“The Church of God welcomes you with great joy.”

A liturgical parting shot/gift from Pope Benedict: a minor (?) change in the wording of the Baptismal liturgy.

Sandro Magister has the story.

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61 comments

  1. Apart from one’s agreement or not with this change, which of course, I would agree is good, is the manner in which the change occurs. It occurs first with the Latin and then the vernacular is translated properly from the revised Latin template. So if one wanted the 1998 English version of the Liturgy, one should first convince those in authority to change the Latin first to fit that template before the English version is promulgated.

  2. When teaching about sacraments, I often use the example of receiving new members at the Easter Vigil, noting that if those who wish to be received are already baptized Lutherans, Methodists, etc., that we don’t repeat this sacrament because we share a common baptism.

    No more? I’d welcome any leads to background on this, or insight…

      1. @Bill deHaas – comment #9:
        I haven’t really thought it through, but it strikes me that “Christian community” places the emphasis on the visible, local community whereas “Church of God” places the emphasis on a more abstract, universal entity.

      2. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #14:
        Thanks – that was my thought also. And agree with Rita’s comment above and David Gibson…..it reminds me of the whole debate around *subsists in*…don’t think I will drive into the ditch over this one. But it is sad – as others remark, the words/phrase means something different by language and cultural group. And does sound *unecumenical*

      3. @Bill deHaas – comment #26:
        But it is sad – as others remark, the words/phrase means something different by language and cultural group. And does sound *unecumenical*

        As I tried to point out above, I read it as being additionally ecumenical for it emphasizes the efficacy of baptism, properly carried out, (and therefore the presence of Christ) across Christian confessions.

      4. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #28:
        See #29 – this is what I was referring to. Benedict has gone back to an unreformed understanding.

        Marc – thanks for taking the time to explicate *subsists in* – it looks like you were going to comment more….so, given your explanation from Lumen Gentium, what is your feeling about this Benedict change?

    1. @Nancy Dallavalle – comment #4:
      Hi Nancy,

      The relevant moment in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults would not be the celebration of baptism at the Easter Vigil, but rather the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens, which occurs at a time separate from and normally at least a year in advance of Baptism. It’s there that the candidates are signed with the cross, normally at the door of the church. This rite, and the other catechumenal rites, are collapsed in the infant rite into one ceremony which culminates in baptism.

      In the Rite of Acceptance, however, there is no phrase that precisely correlates with this one in the rite for infants. Instead, the rubrics indicate that the celebrant “speaks to them, their sponsors, and all present, pointing out the joy and happiness of the Church.” The rite for infant baptism is highly scripted, but the rite for adults allows much more latitude for adaptation.

  3. My question: does the change comport with Catholic theology? If all Christian baptisms are considered valid by the Catholic Church, then all the baptized are welcomed into the “Christian community” not just the Catholic Church, a.k.a. “the Church of God.” This seems to either restrict the breadth of Catholic baptism or expand the notion of the Catholic Church to include all Christian churches. Or maybe it;s just a distinction without a difference? And more of the self-referential knicker-twisting that Pope Francis would rather the church avoid…

  4. I suspect in not many years, priests and deacons will be saying “The Church of St. NAME welcomes you with great joy.”

    At least in parishes in urban settings, so many baptisms are styled as “welcome to this particular parish community” (not the one 20 blocks down the road, that’s actually closer to your house).

  5. Comment #1 – how quickly we forget recent history:

    From PTB posted December 11, 2010:

    *Pope Fails Own Latin Test*

    https://wikispooks.com/w/images/4/45/Areas_of_Difficulty.pdf

    And, really, doesn’t it just become a game if the rules are such that anyone can change the latin and then translate. What is interesting in the link is how often the english translation indicated that the latin word was incorrect or had been changed from an earlier typical edition. As in this case, based upon Benedict’s experience in Italian, he independently makes a decision that impacts all other language groups – nothing like the tail wagging the dog. (and you would have thought that he had much bigger things to focus on?)

  6. The nuance of language here is that the people are more clearly indicated when one says “Christian community” — many, I dare say most, people will hear “Church” as institution before they hear it as the assembly of a people of faith.

    Yes, I can almost hear the automatic rejoinder — more catechesis is needed, more catechesis! — but why create a situation in which yet more catechesis is required? We are already working overtime to explain the Missal.

