Sacraments of Initiation

Baptism for the Dying


If a non-christian is dying, and wishes to become a Catholic, the priest would give the sacraments of initiation. These sacraments are Baptism, Confirmation, and Communion. However, if there is no priest available, and the dying non-christian wants to become catholic, any person may perform a baptism (Canon 861. sec. 2). If a lay Eucharistic Minister is present, the minister may baptize and then give communion. The pastor should be notified, so then appropriate information can be recorded into the parish register and the remaining ceremonies may be performed if the sick person is still alive.

"Can. 865 sec.2 An adult in danger of death may be baptized if, with some knowledge of the principal truths of the faith, he or she has in some manner manifested the intention to receive baptism and promises to observe the requirements of the Christian religion."

Normally, in the case of a child, the rights of the parents need to be considered. A person of any age may be baptized, if it is their desire, or the desire of the parents should the person be too young or ill to voice a request. The newly baptized person if in danger of death can receive communion if they wish and are "of the age of reason".

"Can. 868 sec. 1 For an infant to be baptized lawfully it is required:

1. that the parents, or at least one of them, or the person who lawfully holds their place, give their consent;

2. that there be a well-founded hope that the child will be brought up in the catholic religion. If such hope is truly lacking, the baptism is, in accordance with the provisions of particular law, to be deferred and the parents advised of the reason for this.

sec. 2 An infant of catholic parents, indeed even of non-Catholic parents, may in danger of death be baptized even if the parents are opposed to it. " Code of Canon Law. (Although it may be permitted under church law to baptize in spite of parental objections, it may not be wise unless done secretly.) (An aborted infant may be baptised if alive.)

(Remember that the grace of baptism is granted to those who desire it but die before receiving the sacrament.)

CCC Sec. 903 "When the necessity of the Church warrants it and when ministers are lacking, lay persons, even if they are not lectors or acolytes, can also supply for certain of their offices, namely, to exercise the ministry of the word, to preside over liturgical prayers, to confer Baptism..."

1256. "The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and priest and, in the Latin Church, also the deacon.[Cf. CIC, can. 861 # 1; CCEO, can. 677 # 1.] In case of necessity, any person, even someone not baptized, can Baptize, if he has the required intention. The intention required is to will to do what the Church does when she baptizes, and to apply the Trinitarian baptismal formula. The Church finds the reason for this possibility in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of Baptism for salvation.[Cf. 1 Tim 2:4 .] "

"1239 The essential rite of the sacrament follows: Baptism properly speaking. It signifies and actually brings about death to sin and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity through configuration to the Paschal mystery of Christ. Baptism is performed in the most expressive way by triple immersion in the baptismal water. However, from ancient times it has also been able to be conferred by pouring the water three times over the candidate's head.

1240 In the Latin Church this triple infusion is accompanied by the minister's words: "N., I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Catechism of the Catholic Church.

For the law regarding sponsors, i.e. Godparents, see the Code of Canon Law 872-874, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church section 1255.

The Rite

[Adapted from the ritual used by priests.]


"The minister addresses the sick person in these or similar words:

Dear brother/sister, you have asked to be baptized because you wish to have eternal life. This is eternal life:

to know the one, true God and Jesus Christ, whom he has sent. This is the faith of Christians. Do you acknowledge this?

R. I do.


As well as professing your faith in Jesus Christ, you must also be willing to follow his commands, as Christians do. Are you willing to accept this?

R. l am.


And are you prepared to live as Christians do?

R. l am.

[Promise, therefore, that once you have recovered your strength, you will try to know Christ better and follow a course of Christian formation. Do you so promise?

R. I do.]

Turning to the godparent and to the witnesses, the minister asks them the following questions in these or similar words:

You have heard N.'s promise. As his/her godparent do you promise to remind him/her of it and to help him/her to learn the teaching of Christ, to take part in the life of our community, and to bear witness as a true Christian?

R. I do.

And will the rest of you, who have witnessed this promise, assist him/her in fulfilling it?

R. We will.

The minister turns to the sick person and says:

Therefore you will now be baptized into eternal life, in accordance with the command of our Lord Jesus.

Renunciation of Sin


DO you reject Satan,

and all hs works,

and all his empty promises?

R. I do."


Have the sick person recite the Apostles Creed:

I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary

Under Pontius Pilate He was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again to judge the living and the dead.


I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting.



"The minister, using the name which the sick person desires to receive, baptizes him or her, saying:

N. I baptize you in the name of the Father,

The minister pours water a first time.

and of the Son,

The minister pours water a second time.

and of the Holy Spirit.

The minister pours water a third time."


"If neither confirmation nor viaticum can be given, after baptizing, the minister says:

N., God our Father has freed you from your sins, has given you a new birth, and made you his son/daughter in Christ. Soon, God willing, you will receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit through confirmation, and will approach the altar of God to share the food of life at the table of his sacrifice. In the spirit of that adoption which you have received today, join us now in praying as our Lord himself taught us:

All say: Our Father.."

[You can conclude with the blessing given by God to Israel in Numbers 6:23-27:

Place your hand on the person or extend your hand over them and say:

"The LORD bless you and keep you!

The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace! "

You can condlude with the sign of the cross made on yourself saying,

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.]

In an absolute emergency when there is no time to do the entire rite, because death is immanent, then do the essential part of the sacrament:

"N. I baptize you in the name of the Father,

The minister pours water a first time.

and of the Son,

The minister pours water a second time.

and of the Holy Spirit.

The minister pours water a third time."

[The official instructions say to use "natural water".]

Pastoral Care of the Sick, The Liturgical Press, all rights reserved. PP. 228-38. This text is quoted for religious and educational purposes only under the "Fair Use Doctrine", 17USC107. No other use is intended or permitted.

[If a dying baptized non-Catholic Christian wishes to be received into the Catholic church, the situation is not as clear. A priest would receive them in the usual way. (Profession of faith, confession, confirmation and communion.) Presumably a lay person could accept a profession of faith if no priest is present, then if the lay person is a Eucharistic Minister, give the dying person communion. At a minimum the profession of faith would be acceptance of the creed and statement that the dying person accepts all that the Catholic Church teaches. For example: "I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God." The lay person might say something like: "The Lord welcomes you into the Catholic Church and I welcome you in His name."]

A Layperson's Ritual:
A Blessing of Anything (for laypeople)
A Blessing of People
A Blessing of Families
A Blessing of Houses
Prayer when visiting the Sick
Prayer when visiting the Dying
Prayer when death is near.
A Burial Service for Adults
Baptism for the Dying

Viaticum - the Last Sacrament

East Lewish County Catholic Community
Awaken To Prayer

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