Friday, August 12, 2011

The Sacrament of Confirmation

1.   Catechism of the Catholic Church .

The catechism notes that the unity of the Sacraments of Initiation, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist is to be safeguarded (1285). As the ritual for the Sacrament of Confirmation states, "the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal Grace". Thus, the confirmed are more strictly obliged to spread and defend that faith.

The very name chosen for the sacrament from the Latin, "confirmo" to strengthen betrays the fact that this is a sacrament of strengthening. The sacrament has become particularly connected with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as a source of that strengthening. The Holy Spirit has always been active throughout the history of salvation from the inspiration of the prophets, through the descent of the Spirit on Jesus at the beginning of his ministry and to the descent of the spirit on the apostles at the beginning of the Church. 

Throughout the history of the Church beginning with Acts, the gift of the Holy Spirit was imparted to newly baptized Christians through the laying on of hands. We see this documents in several places in the New Testament, particularly the book of Acts. This imparting of the Spirit was seen as the completion of the grace of Baptism. After a short period of time, a second ritual action was added to signify the gift of the Holy Spirit--the anointing with Chrism. The term "chrism" comes from the Greek verb, xri/w, meaning to "anoint". It is this anointing with chrism that has become the matter of the sacrament of Confirmation. In the Eastern tradition, this sacrament is called "Chrismation" or anointing with chrism. 

2.   Historical Development.

In his Apostolic Constitution on the Sacrament of Confirmation, Pope Paul VI wrote:
"From ancient times the conferring of the gift of the Holy Spirit has been carried out in the Church with various rites. These rites underwent many changes in the East and in the West, while ever keeping the significance of a conferring of the Holy Spirit."

In the early centuries of the church, Baptism and Confirmation were all part of a single celebration, which was presided over by the bishop. This originated in the Acts of the Apostles where we hear of the deacon Philip preaching in Samaria and bringing converts to the faith through Baptism, and similarly Apollos bringing people to the faith in Ephesus. Later Peter lays hands on them conferring the Holy Spirit. 
Thus after baptism with water, there was a second rite, the imposition of hands through which the newly baptized received the Holy Spirit. This second rite was reserved to the Apostles. Thus through the early centuries of the church their was a double rite of baptism by the priest and imposition of hands and anointing with oil by the bishop. 

However, as the size of the church grew, it became impossible for the bishop to be present at all baptismal celebrations. This was due to the increase of the number of people seeking baptism and the concern of parents over their children dying without baptism since infant mortality rates were high. This led to the practice of infant baptism. Thus in the fifth century, Pope Innocent I clearly distinguished the rite of "consignation" from the right of Baptism itself. The administration of baptism fell to the priest. Nevertheless, in the western church, it was desired to reserve the completion of Baptism to the bishop.

Thus Baptism and Confirmation were listed as separate sacraments, a doctrine confirmed in the Council of Lyons in 1274. Since the time of the Council of Trent, Confirmation was conferred about the age of twelve and Communion was received for the first time shortly after Confirmation. Thus, the original order of the sacraments of initiation was preserved. In the beginning of this century, 1905, Pope Pius X decreed that children might receive communion as early as the age of seven and this broke the customary sequence of the sacraments of initiation. 

The Second Vatican council called for a revision of the ritual for Confirmation, which was completed in 1971. This revision was to highlight the "intimate connection which this sacrament has with the whole of Christian initiation that is to be more clearly set forth; for this reason, it is fitting for candidates to renews their baptismal promises just before they are confirmed." And Confirmation is administered in the context of Eucharistic liturgy so that they may receive Communion immediately after they are confirmed. 

The Eastern Church did not share this desire and so the two sacraments were kept in union with the priest administering the sacrament of confirmation with oil that has been consecrated by the bishop. 

The original ritual in the western tradition called for a double anointing with Chrism after baptism. The first was performed by the priest on the top of the head of the newly baptized to signify the participation of the newly baptized in the priestly, prophetic and kingly offices of Christ. As we saw in our discussion of Baptism, that anointing on the top of the head remains in our current ritual. There was a second anointing on the forehead of the newly baptized by the bishop. It was this second anointing that was separated from the baptismal rite and became in itself the sacrament of Confirmation. 
3.   The Matter and Form of Confirmation .

