Sancta Missa - Rituale Romanum (Roman Ritual) - Norms for new rite for baptism of adults



(Promulgated on April 16, 1962)


1. All local Ordinaries may permit or prescribe that this rite be observed in baptism of adults.

2. The whole rite is divided into seven stages:

The first stage deals with the spiritual preparation to be made by the priest in charge of instructing the catechumens as well as by the faithful. These prayers, by emphasizing what a serious matter Christian life is, will prove to be a spiritual help to the catechumens (nos. 1- 3). This part is followed by the formal roll call, the basic instruction, the act of turning away from error and turning to God, and the first solemn signing with the cross (nos. 4-12), which is also the basic exorcism or the radical deliverance from the power of evil spirits.

The second stage deals with the very ancient ceremony of administering blessed salt, which symbolizes the catechumens' ever growing delight in the Christian religion (nos. 13-17). The third, fourth, and fifth stages embody the solemn, thrice repeated exorcisms, which forcefully impress on the catechumens how much effort is entailed in total conversion to God, and how the devil, the adversary of mankind, opposes it with all his might (nos 18-24; 25-31; 32-40).

The sixth stage has the ceremonies directly preparatory to baptism, ceremonies derived from very ancient use and filled with profound significance. They consist of the solemn procession of the candidates into church (nos. 41-42), followed by the recitation of the Creed and the Lord's Prayer, the final exorcism, and the rite called "opening of ears"; lastly, another renunciation of Satan, the anointing with oil of catechumens, which makes a person a warrior against the enemies of Christ and the Church (nos. 47-49).

The seventh and last stage leads up to baptism proper. It consists of another roll call, the profession of faith, the request for baptism (nos. 51-52), the act of baptizing (nos. 53-55), the anointing with chrism, which suggests the grace of the Holy Spirit received in baptism (no. 55), the bestowal of the baptismal robe and the lighted candle (nos. 56-57), and the dismissal of the baptized (no. 58).

3. The various stages of the rite follow the progress of the Christian instruction or catechesis imparted to the catechumens. And for that reason it is not allowed to omit them, to mix them up, or to change the given order. All that is allowed is to annex one part to another if pastoral considerations urge it. But if for good reason a catechumen objects to taking part in the rites along with the others, he should at least receive them privately.

Perhaps in certain places or territories or in certain cultures some of these ceremonies might cause wonderment or not be well taken. In such cases the conference of bishops enjoys the faculty of determining what exactly should be done, in accord with the following norms:

(a) If in some place, according to the common understanding of the people, the touch of the priest's hand in tracing the sign of the cross on the catechumens is interpreted as signifying a juridical act with certain legal consequences, or as signifying anything opposed to its proper Christian meaning, then, above all if it would set back the work of conversion, the bishops may determine how this ceremony should be carried out. Their decision may be that the rubrics are to be followed to the letter, or that the sponsors are to make the sign on the catechumens, or else that the catechumens sign themselves while the priest makes the sign of the cross over all together.

(b) Whenever it is practically impossible for the priest himself to place the blessed salt in the mouth of the catechumens, it is the bishops' prerogative to decide on the other method provided in the rubrics at that place, namely, that the catechumens themselves do so, taking a pinch of salt from a large vessel provided for that purpose.

(c) In regard to the anointing with oil of catechumens these points are to be kept in mind: the signification of this anointing must be carefully and sedulously explained to the catechumens in every part of the Church. But if in some place it is utterly impossible to have them grasp its real underlying purpose, in face of their own popular and inveterate customs, then the bishops may dispense from the practice, but only for that specific people or place and only as long as its didactic purpose cannot be achieved. Yet priests must do their utmost so that, as Christian practices gradually are better understood by the people, the ceremony of anointing with this consecrated oil may regularly be observed.

(d) The rules here laid down for anointing with oil of catechumens apply equally for the anointing with holy chrism which ordinarily follows the actual rite of baptism. Moreover, because the sacrament of confirmation must be conferred by laying on of hands together with anointing the brow with chrism (canon 780), it is necessary that, beginning with the first instructions on baptism, the catechumens are so well prepared that they may rightly and fully understand the significance of the anointings with holy oils called for in the rite of baptism. Whatever decisions are arrived at on the aforesaid points by the conferences of bishops are to be referred to both the Sacred Congregation of the Faith and the Congregation of Sacred Rites, and then, if the Holy See approves, put into practice.

4. As far as possible the rites and ceremonies should be carried out with solemnity and with the faithful in attendance; and the preparation for the rites should be so well done that the candidates will derive all the more spiritual fruit from them. If opportunity allows, the godfathers and godmothers should be present at each of the various stages. Before the ceremonies begin a clear explanation on the popular level should be given for the benefit of the candidates and the faithful alike. If only one or a few candidates are to be received, the liturgical stages of the catechumenate or the sacred rites here described may be performed even outside the church edifice (but in a worthy place) and in a simple manner. And as far as special circumstances allow the local Ordinaries or the conferences of bishops should determine exactly what is to be done, so that there will be uniformity throughout the diocese or territory.

5. All the formulae may be said in the vernacular, but in a version approved either by the conference of bishops of a nation or territory or by the local Ordinary. (In the document of 1962 certain exceptions are listed here, but they are no longer applicable in view of the later Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy).

6. The conference of bishops should see to it that a vernacular version for the whole territory be prepared by a commission especially set up for this purpose. Fully competent persons, whether clergy or laity, are to be employed in making the text, which text is to be not only a faithful version but also one true to the idiom of the respective language. Finally such versions are to be approved by the aforementioned conference of bishops, however, only for a period of ten years at the most, in order that these versions may be continually adapted to gradual evolution in the respective languages.

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