The Rite of Baptism
Congratulations! You may be awaiting the birth of your child, have a newborn, or have a child who is several months old. No matter the stage of parenting you are currently in, you have been entrusted with a great gift from God. In your role as parent, you will serve as the first and most influential teacher of your child's faith (among other things). We look forward to helping you in this role through the Sacrament of Baptism.
Baptism is the first sacrament celebrated in the process of becoming a full member in the Catholic Church. The waters of baptism symbolize life and death, washing and cleansing, and the mystery of new life out of death. At the baptism of a child (or any person), we celebrate and reflect on God's unconditional love and welcome him or her into our faith.
When are they held?
At Epiphany we offer communal baptisms, held twice a month on Sundays at 1:30pm in the Church. You and your family members are invited to attend our 12 Noon Mass beforehand. If you are unable to do so, please arrive by 1:15 p.m. to check in with a priest or a hospitality minister. There may be several baptisms on any given date, so please be on time!
At least one parent must be Catholic.
Godparent(s) must be at least 16 years old, a confirmed Catholic, practicing their faith, and be willing to accept the responsibility of supporting their godchild in faith.
If you have only one Godparent, then that person can be either male or female. If you have two Godparents, then one must be male and the other female.
Both the parents and the godparents must attend baptism preparation class, which we offer here at Epiphany. You may attend a class at another Catholic parish (please provide a certificate of completion with the baptism name and date of baptism, clearly printed). You can arrange attendance at the baptism class by contacting Janet Bitner at the parish office.
Baptism Prep Class
Epiphany offers a one hour preparation class to all families planning a baptism in order to help you better understand the Sacrament and Rite of Baptism and the role of parents and Godparents in the faith life of your child. Baptism is our acceptance of Christ's invitation to participate in the deep mystery of the Cross. Through our preparation process, we will work with parents and godparents to understand this profound reality and be equipped to pass it on to their children. Classes are usually held on Monday evenings at 7pm each month.
When a child or an adult is baptized, he or she must have at least one godparent or sponsor (the terms are interchangeable). It is customary for children to have two godparents. When there are two, one must be male and the other female. Godparents must meet all of the following criteria, which are established by Canon Law and do not vary from place to place. Godparents must:
have been baptized, confirmed and received Communion
be 16 or older
must be living a life consistent with their own baptismal vows.
This means that they must be practicing the faith, cannot be engaging in notorious sin, and cannot have taken public positions in opposition to Catholic faith or morals. If a sponsor is married, their marriage must be recognized by the Church. In general, if a potential sponsor is not a member of the parish where the baptism is to take place, he or she must obtain a letter or certificate from their own pastor which affirms that they meet the above requirements.
People sometimes object to the requirements for a sponsor, with the argument that parents should have freedom to choose the sponsor of a child who is to be baptized. In order to understand the Church's position, several points must be kept in mind. Baptism is not a private act. It is a public, official liturgy of the Church and welcomes someone into the Catholic Church. Therefore, the Church has the duty and obligation to require reasonable criteria for being a sponsor. The sponsor is to assist the parents and the child in living a Catholic life. In order to do so, the sponsor needs to provide good example of living that life. A person who is not Catholic, or who is not living in a way consistent with the faith, obviously cannot provide the example that is part of the task of being a godparent. The role of godparent is a role of service done in the name of the Church, and the person who is a sponsor should be capable of performing that service.
The Baptismal Rite
The rite of baptism for infants begins with the parents asking the church to baptize their child. The bishop, priest, or deacon, in turn, makes the sign of the cross on the child and invites the parents and godparents to do the same. A lector, or the priest or deacon, then reads a passage from Scripture. The priest speaks to the gathering of family and friends about the meaning of the baptism for them and the child. Following the priest’s remarks, he anoints the child on the forehead, lips, throat and chest with holy oil. The anointing is to protect the child from spiritual harm.
The family is then invited to the baptismal font. Everyone present at the font is invited to make a profession of faith and reject evil. The parents and godparents make this profession on behalf of the child and promise to provide for the child’s religious formation. The celebrant blesses the water with a prayer. Then a parent is asked to hold the child over the baptismal water font as the celebrant says, “[Child’s name] I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” All present respond “Amen.” At the threefold prayer, the celebrant three times pours water over the child’s forehead. The ritual of immersion or washing helps us understand that our sins are buried and washed away as we die with Jesus, and we are filled with divine light and life as we rise from immersion in the water or are cleaned by the pouring.
Following the immersion, the celebrant anoints the newly baptized with the sacred chrism (a perfumed oil), so that united with God’s people, the child may remain forever as a member of Christ, who is priest, prophet and king.
After the anointing with chrism the child is given a white garment, a symbol that the child is clothed in Christ’s protective love. A lit candle is given to the child’s family to remind the child and all of us that as baptized people, we are to be lights for our world. The baptism concludes with the assembled family and friends praying the Our Father, followed by a final blessing. Then, photographs of everyone around the baptismal font!
For more information about Baptism, CONTACT Janet Bitner email@example.com