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Author Topic: Immersion vs. Infusion  (Read 14034 times) Average Rating: 0
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The Caffeinator
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« Reply #90 on: December 19, 2003, 11:48:32 AM »

When I was going to be baptized, the assistant pastor suggested that it should be by immersion, but the pastor said infusion. Maybe this issue will not be such an obstacle in dialogue after all. Smiley Although I appreciate the sincere search for answers here. I just don't know.
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« Reply #91 on: December 19, 2003, 12:27:33 PM »

Dcn. Lance,

You bring up two very strong points, perhaps the two best offered so far in denfense of this late-in-coming Latin practice.  However, in them, I do not perceive so much a rebuttal of the observation that the RC practice on Baptism is not minimalistic or falling away from the ideal - rather, it is a pseud-absolution of the RC practice, by pointing to the perceived short comings of Eastern practice (IOW, at best, an argument for silence on the grounds that to do otherwise, Easterners become hypocrites.)

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But while we are speaking of deviating from Apostolic practice the Eastern Churches have done this also.  The Didache states quite clearly that the norm is immersion in running water as Our Lord was, to my knowledge this is rarely, if ever, done.  Immersion in a font is itself a deviation, although to a different degree than affusion, from the Apostolic norm but this is never brought up.

This is a good point (keeping in mind however, the Didache is only one source on this subject - but a good point nonetheless, particularly given the antiquity and acceptance in early Christendom of this document).  However, I do not find it a convincing argument, for the following reasons...

- The Didache, going down a descending list of norms for Baptism says "if thou hast not" (ex. but if thou hast not running water, baptize in some other water, and if thou canst not baptize in cold, in warm water;).  I think a stronger argument can be made for the impracticality of finding a suitable river to baptize someone in, than the alleged impracticality of finding any sufficient amount of water to baptize someone in (by immersion.)

- I also happen to know, that when the situation allows it, most Orthodox Priests will opt to Baptize someone in a lake or river (this is particularly true of monasteries, which are very often established near bodies of water.)

Most significant however, is how we should read the Didache in light of the broad Tradition of the Church, the canons, etc.  The Didache, while briefly offering norms on this subject, gives little in the case of details.  For example, this is all we read...

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7:1 But concerning baptism, thus baptize ye: having first recited all these precepts, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in running water;

7:2 but if thou hast not running water, baptize in some other water, and if thou canst not baptize in cold, in warm water;

7:3 but if thou hast neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

7:4 But before the baptism, let him who baptizeth and him who is baptized fast previously, and any others who may be able. And thou shalt command him who is baptized to fast one or two days before.  (Didache, Chapter 7)

However, we know full well that as far as the Church (including the West, even up until after the "Great Schism") was concerned, there was an immense amount of qualification to be added to the above formula.

For example, while baptizing in a river ("living water"...which I would imagine would not be a lake even, but moving, flowing water, like in the River Jordan) may have been "more the ideal" based on it's outward simultude to the historical manner of Christ's Baptism at the hands of St.John the Baptist (and the primitive Apostolic practice immediately after Pentecost, which was largely a matter of practicality - unless one can think of a better way of baptizing crowds of converts), this was not regarded by the Canons of the Church or the popular thought of the Church in any age as touching upon the "essential symbolism" of the sacrament.

OTOH, save until the rise of the post-schism Latin practice (and perhaps some anomalies, like the apparent Russian example you mentioned - it's also worth mentioning that this wouldn't have been the only situation where local anomalies in baptismal norms occured...Spain had a much more serious one than this, for example...yet the Church never cited this as "precedent"), no canonical jurisprudence or Patristic comment would have envisioned the relationship of the practice of "pouring" as being on par to the relationship of "immersion in a font" to "immersion in a river".  In fact, the contrary is quite explicit, as I'm sure you'd recognize as well - Baptisms "by pouring" were viewed as only being permissable in situations where it was absolutely necessary (a genuine lack of sufficient water, or the infirmity of the person to be baptized.)

