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4 Baby Baptism Traditions You May not Have Thought of

A child's Baptism is more than just a Catholic parent's duty. It is the moment when original sin is washed away from your child's soul and he or she is made a new creation. God's grace unites with their soul and they become a child of the King. Their salvation journey begins and the gateway to the rest of the Holy Sacraments is opened to them.


This is worthy of celebration!


We've been to a number of Catholic baby Baptisms over the years and have adopted a few of the traditions we witnessed. Here are some you may consider as you prepare for your infant's Baptism!

The day should end with feasting and celebration, where friends and family drink and toast and delight with the Angels that another child has become a son or daughter of the King.

1. Announcing the Name on the 8th Day

Traditionally, Catholics would baptize their newborn eight days after they were born, following the ancient Biblical tradition wherein the Jewish baby boy was taken into the temple and circumcised on the 8th day. Just as circumcision was the mark that brought the boy under the promise of God's covenant with Abraham, so Baptism brings our children into the new covenant.


On this eighth day, as a part of the Baptism ceremony, the child's name is announced for the first time. The people in attendance wait in silence for the name to be announced.


Most of us, however, cannot wait eight days to do this. It is hard to call your baby “munchkin” or “boo-boo” for eight days. Further, it is even more difficult to actually have a Baptism booked for exactly eight days after the birth. We've only been to one Baptism like this, where the name was kept secret even from the siblings until it was announced for the first time at the Baptism ceremony. It was a beautiful moment, and everyone cheered at the naming of the baby.


2. Blessed Salt and Exorcism


In the Traditional Latin Rite, there is an exorcism that the priest performs using blessed salt. At this time there are a couple important things to note: if there were any curses placed on your child, then these are broken, and any generational curses (those that are passed down from one generation to another) are broken as well.


Perhaps this is a good occasion to take the time to talk with your spouse about generational sins and family history. For example, sometimes alcoholism is generational. The father is an alcoholic and the son becomes one and their son becomes one. Sometimes this may simply be a product of choices. At other times, there may actually be a curse. But because we don't know, we can humbly take our broken lives before God in Baptism and beg for His healing.


This practice was removed from the Baptism rite in the Novus Ordo Mass. After we learned about the significance of the exorcism, we've had all of our children Baptized in the old rite.


3. The Baptismal Candle


An important moment in the rite is the lighting of the candle.


The candle is significant for the child and they should carry it with them throughout their life. What do I mean by this? At a child's Baptism, the Light—God Himself—comes and brings a soul devoid of eternal life into the light. The candle is lit to symbolize this. This moment, this “remembering our Baptism,” should continue throughout our life.


The Baptismal candle is not meant to be placed in a baby treasures box and tucked away into storage. The candle should follow the child throughout their life.


In our family, we keep all the Baptismal candles in our prayer table. On the children's birthdays, their Saint’s Feast Day, and on their Baptism anniversary, their candle is brought out and lit. As they hold it lit, we pray a blessing over them, bless them with holy water, and then blow the candle out. The goal is to slowly burn the candle down until on your deathbed it is lit for the last time and left to burn to completion.


Most North American parishes offer a plain white candle in a small box for Baptisms. In Europe, the candle is taken far more seriously. For example, while living in Austria at one time, we were asked to be Godparents, and we spent an hour at a Catholic shop looking through hundreds of Baptismal candles decorated in various ways, with religious symbols, and three times the size of the candles we were accustomed to. Ever since, we've decided to look for Baptismal candles that are significant for us and our child, even if we have to pay a bit more for them.


4. The Baptismal Robe


Another significant moment is the placing of the Baptismal robe on the child. The Baptismal robe must be white and represents what happens at the moment of Baptism: we are washed as white as snow. At the moment of their Baptism, our children are immaculate, completely without any stain of sin. A joyous moment indeed!

This is one of the most personal parts of the rite.


Some families have baby Baptism robes that have been passed down generations, with all the family members having been Baptized in them. Some even embroider all the names onto the robe, signifying the baby becoming a part of the living tradition of the family and the Church.


As converts, we didn’t have relatives that Baptized their babies. So, we decided to get each baby their own Baptismal gown with their name embroidered on it. Our vision is that each of our children will start their own family traditions and keep their Baptism gown for their own children.



The day should end with feasting and celebration, where friends and family drink and toast and delight with the Angels that another child has become a son or daughter of the King.




Semper Fidelis,


Kenton E. Biffert

 

Kenton is a writer and speaker, and works at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College as an adjunct professor and the Dean of Students. Together with his wife, they homeschool their 8 children, explore the wilds of Ontario in the canoe, and read voraciously. To learn more about the art of fatherhood, visit Kenton's personal page.

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