Cleansing Fire

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Immersion Baptism in DoR

May 10th, 2011, Promulgated by Hopefull

This past weekend the bulletin at St. Louis contained a portion of Fr. Kevin Murphy’s letter on Baptism, classes, timing etc.  It said:

“it is always a joy to have the child initiated into the community at one of our Masses, but sometimes this will not work for everyone…also our preferred choice is to celebrate by immersion, thus using the symbol of water fully in the birthing to new life that we share at Baptism.” 

Admittedly I haven’t been to very many Baptisms in the Rochester Diocese, but is immersion Baptism of infants generally being done here?  I didn’t think there was an official ranking of Baptismal methods as one being better than another…and I would be concerned about immersing an infant.  The Baptismal font in the back of the church is where everybody sticks their hands when they enter.  The warm water would seem to promote the growth of all kinds of organisms, like bacteria or viruses.  Does anyone know if any cultures have been done of these fonts?  I don’t remember seeing a pastor pushing this before.  Is this new?

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50 Responses to “Immersion Baptism in DoR”

  1. avatar Monk says:

    I was at a Sunday Mass last year at St. Louis where an infant was baptized during the Mass. They have a huge motorized screen that descends from the wall in the sanctuary. There is an equally huge video projector in the back of the church that projects the video of the baptism for the congregation to see. There are also numerous cameras mounted around the baptismal bath to capture all the “action.” They immersed the butt of the naked baby and then the deacon held the baby over his head and proceeded up the isle to show off the newly baptized baby! I can’t imagine how much the video system cost. How ridiculous! I have heard that recently Assumption parish in Fairport installed a similar video system. The DoR is closing parishes and these folks are spending money like water! Is a baby validly baptized if just the butt is immersed?

  2. avatar Anonymous says:

    The answer to your question is no. The head must receive holy water for the Sacrament of Baptism to be valid.

  3. avatar Bruce says:

    Monk, that is terrible. Why on earth would a CATHOLIC parish strip babies, dip their butts in water, and parade them around a church ON VIDEO? Are they nuts? Do they WANT a lawsuit? If that were my child, I would body slammed that deacon. And to think they’re wasting money on video systems and lay priestesses. NO MORE MONEY UNTIL LEMS AND NUTTY DEACONS ARE GONE. NO MORE TITHING UNTIL A NEW BISHOP. Send your money to other dioceses and charities. Send money to crisis pregnancy centers in NYC. Anything but for this crap.

  4. avatar Eliza10 says:

    “If that were my child, I would body slammed that deacon.”

    ROTFL! Only 431 more days!

  5. avatar Therese says:

    Bruce: or local ones. The Women’s Care Center, up on Lake Ave, is a Catholic crisis pregnancy center.

  6. avatar Ink says:

    Immersion baptism in and of itself is not un-Catholic: it’s actually got quite the precedent, especially in early Church documents like the Didache. However, the performance to accompany the baptism… that’s not very reverent and does not belong in the Mass.

  7. avatar Deacon Tom says:

    A drop of water anywhere on the body is all that is necessary along with the reciting of the proper formula (words). So even immersing just the “butt” is valid.

  8. avatar Hopefull says:

    Catechism 1239 says water is poured over the candidate’s head.

    So, considered from the other point of view, we’re dipping our hands into naked butt water? Hmmm… The germ question gets increasingly interesting. How often does that hot tub water get changed?

    Now, I don’t mean to be irreverant about this, but if they found video on some priest’s computer of naked infants paraded aloft through a church, what would that be credible evidence of?

    Some poor kid’s going to have a lot to deal with growing up….not to mention a re-baptism because their butt wasn’t good enough…

  9. avatar Dr. K says:

    According to Fr. Z, for a Baptism to be valid, water must make contact with the head. Otherwise the Baptism is invalid, and will need to be administered out properly.

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2010/08/quaeritur-validity-of-baptism-if-water-doesnt-touch-the-head/

  10. avatar Bruce says:

    Hopeful, don’t you think the New York Times, CNN, or any secular media outfit would LOVE to shed light on this story as “more evidence” of sexual abuse and strange practices in the Catholic Church? As if the Church doesn’t have enough problems these days. Do we really need to dip the butts of naked babies and parade them around on video? Perverted is a word that barely does it justice.

