The Sacrament of Baptism
Baptism is the first sacrament that an individual receives. In Baptism we receive new life in Christ. Baptism takes away all sin, including Original Sin (the sin passed down from Adam and Eve), and gives us a new birth in the Holy Spirit.
Baptism is the first Sacrament of Initiation and the gateway to all the others; therefore, Baptism is like our Membership Card to the Catholic Church. Only one who is baptised is eligible to receive the remaining sacraments.
When we are baptised, we are baptised into the death and resurrection of Christ; hence we are baptized into the Paschal Mystery (the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of the Lord). Through Baptism, we become a new creation in Christ.
We become a true Child of God. The Sacrament of Baptism can only be received once because it imparts an “Indelible Mark” on one’s soul. An indelible mark is a permanent, spiritual mark on the soul given by God. In Baptism, God claims us as His children with the indelible mark.
The Sacrament of Baptism produces the following effects:
1. Forgives (washes away) original sin and all other sin
2. Infuses sanctifying grace into the soul; hence we receive a share in God’s own life
3. Makes us children of God
4. Makes our bodies temples of the Holy Spirit
5. Makes us members of the Church
6. Makes us part of the Body of Christ
7. Imparts an indelible mark
The Symbols of Baptism are the following:
Water symbolises the cleansing of sin and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and God’s grace.
2. White Garment
The white garment symbolises the pristine state of the newly baptised soul.
3. Oil of Catechumens
A catechumen is a beginner in the faith. This oil which is placed on the infant’s chest reminds us that our faith is a life-long journey.
4. Oil of Sacred Chrism
This is the Christ Oil because it makes us like Jesus, who is Priest, Prophet, and King.
5. Paschal Candle
This is the Easter Candle which represents Jesus Christ who is the Light of the World.
This candle represents the newly baptised who is called to live a life that reflects the Light of the World, Jesus Christ.
For the Sacrament of Baptism to be valid, the minister of the sacrament must use the “Trinitarian Formula” while baptising the child with water.
The “Trinitarian Formula” is as follows:
“(Name of the Child), I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
The “Trinitarian Formula” comes from Jesus’ Great Commission:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Baptism makes us like Christ and thus we are called to fulfill the same roles as he did in his earthly ministry. These three roles are meant to be lived out in our lives on a daily basis. The roles are as follows:
Like a priest, we are called to live a life of prayer, worship, and sacrifice. This priesthood is not the sacramental priesthood of Holy Orders, but is referred to as the “Common Priesthood of the Laity.”
Like the Old Testament Prophets, we are called to proclaim the Word of God in both word and deed.
Through Baptism, we are called to perform the task of an Old Testament king, which is to display God’s justice to all. This means we are called to defend the poor, the widow, the orphan, the alien, and the outcast. In other words, we must care for the poor and needy of the world.
Since the Catholic Church allows infants to be baptised, it is important to review the role of the child’s parents. At infant baptisms, parents accept the faith for the child and the responsibilities that go along with it. These responsibilities included: educating the child in the Catholic faith, making sure the child is raised in the faith (meaning that they are preparing themselves for the sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist, and Confirmation), and bringing the child to Sunday Mass. The two greatest gifts that parents can give to their children are: the gift of unconditional love and the gift of the faith.
The child’s parents are responsible for selecting Godparents (sometimes referred to as “sponsors”). The Godparents are witnesses to the child’s Baptism who assume the responsibility of helping the baptised person as they journey the road of Christian life. In other words, the Godparents are called to be living witnesses of the Catholic faith for the baptised person. To be eligible to be a Godparent, the person must meet the following requirements:
The person must be 16 years of age or older.
- The person must be fully initiated in the Catholic faith. In other words, they must have received the Sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation.
The person cannot be the parent of the one to be baptised.
The person must be actively practicing the Catholic faith and be in good
standing with the Church. This means that the person must be regularly attending Sunday Mass. If they are married then the marriage must be recognised by the Catholic Church.