According to the
can be given conditionally as often as we doubt whether they were properly given
before, or whether they can be validly given now."
Also from the
Baltimore Catechism... (emphasis added)
Q. What do we
mean by giving a Sacrament conditionally?
A. By giving a
Sacrament conditionally we mean that the person administering the Sacrament
intends to give it only in case it has not been given already or in case the
person has the right dispositions for receiving it, though the dispositions
cannot be discovered.
Q. Give an
example of how a Sacrament is given conditionally.
A. In giving
Baptism, for instance, conditionally - or what we call conditional Baptism - the
priest, instead of saying absolutely as he does in ordinary Baptism "I baptize
thee...", says "If you are not already baptized, or if you are capable of being
baptized, I baptize thee...", thus stating the sole condition on which he
intends to administer the Sacrament.
Q. Which of
the Sacraments are most frequently given conditionally?
A. The Sacraments
most frequently given conditionally are
Extreme Unction; because in some cases it is difficult to ascertain whether
these Sacraments have been given before or whether they have been validly given,
or whether the person about to receive them has the right dispositions for them.
Q. Name some
of the more common circumstances in which a priest is obliged to administer the
A. Some of the
more common circumstances in which a priest is obliged to administer the
Sacraments conditionally are: (1) When he receives converts into the Church and
is not certain of their previous baptism, he must baptize them conditionally.
(2) When he is called - as in cases of accident or sudden illness - and doubts
whether the person be alive or dead, or whether he should be given the
Sacraments, he must give absolution and administer Extreme Unction
Q. What is the
use and effect of giving the Sacraments conditionally?
A. The use of
giving the Sacraments conditionally is that there may be no irreverence to the
Sacraments in giving them to persons incapable or unworthy of receiving them;
and yet that no one who is capable or worthy may be deprived of them. The effect
is to supply the Sacrament where it is needed or can be given, and to withhold
it where it is not needed or cannot be given.
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