    Words in liturgy are often ambiguous. That’s their multivalent nature. The new words are no less ambiguous in their own way.

    Personally, I think that the former phrase was understood aright, and the latter will cause confusion. Especially in the US, where the Church of God is the formal title of another Christian denomination. Talk about ambiguous.

    The words “Christian community” were fine. Parting shot and anti-ecumenical indeed, since now all those churches descended from the Reformation in the West are no longer to be referred to as “churches” by Catholics, because of the document Dominus Iesus.

    1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #11:
      I agree with you Rita Ferrone — but as someone else has pointed out here this ‘tweaking’ of this text is a part of a long running argument concerning the priority of the ‘local’ or the ‘universal’ Church. Here is an other example Roman ‘centralization tendency’ — running counter to most of the history of the Western Church and also both the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

  7. Ah yes, the appointment of “midnight judges” has arrived in the Church along with the resignation of Popes.

    Now all Popes have to do is wait until they are about resign to do all the things they would have liked to do as Pope but would rather not explain. Then they can scurry off to retirement and plead silence since they don’t want to interfere with the next Pope.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #12:
      Shouldn’t we apply that old Ignatian principle apply to the words and actions of Pope Benedict too?

      “It is necessary to suppose that every good Christian is more ready to put a good interpretation on another’s statement than to condemn it as false.”

      Or is it patently clear that Benedict was being underhanded about this?

    2. @Jack Rakosky – comment #13:
      I think Jack is right about this.

      Furthermore, we don’t know how far it will go. What is to stop dicasteries from claiming to be carrying out the former pope’s intentions, once the former pope has lapsed into senile dementia?

  8. Would it be an indictable offense to improvise, “The Church of God, and the community of this parish, welcome you with great joy…” Seems like both are true, in a sense, but it’s the people in the room at the time who literally are feeling the joy and doing the welcoming…)

  9. My pastor has already lapsed back into the old dismissal formula for Mass. I’m disinclined to correct him. Plus, when something is published in the Notitiae, it doesn’t send an electronic signal to change the text in the Rite of Baptism books in the sacristies worldwide.

    I predict this change will not really take root for years, if it ever does.

    Likewise Joseph in EP II, III, and IV to a lesser extent.

  10. On what basis does a former Pope decree a change in the liturgy? I would have thought that by resigning his position as pope, Benedict no longer has the right to decide things of this nature. Yet apparently he thinks he can still act as pope, without being the reigning pope.

    Does this mean, essentially, that we have two popes reigning at one time?

    1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #19:
      On what basis does a former Pope decree a change in the liturgy?

      Is this a joke? If so, it’s a rather tasteless one.

      The change was approved by Pope Benedict in an audience January 28, 2013 and the decree signed by the prefect on February 22, 2013. It’s getting noticed now because Sandro Magister has written a column about it (and perhaps because of a recent article in the newspaper of the Italian Bishop’s Conference.)

      EDIT: (My comment was in response to an earlier version of Rita F.’s now edited commented that suggested that the former Holy Father had gone senile and would now be issuing decrees willy-nilly.)

      1. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #21:
        Decisions made by bishops but not implemented are not automatically carried out after that bishop has retired. The matter is referred to the bishop’s successor.

      2. @Rita Ferrone – comment #24:
        But this decision was implemented. Look at the dates on the decree. It was approved by Pope Benedict while he was still Pope (until 2/28/13 at 8 PM CET.) and signed by the prefect while Pope Benedict was still Pope (and as such while the prefect was still the prefect, before his office temporarily lapsed with the Pope’s resignation.)

  11. Nancy Dallavalle : When teaching about sacraments, I often use the example of receiving new members at the Easter Vigil, noting that if those who wish to be received are already baptized Lutherans, Methodists, etc., that we don’t repeat this sacrament because we share a common baptism. No more? I’d welcome any leads to background on this, or insight…

    I’d read it in precisely the opposite way. This change emphasizes that baptism (wherever validly conferred) joins people to the universal Catholic Church. An infant baptized in the Presbyterian Church of America, Episcopal Church, Roman Catholic Church are all made by that fact members of the universal Catholic Church.

    The rite of reception in the revised RCIA is difficult to explain for this reason, where it says “N., the Lord receives you into the Catholic Church.”

