Sacrament of Baptism
The Sacrament of Baptism is the first of all the Sacraments. Without this Sacrament we are not permitted to share in any of the other Sacraments of the Church. At Baptism through a profession of faith in Christ Jesus, (made by parents and Godparents in the case of an infant), we are ‘born again’ into a life of communion with God, our Father.
The Sacrament is conferred using potent symbols such as water, oil, and candle flame. It is at the moment of the pouring of the water and the invocation of the Trinity that we are decontaminated from the sin we have inherited from our First Parents, (Original sin), and graced to share in the life of God. At Baptism we take on a new identity; we are connected to a new community of believers; we are initiated into a new way of living, and given a clear mission in life – “Go out to the whole world and announce the Good News.”
Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation
Canon 1257 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, [CCC] states: “The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them… The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are “reborn of water and the Spirit.” God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.
Who Can Receive this Sacrament?
CCC. 1229. In the case of adults – from the time of the apostles, becoming a Christian has been accomplished by a journey and initiation in several stages, [Known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, RCIA.]. This journey can be covered rapidly or slowly, but certain essential elements will always have to be present: proclamation of the Word, acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion, profession of faith, Baptism itself, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and admission to Eucharistic communion.
CCC 1231 Where infant Baptism has become the form in which this sacrament is usually celebrated, it has become a single act encapsulating the preparatory stages of Christian initiation in a very abridged way. By its very nature infant Baptism requires a post-baptismal catechumenate. Not only is there a need for instruction after Baptism, but also for the necessary flowering of baptismal grace in personal growth. The catechism has its proper place here.
CCC 1255. In the case of Infant Baptism the Sacrament is administered on the basis that the parents will take very seriously the responsibility they promise God at Baptism. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents’ help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized – child or adult on the road of Christian life. Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium). The whole ecclesial community bears some responsibility for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at Baptism.