format of a Roman Catholic christening is much the same as that
of the Church of England. These can
take place during a service or, more often, as private ceremonies
at weekends, much like weddings.
The parents and godparents have to make three declarations:
That they turn to Christ
That they repent of their sins
That they renounce evil
They must answer each of these "I turn to Christ / repent of
my sins / renounce evil"
They are then asked three questions
Do you believe and trust in God the Father who made Heaven and Earth
Do you believe and trust in his Son Jesus Christ who redeemed mankind
Do you believe and trust in his Holy Spirit who gives life to the
people of God ?
They must answer each of these "I believe and trust in Him"
The baby has water poured over his / her head - and the priest says
"I baptise you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit"
The parents and godparents are given a lighted candle to represent
Jesus as the light of the world. The priest or minister says "Shine
as a light in the world to fight against sin and the devil."
The godparents make a commitment to foster the faith received by
the child from the church at baptism and to assist in fulfilling
those duties that are implicit in the new baptismal dignity of the
child, eg. attending church.
Like the Church of England, the requirements are laid down by Church
law. God-parents must meet 5 stipulations: they must be 16 or over,
a Roman Catholic who has both received Holy Communion and been confirmed,
be free of church penalties and have been appointed by the parents
but not be the biological parent of the child.
Non-catholic Christians may participate in Catholic Rites of baptism
but they cannot offer the guarantees required of the true godparent.
These people are called "witnesses".
Up until the early 1980s, the Catholic church used to require babies
to have at least one saint's name. While this is no longer the case,
you may find that some priests are uneasy with christening little
Hounslow-Spiritfeather, or Ganesh, as names should not be clearly
Your priest may ask you attend preparation classes in order to understand
further the significance of a baptism.
In your local Catholic church. Contact your parish priest for more
The christening itself takes place in the church, but afterwards
guests are customarily invited to the parents home or a nearby hotel
for a meal, which is often a buffet or summer tea kind of affair.
As christenings have often been held on Sundays the revelry tends
to be low key, but obviously a get together of family and friends
on a Saturday should be given the latitude it deserves. A marquee
is a great way to extend your home to include more guests and entertainment.
Who and how to invite, and to what
If there are Grandparents they will want to come, and its always
a good idea to check whether key guests - such as the god parents
- will be available for the big day before confirming any bookings
or ordering the invitations. Children are almost always honoured
guests at Christenings.
The baby is the star of the show at a Christening, with both sexes
often wearing a family gown that is traditionally long, white or
cream and intricately embroidered (not unlike a wedding dress!).
The baby is also often wrapped in a white shawl. The parents, god
parents and guests should take their cue from the occasion and venue
- a more formal service and church will demand more formal wear,
whereas more informal attire can be worn at a more relaxed church
and service. Formalwear here usually means lounge suits.
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