    The form of reception for converts in the 1962 rite acknowledges the idea that the baptized are already part of the Church and places the emphasis instead on the restoration of the bond formed in baptism:

    “By the authority of the Holy See which I exercise here, I release you from the bond of excommunication which you have (perhaps) incurred; and I restore you to communion and union with the faithful, as well as to the holy sacraments of the Church; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

    (This emphasis admittedly attenuated by the regular use of conditional baptism in addition to this rite of reception.)

  12. The decree that introduces the innovation, published in Latin, begins as follows:

    “The gate of life and of the kingdom, baptism is a sacrament of faith, by which men are incorporated into the one Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.”

    “subsists in the catholic Church” is a direct quote from Vatican II.
    Subsistit in (subsists in) is a Latin phrase, which appears in the eighth paragraph of Lumen Gentium, a landmark document of the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church:

    “This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.”
    Haec Ecclesia, in hoc mundo ut societas constituta et ordinata, subsistit in Ecclesia catholica, a successore Petri et Episcopis in eius communione gubernata, licet extra eius compaginem elementa plura sanctificationis et veritatis inveniantur, quae ut dona Ecclesiae Christi propria, ad unitatem catholicam impellunt.
    This sentence and the correct meaning of “subsists in” affects the definition of the Church with important implications for how the Catholic Church views itself, its relations with other Christian communities and other religions. Questions have been raised because Lumen Gentium reworded the longstanding phrase, which stated that the Church of Christ is (Latin est) the Catholic Church. Lumen Gentium does recognize that other Christian ecclesial communities have elements of sanctification and of truth.

    The Council Fathers made a deliberate choice to use the term “subsists in” and not the traditional formula: Church of Christ is (Latin est) the Catholic Church. This was done after much controversy. Still is for…

    1. @Marc Bergeron – comment #29:
      The one Church of Christ also subsists in the People of God and the Christian Community. These two designations are most frequently used in the praenotanda of the rite. Changing liturgical language without reference to the experience of the sacrament for the people of God creates problems. If liturgy is simply a ritual enactment of text, one can change words to create theological lucanae. If liturgy does express and create the faith it celebrates, any liturgical ritual or textual change needs to speak to liturgy as an experience of the local Church.

      1. @Mike Burns – comment #40:

        Though I cannot claim to fully understand Cdl Becker’s article, I think Mike’s comment touches on the problem. If you are thinking of the Church in juridical terms, the Cdl has no doubt wrapped up all the loose ends and settled the meaning of sobsistet. But there is a greater breadth to the term “Church” that Lumen Gentium emphasizes: The People of God. The Christian Community. etc.

        This is precisely the situation of baptism. Does baptism make a person a part of the Church of God? Are baptisms by Presbyterians valid? If the answer to these questions is yes, then the People of God exists both in the Catholic Church and in Presbyterian communities. It is not a matter of elements of sanctification, sacraments and scripture, but of God’s People. Are they coextensive with the Catholic Church? Or do they, the members of Christ’s Body, exist in other institutions?

        So I reiterate my earlier comment. The Church of God welcomes the baptism of any child, in any community, with joy. By baptism they are members of Christ’s Body, part of God’s chosen people, the Church. We share baptism, so we share what baptism creates, the Church of God.

  13. This is certainly a very biblical phrase and a very early phrase for Christian identity which we find in Paul and once in Acts. The following are all the Greek occurrences of Church(es) of God.

    For you, my brothers, have modeled yourselves on the churches of God in Christ Jesus which are in Judaea (1Th 2:14 NJB)

    For you heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it, (Gal 1:13 NAB)

    To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ–their Lord and ours: (1Co 1:2 NIV)

    Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, (1Co 10:32 NRS)

    But if anyone is inclined to be argumentative, we do not have such a custom, nor do the churches of God. (1Co 11:16 NAB)

    Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? (1Co 11:22 NIV)

    For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
    (1Co 15:9 NRS)

    Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia: (2Co 1:1 NIV)

    Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God (2Th 1:4 NRS)

    Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. (Act 20:28 NIV)

    The phrase is used in both the singular and plural. In the singular it can apply to the universal church as well as to a particular church (e.g. at Corinth). When he wants to emphasize multiple churches (e.g. in Judea) he uses the plural.

    So following Paul, we could talk about the church of God in the Diocese of Cleveland, or the churches of God in the Diocese of Cleveland. Therefore when we say “The Church of God welcomes you with joy” we can at the same time mean this particular parish church of God welcomes you, this particular diocese welcomes you, and the Roman Catholic Church welcomes you.

