAMENTS!

Coronavirus is probably making people stupid.  For sure it is revealing the stupid that’s already there.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liberals, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, You must be joking! and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Kathleen10 says:

    God bless baby, and parents. But honestly, this being proposed to parents, how could they approve it? “I’m going to use a water pistol, and aim it at your baby…”. Oh gee, ok Father, sounds great, should get a few laughs and make for a great photo. We might even go viral! (hope, hope)
    I don’t know what people are thinking anymore. Many times, they aren’t.
    Now we know how catastrophic these types of clerical stunts have been. They have turned the church into a laughingstock.

  2. seattle_cdn says:

    At that distance he could have baptized by aspersio and it would not have raised questions then?

  3. Joy1985 says:

    “There is no good reason to FOOL AROUND WITH SACRAMENTS!”

    Exactly Father. Never ever should play around with the Sacraments.

  4. Elizabeth D says:

    At my parish they have been doing night prayer for parishioners, via Zoom. I do not have a cellphone/camera, do not like videoconferencing or even conference calling and I do not do Zoom. But also I don’t consider that a liturgy. I don’t know whether even ossified unreconstructed manualists classify simulation of the Liturgy of the Hours by lay people as a sin, so it’s not necessarily wrong–though I don’t think it fulfills anyone’s obligation to pray the Office if they are so obliged. It’s just not praying Compline as a liturgy. I pray all of night prayer by myself.

    I want to blame the NRA but I think I am going to blame social media.

  5. This sort of stuff should have been nipped in the bud when people started lighting candles in church with barbeque lighters, but since we didn’t condemn it forcefully enough then, now we’re stuck with this. I guess this is why I was never blessed with children; if it were my child being baptized, and the priest even jokingly suggested doing such a thing, I’d have all I could do to keep from committing some sort of sin in response.

  6. Joy1985 says:

    ” when people started lighting candles in church with barbeque lighters”

    Pardon me but what is wrong with that?

  7. ChrisP says:

    It does seem that God allowed this virus lockdown to show us how bad things have got WORLDWIDE. Idiots and pantomime everywhere, covered by less than scrupulous and caring leaders.

    And it’s only getting started it would seem.

  8. Ferretti says:

    Votive candles for spiritual intercession and grilling steaks and hot dogs. There’s a difference.

  9. Yeah, the stupid is already there when it comes to baptisms. We have been inured to stupidity for a good many years. For example, years ago, at the wreckovated cathedral parish of my diocese, at Easter Vigil, they were having people walk through the baptismal font, which is like a sort of multi-tiered jacuzzi. This meant the water only contacted their feet. It also meant people had to climb up a considerable height, on some sort of steps or a stepladder, to get up into the top tier, and they had to step down the tiers to the bottom, on slippery tiles, with no railing to hold onto. The year I personally witnessed this, one of the catechumens was a woman at least eight months pregnant; and yes, the then-bishop was presiding. What the rationale behind this was is beyond me, but it was as dangerous as it was stupid.

  10. Moro says:

    Honestly, while I am no theologian or canonist, I have to think just having the parents doing the baptism themselves at home would have been an incredible improvement. Depending upon the circumstances, one might be able to argue it could have become necessary.

    Baptism (or attempt at it?) by squirt gun has to be the dumbest thing I have seen in a long, long time. At best it is irreverent and, I suspect, invalid.

  11. Joy1985 says:

    “Ferretti says:
    25 May 2020 at 3:12 PM
    Votive candles for spiritual intercession and grilling steaks and hot dogs. There’s a difference.

    Well what is worse lighting with a match and burning your finger, lighting with a long “stick lighter” and pieces burning off and falling into the candles where the flame is (this does happen), having to have sand handy to put these stick lighters in immediately after using for safety or using one of these lighters that is much safer and easier. PLUS they are long enough to reach votives or other candles not exactly within easy reach.

  12. bobbortolin says:

    My parish as push-button, electric votive candles. Personally, I think there awful.

  13. bobbortolin says:

    Sorry about that, “I think they’re awful “

  14. Joy1985 says:

    bobbortolin That is probably due to skyrocketing insurance premiums

  15. JustaSinner says:

    Oh no, NOT technology! Those new fangled BBQ lighters must go the way safety tipped matches went…they’re full of the Devil’s dirt–sulfur! Aaaaahhhhh….

  16. JakeMC says:

    I have a sneaking suspicion that posed this photo to poke fun at the whole “social distancing” thing.

  17. KateD says:

    Perhaps stupid is an as of yet undiagnosed symptom of CoVID19?

    Everyone believes they are intelligent, but only 2% of the population is. That means 98% of y’all are wrong….lol.

  18. Pingback: VVEDNESDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  19. bartlep says:

    So many dopey things but bishops prohibiting the Sacraments — especially Penance, Holy Communion and Extreme Unction? People dying without the presence of a priest? Thank God many priests, in “catacomb fashion”, continued providing Confession and Communion, in defiance of the bishop.

  20. jflare29 says:

    RE the barbecue lighter: Well, it could be worse. I’d prefer the wax in brass method though.
    RE the water pistol: I hope he’s a really good shot.
    Rough timing though; he’d need to delay the words about a quarter second to ensure they come as the water “flows” over the little one. If it’s intended as a joke about social distancing, …wow! Bad taste!

    RE the concelebrant: …Why doesn’t he simply offer his own private Mass? Assuming he actually is a priest, I assume he knows how.

Comments are closed.