From The Pastor’s Desk
The Sacrament of Baptism
The first Sacrament of Initiation and the first of them all is the Sacrament of Baptism. While we are most familiar with the Baptism of infants (an infant can be any child who has not reached the age of reason, which is 7 years old), the sacrament can be given to a person at any age. Therefore, there are two different liturgies for Baptism, that for infants and that for adults (and for children older than the age of reason). The actual Baptismal ritual for either category is the same, but those things we do around the Baptism changes.
The sign of the Sacrament of Baptism is fresh water. This means that fresh water is the proper matter of the Sacrament of Baptism. Water is essential for all life on our planet, and our bodies are about 70% water. We use water for drinking, washing, growing food, cooking food, generating power, etc. There are few waking hours in the day when we do not make some use of water. So, in the Sacrament of Baptism, one of the essential material goods of the world is used to communicate God’s incredible Grace to us!
Where do we find Baptism in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition? It’s all over the Sacred Scriptures! Of course, Our Lord was baptized in all four Gospels, even though he did not need to be baptized. This speaks to the importance of this Sacrament in our lives. At the end of St. Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus commands the Church to Baptize the whole world! This Sacrament has been present in the Church since the beginning, and it has not changed much throughout the course of Christian history.
What is the form of this Sacrament? It is called the Trinitarian Form, and the celebrant can never change this form. It goes like this: “(name), I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.” Of course, this follows the command of the Lord in the Gospels. To change any of these words makes the baptism invalid.
Next week, we will look at the effects of Baptism in our life.