Good morning dear Father Angelo,
I have a few questions concerning baptism to ask you.
Just recently, we have had the Grace of a baby and we are going to have him baptized. What are the Church’s recommendations with regard to the due time? I will make myself clearer: our parish priest told us that the Church urges parents to have their children baptized “as soon as possible”. Nevertheless, I do not really understand how to put into practice this piece of advice. What does “as soon as possible” mean? He (the parish priest) suggested parents should not wait longer than one year. Now I ask you: is this recommendation reasonable as a general rule? Would six months after the child’s birth be a fitting time? Or would it be better to anticipate?
My second question has to do with the figures of the godfather and the godmother: is it compulsory for them to be two, a man and a woman? I have attended the celebration of a baptism (in a Catholic church) where there were two godmothers. Is this possible?
Thank you for your usual helpfulness. I offer you my warmest greetings,
The priest’s reply
- First and foremost, felicitations for the beautiful gift you have received from Above. This baby has filled your family and causes you to love each other even more: now, you are, not only each other’s spouse, but also the mom and dad of your beloved baby.
- By the time I answer your questions, for certain you have already had your child baptized. Today, people tend to postpone, whereas in the past, it was obligatory to have babies baptized within eight days after the birth. The Church’s discipline on this point has been mitigated due to the dramatic decrease, at least in our country, in the infant mortality rate, which was very high in the past.
- Postponing baptism for some time allows the mother to take part in the ceremony: in the past, the mother was virtually always absent.
- Moreover, parents and godparents get the chance to prepare spiritually for the commitment they make and for the grace they receive. It is undoubtedly an opportunity for them to revive the grace and the spirituality of their own baptism.
- Still, as Saint Thomas Aquinas points out, because of the original sin, we are deprived of God’s grace, which is a kind of supernatural protective hedge. We should not forget that precisely for this reason the rite of baptism involves an exorcism prayer:
Almighty and ever-living God, you sent your only Son into the world to cast out the power of Satan, spirit of evil, to rescue man from the kingdom of darkness, and bring him into the splendor of your kingdom of light. We pray for this child: set him (her) free from original sin, make him (her) a temple of your glory, and send your Holy Spirit to dwell with him (her). We ask this through Christ our Lord. [Translator’s note: I am not totally sure that the source of this translation, namely an English version of the rite of Baptism, is 100% reliable. I apologize in advance for any inaccuracies.]
- Keeping in mind all this, in the Code of Canon Law, can. 867, the Church prescribes that:
Parents are obliged to take care that infants are baptized in the first few weeks; as soon as possible after the birth or even before it, they are to go to the pastor to request the sacrament for their child and to be prepared properly for it.
“In the first few weeks” does not mean “within a year”.
- As for the godparents, The Code of Canon Law, can. 872, states that:
Insofar as possible, a person to be baptized is to be given a sponsor who assists an adult in Christian initiation or together with the parents presents an infant for baptism. A sponsor also helps the baptized person to lead a Christian life in keeping with baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations inherent in it.
This being the case, the essential thing is that there is either one godfather or one godmother. There is no impediment to the designation of a godfather and a godmother or of two godfathers and two godmothers.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to remind these recommendations to many visitors of ours who are waiting for a baby.
I remember your beautiful family to the Lord in prayer and I bless you.
Translated by Alessandra N
Verified by Debora C