It is my favorite sacrament, as it is the basis of Christian life, opening the door to the other sacraments, especially the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.
As the father of a large family, a member of an even larger family, and a member of very close-knit parish communities everywhere we’ve lived, I have participated in many baptisms as a father, a godfather, or as a witness.
With joy, I cry at every one of them, knowing that the catechumen is being born into Christ’s Church a new person, cleansed in preparation for eventually entering into the Kingdom of God.
Together with my wife, we have 11 children, 9 on this earth. We have celebrated each of children’s baptisms with the same joy and anticipation.
But something different occurred with this most recent celebration. Eight of our children were baptized in the Ordinary Form (OF), and having participated in so many baptisms, it has become a very familiar rite.
Recently we have been attending a Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form (EF) of the Roman Rite, and we have fallen deeply in love with this liturgy. After our ninth child was born, we asked if our daughter could be baptized according to that traditional baptismal ritual.
Once again, we have fallen in love. In a special way, the Traditional Baptism highlights what the sacrament is, and – just as importantly – the significance of the godparents.
The use of the prayers of exorcism remind us that Baptism indeed serves as an exorcism, and highlights the reality of evil in this world.
The use of the exorcised salt brings an imagination of how the Saints of our Church celebrated this sacrament. This occurs prior to entering into the main part of the church. The seriousness of the sacrament is also highlighted by the changing of stoles, with violet being used at the beginning, and changing once we moved into the church to prepare for the anointing with the Oil of Catechumens.
But what really stood out to us was the role of the godparents, or the sponsors, and how the questions are addressed. The sponsors, not the parents, are asked what it is they are asking of the Church. And the answer of faith is given by them directly.
Then, the questions become directed to the catechumen, and being an infant, the sponsors again have the responsibility of answering on her behalf. And, instead of the parents, the godparents were brought into the Sanctuary. My brother and sister-in-law were just as impressed as we were at how the Traditional Baptism highlights the seriousness of their role as godparents.
A final observation that impressed me is how friendly the EF is regarding Baptism to those who are not familiar with it. The Priest gently guided us through everything, and the flow was very natural.
Darren Manthei resides just outside of Des Moines with his wife and children.
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