The Sacrament of Baptism is the first sacrament all Christians receive. Through Baptism, a person is set free from Original Sin, made one with Christ, made a son or daughter of God, a member of Christ’s Church, and a sharer in the mission of the Church.
Our English word, baptism, comes from a Greek word, baptizein, which means to “plunge” or “immerse.” The “plunge” into the water symbolises the candidate’s burial into Christ’s death, from which he or she rises up by resurrection with him, as “a new creature.” Baptism is performed by immersing the child in water, or more commonly now, by pouring water over the child’s forehead as the priest declares ‘I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’. Sometimes Baptism is referred to as “Christening” because of what Baptism does, namely, making a person one with Christ.
Water is the central symbol of Baptism. In daily life water is used for cleansing and purifying, for refreshment and for sustaining life. All these uses of water give to water the power of its symbolism in Baptism.
Oil is used twice in the ceremony. Before the Baptism, the child’s breast is smeared with the Oil of Catechumens as a sign of preparation and strengthening for whatever life might throw at them. Afterwards the crown of the head is anointed with perfumed Chrism. The word “Chrism” comes from the Greek translation, Christos, of the Hebrew word “Messiah”, which means “Anointed One”. To be anointed with Chrism indicates that a person has become one with Christ.
The white garment with which the newly baptised is then clothed in symbolises their new life in Jesus Christ. It also shows that the newly baptised is now a Christian and with the help of family and friends will grow up to be like Jesus. It is also “the outward sign of Christian dignity.”
A baptismal candle is lit from the paschal candle beside the font and presented to the new member as a sign that they are to carry the light of Christ into the world.
Finally, the ears and mouth of the candidate are signed with the cross – as they are commissioned to be formed by the word of God and then to share the word with others
At St Paul’s, Baptisms are celebrated on the first and third Sundays of the month at 10.30am.
How to receive baptism
There are four elements to the application process – please complete each step in turn.
Each step is compulsory.
- First complete the Enquiry form (at least 6 weeks before) to choose your preferred date of Baptism.
- Then complete the online Belonging Course.
- Attend a Baptism Preparation Meeting – held on the second Wednesday of the month at 7pm in the Parish Church for about 30 minutes. This gives everyone a chance to meet and go through the ceremony together.
If you can’t make this meeting, call the parish office to arrange a direct meeting with one of the priests, or speak with a priest after Mass.
- Then you can complete the second form, the actual Application for Baptism – at least 3 weeks before the scheduled baptism.
The Belonging Course
Every parish has to prepare families adequately to receive the sacraments. One of the many challenges is finding a preparation program that fits in with the busy schedules of parents. We are delighted that a new online preparation program will be undertaken by all parents presenting a child for Baptism in our parish. The course, called Belonging, is led by the very dynamic and gifted Fr Mike Schmitz. He provides beautiful examples and illustrations across the 7 short sessions that comprise the course.
- What’s in a name?
- Real Relationship
- Liar, Lunatic, or Lord
- Child of God
- Real Change
- Your Family
- Rite of Baptism
Once you purchase (for US$9.95) and complete the Belonging program and attend the Baptism Preparation Meeting, you will receive a certificate, which will then allow you to apply for Baptism within the parish.
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