THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM
1. The Sacrament of Baptism is the most beautiful thing that happens in someone's life. Did you know that when someone is baptised, it means that God the Father, the Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, give the Christian many very special gifts? To be baptized in the Catholic Church means more then being sprinkled with water on one's head and receiving a Christian name. This short Bible course will teach you the true wonders of the Sacrament of Baptism.
2.The word 'Baptism' comes from a Greek word that means to 'plunge' or 'immerse'. To 'plunge' someone in water represents the person dying, being buried and resurrecting with Christ as a 'new creature.' (C.C.C. # 1214) Some call this Sacrament 'the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit' because Baptism results in a new birth of water and the Spirit. Without it, no one can enter the Kingdom of God. [Jn. 3:5] (C.C.C. # 1215)
[Note: All "C.C.C." references relate to the "Catechism of the Catholic Church."]
3.This 'bath' is called 'enlightenment'. That is because those who are preparing to receive this Church Sacrament will receive spiritual teachings from the Holy Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Enlightened by Jesus Who is the Light of the world [Jn. 1:9], the new Christians now have the potential of becoming 'children of light'. [1 Thess. 5:5; Heb. 10:32; Eph. 5:8] (C.C.C. # 1216, 1228)
THE EFFECTS OF ORIGINAL SIN
4. When Adam sinned by disobeying God, he called upon himself and all his descendants a spiritual and physical death." This means that the complete creation of every human being, as defined in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, would experience physical death (body) and spiritual death (soul/spirit) All would be condemned to die, to be eternally deprived of God's Divine Presence, because the sin of disobedience contaminated them.
In the book of Genesis, it states, "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it, and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man (Adam), 'You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.'" [Gen. 2:15-7]
"Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the overwhelming misery which oppresses men and their inclination towards evil and death cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam's sin and the fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the "death of the soul." Because of this certainty of faith, the Church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal sin." [Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1512] (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 403)
"If any one asserts, that the prevarication of Adam injured himself alone, and not his posterity; and that the holiness and justice, received of God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone, and not for us also, of that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has only transfused death, and pains of the body, into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is "the death of the soul"; let him be anathema ("Anathema" means "excommunicated"): -- whereas he contradicts the apostle who says; By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned." [Council of Trent; The Fifth Session; Celebrated on the seventeenth day of the month of June, in the year 1546; Number 2.]
5. Now, when people are born, they are born in the image of Adam. [Gen. 5:3] This means that they are born with a body, a soul/spirit that have been contaminated by the original sin. As Adam died, they are called to experience physical and spiritual death.
"When Adam had lived one hundred thirty years, he became the father of a son in his likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth." [Gen. 5:3]
6. The Sacrament of Baptism changes all that! It erases all traces of the original sin and personal sins that were committed by the person prior to receiving the Sacrament. (C.C.C. # 1263) This will be explained as the course continues. The Sacrament of Baptism gives the person a new life through Jesus. It brings the person back to God. But there is one thing that baptism does not change. That is the physical body of the person and its worldly inclinations towards sin! The body continues to be weak in nature, desiring to sin. Because of that, there is a constant spiritual and worldly battle within the person. (C.C.C. # 405)
7. Thousands of years ago, God was saddened because His chosen people would not obey His laws. The original sin within the people was continuously inclining their hearts, body and spirit towards wanting to sin. God decided to change all that. He promised to make a New Covenant. [Jer. 31:31] A New Covenant means that God was going to make a new agreement with the people.
"The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah." [Jer. 31:31]
8.The new agreement, the beautiful promise, that God made to the people was that He would help them become good by writing His laws in their hearts. [Jer. 31:33] That way, the people would always know what is right and wrong, what makes God happy or sad. The laws of God would be written on the people's mind all the time because the Holy Spirit of God would live in the people. The people would become living Temples of the Holy Spirit. [Ezek. 36:27; 1 Cor. 3:16] God would once more live with His people. [Jer. 31:33]
"But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." [Jer. 31:31]
"I will put my Spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances." [Ezek. 36:27]
"Do you not know that you are God's Temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?"
