“Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Jesus Christ said, “Unless a man is born again of water and of the Holy Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” (John 3.3,5)
This sacrament is primarily called baptism because of the central rite with which it is celebrated. To baptise means to “immerse” in water. (the word ‘Baptism’ comes from a Greek word that means to ‘plunge’ or ‘immerse’). So for anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old order is gone and a new being is there to see. (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Baptism removes original sin, all personal sins and all punishment due to sin. The baptised is made a “participant in the divine life of the Trinity through sanctifying grace.
Baptism is the Sacrament by which Jesus Christ makes us Christians and members of his Church.
Baptism, the gateway to the sacraments and necessary for salvation by actual reception or at least by desire, is validly conferred only by a washing of true water with the proper form of words. Through baptism men and women are freed from sin, are reborn as children of God, and, configured to Christ by an indelible character, are incorporated into the Church (Canon 849).
In light of this, the Church believes it is her most basic and necessary duty to inspire all catechumens, parents of children still to be baptised, and godparents to that true and living faith by which they adhere to Christ and enter into or confirm their commitment to the new covenant.
To accomplish this, the Church prescribes the pastoral instruction of catechumens, the preparation of the children’s parents, the celebration of God’s word, and the profession of baptismal faith (Introduction to Rite of Baptism).
The Effects of the Sacrament of Baptism
Baptism has six primary effects, which are all supernatural graces:
- 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) and personal sin (the sins that we have committed ourselves).
- 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).
- 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.
- Becoming a part of Christ.
- Becoming a part of the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ on earth.
- Enabling participation in the sacraments, the priesthood of all believers, and the growth in grace.
Who can be baptised?
Only someone who has never been baptised can be baptised. A person who has been baptised in another Church or Christian Denomination with a valid baptism is never to be re-baptised. If there is doubt about a valid baptism, then the person can be conditionally baptised. For adults, see Canon 865.1, for requirements and Canon 865.2 for danger of death.
Parents Requirements / Responsibility
- The parents, or at least one of them must be a Catholic.
- The parents, or at least one of them, or the person who lawfully takes their place, gives consent for the child to receive baptism.
- There be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion.
- Preparation must be undertaken prior to receiving the Sacrament.
The role of the godparent or sponsor at the baptism of a child is to join with the parents in presenting the child and to be a help and support to the child in growing in faith and living the Christian life.
They stand with the parents and proclaim their faith on behalf of the child. Only one Godparent is required but you may have two.
Requirements for a Godparent
At least one godparent is required for baptism. There is to be only one male or one female godparent, or one of each (Canon 873). If there are requests for more than two godparents, families are advised that the Church only records two and they need to select which two they would like to have recorded. Note, after the baptism, the parents cannot change the godparents.
At least one godparent must be a Catholic who is over 16 years of age, has been confirmed and has received the Eucharist, and who lives a life worthy of the role that he or she is about to undertake. It is permissible for a non-Catholic to act as witness to your child’s baptism, however they will not be noted on the Baptismal Certificate. It is not possible for an unbaptised person to act as godparent or witness.
Baptism of Infants
Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth. (Catechism of The Catholic Church 1250)
Hence in the Catholic Church today, baptism is most commonly administered to infants. While some other Christians strenuously object to infant baptism, believing that baptism requires assent on the part of the person being baptised, the Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, and other mainline Protestants also practice infant baptism, and there is evidence that it was practiced from the earliest days of the Church.
Baptism of Older Children
Those children who have attained the age of reason, that is approximately seven years of age, can follow the program established by the Rite of Christian Initiation of Children. This allows for a time of appropriate catechesis/preparation.
A child at school should have the approval and support of parents (parent requirements or responsibilities are as per those of Baptism of Infants). Where possible the child should fit in with the progress through the other sacraments of their year level. E.g. First Reconciliation in year 2, First Holy Communion in year 3 and Confirmation in year 6.
Baptism of Adults
Adult converts to Catholicism also receive the sacrament, unless they have already received a Christian baptism. (If there is any doubt about whether an adult has already been baptised, the priest will perform a conditional baptism.) A person can only be baptised once as a Christian—if, say, he was baptised as a Lutheran, he cannot be rebaptised when he converts to Catholicism, his Baptism is recognised as being valid by the Catholic Church and he will receive the other Sacraments of Initiation.
While an adult can be baptised after proper instruction in the Faith, adult baptism normally occurs today as part of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (R.C.I.A.) and is immediately followed by Confirmation and Communion.
At the beginning of the Rite of Baptism, the Priest asks the parents, “What name have you given your child”, and they respond with the child’s first name. In previous times children were named after Catholic Saints and the same name could be used for their Confirmation later.
What Happens during Baptism?
In the celebration of Baptism ,the father and the mother have special parts to play . They listen to the words addressed to them by the celebrant, they join in prayer along with the congregation, and they exercise a special function when:
- They publically ask for Baptism for their child
- They sign their child with the sign of the cross after the celebrant
- They renounce Satan and profess their faith.
- They carry the child to the font.
- They hold the lighted candle.
- They are blessed with special prayers for the mother and father.
How is Baptism given?
At a Baptism, the priest pours water on the persons head, saying, “I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Who Can Baptise?
The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and priest and, in the Latin Church, also the deacon.
In case of necessity or emergency, any person can baptise provided that he have the intention of doing that which the Church does and provided that he pours water on the candidate’s head while saying: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Receiving Baptism at Sacred Heart Parish
Fr Liem or Fr Nen: 1pm in English, Vietnamese at 2pm by arrangement only.
Fr Mac can do Baptism by arrangement only.