IOW, the relationship between "Baptism by immersion in a river" to "Baptism by immersion in a Baptismal Pool/Font" was one of "ideal historical simultude" (to the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan), which if practical, certainly would be a preferable option...where as the relationship between "Baptism by immersion in a Baptismal Pool/Font" and "Baptism by pouring" was viewed (in the case of the latter) something only justified by real necessity.

And this comes back, once again, to the "why"; why is this?  Because the term "Baptizo" itself, undoubtedly refers to immersion.  That is simply what the term means, no matter what anyone wants to believe.  This is undoubtedly preserved, in the practice of Baptizing in the still waters of a Baptismal Pool inside of a Church.  However, it is only by the most strained reasoning, that the basic meaning of this word is in any way satisfied by the practice of letting water flow over the head (and presumably, wherever else it may run down on the body.)

It is because of the generosity of the Church, that this most "strained" practice barely cuts the mustard as far as "validity" is concerned.  Given this, the problem of actually prefering this practice (let alone making it the norm, and even disciplining those who advocate the Apostolic norm) remains.

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My point is affusion was/is acceptable although not preferred by the East.  To claim that this is invalid or unacceptable is, in my opinion wrong, and an attempt to creat yet further division by decrying the practice of another.

While some make it an issue of "validity", I am not one of them (nor would it seem does the Russian, or even at various times, including our own, the Greek custom - since both have/do receive RC converts without Baptizing them again, and certainly both recognize, as did the Fathers, the "validity" of Baptizing someone, in the case of an emergency, via pouring).

Rather, what is under discussion, is the prudence/wisdom of making such an exceptional practice (with lengthy explanations of why it remains exceptional in Orthodoxy, and was such in the pre-schism Latin Church as well) "the norm", as well as the consequences of such a decision.

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Why did the Latin Church do this?  Out of convenience and minimalism? In part probably.  But please note that Latins could say the same thing about our practice of having priests chrismate instead of the bishop.

This is the second "good point" I think you've made (but once again, it's strength is not undoing the criticism of "illegitimate minimalism" or other criticisms - rather, it's sole strength is in perhaps making the Orthodox seem hypocritical for pointing out someone else's short comings, while not acknowleding their own alleged short comings in similar matters).

The question of Bishops (as opposed to Priests) Chrismating neophytes is more complicated than the surface explanation you're giving would make it seem.  This subject is very much related to the historical growth throughout the entirity of Christendom of the Bishop's territory.

In the earliest times (as I am quite sure you are aware) each city would have had it's own Bishop - and it was entirely likely, that every Sunday Liturgy would have been celebrated by him, with the Christians of that city congregating to his Altar.

The same would have been true of the reception of new Christians (young or old) - he would not only have Chrismated all of them, but also would have Baptized all of them as well.

Given this, it would have been extremely abnormal in early Christianity (save for emergency cases) for someone to have been Baptized and Chrismated at different times - the two Mysteries were not viewed as being autonomous, but as being part of the same reception into the Church ("be Baptized" and "receive the Holy Spirit" - it's hard to picture St.Peter, in saying these words, imagining them as anything but part of a singular initiation.)

As the Bishop's territory grew beyond a city, typically to ecompass also the country side, or other neighbouring, smaller cities (or within larger cities, the congregation grew to a point where several local Temples were needed at different parts of the city), the role of his Presbyters increased as well.  In many respects, the role now played by Presbyters in parishes is very similar to that of Bishops in the early Church.  The Presbyters increasingly became the resident "vicar" of their Bishop in a given Parish.  This is basically the same situation Orthodoxy finds itself in today (the same is true of the RCC.)

Given these factors, I think (if anything) it is the LATIN practice which seems more questionable in this regard - the unity of Baptism-Chrismation is more "of the essence" than the latter's ministration by a Bishop (while leaving the former to the parish Priest).  The argument might go differently, if the Latins insisted that Bishops be both solely responsible for Chrismation and Baptism, but this is not the case - in principle, they recognize the rectitude of extending these ministries of the Bishop through the hands (which are really an extension of his own) of the Presbyters.

