In October, I went out of town for a weekend by myself. My husband watched the kids, and I booked a room in a lovely hotel in Milwaukee for a little bit of a vacation before the arrival of our little guy. I spent the weekend mostly reading, sleeping, and eating delicious food while it was still hot.
The other thing I made sure to be able to do while in Milwaukee was to attend my first ever Latin Mass. We do not live near a church that offers a Latin Mass, and my husband and I had been talking about trying to go to one for quite some time (the closest one to us is an hour away). I was excited to have an opportunity to attend one in Milwaukee, at a parish run by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.
I had no idea what was going on for most of the Mass, but I loved it. It was beautiful and reverent and kind of indescribable if you’ve never seen it in person.
After I attended the Mass in Latin, my husband and I tried a few times to plan a trip to the closest Latin Mass parish in our diocese, also run by ICKSP, but various circumstances (i.e. sick kids) got in the way of us making the trip.
In the meantime, we continued to try to learn more about the extraordinary form of the Mass. While perusing the internet on the topic, my husband came across some information about the traditional form of Baptism.
He sent me a link about it and casually mentioned that maybe we should think about having the baby baptized in the Latin Rite. I was hesitant at first. I thought it would be strange and confusing for us to have our baby baptized in a language we don’t understand. But I looked into it anyway and found that I loved the wording of the old rite. It is so much more beautiful and powerful than the newer version.
I liked it so much better that I asked our regular parish priest if he could do the old rite at our current parish but in English. He is a wonderful priest, and he actually looked into this for me, but said that the person in charge of such things from our diocese told him that if we wanted to have the old wording of the sacrament, it had to be done in Latin and done at the one Latin parish that we have in our diocese.
So, I decided to call the Latin parish and find out if it would be possible for us to have our son baptized there, even though we weren’t members. I called on a Thursday evening, expecting to leave a message for a secretary and get a call back the next day. I got a recorded message saying that the secretary is only in the office on Tuesdays, which I thought was kind of fantastic in a world of huge modern parishes with tons of full time staff members. I left a message and was shocked to receive a call back within about ten minutes from the priest! He had a heavy French accent, and was completely delightful, and told me that of course he would be happy to baptize our son, and asked if we could meet with him after Mass that weekend.
At this point, we still hadn’t managed to make it to a Mass in Latin as a family, but I told him that yes, we would meet with him, so that we would be forced to just buck up and go.
And we did. And we have never looked back.
That was the first Sunday of Advent. We have driven over an hour to that parish almost every weekend since then. We even took our girls to the midnight Mass there on Christmas Eve.
And yes, we did have our son baptized there. And it was amazing.
The priest started the Baptism outside the doors to the sanctuary, saying that this was because our son was not yet a member of our Faith. He informed us that our son is a little saint on earth, since Baptism washes away original sin, and he is too young to commit any actual sin yet.
Then he began. The words he spoke, some in English, some in Latin, were beautiful. The gestures and symbolism were so moving. There were some parts of the old rite, like when the priest breathes on the catechumen three times in the form of a cross, or when he puts a bit of salt in the catechumen’s mouth, that I thought might be weird. But these were not strange at all. In fact, they felt very laden with history and meaning and beauty.
(You can read the whole Rite of Baptism here, in Latin and English, side by side. The link also has the newer rite at the bottom for comparison if you’re curious).
After we all went into the nave, the intense feeling of the tradition and holiness in the rite continued. The priest said a prayer of exorcism, which was part of the reason we wanted to have the Latin Rite instead of the newer, watered-down version. I think the only mention of Satan in my Baptism or that of my other children was when the priest asked if we reject him, and we said, “I do.” This renunciation is present in the old rite as well, along with several other explicit prayers of exorcism. I especially liked when the priest said, “And this sign of the holy Cross, which we make upon his forehead, do thou, accursed devil, never dare to violate.”
Like placing a shield on our baby. The biggest, strongest, most impenetrable shield possible, the Cross.
The rest of the Baptism continued in a manner fairly similar to the Baptisms I have observed before. The usual symbols and sacramentals were there. The water, the fire, the white garment, the oil. But there was so much more.
After the Baptism Rite itself, my husband and I were surprised that the priest instructed us to say an act of consecration to Mary in front of the nativity. He pulled the kneeler over, and we knelt to say one of the most beautiful prayers I have ever said (he gave it to us to read). At several points during this part, I got a bit choked up as I prayed the words dedicating my little son to our Blessed Mother.
It was the perfect ending to a truly sublime sacrament.
Welcome to the Church, sweet boy.