The Necessity of Baptism
Why baptize? It has to do with the basic purpose of ordinary human rituals. We need some way to externalize the reality within us and so we use rites. The rite doesn’t create the reality; it expresses it, intensifies it and sometimes renews it.
Internal dispositions are more important than external signs or rites, but the signs help to preserve, strengthen and clarify the internal dispositions. In Baptism, the rite expresses the parents’ understanding that their child belongs to the Church as well as to them, and they are willing to cooperate with God in bringing faith to their children. Baptism is an entrance for the child into the whole sacramental system of the Church.
Baptism of Infants
For the first time in the history of the Church, in the year 1969, a rite for the baptism of children was developed. The new rite expects the parents to be committed to Christian faith and living. At two different times during the ceremony the parents promise to bring the child up in the practice of the faith and they themselves make a profession of faith. When parents present the child for Baptism, they are saying “yes” to God’s plan of love and redemption. They willingly become the instruments through which the child first learns about God and comes to love God and neighbor. Through the parents, the child gradually becomes a conscious participating member of the Christian community with the same mission in life that we all have – to SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS.
What Baptism Says About Christians
Baptism is the first sacramental sign of the Good News that God’s love is for all.
This love is expressed in the several beautiful effects of God’s sacramental act:
- Baptism makes us children of God. The state of alienation (original sin) is removed, and we are incorporated as living members of the Body of Christ, the Church.
- We are made holy. It is a gift.
- We are temples of the Holy Spirit… a sacred center where the spirit breathes within the Father’s child.
- We are members of Jesus’ community. God’s life is not lived in isolation, but rather in relationship with brothers and sisters in Christ. A child has a right to the love and help of the community.
Though Baptism confers great gifts, it is not a final stage in God’s generosity toward us – it is only a beginning. Baptism plants the seed, the remaining sacraments bring it to harvest. Baptism gives us the right to receive the Holy Eucharist while the Holy Eucharist preserves and makes fruitful our baptismal privileges.
Baptism is our birth as Christians … “a kingdom of priests, a holy people.”
Guidelines for Choosing Godparents
In asking for Baptism for their children, parents are pledging themselves to rear the child in the way of Christ. The child’s faith needs to be awakened, strengthened and developed. Even though the parents are primarily responsible for this task, we, the Christian community, also share in this responsibility. The chosen godparents are the
visible representatives of the Church in the life of the newly baptized. Because of their privilege and responsibility the Church has established the following guidelines and responsibilities for godparents:
In order to be a godparent a person must …
- Be mature enough to undertake this responsibility. Church law insists that this person be at least 16 years old.
- Be fully initiated into the Catholic Church – having received Baptism, First Eucharist, Confirmation.
- Be someone other than the legal parents.
- Be an active member of a Catholic community and living a life in harmony with the Church.
- Be ready to help the parents in their duty as Christian parents in bringing up the child in the Catholic faith and in nurturing the faith in the child.
- Pray for their godchild.
Of the two godparents, at least one must be a practicing Catholic. The other may be a baptized non-Catholic who will serve as a Christian witness. This person must be a practicing Christian who regularly attends Sunday worship.
The Catholic godparents must have a written note from their parishes stating that they are active, practicing Catholics in good standing. This note must be received by Sacred Heart rectory before the Baptism will take place.
Special Notes for Parents
If possible, baptism should take place on Sunday, the day on which the Church celebrates the paschal mystery. It should be conferred in a communal celebration in the presence of the faithful, or at least of relatives, friends, and neighbors, who are all to take an active part in the rite.
If the Baptism is to take place other than at the Sunday Liturgy, it is to be either after the 5:30 PM Mass on Saturday evening or after the 12 Noon Mass on Sunday.
After the Baptism Preparation class, the pastoral assistant will turn in the proper form to the rectory office. The secretary will call you if there is a conflict on the date and time you have selected for the Baptism.
The child to be baptized should be dressed in some type of white garment. There is special mention of it in the baptismal rite. The child will also receive a baptismal candle during the ceremony.
During the actual baptismal rite, please speak loudly and clearly so that the community in attendance can hear the child’s name and your responses. We all want to welcome your child into our community of believers!
If you have any questions, please call the parish office: 304-342-8175