The Sacrament of Baptism [From Welcome to the Catholic Church, by Harmony Media Inc.]
Baptism is the sacrament of spiritual rebirth. Through the symbolic action of washing with water and the use of appropriate ritual words, the baptized person is cleansed of all his sins and incorporated into Christ He becomes a member of the Mystical Body and receives the graces of the supernatural life.
The sacrament of baptism is conferred by infusion (pouring) or aspersion (sprinkling) of water or by immersion in water while the one who baptizes pronounces the words, "I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Catholic Christianity distinguishes between solemn and emergency baptism. The ordinary minister of solemn baptism is a priest or deacon but in case of emergency anyone, even though not a Catholic, can validly baptize. The one baptizing (in infusion) pours water on the forehead of the person being baptized and says the ritual words while the water is flowing. In solemn baptism the water is specially blessed during the ceremony.
The Catholic Church also recognizes as valid baptism the ceremony properly performed by ministers who are not Roman Catholic. Unlike some denominations in the Protestant tradition, however, the Catholic Church has always considered the baptism of infants to be valid. In fact, she requires infants to be solemnly baptized as soon after birth as conveniently possible. When there is danger of death, anyone may baptize an infant. If the child survives the ceremonies of solemn baptism should be supplied. Baptism is conferred conditionally when there is doubt about the validity of a previous baptism. This pertains especially to adults who are being received into the Church.
Sponsors or godparents are required, at least one, although they are not necessary for valid conferral of the sacrament. They are to be Catholics whose role, of course, is secondary to that of the parents. Nevertheless, they are important. They serve as official representatives of the community of faith and, with the parents, request baptism for the child. Their function after baptism is to serve as proxies for the parents if the parents should be unable or fail to provide for the religious training of the child.
At baptism, the Church expects the child to be given a name with Christian significance, usually the name of a saint, to symbolize newness of life in Christ and entrance into the Christian community.
The Sacraments and Their Celebration Baptism
I. SACRAMENTAL NATURE
Baptism, from the Greek word Baptizo meaning to immerse, to bathe, to wash, is a sacrament of the New Law as instituted by Christ in which, by a washing with water, performed by a right-intentioned minister invoking the Holy Trinity a wayfarer on earth is regenerated to divine and supernatural life and aggregated to the Church. Of the three ways in which divine grace may be imparted for justification only Baptism of water is truly a sacrament actively justifying by the very fact of its proper conferral. Baptism of desire is the sacrament in some way truly sought for and terminating whenever possible in the actual reception of the Baptism of water; it justifies on the strength of the genuine desire. Baptism of blood or death suffered for the Christian faith justifies by that very event together with, in the case of adults, at least attrition.
Baptism, the door to life and to the kingdom of God, is the first sacrament of the New Law offered by Christ to all men that they might have eternal life (Jn 3:5). He entrusted this sacrament and the Gospel to his Church when he told his Apostles: ''Go, make disciples of all nations, and baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 28:19). Thus, Baptism is, above all, the sacrament of that faith by which all men who are enlightened by the Spirit's grace respond to the Gospel of Christ. That is why the Church believes it is her most basic and necessary duty to inspire all, catechumens, parents of children still to be baptized, and godparents, to that true and living faith by which they adhere to Christ and enter into or confirm their commitment to the new covenant. To accomplish this, the Church prescribes the pastoral instruction of catechumens, the preparation of the children's parents, the celebration of God's word, and the profession of baptismal faith.
Baptism, moreover is the sacrament by which men and women are incorporated into the Church, built into a house where God lives in the Spirit (Ep 2:22), into a royal priesthood (1 P 2:19) and a holy nation. It is a sacramental bond of unity linking all who have been signed by it. Because of that unchangeable effect (signified in the Latin liturgy by the anointing of the baptized person with chrism in the presence of God's people), the rite of Baptism is held in highest honor by all Christians. It may never lawfully be repeated once it has been validly celebrated, even by our fellow Christians from whom we are separated.
The cleansing with water by the power of the living Word (Ep 5:26), which Baptism is, makes us sharers in God's own life (2 P 1:4) and his adopted children (Rm 8:15; Gal 4:5). As proclaimed in the prayers for the blessing of the water, Baptism is a laver of regeneration (Tt 3:5) as sons of God and of birth on high. The invocation of the Trinity over those who are to be baptized has this effect that those who are signed in this name are consecrated to the Trinity and enter into fellowship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They are prepared for this high dignity and led to it by the scriptural readings, the prayer of the community, and the threefold profession of faith.
