Summary of Catechism paragraphs 1213-84:
- Baptism is the essential basis of our supernatural life in Christ, the sacramental entry into the life of faith, the doorway opening up to the other sacraments.
- Its name comes from the Greek baptizein, meaning “plunge” or “immerse” in water; this sacrament has also been called “enlightenment” and the “washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”
- Baptism is prefigured throughout the Old Testament: e.g., the Spirit’s hovering over the waters in Creation, Noah’s Ark, the Israelites’ passage through the Red Sea, and their crossing of the Jordan into the Promised Land.
- Christ fulfills these prefigurations: He submits to be baptized by His forerunner, St. John the Baptist, to identify with us sinners; sanctifying the waters for our own Baptism, He transforms John’s symbol of repentance into a life-giving sacrament.
- Christ commanded His disciples to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” the invocation still pronounced by the minister as he immerses (or pours water over the head of) the baptized person three times.
- Through Baptism, we are incorporated into Christ and assimilated into His Paschal Mystery: we die, are buried, and rise with Him to new life in God’s sanctifying grace, cleansed of all sin.
- We emerge from the Baptismal water as a new creature, an adopted son or daughter of God, co-heir with Christ, and temple of the Holy Spirit; now partaking of the divine nature, we enter into the life of the Most Holy Trinity.
- The newly baptized are also anointed with sacred chrism (oil), signifying that we are incorporated into Christ as priest, prophet, and king; we are simultaneously incorporated into the Church, as the Body of Christ.
- Our souls are forever changed by Baptism, which seals us with an everlasting spiritual mark – an indelible character – of belonging to Christ; hence this sacrament, once received in the proper form, is not to be repeated.
- Because of the vital importance of Baptism, Christian parents have had their infants baptized since the dawn of the Church; this ancient practice testifies to the truth that saving grace is a sheer gift of God, not due to any merit of ours.
Live Your Faith
Many in our contemporary world struggle with an identity crisis, defining themselves by their careers, wealth, prestige, physical appearance, families, political party, and sports team loyalties.
But none of those things reflects who we are. Our core being is not defined by the ephemeral circumstances of our earthly life, for it is oriented toward eternity.
We have been given the staggering dignity of being joined mystically to Christ, and grafted into the Triune God. Ever mindful of God’s infinite love for each one of us, let us strive to live in accord with our Baptismal dignity