Infant baptisms in Lent

Why are some churches not allowing infant baptisms during Lent? In the past I had no problems getting my children baptized whether it was Lent or not. One of my children was baptized on St. Patrick’s Day which is always during Lent. But now I notice more churches saying they will not have any baptism classes or baptisms during Lent. What is going on? Are these churches imposing unnecessary restrictions on this sacrament?

I would guess that some churches are making up their own rules. In the old Code of Canon Law, Baptism was not allowed during Lent, but that prohibition is not found in the 1983 Code that I am aware of. It may be possible that a Bishop could establish this in his diocese. But I would suspect every parish would be required to folllow this.

Are you sure about that in the 1917 Code? There isn’t a month without baptisms in our registers until 2000-2001. Of course our registers only date back to 1958 but I’m going to check the copy of my hometown registers (published back in the 90s and encompassing all baptisms, marriages, confirmations and funerals from 1848-1920) to see about 1917-20.

I recall a former pastor (2002-2005) saying, upon finding out that the Parish Administrator who’d preceded him had decreed no Baptisms during Lent and Advent, “You might make a theological argument for no Baptisms during Lent, but there is nothing that would justify no baptisms during Advent.” It seems to me that someone who’d ministered at least 25 years under the 1917 Code would have been aware of that regulation, yet he seemed to never have heard of the practice.

So what do these babies do?

What if they are born on Ash Wednesday? Do they really wait 40+ days?

That seems to go against the Catechism, where it says, "All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism. 1261

On Catholic Answers like last week, someone asked if babies could be baptized during Lent. The guest speaker (who I think was Jimmy Akin) said that you must baptize the babies normally as soon as possible, and so yes, they can be baptized during Lent. Over all, the answer is YES, BABIES CAN BE BAPTIZED DURING LENT.

Canon Law:

Can. 867 §1. Parents are obliged to take care that infants are baptized in the first few weeks; as soon as possible after the birth or even before it, they are to go to the pastor to request the sacrament for their child and to be prepared properly for it.

There is nothing in Canon Law preventing baptisms during Lent but there’s not much you can do when your parish, or in some circumstances, your diocese doesn’t celebrate them during that time.

Thanks thistle.

Baptism should not be delayed because it’s the season of Lent. Unless there is some legitimate canonical reason, parents have a right to have their children baptized as soon as possible, and pastors have a solemn obligation to do so. The consequences of failing to baptize are too great for this to be delayed any longer than truly necessary.

Well, most likely these parishes have decided that baptism has greater symbolism during the Easter season so they’ve decided that infants can wait, just like the adult catechumens wait.

Or it might be that whomever is in charge of the baptism preparation is busy with other things during Lent and just doesn’t want the bother.

I’d say reason number one is questionable. Reason number two probably depends on the individual parish’s resources. In either case, the baby could still be baptized in the event of an emergency.

Br Rich,
You might be thinking of marriages (which I believe were prohibited during Lent), but not baptisms, which had (and still are) to be done as soon as possible.

There’s nothing wrong with baptizing infants during Lent. There’s also nothing wrong with waiting for the Paschal celebration.

**What if they are born on Ash Wednesday? Do they really wait 40+ days? **

It’s customary among the Orthodox to wait for 40 days so the prayers over the mother can be read and she can be present for the Baptism.

But we’re discussing the Latin Rite and the way some parishes have made up their own rules that have no basis in law or tradition.

Actually, it’s the other way around. #2 (person doing preparation is too busy) is very questionable and not at all a justification to deny the infant baptism, which should occur as soon as possible.

#1 (waiting for Easter) does have some sound reasoning behind it, yet at the same time, if this would unduly prolong the wait, it shouldn’t be done.

That could very well be. I do know that today Marriages are not prohibited, but are “toned down”, no flowers, etc.

Our parish tends to avoid baptisms during Lent…If REALLY pressured, we might cave in, though with little ceremony (we’d just say “You have put on Christ, in Him you have been baptized”, because the word after that you can’t say during Lent.)

That’s sad. Your priest has to be “REALLY pressured” to obey canon law?


You can’t just make up your own little ceremony, you either follow the Rite of Infant Baptism or you don’t!

I had a niece who was baptized the Sunday before Ash Wednesday in 2007. She died of SIDS a week after Easter 2007. My brother and his wife felt some solace knowing she was baptized. My older niece had a premature baby that she brought home from the hospital about three weeks before Lent. The baby and mother were not up to having a baptism until about a week before Lent and the parish priest was too busy to baptize the baby. Since there are no baptisms during Lent in our parish, my sister and my niece have been excessively worried that my great-nephew may die before he is baptize. I told my sister to baptize the baby herself and then have the proper ceremony after Lent. She said we aren’t supposed to do that any more.

I don’t understand why they don’t have baptisms during lent. I also don’t understand why it is so difficult to get a baby baptized!

There is no reason to not baptize during Lent. In this case it should not be difficult, since the child is at risk of dying and the parents are asking.

Sometimes, though, I think it should be harder to have babies baptized. I’m tired of preparing parents for baptism with the certainty that we will not see those children, or their parents, in Church again until the parents decide that it’s time for First Communion. Then they’ll be there long enough to “have it done” and we’ll probably never see them again because Confirmation won’t be on their minds.

Unless you are psychic, you can never know with a certainty that a child will not be back in church until communion. I have a cousin who is Catholic and her husband is a muslim. He does the prayer thing and he does the fasting at Ramadan. He also doesn’t eat pork. He also celebrates the muslim holidays. My cousin was given a hard time when she wanted her children baptized, because her husband wouldn’t attend baptismal classes. At that time, we had a different priest who would baptize any child with the hope that the child may be raised Catholic. She came to our parish to have her babies baptized. My dad didn’t think she would raise the children Catholic, but he became the Godfather anyway. She raised her children Catholic. They attended CCD until they graduated from high school. They were involved in the CYO and everything. When they went to college, they quit attending church, but that’s another story. You can never know how someone’s life will turn out.

There are fallen away Catholics who return to church later and bring their children with them.

I have known people who were baptized Catholic, but were never raised Catholic. Later, they became curious about the church in which they were baptized and eventually came home to Rome.:smiley: You never know so I don’t think anyone should be excluded.

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