Far superior to the purifications of the Old Law, Baptism produces all these effects by the power of the mystery of the Lord's passion and resurrection. Those who are baptized are engrafted in the likeness of Christ's death (Rm 6:4-5), buried with him in death (ibid.), given life again with him, and with him rise again (Ep 2:6). For Baptism recalls and effects the paschal mystery itself, because by means of it men and women pass from the death of sin into life. Its celebration, therefore, should reflect the joy of the resurrection, especially when it takes place during the Easter Vigil or on a Sunday.
By the sacrament of Baptism, whenever it is properly conferred in the way the Lord determined, and received with the appropriate dispositions of soul, a person becomes truly incorporated into the crucified and glorified Christ and is reborn to a sharing of the divine life, as the Apostle says: ''For you were buried together with him in Baptism, and in him also rose again through faith in the working of God who raised him from the dead" (Col 2:12, cf. Rm 6:4)
But Baptism, of itself, is only a beginning, a point of departure, for it is wholly directed toward the acquiring of the fullness of life in Christ. Baptism is thus oriented toward a complete profession of faith, a complete incorporation into the system of salvation such as Christ himself wills it to be, and finally, toward a complete participation in Eucharistic communion.
By his power he is present in the sacraments, so that when a person baptizes it is really Christ himself who baptizes. Thus, by Baptism, we are plunged into the paschal mystery of Christ; we die with him, are buried with him, and rise with him (cf. Rm 6:4; Ep 2:6; Col 3:1-2 Tm 2:11 ); we receive the spirit of adoption as children of God ''by virtue of which we cry: Abba, Father" (Rm 8:15), and thus become those true adorers whom the Father seeks (cf. Jn 4:23).
Through Baptism we are formed in the likeness of Christ: "For in one Spirit we are all baptized into one body" ( 1 Cor 12:13). In this sacred rite, a union with Christ's death and resurrection is both symbolized and brought about: "For we were buried with him by means of baptism unto death.'' And if "we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be so in the likeness of his resurrection also'' (Rm 6:4-5).
Incorporated into the Church through Baptism, the faithful are consecrated by the baptismal character to the exercise of the cult of the Christian religion. Reborn as children of God, they must confess before others the faith which they have received from God through the Church.
In Baptism neophytes receive forgiveness of sins, adoption as children of God, and the character of Christ, by which they are made members of the Church and for the first time become sharers in the priesthood of their Savior.
Thus, Baptism, the gateway to the sacraments, is necessary for salvation in fact or at least in intention. It is validly conferred only by washing with true water together with the required formula of words.
[From the Catechism of The Catholic Church]
THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM
1213 Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the
gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door
which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we
are freed from sin and reborn as sons 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 in the word."
I. WHAT IS THIS SACRAMENT CALLED?
1214 This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by
which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to
"plunge" or "immerse"; the "plunge" into the water symbolizes
the catechumen's burial into Christ's death, from which he rises up 628
by resurrection with him, as "a new creature."
1215 This sacrament is also called "the washing of regeneration and
renewal by the Holy Spirit," for it signifies and actually brings about
the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one "can enter 1257
the kingdom of God."
1216 "This bath is called enlightenment, because those who receive
this [catechetical] instruction are enlightened in their understanding.
..."  Having received in Baptism the Word, "the true light that
enlightens every man," the person baptized has been "enlightened,"
he becomes a "son of light," indeed, he becomes "light" himself: 1243
Baptism is God's most beautiful and magnificent gift.... We
call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of
immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious gift. It is
called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing
of their own; grace since it is given even to the guilty; Baptism
because sin is buried in the water; anointing for it is priestly
and royal as are those who are anointed; enlightenment
because it radiates light; clothing since it veils our shame; bath
because it washes; and seal as it is our guard and the sign of
II. BAPTISM IN THE ECONOMY OF SALVATION
Prefigurations of Baptism in the Old Covenant
1217 In the liturgy of the Easter Vigil, during the blessing of the
baptismal water, the Church solemnly commemorates the great events
in salvation history that already prefigured the mystery of Baptism:
Father, you give us grace through sacramental signs,
which tell us of the wonders of your unseen power.
In Baptism we use your gift of water,
which you have made a rich symbol
of the grace you give us in this sacrament.