  11. avatar Nerina says:

    I’ve seen two “butt immersions” done in my church and I’ve always wondered about the validity of the sacrament. As others have noted, the head must be involved in some way. Ink is correct in noting that immersion is not un-Catholic in any way. However, the practice of full immersion infant baptism can present some risks if not done properly. At least one baby has died during full-immersion baptism:

    (see here:http://www.catholicvoteaction.org/americanpapist/index.php?p=8014)

  12. avatar Chris says:

    Unfortuanately, I have been inflicted with numerous occurences of Baptisms in the the midst of the Novus ordo. It denigrates into a circus and usually a woman dying to be priest, runs the thing. Baptisms are best when they are small, after Mass, with only family and friends.

  13. avatar Anonymous says:

    Nothing is more distracting than these baptismal founts, constantly bubbling water, serving as an annoynance during Mass.

  14. avatar The Egyptian says:

    BUTT, BUTT, BUTT, Monk, it is so new and refreshing, and so VERY hip.

    priest needs a you know what in his butt, size 10. So glad our five were done privately.

    Anonymous-84149, Nothing is more distracting than these baptismal founts, constantly bubbling water,

    just makes the little boys have to GO, real bad

  15. avatar A Catholic says:

    The push for immersion baptism to symbolize the fullness of entry into the Church is amusing in a diocese that doesn’t seem to want to immerse itself fully in the beauty and richness of our Catholic traditions and teachings. If only DOR pastoral leaders would immerse themselves in the catechism.

  16. avatar Bruce says:

    And they wonder why no one is going to Mass anymore…

  17. avatar Anonymous says:

    To The Egyptian:

    Are you at all concerned that the private baptisms conferred on your five children may have been illicit and are possibly invalid? The Rite of Baptism (32, 72) calls for the Sacrament to be “conferred in a communal celebration…in the presence of the faithful.”

    Private baptism is never permitted in the Latin Rite, except in the case of emergency and/or danger of death. You may want to check on this with your pastor.

    To Chris:

    RE: “Baptisms are best when they are small, after Mass, with only family and friends.”

    According to the Rite (9), “On Sunday, baptism may be celebrated even during Mass, so that the entire community may be present and the necessary relationship between baptism and eucharist may be clearly seen.” Why is it that people who couldn’t imagine celebrating a wedding outside Mass would prefer a baptism apart from the Holy Eucharist?

  18. avatar Louis E. says:

    Forcing someone’s head underwater,with all the attendant risks,should never be a required rite of passage.

  19. avatar The Egyptian says:

    Anonymous-181162

    By private I meant right after mass, not during, so as to make a spectacle of it, especially since my wife is a convert and one of her brother in laws is a internet taught pentecostal minster, likes to be confrontational, claims all priests know is incantations and hocus pocus, his wife, my wife’s sister are very close, (no they were not sponsors). You see the problem. Discretion etc.

  20. avatar Anonymous says:

    To A Catholic: Right on. I agree with you 100 percent. To Deacon Tom: Are you really a deacon; and if so did you study at St. Bernard’s?

  21. avatar Terri says:

    Interesting discussion! Eight years ago I was told at my then parish, St. John of Rochester, that in order to celebrate my son’s baptism during Mass it had to be immersion. Since my husband and I had no intention of allowing that, we were given the option of having a Deacon confer the Sacrament in the afternoon (during a ceremony with other parents who had declined to have their children immersed). We chose option C — had a relative who is a priest fly up from Florida, celebrate Mass and the baptism at another chapel with a communal celebration. Ultimately we had a similar problem with our second child, which resulted in us asking another priest at a different parish to baptize our son.

    At the time, and frankly still to this day, it makes my blood pressure skyrocket. BTW – St. Joseph Penfield now has the same system as St. Louis only with 3 large screens. I never watch….ever!

  22. avatar Bruce says:

    How bad does it have to be for a church to screw up a baptism? Seriously?

  23. avatar militia says:

    Discussions like these help me to remember why we have a counter on this site.

  24. avatar Ink says:

    Hopefull: If you’re really that determined about the cultures, ask around the local high schools. I bet they have AP Bio classes who would actually find that kind of a lab entertaining and interesting.

  25. avatar Gretchen says:

    Why is it that people who couldn’t imagine celebrating a wedding outside Mass would prefer a baptism apart from the Holy Eucharist?

    Anonymous-181162, did you invite your entire parish to your wedding? Or did you have a “private” Mass?

    Having all your family and friends present for the Baptism makes it a communal event. It’s not like the baby is there all alone…!

  26. avatar Anonymous says:

    Just using this post as a general post for this blog/web site.

    Why, why do many of you “split hairs” and look to the “rule as gospel” just like the pharisees did in Jesus time. They lost the “spirit” to uphold the “rule.” Jesus was for the spirit and he said that it would be “written on our hearts” over going here and there (the temple) to worship.

