Saturday, May 25, 2013

Opening the doors to baptism

"Think about a single mother who goes to church, in the parish and to the secretary she says: 'I want my child baptized.' And then this Christian, this Christian says: 'No, you cannot because you’re not married!' But look, this girl who had the courage to carry her pregnancy and not to return her son to the sender, what is it? A closed door! This is not zeal! It is far from the Lord! It does not open doors! And so when we are on this street, have this attitude, we do not do good to people, the people, the People of God, but Jesus instituted the seven sacraments with this attitude and we are establishing the eighth: the sacrament of pastoral customs!"
Pope Francis, May 25 homily

I’m in the middle of preparing materials for the preparation of parents and godparents for baptism of infants and children for the Dulce Nombre parish.

A few weeks ago Padre German asked me to work on materials for five sessions and a retreat, so that they are aware of the meaning of baptism and their responsibilities as parents and godparents.

A few days later I went to a meeting of one of the zones of the Dulce Nombre parish. The parish coordinator explained new policies for baptism. Those fourteen and old will participate in the catechumenate process. Those between seven and fourteen can request baptism and will be in a program to prepare them; they will be called pre-catechumens. (They were formerly called catechumens, which is not quite precise – nor is the term pre-catechumen.) Parents can request the baptism of their children from birth to seven years old.

Formerly children under seven weren’t baptized if their parents weren’t in base communities. This will change things.

The first question was whether parents living in fornication could have their children baptized. (I wrote on my reaction to this in an earlier blog, here.) The answer is yes, if they participate in all the pre-baptism sessions.

Single mothers? Yes.

Children of adultery?  Yes.

Is this just opening the church to be a dispenser of sacraments? No, since there are requirements.

It was interesting to hear the negative reaction by some, though I have also heard some positive reaction from some pastoral workers.

The hard attitude of some is motivated by a desire to have parents take baptism seriously and take responsibility for the raising of their children in the faith. But some of these also complained that people came to base communities only to get the sacraments and then left as soon as they had received the sacraments.

I hope that this new policy will actually encourage parents. I’m trying to design the sessions so that they stir up in their hearts questions and maybe even the desire to live their faith even more. Maybe even some who living together without being married will ask to be married in the church. At the very least I hope that the parents and godparents will work together to raise the children in the faith. It would be really a blessing if the parents and godparents decided that they wanted to be part of a base community to help them grow in their faith and raise their children.

In some ways, this is trying to open the doors, as Pope Francis urged in this morning’s homily in the Vatican.

May our efforts invite all to a life of faith in the community of the Church.

Our baptismal preparation sessions will cover these questions and topics related to the questions:
1.     Introduction
a.     Why do I want my child baptized?
b.     Who is Jesus for me?
c.      Where do I encounter God?
Scripture and the teaching of the church
The Eucharist, the sacraments, prayer
my neighbor in need
2.     The Church and Faith
a.     Why do I want my child baptized Catholic?
b.     What is the Church for me?
c.      In what does the Church believe?
            The creed
3.     How do we live our faith?
a.     How do I live my faith in my daily life?
b.     What sacraments have I received?
      What is a sacrament?
      What are the seven sacraments?
c.      What are the most important commandments?
Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.
The ten commandments
The works of mercy
4.     The sacrament of Baptism
a.     How do you use water in your daily life?
b.     What does Baptism do to us?
5.     The rite of baptism

If anyone would like to see the materials after there are finished, e-mail me so that I can send you a digital copy.


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