The Sacrament of Baptism
Baptism is the sacrament whereby the Christian community welcomes and begins the initiation of new members. In the water bath of blessed water, the anointing with fragrant chrism, the clothing in new white garments and the reception of the Light of Christ, new members join the life of the Catholic Christian Community. In the renunciation of sin, profession of faith, and promise of a faithful witness to the Christian life, and, with God-parents at their side, parents present their new family member(s) asking that they be formally admitted to the life of the church. Or, perhaps, someone of understanding age presents themselves for membership.
This is reason for great joy in the life of the church and in the life of a parish. This calls for a celebration! So… the community is called together to welcome and celebrate with new members. Baptism is most properly celebrated at weekend mass when the community can actually be present. This gathering presents the opportunity of a proper welcome and a reminder and celebration of the strength of faith of the community that will henceforth share weekly prayer and Eucharist with these members. For those who are already baptized, it is a powerful renewal of our own baptismal grace and blessing.
Here at Saint Peter Parish baptisms will be scheduled about every six weeks. It will be celebrated in two different stages. On one weekend, candidates–or–parents of the child (with child to be baptized, and godparents if possible) will come to a designated Mass for the ceremony of “Naming and Signing”. This will take place after the homily of the Mass and will include the entire congregation making the sign of the cross over those to be baptized. Following Mass, families preparing for baptism will gather in the Parish Center for brunch/light dinner and conversation about the sacrament. The next weekend, the baptism welcoming ceremony will be celebrated at a designated weekend Mass.
The Rite of Baptism within Mass specifies that the “more suitable” form of the sacrament is the “rite of immersion” (rather than the more simple form of pouring a little water over the forehead). The rite also provides for the clothing in white to take place after the actual baptism with water has taken place. The Rite calls for the full, active involvement of the community. It is our privilege and our joy to welcome new members to the life of the church and parish. We look forward to these opportunities. With tears in our eyes and joy in our hearts we will join together and sing to each of the newly baptized: “You are God’s great work of art–fashioned with great love!”
Please contact the Parish Office or call 617-547-4235 for more information or to schedule a Baptism.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church on Baptism (1275-1284):
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.
“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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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, can be saved even if they have not been baptized (cf. LG 16).
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.
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.
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.”