    I rather like the phrase.

  14. I think the change is much ado about nothing. It will be noticed by those who baptize (priests and deacons) and theologians but to the average lay person it’s splitting hairs.
    Now, if he changed it to say “The one and only, true, holy, catholic and apostolic church, all others being anathema, welcomes you!” then we would have something to argue about!

  15. We generally have 3-5 babies baptized each Sunday, with a max of some 30 people in attendance. Nary a one of them arrives knowing the words, nor that there has ever been anything different. Dale Rodrigeu is quite correct.

  16. I do not understand why a priest or deacon must offer a salutation or make a pronouncement at this point in the liturgy. The sacramental formula of baptism itself is the salutation and pronouncement that the infant or child has died in Christ and is grafted onto the body of Christ. This formula and accompanying action require no explanation.

    The creation of a statement after the sacramental formula strikes me as another ill-advised result of the creeping didacticism in the ordinary form liturgies. Not every action of a minister needs to be explained to the parents, godparents, or others present. The liturgical acts speak for themselves. The introduction of “these or other words” moments into the Mass and other sacraments only serve to either create a plastic chatty informality or, worse, introduce theological questions where none need to exist. The statement in question is a problem which was introduced only to create an unintended difficulty.

    This pronouncement should be made optional (pro opportunitate).

    1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #34:
      Dear Jordan,

      Just to clarify — the words we are discussing are uttered at the opening of the rite (at the doors of the church) and are derived from the ancient entrance into the catechumenate. They occur prior to the signing with the cross. They are not spoken after the baptismal formula, as your comment seems to presuppose.

      I do agree with you, by the way, that in general there are too many commentaries on what is happening in the reformed rites of baptism. These presider’s texts were drafted with a good intention, no doubt, but rather unfortunately an abundance of commentary can contribute an air of didacticism to the ritual.

      The point of this pre-baptismal ritual, however, is indeed to welcome the candidate and sign him or her with the cross, so I have no problem with it. To only sign with the cross, without any expression of welcome would distort the meaning and balance that inheres in the rite as a whole. That balance is intricate. It includes welcome, the cross, exorcism, and ephpheta, as well as baptism and the Christic post-baptismal anointing if confirmation is not to follow.

      BTW, I also regret the decision to omit the giving of salt from the first rite. Although it adds to the complexity, it’s the sole gustatory icon of the pungency of the life to which a Christian is called.

      1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #41:

        I apologize to Rita and the thread for my strident tone. I also should have done more reading before commenting. Since the controversial prayer is integral to the reformed liturgy, its theological and ecclesiological importance is very important.

        I also do certainly apologize for characterizing priest or deacons as glib. This is certainly not true for most baptismal ministers. I had the misfortune of attending a baptism where the priest consistently inserted ad-lib comments into the rite and acted in what struck me as a very flippant manner. There is a time for the clergy to be jovial and congratulatory, and it is at the christening party or immediately following the sacrament.

        I also agree with Rita that the minister’s prayers of the reformed baptismal liturgy tend to be didactic. I would characterize these prayers as rather wordy. Inexplicably, the priest or deacon is now instructed to give sermon-esque prayers rather than the brief blessings of the EF baptismal liturgy. These long explanations take precedence over ancient practices, such as the blessing and administration of salt. Perhaps the blessing and administration of salt could be re-introduced in the future.

        This focus on theological statement over sacramental actions in the reformed liturgy is reason why I find the EF baptismal liturgy clearer and more direct, even if it is repetitious at points. It’s as if the drafters of the reformed ritual wanted to make sure that every theological point placed forth in the conciliar documents on initiation is mentioned. There is a time for catechesis on the sacraments of initiation, but perhaps not at the baptism of an infant or child. This catechism can wait for confirmation class.

  17. The focus changes from Christ/Christian to God, not inappropriate. The wording may not be remembered by the child, but the ceremony sets the tone for a life in God’s hands.

    The formula is not anti ecumenical. The Church of God welcomes every baptized child with joy, no matter which Christian denomination presides. We share baptism.

    1. @Tom Piatak – comment #37:
      Pardon my ignorance – but why is this analysis by Cardinal Becker definitive? I’d be happier with some reference to the Council Fathers and/or the periti.

  18. I am sorry, but I think this is ironically humorous. In my part of the USA, The Church of God is an active Protestant denomination that is decidedly anti-Papist. So, claiming the baptized for the “Church of God” might have a different connotation. They do tend to field good softball teams, though.