Now, I understand that there is some decent rationale for at least leaving part of the "initiation rite" to the Bishop (symbolizing in a more direct way, his acceptance of the persons being Chrismated as his own...hence, at least part of the meaning of the western term "Confirmation.")  However, I think (as would Orthodoxy in general) that this is outweighed by the good in keeping Baptism-Chrismation together.  Not to mention the really strange abnormality to appear in the West, of non-Chrismated persons receiving Holy Communion (while still awaiting for their Chrismation; an abnormality which survives to this day in many of the fondest memories of Roman Catholics - their first confession/communion taking place years prior to their being Confirmed.)

However, if there was any doubt on this subject (which practice is to be preferred - the Orthodox one, or the latter RC one), they are put to rest by the admission of the RCC itself after Vatican II.  At least in the case of adult converts, the RCIA program for their reception, takes for granted that they will be baptized and confirmed by their parish priest, at the same time, and then giving said persons communion immediately afterwards.

Thus, rather than a case of sheer pragmaticism (and certainly not minimalism), I think even the Latins themselves recognize that the Orthodox practice in this regard, best preserves the highest good, even when faced with new/trying circumstances (the highest good being the unity of the "rites of initiation", to borrow an RC phrase.)

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Also we tend to forget the Roman Rite of antiquity was very sober.  The simplest action was preferred and it seems this one out in baptism.  Anything that resembles the East in the Roman Rite is a Gallican Rite import.

Some points...

- Yes, the ancient Roman Rite (the form you're speaking of is so remote, that it even predates St.Gregory the Great) was quite sober (perhaps in some ways being similar to the Armenian practices) - but they also Baptized by immersion (saw pouring as a matter of economy), and kept the unity of Baptism-Chrismation.

- I'm not convinced that the more "spartan" character of ancient Latin practice, is tantamount to "minimalism" or a "minimalistic" attitude.  I think it is simply a difference between simpler and more elaborate forms.  For example, if you went back far enough in the Christian East, you'd probably find similarly "simpler" practices, like those of Rome.  The Liturgy of the Church, has undoubtedly undergone a flowering and greater explication.  I think the only thing we get out of the Roman situation (being "more spartan") is the observation that the Latins were a little "behind" in this regard (sorry for the use of that term...I do not mean it in a depractory way, I just mean in terms of liturgical expansion and elaboration).  That they eventually began incorporating Gallican elements, and expansions of the liturgy of their own making, is evidence enough of this continuum of development.

Seraphim
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« Reply #92 on: January 29, 2004, 03:41:25 PM »

  Did anyone happen to mention the Didache yet?
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« Reply #93 on: January 29, 2004, 04:52:03 PM »

I think so, but they concensus among the Orthodox is that it infusion for the Didache was for extreme circumstances only. IIRC
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« Reply #94 on: January 29, 2004, 05:10:56 PM »

I think so, but they concensus among the Orthodox is that it infusion for the Didache was for extreme circumstances only. IIRC


  If that's so, it makes sense.
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« Reply #95 on: January 30, 2004, 04:53:25 PM »

http://www.catholic.com/library/Baptism_Immersion_Only.asp

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« Reply #96 on: January 30, 2004, 04:56:44 PM »

I was going to edit in this quote from the above link, but I forgot that the edit option is disabled. Can anybody verify this quote?

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But immersion is not the only meaning of baptizo. Sometimes it just means washing up. Thus Luke 11:38 reports that, when Jesus ate at a Pharisee’s house, "[t]he Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash [baptizo] before dinner." No one in ancient Israel practiced immersion before dinner, but the Pharisees "do not eat unless they wash [nipto] their hands, observing the tradition of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they wash themselves [baptizo]" (Mark 7:3-4a, emphasis added). So baptizo can mean cleansing or ritual washing as well as immersion.
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« Reply #97 on: January 30, 2004, 05:08:10 PM »

Let me say that I do not consider that RC baptism by infusion is not a true baptism.

