Infant Baptism in the Catholic Church Essay Introduction
There are several parts to the ceremony of Infant Baptism in the Catholic Church. The first part of the ceremony is “the welcome” this begins at the door of the Church. The priest, parents and godparents trace the sign of the cross on the infant’s forehead. The sign of the cross symbolises the saving power of the crucifixion of Jesus.The next part of the ceremony is the celebration of the Word of God. Now a reading from the Bible is read and the priest will then give a short sermon to the congregation explaining the reading. Prayers of the faithful or “Biding prayers” are then said for the child, the parents and the godparents. Prayers are said for the new life, the serious responsibilities taken by parents and godparents and there may also be a prayer asking the saints to pray for the child.The Exorcism and anointing is the next part of the ceremony. The priest sets the child free from original sin, (power and control evil has over mankind is driven out) through exorcism. The priest then anoints the child with the oil of catechumens on the chest. The oil of catechumens is a sign of strength against temptation, sin and evil.The Baptismal promises now take place. The water is blessed and the priest asks the parents and godparents to renew their faith, this includes the rejection of all sin. Water is a sign of new life in the family of God and death to sin.The child now is baptised by pouring water over the forehead three times whilst the words,”I baptise you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” are said by the priest. In these words the formula of the Holy Trinity are expressed.The anointing with Chrism is the second anointing of the ceremony. The anointing of Chrism after baptism is a reminder that the new Christian shares in the life of Jesus. Chrism is a sign of being chosen by God for a special task. Chrism is a mixture of balsam (a fragrant perfume) and olive oil. The fragrant perfume is a sign of the beauty of God’s child.The baby is now clothed with a white garment. White is a colour associated with innocence and purity. A white garment is a sign of new life and faith, clothed with Christ. White is also a sign of the Messiah.One of the parents lights a candle (the baptismal candle) from the Paschal candle which represents the resurrection of Jesus. The flame is a symbol of life and of knowledge. Light is very important in the Christian faith as Jesus said,”I am the light of the world.”The final part is the conclusion is the conclusion at the altar. If the ceremony takes place at a time other than mass, the “Our Father” is said. The child now belongs to the family of God. Three blessings follow; one for the mother, one for the father and a third for all who attended the baptism.In believer’s baptism the ceremony starts with a sermon from the minister explaining the importance of baptism. He may ask the congregation to remember their own baptism and to renew their commitment to Jesus. The candidates who wish to be baptised wear light or white clothing, this symbolises forgiveness and new life. The candidates are asked if they have repented of their sins and if they have faith in the Lord. Each candidate may read a passage from the Bible, give a testimony explaining how they came to be Christians, or they may state their faith by answering a series of questions.The candidate then enters a pool or a river, this shows they want to leave their old sinful life behind.The Minister also steps into the water; he says”(Name), because you have repented of your repented of your sins and have requested baptism, I now baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”The candidate is gently immersed in the water. This is a sign that the old life has died, and that the Christian is buried in the same way as Jesus was.The candidate leaves the pool symbolising that the Christian’s new life has begun. As the candidate comes out of the pool a friend, or sponsor will be waiting at the top of the steps with a towel. The candidate then goes off to change and will then return to the service.Baptism- AO2Baptism is meaningful and significant for every Christian whether they were baptised as an infant or as an adult as it is the point in which they begin their journey of faith to God. Through baptism, Christians become closer to God as they are now part of his family, baptism is a celebration of God’s great gift of love. Baptism strengthens a person against temptation an evil, the oil of catechumens symbolises this, i.e. that Jesus will be with the person all the time, steering them away from evil and helping them throughout their life.A Christian follows Jesus and tries to live their life as he did to the best of their ability, they live in imitation of Jesus through teaching the word of God to younger children etc. They will also join in the resurrection of Jesus, they believe that their reward for following him is eternal life the sign of the cross symbolises this as Jesus was crucified and died on the cross for our sins.There are other items used in baptism which symbolise different aspects of Christians’ beliefs. Water is used; it symbolises two things-death due to sin and evil and new life in Christ; water is a powerful and natural sign of life and death.The words said by the priest or minister when the baptism is taking place contains the formula of the Holy Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This symbolises that the child is a new Christian; shares in the new life of Christ; the Son and belongs to the Church family in the Holy Spirit.In Matthew 28:19 these words were used also,”Therefore go and make Christians