Q: My Rites class has enjoyed your Let Us Pray immensely. Thank you. A question came up about infant baptism today. Are one of the two formulas before the pre-baptismal anointing to be said in addition to the short formula or does the short formula+anointing substitute for them? I was sure you’d know the answer.
A: Thanks for your comments about my book Let Us Pray. I’m very grateful to you for sharing it with your class.
The Rite of Baptism for Children offers two possible prayers of exorcism at #49. One of those is to be prayed. Then in #50 there is a different formula to be prayed as the child is anointed. It is said in addition to the prayer chosen in #49 because the first prayer leads up to the anointing, while the second accompanies it.
As you may know, the first postconciliar version of the two prayers in #49 did not include the words “original sin,” but Pope Paul VI, in one of his micromanaging moments, insisted that they be put in. That’s why they both have it.
The word “exorcism” that causes so much societal confusion appears as a heading, but the minister never says it aloud.
In the early church, catechumens received an anointing immediately after a prayer of exorcism. The RCIA does not include an anointing as part of the scrutinies for adults. An anointing does appear in the adaptation of a scrutiny for children. I rather like it and wish they had included it for adults.
After praying an exorcism, the minister anoints the infants and the child catechumens with oil as if to seal out the spirit of evil. The oil acts as a protector, like shellac, sun lotion or bug spray. It used to be called the oil of exorcism.