The Sacrament of Baptism
Through this sacrament God, our loving Father, opens to us the wells of salvation. It is the means by which God brings to us the saving mystery of the cross and resurrection of Jesus. St Paul in his letter to the Church in Rome makes this explicit:
‘Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised 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)
The Need for Salvation
All men and women are in need of the salvation God offers through Christ because all human beings are separated from God and one another by sin, ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Rom 3:23). Sin disfigures, and at it’s worst destroys, our ability to relate. Sins are actions which flow from that fact that each person is conceived marked or distorted by sin – we sin because we are sinners. It is this disfigurement, which lies within our human-nature, which the Church refers to as original sin. We believe it comes from humanity’s original No to God and it can be glimpsed, with some wonder, when a child seemingly from nowhere says no mummy or no daddy.
Salvation flows from the fact that God refuses simply to walk away from all our human No’s. Salvation begins with God’s Yes, His loving affirmation of us even while we are sinners. That Yes reaches a climax in Jesus. God unites his divine nature to human nature in Jesus of Nazareth: the only begotten Son of God and Son of Mary. God’s Yes is never silenced, even at the moment of His death on Calvary Jesus’ cry is one of forgiveness and triumph. God’s Yes to humanity is a Yes to life – resurrection is the last word not death.
Baptism brings us both to the foot of the cross and to the door of the empty tomb where in the depth of our souls we might hear Christ’s word ‘Father forgive...’ and receive his resurrection life to become adopted daughter and sons of God. The Church says this: ‘Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as children of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission:
"Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1213)
Consequent to this Holy Baptism is an essential element in the Christian life and the mission of the Church:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising 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." (Matt 28:19,20)
However while baptism is an act of God’s loving initiative it is not magic. It is an act which establishes a relationship which, like all other relationships, needs to be lived out. If we are brought to new birth in Baptism then we need to go on living. Grace is the word we use to describe God’s, loving initiative. Faith is the word we use to describe our loving response. Loving, life-giving Grace is received through loving, living faith. Faith not simply as believing things about God but faith as trusting openness which accepts God saving work within us and daily responds to it.
The Catholic Church offers baptism to believers: that is adults who, after preparation, have made a profession of personal faith and to the children of believers: that is the children of those who Sunday by Sunday live out their faith and who, after preparation, promise before God to bring their Children up within the worshiping community of the Church. These promises or oaths are the Christian’s sacramentum: our act of public, but personal, consecration of ourselves or our children to God – only the foolish would take such an act lightly.
Practice, Preparation and Profession are the path to the Sacraments.
Adults are baptised within the Catholic Church principally at Easter. Anyone who has not been baptised before may be baptised either by sprinkling or full emersion after 6 months of practice of the faith, preparation in the facts of the faith and a public profession of that faith. At that same service the sacrament’s of Confirmation and Holy Communion will also be conferred. Any adult who has been baptised before: either as a Catholic or within another Christian Church or Community will after 6 months of practice, preparation and a public profession of faith receive the sacrament of Confirmation and Holy Communion.
See: How to Become a Catholic
Baptism of Infants
Those who wish to have their children Baptised must inform Fr Basil at least 2 months before the proposed date. This to allow time for preparation to be undertaken.
While two practicing Catholic Godparents are the norm never the less only one is essential, the child’s other ‘Godparent’ may be a baptised Christian from another denomination. Proof of Baptism will need to be provided in both instances.
Preparation will take the form of two meetings, one involving both parents and godparents.
Please make contact with Fr Andrew at the end of Sunday Mass when a Baptism Request Form and further information will be provided