1218 Since the beginning of the world, water, so humble and 344
wonderful a creature, has been the source of life and fruitfulness. 694
Sacred Scripture sees it as "overshadowed" by the Spirit of God:
At the very dawn of creation
your Spirit breathed on the waters,
making them the wellspring of all holiness.
1219 The Church has seen in Noah's ark a prefiguring of salvation 701, 845
by Baptism, for by it "a few, that is, eight persons, were saved
The waters of the great flood
you made a sign of the waters of Baptism,
that make an end of sin and a new beginning of goodness.
1220 If water springing up from the earth symbolizes life, the
water of the sea is a symbol of death and so can represent the
mystery of the cross. By this symbolism Baptism signifies communion 1010
with Christ's death.
1221 But above all, the crossing of the Red Sea, literally the
liberation of Israel from the slavery of Egypt, announces the liberation
wrought by Baptism:
You freed the children of Abraham from the slavery of Pharaoh,
bringing them dry-shod through the waters of the Red Sea,
to be an image of the people set free in Baptism.
1222 Finally, Baptism is prefigured in the crossing of the Jordan
River by which the People of God received the gift of the land
promised to Abraham's descendants, an image of eternal life. The
promise of this blessed inheritance is fulfilled in the New Covenant.
1223 All the Old Covenant prefigurations find their fulfillment
in Christ Jesus. He begins his public life after having himself
baptized by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan. After his resurrection
Christ gives this mission to his apostles: "Go therefore and
make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to 232
observe all that I have commanded you."
1224 Our Lord voluntarily submitted himself to the baptism of 536
St. John, intended for sinners, in order to "fulfill all righteousness.
 Jesus' gesture is a manifestation of his self-emptying. The
Spirit who had hovered over the waters of the first creation
descended then on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and
the Father revealed Jesus as his "beloved Son."
1225 In his Passover Christ opened to all men the fountain of
Baptism. He had already spoken of his Passion, which he was
about to suffer in Jerusalem, as a "Baptism" with which he had to
be baptized. The blood and water that flowed from the pierced 766
side of the crucified Jesus are types of Baptism and the Eucharist,
the sacraments of new life. From then on, it is possible "to be born
of water and the Spirit" in order to enter the Kingdom of God.
See where you are baptized, see where Baptism comes from,
if not from the cross of Christ, from his death. There is the
whole mystery: he died for you. In him you are redeemed,
in him you are saved.
Baptism in the Church
1226 From the very day of Pentecost the Church has celebrated
and administered holy Baptism. Indeed St. Peter declares to the
crowd astounded by his preaching: "Repent, and be baptized every
one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your 849
sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." The
apostles and their collaborators offer Baptism to anyone who
believed in Jesus: Jews, the God-fearing, pagans. Always, Baptism
is seen as connected with faith: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you
will be saved, you and your household," St. Paul declared to his
jailer in Philippi. And the narrative continues, the jailer "was
baptized at once, with all his family."
1227 According to the Apostle Paul, the believer enters through
Baptism into communion with Christ's death, is buried with him, 790
and rises with him:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into
Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried
therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ
was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too
might walk in newness of life.
The baptized have "put on Christ." Through the Holy Spirit,
Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies.
1228 Hence Baptism is a bath of water in which the "imperishable
seed" of the Word of God produces its life-giving effect. St.
Augustine says of Baptism: "The word is brought to the material
element, and it becomes a sacrament."
III. HOW IS THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM CELEBRATED?
1229 From the time of the apostles, becoming a Christian has
been accomplished by a journey and initiation in several stages.
This journey can be covered rapidly or slowly, but certain essential
elements will always have to be present: proclamation of the Word,
acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion, profession of faith,
Baptism itself, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and admission to
1230 This initiation has varied greatly through the centuries according
to circumstances. In the first centuries of the Church, Christian initiation
saw considerable development. A long period of catechumenate included a
series of preparatory rites, which were liturgical landmarks along the path 1248
of catechumenal preparation and culminated in the celebration of the
sacraments of Christian initiation.
1231 Where infant Baptism has become the form in which this sacrament
is usually celebrated, it has become a single act encapsulating the
preparatory stages of Christian initiation in a very abridged way. By its
very nature infant Baptism requires a post-baptismal catechumenate. Not
only is there a need for instruction after Baptism, but also for the necessary
flowering of baptismal grace in personal growth. The catechism has its 13
proper place here.
