Non Solum: The Renewal of Baptismal Promises during Easter Day Mass

A reader writes in:

I am looking for some clarity regarding of the issue of the Sprinkling Rite and Renewal of Baptismal Promises at Easter Sunday Masses in relationship to our new translation of the Roman Missal.

In the Easter Sunday Mass of the 1974 Sacramentary, we read in the rubrics immediately after the Liturgy of the Word:

“In Easter Sunday Masses which are celebrated with a congregation [in the United States], the rite of the renewal of baptismal promises is repeated after the homily. The profession of faith is omitted.”

There is then printed the actual text for the renewal of baptismal promises with its introduction and absolution followed by the following rubric:

“The priest sprinkles the people with the blessed water, while all sing: I saw water…”

The rubrics for this rite seem quite clear that this “IS REPEATED AFTER THE HOMILY.”  This was my experience at Easter Sunday Masses from my earliest memory.

NOW…

In reading the new translation of the Missale Romanum for “At the Mass during the Day,” #72 says: “The Creed is said. However, in Easter Sunday Masses which are celebrated with a congregation, the rite of the renewal of baptismal promises may take place after the Homily, according to the text used at the Easter Vigil (p. 382). In that case the creed is omitted.”

In my interpretation, this language makes the action of the renewal of baptismal promises (and presumably sprinkling with water) a weakly suggested option on three counts: 1) The creed is suggested first; 2) The phrase “may take place” sounds pretty optional to me; 3) The language of the rite is not printed, you must refer back to the Easter Vigil. This seems inconvenient at best.

I’m sure that others have noted this. How are pastors and liturgists interpreting and implementing this? Clearly it is still an OPTION that is perfectly legitimate to exercise but…does it make more sense to couple the sprinkling of water with the Penitential Act as can optionally be done on ANY Sunday?

It does appear that the language of the new translation favors the Creed. This makes sense given that the Renewal of Baptismal Promises would have already occurred at the Easter Vigil. The new translation might presuppose that most Catholics attend the Vigil. But since not everyone does, the usage of the Renewal of Baptismal Promises “At the Mass during the Day” should be commended.

As our reader points out, there are two ways to incorporate a baptismal motif into the Mass during the day:
1) Use the sprinkling rite in place of the Penitential Act, or
2) Use the Renewal of Baptismal Promises (with sprinkling rite) in place of the Creed.

I would avoid using the sprinkling rite as it substitutes for the Penitential Act and instead I would use the Renewal of Baptismal Promises. The Renewal of Baptismal Promises is more solemn and explicitly spells out the season’s connection to baptism.

Comment below with your thoughts and tell us what your community does and why.

 

 

Share:

5 comments

  1. I am confused by your statement, “I would avoid using the sprinkling rite in place of the Renewal of Baptismal Promises on Easter Day.” According to the Easter Vigil rite, sprinkling of the congregation occurs after the Renewal of Baptismal Promises. It is part of the rite, it doesn’t replace it. Both would occur after the homily on Easter Day if used. There would be no sprinkling or rite of penance in the introductory rites. After the Sign of the Cross and greeting one would proceed with the Gloria.

    1. @John Gaffney – comment #1:
      I will try to clarify this above. I was referring to the suggestion posed by the reader pertaining to the Mass during the day. They suggested that instead of having the Renewal of Baptismal Promises “At the Mass during the Day,” the sprinkling rite could be used in its normal place (i.e. as a substitution for the Penitential Act). However, I would opt for the more solemn expression of the Renewal of Baptismal Promises over the simple sprinkling rite which can substitute for the Penitential Act. Of course as you point out, the Renewal of Baptismal Promises itself has a sprinkling rite which goes along with it.

      The reader was drawing our attention to two options and was asking which one was better for Mass during the Day:
      1) Use the sprinkling rite in place of the Penitential Act, or
      2) Use the Renewal of Baptismal Promises (with sprinkling rite) in place of the Creed.

      I was suggesting we go with the second. I hope this clarifies things.

  2. @Nathan Chase: It does appear that the language of the new translation favors the Creed.

    Well, I don’t think it’s an issue with the translation, but rather an adaptation for the US that didn’t make it over. I have a copy of the 1974 US Sacramentary, and at the top of the relevant page is “In the dioceses of the USA” in square brackets, which implies it is an adaptation.

    Also, in England & Wales, the renewal of baptismal promises on Easter Sunday itself has, as far as I’m aware, always been optional. And for what it’s worth, the proposed 1998 translation has this rubric: In Easter Sunday Masses which are celebrated with a congregation, the rite of the renewal of baptismal promises may take place after the homily. In that case, the profession of faith is omitted. (Vol. 1, p. 370) So the adaptation wasn’t going to be there in 1998 either.

    The easiest way to verify all this would be to have a look at the Latin text of the 1st edition of the Missal of Paul VI. Unfortunately I only have access to the 3rd edition in Latin.

  3. Given that the Sprinkling RIte at the beginning of Mass is an “alternate form”, of the Penitential Rite then its meaning, liturgical function, is different from the Renewal of the Baptismal Promises. However given the similarity of form, whatever differences there are, and they are quite substantial, in the liturgical texts used, to avoid possible confusion in the minds of the congregation, I’d not use both rites in the same liturgy. The possibility of having a Renewal of Baptismal Promises at the Mass During the Day indicates that it is a pastoral provision for those who couldn’t/didn’t attend the Easter Vigil. As a pastoral provision one question that needs to be faced is a judgement on the percentage present at the Mass During the Day who may have also attended the Vigil. Possibly a hard call in larger parish communities. Also worth considering is the understanding of the Lenten/Paschal season as indicated in no. 27 of the General Norms for the Calendar and the Liturgical Year. This would, at least implicitly point to prioritizing the Renewal of Baptismal Promises, even granting the possibility that a certain/significant percentage of the congregation had attended the Vigil.
    Re the recitation of the Creed, Fr Dennis Smolarski’s point re the Latin of RM3 cannot be overlooked.
    Finally, and I’d like to hear from Fr Paul Turner on this point, his treatment of the issue in “Glory in the Cross” (The Liturgical Press, 2011) pg 166 isn’t marked by his usual clarity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *