St Leonard's, East Kilbride
a parish in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Motherwell
This article, though intended in the main for parents, gives all of us a welcome opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the Sacrament. The Sacraments are celebrations of faith which build up the life of the Church. Just as the faith of the individual believer is important, so too is the community to which he or she belongs.
Entry into Grace
By Baptism, a person is incorporated into the life of Christ in the Church. S/he becomes a full member and is thus able to receive all the other Sacraments - Confirmation and Eucharist are the other Sacraments of initiation into the Church. Baptism is not just a social ritual, a reason for celebration. Baptism brings with it the responsibility of opening one's life to God, of saying 'Yes' to the challenges of the Gospel.
Accepting Responsibility
Most of us were baptised as infants, so our initial 'Yes' to God was given on our behalf by our parents and god-parents. They accepted the responsibility of teaching us the ways of faith, and of helping us to grow in the love of God. This assumes that parents are themselves believers and that they practise their faith. The parish community also plays a role in supporting both the newly-baptised and those adults who have taken on the responsibility of helping them to grow in faith. However, as Christians grow into adulthood, the maturing of their personal faith becomes their own responsibility. The Church takes the view that in the normal course of events the children of Christian parents will grow up to be Christian.
Symbols of Beauty in Baptism
by the anointing on the chest with the Oil of Catechumens, Christ gives strength to the one being baptised;
the anointing with Chrism on the head is a sign that the baptised is a member of the Body of Christ;
the pouring of water reminds us that Baptism cleanses us of sin;
the white robe is a sign of Christian dignity;
the lighted candle shows that the light of faith should be kept safe;
the touching of the ears and mouth (the Ephpheta) looks to the future when the baptised, having heard the word of God, will profess the faith publicly.
Parents and sponsors accept the responsibility of teaching the faith to their children.
As Christians grow to maturity, they become responsible for their own faith.
Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist initiate believers into the Body of Christ, which is his Church.
Preparing for Baptism
All parents and sponsors should prepare for their role and responsibility in Baptism. When a child is to be baptised, the parent(s) should 'phone the Parish Office on (01355)247471 to arrange a meeting with the Parish Priest or Deacon. At this meeting, they will receive advice and instruction in the faith to prepare them for their role.
When adults are preparing for Baptism, there is first of all a period of 'catechumenate', an ancient Church practice which sets aside some time for instruction and forming the convert in the faith, in preparation for being baptised.