1232 The second Vatican Council restored for the Latin Church "the
catechumenate for adults, comprising several distinct steps." The rites
for these stages are to be found in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
(RCIA). The Council also gives permission that: "In mission countries,
in addition to what is furnished by the Christian tradition, those elements
of initiation rites may be admitted which are already in use among some 1204
peoples insofar as they can be adapted to the Christian ritual."
1233 Today in all the rites, Latin and Eastern, the Christian initiation
of adults begins with their entry into the catechumenate and reaches its
culmination in a single celebration of the three sacraments of initiation:
Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. In the Eastern rites the Christian
initiation of infants also begins with Baptism followed immediately
by Confirmation and the Eucharist, while in the Roman rite it is followed
by years of catechesis before being completed later by Confirmation and
the Eucharist, the summit of their Christian initiation.
The mystagogy of the celebration
1234 The meaning and grace of the sacrament of Baptism are
clearly seen in the rites of its celebration. By following the gestures
and words of this celebration with attentive participation, the
faithful are initiated into the riches this sacrament signifies and
actually brings about in each newly baptized person.
1235 The sign of the cross, on the threshold of the celebration, marks 617
with the imprint of Christ the one who is going to belong to him and
signifies the grace of the redemption Christ won for us by his cross. 2157
1236 The proclamation of the Word of God enlightens the
candidates and the assembly with the revealed truth and elicits the
response of faith, which is inseparable from Baptism. Indeed 1112
Baptism is "the sacrament of faith" in a particular way, since it is the
sacramental entry into the life of faith.
1237 Since Baptism signifies liberation from sin and from its
instigator the devil, one or more exorcisms are pronounced over the
candidate. The celebrant then anoints him with the oil of catechumens, 1673
or lays his hands on him, and he explicitly renounces Satan.
Thus prepared, he is able to confess the faith of the Church, to which 189
he will be "entrusted" by Baptism.
1238 The baptismal water is consecrated by a prayer of epiclesis 1217
(either at this moment or at the Easter Vigil). The Church asks God
that through his Son the power of the Holy Spirit may be sent upon
the water, so that those who will be baptized in it may be "born of
water and the Spirit."
1239 The essential rite of the sacrament follows: Baptism,properly 1214
speaking. It signifies and actually brings about death to sin and
entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity through configuration
to the Paschal mystery of Christ. Baptism is performed in the most
expressive way by triple immersion in the baptismal water.
However, from ancient times it has also been able to be conferred by
pouring the water three times over the candidate's head.
1240 In the Latin Church this triple infusion is accompanied by the
minister's words: "N., I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Spirit." In the Eastern liturgies the catechumen turns
toward the East and the priest says: "The servant of God, N., is baptized
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." At the
invocation of each person of the Most Holy Trinity, the priest immerses
the candidate in the water and raises him up again.
1241 The anointing with sacred chrism, perfumed oil consecrated by 1294, 1574
the bishop, signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit to the newly baptized,
who has become a Christian, that is, one "anointed" by the Holy Spirit,
incorporated into Christ who is anointed priest, prophet, and king. 783
1242 In the liturgy of the Eastern Churches, the post-baptismal
anointing is the sacrament of Chrismation (Confirmation). In the
Roman liturgy the post-baptismal anointing announces a second
anointing with sacred chrism to be conferred later by the bishop -
Confirmation, which will as it were "confirm" and complete the 1291
1243 The white garment symbolizes that the person baptized
has "put on Christ," has risen with Christ. The candle, lit from the
Easter candle, signifies that Christ has enlightened the neophyte.
In him the baptized are "the light of the world." 1216
The newly baptized is now, in the only Son, a child of God
entitled to say the prayer of the children of God: "Our Father." 2769
1244 First Holy Communion. Having become a child of God
clothed with the wedding garment, the neophyte is admitted "to
the marriage supper of the Lamb" and receives the food of the
new life, the body and blood of Christ. The Eastern Churches
maintain a lively awareness of the unity of Christian initiation by
giving Holy Communion to all the newly baptized and confirmed,
even little children, recalling the Lord's words: "Let the children 1292
come to me, do not hinder them." The Latin Church, which
reserves admission to Holy Communion to those who have
attained the age of reason, expresses the orientation of Baptism to the
Eucharist by having the newly baptized child brought to the altar
for the praying of the Our Father.
1245 The solemn blessing concludes the celebration of Baptism.
At the Baptism of newborns the blessing of the mother occupies a
IV. WHO CAN RECEIVE BAPTISM?
1246 "Every person not yet baptized and only such a person is
able to be baptized."