    I am sure this was important to Benedict – why bother with it otherwise? But honestly, I cannot believe it will matter much to most parish priests and even less to the laity. If anyone around here notices they are going to wonder why the Catholic Church isn’t doing the welcoming.

    1. @Charles Day – comment #42:
      “The Church of God is an active Protestant denomination…”

      Wow! Haven’t thought of them in years! Is that the “Worldwide Church of God” that used to do the daily 2am broadcasts? I used to listen to them at work.

  19. I don’t see the fallacy of this new pronouncement. Are not The Catholic Church and The Church of God one and the same entity? They surely are! Wherein does the problem lie? And concerning others, everyone here knows, in addition, that the Catholic Church accepts as valid the baptisms from many ‘ecclesial bodies’ when it can be satisfied that they were performed using the right (Trinitarian ) Form, Substance (water) and Intent (baptised unto Jesus and cleansed of the guilt original sin). The is problem what?

  20. The Episcopal Church use the phrase, the Church of God, in reference to herself in various parts of the prayer book, but I do not think she is being exclusive because I believe she’s including all other members of the Christian Community.

    Lord knows, all Christians need to draw together these days instead of arguing about subsistence.

  21. At baptism, the one receiving the sacrament is embraced by the entire Church of God through the welcome of the particular community in which the baptism takes place. Both phrases are theologically correct, though they emphasize different things.

    As a parish pastor, I fear the a shift like this will contribute to the problematic tendency to individualize and privatize the celebration. At baptism, the candidate becomes not only a member of the whole church of every time and place but *also* very specifically related to the particular community in which the sacrament was celebrated. The tendency of people to forget or downplay the latter is something many parish leaders have been fighting for years, and this change will only make that work harder.

  22. The ARDA (Association of Religious Data Archives) now has a very interesting feature that allows one to compare American denominations using the 2007 USA Religious Landscape Study by Pew.

    http://www.thearda.com/Denoms/Families/members.asp

    Putting in Catholic and Church of God, Tennessee one finds some interesting data (Catholic first, then Church of God:

    Demographics:

    Percent that have a 4-year college degree 25.9%, 8.2%
    Percent that live in a rural area 11.2%, 31.4%
    Percent that live in the South 24.5%, 66.3%
    Percent with one or more parents born outside the U.S. 17.8%, 0.7%

    Attitudes

    “homosexuality” should be discouraged by society. 30%, 75%
    “evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life” 57.8%, 19.1%
    churches should keep out of political matters 47.7%, 24.1%
    the best way to ensure peace is through military strength. 24.9%, 45.7%
    % describe themselves as conservative or very conservative 36.4%, 61.8%

    Religious Beliefs

    Percent that believe in Hell 60.2%, 95.4%
    Percent that say religion is a very important part of their life 56.1%, 91.2%
    church should preserve its traditional beliefs and practices 35.5%, 61.7%
    a conflict “a religious person and living in a modern society”34.1%, 56.5%
    believe that many religions can lead to eternal life 79%, 52.9%

    Religious Experiences

    Percent that speak or pray in tongues 19.5%, 49.5%
    a deep sense of spiritual peace at least once a week 46.5%, 83.9%

    Religious Practices

    Percent that attend religious services at least once a week 41.4%, 70.4%
    Percent that pray at least once a day 57.9%, 89.3%
    Percent that meditate at least once a week 36.2%, 67.1%
    Percent that participate in a choir or other musical program 18.9%, 42.5%

    While I chose some of the stereotypical things that separate Catholics and the Church of God, Tennessee, it is interesting that there are many people in both that fall outside these stereotypes, i.e. Catholics who speak in tongues, and many Church of God members (a majority in fact) that believe that many religions can lead to eternal life.

    Note: for easy reading I have given the essentials of the questions; usually they are more complex in their wording.

  23. “The Church of God” is a name used by many denominational groups, most of them descended from either Pentecostal, Holiness or Adventist traditions. Looks like another Vatican translation blunder…

    1. @Jan Larson – comment #51:
      So we have to stop calling ourselves the “Church of God” because it’s been taken up by other groups? Should we also stop calling ourselves “catholic,” “orthodox,” “apostolic,” “trinitarian”?