9. Over and above blessing the people with a free new heart (a spiritual inclination), God would place a free new spirit in them. With the free new heart and a new spirit, [Ezek. 11:19; 18:31; 36:26] the people would become God's people and He would be their God. [Ezek. 11:20]
"I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh." [Ezek. 11:19; 36:26]
"Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel?" [Ezek. 18:31]
10. These were God the Father's promises that are found in the Old Testament. He would bless His children with the indwelling Holy Spirit, give His children a new heart and a new human spirit, and write His laws on their hearts.
THE BAPTISM OF JESUS
11. When John the Baptist baptised Jesus, a beautiful thing happened. God showed to everyone who were present that 'Jesus' was 'the One Who is anointed by God'. That means that Jesus was God the Father's Chosen One, the One Who God had promised to send to save the people He loved. When Jesus was anointed, He was anointed with the Holy Spirit and the power of God. This anointing proved that Jesus was God! [Mt. 3:16-7; Mk. 1:24; Jn. 6:69; Acts 3:14] (C.C.C. # 438)
12. The public life of Jesus began with His Baptism on the shore of the Jordan River. It ended with Jesus commanding the Apostles to "go and make disciples of all, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that He had commanded them." [Mt. 28:19-20] (C.C.C. # 1223) These Words of Jesus from the Holy Bible teach the Christians the great importance of the Sacrament of Baptism.
THE NEW CREATURE
13. The gifts received from God during the Sacrament of Baptism are the most wonderful gifts that a person can receive during his life. The person who is baptised receives a new heart and a new spirit (spiritual inclination). The old heart of stone and spirit die during the Sacrament of Baptism. Also, God places His Holy Spirit within the person to help the new heart and the new spirit to remain righteous, obeying His Holy ways. [Ezek. 36:26] This is the most beautiful thing that happens to a person during the Sacrament of Baptism, something that most Christians do not even realize.
14. This transformation is what it means to be reborn. God actually creates a new heart and a new spirit within the convert who is being baptized. [Jn. 3:3, 5, 7; 1 Jn. 4:7, 5:1, 4] The person is truly not the same anymore, part of his creation having been changed.
BAPTISM, FAITH AND THE FORGIVENESS OF SIN
15. When Jesus commanded the Apostles to go into all the world and to preach the Gospel to the whole creation, that those who believe be baptised and saved, Jesus made faith an important part of the Sacrament of Baptism (C.C.C. # 1226) along with the forgiveness of sin. [Mk. 16:15-6] (C.C.C. # 985)
"And he said to them, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.'" [Mk. 16:15-5] (C.C.C. # 977)
16. A person cannot be baptised unless he sincerely repents of his sinful nature and has faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour, the Giver of the Holy Spirit and the new birth.
CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST
17. Before receiving the Sacrament of Baptism, the old self, the heart and human spirit, were stained by the original sin and all the other sins that the person had committed before being baptized. During the Sacrament of Baptism, all of this was crucified with Jesus so that the sinful body may be destroyed, the person no longer being a slave to sin. [Rom. 6:6]
"We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin." [Rom. 6:6]
BURIED WITH CHRIST
18. When a person is baptised, the old inclination of his heart and spirit die and are buried with Christ. [Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12]
"Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." [Rom. 6:4]
RESURRECTING WITH CHRIST
19. And, just as Jesus was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, within the one who is baptized, a new creation is raised from death to walk the new life that has received through Christ. [Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12] (C.C.C. # 628)
"When you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead." [Col. 2:12]
DEATH TO SIN
20. Because the old heart and spirit were united in the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Christ (C.C.C. 1227), they are dead to sin. A new heart and spirit were created within the convert who has now been reborn. This rebirth takes place so that the new Christian can now answer his call to live his faith in Christ.
