Baptism of infants at the Vigil

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: Very rarely do we baptize children under catechetical age at the Easter Vigil although it certainly is permitted and encouraged.  I also realize that the Rite of Baptism for Children is the proper ritual.  I assume that the rite of reception does not occur and I understand the post-baptismal anointing with Chrism occurs after the baptism.  However it is not clear to me as to whether the exorcism and anointing with the Oil of Catechumens occurs and where it occurs. Alternatively it is unclear if one choses to omit the anointing for serious pastoral reasons, that the alternate prayer and laying on of the hand occurs and where.

I appreciate your insight.

Peace to you and gratitude for all of the assistance you provide so generously.


A: You’re right that the missal isn’t clear about this. Everything it says about the baptism of infants at the Vigil is new to the third edition, so I’d expect a few oversights. This appears to be one.

I guess I’d follow the sequence from the OBC (86-88), which puts the exorcism and anointing or handlaying after the litany and before the blessing of baptismal water. That moment would occur just before no. 44 in the missal’s Easter Vigil.

Or you could take a cue from number 48, which signals when the adults are to be anointed with the oil of catechumens. But, as you know, National Statutes 16 overrides that sentence in the missal in the United States, so adult catechumens (the elect) are not anointed at this time. A person could there argue that a priest anoints infants at number 48. It’s a bit out of sequence from OBC 86-88, but it could be justified.

In the absence of clarity, I think you could reasonably choose either of those options.