The Baptism of adults
1247 Since the beginning of the Church, adult Baptism is the
common practice where the proclamation of the Gospel is still new.
The catechumenate (preparation for Baptism) therefore occupies
an important place. This initiation into Christian faith and life
should dispose the catechumen to receive the gift of God in
Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist.
1248 The catechumenate, or formation of catechumens, aims at 1230
bringing their conversion and faith to maturity, in response to the
divine initiative and in union with an ecclesial community. The
catechumenate is to be "a formation in the whole Christian life ...
during which the disciples will be joined to Christ their teacher.
The catechumens should be properly initiated into the mystery of
salvation and the practice of the evangelical virtues, and they
should be introduced into the life of faith, liturgy, and charity of
the People of God by successive sacred rites."
1249 Catechumens "are already joined to the Church, they are 1259
already of the household of Christ, and are quite frequently already
living a life of faith, hope, and charity." "With love and solicitude
mother Church already embraces them as her own."
The Baptism of infants
1250 Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original 403
sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed
from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the
freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The
sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest 1996
in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a
child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not
to confer Baptism shortly after birth.
1251 Christian parents will recognize that this practice also
accords with their role as nurturers of the life that God has
entrusted to them.
1252 The practice of infant Baptism is an immemorial tradition of the
Church. There is explicit testimony to this practice from the second century
on, and it is quite possible that, from the beginning of the apostolic
preaching, when whole "households" received baptism, infants may also
have been baptized.
Faith and Baptism
1253 Baptism is the sacrament of faith. But faith needs the 1123
community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church
that each of the faithful can believe. The faith required for Baptism
is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to
develop. The catechumen or the godparent is asked: "What do you 168
ask of God's Church?" The response is: "Faith!"
1254 For all the baptized, children or adults, faith must grow after
Baptism. For this reason the Church celebrates each year at the Easter
Vigil the renewal of baptismal promises. Preparation for Baptism
leads only to the threshold of new life. Baptism is the source of that 2101
new life in Christ from which the entire Christian life springs forth.
1255 For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents' help is important.
So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm
believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized - child or adult - 1311
on the road of Christian life. Their task is a truly ecclesial function
(officium). The whole ecclesial community bears some responsibility
for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at Baptism.
V. WHO CAN BAPTIZE?
1256 The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and
priest and, in the Latin Church, also the deacon. In case of
necessity, any person, even someone not baptized, can baptize, if
he has the required intention. The intention required is to will to
do what the Church does when she baptizes, and to apply the
Trinitarian baptismal formula. The Church finds the reason for this 1752
possibility in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of
Baptism for salvation.
VI. THE NECESSITY OF BAPTISM
1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for 1129
salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel
to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for
salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and
who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The 161, 846
Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that
assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not
to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all
who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has
bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound
by his sacraments.
1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those
who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received
Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This
Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of 2473
Baptism without being a sacrament.
1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit 1249
desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and
charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to
receive through the sacrament.
1260 "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called
to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the
Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a
way known to God, of the Paschal mystery." Every man who is 848
ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth
and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it,
can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have
desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.
1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the
Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in
her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who
desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward
children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me,
do not hinder them," allow us to hope that there is a way of
salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the
more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children 1250
coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.
VII. THE GRACE OF BAPTISM
1262 The different effects of Baptism are signified by the perceptible 1234
elements of the sacramental rite. Immersion in water symbolizes
not only death and purification, but also regeneration and
renewal. Thus the two principal effects are purification from sins
and new birth in the Holy Spirit.
For the forgiveness of sins...
1263 By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all 977
personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. In those who have 1425
been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into
the Kingdom of God, neither Adam's sin, nor personal sin, nor the
consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.
1264 Yet certain temporal consequences of sin remain in the
baptized, such as suffering, illness, death, and such frailties inherent
in life as weaknesses of character, and so on, as well as an
inclination to sin that Tradition calls concupiscence, or metaphorically, 975, 2514
"the tinder for sin" (fomes peccati); since concupiscence "is left 1426
for us to wrestle with, it cannot harm those who do not consent but
manfully resist it by the grace of Jesus Christ." Indeed, "an athlete
is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules." 405
"A new creature"
1265 Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the 505
neophyte "a new creature," an adopted son of God, who has 460
become a "partaker of the divine nature," member of Christ and
co-heir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit.