But the problem I have with the article is that it ignores history. The almost universal practice of baptism in the East and in the West was immersion, for most baptisms until the middle ages. As we have already seen in the UK immersion struggled on in some Roman Catholic contexts until the Protestant Revolution of the 16th/17th centuries.

So it seems to me to be a little weak to be arguing that baptism could be taken to include what has now become a majority practice in the West when in fact no Christian writer of any community would have considered infusion to be normal for 1300 years. None of the Fathers of East or West writing on baptism considered baptism by infusion anything other than an acceptable means in an emergency or in difficult circumstances. Nor did any writer I have noticed ever suggest that infusion could be normative since the word baptism included the concept of pouring or sprinkling. All took baptism to mean a thorough washing, an immersion or at least a complete covering with water.

And the practice of the West supports this as being entirely the normative understanding for 1300 years. One only has to look at the nature of baptisteries as widely located as the small one in the ruins of Richborough Roman fort a few miles from me - big enough for a man to kneel in and be covered to the chest - or the great Imperial ones in Italy - where immersion was obviously the form of baptism practiced.

It may perhaps be fundamentalist - although that term should not normally be used in any argument that wishes to convince people - to insist that only immersion is a true baptism, but it seems to me that East and West were agreed for 1300 years or more that baptism by immersion should be normative for important theological and spiritual reasons.

I believe that it would be beneficial to the Roman Catholic communion to restore the normative practice of immersion, without there being any need to suggest that infusion is invalid. But according to all of our shared fathers it is certainly not considered normative, nor as spiritually beneficial. That isn't Orthodox chauvinism speaking but it is my understanding of the practice and teaching of the West before the change to infusion which we never got to the root of.

It would certainly be one less obstacle to reconciliation and would be surely only of benefit since the opportunity would be afforded of reinforcing the substance of the Church's teaching about the meaning of baptism.

PT
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« Reply #98 on: January 30, 2004, 05:12:34 PM »

I was going to edit in this quote from the above link, but I forgot that the edit option is disabled. Can anybody verify this quote?

I would say that none of our Churches take a Protestant view of Scripture. We do not ask 'what are the possible ranges of meaning' and then say that because baptizo could mean a washing therefore this is how we will develop our theology of baptism -And in fact to wash ones hands is to immerse them not to sprinkle them - rather we ask how our Churches have understood these passages. And it is clear that for 1300 years baptism meant immersion save in exceptional circumstances such as imminent death, lack of water or severe illness.

So I would suggest that the author should not be taking this line of reasoning. If the Church did not follow this interpretation then nor should we. Otherwise we really are doing what Protestants do. Reading the Bible, with a Greek dictionary in one hand, and seeing what we can discover.
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« Reply #99 on: January 30, 2004, 05:15:01 PM »

Let me say again, to be clear, I am not saying that RC baptism is not valid. But I do think that something which has a universal witness for longer than 1300 years is important, and I have already quoted RC bishops of as late as the 16th century who taught their priests that immersion was the only proper (that is normal not valid) form.
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« Reply #100 on: January 30, 2004, 06:31:56 PM »

Maybe I'm repeating myself, but I think it comes down to modern society just being lazy with regards to immersion.  No one wants to bother to actually get wet, mess up their clothes and hair and have to change.  It's just inconvenient.  Of course, so is going to church, but that's part of modernism as well.  Sad
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« Reply #101 on: January 30, 2004, 08:59:18 PM »

Well, immersion is lauded (or rather, is to be lauded) in RCism, and I think it may possibly make a comeback.

I haven't dared to ask this question until now, but I have to wonder...we baptize by infusion, it's valid, it's within the competence of our hierarchy to make such decisions. So what difference does it make?
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« Reply #102 on: January 31, 2004, 03:20:41 AM »

Hiya

Without doubting the validity of baptism by infusion I think I have to say that I am not sure that it is within the competence of any hierarchy to make such a change, a change which overturns the clear teaching of the Western and Eastern Fathers, and the universal practice of all Christians from the time of their unity through into the 14th-15th centuries.

