THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM

Why baptize? What does Baptism do?

Baptism is the first of the three “Sacraments of Christian Initiation.” Confirmation and Eucharist are the others. Baptism welcomes the person into the family of God and membership in the Body of Christ. It is a Sacrament we receive only once.

Baptism is the greatest gift a person can receive, whether as an infant, child, or adult. Baptism frees us from sin and starts us on our life-long journey to know and love God. It is through Baptism that we are born again -- regenerated -- of water and Spirit and receive new life. Baptism is not something to “get done” because of family tradition. It is the entry into a Catholic Christian community and a life of faith in Jesus Christ. This is why the Catholic Church encourages baptism in infancy rather than waiting until a child can choose for his/herself. Why deprive a child of God’s special love and a good start in a life of faith by delaying baptism until later?

It is recommended that both the parents and godparents come spiritually prepared on the day of the baptism, having recently received the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

What are the ‘conditions’ for an infant baptism?

  • At least one of the parents must be Catholic and give their consent to the baptism.
  • There must be a reasonable hope that the child will be brought up in the Catholic faith.
  • Both the parents and the godparents of the child to be baptized should be instructed on the meaning and the obligations of the sacrament.
  • Baptism Preparation (For First Child Only)

    At St. Pius X, parents who are asking for Baptism for their first child are expected to participate in the process before the baptism of their first child. Sponsors (godparents) may attend baptism preparation also, but first-time parents must attend baptism preparation in order to have their first child baptized.

    Our one-evening preparation session is a time to support parents in taking a more “active, conscious, and devout” part in the celebration of the Baptism of their child.

    Choosing Godparents

    The godparents are appointed by the parents. Ideally, there should be one male and one female, although if two are not available, one will suffice. Some cultures prefer to have many godparents. While this is an acceptable cultural practice, the church recognizes only one male and one female ‘official’ godparent.

    Godparent Qualifications

  • The godparents must be baptized and confirmed Catholics who are in good standing with the Church.
  • They should be aware of their responsibilities and have every intention of fulfilling their role.
  • The godparents must be at least sixteen years old.
  • The mother or father of the child is not permitted to be a godparent.
  • A baptized non-Catholic Christian may participate as a witness to the baptism, but not as a godparent.
  • What do godparents do?

  • Parents and godparents work together to help the child to know, love, and serve God.
  • The role of the godparent is to be a "spiritual guardian", to ensure that the godchild learns the Faith and to pray for the godchild throughout his/her life.
  • During the Rite of Baptism, the godparents will answer for the child, making the replies to the questions asked by the priest on behalf of the one who is about to be baptized.
  • Tips for Baptism Day

  • Arrive early enough to get a seat together at the front of the church.
  • It is helpful to feed and change an infant before Mass to reduce the likelihood of crying.
  • No video cameras or photography is permitted during Mass. Pictures may be taken in the church at the end of the Mass.
  • Although there is no prescribed clothing requirement, traditionally parents dress their child in a white garment, symbolizing the purity of the sinless state after baptism. Some families use heirloom baptismal garments handed down from generation to generation. The priest will anoint the child with Chrism so it is preferable to have the child wear something that can open at the chest.
  • During baptism, the child will receive many things – water for cleansing and growth, a candle to light the way, anointing oil for strength, and the community for accompaniment the journey. But baptism is only the beginning. It is, in fact, a lifelong journey of faith and discipleship.