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Baptismal Promises at Easter Dawn Mass

Date: March 21, 2021
Author: Fr. Edward McNamara, LC

Q: I like to know why the current Roman Missal omits the renewal of baptismal promises on the Mass at dawn of Easter Sunday? What is the rationale for this, considering that some people are not able to attend the Easter Vigil ceremonies?

A: The possibility of celebrating the renewal of baptismal promises during the Mass of the day on Easter Sunday is not a universal custom, but has been approved for several countries by the Holy See. For example, the rubrics for the English version of the Roman Missal in use in Ireland says the following:

“The Creed is said. However, in Easter Sunday Masses which are celebrated with a congregation, the rite of the renewal of baptismal promises may take place after the homily according to the text used at the Easter Vigil. In that case the Creed is omitted.”

The renewal may take place at any Easter Sunday Mass. There is no specific formula for a Mass at Dawn on this day. It would be possible to celebrate the vigil and finish just before dawn. This norm is specific to Easter Sunday and is not applicable to other Sundays of the Easter season.

The creed is omitted to emphasize the traditional connection of Easter Sunday with baptism and because the profession of faith is included in the baptismal promises.

Likewise, whenever baptism or confirmation is celebrated during Mass the profession of faith is omitted because the baptismal promises are either made or renewed during the rite. Pope St. John Paul II occasionally substituted the renewal of promises for the creed at World Youth Day Masses.

For this Easter Sunday adaptation to be applied in any particular country, the bishops must solicit the approval of the Holy See. Given that it has already been granted several times, it is presumable that approval will be forthcoming.

However, if the bishops have not made such a request, a priest should not presume to introduce it into the liturgy on his own initiative. This also applies even when the change would appear appropriate, such as for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

On such occasions, the rite of blessing and sprinkling with holy water at the beginning of Mass (which also recalls baptism) may be profitably used.

In some places, it is customary for specific groups to renew their baptismal promises at the end of spiritual exercises. This would preferably be done outside of Mass but if included within a Sunday Mass it would not automatically replace the Creed unless the group has received specific permission from the Holy See to do so.

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