THE CHURCH AND BAPTISM
THE CHURCH SACRAMENTS
21. The Catholic Church has seven Sacraments. (C.C.C. # 1113) Of the seven Sacraments of the Church, three of them are Sacraments of initiation to introduce a new convert into the Catholic Church. These are the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. (C.C.C. # 1212)
22. The Sacrament of Baptism gives birth to the Christian's life of faith. (C.C.C. # 1210) The Sacrament of Confirmation strengthens him. In the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the faithful receives food for eternal life. (C.C.C. # 1212)
THE NEW LIFE
23. Having died in the old nature with Christ, the new Christian is now called to imitate the life of Jesus through the new heart and spirit that he received as a gift of God during the Sacrament of Baptism. [Rom. 6:8]
24. Because Jesus obeyed His Father, the Christian is made righteous during the Sacrament of Baptism. [Rom. 5:19] He was buried with Christ during the Sacrament of Baptism so that now he may be raised as a new creation, he too walking in the newness of life. [Rom. 6:4]
25. "The new creation is everything!" [Gal. 6:15] The new heart and spirit has the blessed hope of not experiencing the spiritual death of the unsaved. Through the Sacrament of Baptism in the name of the Blessed Trinity, the Christian has become a new creation. "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away, see, everything has become new!" [2 Cor. 5:17] Because there is no more traces of the original sin or personal sin in the newness of the person, he is pure in the eyes of God. He has become suitable as a Temple of the Holy Spirit for God to dwell within him as a Christian.
Through the Sacrament of Baptism is fulfilled the promise of Jesus to the woman of Samaria. Jesus said to her, "Believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem..." "The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. For the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. [Jn. 4:21-4]
26. That is why those who are baptised are told to behave as new persons who have been created in the likeness of God, truly being good and holy. [Eph. 4:24] The new heart and spirit must make every effort to control the sinful inclinations of the physical body that is called to die.
THE BODY OF CHRIST
27. As soon as the new convert is baptised, he is received into the Body of Christ, being united to Jesus. (C.C.C. # 790) Through faith in Jesus, the newly baptised Christian receives his new heart and spirit of the seed of God, this qualifying him as a member the invisible family of the people of God. (C.C.C. # 804) He receives the same Holy Spirit as everyone else receives, no matter his gender, his age, his culture or his nationality. [1 Cor. 12:13] (C.C.C. # 1226, 1267)
28. Through the Sacraments of the Church, the believer begins his spiritual growth in holiness by the power of the Holy Spirit Who is drawing him towards God while purifying him. Most beautiful of all, the Christian is now allowed to receive the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist, the Real Presence, the Body of the Lord Jesus.
BUILDING THE BODY OF CHRIST
29. The Holy Spirit is responsible for the building up of the invisible Body of Christ that is made visible though the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Sacrament of Baptism is the doorway into the Body of Christ. No one can belong to the Body of Christ as a true child of God [1 Jn. 3:1], nor enter the Kingdom of God [Jn. 3:5], unless he is baptised. (C.C.C. # 1257, 1277) These are the Words of our Lord Jesus Himself!
30. Once the new Christian has entered into the Body of Christ by the grace and love of the Heavenly Father, the Holy Spirit gives him gifts and virtues for the building up of the Church. This allows the new Christian to perform the spiritual works to which he has been called in the Church of Jesus. (C.C.C. # 798)
31. Now, the newly baptised Christian can say for sure that "Jesus is Lord". [1 Cor. 12:3] Because God sent the Spirit of Jesus in the heart of the baptised Christian, the Holy Spirit can now call out "Abba! Father!" on behalf of the newly born Christian. [Gal. 4:6](C.C.C. # 683, 1997) The new life and the indwelling Holy Spirit are the most beautiful and life saving spiritual gifts that make it possible for the person to know what is spiritual. [1 Cor. 2:13]
RIGHTS AND DUTIES
32. Once baptised and belonging to the Body of Christ, the new Christian belongs to Christ. He is subject to others and required to obey and serve the Church leadership in sincere submission for the successful growth of the Body of Christ. While the Christian has duties to perform towards the Church, he also enjoys the Church Sacraments. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the Sacraments help the Christian to grow in his spiritual life to become more like Christ. (C.C.C. # 1269)
33. Having received these gifts from God, the believer also receives the name of 'Christian' to show that he belongs to the visible (the Church) and invisible (the family of God) Body of Christ (C.C.C. # 1271).
