Prayers

Readings for Baptism

Readings for the Conferral of Christian Initiation

Conferral of Infant Baptism

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Go to the Introduction to Christian Initiation


Reading from the Old Testament

First Option Ex 17:3-7 Give us water to drink

Second Option Ez 36:24-28 I shall pour clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities

Third Option Ez 47:1-9, 12 I saw water flowing from the temple



First Option

Exodus 17:3-7

Give us water to drink.

A reading from the Book of Exodus

In their thirst for water,
   the people grumbled against Moses,
   saying, “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt?
Was it just to have us die here of thirst
   with our children and our livestock?”
So Moses cried out to the LORD,
   “What shall I do with this people?
A little more and they will stone me!”
The LORD answered Moses,
   “Go over there in front of the people,
   along with some of the elders of Israel,
   holding in your hand, as you go,
   the staff with which you struck the river.
I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb.
Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it
   for the people to drink.”
This Moses did, in the presence of the elders of Israel.
The place was called Massah and Meribah,
   because the Israelites quarreled there
   and tested the LORD, saying,
   “Is the LORD in our midst or not?”

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Second Option

Ezekiel 36:24-28

I shall pour clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities.

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I will take you away from among the nations,
   gather you from all the foreign lands,
   and bring you back to your own land.
I will sprinkle clean water upon you
   to cleanse you from all your impurities,
   and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you,
   taking from your bodies your stony hearts
   and giving you natural hearts.
I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes,
   careful to observe my decrees.
You shall live in the land I gave your fathers;
   you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

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Third Option

Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12

I saw water flowing from the temple, and all who were touched by it wwere saved (see Roman Missal antiphon for blessing and sprinkling holy water during the season of Easter).

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel

The angel brought me, Ezekiel
   back to the entrance of the temple,
   and I saw water flowing out
   from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east,
   for the façade of the temple was toward the east;
   the water flowed down from the right side of the temple,
   south of the altar.
He led me outside by the north gate,
   and around to the outer gate facing the east,
   where I saw water trickling from the right side.
Then when he had walked off to the east
   with a measuring cord in his hand,
   he measured off a thousand cubits
   and had me wade through the water,
   which was ankle-deep.
He measured off another thousand
   and once more had me wade through the water,
   which was now knee-deep.
Again he measured off a thousand and had me wade;
   the water was up to my waist.
Once more he measured off a thousand,
   but there was now a river through which I could not wade;
   for the water had risen so high it had become a river
   that could not be crossed except by swimming.
He asked me, “Have you seen this, son of man?”
Then he brought me to the bank of the river, where he had me sit.
Along the bank of the river I saw very many trees on both sides.
He said to me,
   “This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah,
   and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh.
Wherever the river flows,
   every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live,
   and there shall be abundant fish,
   for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh.
Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow;
   their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail.
Every month they shall bear fresh fruit,
   for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary.
Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.”

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Reading from the New Testament

Rom 6:3-5 Buried with him through baptism into his death, we too might live in newness of life

Rom 8:28-32 To be conformed to the image of his Son

1 Cor 12:12-13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body

Gal 3:26-28 All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ

Eph 4:1-6 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism

1 Pt 2:4-5, 9-10 You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood

Romans 6:3-5
Buried with him through baptism into his death, we too might live in newness of life.

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans

Brothers and sisters:
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
   were baptized into his death?
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,
   so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
   by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his,
   we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.

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Romans 8:28-32
To be conformed to the image of his Son.

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans

Brothers and sisters:
We know that all things work for good for those who love God,
   who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined
   to be conformed to the image of his Son,
   so that he might be the firstborn
   among many brothers.
And those he predestined he also called;
   and those he called he also justified;
   and those he justified he also glorified.

What then shall we say to this?
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son
   but handed him over for us all,
   how will he not also give us everything else along with him?

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1 Corinthians 12:12-13
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body.

A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians

Brothers and sisters:
As a body is one though it has many parts,
   and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
   so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body,
   whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
   and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

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Galatians 3:26-28
All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians

Brothers and sisters:
Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.
For all of you who were baptized into Christ
   have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek,
   there is neither slave nor free person,
   there is not male and female;
   for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

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Ephesians 4:1-6
There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism.

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians

Brothers and sisters:
I, a prisoner for the Lord,
   urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
   with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
   bearing with one another through love,
   striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit
   through the bond of peace:
   one body and one Spirit,
   as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
   one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
   one God and Father of all,
   who is over all and through all and in all.

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1 Peter 2:4-5, 9-10
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood.

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians

Beloved:
Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings
   but chosen and precious in the sight of God,
   and, like living stones,
   let yourselves be built into a spiritual house
   to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices
   acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

You are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
   a holy nation, a people of his own,
   so that you may announce the praises” of him
   who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

      Once you were “no people”
         but now you are God’s people;
      you “had not received mercy”
         but now you have received mercy.

