By PAUL WIRTH – Diocesan Communications Staff
“I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
With those 18 words, we Catholics become members of our Church, children of God and heirs to the kingdom of heaven.
Before starting his public ministry, Jesus went to John the Baptist to be baptized in the Jordan River. We celebrate that event on Sunday Jan. 12, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
After his resurrection, Jesus met with his disciples and commissioned them to go forth and baptize. “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” (Matt. 28:19).
Baptism is the first of the three sacraments of Christian initiation. (The other two are Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist). Baptism removes all sin, including original sin, which is the sin we inherit at birth.
Most Catholics are baptized as infants, and converts can be baptized through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
When parents have their baby baptized, they agree to raise and educate their child in the beliefs and practices of the Catholic faith. Godparents, or sponsors, agree to be good role models for the child.
In the Baptism rite, the priest or deacon pours water over the person’s head, a ritual that reminds us that Baptism cleanses us of our sins.
How important is Baptism? Quite simply, it is necessary for salvation. As Jesus said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” (John 3:5).