Parents seeking baptism for a child younger than the age of 7 are asked to participate in a faith formation process designed to prepare them for their child's reception of the sacrament. Parents are asked to contact the parish office to initiate the formation process, to obtain further information about the commitment that is involved when requesting baptism, and to set a date for the baptism of their child.
If you are interested in baptism for a child aged 7 or older, please contact the Religious Education Office at (301) 373-2281 or firstname.lastname@example.org for information about the Rite of Christian Initiation of Children (RCIC). Depending on the number of requests we have for RCIC in a given year, this may take the form of either small group instruction or individual instruction.
For infant baptism, please call the parish office for a required interview with the pastor, preferably before the birth of your child. The pastor will record all pertinent information and schedule new parents to attend a baptismal prep session at the parish. We request that you please arrange for childcare for your infant during this session.
ABOUT THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM
- The purpose of baptism is stated in the Nicene Creed (composed in 381 AD): "We believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins," specifically, original sin.
Original sin is our "inheritance" from Adam and Eve, whose disobedience of God in the Garden of Eden merited the loss of sanctifying grace, that is, the grace needed to be saved. Their sin changed human nature, making sanctifying grace no longer something that human beings just have by nature, but something that needs to be restored by God. God has given us baptism as his way of cleansing us of original sin and restoring us to a state of sanctifying grace.
- Baptism truly cleanses us of sin; it is not just a symbol. "For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. 3: 18-21)
- Ordinarily, only a priest or a deacon can licitly perform a baptism. However, when a person is in danger of death, it is possible for a layperson to validly and licitly baptize him or her.
- Baptism may be performed either by pouring water over the head of the person to be baptized, or by immersing him/her in water.
- The matter of baptism is the pouring of or immersion in water; the form is the words "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Only these words and no others may be used. They are the words that Jesus himself gave us. (cf. Mt 28: 19)
Any church or ecclesial community that uses these words to baptize can give a valid baptism. That is why non-Catholic Christians who convert to Catholicism do not usually need to be baptized to become Catholic; the baptism they received in their former church or community is recognized by the Catholic Church, as long as it was performed using the words Jesus gave us.
- Baptism can only be performed once. Baptism confers a special "character" that cannot be duplicated; to be baptized again after already having received a valid baptism would have no effect.
- The proper place for one to seek forgiveness of one's sins after being baptized is in sacramental confession.
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