The Sacrament of Baptism is the sacrament that begins our new life, our life in Christ. Baptism washes away original sin and, in the case of those who have reached the age of reason, particular sin. We are made a member of Christ’s body, the Church. We are filled with sanctifying grace. We receive the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, as well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Baptism is celebrated by pouring holy water or immersing one in the Baptismal Font. And the celebrant recites the words, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." This is called the Trinitarian baptismal formula. The one receiving the sacrament is immersed or water is poured three times – once as the celebrant says, "in the name of the Father," once as he says, "and of the Son," and again when he says, "and of the Holy Spirit." The celebrant or minister of Baptism is usually a bishop, priest or deacon. In an emergency, however, anyone can baptize as long as the intention is to do the will of the church and the Trinitarian formula and water are used.
The Baptismal Font is a permanent basin. The word font implies living water and now many Baptismal Fonts have running water to represent this living water. Some Baptismal Fonts are located near the door of the church, to symbolize that Baptism is the door, or entranceway into the Church. Other fonts are located closer to the sanctuary since oftentimes Baptisms are now celebrated during Mass. Celebrating Baptisms during Mass brings the community together and centers around the communal nature of the sacrament.
A white garment is worn by all who receive the Sacrament of Baptism. This signifies our new life in Christ. It is an out word sign of our redemption by the blood of our savior and Lord. Those who are brought into the full communion with the Church during Easter Vigil and receive Baptism will wear their white garment until Pentecost. Infants usually are dressed in white gowns, oftentimes adorned with lace and the like. Sometimes a liturgical garment (like a Baptismal bib) is made and given at the Baptism.
In the Baptismal Vows or Promises, one promises to reject Satan and be a faithful servant to God. After renouncing Satan and all his empty promises, the person being baptized (or the parents speak for the baby) professes the Faith by responding to questions asked by the celebrant. This is much like the Rite of Baptism was bestowed in the early Church.
Baptism of Blood & Baptism of Desire
If, for some reason, a person isn’t able to receive baptism of water, the same sanctifying grace and benefits can come through Baptism of Blood, which is when martyrdom is suffered for the Catholic Church or some virtue, or through Baptism of Desire, when a person has repented and has the intention of being faithful to God, and desires a life in Christ.
Peace in Christ,