Sacraments of Initiation
There are three Sacraments, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, which are known as Sacraments of Initiation. They are so-called, because each is meant to strengthen our faith and forge a deeper relationship with God. Baptism frees us from original sin, Confirmation strengthens our faith and Eucharist give the privilege of receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and enables us to inherit eternal life.
Baptism is the first and basic Sacrament, through which we are united with Christ and the Church. No other Sacrament can be received without it. Hence it is the fundamental Sacrament of initiation.
There are five universal symbols of Baptism: The Cross, white garment, oil, water, and candle. Other familiar symbols include the baptismal font, Reading from the Bible, prayers, and godparents. It is the tradition of the Catholic Church to baptize the babies and give them the privilege of becoming the children of God and of becoming members of God’s family, the Church.
The priest or deacon, by performing the rite of immersing into water or pouring water on the forehead of the baptismal candidate signifies visibly the internal cleansing of the soul from original sin by the divine power of God. The baptismal candidate usually wears white garments, a candle is lit, and is anointed with sacred Chrism oil, in order to denote the dignity of being the child of God. Usually, Baptism takes place when the candidate is a baby, however, it can be administered at any age and thus enable the candidate to begin the journey with God. Baptism is celebrated with family, friends and particularly with godparents, so that the child may learn to grow in faith following the model of their faith.
The Church administers this Sacrament because Christ has entrusted this Mission to the Apostles and to the Church through them saying: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
Let us be thankful to The Lord for the gift of Baptism
Fr. Arul Joseph V.