The sign of the Sacrament of Confirmation is the anointing with Chrism. It signifies the imprinting of a spiritual seal. In the history of salvation, anointing is a sign of consecration. In this anointing the newly confirmed receives a "mark", a character, "Xarakthr" which is the seal of the Holy Spirit. This character is drawn from the notion of the signet ring that imprints a seal on wax. That seal is the "mark" of the person. Thus in Confirmation, God seals us with his seal as a mark that we are his. So in the Sacrament of Confirmation, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit as a mark of our total possession by Christ, enrolled in his service forever. 

The form of the sacrament serves also to emphasize this sealing with the Holy Spirit. When he anoints the forehead with oil, the bishop says, "Be sealed with the seal of the Holy Spirit." or "I sign you with the sign of the cross, I confirm you with the chrism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." 

4.   The Ritual of Confirmation 

The ritual of Confirmation is usually celebrated in the context of Mass. As such, it takes place after the homily, which is the proper place for sacramental rites within the Eucharistic liturgy. 

5.   The Presentation of the Candidates

The rite itself begins with a presentation of the candidates for the sacrament. That is normally done by the pastor of the parish, or in some cases the director of the religious education program. At the end of the statement of presentation the pastor would make a formal request to the bishop that he confer the sacrament of Confirmation upon the assembled candidates. 

The bishop may then inquire as to the preparation of the candidates. Upon ascertaining that the candidates have been properly instructed and prepared for the reception of the sacrament, the bishop consents to confirm the candidates. In more recent times, there have been some innovative means used to enable the bishop to know the readiness of the candidates. Many parishes will ask each candidate to write a personal letter to the bishop requesting the sacrament of confirmation, and explaining what the sacrament means to them and why they wish to receive it. 

On occasion, when time permits the bishop may come to a day of renewal and speak with the candidates to ascertain their preparation. But in any case, the statement that the candidates have prepared is not simply a ritual statement, there is some evidence to back it up. When the candidates have been presented, the bishop then preaches the homily, which explains the meaning and significance of the sacrament. Many times, that homily can take the form of questions and answers between the bishop and the candidates. One bishop was known to set the candidates at ease over the questioning informing them that if they did not know the answer, he would simply put the question to their sponsors. 

6.   The Imposition of Hands

A prayer follows the Renewal of Baptismal Promises. During this prayer, the bishop and priests who join him in the celebration extend their hands over the whole group to be confirmed. The sign of hands extended palms downward has been since ancient times a symbol of calling the Spirit down upon those over whom hands are extended. This is clear in the Bishop's call to prayer prior to the imposition of hands. 
"My dear friends, in Baptism God our Father gave these adopted children a new birth to eternal life, let us ask Him to pour out the Holy Spirit upon them to strengthen them in faith and anoint them to be more like Christ, the Son of God."

The Bishop then prays that those who have received the gift of the sacrament of Baptism and now present themselves for Confirmation receive the gift of God's Spirit in abundance, and the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit. 
"All powerful, God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit you freed your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life. Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reference. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence. We ask this through Christ our Lord."

To this prayer the assembled congregation answers a resounding, "Amen". 

7.   The Anointing with Chrism

The actual reception of the sacrament following in the anointing with chrism, what is known as the essential rite of the sacrament of Confirmation. Each candidate for the sacrament approaches the bishop with his/her sponsor. Upon approaching the Bishop, the sponsor places his/her right hand on the shoulder of the one to be confirmed and presents the candidate to the bishop using their chosen confirmation name. Note this highlights the role of the sponsor to be with the candidate through the preparation process and then present the candidate to the minister of the Sacrament implicitly promising to be with the candidate as they live out the life of a Confirmed Catholic. 

The bishop then moistens his right thumb with the chrism, places his right hand on the candidate's head and makes a cross with the chrism on the forehead of the candidate (the matter of the Sacrament). While he is doing this, he speaks the formula of the sacrament, "Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit," the form of the Sacrament.

The bishop then extends his hand to the candidate offering the sign of peace with the words, "Peace be with you", and the candidate accepting with a handshake responds, "And also with you." The candidate and sponsor return to their places. This shows a shift in the theology of Confirmation. In older rites, the bishops extend his hand to "slap" the right cheek of the candidate as a sign of trial and difficulties that they would have to face as they went forth as "soldiers of Christ." The current sign of peace demonstrates the union of the faithful with the bishop. The candidate receives the greeting that Jesus gave his apostles just before he sent them on mission. This could be a sign that these candidates now participate in the mission of the apostles with the bishop. 

