Validity of Trinitarian-Formula Baptism


#1

Greetings,

This question is admittedly somewhat technical, but I became curious after I attended a friend’s baptism yesterday, which was by single immersion.

The performance of the rite was as follows: While the participant stood in a pool of water, the minister invoked the Trinitarian formula and, upon saying the words, appended the following phrase as he immersed the participant into the water:

Buried with Him in the likeness of His death, raised with Him in the likeness of His resurrection.”
**
My question is twofold: **First, does the addition of the extraneous words affect the form and thus the validity of the sacrament? A close reading of the Summa (III, Q.66, art. 6) suggests not. Second, must the Trinity be invoked as the participant is being immersed? As stated above, the minister in this case had already completed the Trinitarian invocation before continuing to the immersion.

Thank you!

And please, no comments on the legalistic nature of my question :wink: This is an exercise in metaphysics for a catholic crowd.


#2

The Apostolic Tradition is that the Sacrament of Baptism can be performed by immersion or by affusion. We profess that “Baptism is performed in the most expressive way by triple immersion in the baptismal water, [h]owever, from ancient times it has also been able to be conferred by pouring the water three times over the candidate’s head”. Specifically the Didache states that when submersion/immersion was not feasible, they should "pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit ". It does not seem that the addition of words would make the Sacrament invalid (given that the Sacrament of Baptism within the Church includes an extensive liturgy, the baptismal promises, and in the past it even included a minor exorcism). It would seem that in the baptism given by the Church the words are said as the water flows over the person being baptized. Whether a change in this invalidates the Sacrament due to a deficiency of form, is another matter.

The Church keeps track to some degree of which Christian communities perform a valid baptism. When in doubt, you may contact the local Catholic diocese.


#3

The Matter required for valid baptism is water, the form of words required is the trinitatian formula, metaphysically eveything else is accidental.

A couple of years ago the congregation for the doctrine of the faith issued a clarification on this a few years ago, as a few priests were using the ‘gender inclusive’ creator, redeemer, and sanctifier or similar instead.

The second bit I’m not sure about but it would seam reasonable that they two would occur simultaneously where possible.


#4

That’s certainly a strange way to baptize. Just glancing through some of the hymnals I have laying around (LSB, LBW, LW, 1941 TLH, 1940 Episcopal Hymnal, and Worship IV) it looks like each that has a section on baptism is very specific about pouring water three times, as each Person of the Trinity is named. Even the LSB’s abbreviated “Baptism in Cases of Emergency” specifically notes to pour three times, as each person of the Trinity is named.

That said, my gut is telling me that baptism is made valid by invoking the Trinity, since it is the Holy Spirit at work through the water… right? And historically, baptism in the Catholic Church has been any of the following: three immersions, one immersion, three sprinklings, three pourings… and all have been valid, so long as the Trinity is invoked (if I’ve understood properly). It’s the Holy Spirit who completes the work.

After all, a baptism can be performed by any baptized Christian in cases of emergency (not saying it should be), and even we heretical Lutherans have valid baptisms! :smiley:

Edit: Looks like everyone else beat me to posting!


#5

Catechism of the Catholic Church

1239 The essential rite of the sacrament follows: *Baptism *properly speaking. It signifies and actually brings about death to sin and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity through configuration to the Paschal mystery of Christ. Baptism is performed in the most expressive way by triple immersion in the baptismal water. However, from ancient times it has also been able to be conferred by pouring the water three times over the candidate’s head.

1240 In the Latin Church this triple infusion is accompanied by the minister’s words: “N., I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” In the Eastern liturgies the catechumen turns toward the East and the priest says: “The servant of God, N., is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” At the invocation of each person of the Most Holy Trinity, the priest immerses the candidate in the water and raises him up again.


#6

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