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From:
Subject: Re: [Q-R] Excerpt of History
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2003 23:47:38 EDT


In a message dated 9/18/03 09:38:42 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
writes:

> Adults of the eighteenth century thought of children as animals or
> servants, not as human beings. Furthermore, they did not believe children
> would develop into human beings unless they were forced to it. It was their
> nature to be sinful and animalistic.

The point of view represented by that citation may well have been true in the
Calvinistic and Presbyterian British colonies, but it was certainly not true
in the Catholic French colonies in North America.

A frequently discussed topic in this forum is the notation that a child was
"ondoyé", that is, baptised provisionally at home immediately after birth
because the child was in danger of death. Children were truly human beings, born
with immortal souls, but their entry into eternal bliss was in jeopardy if
they died without being baptised. That is why children were baptised by the
midwife or a family member, and brought to church for the ceremonies of
christening after they became healthier and stronger.

The practice of "ondoyement" began in the seventeenth century, with the
establishment of the French colonies in North America. And it continued in the
eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I was baptised immediately after
birth by a nurse in attendance, and my uncle, a priest, supplied ceremonies a
month later at the parish church. Several decades later, I baptised one of
my sister's children, who was born at 28 weeks, in the hospital, and the
ceremonies were supplied later by my great-uncle, the uncle of my mother and her
brother who baptised me. My sister had promised our great-uncle that he would
baptise one of her children. But after I was ordained, I became the usual
celebrant of baptism. I am happy that this occasion allowed her to keep her
promise to Uncle Vincent. He was even happier.

Fr. Owen Taggart


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