ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BAPTISM
For some weeks now, we have been discussing one very important Sacrament – Baptism. It is indispensable in our lives as Christians and is in fact the gateway to the other sacraments. Baptism, together with Confirmation and Holy Eucharist, are termed the Sacraments of Christian initiation for their special roles in the life of the Christian.
Let us now see how the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) summarizes what we need to know about Baptism ask we conclude the teaching on it.
1275 Christian initiation is accomplished by three sacraments together: Baptism which is the beginning of new life; Confirmation which is its strengthening; and the Eucharist which nourishes the disciple with Christ’s Body and Blood for his transformation in Christ.
1276 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20).
1277 Baptism is birth into the new life in Christ. In accordance with the Lord’s will, it is necessary for salvation, as is the Church herself, which we enter by Baptism.
1278 The essential rite of Baptism consists in immersing the candidate in water or pouring water on his head, while pronouncing the invocation of the Most Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
1279 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 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.
1280 Baptism imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual sign, the character, which consecrates the baptized person for Christian worship. Because of the character Baptism cannot be repeated (cf. DS 1609 and DS 1624).
1281 Those who die for the faith, those who are catechumens, and all those who, without knowing of the Church but acting under the inspiration of grace, seek God sincerely and strive to fulfill his will, can be saved even if they have not been baptized (cf. LG 16).
1282 Since the earliest times, Baptism has been administered to children, for it is a grace and a gift of God that does not presuppose any human merit; children are baptized in the faith of the Church. Entry into Christian life gives access to true freedom.
1283 With respect to children who have died without Baptism, the liturgy of the Church invites us to trust in God’s mercy and to pray for their salvation.
1284 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 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.”
To conclude, we must note that, one who has properly been baptized (in the manner shown in our discussion so far), need not be rebaptized when he or she sins after the cleansing of baptism. Among the 7 Sacraments Jesus instituted is the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (which we shall discuss later in detail), by which we receive pardon for sins properly confessed with contrition to a priest.
Also, once a non Catholic has been baptized properly, and wishes to become a Catholic, no baptism is required again. There will only be a simple Rite of Acceptance into the Church. The same applies to Catholics who have lost their way and wish to come back home – they are always welcome back to their roots!
If, however, we are not certain about a person’s baptism due to old age or lack of evidence of baptism or other factors like chancing on an accident or fatal situation where we can’t be sure of the person’s baptism, we could administer ‘conditional baptism’ by adding a conditional clause to the usual words used in baptizing.
Catholics should also understand that the loss of one’s baptismal card or certificate is not a loss of baptism. All you need to do is to see your Parish Priest, give him the details of your baptism which he will require of you, and a new card will be generated for you from the baptismal register of the parish where you were baptized. Records of these are kept religiously for decades.
Let’s meet next Monday and remember that Jesus Christ is the reason for the season, and so we should make him the centre of the Christmas celebrations.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas filled with God’s favour.
God bless you.
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