ON THE ISSUE OF CATHOLIC BAPTISM

INBOX QUESTIONS: “Hello Chinaka, I have some questions, please help me out. Why don’t we say ‘Amen’ at baptism, when the priest says I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and Of the Holy Spirit…? In the case of emergency, can a pagan baptize? When the matter, (water) is not available, can he or she use the form (I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit) in the case of emergency?”


RESPONSE
Thanks bro for the questions.

Reacting to your first question, let’s be quickly reminded of
the etymology of Amen and it’s use. The word Amen is one of a small number of Hebrew words which have been imported
unchanged into the liturgy of the Church.  “So frequent was
this Hebrew word in the mouth of Our Saviour“. The Catechism of the Council of Trent
observes,
“that it pleased the Holy Spirit to have it perpetuated in the Church of God“. Without much stress, Amen is a derivative from the Hebrew
verb “aman”  “to
strengthen” or “Confirm”; which literally means “so be it”.
Hence, we say amen at the end of our prayers to confirm or strengthen it
through the holy name of Jesus.
As regards baptism, Christ has already granted the mandate to
the Church through his apostles (Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit – cf.
Matt. 28:19). Hence,
saying amen at the end of Baptism would be of no use, for we cannot strengthen
what Christ has commanded. Put differently, it is a direct imperative from
Christ. To confirm this fact, a Decree of the Congregation of Rites (n. 3014,
9 June, 1853) decided that it should not be spoken at the end of the form for the administration of baptism, where indeed it would be meaningless.
As
regards to the question whether a pagan can baptize or not, the Church (in
Canon 864) and in other related documents, makes us to understand that the
Ordinary minister of Baptism is a Bishop or a Priest. By delegation, a deacon may confer the sacrament solemnly as an
extraordinary minister. Only in cases of necessity
(in the absence of a priest and the unbaptized is in danger of death), baptism
can be administered lawfully and validly by any person whatsoever who observes
the essential conditions, whether this person be a Catholic layman or any other
man or woman, heretic or schismatic, infidel or Jew. The essential conditions
are that the person pours water upon the one to be baptized, at the same time
pronouncing the words audibly: “I baptize you in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (These
are words that every Catholic should know as well as he knows his own name.
Someone’s eternal salvation may one day depend upon the knowing of these words)
Regarding the absence of the “matter”
(water) for baptism, we turn to the “Didache”, a
Syrian liturgical manual that was widely circulated among the churches in the
first few centuries of Christianity, perhaps the earliest Christian writing
outside the New Testament. The Didache was
written around A.D. 70 and, its a strong witness to the sacramental practice of
Christians in the apostolic age. In its seventh chapter, the Didache reads,
“Concerning baptism, baptize in this manner: Having said all these things
beforehand, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit in living water [that is, in running water, as in a river]. If there is
no living water, baptize in other water; and, if you are not able to use cold
water, use warm. If you have neither, pour water three times upon the head in
the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” The testimony of the Didache is seconded
by other early Christian writings. Hippolytus of Rome said, “If water is
scarce, whether as a constant condition or on occasion, then use whatever water
is available” (The
Apostolic Tradition
, 21 [A.D. 215]). 
These instructions were composed either
while some of the apostles and disciples were still alive or during the next
generation of Christians, and they represent an already established
custom. 

Hence, in an emergency situation whereby water is “ABSOLUTELY
UNAVAILABLE”, and the “form” used, we may say that the baptism is valid, but
illicit. 

I hope this is well understood

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