34. Having been baptized in Christ, the member of the Body of Christ is expected to become actively involved in the Church. (C.C.C. # 1269) Sadly, some people have become Christians by name only, they not shining in the holiness of Jesus as they were meant to. This fall away from the teachings of Jesus has even led to division in the Catholic Church, some groups breaking away from the direct descent of Peter. Because of this, it can be said that the believers in Jesus who have been properly baptised belong to an imperfect union in the Catholic Church. Therefore, they suffer from this imperfection until such time as the Body of Christ becomes one as Jesus intended it to become one. (C.C.C. # 838, 855)
35. To further explain the above, the physical Church is supposed to be a reflection of the spiritual Church of Christ. While all Catholics are equal and united as one invisible people of God by their new birth of the heart and spirit, they are divided in the visible Church. The purpose of the Divine Plan of God is to have the physical Church reflect the spiritual Church. All of God's people who have been reborn should be one people in one physical Church under one Head, Jesus Christ Himself.
SALVATION IS THROUGH THE CHURCH
36. Based on what has been said, no one can obtain salvation from Christ unless they do so through the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the visible Body of Christ. (C.C.C. # 846) For it is through the Sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church that is found the fullness of the grace of God that is absolutely necessary for salvation. Through faith in Christ and the Sacrament of Baptism, the believer receives his new heart, his new spirit and the indwelling Holy Spirit, all these being necessary to manifest a living faith in Christ prior to partaking in the Sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist.
It should be noted that although the fullness of the means of salvation is only found through the Holy Catholic Church, there are exceptions where non-Catholics can obtain their salvation. These include Baptism of desire, Baptism of Blood and the death of catechumens prior to their baptism. Also, infants of other Christian faiths who die after having been baptized, and who have not reached the age of reason (age 8), are considered to be saved. For further details, please see the course, "Salvation and the Catholic Church."
BEING SET APART
37. When a person is baptised, he is devoted to God. He has a responsibility to promote Christianity. Some people choose to become living sacrifices so they can enjoy a greater daily personal relationship with God. This is seen in those who consecrate their lives to God, the priests, the religious brothers and sisters and the missionaries. These Christians are required by their consecration to do missionary work according to the mandate of their religious Orders to which they belong. (C.C.C. # 931) Some preach the Gospel, others take care of the sick, some teach in the schools, etc...
BAPTISM, CONFIRMATION AND HOLY ORDERS
38. The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Orders can only be received once in the lifetime of the believers. (C.C.C. # 1246, 1272, 1280) This is because the Christian is sealed by the Holy Spirit in his new birth. This means that the new Christian heart and spirit now belongs to Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Christian belongs to Jesus forever, being open to God's grace to serve according to the Sacrament(s) that he has received. (C.C.C. 1121)
39. Because the Christian has been sealed by the Holy Spirit through Baptism, he is now allowed to participate in the religious services of the Church. The Christian is now obligated in love to serve God and practice the baptismal priesthood which he has received by living a holy life and practicing charity. (C.C.C. 1273)
40. The Christian who remains faithful until the end to the requirements of his Baptism will leave the world marked with the sign of faith, with his baptismal faith, in expectation of the blessed vision of God - the consummation of faith - and in the hope of resurrection. (C.C.C. 1274) This is the resurrection of those who have done good, they resurrecting like Jesus. [Rom. 6:5] They will be raised imperishable and will be changed. [1 Cor. 15:52] They will be like angels in Heaven. [Mt. 22:30]
THE BAPTISMAL PRIESTHOOD
41. Those who have received the new birth in Christ, they have become members of the common priesthood. (C.C.C. # 1268) That is because through the gift of a new heart and spirit, they belong to God. They have become spiritual priests in the invisible kingdom of God on earth. As a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, [1 Pet. 2:9], they are called to participate in the religious services of the Church. Not only do they have a right to participate, but they are obligated in to do so in thanksgiving by their Baptism. (C.C.C. 1141)
BAPTISM AND SIN
STRUGGLING AGAINST SIN
42. When a believer is baptised, all traces of original and personal sins are removed from his entire being. He receives a new heart and a new spirit that are free of sin. Because the new Christian still possesses the weakness of the human nature (the worldly desires) in his physical body, there remains a constant battle between his spiritual and worldly inclinations that oppose one another. (C.C.C. # 978) That is why Paul said that he could not understand his own actions. He was not doing what he wanted to do and he was doing what he hated to do. [Rom. 7:15]
43. In Romans 7:14 to 8:11, Paul explains that as long as a Christian lives his faith in Christ, the new heart and spirit within him cannot sin. [Rom. 7:20, 8:2] It is the inclination of the sinful physical body that is sinning. [Rom. 7:24] That physical body is condemned to die because it cannot submit itself to God. [Rom. 8:8] The new spiritual heart and spirit are kept sinless by the sprinkling of the Blood of Christ as long as the Christian walks his living faith in Christ through the Church Sacraments that the Holy Spirit uses to sanctify the faithful believer.