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Responsorial Psalm

First Option Psalm 23

Second Option Psalm 27

Third Option Psalm 34

First Option Ps 23:1b-32, 3b-4, 5, 6

R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
   In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
   he refreshes my soul.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

He guides me in right paths
   for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
   I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
   that give me courage.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

You spread the table before me
   in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
   my cup overflows.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
   all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
   for years to come.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

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Second Option Ps 27:1bcde, 4, 8b-9abc, 13-14

R. (1b) The Lord is my light and my salvation.
or: R. (Ephesians 5:14) Wake up and rise from death: Christ will shine upon you!

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
   whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
   of whom should I be afraid?

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
or: R. Wake up and rise from death: Christ will shine upon you!

One thing I ask of the LORD;
   this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
   all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
   and contemplate his temple.

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
or: R. Wake up and rise from death: Christ will shine upon you!

Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
   do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
or: R, Wake up and rise from death: Christ will shine upon you!

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
   in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
   be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
or: R. Wake up and rise from death: Christ will shine upon you!

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Third Option Ps 34:2-3, 6-7, 8-9, 14-15, 16-17, 18-19

R. (6a) Look to him that you might be radiant with joy!
or: R. (9a) Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

I will bless the Loan at all times;
   his praise shall ever be in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
   the lowly will hear me and be glad.

R. Look to him that you might be radiant with joy!
or: R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
   and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
   and from all his distress he saved him.

R. Look to him that you might be radiant with joy!
or: R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

The angel of the LORD encamps
   around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
   blessed the man who takes refuge in him.

R. Look to him that you might be radiant with joy!
or: R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Keep your tongue from evil,
   your lips from speaking guile;
Turn from evil, and do good;
   seek peace and follow after it.

R. Look to him that you might be radiant with joy!
or: R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

The LORD has eyes for the just
   and ears for their cry.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
   to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.

R. Look to him that you might be radiant with joy!
or: R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
   and from all their distress he rescues them.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted,
   and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.

R. Look to him that you might be radiant with joy!
or: R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

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Alleluia Verse and Verse Before the Gospel

759.1
John 3:16


God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.

759.2
John 8:12


I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.

759.3
John 14:13


I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father, except through me.

759.4
Ephesians 4:5-6a


There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and the Father of all.

759.5
See 2 Timothy 1:10


Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death
and brought life to light through the Gospel.

759.6
1 Peter 2:9


You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation:
announce the praises of him who called you
out of darkness into his wonderful light.

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Gospel Reading

Mt 22:35-40 This is the greatest and first commandment

Mt 28:18-20 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations

Mk 1:9-11 Jesus was baptized in the Jordan by John

Mk 10:13-16 Let the children come to me; do not prevent them

Mk 12:28-34 Hear, O Israel! You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart.

Jn 3:1-6 No one can see the Kingdom of God without being bron from above

Jn 4:5-14 A spring of water welling up to eternal life

Jn 6:44-47 Whoever believes has eternal life

Jn 7:37b-39a Rivers of living water will flow

Jn 9:1-7 So he went and washed and came back able to see

Jn 15:1-11 Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit

Jn 19:31-35 One soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately Blood and water flowed out

Matthew 22:35-40
This is the greatest and first commandment.

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A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew

One of the Pharisees, a scholar of the law, tested Jesus by asking,
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him,
   “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart,
   with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
   You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

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Matthew 28:18-20
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

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A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew

Jesus said to the Eleven disciples:
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
   baptizing them in the name of the Father,
   and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
   teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

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Mark 1:9-11
Jesus was baptized in the Jordan by John.

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A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark

Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
   and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
   and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
   “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

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Mark 10:13-16
Let the children come to me; do not prevent them.

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A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark

People were bringing children to him that he might touch them,
   but the disciples rebuked them.
When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them,
   “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them,
   for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Amen, I say to you,
   whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child
   will not enter it.”
Then he embraced them and blessed them,
   placing his hands on them.

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Mark 12:28-34 or 12:28-31
Hear, O Israel! You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart.

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A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
   Hear, O Israel!
   The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
   with all your soul, with all your mind,
   and with all your strength.

The second is this:
   You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him,
   “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying,
   ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’
And ‘to love him with all your heart,
   with all your understanding,
   with all your strength,
   and to love your neighbor as yourself’
   is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
   he said to him,
   “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Or: [Short Form]

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
   Hear, O Israel!
   The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
   with all your soul, with all your mind,
   and with all your strength.

The second is this:
   You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”

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John 3:1-6
No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.

