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BAPTISM


BAPTISM


a.V were obliged to approach with faith in the resur- rection of the oead, as a necessary condition. 'Credo in resurrectionetti mortuoriim' . This interpretation — the one adopted by St. Chrysostora — has the ad- vantage of giving the words 'baptized' and 'dead' their literal signification. The only inconvenience in it is, that the word resurrection is introduced. But, it is understood from the entire context, and is warranted by a reference to other passages of Script- ure. For, from the Epistle of the Hebrews (vi, 2) it appears that a knowledge of the faith of the resur- rection was one of the elementary points of instruc- tion required for adult baptism; and hence the Scriptures themselves furnish the ground for the introduction of the word. There is another probable interpretation, which understands the words 'bap- tism' and 'dead' in a metaphorical sense, and refers them to the sufferings which the Apostles and heralds of salvation underwent to preach the Gospel to the infidels, dead to grace and spiritual life, with the hope of making them sharers in the glory of a happy resur- rection. The word 'baptism' is employed in this sense in Scripture, even by our divine Redeemer Himself, — 'I nave a baptism wherewith to be bap- tized', etc. And the word 'dead' is employed in several parts of the New Testament to designate those spiritually dead to grace and justice. In the Greek, the words 'for the dead', vwip tCiv vinpuv that is, on account of, or, in behalj of the dead, would serve to confirm, in some degree, this latter inter- pretation. These appear to be the most probable of the interpretations of this passage; each, no doubt, has its difficulties. The meaning of the words was known to the Corinthians at the time of the Apostle. All that can be known of their meaning at this re- mote period, cannot exceed the bounds of probable conjectiu-e" (loc. cit., chap, xv; cf. also Comely in Ep. I Cor.).

XV. Adjuncts of Baptism. — (1) Baptistery. — Ac- cording to the canons of the Church, baptism except in case of necessity is to be administered in churches (Cone. Prov. Bait., I, Decree 16). The Roman Ritual says: "Churches in which there is a baptismal font, or where there is a baptistery close to the church". The term "baptistery" is commonly used for the space set aside for the conferring of baptism. In like manner the Greeks use 4ioiTi<TTTipi.ov for the same pur- pose — a word derived from St. Paul's designation of baptism as an "illumination". The words of the Ritual just cited, however, mean by "baptistery", a separate building constructed for the purpose of ad- ministering baptism. Such buildings have been erected both in the East and West, as at Tyre, Padua, Pisa, Florence, and other places. In such baptisteries, besicles the font, altars were also built; and here the baptism was conferred. As a rule, however, the church itself contains a railed-off space containing the baptismal font. Anciently fonts were attached only to cathedral churches, but at the present day nearly every parish church has a font. This is the sense of the Baltimore decree above cited. The Second Plenary Council of Baltimore declared, how- ever, that if missionaries judge that the great diffi- culty of bringing an infant to church is a sufficient reason for baptizing in a private house, then they are to administer the sacrament with all the prescribed rites. The ordinary law of the Church is that when private baptism is conferred, the remaining cere- monies are to be supplied not in the hou.=e but in the church itself. The Ritual also directs that the font be of solid material, so that the baptismal water may be safely kept in it. A railing is to svirround the font, and a representation of St. John baptizing Christ should adorn it. The cover of the font usually con- tains the holy oils used in baptism, and this cover must be under lock and key, according to the Ritual.

(2) Baptismal Water. — In speaking of the matter of


baptism, we stated that tru6, natural water is all that is required for its validity. In administering solemn baptism, however, the Church prescribes that the water used should have been consecrated on Holy Saturday or on the eve of Pentecost. For the liceity (not validity) of the sacrament, therefore, the priest is obliged to use consecrated water. This custom is so ancient that we cannot discover its origin. It is found in the most ancient liturgies' of the Latin and Greek Churches and is mentioned in the Apostolic Constitutions (VII, 43). The ceremony of its con.secration is striking and symbolic. After signing the water with the cross, the priest divides it with his hand and casts it to the four corners of the earth. This signifies the. baptizing of all the nations. Then he breathes upon the ^j'ater and immerses the paschal candle in it. Next he pours into the water, first the oil of catechumens and then the sacred chrism, and lastly both holy oils together, pronouncing appropriate prayers. But what if dur- ing the year, the supply of consecrated water should be insufficient? In that case, the Ritual declares that the priest may add common water to what re- mains, but only in less quantity. If the consecrated water appears putrid, the priest must examine whether or not it is really so, for the appearance may be caused only by the admixture of the sacred oils. If it has really become putrid, the font is to be renovated and fresh water to be blessed by a form given in the Ritual. In the United States, the Holy See has sanctioned a short formula for the consecra- tion of baptismal water (Cone. Plen. Bait., II).

(3) Holy Oils. — In baptism, the priest uses the oil of catechumens, which is olive oil, and clirism, the latter being a mixture of balsam and oil. The oils are consecrated by the bishop on Maundy Thursday. The anointing in baptism is recorded by St. Justin, St. John Clxrysostom, and other ancient Fathers. Pope Innocent I declares that the chrism is to be applied to the crown of the head, not to the forehead, for the latter is reserved to bishops. The same may be found in the Sacramentaries of St. Gregory and St. Gelasius (Martene, I, i). In the Greek Rite the oil of catechumens is blessed by the priest during the baptismal ceremony.

(4) Sponsors. — When infants are solemnly bap- tized, persons assist at the ceremony to make pro- fession of the faith in the child's name. This practice comes from antiquity and is witnessed to by Tertul- lian, St. Basil, St. Augustine, and others. Such persons are designated sponsores, offerentes, sus- ceptores, fidejussores, and patrini. "The English term is godfather and godmother, or in Anglo-Saxon, gossip. These sponsors, in default of tlie child's parents, are obliged to instruct it concerning faith and morals. One sponsor is sufficient and not more than two are allowed. In the latter case, one should be male and the other female. The object of these restrictions is the fact that the sponsor contracts a spiritual relationship to the child and its parents which would be an impediment to marriage. Spon- sors must themselves be baptized persons having the- use of reason and they must ha\'e been designated as sponsors by the priest or parents. During the baptism they must physically touch the child either personally or by proxy. They are required , moreo\'er, to have the intention of really assuming the obliga- tions of godparents. It is desirable that they should have been confirmed, but this is not absolutely nec- essary. Certain persons are prohibited from acting as sponsors. They are: members of religious orders, married persons in respect to each other, or parent* to their children, and in general those who are ob- jectionable on such grounds as infidelity, heresy, excommunication, or who are members of condemned secret societies, or public sinners (Sabetti, no. 663). Sponsors are also used in the solemn baptisn>