      1. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #52:
        No, we don’t have to stop anything. At the same time, to use one of your examples, we would not want to say “The apostolic church welcomes you” event though it is true. Perhaps something like “God’s holy church welcomes you with great joy.” Just a thought…

  24. I meant to add: Those who espouse the “hermeneutic of continuity” seem to me to reject the choice for change or nuance even if the fathers did not clearly articulate it. The choice of a word is important. Changing “is” to “subsists in” is a change! The Council Fathers clearly changed other things like religious freedom. John XXIII said it well: “For this deposit of faith, or truths which are contained in our time-honored teaching is one thing; the manner in which these truths are set forth (with their meaning preserved intact) is something else.”
    There was a very well done response to Becker:Theological Studies – June 1, 2006 by Francis A. Sullivan, SJ. Too long to quote here.

  25. Thanks, Marc – here is the link:

    http://www.ts.mu.edu/readers/content/pdf/69/69.1/69.1.6.pdf‎

    Suffice it to say that he proposes:
    – *subsists in* by the council fathers was a deliberate choice to move from only saying the the Church of Christ *is* the Catholic Church; or why would they change the verb from est to subsists in
    – thus, the use of subsists in is more nuanced and ecumenical – it employs the nuance of the word *fully* – thus, the catholic church *fully* is the church of Christ but others are still churches, communities of Christ, etc. (and does not minimize this by saying that theses groups only have *elements* of the church of christ.

    Afraid that this change only makes things murkier.

  26. Today, a local radio talk host was bemoaning the fact that the priest at his parish was “hassling” him about his daughter’s first communion. The problem? The daughter is not yet baptized and the priest said this is a prerequisite for first communion. The talk host explained his wanting his daughter to receive first communion “has nothing to do with religion” but rather being able to do something her friends will be doing, wear a nice dress, party, etc. Besides, there was this awful thing about having to attend a class before the child’s baptism. Such an imposition.
    Callers to the program added their various grievances about all the hoops they have to jump through to get their kid baptized or confirmed or whatever. Every single one of the remarks broadcast on this program made it quite clear that for these people Catholicism and its sacraments are a”cultural tag” or rite of passage but definitely not anything that requires faith, church attendance nor any kind of recognition of Jesus whatsoever.
    Put Christ back into Christmas? Heck, we need to put Christ back in the sacraments. There is alot of ignorance –culpable or not– about basic Catholicism and its beliefs and faith.
    “The Church of God welcomes you” is such a small change, but if only people would really listen to the words of ritual they might get some clue as to what it’s all about.
    But then, for many, words of ritual are just that– words that have no significance beyond the ritual being performed.
    The New Evangelism has its work cut out for it.

  27. This is a tremendous discussion about the Rite of Baptism. I’m particularly grateful to Rita for the explication of the meaning of “the Christian community welcomes you with great joy.” I have to ‘fess up: when I preside at baptisms, I have started inserting, before the dismissal, a little improvised, “Let’s all welcome as our brothers and sisters in Christ, n, n, n and n!” (Perhaps my intuition is the same as Jordan Zarembo’s that such a moment seems appropriate at the end of the rite) And then everyone applauds.

    Not that anyone here would approve of such an unauthorized insertion anywhere in the rite, but maybe the right time to do it is back at the beginning, with “… welcomes you with great joy.” Heck, the words pretty much dictate the action.

  28. In many non-Catholic Christian churches, baptism (as we understand the sacrament) is not celebrated until after some period of faith formation (catechumenate?) and the community agress the ‘catechuman’ is really ready to accept and follow Christ. So, first Christ is proclaimed and accepted and then there is entrance into His Body and the ecclesial community.
    Sadly, in some RC churches, baptism is an “On Demand” sacrament with very little or no prior formation (as in the case of infants) and marginal at most relationship with a parish community. It seems the thinking is “baptize first and hope faith kicks in as time goes on”. Where there is little or no prior faith commitment on the part of the recipient/family, it seems to matter little whether it is the “Christian community” or “church of God” that welcomes; in many cases that community won;t be seen again until –possibly– first communion.

  29. Benedict was not too fond of the phrase “celebrating community,” or something like that (I can’t find the quote at the moment, but I think it’s from his Spirit of the Liturgy or A New Song for the Lord). It’s possible that he considered the offending phrase to be too reminiscent, and thus was contributing to the confusion that “celebrating community” generated. The community part seems to remove God from the equation.

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