After a recent baptism of six weeks old baby Vanessa at a Catholic Church, recently, some officiating priests attempted to demystify the practice, defending its significance and why Catholics insist on the ancient tradition. Features editor, GBUBEMI GOD’S COVENANT SNR periscopes the discourse.
A cluster of colourfully dressed ladies gathered outside the vestry door of the parish house of St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, Aboru, Ipaja, in Lagos, cuddling a bundle of beautiful creation, a baby girl, awaiting baptism. The date was Saturday April 29, 2017. At the dot of 10 a.m. the priest and two assistants ushered everyone in and the ancient ritual began.
Holding the infant in his arms between flames from two giant candle trees, parish priest, The Very Monsignor Livinus Ukah received the name of the child from her parents, then said: “Vanessa, the Christian Community welcomes you with great joy. In this name I pledge you to Christ our Saviour and the sign of the cross I now trace on your forehead and invite your parents and God-parents to do the same.”
The homily progressed in the ancient Catholic liturgy for some ten minutes and climaxed with the baptism proper. “We anoint you with the Oil of Salvation, in the name of Christ our Saviour. May He strengthen you with his power through which He reigns forever and ever.
“By water and by the Holy Spirit, Vanessa, receive the gift of New Life through Christ our Lord,” and the saints chanted…“Amen.”
Also named kositochukwu, Chinye, baby Vanessa was born on March 17, 2017 at St. Leo’s Catholic Church. Her young mum, Mrs. Nkechi Ugboko told The Daily Times after the ceremony her husband, Mr. Wisdom Chinye Ugboko resides and works in London. “He had to return to work two weeks before the birth of our baby but he called the parish priest, Monsignor Ukah to baptize our daughter.”
While concluding arrangement to join her husband with her baby shortly, an excited Nkechi said she was glad everything went well. “I am glad to have my child, my husband is happy also to have his daughter. As the priest has directed, we will be Vanessa’s guidance in the path of Christ for the rest of our lives.”
The couple, who hails from Asaba in Delta State, tied the knot on May 9, 2015 and Vanessa is the child that broke the matrix.
Significance, other Sacraments
In a close chat with The Daily Times afterwards, Monsignor Ukah explained the necessity for obedience to the order.
“Every new born child is born with original sin, and after a week or two, the child is brought for baptism so that the original sin would be washed away. Other Churches baptize only after they are grown up, but it is a tradition of the Catholic Church worldwide to baptize children at infancy.”
Taking the discourse further, Mercian Missionary Priest, Rev. Fr Christopher Princewill, defending infant baptism said one of the significance of infant baptism in the Catholic world is initiating the child into the Church. His analysis went like this:
“The Church represents the Omni-womb that gives birth to Christians; and through infant baptism, a child is initiated and welcome into the Christian fold. Though some school of thought says the child has no faculty of reasoning and cannot exercise self will, but the child is being baptized on the faith of the Church and on the faith of the parents, so that initiation helps the child to get other sacraments as he or she grows up in the journey through life. It especially makes the child a member of God’s kingdom and joint-heir with Christ according to the Scriptures.”
The clergyman acknowledged that the Church has recorded Catholics who grow up and deviate from the faith inspite of having been baptized at infancy.
“It does happen, but baptism is an indelible footprint in the soul of the child, so whether he or she denies the faith or leaves the Church in later life, the baptism injunction cannot be removed from his soul.”