Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Seven Sacraments and Their Liturgies, Part 2: Baptism

Click here for Part 1: Introduction to the Sacraments.

Baptism is the first of the seven sacraments. In Baptism, we are freed from all bondage to sin, made members of God's holy Catholic Church, and given the hope of eternal salvation. When God created mankind in his own image, humans were pure and holy. There was no suffering or death. Unfortunately, Adam, the first man and father of mankind, rebelled against God, disobeyed his commandment, and caused humans to fall from God's grace. Since then, every human has been born with original sin, the stain of mankind's rebellion against God (Romans 5:12-21). The doctrine of original sin has been taught by the Church since the earliest times. Since Adam and Eve, the only humans born without original sin were Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

When we are baptized, we are freed from original sin and brought back into God's good grace. In addition, whatever personal sins we may have committed before Baptism are washed away. Our souls are enflamed with God's sanctifying grace for the first time. We are given the character of a servant of God and a member of the Catholic Church. The effects of Baptism are permanent. Thus, Baptism can only be received once in a lifetime.

The sacrament of Baptism was forshadowed in the Old Covenant by the commandment that every male be circumcised on the eighth day of his birth (Genesis 17:10-14). Our Lord himself was circumcised on the eighth day of his birth, because the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph obeyed God's law (Luke 2:21). Before our Lord began his public ministry, St. John the Baptist, the final prophet of the Old Covenant, baptized people in the river Jordan, exhorting them, “Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:1-12). Jesus himself was baptized by St. John, and God cried out from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:13-17).

Throughout his public ministry, Jesus preached the necessity of Baptism. Before his Passion, he said to the Pharisees, “Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). At the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus gave his apostles the Great Commission, commanding them, “All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:18-19). Likewise, he commanded them, “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Thus, the sacrament of Baptism comes directly from Jesus Christ himself.

Since the time of the apostles, the practice of the Catholic Church has been to baptize infants. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14, NIV). Acts 16:15 refers to a woman “and her household” being baptized. Other texts from the first and second centuries refer to the Baptism of infants. Since all humans are born with original sin, infants should be baptized and freed from original sin as soon as possible after their birth. They will later make an adult commitment to the faith in the sacrament of Confirmation.

The essential matter of the sacrament of Baptism is water. The one being baptized may be immersed in water, or, more commonly, water may be poured or sprinkled on his head. The essential form of the sacrament is the one that Jesus himself gave us: “I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” The ordinary minister of Baptism, the one who should normally administer the sacrament, is a bishop, because bishops are the successors of the apostles whom Christ commanded to baptize. A priest is also an ordinary minister of Baptism, and in practice most Baptisms are performed by priests. In the absence of a priest, a deacon may administer the sacrament with the bishop's permission. However, everyone, baptized or not, is a valid extraordinary minister of the sacrament of Baptism. In an emergency, anyone, even a pagan or heretic, can validly administer Baptism by pouring water on a person's head and saying the essential form of the sacrament. This is only allowed in an emergency. (That is to say, do not try this at home!)

There are two other ways that a person may receive the graces of Baptism. First, Jesus promised that anyone who loses their life for his sake will have eternal life (Matthew 16:25). Thus, anyone who is willingly martyred for the Catholic faith will go to heaven, even if they have not been baptized. This is called Baptism of blood. Second, God has perfect mercy and perfect justice. He will not condemn anyone who, through no fault of their own, cannot be baptized, if they at least have an implicit desire to be baptized. This is called Baptism of desire. If someone died in a car crash on the way to their Baptism, they could still receive Baptism of desire. Likewise, if someone never had the opportunity to consider the Catholic faith but still did good works, he could receive Baptism of desire.

The liturgy for Baptism is found in the Roman Ritual and is a little different for the Baptism of children and the Baptism of adults. In this article, I will be describing the Baptism of children. I will describe the Baptism of adults in part nine of this series.

Two Catholic adults, a man and a woman other than the child's parents, are appointed as godparents, who represent the child in the ceremony. They have responsibility for the child's spiritual welfare throughout his life. The ceremony begins outside the church, since the one being baptized is not yet a member of the Church. The priest, wearing surplice and violet stole, greets the people and asks the child's name.

Pax vobis. Quo nomine vocaris? Peace to you. What is your name?

Throughout the ceremony, the priest speaks directly to the child, and the godparents answer on his behalf. The parts addressed to the child may be in the vernacular, but the parts addressed to God must be in Latin. The ceremony of Baptism begins by giving the child a name, similar to how boys in the Old Covenant were given names at their circumcision. The priest then questions and instructs the one being baptized, addressing him by name and ensuring that he will be well-equipped to serve God in the Catholic Church. In the case of a child, the parents and godparents promise to raise the child in the Catholic faith. (For this liturgy, italics indicate responses from the godparents.)

