What is Baptism?
Baptism is the sacrament by which we become Christians. It frees us from Original Sin, makes us children of God and members of the Church.
Why is Baptism important?
Baptism is of the greatest importance for us because it is the ordinary way of salvation for every human being (ccc. 1257). It is the gateway to the other sacraments and the whole Christian life:
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Mt 28:19-20
What happens to us through Baptism?
The water of Baptism symbolises both washing and new life. The effects of Baptism are: the washing away of all sins, especially the guilt of Original Sin inherited from our first parents; a new and supernatural life as children of God and members of the Church.
“You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” Colossians 2:12
How do we prepare for Baptism?
An adult prepares for Baptism by becoming a catechumen, that is, someone who is being catechised (educated) in the Christian Faith. The formal process and rite for this is called the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).
How does Baptism take place?
Anyone who believes and has not already been baptised can receive Baptism. Following early Church practice, the Church also baptises the children of Christian parents who make an act of faith and commitment on their child’s behalf. New born babies should be baptised as soon as possible. A sacred minister normally baptises. In cases of necessity any person can baptise if they intend to do what the Church does in Baptism. They must use water and the Trinitarian formula.
Baptism is conferred by immersion in water or by pouring water over the head, together with the proper form of words: “[The person’s name] I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
What is Confirmation?
Confirmation completes the Christian initiation begun in Baptism, making us spiritually adult by means of a permanent ‘seal’ upon our souls. In this sacrament the Holy Spirit also gives us seven gifts that enable us to see and act well spiritually. These gifts empower us to publicly proclaim the Gospel and to defend the faith against opposition.
Why is Confirmation important?
Confirmation is usually given by a bishop to those beginning to take on full Christian responsibilities. It is important because it equips them for living the Christian life in this world, helping them to attain salvation for themselves and others.
Confirmation and Pentecost
Confirmation perpetuates in the Church the grace of Pentecost, when the disciples received the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel (ccc. 1288). Scripture describes his descent as like the ‘rush of a violent wind’ with ‘divided tongues, as of fire’ coming to rest on each disciple (Ac 2:1-4). They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to preach in other languages.
What are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit?
Three of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are for spiritual vision, that is, for grasping divine realities and created things in their proper order. These gifts are wisdom, understanding and knowledge. The other four gifts are to assist good spiritual action. Counsel gives an understanding of what to do in particular situations. Fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord give perseverance, reverence for God and fear of offending God out of love of him.
How do we receive Confirmation?
Those about to receive Confirmation first renew their baptismal promises. Then the bishop prays over them for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Finally, the bishop anoints the forehead of each with holy oil (chrism), while praying the words, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
This article is originally from ‘CREDO: The Catholic Faith explained’ by CTS.