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A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
He came to Jesus at night and said to him,
“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God,
   for no one can do these signs that you are doing
   unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
   “Amen, amen, I say to you,
   unless one is born from above.
   He cannot see the Kingdom of God”
Nicodemus said to him,
   “How can a man once grown old be born again?
Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?”
Jesus answered,
   “Amen, amen, I say to you,
   unless one is born of water and Spirit
   he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
What is born of flesh is flesh
   and what is born of spirit is spirit.”

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John 4:5-14
A spring of water welling up to eternal life.

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A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,
   near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her,
   “Give me a drink.”
His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman said to him,
   “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—
Jesus answered and said to her,
   “If you knew the gift of God
   and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’
   you would have asked him
   and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him,
   “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep;
   where then can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
   who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself
   with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her,
   “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;
   but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst;
   the water I shall give will become in him
   a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

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John 6:44-47
Whoever believes has eternal life.

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A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

Jesus said to the crowds:
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him,
   and I will raise him on the last day.
It is written in the prophets:

   They shall all be taught by God.

Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.
Not that anyone has seen the Father
   except the one who is from God;
   he has seen the Father.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
   whoever believes has eternal life.”

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John 7:37b-39a
Rivers of living water will flow.

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A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

Jesus stood up and exclaimed,
“Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink.
Whoever believes in me, as scripture says:

      Rivers of living water will flow from within him.

He said this in reference to the Spirit
   that those who came to believe in him were to receive.

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John 9:1-7
So he went and washed and came back able to see.

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A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
   that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered,
   “Neither he nor his parents sinned;
   it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.
Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground
   and made clay with the saliva,
   and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him,
   “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” (which means Sent).
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

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John 15:1-11
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.

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A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
   and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
   unless it remains on the vine,
   so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
   because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
   will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
   people will gather them and throw them into a fire
   and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
   ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
   that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
   just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
   and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
   and your joy may be complete.”

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John 19:31-35
One soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately Blood and water flowed out.

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A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

Since it was preparation day,
   in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath,
   for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one,
   the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken
   and they be taken down.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first
   and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead,
   they did not break his legs,
   but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
   and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true;
   he knows that he is speaking the truth,
   so that you also may come to believe.

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Introduction to Baptism

Go to the Introduction for the Baptism of Children

Christian Initiation

General Introduction

1. Through the sacraments of Christian initiation men and women are freed from the power of darkness. With Christ they die, are buried and rise again. They receive the Spirit of adoption which makes them God’s sons and daughters and, with the entire people of God, they celebrate the memorial of the Lord’s death and resurrection. [1]

2. Through baptism men and women are incorporated into Christ. They are formed into God’s people, and they obtain forgiveness of all their sins. They are raised from their natural human condition to the dignity of adopted children. [2] They become a new creation through water and the Holy Spirit. Hence they are called, and are indeed, the children of God. [3]

Signed with the gift of the Spirit in confirmation, Christians more perfectly become the image of their Lord and are filled with the Holy Spirit. They bear witness to him before all the world and eagerly work for the building up of the body of Christ. [4]

Finally they come to the table of the eucharist, to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man so that they may have eternal life [5] and show forth the unity of God’s people. By offering themselves with Christ, they share in his universal sacrifice: the entire community of the redeemed is offered to God by their high priest. [6] They pray for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit so that the whole human race may be brought into the unity of God’s family. [7]

Thus the three sacraments of Christian initiation closely combine to bring the faithful to the full stature of Christ and to enable them to carry out the mission of the entire people of God in the Church and in the world.

I. Dignity of Baptism

3. Baptism is the door to life and to the kingdom of God. Christ offered this first sacrament of the new law to all men that they might have eternal life. [9] He entrusted this sacrament and the gospel to his Church when he told his apostles: “Go, make disciples of all nations, and baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” [10] Therefore baptism is, above all, the sacrament of that faith by which men and women, enlightened by the Spirit’s grace, respond to the gospel of Christ. That is why the Church believes it is her most basic and necessary duty to inspire all, catechumens, parents of children still to be baptized, and godparents, to that true and living faith by which they adhere to Christ and enter into or confirm their commitment to the new covenant. To accomplish this, the Church prescribes the pastoral instruction of catechumens, the preparation of the children’s parents, the celebration of God’s word, and the profession of baptismal faith.

4. Further, baptism is the sacrament by which men and women are incorporated into the Church, built into a house where God lives, in the Spirit, [11] into a holy nation and a royal priesthood. [12] It is a sacramental bond of unity linking all who have been signed by it. [13] Because of that unchangeable effect (signified in the Latin liturgy by the anointing of the baptized person with chrism in the presence of God’s people), the rite of baptism is held in highest honor by all Christians. It may never lawfully be repeated once it has been validly celebrated, even if by fellow Christians from whom we are separated.