44. Numerous Bible passages teach that man has two inclinations, a physical one and a new spiritual heart that draws towards God, both disagreeing with each other. James makes reference to both when he speaks about the unstable double-minded person. [Jas. 1:8, 4:8] Some Biblical passages only speak of the new inclination while other passages only speak of the carnal (worldly) inclination. When combining these passages, it becomes obvious that two opposing inclinations are at work in the Christians.
45. In the First Letter to the Corinthians, it is said, "What human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within?" [1 Cor. 2:11] Ask yourself, "Can the new heart and spirit know anything unless it has a spiritual inclination that enables it to be able to witness for or against your behaviour?" To answer this question, Paul said, "It is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God." [Rom. 8:16] Your new heart and spirit bear witness with the Holy Spirit that you have a new inclination towards what is holy.
46. Your person experiences an ongoing battle between good and evil. During that process, your new heart and spirit responds to your new spiritual inclination. It is obedient to God. It desires eternal life. It longs for Divine love, goodness and all what is spiritual. [Acts 17:6, 11; Rom. 8:2] At the same time, your worldly inclination responds to the nature of the physical body. It desires the natural worldly pleasures, wealth, fame, the ways of comfort, procreation, security and all what is necessary to survive in a physical world. [Rom. 7:14, 8:8] The worldly heart does not rely on God. It is self-centered. The natural and spiritual laws of the two opposing inclinations constantly oppose one another. [Rom. 8:6-7]
47. The Christian knows in his heart that he is a child of God. Through the grace of God, he is constantly being drawn towards his Creator and spiritual things. "Do you suppose it is for nothing that the Scripture says, 'God yearns jealously for the spirit that He has made to dwell in us.'" [Jas. 4:5]
48. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, the Christian's new spiritual inclination that is holy, seeks to live by the new spirit with the help of the Spirit of God Who dwells in him. [Rom 8:9] Because of the new heart received during the Sacrament of Baptism, there is an ongoing inner conflict within the Christian. Both, his spiritual inclination and his worldly inclination battle to take control of the person.
49. Some people call this battle the little voices that speak in their hearts, the voices of good and evil. These voices, if we call them that, really are the two different inclinations that oppose each other within man.
50. The fact that the Christian is aware of his inner voice that reveals itself through the spiritual inclination of his new heart and spirit received at baptism, this is a form of proof that the self-consciousness will never die. When physical death comes upon the Christian who has lived his faith in Christ through the Sacraments, it will be the physical body that will die along with its evil ways. The person will live on with the new heart and spirit that will finally be freed from the physical body to rise towards God to inherit the Heavenly Kingdom.
51. Therefore, as long as a person lives in the body, he will continue to struggle against sin. (C.C.C. # 1264) Through his new heart and spirit, he must always strive to gain control of the inclinations of the physical body. This can only be achieved by disciplining one's body and appetites, [Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5] fasting and prayer in a daily relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus provides the individual with the necessary graces to gain control over his physical body, the Christian becoming more like Jesus Himself. (C.C.C. # 2340, 2520)
THE RESURRECTION OF LIFE
52. When a person experiences death, his soul departs from the physical body. The physical body begins the decaying process while the spirit returns to God. The same happened to Jesus when He experienced physical death. When He died on the cross, He commended His Spirit to God. [Lk. 23:46] At that time, the life that Jesus had in Himself [Jn. 5:26], came to an end.
