Baptism during Mass

I hate to say this but I really dread when we have baptisms during our Mass. I know it should be a joyous occasion but I can’t help but be annoyed (also I am in the choir and we usually don’t know until Mass starts that there is a baptism). Here is how baptisms are performed in my parish:

-Right after the opening prayer, the priest steps down from the sanctuary to question the parents about what their intention is for the child then ask the parents and Godparents to trace a cross on the child’s head. Priest lifts up child so all the congregation can see and ask for a round of applause.
-Penitential rite and Gloria is skipped and Mass continues with readings

  • After Homily, Father ask family and child to step up to altar where Baptismal font is located. Father invites members of family with cameras (usually inappropriately dressed) onto the altar (directly in front of Tabernacle) in order to get better photos.
    -Asks whole congregation to stand and raise right arms to help bless water in font
    -Baptizes child or children (while congregation is standing) then has congregation lift right arms to bless mother(s) and then father(s)
    -Lifts up child/children again after anointing with oil and asks for applause again
    -Intentions are skipped, congregants are asked to sit to continue with Offertory

This usually last about 20 minutes. Has anybody experienced baptisms this way? I don’t know if this is the norm or not but to me it always feels like a disruption to have this go on in the middle of Mass? Am I wrong for feeling this way :frowning:

I don’t think feelings are necessarily right or wrong. You feel what you feel.

For myself, I love having baptisms during Mass. I much prefer baptisms and weddings to be a part of Mass rather than outside of Mass. I love seeing the babies and their families. Even when I don’t know the people I tear up at baptisms, usually starting with the litany of saints. And after the baptism, when the choir leads us in singing “Alleluia”…wow, it’s amazingly wonderful!

I work with RCIA and there’s such an emphasis on the catechumens and candidates becoming part of the community and the community celebrating with them. For me, it carries over to the babies who are our newest brothers and sisters in Christ.

You may or may not be wrong–you are not alone. Having a baptism during Mass means almost no homily, and in a large parish it can’t really be a “community” thing as you have never seen the people before and probably will never see them again. (I’m not saying that they don’t go to Mass regularly, but even if they do, in a large parish–e.g. 2000 families–chances are you have no idea who they are).

Also I think it overemphasizes the horizontal aspects of the Mass, which are not in any danger of being neglected these days, to have the baptism during the regularly scheduled Sunday Mass. There’s no problem with having a baptism during a Mass any more than there is a problem with a funeral Mass or a nuptial Mass–but in all of those cases I personally feel it should not be the regular Sunday Mass except in a very small parish where generally everyone knows everyone. Since the Church allows this practice but doesn’t to my knowledge encourage it as being better than having the baptism outside of the regular Sunday Mass, I don’t feel that I am being unfaithful to the Magisterium to prefer it not to be done that way.

And I have personally experienced the (IMO, of course) stupid practice of making the congregation raise their arms to pretend to bless someone, when the only one who can actually give a blessing is the priest. Another difficulty with this is that elderly people (and presumably some others) find this extremely dificult and tiring, but feel it looks bad if they don’t join in. I have sat next to elderly people during a longish blessing, and if the priest (or more frequently the lay liturgist) had sat where I was sitting and had any compassion, they would never do it again.

All this was at my old parish, though. My current parish never does baptisms during Sunday Mass as far as I know–anyway I have never seen it.

And of course when I am talking about baptisms during Mass, I am specifically NOT including the baptisms of those past the age of reason that happens at the Easter Vigil. That is integrated well into the liturgy, there are no concerns about having to cut out pieces of the Mass to ensure there’s room for the people at the next Mass to park, and I personally feel it is more important to be welcoming to people who will know they are being welcomed, than it is to be welcoming to infants.

Just my personal opinion, but not founded entirely on emotions by any means, and as far as I can tell, not contrary to church teaching. (Contrary to what I see sometimes, it is NOT the case that because the Church allows an option, you have to like that option or think it is wise to use it. Do I think that it is valid and licit to have baptism of infants during the regularly scheduled Sunday Mass? Yes. Do I think it is a good idea? No.)

–Jen

Too bad. There’s no better occasion to have Baptisms than during Mass. Best wishes for your struggle.

except for the cameras and the applause, which should be forbidden, it is pretty much correct. there is a provision in the right for the assembly to join in some of the prayers, so I assume without further proof he is doing that right as well. they don’t need to raise their hands to do so. Yes baptism should be celebrated in the context of Mass if possible. Just be glad your parish doesn’t do 30-40 at a time like we do. the homily should never be omitted, even if it is shortened and should refer to the sacrament and its instruction should in part be aimed at the parents and godparents. The Creed of course is replaced by the baptismal promises, but the intentions should not be admitted and should include a prayer for the child(ren).

The Catechism disagrees with you since it views the Rite of Baptism as a prime learning opportunity for the faithful. What better teaching moment than the Sunday Mass?

**1234 **The meaning and grace of the sacrament of Baptism are clearly seen in the rites of its celebration. By following the gestures and words of this celebration with attentive participation, the faithful are initiated into the riches this sacrament signifies and actually brings about in each newly baptized person.

I don’t see that the catechism does disagree with me. You disagree with me, because you have a different interpretation of the Catechism. When reading the above passage and the ones around it, I do not see, “Baptism is a prime learning opportunity for the faithful.” I certainly don’t see “What better teaching moment than the Sunday Mass.” I see “If you participate attentively in the sacrament of Baptism, you will better understand the sacrament and the grace it brings.” That is not the same as “Every baptism should be celebrated by the entire congregation at Sunday Mass.”

I don’t say that my interpretation is necessarily right and yours wrong, but that it is in fact a question of interpretation, so that it is not correct to say that the Catechism disagrees with me.

–Jen

Given the fact that the Holy Father has baptisms during the Mass (Feast of the Baptism of the Lord), there is nothing wrong in having this Sacrament durign the Mass.

However, there are some things that are ilicit according to what you are describing. First of all, the priest should not be “inviting” the faithful to engage in any kind of blessing, especially within the context of the Mass and within the framework of an actual sacrament. The blessing is his competency alone. Please note what Ecclesia de Mysterio states:

  1. To promote the proper identity (of various roles) in this area, those abuses which are contrary to the provisions of canon 907 are to be eradicated. In eucharistic celebrations deacons and non-ordained members of the faithful may not pronounce prayers – e.g. especially the eucharistic prayer, with its concluding doxology – or any other parts of the liturgy reserved to the celebrant priest. Neither may deacons or non-ordained members of the faithful use gestures or actions which are proper to the same priest celebrant.

The celebrant cannot, on his own authority, invent a ritual and imbed it into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, let alone the imparting of a Sacrament. The celebrant also should not omit the General Intercessions, as puzzleannie noted, because there are prayers for the newly baptized included.

As for some of the other things, while the Sacrament of Baptism is an important family event, it is not a photo opportunity. The solemnity and dignity of the sacrament needs to be respected. Furthermore, there needs to be better coordination between the celebrant and the choir so that the choir can sing hymns that are appropriate to the Sacrament.

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