8.   Effects of the Sacrament of Confirmation

The first and primary effect of the sacrament is the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the newly confirmed. Secondly, there is a renewed and deeper commitment to fulfilling the promises made at Baptism, hence a deepening of the graces of Baptism. These are now taken on as a personal task, not something that has been provided from others. Thus the new confirmed are more firmly united to Christ, receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, achieve a more perfect bond of unity with the Church, and receive the special strength of the Holy Spirit "to spread and defend the faith by word and action..."
Further the close connection between Confirmation and Baptism is manifest in the fact that Confirmation also imparts an indelible mark, a character that is a sign of Jesus marking the Christian with the seal of his spirit. This character initiates the newly confirmed further into the priesthood of Christ. The newly confirmed person, "receives the power to profess faith in Christ publicly and as it were officially." 

9.   Recipients of the Sacrament

All persons who have received the sacrament of Baptism; yet have not received the sacrament of confirmation should so do. Since Confirmation is intimately connected to Baptism and Eucharist, it is appropriate that it be received at an appropriate time to insure the completion of the sacraments of Initiation.

The current theology of Confirmation speaks of it as the "sacrament of Christian maturity" but we must not, the catechism cautions, confuse Christian maturity with adult age of natural growth. Thomas Aquinas reminds us the "age of body does not determine age of soul." Through the history of the church, many who would be considered mere children have fought bravely for Christ even to the point of martyrdom. 

What is significant is that the young person seeking the sacrament be properly prepared as to the meaning of the sacrament, and understand fully the responsibilities that it lays upon them. Catechesis, training, for the sacrament should lead the candidate to a deeper knowledge and love of God, Jesus, and the Spirit, a deeper knowledge and commitment to the church, a sense of belonging in the church both universal and local parish

Finally, the Church requires that the recipient of the sacrament of Confirmation be in the state of grace. Thus, one is urged to receive the sacrament of penance as part of the immediate preparation for Confirmation. 

10.   Sponsor for Confirmation

The order for the sacrament of Confirmation states that "ordinarily there should be a sponsor for each of those to be confirmed." As we saw in the rite, the sponsor presents the candidate to the bishop/priest for anointing and later helps the newly confirmed fulfill his baptismal promises faithfully under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Thus, it is understood that the obligation of being a sponsor for Confirmation is serious.

In the revised rite of Confirmation, it has been suggested that since there is such a significant connection between Baptism and Confirmation, the primary candidate for sponsor at Confirmation would be one of the Baptismal sponsors. However, the choice of a special sponsor for Confirmation is not excluded. A parent may even present their child for the reception of the sacrament. 

What are the qualifications of a Confirmation Sponsor? 1) The sponsor should be sufficiently mature for this role. 2) He/she should belong to the Catholic church and be already initiated into the three sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation. 3) The sponsor should not be prohibited by law from exercising the role of sponsor. 

Finally canon law notes that valid Confirmation gives rise to a spiritual relationship between the sponsor and the one confirmed. The relationship binds the sponsor to regard the one confirmed as permanently committed to his/her care and to safeguard his/her Christian education. The relationship, however, does not establish an impediment to marriage. (CIC 797; 1079). 


Confirmation imparts 1) an increase of sanctifying grace which makes the recipient a "perfect Christian"; 2) a special sacramental grace consisting in the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost and notably in the strength and courage to confess boldly the name of Christ; 3) an indelible character by reason of which the sacrament cannot be received again by the same person. 

Confirmation can be conferred only on those who have already been baptized and have not yet been confirmed. In the early years of the Church, when only adults were usually baptized, confirmation was administered immediately after; however, when infant baptism was the predominate custom, confirmation (in the Latin Rite) was kept at the "age of adulthood", which in the US is usually around age 14/8th grade. Its reception is obligatory (necessitate præcepti) "for all those who are able to understand and fulfill the Commandments of God and of the Church. This is especially true of those who suffer persecution on account of their religion or are exposed to grievous temptations against faith or are in danger of death. The more serious the danger so much greater is the need of protecting oneself". (Trent)

12.   MANNER. 

The bishop alone is the ordinary minister of confirmation. This is expressly declared by the Council of Trent (Sess. VII, De Conf., C. iii). Simple priests may be the extraordinary ministers of the sacrament under certain conditions (during Easter vigil Mass). In such cases, however, the priest cannot wear pontifical vestments, and he is obliged to use chrism blessed by a Catholic bishop. In the Greek Church, confirmation is given by simple priests without special delegation, and their ministration is accepted by the Western Church as valid. They must, however, use chrism blessed by a patriarch. 

The Bishop/priest takes Chrism, makes the sign of the Cross on the forehead of the recipient, and says, "Receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit".

