Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The Sacrament of Baptism

Over the course of my life, I have been blessed to be Godfather to a variety of my family and friend’s children on the day they receive the Sacrament of Baptism. After a very difficult beginning to 2015, this past month will be a month I won’t soon forget. Two weeks ago I was Godfather to my friend’s little girl, and this afternoon, on what would have been Dad’s 68th Birthday, I will be Godfather to my nephew, whose middle name is the same as Dad’s.

As one who prepares adults to receive the Sacrament of Baptism on the Easter Vigil each year, which is a moving experience itself, witnessing and being asked to be a Godfather is one of the best honors a Catholic can receive from either family or friends. Not that numbers matter, but with this month’s two baptism’s, I am now Godfather to five children. Even as I write these words, I shake my head thinking how unworthy I am to fulfill such an important role. It’s only through the grace of my own Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, and the frequent reception of Reconciliation that I am able to fulfill such a duty.

Me being Baptized by Rev. Joseph Nativo at St. Lucy's Catholic Church in Newark, NJ on March 17, 1974.

My Baptism by Rev. Joseph Nativo at St. Lucy’s Catholic Church in Newark, NJ on March 17, 1974.

Since I spoke about infant baptism above, I draw your attention to paragraph 1282 below and paragraphs 1250-1252 in the further reading section. Infant Baptism has been part of the tradition of the Church since the very beginning, but it’s on this subject that many non-Catholics disagree with the Church’s position to baptize infants claiming that a child has no sin and has no reason to be baptized. I can’t tell you how many people I have spoke to in my position at the parish in RCIA that wished they were baptized as children.

So with this all being said, I felt today was the perfect opportunity to give you what the Catechism of the Catholic Church quickly teaches on the Sacrament of Baptism –

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. [#1275]

“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). [#1276]

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. [#1277]

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. [#1278]

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. [#1279]

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). [#1280]

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). [#1281]

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. [#1282]

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. [#1283]

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.” [#1284]

For further reading on the Sacrament of Baptism, I would highly encourage you to read paragraphs 1214-1274 in the Catechism. Please also pray for my nephew today on the day of his Baptism, pray for his parents, and pray for me.

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