N., quid petis ab Ecclésia Dei?
Fidem.
Fides, quid tibi præstat?
Vitam ætérnam.
Si ígitur vis ad vitam íngredi, serva mandáta. Díliges Dóminum Deum tuum ex toto corde tuo, et ex tota ánima tua, et ex tota mente tua, et próximum tuum sicut teípsum.


N., what do you ask of the Church of God?
Faith.
What does faith offer you?
Everlasting life.
If, then, it is life that you wish to enter, keep the commandments. Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, and with your whole soul, and with your whole mind; and love your neighbor as you love yourself.

After his Resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples, breathed on them, and gave them the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). The Holy Spirit is the giver of divine life. All sanctifying grace comes from the Holy Spirit. This why Jesus said that anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit cannot be saved (Mark 3:29). At Baptism, the child receives this divine life, and just like in the Mass, the priest acts in persona Christi. Thus, as soon as the priest has questioned the child and ascertained that he is eligible to be admitted into the Church, the priest breathes on him and prays that he may receive the Holy Spirit. (The genders of the pronouns are changed depending on the gender of the child.)

Exi ab eo, immunde spiritus, et da locum Spiritui Sancto Paraclito. Go forth from him, unclean spirit, and give place to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.

In this prayer, the priest commands any evil spirits to depart from the child. This will be a recurring theme throughout the ceremony, as the priest must make sure that the child is pure and holy when he is baptized. The priest marks the child with the Sign of the Cross.

Accipe signum Crucis tam in fronte + quam in corde +, sume fidem cælestium præceptorum: et talis esto moribus, ut templum Dei iam esse possis.


Oremus.
Preces nostras, quaesumus, Domine, clementer exaudi; et hunc electum tuum, N., crucis Dominicae impressione signatum, perpetua virtute custodi; ut magnitudinis gloriae tuae rudimenta servans, per custodiam mandatorum, ad regenerationis gloriam pervenire mereatur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
Amen.
Receive the Sign of the Cross both upon your forehead + and also upon your heart +; take to you the faith of the heavenly precepts; and so order your life as to be, from henceforth, the temple of God.


Let us pray.
Mercifully hear our prayers, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy perpetual assistance keep this thine elect, N., signed with the sign of the Lord's cross, so that, preserving this first experience of the greatness of thy glory, he may deserve, by keeping thy commandments, to attain to the glory of regeneration. Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

The priest lays his hands on the child and says another prayer for the child's holiness and purity.

Oremus.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, Pater Domini nostri Iesu Christi, respice dignare super hunc famulum tuum, N., quem ad rudimenta fidei vocare dignatus es: omnem caecitatem cordi ab eo expelle: disrumpe omnes laqueos Satanae, quibus fuerat colligatus; aperi ei, Domine ianuam pietatis tuae imbutus, omnium cupiditatum foetoribus careat, et ad suavem odorem praeceptorum tuorum laetus tibi in Ecclesia tua deserviat, et proficiat de die in diem. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.
Amen.
Let us pray.
Almighty, everlasting God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, look graciously down upon this thy servant, N., whom thou hast graciously called unto the beginnings of the faith; drive out from him all blindness of heart; break all the toils of Satan wherewith he was held: open unto him, O Lord, the gate of thy loving kindness, that, being impressed with the sign of thy wisdom, he may be free from the foulness of all wicked desires, and in the sweet odor of thy precepts may joyfully serve thee in thy Church, and grow in grace from day to day. Through the same Christ our Lord.
Amen.

In Matthew 5:13, Jesus tells his followers, “You are the salt of the earth.” Salt is used to add flavor to food as well as to preserve it. Thus, salt represents divine wisdom and protection. Blessed salt has been used by the Catholic Church in the ceremony of Baptism since at least the fourth century. Salt was also used in the sacrifices of the Old Covenant (Leviticus 2:13). The blessed salt used at Baptism is given a special blessing and exorcism. The priest puts a pinch of blessed salt in the child's mouth.

The ensuing prayer is begun, not with “Dominus vobiscum,” but with “Pax tecum,” which means, “Peace be with you.” This was the risen Christ’s greeting to his apostles, and it is the greeting addressed to the child partaking in the fruits of Christ's Resurrection for the first time (John 20:19).