13.   Sacrament of Confirmation
The sacrament by which, through the laying on of hands, anointing with chrism, and prayer, a baptized person is strengthened by the Holy Spirit so that he can steadfastly profess the Catholic faith.

This sacrament brings a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as it was once granted to the Apostles at Pentecost.

Confirmation, like Baptism and Holy Orders, places an indelible character or mark on the human soul that God can see, which remains visible for all eternity.

The celebrant for confirmations of born Catholics is usually the bishop, to show recipients the importance of professing the Faith. However, persons who have become complete in the Catholic faith as adults are usually confirmed at their parish church on Easter Vigil. Since the bishop cannot be everywhere at once, the priest usually celebrates these Confirmations.
The essential rite of the Sacrament of Confirmation occurs when the celebrant anoints the recipient with chrism and says, "Name, be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Confirmation is neither a "Catholic bar-mitzvah" nor a Protestant-type confirmation that a person accepts the baptism that he formerly received. It is a strengthening.

Confirmation is not necessary for the salvation of a child under the age of discretion. However, we have a grave obligation to receive this sacrament when we reach the age of discretion. If we make no effort to receive Confirmation after a priest recommends it, we are in mortal sin and cannot attain heaven. We recover by confessing the capital sin of sloth, receiving sacramental absolution, and then as soon as possible thereafter receive Confirmation.

The matter of confirmation is chrism. The person may be immersed in the water, or the water may be poured or sprinkled on the person.
The form of baptism is the words of the essential rite pronounced by the priest or deacon: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Confirmation is a sacrament of the living. We must be in the state of grace to receive it fruitfully. It is customary to receive the Sacrament of Penance shortly before receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.

14.   The Minister of Confirmation

The original minister of the sacrament of Confirmation is the bishop. However, in the case of adults who receive the sacrament of Confirmation at the time of their baptism, or adults who are received into the full communion with the church, the priest who baptizes or receives has the authority to administer the sacrament of Confirmation (CIC 883.2)
Those cases are extraordinary. The ordinary minister is the bishop. It was the bishop who was the original minister in the early church. Recall that baptism was separated in the western Church because of the increase in numbers of people and the demands on bishops. Nevertheless, it is appropriate when possible that the bishop remain the minister of Confirmation. Since the bishops are the successors of the apostles, the effect of receiving the sacrament from a bishop is to unite the candidate more closely with the Church which has its origin in the apostles, and whose mission is bearing witness to Christ.

•   Question and Answer: Penance and Reconciliation 
•   What is the sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation?
?   Penance and Reconciliation is the sacrament of God's loving forgiveness by which we are set free from sin and reconciled with the Church which we have wounded by our sins. This sacrament helps us to grow in God's grace, and it strengthens us to avoid sin and to lead holier lives. (1422) 
?   Be merciful, as your Father is merciful (Lk 6:36).

•   From whom do we receive the gift of this sacrament?
?   We receive the gift of the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation from Jesus, who gave the apostles the power to forgive sins. (1441)
?   He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (Jn 20:22–23). (RSV)

•   Who may receive the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation?
   Any Catholic who has committed sin may receive the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. (1446)

•   How do we know that God is willing to forgive sins?
?   We know that God is willing to forgive sins because in the Gospel Jesus has told us this many times and in many ways. (1489)
?   For the Son of Man came to seek out and save what was lost (Lk 19:10).

•   Can every sin be forgiven?
?   Yes, every sin can be forgiven through the sacrament of Penance. Jesus said to the apostles:
?   I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven (Mt 16:19).

•   How is the sacrament of Penance given?
?   The sacrament of Penance is given when we go to confession with sorrow for sin, accept the penance that the priest gives, and receive absolution: "I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." As when receiving the Eucharist and Confirmation, we answer, "Amen." (1448–1449)

•   What makes up the sign of the sacrament of Penance?
   The sign of Penance is made up of three "acts of the penitent," plus the words of the priest.

•   Who is a penitent?
?   A penitent is someone who is sorry for his or her sins.
o   Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you (Lk 15:18).