    I would much rather worship in the spirit than constantly looking for an excuse that “someone” is doing something that I “feel” uncomfortable with.

    I go to church to worship not critique.

    Never will God’s creation (humans) agree on everything, it’s called “free will.” If I am scrutinizing a holy service to be sure that all the I’s are doted and T’s crossed, correct vestments are worn, the “exact” words always said, etc., then I am NOT worshiping for my mind and heart is elsewhere.

    Worship is much, much more that you suggest. I am sure that many will call me names, not a true Catholic, mis-informed, but that is OK. BTW for years, I was a very faithful member of St. Thomas the Apostle, and I do not like the new Irondequoit configuration.

    But many of you just go too far, and think that everyone should think like you, that is not realistic, but lock-step-dictatorial, and narrow minded.

  27. avatar Persis says:

    @ Gretchen,
    It is my understanding, (and I will try to find the proper documentation or admidt that I was mistaken) that all wedding Masses are public Masses, and identified as such in the bulletin. One does not have to be “invited”, per se, to attend the Mass.

  28. avatar Bruce says:

    Anonymous-3412, as for Jesus being for the “spirit” of the law, that is not correct. Jesus FULFILLED the law. Have you read the Scriptures? Jesus gave us laws and commandments to follow. He certainly forgives sinners, but He specifically asks them to go and sin no more as well. He does not beat around the bush, and He has zeal for His Father’s house, which is being destroyed in the DoR by priestesses and elderly liberals.

  29. avatar Jim R says:

    Anonymous 3412 – following the texts and rubrics is the easy part. If it were simply done no one would be questioning the validity of the sacraments. as it is, by arrogantly manhandling the texts and rubrics issues as to licitness, validity, etc., abound – all of which are easily avoided by simply doing what is required. Might there be extraordinary circumstances calling for improving somewhat? Sure. The Sunday Mass at a parish in the USA in the 21st Century or other celebrations of the sacraments in such circumstances simply doesn’t qualify. The problem is the arrogance of ministers (and Bishops whose job is to preserve the validity and licitness of the sacramental celebrations – not be their master!) who without justification make changes to suit their whim in violation of their DUTY. SAY THE BLACK/DO THE RED and these discussions will go away. It’s very easy. That priests and ministers and Bishops cause this level of angst and horror – is their problem for failing in their duty to perform their functions faithfully. It’s almost the very definition of sacramental scandal.

  30. avatar Jim R says:

    NOTE TYPO CORRECTIONS:
    Anonymous 3412 – following the texts and rubrics is the easy part. If it were simply done no one would be questioning the validity of the sacraments. As it is, by arrogantly manhandling the texts and rubrics issues as to licitness, validity, etc., abound – all of which are easily avoided by simply doing what is required. Might there be extraordinary circumstances calling for improvising somewhat? Sure. The Sunday Mass at a parish in the USA in the 21st Century or other celebrations of the sacraments in such circumstances simply doesn’t qualify. The problem is the arrogance of ministers (and Bishops whose job is to preserve the validity and licitness of the sacramental celebrations – not be their master!) who without justification make changes to suit their whim in violation of their DUTY. SAY THE BLACK/DO THE RED and these discussions will go away. It’s very easy. That priests and ministers and Bishops cause this level of angst and horror – is their problem for failing in their duty to perform their functions faithfully. It’s almost the very definition of sacramental scandal.

  31. avatar Nerina says:

    Persis,

    I believe you are correct about weddings and that is the case with funerals too (though, admittedly, most people won’t go to either a wedding or a funeral of person to which they are not invited or expected).

    Anon-3412,

    Your critique of the blog/website has been levied many times. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can tell you that I don’t go to every Mass “constantly looking for an excuse that “someone” is doing something that I “feel” uncomfortable with” (Actually, it’s ironic that you assert we resort to how we “feel” about something when most of us constantly refer to the Church and her proscriptions for the Mass. The problem for most of us is that liturgical abuses/innovations are in direct violation of stated rubrics based on an individual’s ideas about the Mass – i.e. subjective)

    The problem with liturgical abuse is that it makes it difficult to “go to church to worship not critique.”

    Worship is much, much more that you suggest.

    On that, we are in full agreement. You believe we are focused exclusively on the externals. We’re not. Our concerns are with how the externals affect the internal disposition of our hearts, minds and souls.

    But many of you just go too far,

    Sadly, many of our churches don’t go far enough and are satisfied with liturgies that lack reverence, decorum, mystery and awe.

