The public recitation of baptismal vows should be familiar to most practicing Catholics. The vows consist of a series of questions whereby the faithful are invited to renounce Satan, his works, and his empty promises. As infants receiving the sacrament of Baptism, our parents and sponsors make these vows on our behalf. As adults, usually under the circumstances of a special solemnity, we make them on behalf of ourselves. It affords us the opportunity to reaffirm the promises that first brought us into the Church and that bind us to it today as loyal members. Like most prayers within a liturgical setting, the vows follow a formula: the prescribed words have a precise order and meaning. However, because the prayer is so well-known and identifiable, it can easily become the subject of parody, as was the case recently in a New York City parish.
If you have not already heard, here is a brief summary of what happened. While celebrating Mass on Sunday, August 30, Father Kenneth Boller, pastor of the Church of Saint Francis Xavier, invited parishioners to join him in a prayer for racial justice. That prayer went as follows:
I now invite you to stand and join us in the prayer for racial justice by responding “yes” to each of the following statements.