Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


In the wake of the anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, there was comment about complaint about reminiscence about prediction about..... and anyway, I came across this from two years ago:
How can it be “for the benefit of the faithful” to return to a ritual of baptism in which the parents of infants say nothing? In the spirit of ecumenism, the liturgy that came out of Vatican II eliminated the abjuration of heresy and schism that non-Catholics made before being admitted to Catholic communion. How can we justify reviving such practices today? There was no catechumenate in the Tridentine church, despite a crying need around the world for this liturgical structure of evangelization and formation.

No argument, restoration, (if indeed it is a restoration, the arguments over we used to..." oh yeah, well before THAT we used to..." interest me not a jot, except insofar as they betray the frequent pretense and fabrications on both sides of the those argument,... but I digress, the restoration," of the catechumenate is on balance a good thing.
And it is clear, of course, that not even famously "practicing" cradle Catholics, much less celebrity converts, need abjure anything at all that conflicts with the faith, or renounce anything that pleases them, or really change at all -- "Oh no, when we ask you to stand up with us and say ' We believe…’, we don't mean we actually believe....")
I will not say that that is a good thing, on balance or otherwise.

No, what interested me is the mention of Baptism.

I did not know that about the old ritual of Baptism.
The parents said not a word, huh?
I would have been baptized with the old one, but really only remember the rite, or rather the multiplicity of rites, as it stands now, (I will not ride, or rather beat, my usual hobby horse of the Rites of Baptism at Our Lady of the Way We Do It Here)

It dates from, when? the 1970s? 1980?

In any case, that little tidbit quote above from the put-out Prog finally explains what has always nagged at me about baptisms nowadays.

Infant Baptism as the ritual is enacted now has lots for the parents to say and do, and lots for the god-parents, they say this and ask that, and hold one and receive another, and move hither and yon -- it feels, when all is said and done, like a scrutiny of, and then induction of, the adults involved.
The baby is just an adorable or obstreperous prop.
Oh, I know the priest in performing the exorcism and pouring the water is the conduit through which SANCTIFYING GRACE is conferred on the infant.

Yes, that is the salient point of the Sacrament that is its most noteworthy aspect, but not, as we practice it, the most noticeable.

I am not one of those who complains, why are they doing that in the middle of my Mass? making my Mass longer? (and believe me, I have tried to placate and to explain to many people over the years, both when it was part of my job and when it wasn't, why baptisms in front of the community are a Good Thing.)
I am glad to be in a parish that permits baptisms at Sunday Mass, (not so much to be in a parish that requires it....)

But the Rites... forgive me, who complains often enough about others fetishizing their feelings, felt wrong.
It has always bothered me, but I had never thought to tease out exactly why.
And there it is -- the Rite is apparently deliberately constructed to give people other than the recipients and the ministers of the sacrament Something To Do.
(And that's not even counting the ceremonies as celebrated in our Parish Family Faith Community -- why use one word when four will do?-- which further rigs the rigmarole. Probably would further roll it, too, if some had their way -- yeah, I know Christ instituted it, but what can I do to make special?)

It feels as if they - we?- are reaching... to " involve" people, (the way it does when the congregation is asked to stand and pose as extras from Triumph of the Will.)
So not only does that aspect of the ritual ring false, (as makework always will,) it implicitly tells us that the main even is community-building, it's all about community, it's all about initiation... the receipt of Sanctifying Grace?

Ooooh, let's not talk about that, shall we, that would send out signals we actually believe in the existence of Original Sin.

In any case, the faults, (if flauts there be, you may not see it that way,) do not necessarily lie so much with the Rite, as with the way it is enacted.
But perhaps a good ritual is so structured as to not allow too much re-prioritizing.

No comments: