26. Baptism makes us children of
God and members of the Church

  Introduction

   After eighty years of paganism, an old man found the light of faith, he converted and was baptized. Two years later he became seriously ill; everyone realized that his death time had arrived. Someone asked him how old he was, and he said: to tell you the truth, I am only two years old. Nobody was able to understand his response, however, then the old man said: it is not a difficult thing to understand, I started living right after having been baptized; it’s like if my previous life does not exist anymore.

    This anecdote may serve to introduce the study of baptism, “the sacrament of faith”, “the door of the sacraments” or “the door of the Church”, as it is known since ancient times. We must know the importance of being baptized.

  A. Answer with one of these options: 80, 82, 84, baptism, marriage

 How old was the old man as he was dying?

  What was the most important thing for the old man?






  Main Ideas

1. The Sacraments for Christian initiation

   We know that the sacraments for a Christian initiation are: Baptism, which is the beginning of the new life in Christ; Confirmation, which strengthens and fills our life, and the Eucharist, which nourishes us with the Body and Blood of Christ to join Him and transforms us until we identify with Him.

2. The Meaning of Baptism  

   Paul explains that through baptism we die to sin and rise to a new life of grace (Romans 6, 3-11). This fact is most easily understood when the sacrament is carried out through immersion, which is the act of entering and exiting the water that signifies death and resurrection.

    Indeed, we all are born with inherited sin from our first parents, and consequently, we are deprived of grace; however, Christ freed us through his death and resurrection. His death cleanses us from sin and makes us die to sin; His resurrection and rebirth makes us live the new life of Christ. Baptism is the sacrament that gives the fruits of redemption to every one that is baptized, so that we may die to sin and rise to the supernatural life of grace.

3. What is Baptism?

   When Christ sent his apostles around the world, he told them: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16).

    Baptism is the sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ, who makes us his disciples and regenerates us in the life of grace through the purifying ablution with natural water and the invocation of the three divine entities. Baptism is the foundation of Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit and the door that gives access to the other sacraments.

    The core of this sacrament is the purifying ablution (the action of washing or bathing) with natural water, while the following words are recited: “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

4. The effects of Baptism

   a) It deletes original sin. Baptism forgives and destroys the original sin that everyone is born with. When it is an adult that is baptized, baptisms also deletes personal sins and the punishment for them respectively, and if a newly baptized person would die, he or she would go straight to heaven.

    b) It infuses the sanctifying grace. By the sacrament of baptism, God infuses the soul with the sanctifying grace, which is a participation of the divine nature, together with the theological virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The soul becomes docile and ready for the impulses of the Holy Spirit with these gifts. Due to grace, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit establish their home in the soul, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

    c) It confers sacramental character. The other effect of Baptism is its character, a certain spiritual and indelible sign that explains that this sacrament can be received only once. The baptismal character embodies Christ, it gives a share of his priesthood, it enables us to continue his mission in the world as his faithful disciples, and it distinguishes us from the disbelievers (those who do not profess the true faith).

    d) It incorporates us into Jesus Christ. Both grace and character are supernatural effects of baptism, which unites us to Christ, as body parts join the head. Christ is our Head and the character binds us to Him forever, but it is grace that makes us living human beings.

    e) It incorporates us into the Church. By baptism we become members of the Church, entitled to participate in the Holy Eucharist and receive the other sacraments; without being baptized, one cannot receive any of the sacraments. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, and Baptism incorporates us into Christ, who is the head, and his Body, which is the Church.

  B. To what question do these claims refer? Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, immersion, fun, wisdom, grace, baptizers, preachers, condemned, saved, original, small, large, sanctifying, sacramental, personal, family, Church.

 During this act we are fed with the Body and Blood of Christ

  It is the beginning of new life of Christ

  It gives us strength and fullness of life

 Getting in and out of the water during baptism is

  Everyone is born with original sin and without

  Go and make all nations disciples

  He who believes and is baptized shall be

  Baptism takes away this type of sin

  Baptism infuses this type of grace

  Baptism confers this type of character

  It incorporates us with Jesus Christ and the


5. The Necessity of Baptism

   Baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation, as the Lord said to Nicodemus: “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5). When we are unable to receive the sacrament of baptism, one can obtain grace in order to be saved by the so called baptism of desire - which is an act of perfect love of God, or the repentance of sins through the explicit or implicit vote of the sacrament - as well as by the baptism of blood or martyrdom, which is to devote one’s life to Christ.

