I said yesterday that we can travel all around the North country and find these small churches that may still be functioning and worshipping folks but there are cemeteries all over marking the country side where churches were. We have been traveling around planting people in God’s acre and I remind their families that the rite of Christian burial is the liturgical end of what was liturgically started in baptism. What happens at the end if there was no beginning?
Why would parents not want to baptize their children? It is not a painful procedure although it used to be perhaps a bit uncomfortable. Back in the day it consisted of a child being brought to the church and the priest would perform various interesting actions.
The “exsufflatio” – the priest blew under the child eyes three times and said “depart thou unclean sprit and give room to the Holy Spirit. The scriptures declare all of us a demonically possessed and under control of the devil and that is why we are dust and return to dust because the wages of sin is death. We acknowledge not only original sin but pure cussed rebellion against God.
Then the priest made the sign of the cross on the forehead and the heart of the baby signifying that Christ redeemed this child together with the whole world.
Then the priest declared the “datio salis” – placing salt in the child’s mouth with the words, “receive the salt of wisdom. May it aid thee to eternal life. Amen. Peace be with Thee”.
Then the priest put his own saliva in his finger and touched the child’s right ear and said “Ephapatha, that is be opened.”, from Mark 7. Then the priest touched the child’s nose and left ear spoke the greater exorcism, “but thou oh devil, flee; for God’s judgment cometh quickly”.
Then there was the “abrenuntiato” “Do your renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways” The sponsors speaking “yes” .
The Creed was spoken.
Then the priest took Holy oil and applied it to the child on the chest and between the shoulders saying “I anoint you with the oil of salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Then the question, “will you be baptized?” The sponsors answering yes. Note that the parents are not asked if they want the child baptized, that is assumed. The child directly addressed answers through the sponsors.
Then the baptism,
Then a white robe was placed on the child and it received a burning candle, representing Christ the light of the world and a light for the darkness of the world until we walk in the light of Christ forever.
Of course we believe that the child receives forgiveness of sins and eternal life and is claimed by God, delivered from death and the devil and made and an heir with us and Christ to be His heritage forever.
Why would a parent not want this? Do they think it is too superstitious? Do they not want to denounce the devil? Do they believe their children are not sinners? Do they not believe that there is a God who wants to save? There may be answers to these questions that go back to the Reformation and we will talk about them some more. Meanwhile, I have another trip to another cemetery to plant another Saint into the ground and liturgically bring to an end what started with a liturgical gift. More on this later.