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
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
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.