Or at least I think I would dispute the wisdom of such a change.

It would be, it seems to me, like saying that the hierarchy have the competence to remove the need for fasting during X or Y period of the year. On the one hand I am aware that at some point it was within the competence of the hierarchy to codify and require such ascecis, but on the other hand it seems to me that fasting having become a universal praxis of the whole church it is then not within the competence of a hierarchy to remove the requirement to fast.

I think that the difference between an infusion and an immersion is great in terms of the suitability of the form to symbolise the sacrament. We are not being sprinkled as though something external was being performed upon us, but we are dying to self, being buried, and then being raised to new life. It is something that affects our whole being.

It also signifies a commitment to the faith, since as has been stated it requires that we get wet. When my son was baptised the service took well over an hour with anointings, exorcisms and baptism. But most christenings take 15-20 minutes with perhaps three of four children all being christened at the same time.

Of course length of service does not make something good or better, but it seems to me that the effort required in following the ancient and universal praxis of baptism makes it clear that a complete commitment is being called for. It is not an external action of the priest but an internal dying to self. Infusion does not represent this.

A summary of the notes I have previously mentioned:

Pope Pelagius is quoted in the Encyclical of 1895 as saying that baptism by immersion is a command from the Lord.

Thomas Aquinas says that infusion is a practice not to be recommended.

Hugh of St Victor describes immersion as being buried with Christ and has no thought of infusion being normal.

Abbot Corlet says infusion was known as the baptism of the sick and only employed for that purpose.

During the Marian resoration of Catholicism in England Bishop Bonner condemned those who would bring their children in clothes to be sprinkled instead of employing the triple immersion.

So it seems clear, as far as I can see, that even in late Roman Catholicism, immersion was considered the norm by some bishops, and even at the time of Aquinas infusion had not become usual. And the West, as the East, seem to give importance to the form of immersion as properly signifying dying and being raised to life.

Is the situation not a bit analogous to a bishop in some penal situation decidiing to use a piece of sliced bread for the liturgy because absolutely nothing else was available and the prosphora was completely impossible to bake. Now it might be considered that such a liturgy was still valid and that God would fill up what was missing, but if after the penal times that bishop started teaching that in fact a piece of sliced bread was more convenient than baking prosphora and was in fact just the same as using prosphora then some complaint might justifiably be made.

Infusion doesn't represent the substance of baptism as well as immersion, that is why the West and East always considered immersion normative, and why RC bishops still considered it normative, certainly in England, as late as the 16th century. I am not sure that it is within the competence of bishops to overturn such universal praxis and so many voices from the RC communion such as Thomas Aquinas who reject the practice of infusion as being normative.

Something is lost by making infusion normative....your own tradition is filled with arguments against it.

But I do still consider it valid. But validity doesn't mean that it is to be recommended outside of the traditional circumstances in which it was always used in the past.
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« Reply #103 on: January 31, 2004, 04:11:24 PM »

peterfarrington writes:

Is the situation not a bit analogous to a bishop in some penal situation decidiing to use a piece of sliced bread for the liturgy because absolutely nothing else was available and the prosphora was completely impossible to bake. Now it might be considered that such a liturgy was still valid and that God would fill up what was missing, but if after the penal times that bishop started teaching that in fact a piece of sliced bread was more convenient than baking prosphora and was in fact just the same as using prosphora then some complaint might justifiably be made.



In the light of the above, what do you opine is the current states of the historic Azymes controversy now that the WR Orthodox use unleavened bread to celebrate mass?

Also, I have noticed in many RC Churches the installation of a baptismal pool.  But I do not think they will be baptizing by immersion.  I believe they have the catechumen stand in the pool and water is poured over the entire body from the head down.  I am extremely uncomfortable with this and perhaps also with immersion in an RC Church, not that I am against it (immersion) but that this change is likely the inspiration of just another liberal lay or religious Catechist that is more interested in putting on a good show than in any true consideration of and appreciation for history and tradition.