N., accipe sal sapiéntiæ: propitiátio sit tibi in vitam ætérnam.
Amen.
Pax tecum.
Et cum spíritu tuo.
Oremus.
Deus patrum nostrorum, Deus universae conditor veritatis, te supplices exoramus, ut hunc famulum tuum respicere digneris propitius, et hoc primum pabulum salis gustantem, non diutius esurire permittas, quo minus cibo expleatur caelesti, quatenus sit semper spiritu fervens, spe gaudens, tuo semper nomini serviens. Perduc eum, Domine, quaesumus ad novae regenerationis lavacrum, ut cum fidelibus tuis promissionum tuarum aeterna praemia consequi mereatur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
Amen.
N., receive the salt of wisdom; let it be to thee a token of mercy unto everlasting life.
Amen.
Peace be with you.
And with your spirit.
Let us pray.
God of our fathers, God the author of all truth, we humbly implore thee to look with favor on this thy servant, N., and grant that he who is now tasting this salt as his first nourishment may not hunger much longer before he is given his fill of heavenly food, so that he may always be ardent of soul, rejoicing in hope, and ever loyal to thy name. Bring him, O Lord, we ask thee, to the font of the new birth, so that in company with thy faithful servants, he may gain the eternal rewards that thou hast promised. Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Next is the exorcism, the expulsion of any evil spirits that might be affecting the child. Many today would laugh at the idea of demonic possession and exorcism. However, it is an undeniable truth that a world of demons exist. Demons are angels who have rebelled against God and have fallen from his grace. They devote themselves to turning souls away from God. We must always be on guard against demons. When a child or adult is baptized, it is important to expel whatever demons may be present, so that the one being baptized may not be hindered in his devotion to God.

I must give an important warning here. All exorcisms have a gigantic “Do not try this at home” attached to them. Messing with demons is extremely dangerous. Do not attempt to perform an exorcism yourself. If you believe that you or someone else is in need of an exorcism, contact a priest.

Exorcizo te, immunde spiritus, in nomine Patris + et Filii + et Spiritus + Sancti, ut exeas, et recedas ab hoc famulo Dei N.: ipse enim tibi imperat, maledicte damnate, qui pedibus super mare ambulavit, et Petro mergenti dexteram porrexit. Ergo, maledicte diabole, recognosce sententiam tuam, et da honorem Deo vivo et vero, da honorem Iesu Christo Filio eius, et Spiritui Sancto, et recede ab hoc famulo Dei N., quia istum sibi Deus et Dominus noster Iesus Christus ad suam sanctam gratiam, et benedictionem, fontemque Baptismatis vocare dignatus est. I exorcise thee, unclean spirit, in the name of the Father + and of the Son, + and of the Holy + Spirit, that thou goest out and depart from this servant of God, N.: for he commands thee, accursed one, who walked upon the sea, and stretched out his right hand to Peter about to sink. Therefore, accursed devil, acknowledge thy sentence, and give honor to the living and true God: give honor to Jesus Christ his Son, and to the Holy Spirit; and depart from this servant of God, N., because God and our Lord Jesus Christ hath vouchsafed to call him to his holy grace and benediction and to the font of Baptism.

The priest concludes the exorcism by marking the child once more with the Sign of the Cross, from which demons flee.

Et hoc signum sanctae Crucis, + quod nos fronti eius damus, tu, maledicte diabole, numquam audeas violare. Per eundum Christum Dominum nostrum.
Amen.
And this sign of the holy Cross, + which we make upon his forehead, do thou, accursed devil, never dare to violate. Through the same Christ our Lord.
Amen.

The priest lays his hands on the child and says one more prayer.

Oremus.
Aeternam, ac iustissimam pietatem tuam deprecor, Domine, sancte Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus, auctor luminis et veritatis, super hunc famulum tuum N., ut digneris eum illuminare lumine intelligentiae tuae: munda eum, et sanctifica: da ei scientiam veram, ut, dignus gratia Baptismi tui effectus, teneat firmam spem, consilium rectum, doctrinam sanctam. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
Amen.
Let us pray.
O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God, author of light and truth, I implore thine everlasting and most just goodness upon this thy servant N., that thou wouldst vouchsafe to enlighten him with the light of thy wisdom: cleanse him and sanctify him, give unto him true knowledge; that, being made worthy of the grace of thy Baptism, he may hold firm hope, right counsel and holy doctrine. Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

All this has occurred outside of the church. Now that he has tasted blessed salt, been marked with the Sign of the Cross, and been purged of demons, he is ready to be admitted into God's holy Church. The priest lays an end of the stole over the child's shoulder as he invites the child into the church. Priests are given authority by God over the Church, and the stole is the symbol of that authority. This also alludes to the sick woman touching Jesus's garment in Mark 5:25-34.

