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Sacrament of baptism

By Sean Martin
John Paul II Generation

What is Baptism?
Baptism is the Sacrament of Initiation in which a person becomes an adopted child of God, a member of the Church, Original Sin and all personal sins are forgiven and all punishment for sin is satisfied. The baptized person receives the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Infused Virtues.

In Baptism, we are grafted on to the New Covenant in Jesus Christ, we participate in the Divine Life of God and He dwells inside of us in very real way. “Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1213). In Baptism we die and rise with Jesus Christ and He transforms us into a new creation. “Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through Baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection” (Romans 6:3-5). In order to receive the other six Sacraments, a person must be baptized; therefore, it is the door to the other Sacraments.

Can a person go to heaven if they are not baptized?
The Church teaches that “The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation… Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament” (CCC 1257). Jesus said to Nicodemus “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” (JN 3:5). St. Cyril of Jerusalem said “if any man does not receive Baptism, he does not have salvation. The only exception is the martyrs, who, even without water, will receive the kingdom…For the Savior calls martyrdom a Baptism” (The Faith of the Early Fathers, William A. Jurgens, 811).

The Church recognizes three types of Baptism: Water, Blood, and Desire. Baptism of Water is the ordinary means of Baptism with the proper form and matter and intentions. Baptism of Blood is martyrdom. Jesus said that “no one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends” (JN 15:13). St. Peter states that “love covers a multitude of sins” (1Peter 4:8). Martyrdom is the greatest act of love a person could perform. In this great act of love, all sin and its effects and punishments are wiped away. Baptism of Desire can possibly cover a wide range of situations from Catechumens, who explicitly express a desire to be baptized, to a person who has not yet had the Gospel preached to them and is honestly seeking to live in truth, love, and goodness.

Who can receive Baptism?
Any person who desires to be baptized, who is not yet baptized, can be baptized (CCC 1246). In the Sacrament of Baptism a person receives an indelible spiritual mark that can never be wiped away, so it only needs to be and can only be received once.

Who is the minister of Baptism?
The ordinary minister of the Sacrament of Baptism is an ordained bishop, priest, or deacon. In the case of necessity, the extraordinary minister of Baptism is any person with the proper form, matter and intentions.

What is needed for Baptism to be valid?
Jesus gave authority to the Apostles to baptize in the name of the Holy Trinity at the Great Commission when he said “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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (MT 28:19-20). Therefore, the form of the Sacrament of Baptism is "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." The Matter is the immersion in water or pouring of water over the head of the person being baptized. The minister of the Sacrament of Baptism must intend to do what the Church intends.

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