The Sacraments: Baptism

Posted on March 13, 2023 by Published by

Baptism is the greatest and most glorious gift from God.  The word “gift” is key because there is nothing we need to do to receive this gift, and there is nothing we could possibly do that would cause this gift to be taken away.  Baptism seals us with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of belonging to Christ. This sign is indelible because it remains even in a person who may lose the state of grace or even the virtue of faith. 

Calling this God’s greatest gift may seem bold – but baptism is what transforms us into a child of God and gives us access to everlasting life in His kingdom.  As stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church – This sacrament is also called “the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit” for it signifies and actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one can enter the kingdom of God (CCC 1215).

While eternal life is the goal – Baptism also provides the graces we need to help us on our journey.  Through Baptism we receive:

  • Cleansing from original sin — Everyone is born into a state of original sin as the entire human race is implicated in Adam’s sin.  Baptism is Christ’s answer, giving us even greater blessings than those sin had taken from us.
  • The Holy Spirit — The Holy Spirit comes to us through Baptism.  The Holy Spirit is the ongoing presence of God within us, ensuring God is our constant companion throughout our entire lives. The Holy Spirit inspires, enlightens, guides and never leaves us.
  • Sacramental grace — The grace of baptism is a rebirth in Christ and opens a channel of blessing from God to the baptized.  Grace gives us spiritual energy and helps us grow in virtue and holiness.
  • Entry into the Body of Christ – the Church — We become part of the church and members of our faith community.  When we ask parents why baptism is important to them, they most often reference growing up in and belonging to a rich faith community, and the sense of peace, belonging, friendship and order they felt as a result.

The Rite of Baptism is a rather short but beautiful rite with the following components:

  • Reception of the child – parents and godparents state their intentions and the child is welcomed with a sign of the cross traced on their foreheads
  • Liturgy of the Word and Intercessions – we hear from God about the meaning of baptism, and we pray for the children being baptized and their families
  • Invocation of Saints – We call upon the saints for their help and intercessions for the newly baptized and their families.
  • Prayer of Exorcism and Anointing – An exorcism prayer is recited over the one being baptized, freeing them from sin and evil. The celebrant anoints the person to be baptized with the Oil of Catechumens – this oil is only used at baptism
  • Blessing the Baptismal Water – the celebrant calls down the Holy Spirit over the font to transform the water into holy water
  • Renunciation of Sin and Profession of Faith – Parents and godparents renew their baptismal promises and are reminded of the responsibilities they will undertake
  • Baptism – This is when the celebrant pours water on the child’s head three times, saying “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
  • The Anointing with Sacred Chrism -The celebrant anoints the newly baptized with sacred Chrism (perfumed oil signifying the gift of the Holy Spirit).  This same oil is also used at Confirmation when the child accepts the faith on their own.
  • Clothing of the White Garment and the Candle – the white garment symbolizes the child is now clothed with Christ and the candle (lit from the Paschal candle) symbolizes the light of faith that parents hand on through Baptism.
  • Ephphatha (be opened) – the celebrant gives a special blessing over the child’s ears and mouth for openness to receive God’s word and proclaim it.
  • Our Father and Final Blessing – After praying the Our Father as a community, the celebrant provides a 3-part blessing – for the mother, the father and all the witnesses gathered.

Here are some commonly asked questions about Baptism:

  • Do I have to be Catholic to have my child baptized?
    • No.  The Church does not require that parents be Catholic (Code of Canon Law 868).  Having said that – Parents make 3 promises when their child is baptized:
      • Training your child in the practice of the Catholic faith
      • Bringing up your child to keep God’s commandments
      • Protecting your child from sin
    • So, all parents need is the intent to raise their child in the Catholic faith.  Whether Catholic or not – this is no small undertaking!  One of the discussions we have in our Baptism Preparation class is how we need to rely on the support of not only our family and friends – but our wonderful community here are Our Lady of the Wayside and the many ministries that support parents and children in their faith journey.
  • Do Godparents have to be Catholic?
    • We hope that parents choose godparents who will take an active role in the faith formation of their child.  To that end, at least one godparent must be a practicing Catholic who is at least 16 years of age and received the Sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation. If married, the godparent must be married in the Catholic Church or had their marriage blessed by the Catholic Church.
  • Do I have to have two godparents, and do they have to be male and female?
    • The church requires at least one godparent (male or female) who meets the requirements listed above. If you have two godparents, they should be male and female.  If you choose two godparents of the same sex, one can be the “official” godparent for the record book, and the other can be the “honorary” one. (This designation is for record keeping only – you don’t have to tell this to anyone!)
  • At what age can someone be baptized?
    • There is no age limit to be baptized – it’s never too late!  When a child reaches “age of reason” (typically 7 years) they must participate in catechesis (like RCIA) to prepare them for baptism.
  • What preparation is required?
    • For baptisms of children under 7, we have a baptism preparation class for parents only if this is their first child being baptized.  We ask for about 2 hours of prework, and then a 1 hour in person meeting in church.

Baptizing children is my favorite thing to do as a Deacon – Being a witness to bringing this wonderful gift from God to others is the most joyful experience.  If you are interested in having your child baptized or if you have any questions – please contact me at!

This is the second installment in a series of articles about the Seven Sacraments, contributed by Deacon Peter LeTourneau, Director of Parish Ministry and Evangelization at Our Lady of the Wayside Parish. 

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