Reflection on the effect of Baptism
Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us
by letting us be called God’s children;
and that is what we are.
My dear people, we are already the children of God
but what we are to be in the future
has not yet been revealed;
all we know is that when it is revealed
we shall be like Him because
we shall see Him as He really is.
John 3: 1-2
Congratulations on the birth of your baby. To bring new life into the world is a very special gift. We welcome your baby into our Parish Community.
To raise your child as a Christian is certainly a challenge. Baptism is the first step in your child’s journey to God and your own faith is essential for the steps which follow.
You will be giving your word to God and to the Church that you will endeavour to bring up your child in the practice of the Faith; knowing God as a loving Father. You are asking the Parish family to help you with this important task for, in Baptism your child becomes part of a wider family – the Church.
SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT BAPTISM
Q1. Why baptise our child?
The final command of Jesus to his followers was: “Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. Baptism then is a personal response to the offer, not of men or institutions, but of Jesus Christ.
Q2. What happens at Baptism?
At Baptism, through the pouring of water in the name of the Blessed Trinity, your child receives the supernatural life of God and becomes a member of the Church. Indeed, it is the greatest gift your child will ever receive in this life or in the next: in a mysterious but very real way – Heaven on Earth!
Q3. What about the Godparents?
Choose your Godparents with care. They should be practising Catholics and, having received the sacrament of Confirmation, be at least 16 years old. One godparent is sufficient but two are customary. When this is the case, one must be male and the other female.
They should be living near enough to you to get to know your child growing up, as they will be undertaking to help you in your responsibility in handing on the practice of the Faith. A distant cousin in America, therefore, would not be the best choice.
Q4. What will we need for the Ceremony?
- Baptismal Candle
- Child’s Full Birth Certificate
- White Baptismal Shawl
- Completed application form which can be got in the Sacristy or from one of the Priests (at least 2 weeks notice should be given to one of the priests).
THE READINGS AND THE SYMBOLS PRESENT IN THE CEREMONY
Readings – The word of God speaks to us today just as it did to the first Believers and should, therefore, be listened to carefully as it too is a source of Faith enrichment.
Sign of the Cross – At the beginning of the Baptism ceremony the priest traces the sign of the cross on your baby’s forehead and invites you and the godparents to do the same, symbolising that your child belongs to Christ. The Cross is the chief symbol of our faith in Jesus.
Anointing with Oils – In the celebration of Baptism two different oils are used:
- The Oil of Catechumens symbolises the preparation and strengthening of the soul required to receive the sacrament of Baptism.
- The Oil of Chrism is symbolic of the Gift received in Baptism. It is a sign of a special calling to witness to Christ in their lives and points to the reality of the Blessed Trinity now present in your newly baptised child.
Water – Water is the central symbol of Baptism. On the one hand, it represents a life washed clean of all sin while, on the other hand, it connotes both nourishment and growth in the supernatural life of Grace.
The White Garment – The white garment is the uniform of the newly baptised baby. It symbolises your child’s new identity as a member of God’s family, made innocent and pure by the life of God present through the grace of Baptism.
Candle – The Baptismal Candle is lit from the Easter Candle which is itself a symbol of our faith in Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Its light is passed to you, the Parents and Godparents, to represent your accepted duty to enkindle this light of faith in your newly baptised child.
Offering – While no offering is specified it is customary to give an offering to the priest and sacristan for their service to you (in separate envelopes, please).
When Baptism of any person between the ages of six and sixteen is requested, a preparatory catechesis is necessary for the parents/guardians of the child.
For those wishing to receive Baptism aged sixteen years and over, they are also required to complete the preparatory catechetical programme.
In both cases, please contact one of the priests of Holy Cross Parish, Charleville for information.