53. At physical death, the spirit of the Christians who lived their faith in Christ go to the resurrection of life. Those who have done evil, rejecting the gifts of the Holy Spirit, go to the resurrection of condemnation. [Jn. 5:29] (C.C.C. # 998)
THE FIRST INSTALMENT
54. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, God establishes His children in Christ and anoints them, by putting His seal on them and giving them His Spirit in their hearts as a first instalment. [2 Cor. 1:22, 5:5]
55. To obtain the final instalment, salvation in Christ, those who have been baptized are required to live their faith in Christ. They live their faith in Christ by allowing the Holy Spirit to sanctify them and move through them for the glory of God. The soul is sanctified through its active participation in the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, these being an endless source of Divine graces.
BAPTISM OF INFANTS
56. Because of the greatness of the eternal gift that is received during the Sacrament of Baptism, the Church does not desire to see anyone die without receiving this Sacrament. (C.C.C. # 1250) The Church also realizes that the Sacrament of Baptism requires a Profession of faith, something that infants and younger children cannot profess.
57. In its spiritual wisdom, the Catholic Church made use of a gift that Jesus gave to the Church. Jesus said to Simon Peter, "I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven." [Mt. 16:19] This means that whatever the Church approved on earth by the grace of Jesus and the inspirations of the Holy Spirit for the glory of the Heavenly Father, Heaven will recognize it.
58. Knowing that it had this power, the Catholic Church determined in its spiritual wisdom to baptise infants as soon as they were born. This would ensure that infants would also receive their new heart and spirit to guide them in life. This would be their guarantee of salvation as children of God should they die before reaching the age of reason.
(Remember # 4 above. The Council of Trent, genuinely concerned for unbaptized infants who could experience "the death of the soul" because of the original sin due to the disobedience of Adam, it determined that even tiny infants, while they have not committed personal sin, they should be baptized for the remission of sins.)
59. Because of this decision, the Church also realized that infants must be educated later on after their Baptism, this being a parental role. This is where the catechism serves a great purpose in the Church. (C.C.C. # 1231)
60. The history of infant Baptism has been traced to the second century and could have also existed during the days of apostolic preaching when entire 'households' were baptised. (C.C.C. # 1252, 1282)
61. When infants are baptised, the Christian parents who have given birth to this newborn soul, a gift of God, have an obligation to nurture its new life in the light of God. (C.C.C. # 1251)
THE IMPORTANCE OF GODPARENTS
62.Because Baptism is the Sacrament of faith, when godparents speak on behalf of infants, they are asked what do they ask of God's Church? To this question, they answer, "Faith". (C.C.C. # 1253)
63. After Baptism, faith must grow within the child. For this reason, the renewal of baptismal promises are made each year at the Easter Vigil. (C.C.C. # 1254)
64. The parents and godparents of newly baptised infants bear the main responsibility for their spiritual growth and the safeguarding of the grace that the infants receive during the Sacrament of Baptism. (C.C.C. # 1255)
THE BAPTISM OF ADULTS
65. In new areas where the Gospel is being preached, the Baptism of adults is very common. In such cases, the catechism serves the purpose of preparing the adult into the Christian faith and life to receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. (C.C.C. # 1247-9)
BAPTISM OF DESIRE
66. Some people die while being ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and His Church. In such cases, it can be presumed that they have received the Baptism of desire and were saved if they truly searched for the truth and lived righteous lives by the will of God in accordance with their understanding. "It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity." (C.C.C. # 1260, 1281)
BAPTISM OF BLOOD
67. In a situation where someone endures death for the sake of his faith without having received the Sacrament of Baptism, he is baptised by death for and with Christ. The Church recognizes that in such a case, he has received the Baptism of blood, this being like a baptism of desire. Although not a Sacrament, the Baptism of blood reflects the fruit of the Holy Spirit which shines forth. (C.C.C. # 1258)
68. In situations where infants die without being baptised, the Church can only rely on the mercy of God to invite them in His Kingdom. The Church is fully aware that Jesus wanted the children to come to Him while He lived on earth. [Mk. 10:14]
69. In the case of an emergency, anyone can baptise another person as long as he has the intention of doing so and says the proper words. He is only required to pour water over the person's head and say the words, "I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." (C.C.C. # 1284)
THE SACRAMENT OF FORGIVENESS
70. As previously said, the Christian who has been baptised has received by the grace of God the indwelling Holy Spirit, a new heart and a new spirit. He is now equipped with the necessary spiritual tools that qualifies him to enter into the Kingdom of God. At the same time, because the new spiritual inclination does not have full control over the worldly ways of the body, the Christian will always battle against evil and sin.
