by Rev. Deacon Dave Powers, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Monroe, North Carolina

Baptism  — Part 1

THE PASCHAL MYSTERY IN THE CHURCH’S SACRAMENTS (Taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church)

The Mystagogy of the celebration of Baptism

1234 The meaning and grace of the sacrament of Baptism are clearly seen in the rites of its celebration. By following the gestures and words of this celebration with attentive participation, the faithful are initiated into the riches this sacrament signifies and actually brings about in each newly baptized person.

1235 The sign of the cross, on the threshold of the celebration, marks with the imprint of Christ the one who is going to belong to him and signifies the grace of the redemption Christ won for us by his cross.

1236 The proclamation of the Word of God enlightens the candidates and the assembly with the revealed truth and elicits the response of faith, which is inseparable from Baptism. Indeed Baptism is “the sacrament of faith” in a particular way, since it is the sacramental entry into the life of faith.

1237 Since Baptism signifies liberation from sin and from its instigator the devil, one or more exorcisms are pronounced over the candidate. The celebrant then anoints him with the oil of catechu¬mens, or lays his hands on him, and he explicitly renounces Satan. Thus prepared, he is able to confess the faith of the Church, to which he will be “entrusted” by Baptism.

1238 The baptismal water is consecrated by a prayer of epiclesis (either at this moment or at the Easter Vigil). The Church asks God that through his Son the power of the Holy Spirit may be sent upon the water, so that those who will be baptized in it may be “born of water and the Spirit.”

1239 The essential rite of the sacrament follows: Baptism properly speaking. It signifies and actually brings about death to sin and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity through configuration to the Paschal mystery of Christ. Baptism is performed in the most expressive way by triple immersion in the baptismal water. How- ever, from ancient times it has also been able to be conferred by pouring the water three times over the candidate’s head.

1240 In the Latin Church this triple infusion is accompanied by the minister’s words: “N., I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” In the Eastern liturgies the catechumen turns toward the East and the priest says: “The servant of God, N., is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” At the invocation of each person of the Most Holy Trinity, the priest immerses the candidate in the water and raises him up again.

1241 The anointing with sacred chrism, perfumed oil consecrated by the bishop, signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit to the newly baptized, who has become a Christian, that is, one “anointed” by the Holy Spirit, incorporated into Christ who is anointed priest, prophet, and king.

1242 In the liturgy of the Eastern Churches, the post-baptismal anointing is the sacrament of Chrismation (Confirmation). In the Roman liturgy the post-baptismal anointing announces a second anointing with sacred chrism to be conferred later by the bishop— Confirmation, which will as it were “confirm” and complete the baptismal anointing.

1243 The white garment symbolizes that the person baptized has “put on Christ,” has risen with Christ. The candle, lit from the Easter candle, signifies that Christ has enlightened the neophyte. In him the baptized are “the light of the world.” The newly baptized is now, in the only Son, a child of God entitled to say the prayer of the children of God: “Our Father.”

1244 First Holy Communion:  Having become a child of God clothed with the wedding garment, the neophyte is admitted “to the marriage supper of the Lamb” and receives the food of the new life, the body and blood of Christ. The Eastern Churches maintain a lively awareness of the unity of Christian initiation by giving Holy Communion to all the newly baptized and confirmed, even little children, recalling the Lord’s words: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them.” The Latin Church, which reserves admission to Holy Communion to those who have attained the age of reason, expresses the orientation of Baptism to the Eucharist by having the newly baptized child brought to the altar for the praying of the Our Father.

1245 The solemn blessing concludes the celebration of Baptism. At the Baptism of newborns the blessing of the mother occupies a special place.

1240 En la Iglesia latina, esta triple infusión va acompañada de las palabras del ministro: “N, Yo te bautizo en el nombre del Padre, y del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo”. En las liturgias orientales, estando el catecúmeno vuelto hacia el Oriente, el sacerdote dice: “El siervo de Dios, N., es bautizado en el nombre del Padre, y del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo”. Y mientras invoca a cada persona de la Santísima Trinidad, lo sumerge en el agua y lo saca de ella.

1241 La unción con el santo crisma, óleo perfumado y consagrado por el obispo, significa el don del Espíritu Santo al nuevo bautizado. Ha llegado a ser un cristiano, es decir, “ungido” por el Espíritu Santo, incorporado a Cristo, que es ungido sacerdote, profeta y rey.

1242 En la liturgia de las Iglesias de Oriente, la unción postbautismal es el sacramento de la Crismación (Confirmación). En la liturgia romana, dicha unción anuncia una segunda unción del santo crisma que dará el obispo: el sacramento de la Confirmación que, por así decirlo, “confirma” y da plenitud a la unción bautismal.

1243 La vestidura blanca simboliza que el bautizado se ha “revestido de Cristo” (Ga 3,27): ha resucitado con Cristo. El cirio que se enciende en el cirio pascual, significa que Cristo ha iluminado al neófito. En Cristo, los bautizados son “la luz del mundo”. El nuevo bautizado es ahora hijo de Dios en el Hijo Unico. Puede ya decir la oración de los hijos de Dios: el Padre Nuestro.

1244 La primera comunión eucarística. Hecho hijo de Dios, revestido de la túnica nupcial, el neófito es admitido “al festín de las bodas del Cordero” y recibe el alimento de la vida nueva, el Cuerpo y la Sangre de Cristo. Las Iglesias orientales conservan una conciencia viva de la unidad de la iniciación cristiana por lo que dan la sagrada comunión a todos los nuevos bautizados y confirmados, incluso a los niños pequeños, recordando las palabras del Señor: “Dejad que los niños vengan a mí, no se lo impidáis.” La Iglesia latina, que reserva el acceso a la Sagrada Comunión a los que han alcanzado el uso de razón, expresa cómo el Bautismo introduce a la Eucaristía acercando al altar al niño recién bautizado para la oración del Padre Nuestro.

1245 La bendición solemne cierra la celebración del Bautismo. En el Bautismo de recién nacidos, la bendición de la madre ocupa un lugar especial.(continúa la próxima semana con el Sacramento del Bautismo)

(continúa la próxima semana con Parte II)