The ritual that I chose to attend was a Roman Catholic baptism. This ritual was held on a Sunday afternoon. As I approached the church, there were approximately ten babies in white garments being admired by proud parents and families. Finally, everyone entered the church and took their seats in the pews. The parents and godparents entered the first few pews with the child, directly in front of the altar. The first person to speak was a woman who was the wife of the deacon. Next to speak was her husband, the deacon. The couple both opened by welcoming all to their congregation. The first few words were very comforting and seemed almost impromptu and unrehearsed. The deacon made the church and the congregation feel very warm and inviting. The sound of the happy babies made the opening very inspirational. After this, the deacon first asked the parents what name they gave to their child.
Next, the deacon asked the parents what do they ask of God’s church for Gianna Nicole Brucato. Finally, the parents were asked if they clearly understood what they are undertaking. After this, the questions were directed to the godparents. The godparents were the brother and sister of the father of the baby. Both were asked if they were prepared to help the parents of the child in their duty as Christian parents. After the godparents responded, all ten children received the sign of the cross on their forehead by the deacon. The wife then read scripture and the congregation was asked to join in prayer. Next, the sacramental rite was actually performed. The babies were asked to be presented to the altar in alphabetical order. The deacon poured holy water over the child’s forehead three times and recited “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Next, the babies’ head was anointed with chrism, consecrated oil used in Greek and Latin churches especially in baptism (Merriam-Webster dictionary).
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Also, a white garment was placed over the child. Finally, the parents were given candles and were told to “keep the flame of faith alive in their hearts.” Once all the babies were baptized there were a few concluding words and the ceremony was completed. The deacon offered to take pictures with the child and family. All of the babies were brought up to the altar to take many pictures. The remainder of the guests present for Gianna proceeded to the after-party.
Due to the fact that ten babies were being baptized, it was hard to hear and witness all the actions as they were being performed. I approached the parents later and asked them more specific questions to find out what exactly was said and asked of them. Although some parts of the ceremony were unclear, the feeling of the baptism was not. The church seemed to be alive with the newcomers of its faith. The feelings experienced by the parents and godparents were cheerful and joyous. After closely examining the baby one could not help but notice how impeccably dressed the baby was. Her dress looked like a miniature wedding dress, the baby boys were dressed in little tuxedos. The idea of dressing the child in white garb dates back to AD 215 (Isca 71). Continuing this ritual displayed the significance and importance of it within the religion.
While speaking with the parents they also mentioned having to attend classes at their church before the actual baptism. There were two classes and they were led by the deacon. The idea of the classes was to reaffirm the family’s belief in their religion and to strengthen their participation in the parish. Another issue that arose with planning the baptism was deciding on the godparents. The father of the baby wanted his brother and the mother wanted to choose her sister. However, the Catholic religion states the godparents need to be a confirmed, practicing Catholic at least sixteen years of age, who has already received the first Eucharist (Isca 73). Unfortunately, the sister of the mother was Protestant and under the age of sixteen. Therefore, the father’s sister was chosen as the other godparent. If desired there does not have to be two godparents, one is suitable. Also, the parents cannot serve as the child’s godparents (Isca 73).
The Roman Catholic baptism is the first of the seven sacraments. The word baptism comes from the Greek word captain, meaning, “to dip” (http://encarta.msn.com). Christian churches regard baptism as a rite of initiation into the church. Baptism is thought to be the beginning of a Roman Catholic’s oneness with Christ. The central idea of baptism is to wash the individual of the original sin that was born unto them due to Adam’s fall from grace in the Garden of Eden (www.aolsvc.worldbook.com).
The actual act of baptism is done with water, which is poured over the head of the individual in the name of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). “Because water is necessary to life, the baptismal water also is a sign of new spiritual life” (www.aolsvc.worldbook.com). Water is thought to be a symbol of purification (http://encarta.msn.com). The act of Baptism has embellished over centuries; early Christian writings describe a simple service (http://encarta.msn.com). It is uncertain to whether or not Christ was baptized but he instructed his disciples to preach and baptize the nations (http://encarta.msn.com).
The church believes that the sacraments are required to live the kind of life that Jesus would have wanted. The sacraments are thought to spiritually parallel the needs and moments in human life (www.aolsvc.worldbook.com).
Through the child completing the first sacrament, he/she is ready to enter into a life with God. The baby is removed of original sin and complies with God’s wishes for his children. The congregation is delighted to enjoy another member in their parish.
Attending this ceremony was very informative and educational. It displayed the importance of religion to me. It also showed how important this ritual is to the Roman Catholic religion and its church. The church seemed very inviting to me and did not discriminate against other religions. The deacon and his wife were very friendly and seemed to thoroughly enjoy bringing a new generation of children into their congregation.
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