Performing Our Own Christening/ Baptism for Our Son?


#1

Hello all!
I am new to this forum, and let me start by saying that I am not Catholic. I am a Protestant (though I hate identifying myself with a word that essentially means, 'protesting against the Catholic Church, because I actually really like the Catholic Church…eh, semantics.). Anyway, I am a Protestant who has recently been delving into Catholic ideas and exploring the faith, because I’m not entirely sure that I am right; I am becoming more and more convinced that you guys are the ones who have it right. We shall see how that study concludes; not making any rash decisions. But on one thing, I am absolutely certain. I KNOW that infant baptism is more right that waiting until he hits an arbitrary and undefined “age of reason.”

My husband and I have a 1 year old son and though neither of us is Catholic, we strongly believe he should be baptized. I know the Catholic Church will not do it (which I fully understand the reasoning for, no problems there) and my church definitely won’t do it. They would think we were crazy :slight_smile: So, the option we have right now is to just do it ourselves. His grandfather (also Protestant) agrees with it and will do the baptism. After all that, my question is: what exactly goes on at a christening? How exactly should we do it? I’ve seen many adult baptisms but never one for a baby, except on television! :slight_smile:

Thanks so much and God bless!


#2

Let me ask you a question then, why remain a Protestant?


#3

That’s a very good question. I am having a hard time with a couple teachings in the Catholic Church, and am searching for answers there. The more I have researched, the more I’ve found that you do tend to have much better, more sound answers than the Protestan churches typically give you credit for. However, on those last few things I have yet to flesh out fully, I feel I need to come to some sort of resolution. And as conversion is not something I take lightly, I really want to consider everything and prayerfully explore it for a while before I make a decision.


#4

Just from a pragmatic point of view, you will have absolutely no documentation to prove his baptism. So if you do join a Church which requires proof of sacramental baptism (for their school, or for marriage etc) you will be hooped.


#5

Please avail yourself of the forums in your search for answers (separate threads, please :)). There are many knowledgeable members who will be glad to address your concerns respectfully.

In answer to your question in the OP:
All that is necessary for baptism is for water to flow over the head and use of the Trinitarian formula (“I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”). However, if you do it yourself, your son will not have a proper record of baptism if he later decides to become Catholic himself. He would then have to be conditionally baptized (“If you are not baptized then…”) in order to establish a sacramental record.

If, instead, you had him baptized in a Lutheran or Anglican church (or some other denomination that performs infant baptisms) then there would be a proper record and he would not need conditional baptism if he decided to become Catholic later.


#6

[quote="triumphguy, post:4, topic:288400"]
Just from a pragmatic point of view, you will have absolutely no documentation to prove his baptism. So if you do join a Church which requires proof of sacramental baptism (for their school, or for marriage etc) you will be hooped.

[/quote]

This wouldn't be too major of an impediment. In that case, a conditional baptism could be administered, i.e., "If you are not yet baptized, then I baptize you in the name..."

To the OP's question, I don't know much about the sacramentology of baptism. My understanding is that the only requirements are (a) water, which is laved over the baby (there must be a general movement of water over the body, so as to simulate washing -- bear in mind baptism is a sacrament, and like any sacrament, delivers that which it symbolizes; since it symbolizes the washing away of original sin, there must be a symbolic washing), and (b) pronunciation of baptism according to the trinitarian formula ("I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit").

The normal minister of baptism in the Church is a member of the clergy, so a deacon, priest, or bishop. In emergency cases, the principle of ecclesia supplet (the Church supplies, i.e., it provides faculties to exercise the sacrament), baptism may be administered by any person, even a non-baptized one. For instance, in the event of a miscarriage, one may (probably conditionally) baptize the fetus, or may baptize a person who lay dying in a car accident, or is in the hospital and is shortly to die, etc.

Bear in mind the complementary principle of ecclesia non supplet quod ecclesia non habet, the Church cannot supply what the Church does not have. The Church has the authority to issue faculties, but it has no authority to regulate form or matter. Thus in a pinch, even a non-baptized person could baptize someone and it would be valid in this respect, but only if the form and matter (i.e., the water and words) were used.

All this said, you are outside the Church, so these rules do not apply to you. If you cannot baptize through somewhere that will maintain a record of baptism, and if you should later decide to enter the Church, your child may be subjected to a conditional baptism before he or she is allowed to receive any further sacraments.

I encourage having the baptism done, for the simple reason that we have the plain words of our Lord to confirm to us that the unbaptized cannot enter Heaven. It is of faith that a baptized child who dies before the age of reason goes immediately to Heaven. Knowing this, rush over to the bathroom sink immediately!

EDIT: SonCatcher beat me to it!


#7

Maybe, but I like your POV. :thumbsup:


#8

Baptism requires (1) water, which (2) comes in contact with the head (by immersion or pouring), while (3) the baptismal formula is said by someone who (4) holds at least a minimal intention to baptize the subject in a Christian sense. Doing three pours or three dunks is customary, but not required. The baptismal formula is “[Name], I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” although the church has ruled that saying the name of the subject is not strictly necessary, and variations in wording like “be baptized” instead of “I baptize you” are acceptable too. Replacing the invocation “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” with other things, like “in Jesus’ name” or “in the name of the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier,” however, will result in an invalid baptism.

While I cannot specifically recommend that you proceed with baptizing your son on your own, I applaud you for taking concern over your son’s salvation and giving consideration to the best way to do it. If you decide to go ahead with it, I would recommend videotaping it if possible, and writing up a brief but specific summary of what was done and having it signed by two witnesses (such as yourself and your spouse). Keep that document with your son’s other documents, like his birth certificate. In the event that your son enters the Catholic Church at some point in the future, the Church will accept properly performed baptisms which can be sufficiently proven by reliable evidence or testimony. It is not true that a conditional baptism would have to be performed, provided that the earlier, valid baptism were acceptably proven to the satisfaction of the priest who received your son into the Church.


#9

This is not entirely accurate.

There are many protestant denominations that do not keep records of baptisms. In such cases an affidavit of baptism from the parents or witnesses suffices for an infant. A person baptized at an age where they personally can vouch for it can fill out their own affidavit.

The parents should record the date and witnesses present and insure that they pour water over the head of the child while saying “Name, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”.

Video taping it would be ideal. This would provide all the necessary proof.

If and when the parents come in to full communion with the Church, the priest can supply the remaining rites associated with baptism-- anointing with chrism, presentation of the baptismal candle and garment, etc.


#10

[quote="bchrumby, post:1, topic:288400"]
Hello all!
I am new to this forum, and let me start by saying that I am not Catholic. I am a Protestant (though I hate identifying myself with a word that essentially means, 'protesting against the Catholic Church, because I actually really like the Catholic Church....eh, semantics.). Anyway, I am a Protestant who has recently been delving into Catholic ideas and exploring the faith, because I'm not entirely sure that I am right; I am becoming more and more convinced that you guys are the ones who have it right. We shall see how that study concludes; not making any rash decisions. But on one thing, I am absolutely certain. I KNOW that infant baptism is more right that waiting until he hits an arbitrary and undefined "age of reason."

My husband and I have a 1 year old son and though neither of us is Catholic, we strongly believe he should be baptized. I know the Catholic Church will not do it (which I fully understand the reasoning for, no problems there) and my church definitely won't do it. They would think we were crazy :) So, the option we have right now is to just do it ourselves. His grandfather (also Protestant) agrees with it and will do the baptism. After all that, my question is: what exactly goes on at a christening? How exactly should we do it? I've seen many adult baptisms but never one for a baby, except on television! :)

Thanks so much and God bless!

[/quote]

I have to say, not sure what I would do if I were in your shoes. I would think I would perform the baptism, then when I come into the Church fully have the baptism done conditionally as would be required without documents showing the proper matter and form.

saintanthonynewbedford.com/pdfs/RiteOfBaptism.pdf

This is a link to one of the books used for this ritual. At the baptism itself, the minister must say, " (Name of the child), I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." If not done in the Trinitarian formula it is not valid, our God in a Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Keep in mind that if you choose, and I pray you do, to come into full communion and become Catholic, the God parents of the children will be required to be confirmed Catholics, at least one of them.

I would suggest if you are close to making that step then seek out guidance from the local parish priest; waiting is the best option and obedience is a good thing. If you are not close, then it is your decision as the person responsible for your child, body and soul.

Now please keep the understanding I do not recommend staying outside of the Church, I am inviting you to come into His truth. It is fantastic that you are discerning this move.

Peace to you and your quest for truth.


#11

[quote="MarkThompson, post:8, topic:288400"]
While I cannot specifically recommend that you proceed with baptizing your son on your own, I applaud you for taking concern over your son's salvation and giving consideration to the best way to do it. If you decide to go ahead with it, I would recommend videotaping it if possible, and writing up a brief but specific summary of what was done and having it signed by two witnesses (such as yourself and your spouse). Keep that document with your son's other documents, like his birth certificate. In the event that your son enters the Catholic Church at some point in the future, the Church will accept properly performed baptisms which can be sufficiently proven by reliable evidence or testimony. It is not true that a conditional baptism would have to be performed, provided that the earlier, valid baptism were acceptably proven to the satisfaction of the priest who received your son into the Church.

[/quote]

Mark is correct. If these caveats are followed, a conditional baptism would not be necessary. My earlier comment was regarding hearsay evidence of baptism, which would be the case if someone upon discovering the necessity of baptism immediately went to the kitchen sink and baptized her child and only later tried to remember exactly what she had done.


#12

bchrumby,
God is drawing you close to the truthes of the Catholic faith for good reason. He wants you to be able to partake of the lifegiving sacraments of the Church that Our Lord established.

