Saturday Evening Mass
Saint Clare

Our Sacramental Prayers Matter

BaptismThe baptismal formula “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” recited while pouring water” is something the person administering the sacrament cannot arbitrarily change, ruled the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. These exact words are necessary for the sacrament to be valid.
The Congregation was getting reports of baptisms being conferred with the words: “In the name of the father and of the mother, of the godfather and of the godmother, of the grandparents, of the family members, of the friends, in the name of the community we baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The alleged reason for this modification was to emphasize the participation of the community and/or to minimize the importance of the priestly minister. Back in 2012, the Vatican stopped baptisms using another modification of the formula which was becoming popular, “I baptize you in the name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer and of the Sanctifier.” This formula was used to avoid invoking masculine pronouns for members of the Trinity.
The Congregation gave both administrative and theological reasons for its decision. As a practical matter, the priest or minister conferring the sacrament cannot change the essential words the church stipulates. Moreover, the priest cannot vouch for the intentions of all those attending the baptism. The priest acts not for the local community gathered at one baptism, but for the Universal Church and for Christ.