71. To spiritually grow in the likeness of Christ, the Christian must confess his weaknesses of the body. Otherwise, he will not be in harmony with the new heart and spirit that he has received during the Sacrament of Baptism through faith in Christ. consequently his soul will not be pleasing to the Lord. God is jealous of His creations in which His Spirit lives. [Jas. 4:5] He desires that they grow spiritually by loving Him first and then others. God expects the Christians to forgive one another when the spiritual law demands an act of forgiveness. He also expects His children to ask for His forgiveness when they neglect self-control over their bodies through self-abuses and other worldly pleasures that displease Him.
72. Through the Sacrament of Confession, the Christian regains the state of grace that he previously enjoyed when he received the Sacrament of Baptism but which he loss in the eyes of God because of sin. (C.C.C. # 1446) His soul once more becomes stainless, having been sprinkled by the Blood of Christ. [Heb. 9:13-4]
MARRIAGE BETWEEN CHRISTIANS
73.Marriage between Christians is a true Sacrament of the New Covenant. It is God's people marrying God's people so they will raise holy children. This way, God's people are kept pure through the Church and the Sacrament of marriage that the Church performs. (C.C.C. # 1617)
74.When a child is baptised, the parents, godparents (sponsors) and pastor should work together to ensure that the child receives a Christian name that expresses a Christian mystery or virtue. Names that express Christian mysteries can be the name of a saint who lived a great spiritual life and who enjoyed a very special relationship with the Lord Jesus. (C.C.C. # 2156, 2165)
BAPTISM BY LAY PERSONS 75.When the Catholic Church finds it necessary to do so because of a shortage of ministers, it can appoint properly trained lay persons to assist the priests in the ministering of the religious Sacraments of Baptism and the distribution of Holy Communion. (C.C.C. # 903)
THE DIFFERENT BAPTISMS
76. When John the Baptist baptised on the banks of the Jordan River, he was preaching the Baptism of water which is a Baptism of repentance. [Mt. 3:6] In that case, the Baptism was an outward sign, a profession of faith, on the part of the believer that he was repenting of his sins, giving his life to God. (C.C.C. # 720)
77. John preached that the Baptism of Jesus would be a Baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire. [Mt. 3:11] The Baptism of Jesus that includes water, the Holy Spirit and fire, represent four things that happen in the following order:
78. First of all, the Sacrament of Baptism by water reflects the believer's sincere repentance, his turning away from sin and giving his life to God. It is the public profession of faith that one now belongs to Jesus. (C.C.C. # 1427)
79. Secondly, through faith in Jesus Christ and the Sacrament of Baptism, the believer receives his new heart and spirit in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This happens at the moment when the Priest baptizes the new convert by saying the baptismal words and sprinkling the water. At this moment, a supernatural event takes place within the person, the old heart and human spirit being replaced by the new creation. [Gal. 6:15] This is the most beautiful gift that a person can receive during his life!
80. Thirdly, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit means that the Holy Spirit has descended on the Christian to dwell within his physical body, coexisting with the new heart and spirit. Now the believer begins to feel a growing burning desire for Jesus, being drawn towards God by the power of the Holy Spirit.
81. Finally, through the Baptism by fire, the new Christian accepts the purification of the Holy Spirit. (C.C.C. # 1227) This process of being purified provides the new creation with the necessary additional strength to gain control of the physical body. During this process of sanctification, the Christian shines in the fruit of the Holy Spirit through Jesus, displaying love towards God and others.
82. Following the receiving of the Sacrament of Baptism, many things happen such as the believer receiving the fruit of the Spirit, one or more spiritual gifts, being justified, receiving moral virtues and theological virtues to know God (C.C.C. # 1266), all of these being received from the Holy Spirit.
