Sacraments of Initiation
Part 2 History of Initiation

Chapter i27 Christian Initiation During the Period After Trent [1700-1899]

Preliminary Questions

Bibliography

Preliminary Observations

Trent

Catechisms

Initiation 1700 to ????

 

To Think About

Preliminary Questions 

Confirmation: Soldiers for Christ, sacramental entrance to adulthood before (adult) First Communion. Penance replaces Baptism as sin-removal before Confirmation. Adults and children baptized by adult (emergency) rite.

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Bibliography

Johnson:  Chapter 7: The Rites of Initiation in the Christian East.
Johnson:  Chapter 8: Christian Initiation in the Protestant and Catholic Reforms of the Sixteenth Century.

Preliminary Observations

1.  For a variety of reasons, many liturgical theologians consider this period to be the low point in the history of Western Liturgy:  Participation of the Faithful was minimal; Holy Communion was rare; Rubrics were the focus of liturgy; a priest could say a votive Mass of his choice on almost any day of the year; religion (and liturgy) was focused on the souls in purgatory (e.g. Daily Requiem Mass); there was no lectionary and a very sparse selection of Bible readings in the liturgy; etc.

2.  And if this is so, it is all the more remarkable that many today want to return to (or continue) the liturgical practices of this period.  Pope Benedict the XVI has given general permission to use these rituals (with certain modifications) as the "Extraordinary Forum."

3.  Consequently, although the title of this chapter (and this section of the ten finger historical grid) is1700-1899, these liturgical practices continued for all Roman Rite Catholics until the implementation of the reforms of Vatican II. 

4.  The underlying theology upon which this liturgy is grounded continues in the minds of many Catholics, even those who celebrate according to the revised rituals.   I have found that many catechists today (often unconsciously) hand on this theology to today's youth and today's catechumens.

Trent

(First) Great Liturgical Consolidation

This is enabled by the Printing Press

Roman books serve whole (or nearly whole) Church.

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Catechism

Term "catechism" seems to have been coined by Luther. (Stevick, Made, p 100.)  Long catechism and short catechism = Teacher's edition and Student's edition; or Clergy's edition and People's edition.

1529 Luther's Larger Catechism
1555 Catechism of Peter Canisius
1566 Catechism of the Council of Trent

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Initiation 1700  

1. Baptism and Confirmation were seen as two separate sacraments with little relation one to another. Eucharist was not considered as a sacrament of initiation. The sacraments were usually received in the order:  1)  baptism, as infant, 2) first confession followed by 3) first holy communion in the first or second grade. Then in the third or fourth grade  4) confirmation. 

[It is only with the renewed practice of initiation following the Vatican Council II that the sacraments baptism, confirmation and eucharist are seen as one process celebrating the Pascal victory.] 

Baptism Confirmation Eucharist had become Baptism Penance Eucharist Confirmation.

2. There was no rite for the baptism of infants.  There was one rite for the baptism of adults with an appendix for the baptism of a sick (= dying) adult. The first rite included baptism by stages with a catechumenate. This rite was in the books but it  was never used.  The appendix rite was developed for emergency situations; this rite was commonly used for adults and infants.  It took place all at once:  the exorcisms, the catechumenate, the baptism, the post-baptismal anointings all taking place in one (brief) ceremony..

3. There was no rite for the baptism of infants. Infants were baptized with the emergency rite for adults.  There were no adaptations made in view of the fact that the one being baptized was an infant:  for example, one spoke to the infant as to an adult, "Do you renounce Satan?"  No Rite for the Baptism of Infants existed in the church until 1969.

4.  The primary concern in the baptism of infants was original sin, which kept one from heaven.  Hence the "quam primum" (Infants are to be baptized "as soon as possible") of  the 1917 Code of Canon Law. 

[Infants were baptized and immediately excommunicated.] 

Eucharist and Confirmation become a "carrot" held before one's nose that kept one going to all those classes. (Stevick, Made, 116.)

Baptisms were usually performed in the vestibule of the church or wherever the baptismal font was located.  (More affluent churches has a separate small room known as the Baptistery.) 

Baptisms were usually performed on Sunday afternoon.  [It is only in the reforms following the Council that the public nature of Baptism is realized and a special Mass was written for Baptism.]

5.  At the time of the Second Vatican Council, Confirmation was an independent sacrament usually described as the sacrament of Christian adulthood which made the Christian a soldier for Christ (thus the meaning of the slap on the cheek, originally a "love pat".) The Hispanic sections of the United States continued the more ancient custom of taking the infant who had been baptized by the pastor to be confirmed at the Cathedral the first chance they got; thus many cathedrals even today will have a sign for infant confirmation on the first Sunday of the month, for example. This preserved the ancient order of baptism, confirmation, eucharist. And while allowing the infant to be baptized by the pastor, confirmation was saved for the original minister of the sacrament, the overseer or the bishop. In the English speaking parts of the United States which were originally mission territories where the missionary bishops had great areas to cover it was not always possible to have the infant confirmed before First Communion. As the local pastor could admit a child to First Communion, it became more and more frequent that the child not be confirmed until the bishop would arrive in the parish -- which was often several years after first communion. Confirmation was prepared for by the same kind of classes in the Catholic school that were used to prepare the child for First Confession and First Holy Communion.

Note:  reg:  "slap on the cheek" -- The Catholic News Service (as reported in The Criterion, May 3, 2013, p 1) reported that Pope Francis celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation with 44 young people during Mass in St. Peter's Square on April 28, 2013.   "After making the sign of the cross with chrism oil on the foreheads of those being confirmed, Pope Francis rubbed the oil all over their foreheads, sealing them with the Holy Spirit.  After wishing them peace, he gave each a quick kiss on the cheek."

6. Adults who had been baptized in a non-Catholic community and who wished to become Roman Catholics usually underwent a series of Catechetical "instructions" with the pastor often using the book, Fr. Smith Instructs Jackson. At the end of this period of instruction (four or six weeks) the adult was given first Holy Communion.

Frequently the adult was first baptized conditionally.  In the ecclesiology of the time the major distinction -- "the conversion" point  -- was between Roman Catholics and all others, not between Christian and non-Christian. Consequently all other Christian religions were looked upon with suspicion and it was often presumed that their baptisms were most probably invalid.  Hence many (if not most) "converts" (and indeed we called them such) were baptized at least conditionally.  If they were in danger of death the priest could confirm them; otherwise they waited until the bishop came to the parish for the confirmation of the children; and any adults who had not yet been confirmed came forward and were confirmed by the bishop, following the children, in the same ceremony.

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To Think About

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter, Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati Ohio, Order of Friars Minor. All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made, to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 05/15/15 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org