I perceive that the pouring water on the head and down on the entire body was likely inspired by those pictures in some bibles and elsewhere of Jesus standing in the Jordan while the "Forerunner" poured water over his head, etc.

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« Reply #104 on: January 31, 2004, 04:21:46 PM »

Well the Armenian Apostolic Church has always used unleavened bread to symbolise that Christ was without sin. This was their practice from the very beginning of the Church. It is accepted by all of the sister Churches within the Oriental Orthodox communion, and of course by all Christians before Chalcedon, as an acceptable variation with an internal theological basis.

But the Armenian bread is not a wafer. It is still real bread. I find the issue with the later Western praxis and with some WR praxis is that what is offered is not really bread but is a wafer.

I am not saying this as though I was an authority, but as an interested person I'd like to know when and where and why the West began to use wafers rather than bread, leavened or unleavened?

I agree with you cautionary attitude since I know of Protestant churches who have introduced some catholic/orthodox liturgical elements with no supporting theology but because they do indeed add a sense of drama. Better to practice infusion with the right theology than immersion with the wrong one.

PT
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« Reply #105 on: February 02, 2004, 09:06:57 PM »

I am not even going to start! I am already in way over my head with immersion/infusion. Tongue

But I would ask EOx and OOx faithful to pray that God supply whatever is missing in RC tradition. Perhaps your prayers will restore immersion to the Church, etc.
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« Reply #106 on: February 02, 2004, 09:08:45 PM »

One last thought. Whether the (unconsecrated) hosts are "wafers" or "bread," they have only two ingredients. Water, and flour. So perhaps it is not so much a defect in form, but a change in discipline.
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« Reply #107 on: February 03, 2004, 05:36:54 AM »

For myself, I honestly wish only the best for the RC communion. I do not consider either of these issues to be the main controversies which we need to deal with.

PT
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« Reply #108 on: February 03, 2004, 01:21:17 PM »

I am not even going to start! I am already in way over my head with immersion/infusion. Tongue

But I would ask EOx and OOx faithful to pray that God supply whatever is missing in RC tradition. Perhaps your prayers will restore immersion to the Church, etc.

What do you mean by missing?  Does this mean a defect in matter or form?  If so, it goes to the very existence of the sacrament (or Holy Mystery on this Forum!) as the RCC teaches it.  No amount of prayers on the part of the faithful will make up for a defective sacrament.  That would be like the faithful praying to God to make the Real Presence happen should some foolish priest use oreo cookies and scotch whiskey in place of wheat bread and grape wine!

I hate Oreos but I love scotch!  I'd much prefer Macaroons or Oatmeal cookies but definitely after the Liturgy in the communal center during the fellowship hour.  And make my scotch the 12 year old variety--and leave the bottle!

BTW, there is immersion and "heavy" infusion going on in the RCC today in many innovationist parishes.  I say innovationist because I am not convinced personally that they are trying to restore an ancient practice which is a good thing to restore.  They are being typically fadish as is customary for the post-Vatican II "with it" establishment.  If they were truly into restoration of ancient practices then why aren't they agitating with their RC bishops to restore Chrismation to where it really belongs rather than delaying it to late adolescence as it is usually practiced within the RCC today?

If I seem sort of touchy about Chrismation it is because my 16 year old son and 14 year old daughter are currently in a formation program for the Sacrament of Confirmation.  This is late even by traditional RCC practices.  The Holy Mysteries in my understanding are supposed to be supernatural encounters with God (in the Holy Spirt).  The essential approach to Chrismation formation is much more worldly than I like to see.  It is becoming a bar mitzvah of sorts, Christian style.  I don't like it!  BTW, I favor the Orthodox and EC practice of administering the 3 Sacraments of Initiation to infants.  Yes! I believe in infant Holy Communion!  Infants are either fully members of the Christian community or they are not.


