The Sacrament of Baptism
In the Sacraments we meet Jesus. Baptism is a Sacrament. Sacraments use familiar, everyday things, (like water, oil, bread) to make real for us the presence of Jesus. Each day we use words and signs to communicate with one another. God also communicates with us in the sacraments through words and signs. The signs used in Baptism are water, oil, white garment and light. When someone is baptised, that person is joyfully made a child of God the Father, a brother or sister of Christ, and a member of the people of God, the Church.
The Greek word "baptizein" means to "immerse, plunge, or dip." The infant or adult candidate is anointed with the oil of catechumens, followed by the parents, godparents, or candidate making the profession of faith. The essential rite of Baptism consists of the priest immersing the baby or person in water or pouring water on his head, while pronouncing "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." The infant or candidate is then anointed with sacred chrism.
For adult candidates wishing to be baptised, it means taking part in the Rite of the Christian Initiation of Adults (R.C.I.A.)
Your Baby's Baptism
Early in the Baptism ceremony the priest says “The Christian Community welcomes you with great joy.” This is the core theme and meaning of the ceremony.
The priest greets the parents, godparents and friends in the Church.The parents declare that they want Baptism for their child, they give the baby’s name and promise that they will bring the child up in the Catholic faith and be good and practicing Catholics themselves. The priest then signs the baby’s forehead with the sign of the cross and invites the parents and godparents to do the same.
All listen to readings from Scripture and some special prayers are said. (Ministers of the Word and/or family members may read the scriptures and prayers.) The saints are also asked to help and guide us. The priest anoints the child on the chest with the Oil of Baptism, as a sign that he/she is being set aside for a special friendship with Jesus.
After the water is blessed, parents and godparents and all present are asked to renew their Baptismal vows. Then the parents and godparents are invited to come around the Baptismal Font. The priest pours water on the child’s head, saying: “I Baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
The child is then anointed on the forehead with the Oil of Chrism. The godmother assists in wrapping the child in a white Baptismal shawl. The child’s baptismal candle is lit from the large Easter Candle. This is handed to the parents with the words: “Receive the light of Christ.” The priest touches the child’s ears and mouth and prays that the child may soon hear God’s Word and praise Him in prayer.
In the final part of the ceremony, the family is invited to bring the baby, who has just become a new creation, a new person, to the altar. In this action there is a pointing forward to Confirmation, the Mass and First Holy Communion. To share in the Mass is the privilege of the baptised. These Sacraments will complete the child’s entry into the Christian believing community.
This part includes the saying of the great prayer of the Christian community, the Our Father. Finally, special blessings for the baby, the parents and for all present are said. Parents are reminded that they will be the first teachers of their child in the ways of faith.
Registration of Baptism
After the ceremony, the parish priest records the baptism in the Baptismal Register of the parish. This record includes the full names of the child, parents and godparents, the child’s date of birth, the date of the baptism and the name of the officiating priest or deacon.
A Certificate of Baptism can then be issued by the parish as and when required.
Requirements & Preparation
Parents are required to attend a preparation meeting before their child’s baptism. The meeting is informal and aims to provide parents with a greater understanding of the sacrament of baptism; it is also a good way to meet other parents in the parish. We would ask both parents to attend and we would ask that if possible children and babies are not brought to the meeting. The preparation meeting lasts approximately one hour. The Cathedral Parish run preparation meetings regularly, please telephone the presbytery office on 021-4304325 to find out the next scheduled date.
On the day….
- Bring a Baptismal candle
- A white garment (shawl or Christening robe) which will be put on during the ceremony.
- A Birth Certificate for the baby.
While there’s no guarantee that your child won’t cry during the ceremony, it may help if the child is fed just before coming to the church. Bring an extra feed and/or soother in case the baby gets upset during the ceremony.
It is customary to give an offering to the priest. Local tradition suggests that this is done by the godparents, however, it is the parents who ask for Baptism for their child.