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Baptism: Frequently Asked Questions

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Jesus said to his disciples, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you."

Commanded by Jesus - Sacrament of Faith

Jesus commanded his disciples to baptize.  From the beginning of the Christian community, Baptism was always associated with faith, faith in Jesus as Lord, and therefore, a corresponding wholehearted acceptance of His teachings. This practice originates with Christ and is seen in the first Christians.  "So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added." (Acts 2:41)  Christians proclaimed and shared their faith in Jesus.  As the bible tells us in a number of places, those who believed were baptized.  "But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." (Acts 8:12)

Why baptize?  It is necessary for eternal life.

Jesus said to Nicodemus, “'Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.' Nicodemus said to him, 'How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?' Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’" (Jn 3:3-7)

Baptism is not merely a cultural symbolic practice, nor a mere family tradition or custom. It is not merely a symbol, but through the outward sign of water it actually effects something real within us, namely our salvation.  Baptism saves us from sin and everlasting death, and opens for us the doors to eternal life. The first Christians knew this well and the bible makes it very clear.  “…And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience…”  (1 Pet 3:21)  "The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned." (Mk 16:16)  “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit (baptism).” Titus 3:4-5

Water serves as a sign of what actually happens, namely that we are cleansed and freed from the bondage of original and actual sin, and we are born to a new life as the Holy Spirit of God is given to us. We are truly born as a child of God through the gift of His Spirit (His life) in us.  “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 2:38)

Who can be baptized and when?


"Every person not yet baptized and only such a person is able to be baptized." (CCC 1246)  Just as a person is born from their mother only once, so a person is spiritually born as a child of God through baptism only once.  So as not to lose its true meaning, once baptized, a person is not to be baptized again, for baptism is not merely symbolic.  Adults or children who have been baptized in a valid Christian church are not baptized again in the Catholic church. As we say in the Nicene Creed, “I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins…”


Today, adult baptisms usually take place on the night of the Easter Vigil.  Because of its necessity for salvation, the sacrament of baptism is often performed on infants of believers shortly after birth and preparations for it made preferably toward the end of pregnancy.  Baptism of the child of Christian believer should not be delayed without a just and grave cause, and may even be sinful on the part of parents to delay it unnecessarily, for example, so that certain persons may be able to attend.


Who can baptize?


While in ordinary circumstances, sacraments in the Catholic Church are administered validly by a member of the ordained clergy, in an emergency situation, the sacrament of baptism can be administered by anyone.  In case of necessity, any person can baptize provided that he have the intention of doing that which the Church does and provided that he pour water on the candidates head while saying: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (CCC 1284).