Jim C.
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« Reply #109 on: February 03, 2004, 01:45:26 PM »

Hey, Jim,

No, I know that we have the fullness of Truth in the Catholic Church, and that our sacraments are truly sacraments, grace-filled and valid. But note that by the word "tradition," I employed the lower case t. I know our Tradition is without spot. But when Orthodox see our Church they often wonder at things like baptism by infusion, and wafer hosts. I know we have valid sacraments, I know there is no defect in form for either baptism or the Eucharist (because it is our Church who makes those decisions.) But I think it would be a grand ecumenical gesture to ask prayers from EOx and OOx regarding tradition. I think we RC's could learn a lot from them regarding this. Smiley
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« Reply #110 on: February 03, 2004, 01:48:38 PM »

Quote
Yes! I believe in infant Holy Communion!  Infants are either fully members of the Christian community or they are not.

But how would RC's administer unleavened bread to an infant?
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« Reply #111 on: February 03, 2004, 02:43:51 PM »

But how would RC's administer unleavened bread to an infant?

Probably not all that differently from an Orthodox priest communicating an infant except the Roman Catholic priest would not use a spoon.

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« Reply #112 on: February 03, 2004, 03:48:36 PM »

I don't think it would be all that hard for RC priests to commune infants from the chalice with a spoon.  I forget if a liturgical spoon is mentioned in the previous edition of the GIRM, but I remember reading about a type of liturgical straw, and even saw pictures of Paul VI using one at his coronation Mass (I think).  I think bringing back the straw and communing infants that way (using the straw sorta like a dropper) would be easy enough.  Barring either of these, one could do what our priests do: dip a finger in the Precious Blood and place a drop in the infant's mouth.  

I don't think the communing of infants in the Roman Catholic Church is a problem from the standpoint of exactly how one goes about doing that.  Rather, the problem is whether or not the RCC thinks it important enough to change the existing practice.
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« Reply #113 on: February 03, 2004, 04:00:22 PM »

All the more reason for prayers from charitable Orthodox!
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« Reply #114 on: February 03, 2004, 04:16:41 PM »

. . . I think bringing back the straw and communing infants that way (using the straw sorta like a dropper) would be easy enough.  Barring either of these, one could do what our priests do: dip a finger in the Precious Blood and place a drop in the infant's mouth.  


I think I prefer the "dip a finger . . . " method to a straw or dropper.  It seems more natural when it comes to feeding a baby with the Bread of Life!

Whenever I ponder the issue of communicating infants I am always reminded of John 6:53:



Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.



Babies need life within themselves too!
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« Reply #115 on: February 03, 2004, 05:20:35 PM »

mitzvah of sorts, Christian style.  I don't like it!  BTW, I favor the Orthodox and EC practice of administering the 3 Sacraments of Initiation to infants.  Yes! I believe in infant Holy Communion!  Infants are either fully members of the Christian community or they are not.

I must admit that I really enjoy taking my 4 year old, and previously as a 3 year old, to commune with me at the liturgy. And it is real hard explaining deep theological concepts to a 3/4 year old who has a sharp mind. We are currently at the point where he replies to my wife, who complains that we stink of incense when we come home, that it needs to be smelly so Jesus can smell it (He thought that answer up himself), and having started to teach about the eucharist that it is special food God gives us to help us be good he comes up to me from time to time after he's been naughty and tells me that he thinks he needs to go to church and have some more special God food. I am still stuck when he asks (usually in the middle of the Liturgy and in a loud whisper) 'when is the Holy Ghost coming then!'.

[Please forgive any heresy, you can imagine that with a head full of theology it is both hard and also refreshing to have to suddenly try and answer a 4 years olds theological questions]

I also appreciate your point about the potential for faddism even in modernist circles. I have noted that the concept of liturgy has started being referenced in evangelical circles, which is both a great opportunity for the truth but also creates the possibility of simple faddism.

