December 23

Baptism

Baptism is a Christian rite that has existed since the time of the New Testament. Baptism is the most important Christian sacrament. It grants a person access to all the other sacraments, especially the Lord's Supper, also known as Holy Communion.

What is the meaning of baptism?

Baptism is the first sacrament. Through baptism, a person is accepted into the faith community of Christians. It is a real symbol of the special, indissoluble communion of the baptized person with Jesus Christ. In Romans 6:3-6 Apostle Paul says:

"We have died to sin. How could we still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who are baptized into Christ Jesus are baptized into His death? So we are buried with him through baptism into death. But as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we are united with him by the likeness of his death, we shall be so also by the likeness of his resurrection."

Through the Son of God original sin has lost its power over the baptized person. The sacrament has its origin in the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan River.

Who performs baptism?

The sacrament of baptism is administered by a catholic priest. In the Catholic Church, most are still baptized as babies. In cases of emergency, it can also be administered by anyone else (emergency baptism). Previously, the person being baptized has been asked about his or her faith. In the case of infant baptism, the parents and godparents profess their faith and their responsibility to raise the child in the Catholic faith. Baptism, along with Confirmation and First Communion, is one of the so-called Sacraments of Initiation (Introductory Sacraments). An adult candidate for baptism receives all three sacraments of initiation in a single celebration, usually at the Easter Vigil. Before that, he is prepared for it in the catechumenate.

How baptism is done?

The baptism consists of two stages. The parents join on a journey that begins with a common celebration and eventually leads to the baptism of children. In the Celebration of the Opening of the Path to Baptism, parents thank God for the birth of their child. The baptizer pours consecrated water over the head of the person to be baptized three times and says the baptismal formula: "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." He then anoints the child's forehead with chrism oil. The little ones are welcomed into the community. The priest then draws a cross on the child's forehead with chrism oil and blesses it.

Further components of the ceremony also include the Scripture reading, homily, prayers, songs, invocation of the saints, and intercessions. In the time that follows, parents and godparents have the opportunity to talk about their faith with the pastor. Once they have gained enough certainty, they celebrate the baptism of their children.

Liturgy of the Word

The priest - perhaps a parent or godparent - reads a text from the Bible. Suitable passages of the New Testament are The Baptism of Jesus (Mark 1:9-11, Matthew 3:1-173, Luke 3:21f, or John 1:29-34). The Blessing of the children (Mark 10:13-16). The Mission of the Risen Lord (Matthew 28:18-20).

In the Catholic Church, the invocation of the saints follows. It is beautiful when the priest includes in the litany of saints the names of the person being baptized, his/her siblings, parents, grandparents, godparents, and other relatives. In invoking the saints, the congregation responds, "Pray for us." Intercessions are then offered. The intercessions are concluded with the prayer of the pastor for protection from evil. At the same time, he lays his hand on the child.

Other Churches

Baptism (or tewilah) was originally a Jewish custom that finds its origin well before the coming of Yeshua or even of John the Baptist. In Hebrew, Tewilah means "immersion".

Baptism in Orthodoxy is also a sacrament. In Orthodox tradition, it involves full immersion or immersion three times in a baptismal font filled with consecrated water - one immersion each for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In Orthodoxy, baptisms may be performed on infants usually older than eight days.

Why baptism is important in our life?

At baptism, parents place their child under the protection of God. It is thereby expressed that God, the author of all life, himself takes care of this life. This is relieving for parents because they are no longer alone with their responsibility for this little person.

Baptism in Christianity connects with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Through it, the Holy Spirit is infused into the soul. Thus, the Spirit of God works in that person and brings about many spiritual fruits. This is an important condition for the salvation of the soul.

In John 3:5 it is precisely written through this "rebirth of water and the Spirit" that the baptized belong to Christ, are pure for worship and are freed from sin.


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