The Greek word “to baptize” means “to immerse” (cf. ccc, 1214). To bathe with water is a rite common to various beliefs to express the passage from one condition to another, a sign of purification for a new beginning. But for us Christians it must be noted that if the body is immersed in water, the soul is immersed in Christ in order to receive the forgiveness of sin and to shine with divine light (cf. Tertullian, On the resurrection of the dead, viii, 3: ccl 2, 931; pl 2, 806). By virtue of the Holy Spirit, Baptism immerses us in the death and Resurrection of the Lord, drowning in the baptismal font the ‘old’ man, dominated by sin which separates him from God, and giving birth to the new man, recreated in Jesus. In Him all the children of Adam are called to new life.
Therefore, Baptism is a rebirth. I am certain, quite sure, that we all remember our date of birth: certain. But I ask myself, a little doubtfully, and I ask you: do each of you recall the date of your Baptism? Some say ‘yes’ — okay. But it is a rather weak ‘yes’, because perhaps many do not remember this date. But if we celebrate birthdays, why not celebrate — or at least remember — the day of rebirth? I will give you a homework assignment, a task to do today at home. Those of you who do not remember the date of your Baptism, ask your mother, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, ask them: “Do you know the date of my Baptism?”; and never forget it. And thank the Lord for that day, because it is the very day on which Jesus entered me, the Holy Spirit entered me. Do you understand what your homework is? We should all know the date of our Baptism. It is another birthday: the date of rebirth. Do not forget to do this, please.
Let us recall the last words of the Risen One to the Apostles; they are a precise mandate: “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” (Mt 28:19). Through the baptismal bath, those who believe in Christ are immersed in the very life of the Trinity.
Indeed, the water of Baptism is not just any water, but the water upon which the Spirit, the “giver of life” (Creed) is invoked. Let us consider what Jesus said to Nicodemus in order to explain to him birth into divine life: “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn 3:5-6). Thus Baptism is also called ‘regeneration’: we believe that God has saved us “in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit” (Tit 3:5).
Baptism is therefore an effective sign of rebirth, in order to walk in the newness of life. Saint Paul reminds the Christians of Rome about this: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:3-4).
By immersing us in Christ, Baptism also makes us members of his Body, which is the Church, and sharers in her mission in the world (cf. ccc, 1213). We baptized are not isolated: we are members of the Body of Christ. The vitality which springs forth from the baptismal font is illustrated by these words of Jesus: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit” (Jn 15:5). A selfsame life, that of the Holy Spirit, flows from Christ to the baptized, uniting them in one Body (cf. 1 Cor 12:13), anointed by the holy unction and nourished at the Eucharistic table.
Baptism allows Christ to live in us and allows us to live united with him, to cooperate in the Church, each according to his or her condition, for the transformation of the world. Received only once, the baptismal bath illuminates our whole life, guiding our steps all the way to the Heavenly Jerusalem. There is a before and an after to Baptism. The Sacrament presumes a journey of faith, which we call catechumenate, evident when it is an adult requesting Baptism. But from antiquity, children, too, have been baptized in the faith of their parents (cf. Rite of Baptism for children, Introduction, 2). And I would like to tell you something about this. Some people think: ‘But why baptize a child who does not understand it? We hope that as he grows, he will understand and that he himself will request Baptism’. But this means not having confidence in the Holy Spirit, because when we baptize a child, the Holy Spirit enters that child, and the Holy Spirit cultivates in that child, from childhood, Christian values that will then flourish. This opportunity must always be given to everyone, to all children, to have within them the Holy Spirit who guides them during life. Do not forget to baptize your children!
No one can earn Baptism, which is always a gift freely given to all, adults and infants. But as it happens for a seed full of life, this gift takes root and bears fruit in a soil nourished by faith. The baptismal promises that we renew each year in the Easter Vigil must be rekindled every day so that Baptism may “christify”: we must not be afraid of this word; Baptism “christifies”. Those who have received Baptism and are “cristified”; they resemble Christ, are transformed in Christ and it truly renders them another Christ.
POPE FRANCIS Wednesday, 11 April 2018
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHO CAN RECEIVE THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “every person not yet baptized” is able to receive the Sacrament of Baptism (CCC 1246). Under ordinary circumstances, parents should have their child baptised as soon as possible after the birth.
WHEN DO WE SET A DATE FOR THE BAPTISM?
The date of the Baptism will be set after speaking with our pastor. Baptisms are celebrated during a Mass, preferably during a weekend Mass. Please contact the parish before setting a date or making any other arrangements for the baptism.
ARE THERE FAITH REQUIREMENTS OF PARENTS WHO WISH TO HAVE THEIR CHILD BAPTISED?
Parents must express their willingness to have their child baptised in the Faith of the Catholic Church. At least one parent must be a practising Catholic, allowing for some hope that the child will be brought up in the Catholic Faith.
Are there baptism preparation sessions?
Parents requesting infant baptism must complete one baptism preparation session. Both parents must attend the session. Please speak with our pastor to arrange a time for the preparation session.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF A GODPARENT?
Godparents, acting as representatives of the Christian community, assist the priest and parents in welcoming the child into both the parish community and the Catholic Church. Godparents act as role models for those being baptised and help the parents in the Catholic upbringing of their child.
The Code of Canon Law describes some of the requirements for being a Godparent (Canon 874):
There is to be only one male or one female sponsor or one of each. One person is not able to have more than one Godfather or more than one Godmother.
A Godparent must be at least 16 years old
A Godparent must be a Catholic who has received the three Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, First Eucharist and Confirmation)
A Godparent must be a person who leads a life of faith in keeping with the teachings of the Catholic Church
A Godparent must not be the father or mother of the person receiving the Sacrament of Baptism
ARE THERE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH BAPTISM?
There are no costs associated with receiving the Sacrament of Baptism in our church. If you would like, you may offer a stipend to the priest who performs the baptism, or make a donation to our church.