Baptism (Christening)

BAPTISMS are celebrated each Sunday at 11.30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Baptism is the beginning of a process of belonging to the Church. We know that children need time to grow and develop. The Catholic Church spaces the process of Christian Initiation over many years.

In the Catholic Church, BAPTISM is the first of seven Sacraments. A Sacrament is a visible sign instituted by Christ t0 give his gracious help through the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is God who became human, so a Sacrament is a special time of encounter with God. On our part faith in Jesus Christ is paramount: in Adult Baptism especially the faith of the Candidate and the Godparent(s) and in Infant Baptism especially the faith of the parent(s) and Godparent(s).

In Baptism

• we are given a share in the life of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. We are ‘born again by water and the Holy Spirit’ as Jesus described it. A new life starts in us, a share in the life and loving talents of Jesus Christ

• we are made members of the Christian community, which Jesus called his Church, and St. Paul described as the Body of Christ, because we are individual members but united in sharing the same Holy Spirit and life

• we are given grace, God’s loving power, that we might be freed from whatever is wrong in human nature as we inherit it (Original Sin) and be helped to resist temptations to sin.

• we share, as individuals and as members of the Catholic Church, in the mission of Jesus to bring truth and loving help to all of God’s human family.

And finally, when our bodies are brought into the church for our Funeral Liturgy and our caskets are sprinkled from the baptismal font. This is a reminder that this life is not all there is: we are meant to enjoy eternal happiness with God. That is the call and the promise of Baptism.

BAPTISM OF AN ADULT

ADULTS are Baptized normally at Easter, but it can be at any time, after a group preparation called Catechumenate or RCIA. This can take several months but the time may vary depending on the readiness and the wishes of adults involved. The meetings involve several members of the Church and the priest.

BAPTISM OF AN INFANT

Here Infant Baptisms are normally celebrated at 11.30 a.m. every Sunday of the year.During the Covid 19 pandemic there can also be a Baptism at 1 p.m. every Sunday.

Normally the Church asks that “all recently born babies should be Baptized in a common ceremony on the same day”. This shows that it is not a private family matter but that they are all joining our Lord’s Church. Here because of the size of our building, we restrict Baptisms to two or very rarely three. However,during this time of the pandemic for several reasons the Baptisms are celebrated separately.

It is possible here when the family are very involved and have a special connection with the Parish and a special connection with a particular Sunday Mass for the Baptism to take place within that Mass. However, during the pandemic there would be a definite limit to the number of Baptism guests.

Several weeks before the Baptism our priest visits the family at their home to talk with the parents about the meaning of Baptism and about the ceremony itself. He also takes all the details for the Baptism Certificate.

It is important for parents to realize that at least one Godparent is needed and must be a Baptised Confirmed Catholic, at least sixteen years of age. Another person can be Godparent provided that person is a Baptised Christian. If there are two Godparents they must be a male and a female.

THE CEREMONY OF INFANT BAPTISM

Firstly, the child is named and presented by the parents and welcomed by the Celebrant (priest or deacon). The parents and godparents express their intention to raise the child as a Christian.

Then the readings from Scripture (an adult from the family or friends is ideal as reader) remind us of how important God’s loving gift of Baptism is and of what it means to be Baptized, to be a Christian. The Celebrant speaks about these things.

The General Intercessions and the Litany of the Saints express the prayer of the Church, on Earth and in Heaven, for the child, the child’s family, and all of God’s people.

After the priest’s Prayer Of Exorcism (for the child to be protected from evil) the priest anoints the child with Oil Of Catechumens, an ancient sign of God choosing and strengthening this special one.

The parents and godparents respond I DO to the questions based on the articles of the Apostles’ Creed and so proclaim their Christian faith, as they ask for the new life of Baptism for the child.

The Celebrant prays the blessing over the water of the font, a prayer of gratitude and trust.

Then the actual Sacrament of Baptism takes place.

Depending on the wish of the parents

the Celebrant can pour water on the head of the child three times – here held by the parents

OR

he can immerse the child in the water three times- here held by the parents and priest

while the Celebrant says the words of Baptism:

Name(s) I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

The people respond with the Amen and here the acclamation on the screen.

After the Baptism there are the following ceremonial actions:

(a) here the bringing of the child to the altar in the arms of godparents representing the wider Church which the child has joined and supporting the faith of the parents

(b) the anointing of the newly Baptized with a special oil called Chrism, in token of the child’s Confirmation to come in the future, and as a sign that the new Christian shares in Christ’s life and triple mission as prophet, priest and king.

(c) the reference to the white Baptism garment, a symbol of the goodness & innocence of Christ, which covers the child. Here if the Baptism is by immersion, the child wears dark clothes when brought to the Church. Immediately after the Baptism the mother, assisted by the godmother, goes to a separate room to dress the child in white clothes.Then the child is carried by the godparents to the altar, with the people’s acclamation.

(d) the lighting of the child’s candle from the Paschal (Easter) candle. The parents & godparents are reminded that they must keep the light of Christ burning brightly for the child, who now shares in the light and life of Jesus.

(e) The Lord’s Prayer

(f) The special Blessings of the parents, god-parents, and the whole congregation.