The Shape Of Baptism Analysis

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In chapter three of The Shape of Baptism, Aiden Kavanagh writes that “baptism is the paradigm of how faith in Jesus Christ is to be lived” (Kavanagh, pg. 92) This paper will explore Kavanagh’s quote in relation to two questions. First, what does this quote mean? Second, how are the reforms of Vatican II expressive of this statement?
For Kavanagh, Baptism is much more than just a sacrament of initiation; instead, it is supposed to be the model of how Christian faith in Jesus is genuinely lived out. What this model is meant to express is the notion that faith is a process of growing more intimately united with Christ, rather than it merely being a one-time event that ends once the ritual is completed. The Christian life of faith, like Baptism,
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(Kavanagh, pg. 104) Before these changes, the normal rite of Baptism for adults in the Catholic Church was the form for infants, and this formula, according to Kavanagh, was a compressed and truncated version of the old Roman baptismal liturgy for adults. (104-105) The impetus for changing these initiation rites was so that they would instill “a life of faith in which asceticism, good works, and sacramental engagement could blend [together] in a robust” manner. (Kavanagh, pg. 105) The reforms were also intended to help both Catholics and non-Catholics understand that coming to faith is not something that is done a priori (i.e. theoretically without any previous experience). Rather, the normal and traditional way of becoming a member of the Church is as an adult who has been catechized; however, today the most common or conventional manner by which individuals become Christians is through infant Baptism. By restructuring the initiation process for adults and restoring the Easter Vigil, the Catholic Church was able to dispel the notion that adult Baptism is either an abnormality or a rare …show more content…
According to Kavanagh, entry into the Church does not take place at baptism; rather, it begins when a person formally enters the catechumenate. (111) “From the first moment of… one’s emergent faith… [along with entry into the catechumenate, that individual] is to be regarded as joined to the Church, as already having begun to be a Christian.” (Kavanagh, pg. 111) For Kavanagh, the idea of a catechumen being a member of the Church is evident in the patristic teachings that Hippolytus writes about in his Apostolic Tradition. Hippolytus’ treatise reminds Christians that catechumens are to be considered members of the Church because of their role as witnesses to Christ. Kavanagh also reminds his readers that the care of the catechumens is not just the responsibility of their catechists and priest; instead, they are the responsibility of the entire ecclesial community. As members of the People of God, the catechumens also have several indisputable rights: to be present at the Liturgy of the Word, to a Christian funeral, and to arrange a Christian marriage before their Baptism. (112) In terms of responsibilities, the catechumens’ primary responsibility in the Church, according to Kavanagh, is to be witnesses for all the faithful of the perpetual need for ongoing

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