5. Baptism, the cleansing with water by the power of the living Word, [14] makes us sharers in God’s own life [15] and his adopted children.[16] As proclaimed in the prayers for the blessing of the water, baptism is a cleansing water of rebirth, [17] which makes us God’s children. The blessed Trinity is invoked over those who are to be baptized. Signed in this name, they are consecrated to the Trinity and enter into fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are prepared for this high dignity and led to it by the scriptural readings, the prayer of the community, and the threefold profession of faith.

6. Far superior to the purifications of the old law, baptism produces all these effects by the power of the mystery of the Lord’s passion and resurrection. Those who are baptized are engrafted in the likeness of Christ’s death. [18] They are buried with him, they are given life again with him, and with him they rise again. [19] For baptism recalls and effects the paschal mystery itself, because by means of it men and women pass from the death of sin into life. Its celebration, therefore, should reflect the joy of the resurrection, especially when it takes place during the Easter Vigil or on a Sunday.

II. Offices and Ministries in Baptism

7. Christian instruction and the preparation for baptism are a vital concern of God’s people, the Church, which hands on and nourishes the faith it has received from the Apostles. Through the ministry of the Church, adults are called by the Holy Spirit to the gospel, and infants are baptized and brought up in this faith. Therefore it is most important that catechists and other lay people should work with priests and deacons in making preparations for baptism. In the actual celebration, the people of God (represented not only by the parents, godparents and relatives, but also, as far as possible, by friends, neighbors, and some members of the local church) should take an active part. Thus they will show their common faith and express their joy as the newly baptized are received into the community of the Church.

8. It is a very ancient custom of the Church that an adult is not admitted to baptism without a godparent, a member of the Christian community who will assist him at least in the final preparation for baptism and after baptism will help him persevere in the faith and in his life as a Christian.

In the baptism of children too, the godparent should be present to be added spiritually to the immediate family of the one to be baptized and to represent Mother Church. As occasion offers, he will be ready to help the parents bring up their child to profess the faith and to show this by living it.

9. At least in the final rites of the catechumenate and in the actual celebration of baptism, the godparent is present to testify to the faith of the adult candidate or, together with the parents, to profess the Church’s faith, in which the child is being baptized.

10. Pastors of souls should therefore see to it that the godparent, chosen by the catechumen or by the family, is qualified to carry out his proper liturgical functions as specified in no. 9 above. The godparent should:

1) be mature enough to undertake this responsibility;
2) have received the three sacraments of initiation, baptism, confirmation, and the eucharist;
3) be a member of the Catholic Church, canonically free to carry out this office. A baptized and believing Christian from a separated church or community may act as a godparent or Christian witness along with a Catholic godparent, at the request of the parents and in accordance with the norms for various ecumenical cases.

11. The ordinary ministers of baptism are bishops, presbyters, and deacons. At every celebration of this sacrament they should remember that they act in the Church in the name of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. They should therefore be diligent in the ministry of the word of God and in the celebration of the sacraments. They must avoid any action which the faithful can rightly condemn as favoritism. [20]

12. Bishops are the principal dispensers of the mysteries of God and leaders of the entire liturgical life in the church committed to them. [21] They thus direct the conferring of baptism, by which a sharing in the kingly priesthood of Christ is granted. [22] Therefore they should personally celebrate baptism, especially at the Easter Vigil. The preparation and baptism of adults is commended to them in a special way.

13. It is the duty of parish priests to assist the bishop in the instruction and baptism of the adults entrusted to his care, unless the bishop makes other provisions. It is also their duty, with the assistance of catechists or other qualified lay people, to prepare the parents and godparents of children with appropriate pastoral guidance and to administer baptism to the children.

14. Other priests and deacons, since they are cooperators in the ministry of bishops and parish priests, also prepare candidates for baptism and, with the invitation or consent of the bishop or parish priest, confer the sacrament.

15. The celebrant may be assisted by other priests and deacons and also by the laity in those parts which pertain to them, especially if there are many persons to be baptized. This provision is made in various parts of the rite.

16. In imminent danger of death and especially at the moment of death, when no priest or deacon is available, any member of the faithful, indeed anyone with the right intention, may and sometimes must administer baptism. If it is a question only of danger of death, then the sacrament should be administered by a member of the faithful if possible, according to the shorter rite (nos. 157-164). Even in this case a small community should be formed to assist at the rite, or at least one or two witnesses should be present if possible.

17. All lay persons, since they belong to the priestly people, and especially parents and, by reason of their work, catechists, obstetricians, women who are employed as family or social workers or as nurses of the sick, as well as physicians and surgeons, should know the proper method of baptizing in cases of necessity. They should be taught by parish priests, deacons, and catechists. Bishops should provide appropriate means within their diocese for such instruction.

III. Requirements for the Celebration of Baptism

18. The water used in baptism should be true water, for the sake of the authentic sacramental symbolism. It should be clean, for reasons of health.

19. The baptismal font, or the vessel in which on occasion the water is prepared for the celebration of the sacrament in the sanctuary, should be very clean and attractive.

