What happens during a Roman Catholic christening?
The parents and godparents have to make three declarations:
- That they turn to Christ
- That they repent of their sins
- That they renounce evil
These are answered by: ‘I turn to Christ’, ‘repent of my sins’ and ‘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?
Each of these must be answered ‘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. Then 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, like attending church.
Who can be a godparent?
Like the Church of England the requirements are laid down by Church law. Godparents must meet the following 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 ‘Christian 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 non-Catholic.
Christening preparation classes
Your priest may ask you to attend preparation classes in order to further understand the significance of a baptism.
Where can a Roman Catholic Christening be held?
In your local Catholic church, contact your parish priest for more assistance.
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.
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, godparents 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.