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Baptism

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Taken from the Cathecism of the Catholic Church

 

Baptism (form the Greek word 'baptizo' meaning 'washing') is the first sacrament a Christian receives. The rite, or ceremony, marks and indeed begins a new life in Christ. In accordance with the Lord's will, it is neccessary for salvation - as is the Church herself - to receive baptism. "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20). The essential ceremony involves immersing the prospective Christian in water or pouring water on his head, while invoking the name of the Most Holy Trinity:

The FATHER, the SON, and the HOLY SPIRIT.

Baptism is more than a sign, it actually gives grace and causes the Holy Spirit to live inside the recipient's soul. Special graces are given to a recipient, rescuing the soul from the eternal effects of sin: damnation and separation from God. A person's sins are forgiven, or 'washed away', both those he has committed himself (personal sin), and also the defects of body and soul passed down from our first parents Adam and Eve (original sin). The new Christian becomes an adopted son of the Father, a member of Christ's Body the Church and a temple of the Holy Spirit. A baptised person is made a sharer in the priesthood of Christ, not as an ordained priest, but in the sense of going out into the world to profess Jesus Christ as Lord and living as a member of the People of God

Baptism leaves a permanent mark on one's soul, a new 'character' or sign which seperates that person for Christian worship and service to God. Baptism cannot be repeated nor 'undone' by any human action, nor could it ever be desirable to do so. Since the earliest Christian days, in which entire families were baptised together, this sacrament has been given to children. This is not because they have sinned personally, but so that their souls may be cleansed of Original Sin which affect all humans after the sin of Adam and Eve. An analogy to this would be a mother smoking or drinking during pregnancy, the child has no personal fault, though he or she will undoubtedly suffer. This is a beautiful lesson for us all, that when we love God and become Christian he cleanses not only us but also our children as a part of his promises to us. It also reminds us that the grace of God is purely his gift to us, we could never earn it by ourselves. Baptised children are raised in the true Christian faith and is thus blessed with true Christian freedom from that point onwards.

In regards to children who have died without baptism we are asked by the Church to trust in God's mercy and to pray for their salvation, the means of salvation for such individuals remains a mystery. In case of emergency, such as a dying newborn infant, anyone can baptise provided that he or she have the intention of doing what the Church - the washing away of original and/or personal sins. The baptiser MUST either sprinkle or pour water on the recipient's head while saying: "I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit". Those who die for the Catholic faith, and those who die without knowledge of the Church but i) acting under God's inspiration of grace, ii) seek him sincerely and iii) work to fulfill his will, can be saved from eternal damnation even if they have not been baptised.

 

 

 

 

 

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