“Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.””
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1213)
“We, by Baptism, are immersed in that inexhaustible source of life which is the death of Jesus, the greatest act of love in all of history; and thanks to this love we can live a new life, no longer at the mercy of evil, sin and death, but in communion with God and with our brothers and sisters.”
– Pope Francis
Why is Baptism so Significant?
The Sacrament of Baptism is called the “foundation of the Christian life” because it is the door that gives access to the other sacraments and the graces they confer for one’s Christian journey. But more importantly it’s the one sacrament required for salvation.
In understanding the meaning of Baptism, one realizes that “Baptism is God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift,” says St. Gregory of Nazianzus, a doctor of the Church.
What Happens During a Baptismal Ceremony?
For the Sacrament of Baptism to be valid two things are essential: the pouring of living water over the head of the candidate; and the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” or the Trinitarian formula.
At the start of the ceremony, the celebrant, the parents and the Godparents will make the Sign of the Cross on the forehead of the baby to signify that she or he is now marked for Christ, thus belonging to Him who won their redemption through the Cross. Baptism bestows an indelible mark upon the soul permanently binding the baptized to Christ.
After the Liturgy of the Word, an exorcism and anointing are done. As the Catechism explains, “since Baptism signifies liberation from sin and from its instigator the devil, one or more exorcisms are pronounced over the candidate. The celebrant then anoints him with the oil of catechumens, or lays his hands on him, and he explicitly renounces Satan.” Then the child, through the Godparents, is prepared to confess the faith of the Church.
Once the person is baptized, he or she will be given a white garment that symbolizes “putting on Christ.” Through the Sacrament the new Christian has died to their old life to rise with Christ and is expected to continue walking in this new life.
Finally the Godparents will light a candle, lit from the Easter Candle, to signify that Christ has enlightened the newly baptized who is called to be the light of Christ to the world.
How Do I Set Up a Baptism?
Whether you are an adult wanting to be baptized or a parent of a child needing to be baptized, we suggest that you contact your local parish. To learn more about courses and programs to prepare for Baptism, please contact your home parish.
To find a parish near you click here.
Taken from article “The Foundation of Christian Life” by Nadia Smith, Florida Catholic.