Baptism

Through baptism men and women are incorporated into Christ. They are formed into God's people, and they obtain forgiveness of all their sins. They are raised from their natural human condition to the dignity of adopted children. They become a new creation through water and the Holy Spirit. Hence they are called, and are indeed, the children of God.



Signs and Symbolism of Baptism

Water

This is for cleansing and is a sign that our sins are washed away. Baptism cleanses us of original sin with which we are all born and, in the baptism of adults, of every sin committed prior to baptism. Water is also necessary for life and so is a sign, too, that the life of the risen Christ is ours.

Sign of the Cross

A sign on something shows its origin and ownership. The sign of the cross is the mark of Christians for Jesus Christ died on the cross. Parents and godparents trace it on the child's forehead to show that the baby belongs to Christ, who now offers his help and grace to face and overcome the sufferings of life.

Oils

The Oil of Baptism is olive oil rubbed on the breast of the baby, just as athletes used to rub themselves with oil to strengthen and prepare for the fight ahead. The Oil of Chrism is a mixture of olive oil and balsam (sweet-smelling ointment) and is rubbed on the crown of the head. It is a sign of sealing with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The profession of faith which you make on behalf of your child at baptism will later be confirmed personally by your child in the sacrament of confirmation when the Oil of Chrism will be used again. The oils are blessed by the bishop in our Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey, USA during Holy Week and are then brought to our parish for use throughout the church year.

White Garment

This garment recalls the new clothes worn by Christians after baptism in the first centuries. It is a sign of innocence and the new life of resurrection.

Candle

Symbolizes Christ --- the Light of the World. The baptismal candle is lit from the paschal candle, which stands near the altar at Easter as a sign of the risen Christ. The baptismal candle reminds us that the light of Christ has entered the child's life; and its flame symbolizes the flame of faith which will burn through the life of the child.

Baptismal Register

Your baby's baptism will be recorded in the parish Baptismal Register. In the years ahead proof of baptism may be obtained in the form of a certificate issued on the basis of this registration. Your child's confirmation, marriage or ordination will also be noted alongside this entry in the register.


FAQs

How soon should I have my baby baptized?

The Church encourages Catholic families to have their children baptized as soon as possible after birth not to deprive the child of the fundamental importance of baptism. If there is any danger of death the baby must be baptized immediately (Code of Canon Law 867.2) and anyone can baptize by pouring water over the head of the baby. At the same time saying the words: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit "

The date of the baptism will depend partly on the mother's health for it is important that she is present; and partly on the time needed for the preparation of the parents (Code of Canon Law 867.1). This is why it's a good idea to inform the priest before the birth that you want to have your child baptized.

If you have experienced some difficulties with the practice of your faith it may be helpful to allow a little longer in order to clarify your own beliefs and to rebuild a life of faith within your family.

Does the name 'has to be' a Saint's name?

In the first few centuries of the Church the custom grew up of changing one's name at baptism to express some Christian idea, such as  Irene (which means peace), In succeeding centuries, the Church advised the parents to call their children after a saint.
In choosing baptismal names parents should keep in mind the thought that the child will bear these names throughout life. They should be careful to avoid names or combinations which will subject the bearer to ridicule. Nicknames should not be given in baptism. 
Making more Christian names available will increase our knowledge of the great number of saints and holy persons who have given glory to God by their exemplary lives. By assuming these names we honor these persons and through them almighty God, the Source of all their goodness and virtue. Such names are certainly more becoming to members of the human race redeemed by Christ Jesus than the names of pagan gods trees, flowers and places.
The parish is more than willing to provide resourceful material from where one can select names for boys and girls. Please feel free to can the Rectory.

What are the requirements for being a godparent at Baptism?

Godparents go back to the days when most adult converts to the Christian faith had no Christian parents. Godparents spoke up for the baptized person and, if necessary, helped him or her to grow in the faith. Today, in the vast majority of infant baptism these tasks belong primarily to the parents.

