Signs, Symbols, and Reality

Yesterday's RCIA class was about baptism. An interesting question was raised by one of the students. He wondered when and why the Western Church switched from full immersion baptism to sprinkling. Going under water is supposed to symbolize death. We are baptized into Christ's death and rise with Him into life. How does sprinkling symbolize that?

Don't get me wrong, I don't think the sacrament, when performed in that manner, is void. It's just that the symbolism seems to be lacking. It reminded me of a 'Not So Quiet' Catholic corner post I've been meaning to comment on. It's about a priest who doesn't understand the point of ringing bells and washing hands.