Why we can’t have baptisms during Lent

Did you just have a baby?  Did you call the rectory to schedule a baptism? Did they tell you you’ll have to wait, because they don’t do baptisms during Lent?

At first, this may not make sense to you, but I assure you, there is a very good reason for this policy.  You see . . .

Lent is all about acknowledging our fallen nature and appealing to the Holy Spirit for help in conquering sin. Lent is about remembering that sin has wounded and weakened us, and that we are in desperate need of God’s grace and salvation. We can gain this grace by engaging in ancient practices which engage both the body and the spirit, and we emerge refreshed and reunited with God, humbly giving thanks for His mercy and salvation.

Baptism, on the other hand, is all about acknowledging our fallen nature and appealing to the Holy Spirit for help in conquering sin. Baptism is about remembering that sin has wounded and weakened us, and that we are in desperate need of God’s grace and salvation. We can gain this grace by engaging in ancient practices which engage both the body and the spirit, and we emerge refreshed and reunited with God, humbly giving thanks for His mercy and salvation.

So that’s why we can’t have baptisms during Lent. It just wouldn’t make sense.

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26 thoughts on “Why we can’t have baptisms during Lent”

  1. Dear Ms Fischer,
    I have never heard of any practice so dangerous and fraught with theological ignorance as to refuse to baptize a newborn child because it is Lent. Baptism should take place the day of or after birth. That is the perennial custom of the Catholic faithful. Since the death of an unbaptized child means that they they are unable to participate in the beatific vision, baptism should NEVER be postponed. It is the duty of the pastors to baptize as soon as possible. Any other practice is contrary to sound catholic thinking. If priests refuse to protect and guard the souls of the newly-born, then it is the duty of parents to do so immediately.
    Douglas Bersaw

  2. Can I just say I read the title of this and thought—oh good! Finally someone will offer insight into this idea that I find rather counter-intuitive. If anyone can do it, Simcha can!

    Thanks for the lucid explanation 🙂

  3. I didn’t know that some parishes didn’t baptize during Lent. Yes, baptizing during Holy Week should be avoided until the Easter Vigil when it’s time for baptisms again.
    . . . When my mother expected me, my parents actually planned to baptize me during Easter Vigil. But then I took my time and was born on the same day, on Holy Saturday. And my parents decided they could wait a few more days before the water was poured over my head.

  4. Must be a local option thing, we have Baptisms in Lent. They’re kinda sticky about weddings, though. And I remember when my mother’s funeral was in Lent, in 1999. We had to remove the flowers from the church afterwards. Seemed like a waste, they were pretty.

  5. You don’t want to know the ridiculous hoops we had to jump through to Baptize our four week old. And it wasn’t even Lent.

    1. Oh, that’s a whole other can of worms. Classes for parents and godparents. No kids allowed. Only held once a month, baptism only scheduled after class completion. Birth certificate in hand. Official, mind you, not the thing the hospital voices you. Mandatory $100 “donation.” On and on…

      1. So, what you’re looking for is baptism on demand – no responsibilities or preparation required of the recipient or parents – scheduled at the complete convenience of the recipient’s family. You don’t need a Parish, you need a filling station. And yes, I was a Parish DRE for 20 years. There are parents who come to have their child baptized who have not been inside a church since their own confirmation. Do they not deserve a little refresher? (I do agree that $100 is way out of line, though.)

        1. I doubt she’s asking for the parish to be a filling station. Personally, I found it annoying to have to go to the class because it was a waste of time – the married deacon who was in charge pretty much just spouted his family’s preferred parenting mantras the whole time (attachment parenting, in this case). There was little to no catechesis beyond a very minimal bit, clearly directed at those who did not know or practice their faith at all.

          Which I understand, since many parents don’t know their faith, and at our parish it wasn’t unduly burdensome – one afternoon class, held often enough not to hold baptisms up unduly. But it wouldn’t be crazy, either, if pastors knew their parishioners well enough to judge that the So-and-So’s, who attend Mass regularly and know and practice their faith, can have little Johnny baptized without going to a Catechism 101 class directed at those who don’t.

          And for some, these one-size-fits-all requirement can be unduly burdensome – e.g., for a poor Mexican immigrant family where both parents work two or three minimum wage jobs, requiring a lengthy series of baptism (or marriage) prep classes can and often does present a real barrier.

          1. Yeah the classes are fine. I’m good with those. It was the official birth certificate from the state, which I am still waiting on ten weeks later.

            The Godparent in good standing letter is fine- but our Godparents are personal friends of the priest… and the receptionist didn’t think that was good enough.

            The receptionist also tried to really force a later date on us. Because of “so many Baptisms”.(it’s a fairly elderly and small parish).

            We just felt like these “gatekeepers” to the Sacrament (the receptionist) should have a better hold on Church Teaching and not unduly delaying the Sacrament.

            1. Very bizarre – how did they justify a birth certificate requirement? If you couldn’t produce a birth certificate, the baby might be a fake baby or something, and not eligible for baptism?

    2. The hoops for First Communion are ridiculous as well, IMO. I wish we did it like the Eastern churches—baptism, First Communion and Confirmation, in one fell swoop as babies. Honestly. I have to fight to teach my kid at home, and a lot of parishes insist on parading the kids around in fancy outfits in a procession when all my kids want is to receive Jesus.

  6. When a priest informed me we needed to wait, because “Baptism is an Easter event,” it was all I could do not to reply with, “Well then, if the Mass is a Calvary event….”

  7. This made me laugh out loud. I have a friend who got married a month before we did, and her wedding fell during Lent. She was told, “You can’t decorate the church,” and she was all, “Woot! I get to save on flowers.” They also told her there were restrictions on the type of music she could have during the wedding Mass and she was all, “Whatever.”

    I went to one church where they did the sand in the holy water fonts, or something like that. I hated it. Sundays during Lent you’re not supposed to be fasting, or mourning, or whatever, so why not baptize babies on Sundays during Lent? And why not have holy water? Thankfully our current parish has holy water around during Lent. I would miss it.

    1. I got married during Lent. They did allow us to decorate the church but it had to be simple and we couldn’t decorate until RIGHT before the wedding. I don’t remember any restrictions on our music. I was on a budget, so we were planning on simple decorations anyway.

      I’ve never seen sand in the holy water fonts. We have holy water year round.

      1. Sand. Rocks.

        The flowers don’t just disappear from the sanctuary, they are replaced by large, dead branches. Can’t just go austere, gotta go full ugly.

        1. I’m waiting to see a church decorate with cacti during Lent. Big, spiky cacti that look like they have a crown of thorns. I mean, if you’re going to make a statement, go big, right?

              1. Ah, the felt banners – or as the very eloquent and expressive Eastern European church lady at the parish where we go married called them, the “hand towels.”

      2. Sand or stones in the fonts was a kind of a fad. Because Jesus was in the desert for 40 days. It’s actually prohibited but still popular in some places.

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