Welcome to your Friday dose of American Catholic Etiquette with your hosts Mrs. Fenner and Monsignor Manners. Today we begin where Mrs. Fenner begins: at the beginning of one’s sacramental life: BAPTISM.
TIME: As Mrs. Fenner points out under normal circumstances one’s baptism should take place as soon as possible after the birth. Most often the times for baptism at any given parish are set. “One should not ask to have the ceremony performed at a special hour to suite one’s convenience but should concur with the custom of the parish.” (I’m glad she said it so Monsignor Manners would not have to.)
Monsignor Manners would note additionally that quite often these days it is required that persons take a class before baptism. Do not wait until after your child is born to inquire about baptism. Call your parish concerning the requirements for the parents and godparents. If there is something like a class involved, take it well in advance of your due date so that when it is time to baptize, the parish is aware of your upcoming sacrament and can fulfill your request for a baptismal date more readily.
PLACE: This is more important than you might, at first, think. Where your child is baptized will have lifelong consequences. So, as Mrs. Fenner points out, baptism should take place at the family parish. Later on in life your child will need to consult the parish at which he was baptized in order to make First Holy Communion, Confirmation, and Marriage or Holy Orders. Monsignor Manners notes how difficult it can be at times when a child assumes he knows where he was baptized but is incorrect and parents are no longer around to ask. It becomes rather difficult because a recently issued baptismal certificate from the parish at which he was baptized is obligatory for Catholics before such a celebration as a marriage can occur. Having a baptism at St. Coolbuilding with which the family has little contact normally can, later in life, try the patience of the bride or groom and the priest. And I cannot believe how many people do not have their baptismal certificate in some sort of file at the family house. Monsignor Manner’s mother was rather overly scrupulous in this regard and had saved his along with every other scrap of paper of any possible importance from before the day of his birth until her untimely demise. This file currently takes up half of my office filing space.
Mrs. Fenner notes these exceptions: If the child is born while the family is at their summer home (HAHAHAHAHA!!!) sorry, I lost my composure. Besides, most Akronites do not summer. Those lucky enough to be able to do such a thing tend to winter over somewhere. There is a definite weight shift on the continental shelf during the winter months from Ohio to Florida. But I digress. If the child is born while the family is living elsewhere temporarily such as if the parents are on military duty, the child may, for the good of his soul, be baptized promptly where the family regularly worships during this time.
Priests who are relatives should, when it is possible, come to the child’s parish to baptize. This will require you first to ask your pastor if he would be willing to have a priest come in before asking the Fr. Relative. Though the practice at St. Sebastian is, “Anybody who wants to work is welcome,” other parishes are not so willing for various good reasons. This request should be made early especially if the priest is from out of the diocese and permission from two chanceries may need to be sought and paperwork submitted.