•   9.    What are the three acts of the penitent?
?   The penitent's three acts are contrition (sorrow), confession (telling our sins), and satisfaction (making up for the harm done when possible, and doing or saying the penance given by the priest). We also may perform or say other penance beyond what is required. (1450)

•   10.    What steps does a person follow in receiving this sacrament?
   To receive this sacrament with spiritual profit, a person first needs to examine his or her conscience, then to be sincerely sorry for sin, resolving to avoid it in the future. This sorrow is based on spiritual motives such as love of God and hatred of sin. The person then confesses the sins and accepts the penance. (1450, 1460)

•   11.   What is perfect contrition?
•   Perfect contrition is sorrow for sin especially because sin displeases God, who is all good and loving, and deserves all our love. (1452)

•   12.    What is imperfect contrition?
?   Imperfect contrition is sorrow for sin for reasons that are good but not the very best, such as sorrow based more on fear than on love. (1453)

•   What does one do after receiving this sacrament?
?   One who has received the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation must say or do the penance given by the priest, avoid everything that would lead to sin, and make up as much as possible and necessary for the harm done. The sign of Penance is made up of three "acts of the penitent," plus the words of the priest.
?   How the harm is to be made up for is explained under various commandments, such as the 7th and 8th. (1459)

•   Who acts for Jesus in this sacrament?
?   The priest acts for Jesus in the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. When we confess our sins to the priest, we are confessing them to Jesus, who forgives us through the priest. (1461)
?   All of this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us this ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18).

•   What is the seal of confession?
?   The seal of confession is the most solemn obligation of a priest to keep secret what has been revealed to him in confession. The priest may never break this seal even to save his own life. (1467)

•   16.    Should we ever speak of what we heard or said in confession?
   With regard to overhearing someone else's confession, we are strictly bound to secrecy; regarding our own confession we are not. However, it is better not to talk about the advice given, the penance, etc.

•   Should we ever be so embarrassed that we do not go to confession?
   Embarrassment or fear should not keep us from this sacrament, for the Lord awaits us with love despite our sins. The priest is Christ's representative, bound by the seal of confession never to reveal anything told to him in the confessional. Also, we are free to confess to any priest. (1465)

•   18.   What does absolution mean?
?   Absolution means, "releasing." Through this sacrament, we are released from our sins--set free from them. (1449)
?   He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy (Prov 28:13).

•   19.   Does the priest ever refuse absolution?
?   A priest could refuse absolution only in rare cases, for example, if the person is not sorry for his or her serious sins or has no intention of avoiding them in the future, or when there is no confidence in God's forgiving Spirit. This is what Jesus referred to when he spoke of sin which cannot be forgiven. Unless there is true sorrow, there is no forgiveness. We must have confidence in God's mercy and pray to his Spirit for a contrite heart.
?   Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven you, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven (Mt 12:31).

•   Are there any sins, which the ordinary confessor cannot absolve?
   Some sins are so grave that the sinner is excommunicated. Absolution in these cases must be sought from the Pope, the bishop or a priest authorized by them. The exception to this occurs in the danger of death when any priest, even one deprived of permission to hear confessions, can give absolution for all sin and excommunication. (1463)

•   21.   What is a penance?
?   A penance is something, which must be done or accepted to make up for confessed sin. It should correspond to the type of sins and their gravity. Generally penance take the form of prayer, acts of mercy or self-denial. (1459–1460)
?   Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and
with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments (Joel 2:12).

•   21.   Who is a confessor?
•   The word "confessor" may have two meanings. It can mean a priest who hears confessions, or in another unrelated sense, it can mean a saint, other than a martyr, who witnessed to ("confessed") the faith. (1466)

•   23.    When must a person receive the sacrament of Penance?
   A Catholic who has committed a mortal or serious sin must receive the sacrament of Penance. A mortal sin can be forgiven even before confession if a person has perfect (pure) sorrow for having offended our loving God. But normally, he or she must still go to confession before receiving Holy Communion. If we have committed serious sin, we should go to confession soon. (1456)

•   What should a person do who has committed a mortal sin?
   A person who has committed a mortal sin should say a prayer of perfect sorrow with the intention of going to confession soon. This obtains forgiveness and God's grace. But the person must go to confession before receiving Communion.

•   25.    Are there any requirements for confessing mortal sins?
   In confessing mortal sins, a person should say what kind of sins they were and--as far as possible--tell how many times these sins were committed, as well as any circumstances that might alter their nature.

•   Can a person confess sins with the intention of committing them again?
   A person cannot confess sins with the intention of committing them again. No sin is forgiven by God unless there is true sorrow for it (even imperfect sorrow, such as fear of divine punishment) and a firm resolution not to commit it again.