PT
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« Reply #116 on: February 03, 2004, 05:25:43 PM »

As far as heresy from a child goes, I know where you are coming from. My ten year old niece sometimes likes to play priest. And of course, I tell her, "girls can't be priests." But then she says, "it's just pretend." What the hay? She's ten!
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« Reply #117 on: February 03, 2004, 06:04:43 PM »

I must admit that I really enjoy taking my 4 year old, and previously as a 3 year old, to commune with me at the liturgy. And it is real hard explaining deep theological concepts to a 3/4 year old who has a sharp mind. We are currently at the point where he replies to my wife, who complains that we stink of incense when we come home, that it needs to be smelly so Jesus can smell it (He thought that answer up himself), and having started to teach about the eucharist that it is special food God gives us to help us be good he comes up to me from time to time after he's been naughty and tells me that he thinks he needs to go to church and have some more special God food. I am still stuck when he asks (usually in the middle of the Liturgy and in a loud whisper) 'when is the Holy Ghost coming then!'.

[Please forgive any heresy, you can imagine that with a head full of theology it is both hard and also refreshing to have to suddenly try and answer a 4 years olds theological questions]

I also appreciate your point about the potential for faddism even in modernist circles. I have noted that the concept of liturgy has started being referenced in evangelical circles, which is both a great opportunity for the truth but also creates the possibility of simple faddism.

PT


You know, Peter, whenever I comment on my preference for admission of infants to the Holy Eucharist in the "real world" as opposed to cyber-space, people invariably bring up the fact that an infant (or even a young child) doesn't know what he/she is receiving.  This is bunk!

The Lord of Creation can communicate with an ant if He so wishes.  Why not a baby?  Besides, I don't understand the Holy Eucharist myself.  Oh I can spout off doctrines like the Real Presence, transsubstantiation (for those of you are are RC's!), the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the unity of the Body of Christ, . . . . but when I come down to it, I'm not sure my understanding of the Holy Mysteries is that much more elevated from the understanding of a baby!  People who talk about the "understanding" of Holy Communion try to put limits on God . . . limits that are not part of His Being.

I have a funny story to relate (I hope!) that your son's story reminds me of.  Way back in the Old RC Church (late 1950's), my younger brother, Paul (about 3 years old), during mass asked my Dad out loud within hearing of most of the congregation:  "What's the priest doing, Dad?"  My father whispered back, "He's drinking the consecrated wine."  "Oh . . ." my brother exclaimed out loud again.  Then there was a "pregnant pause" of 5 seconds or so after which my brother sounded off again in a very loud voice . . .  

"What's the matter . . . doesn't he like beer?"

This brought the whole house down--belly laughs in the midst of a very sacred part of the mass.  The priest seemingly managed to control himself--his back was to us, naturally!--but I'll bet he smiled!

Your son had the purpose of incense exactly right.  I am reminded (again) of one the most beautiful phrases in the entire bible--from Ps 140 (LXX):



Let my prayer ascend before thee as incense, the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.



Yes, let us stink of prayer.  I really can't wait for Great Lent to start so I can assist at the Presanctified liturgy!

Kids say the darnedest things.  Your son obviously is more advanced theologically at his age than my brother was at the same stage in life . . . perhaps even more than you or I are!  Think about it.

Thanks for a WONDERFUL story!

Jim C.

PS:  Yes . . . let's communicate infants too!

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« Reply #118 on: February 03, 2004, 06:19:55 PM »

Yes I'm sure my son is in a better position than I am. It is a joy to be with him and to know that he will grow up in an Orthodox Catholic environment whereas it took me 20 odd years to first start noticing the Catholic spiritual tradition and finally 30 years to end up baptised into Orthodoxy.

I hope he will be able to assist in the liturgy with me in due course. He was very proud to take the collection last Sunday and I'm sure we had a bigger collection because of it. Smiley

You are so right that our own understanding fails before the mystery of the eucharist, it is not a time for head knowledge.

PT
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