Feast of the Baptism of our Lord
Celebration of Baptism during Sunday Mass
Why Baptism during Mass?
“The Christian community welcomes you with great joy.” These are the words of the priest at the beginning of Baptism. Therefore it is wonderful if the community is gathered to welcome these new Christians. Baptism is so often seen as a private family function rather than a celebration of a Sacrament that effects the whole community. If so many people gather to say farewell to a member of the community at a funeral why not have as many present to welcome a new member amongst us during the celebration of Baptism. Obviously it would not be possible or desirable to have all Baptisms celebrated during Sunday Mass but it is good to do it on a suitable occasion like the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord. It is also an occasion for people to experience something different at Sunday Mass. It is an opportunity for each person to revisit and think about their own Baptismal calling.
To celebrate Baptism during Mass needs a slight adjustment to the preparation meeting and the ceremony itself. The main changes are as follows
1. The anointing with the oil of Catechumens can take place at the preparation meeting. It is lovely to have the babies present for a change, it can create a lovely atmosphere at the meeting. It gives the opportunity to explain that in the early church people spent much time preparing for Baptism and the ceremony was spread out over several weeks. For adults the anointing with the Oil of Cathechumens took place many times as part of the preparation for Baptism. Therefore it is very appropriate that we continue do this from time to time. The prayer over the ears an mouth can also be said at this meeting
2. The entrance procession and entrance song takes place after the opening rites of the Baptism.
3. The penitential rite can then be omitted
4. The water used for the Baptism can be blessed prior to the ceremony, or better still at an earlier mass.
5. The Profession of Faith is replaced by the Renewal of Baptismal Promises.
6. The Blessing of the newly Baptised and the parents can take place after the prayer after communion before the final blessing.
7. Ideally the pouring of Water should take place at the Baptismal font unless this cannot be seen by any of the people. In this case a large vessel can be used in the sanctuary.
8. It is very important that the congregation can see and hear what is going on.
Other things to do
· Fix dates and times well in advance
· Contact parish readers and let them know what is happening and whether the family are reading the prayer of the faithful
· Contact music group and tell them about the change in entrance procession and ask them to sing appropriate pieces during the different parts of the ceremony e.g. pouring of water, lighting of candle, putting on the white robe.
· Write about the feast day in the parish newsletter and let people know the previous Sunday at what mass the baptism will take place.
· Make sure that members of the Baptism team have an active and visible role in the ceremony and that the parish becomes aware of the importance of the Baptism team.
· Have a Baptism banner with the names of the newly baptised displayed on it. Leave this banner in a prominent place for all masses that Sunday.
· Leave out the oil of Chrism in a large decanter so that it is visible at the other masses too.
· Reserved signs for parents for when they come up in procession
· Radio Microphones
Order of ceremony
Meet family at the door
Introductory rites e.g. naming of child, parents request baptism, singing of cross.
Opening Prayer of the Mass
Liturgy of the Word
Renewal of Baptismal promises (All present invited to renew their promises)
Baptism (use water that is already blessed)
Clothing with White Garment
Lighting of Candle
Prayer of the faithful
Presentation of gifts
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Prayer after Communion
Blessing of parents and newly baptised
It is also possible to let everyone hold a lighted candle and to sprinkle the people with water after the Rite of Baptism.
Notice for Choir for Baptism during Mass
The Mass begins with the priest asking the parents and godparents questions, this happens at Door of Church
It is after the sign of the cross that we have the Entrance Hymn – while the priest, servers and families go to their seats. (There is NO hymn as the servers and priest walk to the door before mass)
The Psalm and Alleluia are as normal.
The Baptism takes place after the Homily
Please sing the chorus of “Walk in the Light” as the godfathers are lighting the candles.
Song about Water for sprinkling of people
Other points about the Preparation Meeting for Baptism During Mass
Emphasise the important role of the Christian Community.
Invite family members to read the Prayer of the Faithful and bring forward the gifts.
During the meeting celebrate a small prayer service for the anointing with the oil of Cathechumens. Have a scripture reading and all pray the Our Father.
Ask the families to bring the babies wrapped in a coloured blanket on the day of baptism and keep the white blanket until the appropriate moment. The change in colour is very dramatic.