A Double Baptism?
A newborn baby is baptised by a deacon because it is not expected to live. It survives, and the deacon arranges for the sacrament of baptism to be completed later in a ceremony in the parish church. Why is this necessary? Doesn’t pouring the water of baptism complete the sacrament? Why have a subsequent ritual ceremony? Pumla
IN an emergency situation, the sacrament of baptism consists in a minister pouring water on the head of the infant, with the requisite intention and while simultaneously saying: “I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. If a parent has already decided on a name for the baby, the minister should begin by addressing the child with that name.
It is not accurate to say that the baptism has to be “completed” later in a church ceremony. The deacon validly and lawfully completed the sacrament. So, why the subsequent ritual ceremony? It is done because baptism is a community event.
The rite of baptism is a liturgical demonstration of the infant being brought into the community of the whole Church. It is a joyful occasion when priest or deacon, parents, godparents, family and friends come together to welcome the new member into their communion with Christ and his Church.
A baby baptised privately in a case of urgent necessity certainly becomes a member of the Church and receives the sanctifying grace enabling it to have a certain share in the life of God himself.
But is still needs to be embraced by the community in a visible ritual expressed in scriptural readings, prayers and symbols.
The ritual in which this is done is exactly the same as that of the sacrament of baptism but without the pouring of the water.
The priest or deacon begins by reminding the parents and godparents of their duties and invites them to trace the sign of the cross on the baby’s forehead with him. Then follow the other parts of the ceremony, including the profession of faith, anointings and the presentation of the white garment.
A lighted candle is then handed to the parents with the solemn words: “Receive the light of Christ. Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ and is to walk always as a child of the light…”
Like the rite of baptism itself, the ceremony of receiving and welcoming the child into the community of the Church is always meant to be a warm and happy occasion. It reminds us that we belong to one another, united with Christ our Lord on our steady pilgrimage to everlasting union with the Holy Trinity.