|Baptism the Sacrament|
Baptism is the sacrament of entry into the Church. The sacrament is administered by the priest or deacon who pours water over the head of the person to be baptised while invoking the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Baptism takes away original sin, all personal sins and all punishment due to sin. It makes the baptised person a participant in the divine life of the Trinity through sanctifying grace, the grace of justification which incorporates one into Christ and into his Church. It gives one a share in the priesthood of Christ and provides the basis for communion with all Christians. It bestows the theological virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. A baptised person belongs forever to Christ. He or she is marked with the indelible seal of Christ (character).
The Church baptises infants because they are born with original sin. They need to be freed from the power of the Evil One and brought into that realm of freedom which belongs to the children of God.
Procedures for Baptism at St Patrick’s Cathedral
Baptisms are available every Sunday throughout the year (other than in Lent) unless a Diocesan Function is taking place. Baptisms commence at 12.45pm but families and guests must be present at the Cathedral by 12.30pm. Highlighting the ecclesial dimension of the Sacrament at St Patrick’s it is customary to baptise up to four children at each ceremony, highlighting the communal nature of the Sacrament.
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Preparation of adults for this Sacrament
In the years preceding the Second Vatican Council, Church leaders looked carefully at the current state of our initiation rites and decided that some changes in emphasis should be made to better adapt these sacraments to the pastoral needs of the contemporary Church. Following the discussion of these matters at the Council, the Church published a document: Rite of Confirmation and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (which has come to be known by its initials, RCIA).
The RCIA restores the order of Baptism-Confirmation-Eucharist and emphasizes the interconnectedness of these three sacraments. These rites are neither separate nor are they static they are part of an ongoing process. The RCIA speaks of our faith journey. And this journey does not end at Baptism or First Communion, or even at Confirmation, but continues throughout our Christian life. The Sacraments of Initiation are a continual invitation to continued conversion.
This faith journey is not merely a matter of learning about the faith, not merely instruction, but also a true conversion process. It involves the whole life of the candidate and the whole life of the Church. Conversion takes place in community. Conversion implies initiation into that community, initiation into the Body of Christ. (Fr Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M., S.T.D. Sacraments of Initiation:Sacraments of Invitation )
In baptism, we are reoriented toward God; the life of grace overcomes the power of evil and enables the baptized to believe in God and to engage, under the power of the Holy Spirit, in the struggle against Satan and the power of death.
Baptism happens not only to the individual, but also to Christ's body, the Church. That's why the rite insists that we celebrate Baptism in the Christian assembly, with the community present and actively participating. It is the community who is welcoming the new members, journeying with them, providing models for them, supporting and nourishing them.