20. If the climate requires, provision should be made for the water to be heated beforehand.

21. Except in the case of necessity, the priest or deacon should use only water that has been blessed for the rite. The water consecrated at the Easter Vigil should, if possible, be kept and used throughout the Easter season to signify more clearly the relationship between the sacrament of baptism and the paschal mystery. Outside the Easter season, it is desirable that the water be blessed for each occasion, in order that the words of blessing may clearly express the mystery of salvation which the Church recalls and proclaims. If the baptistry is supplied with flowing water, the blessing will be given to the water as it flows.

22. Either the rite of immersion, which is more suitable as a symbol of participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, or the rite of infusion may lawfully be used in the celebration of baptism.

23. The words for baptism in the Latin Church are: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

24. A suitable place for celebrating the liturgy of the word of God should be provided in the baptistry or in the church.

25. The baptistry is the area where the baptismal font flows or has been placed. It should be reserved for the sacrament of baptism, and should be a worthy place for Christians to be reborn in water and the Holy Spirit. It may be situated in a chapel either inside or outside the church, or in some other part of the church easily seen by the faithful; it should be large enough to accommodate a good number of people. After the Easter season, the Easter candle should be given a place of honor in the baptistry, so that when it is lighted for the celebration of baptism, the candles of the newly baptized may easily be lighted from it.

26. In the celebration, the parts of the rite which are to be performed outside the baptistry should be celebrated in different areas of the church which most conveniently suit the size of the congregation and the several stages of the baptismal liturgy. When the baptistry cannot accommodate all the catechumens and the congregation, the parts of the rite which are customarily performed in the baptistry may be transferred to some other suitable area of the church.

27. As far as possible, all recently born babies should be baptized at a common celebration on the same day. Except for a good reason, baptism should not be celebrated more than once on the same day in the same church.

28. Further details concerning the time of baptism of adults and children will be found in the respective rites. The celebration of the sacrament should always suggest its paschal character.

29. Parish priests should carefully and without delay record in the baptismal register the names of those baptized, the minister, parents and godparents, and the place and date of baptism.

IV. Adaptations by Conference of Bishops

30. According to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (no. 63b), it is within the competence of conferences of bishops to compose for their local rituals a section corresponding to this one in the Roman Ritual, adapted to the needs of their respective regions. When this has been reviewed by the Apostolic See, it should be used in the regions for which it was prepared.

In this connection, it is the responsibility of the conferences of bishops:

1) to determine the adaptations, according to no. 39 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy;
2) carefully and prudently to consider what elements of a country’s distinctive culture may suitably be admitted into divine worship. Adaptations considered useful or necessary should then be submitted to the Apostolic See, with whose consent they may be introduced;
3) to retain distinctive elements of existing local rituals as long as they conform with the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and correspond to contemporary needs; or to modify these elements;
4) to prepare translations of the texts that genuinely reflect the characteristics of various languages and cultures and to add music for the texts when appropriate;
5) to adapt and augment the introduction contained in the Roman Ritual, so that the ministers may fully understand the meaning of the rites and express this effectively in action;
6) to arrange the material in the various editions of the liturgical books prepared under the guidance of the conferences of bishops so that these books may be best suited for pastoral use.

31. As stated in nos. 37-40 and 65 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, it is the responsibility of the conferences of bishops in mission countries to judge whether certain initiation ceremonies in use among some peoples can be adapted for the rite of Christian baptism and to decide whether these rites are to be incorporated into it.

32. When the Roman Ritual for baptism provides a choice of several formulas, local rituals may add other formulas of the same kind.

33. The celebration of baptism is greatly enhanced by the use of song. It stimulates a sense of unity among those present, it gives warmth to their common prayer, and it expresses the joy of Easter. Conferences of bishops should encourage and help musical specialists to compose settings for texts suitable for congregational singing at baptism.

V. Adaptations by the Minister of Baptism

34. The minister, taking into account existing circumstances and needs, as well as the wishes of the faithful, should freely use the various choices allowed in the rite.

35. In addition to the adaptations which are provided in the Roman Ritual for the dialogue and blessings, the minister may make other adaptations for special circumstances. These adaptations will be indicated more fully in the introduction to the rites of baptism for adults and for children.

