The sacrament of baptism ushers us into the divine life, cleanses us from sin, and initiates us as members of the Christian community. It is the foundation for the sacramental life.
At baptism, the presider prays over the water:
Father, look now with love upon your Church, and unseal for her the fountain of baptism. By the power of the Holy Spirit give to this water the grace of your Son, so that in the sacrament of baptism all those whom you have created in your likeness may be cleansed from sin and rise to a new birth of innocence by water and the Holy Spirit. (Christian Initiation of Adults, #222A)
Freed from Sin
Baptism frees us from the bondage of original and actual sin. Water is poured in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Today, the sacrament of baptism is often performed on infants, shortly after birth. Adult baptisms take place at the Easter Vigil through the restored Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. Adults or children who have been baptized in a valid Christian church are not baptized again in the Catholic church. As we say in the Nicene Creed, “I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins…”
The Catechism teaches:
“The fruit of Baptism, or baptismal grace, is a rich reality that includes forgiveness of original sin and all personal sins, birth into the new life by which man becomes an adoptive son (or daughter) of the Father, a member of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. By this very fact the person baptized is incorporated into the Church, the Body of Christ, and made a sharer in the priesthood of Christ” (CCC 1279).
· Water – The waters of baptism recall Jesus’ own baptism by John the Baptist in the river Jordan. Water is a symbol of cleansing and renewal as we begin a new life in Christ. We are washed clean of sin.
· Oil – At baptism we are anointed into the life of Christ as “priest, prophet and king.” A cross is traced on the candidate’s forehead as a reminder that we are inheritors of the Kingdom of God.
· Light – The baptismal candle is lit from the Paschal or Easter candle that stands in the church as a sign of Christ’s light in the world. At baptism, we receive the light of Christ and are called forth to share this light with the world.
· White garment – The white garment that is placed upon us at baptism is a symbol of Christ’s victory over death and his glorious resurrection. Likewise, the white garment or pall that is placed over the coffin at the time of death recalls our baptismal promises and reminds us that we are destined for eternal life.
While in ordinary circumstances, sacraments in the Catholic Church are administered validly by a member of the ordained clergy, in an emergency situation, the sacrament of baptism can be administered by anyone.
In case of necessity, any person can baptize provided that he have the intention of doing that which the Church does and provided that he pour water on the candidates head while saying: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 1284).
Your Child’s Baptism at St. John the Evangelist
When a mother learns that she is with child, a family often begins to plan showers and to prepare a nursery, all of which are worthy practices. But in preparing for a child’s birth, we should never forget to prepare for a child’s rebirth into the Body of Christ through that initial sacrament of Baptism. In Baptism, an indelible (albeit invisible) mark is placed upon us that sets us aside. We are forever claimed as a son or daughter of God as well as a soldier of Christ, members of the Church Militant. As such, we are also called to be future saints with God’s great grace. Spiritual preparation is essential, then, not only in getting the ceremony and sacrament completed, but also in preparing another soul to be raised up in a godly and Christian way.
There are some things which parents who are preparing for their child’s Baptism are asked to do. They should be registered here at St. John the Evangelist for at least six months, regularly attending Mass, and regularly giving to the offertory, all of which is to ensure that they are practicing Catholics who take their faith seriously. They should attend a Baptism Preparation class and prayerfully select the child’s godparents. When choosing godparents, we need to choose faithful, practicing Catholics who will be dutiful in their task to keep your child, and thus your family, practicing Catholics. Godparents should be confirmed, and if they are married Catholics, they should be married in the Church. A good godparent is someone who will charitably correct a parent if they stop going to Mass and seek to spiritual motivate a parent if they stop going to regular confession. A serious godparent will seek to assist parent in raising their children in the Catholic Faith. Prayer should be an important part of their daily life. The pursuit of a relationship with God everyday helps one to know and love the One who knows us better than we know ourselves and loves us more than we can comprehend. Choose a godparent who prays and strives to manifest the 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit in their life! Ultimately, choose a godparent who lives Jesus’ definition of discipleship found in John 13:35 (Look it up)! These qualities mean that it is essential to find a conscientious, practicing Catholic who is serious about living out his or her own Catholic life.
Please take the following steps to prepare your child Baptism: 1) contact Nicki Conroy, our parish DRE to begin the process of preparing for your child’s Baptism; 2) choose a sincerely Catholic godparent or two for your child, conscious that whomever you choose will need a “Catholic in Good Standing” letter from his/her parish; and 3) begin to spiritually reflect on the gift of baptism in the life of your child and the invaluable gift of your example in living our Catholic Faith.
Other considerations in preparation for a child’s Baptism: 1) find a white christening gown or baptismal garment for your child, and 2) although the parish will provide a candle, you might find a more noble option is for you to buy your own beautiful white candle that you can use as your child’s Baptismal candle, and burn it every year on his or her name day, or birthday, or the anniversary of their Baptism, to remind them of this great sacrament. If you bring that candle to the Baptism ceremony, it will be used in the ritual and become a blessed sacramental for your child.
Please see the links below for the documentation necessary for the Baptism of your child, and once you’ve filled it all required forms, contact the DRE to begin this important preparation for the gift of your child’s gift of Baptism.