Conditional Baptism

I was baptized as a Protestant when I was 11 years old, but I have not documentation or anything like that to prove it, so I’ll be going through a conditional baptism this Easter. My question is: exactly how do I deal with confession? My priest says that someone who has not been validly baptized may not receive the sacrament of reconciliation. If my first baptism was the valid one, however, I do not want to receive my first Communion without confessing my sins first. My priest didn’t seem to think that I need to go to confession–that the conditional baptism would act sacramentally to remove those sins even if I was validly baptized as a child. I read somewhere else, though, that you are supposed to go to confession after your baptism but before your first Communion. I guess I don’t really understand the schedule of how the Easter Vigil is supposed to pan out, but I was rather under the impression that there wouldn’t be time for something like that. I’m not sure my priest has dealt with too many conditional baptisms before and it would take away the edge of my first Communion experience if I was worried about not having been in a state of grace to receive it. Does anyone know what is supposed to happen in my situation?

I looked around online, and cannot find a satisfactory answer to this question.

If you were 11 when you were baptized, you probably have some memory of the event, as will others. Was water used? Was a trinitarian formula used? Does the community intend to baptize as Christians do?

If water and a trinitarian formula were used, and the community generally intends to baptize as Christians do (which most Protestant communities do), your previous baptism was probably valid. The conditional baptism is only being done because you cannot provide adequate documentation. If this is the case, I think it would be ideal to do confession with conditional absolution prior to the conditional baptism. The confession would cover you in case the first baptism was valid, and the conditional baptism would cover you in case the first baptism and confession were invalid.

If, on the other hand, you not only lack documentation of the first baptism but also have some reason to doubt its validity (e.g. you think you may have been baptized in lemonade, you think a non-trinitarian formula was used, or you were baptized by Mormons), then I would recommend just waiting for the conditional baptism.

If someone has a better answer, I hope they will correct this response. :slight_smile:

Baptism removes all sin. If you will conditionally receive the Sacrament of Baptism at the Easter Vigil, unless you expect to commit a mortal sin in the minutes between the time you are Baptised and when you have first Holy Eucharist then there no reason you would need the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. :slight_smile:

Usually a letter is written by a friend or relative to confirm the baptism. If that is not possible which can occur a conditional baptism is used. If it were me I would go to confession, and explain first to the priest I was baptized and want to cleanse my soul by confession but I am also to receive a conditional baptism soon. Priests usually handle these issues well. On other matters your RCIA candidates will typically do a confession session often hours before the Saturday Vigil so simply join in. Also the forum typically used for RCIA questions/issues in Evangelization. Congratulations on your sacraments.

Conditional Baptism is celebrated as soon as it is determined that there is a serious question about the validity of a persons Baptism. It is always done privately, NEVER in public. The person is then treated as a regular Candidate, participates in the Rite of Welcome not the Rite of Acceptance, does not participate in the Scruitines or the Rite of Election or sign the Book of the Elect.

They would be encouraged to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation just prior to Easter and be received into the Catholic Church with the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Communion.

If your original Baptism was valid the Conditional Baptism has NO effect and the Sacrament of Reconcilaition places you in the state of Grace necessary for the reception of the other Sacraments.

If the original Baptism was not valid then the Conditional Baptism has the full effect of Baptism and the Sacrament of Reconciliation takes care of any sins committed in the months between the Conditional Baptism and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Except a conditional baptism should not be happening during the Mass.
The Canadian RCIA # 393 says: “If serious investigation raises such prudent doubt and it seems necessary to confer baptism again conditionally,the minister should explain beforehand the reasons why this is being done and a nonsolemn form of baptism is to be used.”

IIRC, the Rite of Baptism calls for conditional baptisms to be celebrated privately, in a discrete manner, due to the possibility of misunderstanding. It should be done sometime before the Vigil and, since it may not really be baptism, confession should still take place before reception of Communion.

Wow. When I entered the Church it was done backwards. There was a question about the validity of my childhood baptism (I’m pretty sure that it was invalid, and was clear about that with the DRE and Father). I went to Confession in the week before the Vigil Mass, and at the Vigil I was baptised (but without the conditional words).

If you were not Baptized then your confession or the Sacrament of Reconciliation had NO effect as a Sacrament. (It helped you repent and prepare for Baptism)

There are many places that do things in odd ways. There is a reason the Church has set these things in the order and manner that she has.

The conditional baptism should be followed by a confession with conditional absolution - however, this cannot take place during Mass.

If your first baptism was valid, then the conditional absolution will absolve you. The conditional baptism has no effect.
If your first baptism was not valid, the conditional baptism puts you in a state of grace, and therefore the absolution is conditioned (it ‘has no effect’ because your sins are already forgiven).

One possible thing to do would be to conditionally baptize you privately, then hear your confession, then receive you publicly with other baptized people being received into the Church.

Conditional Absolution? I do not believe that there is such a thing. Absolution can be received even if one only re-states already forgiven past sins.

Yeah, I figured as much, in which case the Baptism I received at the Vigil was valid.

Objectively valid or not, subjectively that confession was one of the most wonderful things ever to have happened to me. Praise God!

I put great value on the proper observance of Church norms.

Thanks as always for your presence here.

There is. Formerly it was explictly prescribed in the case of converts since before the age of agreements with other the mainstream denominations, although acknowleging the baptisms of other denominations in theory, the bishops were doubtful as to their actual praxis. Therefore the practise was for priests to conditionally baptize almost all converts, after which conditional absolution was given.

My bad :o Thanks, and also to you Br. Rich SFO. The original poster sounded like he was told by his priest it would all be happening at the Easter Vigil.

We do not receive Candidates in to the Church at the Easter vigil. It makes perfect sense that a Baptism done conditionally would be done discretely so as not to cause confusion. I know normally there is ever effort made to find a way to establish the fact of the Baptism that the Candidate says did occur so as to avoid Baptizing conditionally.

Okay, so the priest hasn’t really clarified the schedule for when I am supposed to be baptized, so I didn’t really realize it wasn’t supposed to be part of the Easter Vigil. Does anyone know where I can point him to discuss when the conditional baptism and confession should take place? I mean, I’m going to be going home for spring break and if there isn’t a set time I would kind of like to discuss it with him.

As nervous as I am about my first confession, I actually want to go after my baptism. The thing is, I’m pretty sure my first baptism was valid. I’m just not totally sure. I remember being baptized and know my former church has a trinitarian theology, but I’m not sure if the trinitarian formula was actually used or not; I don’t remember. It’s certainly ordinary to say “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” but being an evangelical denomination, no particular formula is required. It’s possible that my dad (children were generally baptized by the fathers, if possible) said something different, just assuming that the Trinity didn’t need to be called upon explicitly. Regardless, I don’t have any documentation for it and since my family doesn’t like my conversion, it’s unlikely that they would agree to serve as witnesses. So, all that to say, I think it’s more probable that the sacrament I need is reconciliation, but because of the uncertainty I’m getting conditionally baptized as well. I just don’t want to approach the altar without getting certain sins off my chest.

Incidentally, I’m a girl. :slight_smile:

Phemie posted a section from the RCIA for Canada, the same or nearly the same wording is found in the RCIA for use in the U.S.

excellent answer! Thank you so much…this helps me with my situation as well.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.