Notes

[1] II Vatican Council, Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, Ad Gentes, 14.
[2] Romans 8:15; Galatians 4: 5; Council of Trent, 6th Session, Decree on Justification, Chapter 4, Denz. 796 (1524).
[3] 1 John 3: 1.
[4] II Vatican Council, Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, Ad Gentes, 36.
[5] John 6: 55.
[6] Saint Augustine, The City of God, X, 6: PL 41, 284; II Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 11; Decree on the Life and Ministry of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis, 2.
[7] II Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 28.
[8] Ibid., 31.
[9] John 3: 5.
[10] Matthew 28: 19.
[11] Ephesians 2: 22.
[12] 1 Peter 2: 9.
[13] II Vatican Council, Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, 22.
[14] Ephesians 5: 26.
[15] 2 Peter 1: 4.
[16] Romans 8: 15; Galatians 4: 5.
[17] Titus 3: 5.
[18] Romans 6: 4-5.
[19] Ephesians 2: 6.
[20] II Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 32; Constitution on the Church the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, 29.
[21] II Vatican Council, Decree on the Bishops’ Pastoral Office. Christus Dominus, 15.
[22] II Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 26.


Baptism of Children

Introduction

I. Importance of Baptizing Children

1. Children or infants are those who have not yet reached the age of discernment and therefore cannot have or profess personal faith.

2. From the earliest times, the Church, to which the mission of preaching the gospel and of baptizing was entrusted, has baptized children as well as adults. Our Lord said: “Unless a man is reborn in water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” [1] The Church has always understood these words to mean that children should not be deprived of baptism, because they are baptized in the faith of the Church. This faith is proclaimed for them by their parents and godparents, who represent both the local Church and the whole society of saints and believers: “The Church is at once the mother of all and the mother of each.” [2]

3. To fulfill the true meaning of the sacrament, children must later be formed in the faith in which they have been baptized. The foundation of this formation will be the sacrament itself, which they have already received. Christian formation, which is their due, seeks to lead them gradually to learn Gods plan in Christ, so that they may ultimately accept for themselves the faith in which they have been baptized.

II. Ministries and Roles in the Celebration of Baptism

4. The people of God, that is the Church, made present in the local community, has an important part to play in the baptism of both children and adults.

Before and after the celebration of the sacrament, the child has a right to the love and help of the community. During the rite, in addition to the ways of congregational participation mentioned in no. 7 of the general introduction, the community exercises its duty when it expresses its assent together with the celebrant after the profession of faith by the parents and godparents. In this way it is clear that the faith in which the children are baptized is not the private possession of the individual family, but is the common treasure of the whole Church of Christ.

5. Because of the natural relationship, parents have a more important ministry and role in the baptism of infants than the godparents.

1) Before the celebration of the sacrament, it is of great importance that parents, moved by their own faith or with the help of friends or other members of the community, should prepare to take part in the rite with understanding. They should be provided with suitable means such as books, instructions, and catechisms written for families. The parish priest should make it his duty to visit them, or see that they are visited, as a family or as a group of families, and prepare them for the coming celebration by pastoral counsel and common prayer.
2) It is very important that the parents should be present in the celebration in which their child is reborn in water and the Holy Spirit.
3) In the celebration of baptism, the father and mother have special parts to play. They listen to the words addressed to them by the celebrant, they join in prayer along with the congregation, and they exercise a special function when:
a) they publicly ask that the child be baptized;
b) they sign their child with the sign of the cross after the celebrant;
c) they renounce Satan and make their profession of faith;
d) they (and especially the mother) carry the child to the font;
e) they hold the lighted candle;
f) they are blessed with the special prayers for the mothers and fathers.
4) If one of the parents cannot make the profession of faith (if, for example, he is not a Catholic), he may keep silent. All that is asked of him, when he requests baptism for the child, is that he should make arrangements, or at least give permission, for the child to be instructed in the faith of its baptism.
5) After baptism it is the responsibility of the parents, in their gratitude to God and in fidelity to the duty they have undertaken, to enable the child to know God, whose adopted child it has become, to receive confirmation, and to participate in the holy eucharist. In this duty they are again to be helped by the parish priest by suitable means.

6. Each child may have a godfather and a godmother; the word “godparents” is used in the rite to describe both.

7. In addition to what is said about the ordinary minister of baptism in the general introduction (nos. 11-15), the following should be noted:
1) It is the duty of the priest to prepare families for the baptism of their children and to help them in the task of Christian formation which they have undertaken. It is the duty of the bishop to coordinate such pastoral efforts in the diocese, with the help also of deacons and lay people.
2) It is also the duty of the priest to arrange that baptism is always celebrated with proper dignity and, as far as possible, adapted to the circumstances and wishes of the families concerned. Everyone who performs the rite of baptism should do so with care and devotion; he must also try to be understanding and friendly to all.

III. Time and Place for the Baptism of Children

8. As for the time of baptism, the first consideration is the welfare of the child, that it may not be deprived of. the benefit of the sacrament; then the health of the mother must be considered, so that, as far as possible she too may be present. Then, as long as they do not interfere with the greater good of the child, there are pastoral considerations such as allowing sufficient time to prepare the parents and for planning the actual celebration to bring out its paschal character:
1) If the child is in danger of death, it is to be baptized without delay, as is laid down in no. 21.
2) In other cases, as soon as possible and even before the child is born, the parents should be in touch with the parish priest concerning the baptism, so that proper preparation may be made for the celebration.
3) An infant should be baptized within the first weeks after birth. The conference of bishops may, for sufficiently serious pastoral reasons, determine a longer interval of time between birth and baptism.
4) When the parents are not yet prepared to profess the faith or to undertake the duty of bringing up their children as Christians, it is for the parish priest, keeping in mind whatever regulations may have been laid down by the conference of bishops, to determine the time for the baptism of infants.