We all come to offer support to the child's upbringing in the Christian faith. However, the Church insists that at least one godparent who is Catholic be named whose primary role is to help the parents in bringing up the child in the Christian faith. (Code of Canon Law 874.1) Godparents are the guarantors of the faith. Most parents choose two. When this happens, provided one godparent is Catholic, it is certainly allowable for a non-Catholic to act as a"witness" to the baptism. Either one of the parents cannot be/act as a godparent.

It remains important, however, that the non-catholic is baptized and of sufficient age and maturity to appreciate their role. Furthermore, it may also prove to be embarrassing for a non-Catholic who will be asked, together with other godparents, to make a public profession of the faith in which the child is about to be baptized when that person does not fully embrace the beliefs we are professing.

What if the godparent cannot be present for the Baptism?

If the godparent cannot be present in person, he or she may appoint another person to serve as a proxy... Ordinarily the appointment of the proxy should be made by the godparent in writing or before two witnesses, in order that there be certainty as to who is the responsible person.

I am an unmarried mother. Is that a problem?

No it is not. We will be happy to arrange for the baptism of your baby. The priest will simply want to be assured, as with any other parent, of your own commitment to your child's Catholic upbringing.

Can we have two godmothers or two godfathers?

No. There may be one godfather, one godmother, or one of each (Code of Canon Law 873).

Can I or my baby be re-baptized?

Baptism is a once-in-a-lifetime event. It means that we become a member of God's family; we become a Christian. We cannot become what we already are. The baptism can't be repeated but it is desirable that you have a celebration in church and share the prayers and blessings which are part of the baptismal ceremony. You may also wish to appoint godparents at the same time. Such a service is a lovely "thanksgiving" for the safety and well-being of your baby.

I have been lapsed for many years, can my 7 years old be baptized?

Yes, but you will need to allow time for the child's preparation. The child will need to be given some instruction about baptism so that he/she understands what is happening. You may well feel that you would also find some form of preparation helpful in order to clarify any points about the faith which have given you difficulties. People sometimes wonder about how to approach a priest. After Sunday Mass is not always the best time as there are usually crowds of people around. Try to book a time convenient for both of you in order to meet in an atmosphere of quiet and peace.

What happens to a baby that died without being baptized?

The baby is entrusted to the mysterious but infinitely kind and powerful love of God. If anyone has any doubts about such love, then contemplate the crucifix. The cross proves that God's love is greater than any human mind can understand or follow.
Jesus told us that "unless a man is born through water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God". (John 3: 5) At times this has led people to suggest that unbaptized infants pass into a state of "limbo" - where the baby is excluded from both heaven and hell. Such a suggestion however, misses the whole point of God's love: for loves us from the moment of conception. It is clear that very many who are unbaptized receive God's Spirit and so are welcomed into the kingdom of God. God shares his life with us in various ways - of which baptism is the most important sign.

Will there be a rehearsal/practice before hand?

Experiencing anxiety is perfectly understandable. Even people who attend church services regularly can feel nervous and shy about taking a central part in an important ceremony such as their child's baptism. However there is no need to be worried. The celebrant (priest/deacon) will guide you through it step by step and indicate exactly what part you play as parents. During the preparation for the baptism don't be shy about mentioning any point or action which does worry either of you. It is important that me day of your baby's baptism doesn't become an ordeal but a family occasion to be enjoyed and celebrated by everyone present.

How much does a Baptism costs?

Nothing. There is no fee for baptism or any other church service. One can never put a price to the divine Life God gives us through the sacraments which the Church administers. If you care to give something, a free-will donation will be gratefully accepted and the Church always appreciates your generosity.

Information

  • BAPTISMS Contact one of the Priests in person.

References

  • CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH - 1213 "Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as children of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water and in the word."
    CCC 1213 by USCCB.org
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    BAPTISM IN THE CCC A list of references on Baptism in the Catechism of the
    C
    atholic Chruch.
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    CANON LAW 849 - TITLE I: BAPTISM "Baptism, the gateway to the sacraments, is necessary for salvation, either by actual reception or at least by desire."
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    CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: BAPTISM "One of the Seven Sacraments of the Christian Church; frequently called the "first sacrament", the "door of the sacraments", and the "door of the Church"."
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