BAPTISM OF THE LORD JESUS
10 JANUARY 2010
Once I was in the parish office, there comes a Hindu
family wanting to become Christians. I told them, that
it is a process by which they have to be introduced to
Christianity. I asked them a simple question: “why do
you want to become Christians?” They answered, “Father,
we have wonderful Christian neighbours, their life is so
great, they are charitable, helpful that we were deeply
inspired by them. They helped us when one of our family
members was seriously ill, and they even stayed with the
member for a long time in the hospital. Now that we have
this great experience we want to be like them. We also
read Bible with them, and they instruct us. That is why
we want to become Christians.” Then I said to them that
they have to undergo one year of intense course. But
they said, they were even ready for 2 years course to
Baptism: The Door of the Church
The Sacrament of Baptism is often called "The door of
the Church," because it is the first of the seven
sacraments not only in time (since most Catholics
receive it as infants) but in priority, since the
reception of the other sacraments depends on it. It is
the first of the three Sacraments of Initiation, the
other two being the Sacrament of Confirmation and the
Sacrament of Holy Communion. Once baptized, a person
becomes a member of the Church. Traditionally, the rite
(or ceremony) of baptism was held outside the doors of
the main part of the church, to signify this fact.
The Necessity of Baptism
Christ Himself ordered His disciples to preach the
Gospel to all nations and to baptize those who accept
the message of the Gospel. In His encounter with
Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), Christ made it clear that
baptism was necessary for salvation: "Amen, amen I say
to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the
Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
For Catholics, the sacrament is not a mere formality; it
is the very mark of a Christian, because it brings us
into new life in Christ.
Baptism of Desire
That doesn't mean that only those who have been formally
baptized can be saved. From very early on, the Church
recognized that there are two other types of baptism
besides the baptism of water.
The baptism of desire applies both to those who, while
wishing to be baptized, die before receiving the
sacrament and "Those who, through no fault of their own,
do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who
nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved
by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they
know it through the dictates of conscience"
(Constitution on the Church, Second Vatican Council).
Baptism of Blood
The baptism of blood is similar to the baptism of
desire. It refers to the martyrdom of those believers
who were killed for the faith before they had a chance
to be baptized. This was a common occurrence in the
early centuries of the Church, but also in later times
in missionary lands. The baptism of blood has the same
effects as the baptism of water.
The Form of the Sacrament of Baptism
While the Church has an extended rite of Baptism which
is normally celebrated, which includes roles for both
parents and godparents, the essentials of that rite are
two: the pouring of water over the head of the person to
be baptized (or the immersion of the person in water);
and the words "I baptize you in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
The Minister of the Sacrament of Baptism
Since the form of baptism requires just the water and
the words, the sacrament, like the Sacrament of
Marriage, does not require a priest; any baptized person
can baptize another. In fact, when the life of a person
is in danger, even a non-baptized person—including
someone who does not himself believe in Christ—can
baptize, provided that the person performing the baptism
follows the form of baptism and intends, by the baptism,
to do what the Church does—in other words, to bring the
person being baptized into the fullness of the Church.
In both cases, a priest may later perform a conditional
In the Catholic Church today, baptism is most commonly
administered to infants. While some other Christians
strenuously object to infant baptism, believing that
baptism requires assent on the part of the person being
baptized, the Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans,
and other mainline Protestants also practice infant
baptism, and there is evidence that it was practiced
from the earliest days of the Church.
Since baptism removes both the guilt and the punishment
due to Original Sin, delaying baptism until a child can
understand the sacrament may put the child's salvation
in danger, should he die unbaptized.
Adult converts to Catholicism also receive the
sacrament, unless they have already received a Christian
baptism. (If there is any doubt about whether an adult
has already been baptized, the priest will perform a
conditional baptism.) A person can only be baptized once
as a Christian—if, say, he was baptized as a Lutheran,
he cannot be rebaptized when he converts to Catholicism.
While an adult can be baptized after proper instruction
in the Faith, adult baptism normally occurs today as
part of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA)
and is immediately followed by Confirmation and
The Effects of the Sacrament of Baptism
Baptism has six primary effects, which are all
The removal of the guilt of both Original Sin (the sin
imparted to all mankind by the Fall of Adam and Eve in
the Garden of Eden) and personal sin (the sins that we
have committed ourselves).
The remission of all punishment that we owe because of
sin, both temporal (in this world and in Purgatory) and
eternal (the punishment that we would suffer in hell).
The infusion of grace in the form of sanctifying grace
(the life of God within us); the seven gifts of the Holy
Spirit; and the three theological virtues.
Becoming a part of Christ.
Becoming a part of the Church, which is the Mystical
Body of Christ on earth.
Enabling participation in the sacraments, the priesthood
of all believers, and the growth in grace.