Mermaid Baptism


#1

(sorry beforehand if this is not the best forum)

How would I go about writing a fictional book about Catholic mer-people? Hypothetically speaking, whether in fiction or through some weird scientific development, if a Christian sect of mer-people (that is, real human beings who live exclusively under the sea for biological reasons) were to exist, how would their baptisms take place? Would pouring water over the initiate’s head be easier or harder? What about other sacraments?

Of course, it must be asked if the idea of a Catholic mermaid is the same as a square circle. As an alternative to contesting my above question, can anyone prove that this concept is impossible, even for fiction?


#2

Since I would imagine once the water is blessed, ALL of the water would be blessed, I believe the question would be one of affirmation of intent.

The next time I see the Bishop of Atlantis, I’ll ask.


#3

I don’t believe there is a dispensation available to do it without water…the Church might require them to surface for a moment for the baptism, or they would have to have the blessed water inside some kind of spray container, like a big turkey baster, and they could jet the baptismal water onto the recipient through the other water.

Communion would be also challenging, as it would be difficult to make bread under water. They might have to resort to wine done similarly, perhaps in cooperation with surface people, who lower a tube and recipients can receive the Sacred Blood through some kind of straw.


#4

Mermaids–and mermen–don’t have to stay under water constantly. They can come up to the surface for a baptismal ceremony and use a normal baptismal font with holy water. Check the canon law addendum under ‘non-terrestrial Catholics.’


#5

I agree with the “baptism by water ABOVE water” ilk. And I see no reason why mermaids and Catholicism should be mutually exclusive.

Here’s another question- how do they speak to one another? I remember playing in the lake with my brother when I was young, a game called, “What the heck are you saying?” which required both people (human :wink: ) to go underwater. The first would say a phrase, and the second would try to guess it. Not easy! I can’t imagine the Sacrament of Confession would be easy given the way sound carries and distorts underwater.

My daughter would swoon at the prospect of a book about Catholic mermaids.


#6

I play this game with my coworkers a lot, but I don’t think they realize they are playing…


#7

Haha great answers thus far - huge thanks for indulging me, guys :wink: I can see this would definitely entail a huge expansion of the GIRM / Canon Law. Additionally, if any merman were elected pope, it might pose huge problems for the Roman curia to set up offices down under. Looks like my book has a lot of details to set straight.


#8

hmmmmmm…how about a floating alter and the merpeople could “pop” their heads abouve water for Mass. you could even place pews on a closeby piece of land for regular folk to join in the Mass! My dd too would go bonkers for a book about Catholic mermaids! She just loooooooves her some mermaids!!!:smiley:


#9

Ooooh…what about lighting the Pascal Candle? That would be, you know, problematic in an underwater diocese. Along with the candle burning next to the Tabernacle.

Fire in general would pose some issues.


#10

Maybe set Mass in a Grotto type setting on the beach so all the necessities of Mass could have “air”.:stuck_out_tongue:


#11

Perpetual Adoration would be cool…imagine an anchor on the ocean floor that goes up to a beautiful star-shaped, bouyant monstrance, floating quietly there about 12 feet off the ocean floor…and the glowing jellyfish hang out instead of candles…


#12

For Catholic mer-people, see Lewis’ “Perelandra” for ideas (a single, isolated scene, alas!)

With reference to speech, all men of learning know that merfolk communicate via a highly complex language which involves gesture, limited underwater vocalizations and color-changes on the skin (the later is mostly used to indicate emotions). They can, of course, speak human languages with a certain fluency - but only when they stick their heads above the waves. Susan Pevensie can speak their native language (with the exception of the chromatic changes) perfectly :slight_smile:


#13

For the candle problems, they could be enclosed with tubes leading to the surface for air. :wink: They could get the bread from the “surface world” but it would have to be so that it doesn’t get soggy.


#14

I want big hydroponics glass balls on the sea floor growing wheat and grapes SPECIFICALLY for the Mass! That would be awesome! They could be attached to Cathedrals, and anti-Catholic Deep Ones could come in and try to attack them! And then the Mer-people could fight them off with laser tridents! And friendly dolphins! And you could have a sort of Chuck Norris mer-man and his gorgeous mer-maid princess lover who are exiled, and . . . .

I’ll stop now, shall I?


#15

It could be a variation of an underwater welder.


#16

The Merpeople would not be Latin Rite, they would be Mer Rite. And while naturally they would be in union with Rome, their liturgy and sacramentals would vary, just as other Catholic Rites vary from the Latin Rite.

In developing the Mer Rite it would be necessary to separate what CAN vary from what CANNOT. Additionally, in terms of sacramentals the question needs to be asked what is the purpose of this sacramental, what does it say and what in the Mer World would say the same thing.

For example, blessed palms on Palm Sunday and palm ashes on Ash Wednesday. The Bible says “ashes to ashes and dust to dust” but we know that when we die while we do turn to dust, we don’t turn to ashes. What do Mer people turn to when interned at the bottom of the sea? What would the meaningful sacramental be to them?


#17

I love the jellyfish as lightsource idea. What about bioluminescent plankton in containers as another light source?


#18

Does the flame have to be a candle flame, or can it be something else? There is plenty of stuff which burns underwater.


#19

I believe that you first would need to look at the physical aspects of Mer-people.

They are not fish-people, but more like people-fish in that they have human torsos with human heads. So they would breath and be able to reside out of water, until their fish portions get too dry and it would be uncomfortable.

So a suitable Church would probably be a partly flooded Church. The entrance would probably come from below up into a hole at the back of the Church.
Baptism would be done with fresh water reserved for Baptism.

Scylla


#20

I can’t help but wonder what would mark the clergy from the laity and different religious orders from one another.

Here on dry land, that’s done primarily through clothing- which all pictures I’ve ever seen of mermaids have conspicuously lacked.

Maybe some sort of jewelry?


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.