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Saint King Louis IX

Did You Say "WE"



Remember the recent announcement by the Vatican that Baptisms performed with “we baptize you” instead of “I” are invalid?  Recently a priest in his thirties, ordained for several years, was reviewing the video of his own baptism and was horrified to see that the deacon had used the invalid “we” formula to perform the priest’s baptism as an infant.

That means the priest was not a Christian at the time of his attempted ordination and all the sacraments he had performed, with the exceptions of baptisms, were not valid. The priest was sent on a hasty spiritual retreat and subsequently received all the sacraments of Christian Initiation followed a short time later by ordination to the diaconate and then the priesthood. Couples whom he married are being contacted by church authorities for further instructions. Though the many faithful parishioners who attended the priest's masses fulfilled their Sunday obligations (they tried to attend mass), none of them received Eucharist. Archbishop Vigneron has issued a statement on the webpage of the Archdiocese of Detroit explaining the situation and trying to soften the blow of the many invalid sacraments. The deacon who performed the priest’s baptism is deceased. (correction, retired.) He had been admonished in the late nineties to stop using the “we” formula, but nothing had been done about the baptisms he likely performed using the invalid formula, which were presumed to have been valid. Now there is a pastoral mess.

The words of a sacrament are given by the church. For the church to stand behind the validity of a sacrament, the proper words must be prayed using the proper matter of each sacrament. For the Eucharist, the "matter" means unadulterated, unleavened wheat bread (including low gluten) and unadulterated grape wine; for baptism, water; for Confirmation, sacred chrism; for Sacrament of the Sick, olive oil blessed by a priest or bishop, etc. The Vatican determined many years ago that zero gluten bread, rice flour bread, etc. could not be used for the Eucharist. To protect the integrity of the sacrament, parishes in our diocese were prohibited from using home made bread for Eucharist, since many contained added ingredients like honey or yeast.

Some of us remember the words of consecration being changed (for many vs. for all). This was a change instituted by the Church and thus permitted without invalidating previous masses said with the old formula. No individual priest or deacon can take upon himself the initiative to change the words or make substitutions to the matter of a sacrament.

How we pray and what we say matter.