  32. avatar Raymond Rice says:

    I had a dream last night that the youngster in question eventually grew up to be the pope!!!! Then people demanded to see his authentic baptismal certificate and the video of his baptism. This could end up as an Obamanation!!!!!!!!

    I am wondering if the Pharisees in Christ’s time had obsessive/compulsive disorders over details of the law??

  33. avatar Raymond Rice says:

    Anonymous3412; We must have coffee some time!!!!!lol lol lol

  34. avatar Dr. K says:

    I am amazed that some people find no problem with a priest/deacon dabbing a child’s butt cheeks in water and calling that a Baptism.

    To you people who like to quote scripture and play the Pharisee card: doesn’t the Bible also tell you to remove the plank from your own eye first? So shut up hypocrites. You are doing no better than what you accuse us of. Unless you are Jesus Christ Himself, I don’t want to see another Pharisee comment posted to this site.

  35. The head, particularly the forehead, is the place referenced for mind in thought, feeling, personality, and spirit -the central aspect of a person. I cannot understand how a priest or deacon could choose to dip in the buttocks of a child to be covered in water over covering the head, preferable the forehead, with water. What does it say about their conception of a human being in regard to spirituality; buttocks over head.
    I have been at infant baptisms where the infant was submersed as well as ones with the usual pouring of water over the head. The submersion of the infant was done slowly, cautiously, and meticulously, and water came into contact with the infant’s head. There is a risk posed for infant submersion baptism over other age groups. I wonder if priests or deacons who submerge just the buttocks are taking an easy, danger-free way out. It would be better to do the usual pouring of water over the head in that case.

  36. avatar Nerina says:

    Raymond,

    I’m sure you find yourself very amusing, but consider the ramifications of a person not validly baptized. We believe this Sacrament to be life-giving and the primary Sacrament of initiation for a Christian. What if a person, invalidly baptized, goes on to receive other Sacraments? How are subsequent Sacraments affected?

  37. avatar Anonymous says:

    What are the “rubrics” of the Sacrament? Dr. K seems satisfied with the answer Fr. Z got from the “baptism guy” at the CDF. The Catechism, however, only says the following:

    “Baptism is performed in the most expressive way by triple immersion in the baptismal water. However, from ancient times it has also been able to be conferred by pouring the water three times over the candidate’s head.” Noplace does it say that in the triple immersion the water must touch the head. The rubrics call for form (trinitarian), matter (water) and intent. Nothing else.

    Our Church recognizes as valid all the baptisms performed by all other authentically Christian denominations and we never ask non-Catholics who are marrying in the Church whether the water touched their head or not. We ask if they were baptized.

    I agree with anonymous-3412. We need unity in our Church, and sticking to the rubrics is supposed to foster unity, but even a new bishop is not going to please most of the folks here.

    Rather than grumpily complaining about EVERYTHING, let’s all live in joyful hope until the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ, how ’bout it?

  38. avatar Dr. K says:

    “Baptism is performed in the most expressive way by triple immersion in the baptismal water.”

    You consider dipping a baby’s rear end in water an immersion? The way I envision it, the entire body of the child is lowered into the water, hence “immersing” the child in the waters of Baptism.

    What do we do when adults have an immersion Baptisms? Does the priest pick them up and dip their buttocks in the water? No, they go into the water head and all.

  39. avatar Ink says:

    Back in Sacramental Living, we watched some videos on baptism, and I definitely saw priests doing total immersion of babies by setting them in shallow water, gently so their rear end touched the bottom of the font, and then taking a shell or glass or something and pouring water over their heads.

  40. avatar Scott W. says:

    I don’t want to see another Pharisee comment posted to this site.

    Seconded. It’s your site, but I say delete on sight with warning. Second offense delete and ban.

  41. avatar Persis says:

    Good Evening all!
    I just want to give an update to my prior post to Gretchen. After some research, including consulting with a couple of priests, at least one of which knows the ins & outs of Canon Law, any Mass held in a parish church is a public Mass- no invitation needed. Do many people attend wedding & funernal Mass for people they don’t know, probably not. But there is nothing in the law that would prevent someone from doing so.

    Re: Immersion- I am not a big fan of this practice. I have seen it done well, and I have seen things that make me want to cry, and run screaming from the church! 🙁 My feeling is, if you are going to do it this way, at least submerge that baby up to the neck/shoulders area.

    Re: Baptism during the Mass. I think that this is very important. We are all called to help each other on the path to holiness. What better way to be a witness than to promise with the parents & god-parents to help bring the child up in the faith?

  42. avatar Ink says:

    Persis: The reason people don’t attend weddings or funerals to which they have not been invited is because it would just be socially awkward. I did almost crash the tail end of a wedding once, though, when I got to visit St. John Cantius in Chicago.