    Since we are born with a fallen human nature and stained with the original sin, children need to be baptized as soon as possible. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation particularly manifests during the baptism of children. Therefore, the Church and parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God, if the baptism is not organized shortly after birth; that is why the need for children to be baptized rather soon. That is the greatest gift that they can receive, since from that time forward, they are forever members of Christ, priest, prophet and king (Rite of Baptism).

    As for children who die without being baptized, the Church invites us to trust in God's mercy and to pray for his or her salvation.

6. Who can conduct baptism?

   Normally, the priest is the one who baptizes, or another parish or deacon with his permission, but if necessary anyone can do it. Given the importance and necessity of baptism, God has provided all that is necessary to conduct this sacrament; so even an unbaptized person, who has the intention to do what the Church does, and carries it out successfully, can baptize. The reason behind is that it is always Christ who baptizes, as Saint Augustine said: Pedro baptizes? Christ baptizes. John baptizes? Christ baptizes. Jude baptizes? Christ baptizes.

7. The method to conduct baptism

   To conduct the sacrament of baptism, it is necessary to pour natural water on the head while saying, with an intention to baptize: “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The ceremony of baptism has several parts, but the bottom line is the necessity to pour the water, and at the same time, utter the words “I baptize you...”.

8. The obligations that baptism imposes

   When baptism is conducted for children, parents and godparents are the ones who are responsible for the neophyte (the person that is newly converted to a religion, usually young). However, a Christian adult - who knows about the effects of the sacrament in the soul - must answer for himself and be firmly willing to live as a baptized person. That answer can be specified through acts of expressing faith (by reciting the Creed, for example), proposing to keep the law of Christ and of his Church, and renouncing the devil and his works forever, as it is done during the Easter ceremony so as to renew baptismal promises.


Catechesis Course. Don Jaime Pujol Balcells and Don Jesús Sancho Bielsa. EUNSA. Navarra. 1982. With the permission of the authors.


  C. Choose one of the parts of the Christian doctrine: to be saved, to know, blood, desire, soon, parish, priest, anybody, nobody, holy, good, uncle or godparent.

Baptism is absolutely necessary to be

 If you cannot receive it, it can be achieved through the grace from the baptism of

 Martyrs give their lives for Christ and receive the baptism of

 Children must be baptized

 Usually the minister of baptism is the

 If needed, people can be baptized by

 I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy

 Those responsible for the baptism of children are the


  Catechism Questions

1. What is baptism?  Baptism is the sacrament of spiritual regeneration of divine life through the ablution of water and the expressed invocation of the Trinity, and the incorporation into Christ and the Church.

2. What benefits does baptism give? Baptism bears the fruit of forgiveness from original sin and personal sin, if there are any; it infuses sanctifying grace and the virtues and gifts that accompany it, thus making man the son of God by adoption, a member of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit, along with transmitting the sacramental character.

3. What is the character of baptism?  The character of baptism is an indelible mark, which consecrates the baptized to worship the Christian religion, since it grants participation in the priesthood of Christ; which is the reason that it can only be received once.

4. When should baptism be conduct for children?  Baptism should be conducted for children as soon as possible.

  D. Select the button of the correct answer. Below are the possible answers:

 QUESTIONS

 ANSWERS

  What is baptism?

  What benefits does baptism give?

  What is the character of baptism?

  When should baptism be conducted for children?


 POSSIBLE ANSWERS

 A

 It is the sacrament of spiritual regeneration of divine life through the ablution of water and the express invocation of the Trinity, which incorporates us into Christ and the Church.

 B

 It is an indelible mark, which consecrates the one who is baptized to worship the Christian religion, since it grants participation in the priesthood of Christ; that is the reason why it can only be received once.

 C

 As soon as possible.

 D

 The forgiveness of original sin and personal sin, if there are any; it infuses the sanctifying grace and the virtues and gifts that accompany it, making man the son of God by adoption, a member of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit, along with sacramental character.

  The purposes of Christian life

- Thank God for having been baptized; know the day that you were baptized, and celebrate it.

- Be aware of that baptism imposes the Christian exigency of preserving and growing in the life of grace, by faithfully fulfilling the commandments of the law of God and the Church.



 
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®Arturo Ramo García.-Record of intellectual property of Teruel (Spain) No 141, of 29-IX-1999
Plaza Playa de Aro, 3, 1º DO 44002-TERUEL