Baptism is often called the "Door of the Church" because it is the first of the 7 sacraments and the reception of the other sacraments depends on whether you have been baptised.

Christ made it clear that baptism was necessary for salvation: "Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God".

For Catholics, the sacrament is not a mere formality; it is the very mark of a Christian, because it brings us into new life with Christ.

Baptism of Desire

The Baptism of Desire applies both to those who, while wishing to be baptized, die before receiving the sacrament, and "Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of conscience" (Constitution on the Church, Second Vatican Council)

Baptism of Blood

The Baptism of Blood is similar to the Baptism of Desire. It refers to the martyrdom of those believers who were killed for the faith before they had a chance to be baptized. This was a common occurrence in the early centuries of the Church, but also in later times in missionary lands. The baptism of blood has the same effects as the baptism of water.

The Form of the Sacrament of Baptism

While the Church has an extended rite of Baptism which normally includes roles for both parents and godparents, the essentials of that rite are:

  1. The pouring of water over the head of the person to be baptized (or immersion of the person in water)
  2. The words "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit"

As long as this has been completed, the church recognizes the Baptism even if it was not completed in the Catholic Church.

The Minister of the Sacrament of Baptism

Since the form of baptism requires just the water and the words, this sacrament, like the Sacrament of Marriage, does not require a priest.

Any baptized person can baptize another. In fact, when the life of a person is in danger, even a non-baptized person (including someone who does not himself believe in Christ) can baptize, provided that the person performing the baptism follows the form of baptism and intends, by the baptism, to do what the Church does - in other words, to bring the person being baptized into the fullness of the Church.

In both cases, a priest may later perform a conditional baptism.

Why White? What Does it Mean?

A person being baptized in the Catholic Church is expected to dress in white to symbolize purity of faith and the cleansing power of Baptism. The white garment symbolizes the white garments Jesus wore when He was placed in the tomb after His death on Good Friday.

An infant may wear a baptismal gown handed down for generations; an adult typically puts on a full-length white gown known as an alb.

How to pick Godparents

Too often parents want to honour a special friend, repay a favour, or encourage a non-relative to have a closer relationship with their child.

However, we must remember the purpose of Baptism. What you should be looking for are Godparents who can truly represent the Christian Catholic community, the Church. When it comes to infant Baptism, Godparents are to assist the child's parents in raising their child in our Catholic faith, so that the child may profess and live it as an adult.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states "...the godfather and godmother... must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized child or adult on the road of Christian life". This is the Church's way of saying that being a godparent is truly a ministry in the Church, and not simply an honour.

The Necessity of Baptism

Christ Himself ordered His disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations and to baptize those who accept the message of the Gospel. In His encounter with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), Christ made it clear that Baptism was necessary for salvation: "Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

For Catholics, the sacrament is not a mere formality; it is the very mark of a Christian, because it brings us into new life in Christ.

The baptism ritual is a participatory one, with all attendees rejecting Satan and professing their faith. The parents of an infant and the godparents and immediate family members of the person being baptized are a bit more involved.

Like the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Orders, you're baptized just once. These three sacraments confer an indelible mark on your soul. No one can ever be un-baptized or re-baptized.

Delaying Baptism

Many Christian religions believe in delaying Baptism so that they have the consent of the person being baptized. However, since Baptism removes both the guilt and the punishment due to Original Sin, delaying Baptism until a child can understand the sacrament may put the child's salvation in danger, should he die unbaptized.

The Effects of Baptism

Baptism has six primary effects, which are all supernatural graces:

  1. The removal of the guilt of both Original Sin (the sin imparted to all mankind by the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden)
  2. The removal of personal sin (the sins that we have committed ourselves)
  3. The remission of all punishment that we owe because of sin, both temporal (in this world and in Purgatory) and eternal (the punishment that we would suffer in hell)
  4. The infusion of grace in the form of sanctifying grace (the life of God within us); the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; and the three theological virtues.
  5. Becoming a part of Christ
  6. Becoming a part of the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ on earth

© 2013 St. Bartholomew Parish