  43. avatar Persis says:

    Ink, I don’t disagree with you. All I am saying is there is nothing that forbids one from attending a funeral or wedding Mass where one does not know the parties involved.

    As far as “crashing”, I disagree that someone who chooses to attend such a Mass is crashing. I do a lot of volunteer work at a couple of parishes and have attended both wedding and funeral Masses for people I do not know. But they are still my brothers & sisters in Christ, and I felt that my unobtrusive presence was a witness to this belief.

  44. I agree that baptisms should be done in the presence of the church community. (Although the cameras and motorized screen, etc. I think is going too far). I understand that baptisms used to be done outside of mass in the presence of immediate family and possibly, very close friends. I was baptized in such a situation. The main concern is equal status for all parishioners and the support of the community.

    I worked on the Baptism Team for my parish several years ago. I had to make home visits to talk with the parents of the infant who was to be baptized. Education was a big component of the visits. Educational materials were given to the parents of the infant. Discussion in regard to the understanding of the materials, the sacrament of baptism, and the preparedness of the parents to raise the child as a Catholic Christian.

    I looked through the Educational Materials that were given to me by the Head of our Team, who was our Pastoral Administrator. I noticed that many statements in the Educational Booklet, written by a priest, did not follow Catholic teaching. The book did not have an Imprimatur. That book was ordered and bought because it was low in cost. A few examples of those statements: The message that we have to be baptized for God to love us. Another message was baptisms should be done in the presence of the community during mass, but an unwed mother should have their infant baptized in private, outside of mass. Was the unwed mother supposed to hide the child during all their years of growing up. Should the unwed mother attend mass. Should the baptized infant come to church or stay home? (There were multiple sections of this Educational Book on Baptism by this priest that were questionable). I told the Pastoral Administrator and Pastor that I could not hand that book out to the parent(s) I was visiting and told them why. After I pointed out the multiple areas of discrepancy, the book was scraped and an excellent 3 book series, which was quite a bit more expensive, was ordered and bought. I gave the 3 book series out to the parent(s I visited after I viewed and found it acceptable.

    We do not advocate sexual relations outside of marriage, but the mother needs all of our support to embark on a new, Catholic Christian life as a mother. The infant is innocent and needs the support of the community to grow up as a devout Catholic Christian. Those who need our support the most should not be discriminated against or unwelcome. If we are pro-life, we need to back it all the way.

  45. avatar Anonymous says:

    If one is intruding by attending a wedding Mass, then why do bulletins place the day and time of the wedding? The people who know the soon to be married couple don’t need a reminder from a church bulletin as to when and what time the wedding is. When a church door is open, everybody is invited in.

  46. avatar Nerina says:

    We do not advocate sexual relations outside of marriage, but the mother needs all of our support to embark on a new, Catholic Christian life as a mother. The infant is innocent and needs the support of the community to grow up as a devout Catholic Christian. Those who need our support the most should not be discriminated against or unwelcome. If we are pro-life, we need to back it all the way.

    Absolutely!

  47. avatar Hopefull says:

    I have attended a number of funerals where I didn’t know the family or the person who died. Some churches (St. Louis is one) have the funerals at the exact same time they would otherwise have a daily Mass: 11AM during the week and 9AM on Saturday. One often doesn’t know until arrival that it is going to be a funeral. I try to sit off to the side on the opposite side of the church from the family and unobtrusively. I try also to avoid the “receiving line” so usually wait until most of the family/friends have exited. But I actually have found it to be a very contemplative situation. It has made me reflect that it is rather sad to come to the end of life and be remembered for a golf score or beer drinking or a sports team association. Yet others are a simple testimony of love, and very moving. Just thought to share another perspective. On the other hand, I wouldn’t go to weddings unless I’d been invited.

  48. avatar Gretchen says:

    Persis et al, I did not mean to imply in my previous comment that weddings aren’t open to the public. They just aren’t usually performed at the regularly scheduled Masses. They are scheduled separately. (“Separate” would have been a better word for me to have used than “private” – I apologize for my lack of clarity.)

  49. avatar thomas_lautus says:

    Baptism by immersion is irreverent and smack of protestanism.
    I have never been moved by immersion baptism where the candidates
    clap, clenched their fist upward etc. It has no place in the church,
    and it mark the decline in Catholic liturgy.
    It is lamentable that more and more catholic churches have fallen
    prey to this decline and installed a large Jacuzzi for baptism,
    rather than the traditional font and pouring over the forehead.

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