9. To bring out the paschal character of baptism, it is recommended that the sacrament be celebrated during the Easter Vigil or on Sunday, when the Church commemorates the Lord’s resurrection. On Sunday, baptism may be celebrated even during Mass, so that the entire community may be present and the necessary relationship between baptism and eucharist may be clearly seen, but this should not be done too often. Regulations for the celebration of baptism during the Easter Vigil or at Mass on Sunday are set out below.

10. So that baptism may clearly appear as the sacrament of the Church’s faith and of admittance into the people of God, it should normally be celebrated in the parish church, which must have a baptismal font.

11. The bishop, after consulting the local parish priest, may permit or direct that a baptismal font be placed in another church or public oratory within the parish boundaries. In these places, too, it is the normal right of the parish priest to celebrate baptism.

12. Except in case of danger of death, baptism should not be celebrated in private houses.

13. Unless the bishop decides otherwise (see no. 11), baptism should not be celebrated in hospitals, except in cases of emergency or for some other pastoral reason of a pressing kind. Care should always be taken that the parish priest is notified and that the parents are suitably prepared beforehand.

14. While the liturgy of the word is being celebrated, it is desirable that the children should be taken to some other place. Provision should be made for the mothers or godmothers to attend the liturgy of the word; the children should therefore be entrusted to the care of other women.

IV. Structure of the Rite of Baptizing Children

A. Order of Baptism Celebrated by the Ordinary Minister

15. Baptism, whether for one child, or for several, or even for a larger number, should be celebrated by the ordinary minister and with the full rite when there is no immediate danger of death.

16. The rite begins with the reception of the children. This is to indicate the desire of the parents and godparents, as well as the intention of the Church, concerning the celebration of the sacrament of baptism. These purposes are expressed in action when the parents and the celebrant trace the sign of the cross on the foreheads of the children.

17. Then the liturgy of the word is directed toward stirring up the faith of the parents, godparents, and congregation, and praying in common for the fruits of baptism before the sacrament itself. This part of the celebration consists of the reading of one or more passages from holy scripture; a homily, followed by a period of silence; the prayer of the faithful; and finally a prayer, drawn up in the style of an exorcism, to introduce either the anointing with the oil of catechumens or the laying on of hands.

18. 1) The celebration of the sacrament is immediately preceded by:
a) the solemn prayer of the celebrant, who, by invoking God and recalling his plan of salvation, blesses the water of baptism or commemorates its previous blessing;
b) the renunciation of Satan on the part of parents and godparents, and their profession of faith, to which is added the assent of the celebrant and the community; and the final interrogation of the parents and godparents.
2) The celebration of the sacrament is performed by washing in water, by way of immersion or infusion, according to local custom, and by the invocation of the blessed Trinity.
3) The celebration of the sacrament is completed, first by the anointing with chrism, which signifies the royal priesthood of the baptized and enrollment in the fellowship of God’s people; then by the ceremonies of the white garment, lighted candle, and Ephphetha (the last of which is optional).

19. After the celebrant speaks of the future reception of the eucharist by the baptized children, the Lord’s Prayer, in which God’s children pray to their Father in heaven, is recited before the altar. Finally, a prayer of blessing is said over the mothers, fathers, and all present, to ask God’s grace in abundance for all.

B. Shorter Rite of Baptism

20. In the shorter rite of baptism designed for the use of catechists, [3] the reception of the children, the celebration of the word of God, or the instruction by the minister, and the prayer of the faithful are retained. Before the font, the minister offers a prayer invoking God and recalling the history of salvation as it relates to baptism. After the baptismal washing, an adapted formula is recited in place of the anointing with chrism, and the whole rite concludes in the customary way. The omissions, therefore, are the exorcism, the anointing with oil of catechumens and with chrism, and the Ephphetha.

21. The shorter rite for baptizing a child in danger of death and in the absence of the ordinary minister has a twofold structure:
1) At the moment of death or when there is urgency because of imminent danger of death, the minister, [4] omitting all other ceremonies; pours water (not necessarily blessed but real and natural water), on the head of the child, and pronounces the customary formula. [5]
2) If it is prudently judged that there is sufficient time, several of the faithful may be gathered together, and, if one of them is able to lead the others in a short prayer, the following rite may be used: an explanation by the minister of the sacrament, a short common prayer, the profession of faith by the parents or one godparent, and the pouring of the water with the customary words. But if those present are uneducated, the minister of the sacrament should recite the profession of faith aloud and baptize according to the rite for use at the moment of death.