THE CEREMONY OF BAPTISM
83. This section briefly explains the symbolic meaning of what happens during the ceremonial administration of the Sacrament of Baptism.
THE RITE OF BAPTISM
84. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, the believer is born as a Christian, as another "Christ." Through this privilege, he enters a new and Divine life - sharing in the life of God. Becoming a member of the spiritual Body of Christ, he now has the mind of Christ in his thoughts, words and actions.
THE RECEPTION OF THE CHILD
85. Because of the importance of the Sacrament of Baptism, whenever possible, this event takes place on a Sunday in the presence of the faithful. This Sacrament involves the relatives, friends and neighbours.
THE SYMBOL OF WATER
86. Water is used during the Sacrament of Baptism because it is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. It shows the actions of the Holy Spirit during the rebirth of Baptism in God. (C.C.C. # 1213) From the believer's heart will flow rivers of living water. [Jn. 4:10; 7:38-9]
87. From the Holy Spirit flows all the blessings [Rev. 21:6] of Jesus Who was crucified. The Sacrament of Baptism allows the new Christian to drink of the Holy Spirit, (C.C.C. # 694) to be sanctified so he may inherit the Kingdom of God.
88. During the ceremony of Baptism, the priest says a prayer of blessing, asking that the water within the baptismal basin be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Touching the water with his right hand, he asks the Heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit upon the water that will be used for the baptism of the child (or adult).
THE PRAYERS OF EXORCISM
89. During the Sacrament of Baptism, the Priest says two prayers of Exorcism.
90. The first one is said after the reading of the Gospel. During that prayer, the Priest commands any impure spirits who might be present to depart from the person to be baptised. This process is to purify the physical body of the believer. The spiritual body does not need purification because a new creation will be born when the sinful one dies.
91. The second prayer of Exorcism is called "Ephpheta." (Ephpheta means 'Be opened') After the prayer, the Priest touches the ears and mouth of the child with his thumb. He then says, "The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May He soon touch your ears to receive His Word, and your mouth to proclaim His faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father."
THE OIL OF CATECHUMENS
92. Before anointing the child with the oil of catechumens, the priest proceeds to invoke God to set the child free of original sin, to become a Temple of His glory in which will dwell the Holy Spirit.
THE OIL OF CHRISM
93. The Sacred Chrism is a perfumed oil that has been consecrated by the Bishop. (C.C.C. # 1241) When the Priest anoints the one to be baptised, he asks God to bless the believer with all the necessary graces to achieve a Christian life. The Word 'Christian' comes from the name of 'Christ' which means 'Anointed One'. The baptised person is admitted into the common priesthood of which Jesus is the High Priest.
THE WHITE GARMENT
94. The white garment represents putting on Christ. Announcing that the believer has become a new creature, having been clothed with Christ, the Priest places the white garment on the new Christian. He then proclaims that this garment is the outward sign of the believer's Christian dignity. In the case of infants, with the help of the parents, godparents and friend, by their words and examples, it is proclaimed that the newly baptised child be allowed to bring that dignity unstained into the Heavenly eternal life.
95. Taking the Easter candle, the priest says, "Receive the light of Christ."Then, when an infant is involved, the father or the godfather lights the child's candle from the Easter candle. The priest tells the parents and godparents that they have been entrusted with this light so it will be kept burning brightly. Having been enlightened by Christ, the child is to always walk as a child of the light. The flame of faith which is in his heart is to be kept alive at all time so when the Lord comes, he will go out to meet Him with all the saints of the Heavenly Kingdom.
This ends the course "The Sacrament of Baptism." Now that you understand the purpose of the Sacrament of Baptism, it is hoped that you will guide all those you know to this precious Sacrament so they may become members of the Body of Christ. Then, by your living example, you will have the opportunity to guide them in their living faith in Jesus so they may share with you eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
The Catholic Doors Ministry congratulates you for your ongoing efforts to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. You are encouraged to continue to do so by registering in other courses for the enrichment of your soul. A wide variety of Christian topics are offered, each one having the potential to enrich your spiritual life by the grace of God. May the Holy Spirit inspire you to do what is necessary to guide you towards your sanctification.
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