What is the Sacrament of Baptism?
First a sacrament is a means by which God comes into our lives to deepen our relationship with him. The Church recognizes seven sacraments, namely, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Marriage, Ordination, Anointing of the Sick and Reconciliation. The seven sacraments touch all stages and all the important moments of the Christian life.
First let us look at what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about the sacraments:
"Christ now acts through the sacraments he instituted to communicate his grace. The sacraments are perceptible signs (words and actions) accessible to our human nature. By the action of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit they make present efficaciously the grace that they signify." (1084)
"Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify. They are efficacious because in them Christ himself is at work: it is he who baptizes, he who acts in his sacraments in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies." (1127)
We believe Jesus himself gave us each of the sacraments and each one flows from his life and ministry. Through each sacrament we are given the grace of God and drawn closer to him. Each sacrament is a visible sign of God's unconditional love for us. A visible sign where God comes to us, enters into our life and brings us closer to him through his grace.
Baptism is always the first sacrament to be administered and as such is often referred to as the "gateway to the sacraments" because Baptism incorporates us into Christ and forms us into God's people. Baptism as the first sacrament pardons all our sins, rescues us from the power of darkness, and brings us to the dignity of adopted children, a new creation through water and the Holy Spirit. Hence we are called and indeed we are the children of God.
Before we begin to discuss the baptismal process, we would like you to have an understanding of the symbols of Baptism: sign of the cross, water, oil, white garment, and candle. This is so that when the time comes to begin preparation for your child's baptism, you will have a better understanding of how these symbols relate to this very important sacrament.