The Sacrament of Baptism

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Sign of the cross

The sign of the cross is traced on your child's forehead; this is the moment when the Church in the name of Jesus Christ welcomes your child.

Water

Water is a symbol of both life and death. When we are baptised we are baptised into the death of Jesus, we die with him upon the cross. When Jesus dies so do sin and death. Our baptism does not end in death but continues in life. As Jesus is raised from the dead by the Father and given new life, so are we through the waters of baptism, raised to life in Jesus Christ. The water of baptism washes away original sin and makes us a new creation.

 

Oils

During the Sacrament of Baptism your child will be anointed twice with oil, the first anointing is with the oil of the catechumens. A 'catechumen' is somebody who is preparing to become a Christian, and so this oil is used to accompany the Rite of Baptism. Anointing at Baptism is a symbol which points to the gift of the Holy Spirit, which comes to the newly baptized person as it did upon Christ at His Baptism in the Jordan. In Baptism we are "born of water and the Spirit" (John 3:5), the Holy Spirit which is the gift of Christ to His Church. Then there is the second anointing this anointing also reminds us at Baptism that we are made inheritors of the Kingdom of God. The head of the person is anointed with the oil of Chrism. (Kings and Queens are anointed at their coronations.) Holy Chrism is the oil used to anoint people at their Confirmation, and is also used to anoint priests at their Ordination. It is also used in the consecration of altars and Church buildings. 'Consecration' means making holy or setting apart for God's purposes. It differs from the other oils in that it alone is not pure olive oil. A scented balsam is mixed with the oil to make the Chrism.

 

White Garment

Once we have been claimed for Christ through the water of life, we are clothed in a white garment. This white garment, the Church, tells us is an outward sign of our Christian dignity. Once we have put on Christ, we are to always walk as His followers.

 

Candle

The light of Christ is passed on to us in the form of a lit candle, which is lit from the Paschal candle that was blessed at the Easter Vigil. We are called to be the light of Christ in the world, and we are asked by the Church to keep that light burning brightly.

 

As with all things Christian, God chooses the ordinary things of this world, and by His Grace makes them Holy. He then uses them to make His presence felt in the world. He does this when through the Holy Water of the font He gives new and eternal life to His people. He does this supremely when He takes the bread and wine at the hands of a priest and returns them as the Body and Blood of Christ. He does this when, by the means of Holy Oils, He pours His healing and life- giving Spirit into the Church and upon her members.

 

Now that you have the basic understanding of the Sacrament of Baptism and the associated symbols, we would like to cover some frequently asked questions.

 

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