1266 The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying
grace, the grace of justification:
- enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him 1992
through the theological virtues;
- giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the 1812
Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit;
- allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues. 1831
Thus the whole organism of the Christian's supernatural life has 1810
its roots in Baptism.
Incorporated into the Church, the Body of Christ
1267 Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: "Therefore 782
... we are members one of another." Baptism incorporates
us into the Church. From the baptismal fonts is born the one People
of God of the New Covenant, which transcends all the natural or
human limits of nations, cultures, races, and sexes: "For by one
Spirit we were all baptized into one body."
1268 The baptized have become "living stones" to be "built into
a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood." By Baptism they share
in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission. They
are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own 1141
people, that [they] may declare the wonderful deeds of him who
called [them] out of darkness into his marvelous light." Baptism
gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers. 784
1269 Having become a member of the Church, the person
baptized belongs no longer to himself, but to him who died and rose
for us. From now on, he is called to be subject to others, to serve
them in the communion of the Church, and to "obey and submit"
to the Church's leaders, holding them in respect and affection. 871
Just as Baptism is the source of responsibilities and duties, the
baptized person also enjoys rights within the Church: to receive
the sacraments, to be nourished with the Word of God and to be
sustained by the other spiritual helps of the Church.
1270 "Reborn as sons of God, [the baptized] must profess before
men the faith they have received from God through the Church"
and participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the
People of God.
The sacramental bond of the unity of Christians
1271 Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among
all Christians, including those who are not yet in full communion
with the Catholic Church: "For men who believe in Christ and have
been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect,
communion with the Catholic Church. Justified by faith in Baptism,
[they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to
be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers
by the children of the Catholic Church." "Baptism therefore
constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who
through it are reborn."
An indelible spiritual mark ...
1272 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized
is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible
spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can
erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits
of salvation. Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated.
1273 Incorporated into the Church by Baptism, the faithful have
received the sacramental character that consecrates them for Christian
religious worship. The baptismal seal enables and commits
Christians to serve God by a vital participation in the holy liturgy
of the Church and to exercise their baptismal priesthood by the
witness of holy lives and practical charity.
1274 The Holy Spirit has marked us with the seal of the Lord
("Dominicus character") "for the day of redemption." "Baptism
indeed is the seal of eternal life." The faithful Christian who has
"kept the seal" until the end, remaining faithful to the demands of
his Baptism, will be able to depart this life "marked with the sign
of faith," with his baptismal faith, in expectation of the blessed 197
vision of God - the consummation of faith - and in the hope of 2016
1275 Christian initiation is accomplished by three sacraments
together: Baptism which is the beginning of new life;
Confirmation which is its strengthening; and the Eucharist
which nourishes the disciple with Christ's Body and
Blood for his transformation in Christ.
1276 "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing 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" (Mt 28:19-20).
1277 Baptism is birth into the new life in Christ. In accordance
with the Lord's will, it is necessary for salvation,
as is the Church herself, which we enter by Baptism.
1278 The essential rite of Baptism consists in immersing the
candidate in water or pouring water on his head, while
pronouncing the invocation of the Most Holy Trinity:
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
1279 The fruit of Baptism, or baptismal grace, is a rich reality
that includes forgiveness of original sin and all personal
sins, birth into the new life by which man becomes an
adoptive son of the Father, a member of Christ and a
temple of the Holy Spirit. By this very fact the person
baptized is incorporated into the Church, the Body of
Christ, and made a sharer in the priesthood of Christ.
1280 Baptism imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual
sign, the character, which consecrates the baptized
person for Christian worship. Because of the character
Baptism cannot be repeated (cf. DS 1609 and DS 1624).
1281 Those who die for the faith, those who are catechumens,
and all those who, without knowing of the
Church but acting under the inspiration of grace, seek
God sincerely and strive to fulfill his will, are saved
even if they have not been baptized (cf. LG 16).
1282 Since the earliest times, Baptism has been administered
to children, for it is a grace and a gift of God that
does not presuppose any human merit; children are
baptized in the faith of the Church. Entry into Christian
life gives access to true freedom.
1283 With respect to children who have died without
Baptism, the liturgy of the Church invites us to trust in
God's mercy and to pray for their salvation.
1284 In case of necessity, any person can baptize provided that
he have the intention of doing that which the Church
does and provided that he pours water on the candidate's
head while saying: "I baptize you in the name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."