You said there are a couple of things you still have questions about. Understandable. I am sure that the answers can be supplied. Good instruction can clear these things up.
With that said, what is necessary now is for you to pray and seek to enter the Church, after your questions are resolved and are catechised.

I bring this up because to recommend that one baptise their child when the parent themself/selves are not Catholic, one would have to understand that a duty would then be placed on the parent/s to bring that child up in the faith, even if they have not embraced it. This is more common when only one of te parents are Catholic, and also sometimes when a grandparent will take upon themselves the duty to bring the child up in the Catholic faith.
With that said, while we know and believe by faith that baptism is what makes one a child of God and heir to Heaven and washes away original and any actual(if any) sin, it is a great disservice, to put it mildly, to have someone baptised w/o providing the means for them to nourish their faith. It would be like a plant that upon planting, it gets the best care possible at the start, but after awhile, without proper fertilisation, it gets surrounded by weeds and is finally choked and dies. That is what can happen with one who is validly baptised, but, without the spiritual aids of Holy Communion, Confession, Confirmation, etc, the life of grace can easily, in time, stop being present.
I am not telling you not to have your baby baptised. Far from it. I am saying, please, go about it in the proper manner. Look into the faith, join the Catholic Church, and then you can have your baby baptised and grow in the love of Christ and His Blessed Mother. With the information that you have given here, that is the only answer I can recommend.
If I may recommend, if you have not already done so, do pray to Our Lady. Start to pray the Rosary. She will hear your cries for wanting to do God's will and will intercede on your behalf in aquiring the graces from Her Son for you to resolve your difficulties.

Do not hesistate to PM me if you care for any other recommendations. God bless you.

CB


#13

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure it’s gravely illicit for a lay person to perform a baptism when there is no danger of death to the one being baptized.


#14

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:13, topic:288400"]
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure it's gravely illicit for a lay person to perform a baptism when there is no danger of death to the one being baptized.

[/quote]

For a Latin Rite Catholic, yes. They are not Catholic and not bound by Canon Law.

Can. 1 The canons of this Code regard only the Latin Church.

Again, they should pursue the entry into the Church and wait to baptize their children in the proper way. Sister Faustina words, " sometimes obedience is the only thing there to get us to the kingdom of Heaven."


#15

The OP is not a Catholic.


#16

So then how do they expect the child to be brought up and raised Catholic? Why not just become Catholic and do it the normal way?


#17

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:16, topic:288400"]
So then how do they expect the child to be brought up and raised Catholic? Why not just become Catholic and do it the normal way?

[/quote]

At this point the OP is more concerned that his child be baptized than that he be Catholic . And he wouldn't be Catholic if they were to baptize him, but he would be a baptized Christian and the OP would have the responsibility to raise him thus.

As for godparents, they are not absolutely required by the Catholic Church.


#18

I wanted to weigh in as a former Protestant - I was previously a member of the Nazarene church which is an evangelical /Weslyan denomination that does not usually use liturgical worship. I came to realize that the Catholic Church had teachings that made the Bible come alive for me in such a powerful way about 6 months ago. I read a book called Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic that started me on a reading adventure that encompassed thousands of pages. I committed myself to trying to find out what the CC taught about everything so that I could decide whether or not I believed it.
I say this to pose a question to you: do you accept that in the scriptures, the prophets, judges and apostles taught with authority? That when God covenants with His people, He does it through those He raises up to lead? The New Testament is full of authoritative, apostolic teaching that there is no room for dissension with. It isn't a democracy where the individual Christians decide to agree or disagree with the apostles.
If you struggle with this and still wrestle with needing to know for yourself (which I understand!), I'd suggest a couple books. Scott Hahn's Hail, Holy Queen can help with Marian doctrines and his book The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth is great. Also, read about the saints. The Story of a Soul- the autobiography of Therese de Liseux is beautiful and her love for Jesus beyond words.
You are right- our children need baptism, but maybe God is using this nudge to ask you to come home. Stay in prayer (the Rosary and it's meditations are absolutely life changing), seek Him. I hope you will hear His voice on the baptism of your child and will pray for the day when you are in communion with the Catholic Church. It has been the most amazing journey of my life and you will be in my prayers.


#19

Anyone may perform a baptism, and it is valid if conferred in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit

Canon Law §862. When an ordinary minister is absent or impeded, a catechist or another person designated for this function by the local ordinary, or in a case of necessity any person with the right intention, confers baptism licitly. Pastors of souls, especially the pastor of a parish, are to be concerned that the Christian faithful are taught the correct way to baptize.

May God bless you as you investigate Catholicism. Whether or not you enter the Church, you will do the Body of Christ a great service by simply being aware, and able to dispel misconceptions about the Catholic faith. There are so many.


#20

But if his family joins the church, the priest can simply do a conditional baptism, or inquire as to how the baptism was performed.


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