How a Lay Person Should Administer Baptism
Baptism is one of the 2 sacraments (the other being Matrimony) that can be done without a priest. In this present time, the availability of a priest is extremely rare, so these instructions give the necessary information on how a lay person may administer the Sacrament of Baptism.
The Sacrament of Baptism
“Private Baptism is given in danger of death, or when an adult convert is re-baptized conditionally (Canon 759). It requires only true and natural water, though the water should be as clean and decent as possible, and baptismal or blessed water is preferable; generally the simple form without other rite suffices; sponsors are not necessary, unless they can be had without difficulty, but if possible at least one or two witnesses should be present; the Baptism may be given in the private home or the hospital or other place where the candidate is staying; anyone who has the use of reason and is able to perform the rite may act as minister. When several persons suitable to minister private Baptism are present, the order of preference to be followed is: priest, deacon, subdeacon, cleric, layman, woman; but a woman should be preferred to a man if modesty calls for this, or if the woman is better acquainted with the manner of baptizing. It is considered a serious sin needlessly to prefer a non-priest to a worthy priest, a non-Catholic to a Catholic, an outsider to the parish-priest. If possible, parents should not baptize their own children, since it is more becoming that the spiritual parent and the carnal parent be different persons.”
Source Material: Moral Theology - A Complete Course, based on St. Thomas Aquinas and the best modern authorities. The authors are Fathers Callan and McHugh, with an Imprimatur date of August 8, 1948.
Now, for the basic information on Baptism:
MatterThe matter for baptism is ordinary water. It may be river water, well water, tap water, distilled water, etc. Out of respect for the sacrament, the water should be clean. If it is a little dirty it may be used in cases of necessity, that is, if there is no clean water available. It may be any temperature (excluding, of course, extreme temperatures which could do physical harm to a person).
The form of the Sacrament of Baptism is:“I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”
Amen is not added,
but if it is added by mistake the baptism is all right. If the person has
a name, you may put it into the form as follows: (Example) “John, I baptize
thee … (as above).” Remember this, the person who says the form must be
the person who pours the water. Furthermore, the water must flow over the
skin to show washing. One pouring is sufficient. However, it is good to
pour three times, that is, when one says (1) “the Father” and (2) “the
Son” and (3) “the Holy Ghost.” If you says “Holy Spirit” that is all right
too, for Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit mean the same thing. It is good to
write out the form and read it while one pours the water. If possible,
witnesses should watch and listen so that they can testify to the proper
procedure if or when that is required. If there are no witnesses and there
is urgency one should go ahead alone.
The proper intention is this. The minister of the sacrament must intend
to do what the Church (Catholic Church) does when it administers the sacrament.
The Church intends to give the sacrament in such a way that original sin
and personal sin are taken away, an indelible character is given on the
soul and the person is made a member of the Catholic Church. Even if the
minister does not know these things, he can still administer the sacrament
if he has the proper matter, form and the intention to do what the Church
does when it gives baptism according to the command of Christ.
If a former baptism is doubtful, e.g., a Novus Ordo baptism, then it must be done over to have it valid. Conditional baptism is also given when one is doubtful whether the person is dead or alive. As a practical solution, all Protestant baptism are done over conditionally. When a conditional baptism is given, here what occurs. If the person is baptized, nothing is done; if the person is not baptized, then the sacrament is given.
Here is how conditional baptism is given:
In loving concern for the eternal salvation of all souls in the world, we urge you to never lose this valuable instruction
and live by it. God will reward you.
Our Journey Towards Heaven