N., ingredere in templum Dei, ut habeas partem cum Christo in vitam aeternam.
Amen.
N., enter thou into the temple of God, that thou mayest have part with Christ unto life everlasting.
Amen.

As they enter into the church, the godparents say the Apostles' Creed and the Our Father on the child's behalf, as these are two of the most basic prayers necessary for a member of the Catholic Church. Then, to guard against any remote possibility of demonic influence, the priest performs another exorcism inside the church.

Exorcizo te, omnis spiritus immunde, in nomine Dei + Patris omnipotentis, et in nomine Iesu + Christi Filii eius, Domini et Iudicis nostri, et in virtute Spiritus + Sancti, ut discedas ab hoc plasmate Dei N., quod Dominus noster ad templum sanctum suum vocare dignatus est, ut fiat templum Dei vivi, et Spiritus Sanctus habitet in eo. Per eundum Christum Dominum nostrum, qui venturus est iudicare vivos et mortuos, et saeculum per ignem. I exorcise thee, every unclean spirit, in the name of God the Father + Almighty, in the name of Jesus + Christ, his Son, our Lord and Judge, and in the power of the Holy + Spirit, that thou be depart from this creature of God N., whom our Lord hath deigned to call unto his holy temple, that it may be made the temple of the living God, and that the Holy Spirit may dwell therein. Through the same Christ our Lord, who shall come to judge the living and the dead, and the world by fire.

In Mark 7:32-35, Jesus heals a deaf and mute man, touching his ears with spittle and saying to him, “Ephpheta,” which means, “Be opened.” This miracle represents the sacrament of Baptism, where we are opened to God's sanctifying grace for the first time. After the child is brought into the church and exorcised, the priest, acting in persona Christi, imitates this act. He takes some spittle and touches the ears and nostrils of the child.

Ephpheta, quod est, Adaperire. In odorem suavitatis. Tu autem effugare, diabole; appropinquabit enim iudicium Dei. Ephpheta, that is to say, Be opened, for an odour of sweetness. Be thou, devil, begone; for the judgement of God shall draw near.

Before Baptism, the one being baptized must renounce Satan and embrace Jesus Christ. The godparents make these declarations on behalf of the child. They are still standing inside the church, but outside the baptistery, where the actual sacrament will take place. (In many modern churches, there is no delineated baptistery, so the ceremony will take place in some other convenient place within the church.) The renunciation of Satan is done here, before entering the baptistery. This part of the liturgy was famously portrayed in popular culture in the film The Godfather.

N., abrenúntias Sátanæ?
Abrenúntio.
Et ómnibus opéribus ejus?
Abrenúntio.
Et ómnibus pompis ejus?
Abrenúntio.
N., do you renounce Satan?
I do renounce him.
And all his works?
I do renounce him.
And all his pomps?
I do renounce him.

Finally, still outside the baptistery, the priest anoints the child on the breast and back with Oil of Catechumens, one of the three types of holy oil blessed by a bishop at a special Mass on Holy Thursday. Under the Old Covenant, oil was used to anoint priests and kings (Exodus 30:30, 3 Kings 1:38-40). In Baptism, the child is anointed into the royal priesthood of Christ (1 Peter 2:9) and as an heir to the kingdom of God. This anointing with Oil of Catechumens is merely an anticipation of the more solemn anointing that will occur later. It is the final act that occurs outside the baptistery.

Ego te linio Oleo salutis in Christo Iesu Domino nostro, ut habeas vitam æternam.
Amen.
I annoint you with the oil of salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord, that you may have everlasting life.
Amen.

Now, they enter into the baptistery. Inside the baptistery is a font of holy water, in which the child will be baptized. Up until now, the ceremony has had a penitential character, and the priest has worn a violet stole. Once we enter the baptistery, the ceremony takes on a joyful character, and the priest replaces the violet stole with a white one. To begin, the godparents, on the child's behalf, profess faith in Jesus Christ. This implies a solemn promise that the parents and godparents will teach the child to have faith in Christ. This profession of faith follows the structure of the Apostles' Creed.

N., credis in Deum Patrem omnipoténtem, Creatórem cæli et terræ?
Credo.
Credis in Jesum Christum, Fílium ejus únicum, Dóminum nostrum, natum, et passum?
Credo.
Credis et in Spíritum Sanctum, sanctam Ecclésiam cathólicam, Sanctórum communiónem, remissiónem peccatórum, carnis resurrectiónem, et vitam ætérnam?
Credo.
N., do you believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?
I do believe.
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born and suffered?
I do believe.
And do you believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
I do believe.

