Jesus instituted the sacrament of baptism when he was baptized by John the Baptist just prior to the beginning of His public ministry.1 Jesus did not need baptism himself, but did so to initiate the sacrament and show solidarity with humanity in their need for reconciliation to God.2 In Baptism, our sin buried with Christ in death and raised in newness of life.3 It is the first sacrament that one receives and is the start of the Christian life. Jesus commanded his disciples to
“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. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” 4
The Early Church, including St. Augustine, reiterated the necessity and salvific effect of baptism:
“There are three ways in which sins are forgiven: in baptism, in prayer, and in the greater humility of penance; yet God does not forgive sins except to the baptized.”5
The sacrament of baptism is prefigured in the Great Flood, in which eight persons were “saved through water.”6
A valid baptism is only received once in a person’s lifetime, as it removes the penalty of original sin, inherited from Adam. It also removes the penalty for personal sins committed up to that point in a person’s life. Thereafter, personal sins are remitted in confession and repentance.
The sacrament of Baptism is valid if it has the correct matter and form. The matter for this sacrament is water. The form for this sacrament is the declaration, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” While it is normative for the minister of this sacrament to be a priest, anyone may serve as a minister of this sacrament, as long as form and matter are present.
People of all ages may be baptized. Infants and young children who do not understand what is happening can still be recipients of salvific grace. Grace is an unmerited gift from God! Later, as they do become cognizant of the faith and can distinguish between right and wrong, they become responsible to maintain their faith and relationship with God. Parents are encouraged to have their infants baptized soon after birth. Call the St. Ann Church Office to make arrangements. (760) 375-2110
Unbaptized adults can receive preparation for baptism and initiation into the Christian faith through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). Please follow the link for more information about how to start this process.