Can adult be baptized at any time of the year?


#1

I am writing a story where people may be converting in September and possibly only have a few weeks to live. I know baptism can be in an emergency, but would this be considered an emergency, and would a parish go through an “official” baptism (not a last minute deathbed baptism but like actually be in a church and with everyone)?
I think the answer may be yes but I just want to make sure.


#2

Yes.

For purposes of a story, that scenario is entirely possible.

Under canon law, the baptism of adults is particularly entrusted to the bishop, and the parish priest can only do this by permission. Since you’re writing a fictional story, you can presume that the priest has this permission. It’s not even necessary to work that permission into the story line. In real life that permission is routinely given, and it’s not unusual enough to merit mentioning it.

As to whether or not it is an emergency: it’s your story, so you can make it whatever you want.

If it’s not an emergency, then the full rite would be used.


#3

Thank you, Fr. David!


#4

But working the details of the bishops permission into the story might make it both interesting and informative to readers wondering about Catholicism…never pass up an opportunity to evangelize or for catechesis.


#5

The liturgical book on the ceremonies is Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. A lot of it is available at liturgyoffice.org.uk/Resources/Rites/RiteRitual.html#RCIA .

The usual time time for the baptism is the Easter Vigil or Easter Sunday. There is a section on “Outside the Usual Time” which includes:

"28. The rite of acceptance into the order of catechumans is to take place when the time is right (see no. 18).

  1. The rite of election is to be celebrated about six weeks before the sacraments of initiation, so that there is sufficient time for the scrutinies and the presentations."

So before the baptism ceremony there are normally, at least, seven other ceremonies:

  1. Rite of Acceptance.

  2. Rite of Election.

  3. First Scrutiny

  4. Presentation of the Creed

  5. Second Scrutiny

  6. Third Scrutiny

  7. Presentation of the Lord’s Prayer.

Between the Rite of Election and baptism there is about six weeks. But the time between the Rite of Acceptance and Rite of Election is much longer. “76. … The time spent in the catechumenate should be long enough – several years if necessary – for the conversion and faith of the catechumens to become strong.”

However:

“307. Exceptional circumstances may arise in which the local bishop, in individual cases can allow the use of a form of Christian initiation that is simpler than the usual, complete rite. … The bishop may permit this simpler form to consist in the abbreviated form of the rite (nos. 340-369) that is carried out in one celebration.” Examples of extraordinary circumstances are given in n. 308: “sickness, old age, change of residence, long absence for travel”.
(The USA edition of the RCIA book has different numbers here, n. 331 and 332, instead of 307 and 308.)


#6

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