22. In danger of death, the priest or deacon may also use this shorter form if necessary. If there is time and he has the sacred chrism, the parish priest or other priest enjoying the same faculty should not fail to confer confirmation after baptism. In this case he omits the postbaptismal anointing with chrism.

V. Adaptations by Conference of Bishops or by Bishops

23. In addition to the adaptations provided for in the general introduction (nos. 30-33), the baptismal rite for infants admits other variations, to be determined by the conferences of bishops.

24. As is indicated in the Roman Ritual, the following matters are left to the discretion of the conferences:
1) As local customs may dictate, the questioning about the name of the child may be arranged in different ways: the name may have been given already or may be given during the rite of baptism.
2) The anointing with oil of catechumens may be omitted (nos. 50, 87).
3) The formula of renunciation may be shortened or extended (nos. 57, 94, 121).
4) If the number to be baptized is very great, the anointing with chrism may be omitted (no. 125).
5) The rite of Ephphetha may be retained (nos. 65, 101).

25. In many countries parents are sometimes not ready for the celebration of baptism or they ask for their children to be baptized, although the latter will not afterwards receive a Christian education and will even lose the faith. Since it is not enough to instruct the parents and to inquire about their faith in the course of the rite itself, conferences of bishops may issue pastoral directives, for the guidance of parish priests, to determine a longer interval between birth and baptism.

26. It is for the bishop to judge whether in his diocese catechists may give an improvised homily or speak only from a written text.

VI. Adaptaions by the Minister

27. During meetings to prepare the parents for the baptism of their children, it is important that the instruction should be supported by prayer and religious rites. The various elements provided in the rite of baptism for the celebration of the word of God will prove helpful.

28. When the baptism of children is celebrated as part of the Easter Vigil, the ritual should be arranged as follows:
1) At a convenient time and place before the Easter Vigil, the rite of receiving the children is celebrated. The liturgy of the word may be omitted at the end, according to circumstances, and the prayer of exorcism is said, followed by the anointing. with oil of catechumens.
2) The celebration of the sacrament (nos. 56-58, 60-63 ) takes place after the blessing of the water, as is indicated in the Rite of the Easter Vigil.
3) The assent of the celebrant and community (no. 59) is omitted, as are the presentation of the lighted candle (no. 64) and the rite of Ephphetha (no. 65).
4) The conclusion of the rite (nos. 67-71) is omitted.

29. If baptism takes place during Sunday Mass, the Mass for that Sunday is used, and the celebration takes place as follows:
1) The rite of receiving the children (nos. 33-43) takes place at the beginning of Mass, and the greeting and penitential rite are omitted.
2) In the liturgy of the word:
a) The readings are taken from the Mass of the Sunday or, for special reasons, from those provided in the baptismal rite.
b) The homily is based on the sacred texts, but should take account of the baptism which is to take place.
c) The creed is not said, since the profession of faith by the entire community before baptism takes its place.
d) The general intercessions are taken from those used in the rite of baptism (nos. 47-48, 217-220) At the end, however, before the invocation of the saints, petitions are added for the universal Church and the needs of the world.
3) The celebration of baptism continues with the prayer of exorcism, anointing, and other ceremonies described in the rite (nos. 49-66).
4) After the celebration of baptism, the Mass continues in the usual way with the offertory.
5) For the blessing at the end of Mass, the priest may use one of the formulas provided in the rite of baptism (nos. 70, 247-249).

30. If baptism is celebrated during Mass on weekdays, it is arranged in the same way as on Sundays; the readings for the liturgy of the word may be taken from those that are provided in the rite of baptism (nos. 44, 186-194, 204-215).

31. In accordance with no. 34 of the general introduction, the minister may make some adaptations in the rite, as circumstances require, such as:
1) If the child’s mother died in childbirth, this should be taken into account in the opening instruction (no. 36), general intercessions (nos. 47, 217-220), and final blessing (nos. 70, 247-248).
2) In the dialogue with the parents (nos. 37-38, 76-77), their answers should be taken into account: if they have not answered “baptism,” but “faith,” or “the grace of Christ,” or “entrance into the Church,” or “everlasting life,” then the minister does not begin by saying “baptism,” but uses “faith,” or “the grace of Christ,” and so forth.
3) The rite of bringing a baptized child to the church (nos. 165-185), which has been drawn up for use only when the child has been baptized in danger of death, should be adapted to cover other contingencies, for example, when children have been baptized during a time of religious persecution or temporary disagreement between the parents.

Notes

[1] John 3: 5.
[2] Saint Augustine, Epistle 98, 5: PL 33, 362.
[3] II Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 68.
[4] General Introduction, 16.
[5] Ibid., 23.

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