Handling an Unruly Crowd during Baptism

Today is the Feast of the Sto. Nino, also known as Feast of the Child Jesus. Many barangays and places all over the country are named Sto. Nino. The Sto. Nino or Child Jesus is a well-loved image here. And I suppose that explains why there were nineteen (19) infants who were baptized today.

Nineteen is a record number, at least for me, anyway. The largest number of babies (including toddlers) baptized is around 50, I think. I heard from the mother-butlers this occurs only on Christmas Day. Because of the sheer number today, it took a little while before everybody was able to sit in the designated pews for baptism.

Reminders for Proper Behavior during the Sacrament

One of the opportunities for improvement I noted in my first few weeks as a baptism commentator was the reminders portion that were announced before the sacrament. I learned so much from the other veteran and senior commentators and I decided to compile them. I then integrated this compilation into my own script for the Guide to the Rites of Baptism.

There are many, but here are the reminders I recite that are relevant to proper behavior, specifically, to picture-taking:
  • The parish is particular on discipline and order while the Holy Sacrament of Baptism is being conducted. Picture-taking is permitted during the times when either the child is brought to the priest, or the priest goes to the child. These include:
    • Applying the Sign of the Cross on the child's forehead,
    • Laying of the Hands on the child's head,
    • Pouring of the Holy Water,
    • Applying the Chrism Oil, and the
    • Lighting of the Candles.

  • As a general rule, picture-taking is not allowed while the Holy Gospel is being read and while the Homily is delivered.

  • After the sacrament of baptism, there will be plenty of time for picture-taking. You may take pictures anywhere inside, but do not step on the sanctuary and limit yourselves on the stairs. Avoid approaching the altar or any of the lecterns.

It's just sad though, that in spite of these reminders, a few people still stand and roam around carrying their cameras while the sacrament is ongoing. These are the really hard-headed ones. Today was no different.

Call of the Priest to Sit Down

The baptizees are complete. We were starting with the baptismal rites yet people were not settling down. Everybody was supposed to be standing at the sacrament's introduction.

However, some were walking along the aisles. Some were calling out and shouting to friends who were just entering the church. Many were busy taking group pictures and selfies. Many were chatting. And everybody else seemed to be busy about with something.

The officiating priest, a deacon, didn't take this lightly. It was understandable that there were many attending the sacrament. But it isn't understandable that many could not behave properly even after all the reminders.

Since everybody seemed busy at something, the deacon simply asked everybody to SIT DOWN. It was just that simple.

Slowly, everybody sat down.

Magically, the boisterous chatter seemed to fizzle out. Those who were left standing, including photographers, made a quick dash to their seats. If they didn't have any seat, they found one. For who would want to be left standing and stick out like a sore thumb when everybody else was properly seated and silent?

What a simple yet brilliant idea, I thought. And just like that, there was peace and order, the inside of the church was quiet, and the baptismal rites proceeded.