The godparents respond to each question with the word, “Credo,” meaning, “I believe.” This means full assent of the mind, heart, and soul. Many holy martyrs would write the word “Credo” on their breast in their own blood, if possible while still conscious, as a final act of faith. Finally, the priest asks the child if he desires Baptism.

N., vis baptizári?
Volo.
N., do you wish to be baptized?
I do.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for. The priest pours water over the child's head three times and pronounces the essential form of the sacrament of Baptism.

N., ego te baptízo in nómine Patris, et Fílii, et Spíritus Sancti. N., I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.


When the priest does this, the child is cleansed of original sin, given God's sanctifying grace, and made a member of the Catholic Church. It is truly a wonderful event! Next is the solemn anointing with Sacred Chrism, another type of holy oil that is specially consecrated by the bishop on Holy Thursday. It is followed by the greeting, “Peace be with you,” given by the risen Christ to the newest member of his Church.

Deus omnipotens, Pater Domini nostri Iesu Christi, qui te regeneravit ex aqua et Spiritu Sancto, quique dedit tibi remissionem omnium peccatorum, ipse te + liniat Chrismate Salutis in eodem Christo Iesu Domino nostro in vitam aeternam.
Amen.
Pax tibi.
Et cum spiritu tuo.
May the Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath regenerated thee by water and the Holy Spirit, and who hath given thee the remission of all thy sins, may he himself + anoint thee with the Chrism of Salvation, in the same Christ Jesus our Lord, unto life eternal.
Amen.
Peace be with you.
And with your spirit.

Traditionally, the newly baptized is given a white garment, the symbol of his purity before God. This garment resembles the alb, the symbol of purity worn by the sacred ministers of the Mass. Historically, the newly baptized would wear this garment for eight days. If it is impractical to give the newly baptized a white garment, the priest may simply place a white linen cloth on the child's head. The newly baptized is instructed to present himself in this pure state before the throne of God when he is judged at the end of his life. Often, infants who are baptized wear long, white baptismal gowns (regardless of gender), possibly trimmed with lace or embroidery. These are sometimes kept as family heirlooms and used generation after generation.

Accipe vestem cándidam, quam pérferas immaculátam ante tribúnal Dómini nostri Jesu Christi, ut hábeas vitam ætérnam.
Amen.
Receive this white garment, which mayest thou carry without stain before the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, that thou mayest have life everlasting.
Amen.

Finally, the priest gives the godparents a lighted candle, symbolizing the light of Christ that the child has received.

Accipe lámpadem ardéntem, et irreprehensíbilis custódi Baptísmum tuum: serva Dei mandáta, ut, cum Dóminus vénerit ad núptias, possis occúrrere ei una cum ómnibus Sanctis in aula cælésti, et vivas in sæcula sæculórum.
Amen.
Receive this burning light, and keep thy Baptism so as to be without blame: keep the commandments of God, that when the Lord shall come to the nuptials, thou mayest meet him together with all the Saints in the heavenly court, and mayest have eternal life and live for ever and ever.
Amen.

Thus ends the ceremony of Baptism. The priest dismisses the child and godparents with one last wish of peace.

N., vade in pace, et Dóminus sit tecum.
Amen.
N., go in peace, and may the Lord be with you.
Amen.

The Baptism is recorded in the permanent records of the parish and a baptismal certificate is issued. The parents and godparents have the solemn duty to raise the child in the Catholic faith and to teach him to believe in and love God. When the child is older and attains the use of reason, he will make his first confession, receive his first Holy Communion, and receive the sacrament of Confirmation. All of these are essential to life as a Catholic. It all begins with Baptism.

New terms
  • original sin – The guilt of Adam's first sin passed on to all of mankind, absolved through Baptism.
  • ordinary minister – The one who should administer the sacrament under normal conditions.
  • extraordinary minister – Someone who can validly administer the sacrament if necessary, but does not normally do so.
  • Baptism of blood – The graces of Baptism received by someone who, though unbaptized, is willingly martyred for the faith.
  • Baptism of desire – The graces of Baptism received by someone who, through no fault of their own, is unable to be baptized, but still has an implicit or explicit desire to be baptized.
  • godparents – Catholic adults other than the parents who witness a child's Baptism and take on responsibility for the child's spiritual welfare.
  • exorcism – The expulsion of evil spirits, to be performed only by a properly trained priest.
  • baptistery – The part of the church where Baptisms take place.
  • Oil of Catechumens – A type of holy oil used for the anointing before Baptism.
  • font – The vessel of holy water in which Baptisms are performed.
  • Sacred Chrism – A type of holy oil specially consecrated by a bishop, used for the anointing after Baptism.

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