Welcome...The Sacrament of Baptism is the first of our seven sacraments. It is through Baptism that one becomes a new member of the Body of Christ and the Catholic Church. We extend a special welcome to you if you are trying to find out more about Baptism for yourself, or for your child. If you are an adult who is seeking more information on how to become a member of the Catholic Church, please check out The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) at your nearest Catholic Parish and introduce yourself to the Pastor. You will find good information on what that process is and also contact information for the person who can tell you more about it. If you are visiting our site because you recently became a parent, even if your child is a little older; we offer our congratulations! We know what a busy and exciting time this is for your family, and we want to assist you in raising your child in the faith.
"The Sacrament of Baptism is the most beautiful thing that happens in someone's life. Did you know that when someone is baptized, it means that God the Father, the Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, give the Christian many very special gifts? To be baptized in the Catholic Church means more then being sprinkled with water on one's head and receiving a Christian name." - Taken from www.catholicdoors.com/courses/baptism.htm
Birth into New Life in Christ
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life - Rom 6:3-4
In his diologue with Nicodemus, Jesus taught that Baptism was necessary for salvation. "No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit" (Jn 3:5). After his Resurrection, Jesus met with the eleven Apostles and gave them the commission to preach the Gospel and baptize, telling them, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mk 16:16). The word baptism in its origins is Greek and means "immersion" and "bath". Immersion in water is a sign of death, and emersion out of the water means new life. To bathe in water is also to undergo cleansing. St. Paul sums up this truth when he says, "You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead" (Col 2:12)
The origin and foundation of Christian Baptism is Jesus. Before starting his public ministry, Jesus submitted himself to the baptism given by John the Baptist. The waters did not purify him; he cleansed the waters. "He comes to sanctify the Jordan for our sake...to begin a new creation through the Spirit and water" (St. Gregory Nazianzen, Liturgy of the Hours, I, 634). Jesus' immersion in the water is a sign for all human beings of the need to die to themselves to do God's will. Jesus did not need to be baptized because he was totally faithful to the will of his Father and free from sin. However, he wanted to show his solidarity with human beings in order to reconcile them to the Father. By commanding his disciples to baptize all nations, he established the means by which people would die to sin - Original and actual - and begin to live a new life with God.
Sponsors for Baptism
Whenever a person is baptized, as an infant, as a child, or as an adult, there should be at least one person present who will act as sponsor for the one being baptized. The sponsor, commonly referred to as one's godmother or godfather, accepts the responsibility of helping hte person grow in the Catholic faith. One who acts as a sponsor for an infant or child agrees to help the parents teach their child about the faith and how to live as a practicing Catholic. One who actcs as sponsor for an adult agrees to encourage and support the person, pray with and for the person, and offer whatever help, information, or support is needed while the person is preparing to enter the Church and then is living out the rest of his or her life as a practicing Catholic.
For a person to act as a sponsor for Baptism, he or she must be at least sixteen years old, must have already received all the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist), and must be living in a way that demonstrates that one's faith is strong enough to be able to fulfill the responsibilities involved with being a sponsor. A sponsor who is married must be married in accord with the laws of the Church. (cf. CIC, can.874).
Baptism is a Call to Holiness
"Baptism is the door to life and to the Kingdom of God. Christ offered the first sacrament of the new law to all that they may have eternal life. Baptism is, above all, the sacrament of that faith by which men and women, enlightened by the Spirit's grace, respond to the Gospel of Christ" ("Christian Initiation, General Instruction," in The Rites of the Catholic Church (1976), no.3).
In Baptism, the Holy Spirit moves us to answer Christ's call to holiness. In Baptism, we are asked to walk by the light of Christ and to trust in his wisdom. We are invited to submit our hearts to Christ with ever deeper love. What is this light, this wisdom, this holiness? Jesus is clear about the high ideals to which he invites us:
Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mt 5:48)
Be merciful as your Father is merciful. (Lk 6:36)
Love one another as I love you. (Jn 15:12)
The Lord Jesus, our divine teacher and model of all virtue, preached holiness of life to everyone without exception. Through Baptism, we are cleansed of all sin, are made partakers of the divine nature, and are truly sanctified. Our goal now is to hold onto this gracious act of sanctification that we have received from Christ. St. Paul lays out a practical plan for holiness:
Put on, then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heart-felt compassion, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another. If one has a grievance against another, as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. (Col 3:12-13)
This is a strong challenge that we cannot meet by human strength alone. "Accordingly, all Christians in the conditions, duties and circumstances of their life and through all these, will sanctify themselves more and more if they receive all things with faith from the hand of the heavenly Father and cooperate with the divine will, thus showing forth in the temporal service the love with which God has loved the world" (LG, no.41). The baptized are called to transform the world with the light and power of the Gospel.
Living out one's Baptism is a lifelong responsibility. Growing in holiness and discipleship involves a willingness to continue to learn throughout one's whole life about the faith and how to live it. It also involves a willingness to support and encourage others who share the faith and who have committed themselves to the ongoing process of conversion of heart and mind to God, which results in the holiness to which we are called.
(From the "United States Catholic Catechism for Adults")
For more in depth questions and answers please check out www.catholicdoors.com/courses/baptism.htm
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