of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”The oil of chrism is used, it is a symbol of consecration for special services in the family of God; the fragrant perfume is a sign of the beauty of Gods child.Also when a person/child is baptised they wear light or white clothing this symbolises forgiveness and new life.In baptism there are usually candles lit. The baptismal candles are lit from the big, main candle, i.e. the Paschal candle. The flame is a symbol of life and of knowledge;”I am the light of the world.” This represents the resurrection as it brought new light to the world; it was the beginning of his new life.Baptism is an outward sign of inviting Jesus into your life; you reject sin and evil and accept Jesus into your life.Baptism frees us from original sin, sin which exists in the world which we are all subject to; no one is free from original sin as everyone is born into some kind of sin. Baptism shows that the candidate has been chosen by God to be a disciple, to follow Jesus and live a life like his, we are to follow in Jesus’ footsteps,it is a sign of Christ’s presence among us.As a result of Baptism Christians should live their life in imitation of Jesus. Members of the Christian community should live this out in every aspect of their life; e.g. at work, we can be honest and truthful and help others complete their tasks; with family, friends and other people who we meet, we can help other people who are unable to do general work for themselves, e.g. the sick and the needy. It is only right that they should live their faith out in every aspect of their lives as they have committed to God.At baptism we become Christians, as Christians we attend mass at least once a week and live our life’s by certain teachings, e.g. the Ten Commandments. We also pray to God and ask for his forgiveness so that he will help us when we are in need.Baptism-AO3I agree with the statement “Baptising babies is pointless” as the benefits of baptism cannot be understood by infants. Babies do not recall their baptism as they are only a few or a few weeks old. Sometimes Christians can use their baptism as an excuse to reject our religion altogether, or to not take it very seriously. I have seen evidence of these attitudes in my own Parish today. Older people have rejected their religion, these are people who are suppose to set an example to younger children, through this the future of Catholic Christians does not look good. People like this say things like, “I didn’t ask to become a member of the Church anyway so why should I bother?” Very often people who are baptised in infancy turn out to be ‘weak’ Christians as a result of it not being their own decision etc, they could eventually leave the Church. For some Christians who were baptised when they were babies, Baptism can be something they don’t think about much, if hardly at all; this is because it was so long ago in their past and they are totally oblivious to it. Baptism is often taken for granted in this way and it may not affect some people’s lives at all. These ‘weak’ Christians only turn to their faith when they need help; they will go to mass and pray when they are in trouble, this shows that they don’t have enough faith as they are not fully committed. They don’t think about what it means to be baptised or the implications it has for their attitudes and values, the way they live their lives.In adult baptism the candidates know what’s happening to them and they know exactly what they are doing and what they are getting into. They have a choice and they only join the Church and start their journey of faith with Jesus when they are ready to, they are much more conscious of their faith.However I can understand why some people would disagree with my view. Some people believe in baptising babies (infant baptism) as they believe that it makes the person a better Christian as they grow up learning and practising their faith. They are born into it and in a way they take it for granted it is something they always practised when they were a child so they will continue their faith when they have their own families; they become members of the Church and then learn how to live their lives by Jesus’ example as they get older. Also parents want their children to enjoy the benefits of baptism from an early age, e.g. Unity with Jesus and being apart of God’s family. If babies are baptised they have a life long relationship and journey with Jesus they also have a longer time to build their relationship with God.I feel that baptising babies is pointless as babies can not recall their baptism and therefore they have not willingly gave themselves towards God and the Church, they can use this in later life as an excuse to break away from their faith and I feel that this argument should be accepted, after all the Church does teach that we shouldn’t do anything we don’t want to and this was not the persons own choice, e.g. underage drinking etc. Maybe this person might have turned into a good an strong Christian if they hadn’t have been baptised as an infant, they personally may have preferred to live their life different and be baptised as an adult, fully understanding their commitments but it is to late for them to turn back and they could have already given up.In adult baptism the candidates know what’s happening to them and they know exactly what they are doing and what they are getting into so it seems that in the long run it is more effective to be baptised as an adult as there is less chance of you breaking away from your faith.Infants cannot understand the benefits of baptism and even the thought of celebrating an occasion that the main person doesn’t understand seems pointless.