•   27.    How often must we receive the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation?
   The Church requires us to receive the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation at least once a year if we have serious sins. It is a good idea to receive this sacrament more frequently because it greatly helps our spiritual growth. (1456–1457)

•   28.   Why is it beneficial to receive this sacrament frequently, even if we have committed only venial sin?
?   This sacrament helps us to realize that every sin offends God. It helps us develop greater self-knowledge, grow in grace and love of God and neighbor, and grow spiritually as a living and active member of the Church. (1458)

•   When may general absolution be given?
?   In certain rare cases, such as during a war or a natural disaster, general absolution may be given to a group without individual confession. As always, the penitents must be sorry and intend not to sin again. One whose grave sins are forgiven by a general absolution is obliged to make an individual confession as soon as possible before receiving another general absolution, unless a just reason intervenes. (1483)

•   What is a communal celebration of the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation?
   A communal celebration of this sacrament consists of a common preparation including readings, a homily, an examination of conscience, individual confession and absolution, and a common request for forgiveness and thanksgiving. This form expresses clearly the ecclesial nature of the sacrament. (1483)

•   31.    What is the effect of this sacrament?
?   This sacrament reconciles us with God, who forgives all our sins. We are restored to God's grace and friendship (if this had been broken through serious sin), or our union with him is deepened. We are also reconciled with the Church, which we have wounded by our sins. The sacrament gives us the grace we need to live our Christian life more deeply, thus preparing ourselves for a merciful judgment when we die. (1468–1470)
?   This brother of yours was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and has been found! (Lk 15:32).



A.   Meaning
Baptism is the sacrament that gives our souls the new meaning life of sanctifying grace by which we become children of God and heirs of heaven.
Baptism is the sacrament that initiates a person into the Church, into a community dedicated to bringing the kingdom of God to its fulfillment.
Baptism is the first sacrament we may receive, unless we are forbidden to receive any other sacrament.

B.   Three Essentials of Baptism.
1.    The sacrament of baptism was instituted by Christ (perhaps at His own baptism), and commanded at His Ascension. (Mt 3:13-17 and Mt. 28:18-20).
2.   It is a sensible sign. Christ instituted Baptism as the sacrament of spiritual rebirth, making the baptized members of God's family. Baptism infuses grace into their souls, making them supernaturally like to God.
3.   It confers grace. The Sacrament grace of Baptism is regenerative grace that helps those baptized to live well the supernatural life they have begun as children of God.

C.    Purpose and Effects.
1.   Baptism incorporates a person into the paschal (PASSOVER) mystery of Christ.
2.   It unites us with Christ.
3.   We obtain forgiveness of the original sin and of our actual sin.
4.   By baptism, we share in God's gift of eternal life.
5.   It makes us the adopted children of God and members of a royal priesthood.
6.   In Baptism, we receive fellowship with the holy Trinity.
7.   In Baptism, we share in the mission of Christ.
8.   We are capable of receiving the other sacraments.

D.    Types of Baptism.
1.       Baptism by water.
2.       Baptism by Blood or Fire-received by dying for Christ.
a.   Mt. 2:16-18 holy innocents
b.   Early catechumens who were martyred for Christ.
   3.    Baptism by desire:
   a.    Present in those explicitly wish to be baptized but who die before their intention can be carried out.
   b.    Even those who have no fault of their own and do not know Christ can received it if they strive to lead a good life which is actually a response to God's grace.
E.   Recipients
1.    Infants
2.    Children
3.       Adults

Note: children should be baptized as soon as possible after birth. If possible, this should be done within a week. Except when in danger of death, an infant should not be baptized without the permission of a parent or guardian. Children who have come to the age of reason cannot be baptized without their own consent. Infants may receive the baptism of blood, but not the baptism of desire ,since they have not as yet the use of reason .since infants who die unbaptized have not as yet the use of reason .since infants who die unbaptized have committed no since, they live in a place of natural happiness called limbo.

F.   Conditions for reception
1.    Parents and godparents must be present with the person to be baptized.
2.    It must be done in the presence of the Christian community.
3.    It must take place on Sunday.

G.   Manners in which baptism is administered
1.    Immersion-by immersing the candidate three times in baptismal water.
2.    Infusion by pouring water on head, forehead, or face of the candidate.
3.    Aspersion by sprinkling water on the head of the candidate.

H.   Result of Reception of the Sacrament.
1.    Wash our original sins.
2.    Remove all personal sins (for adults).
3.    Remove all punishments due to sins committed.

I.   Symbols of Baptism
1.    Water symbolizes a new life, a renewal of spirit.
a.   It points to our rebirth in Christ.
b.   Our death to sin.
c.   Our purification
d.   Our total transformation.
2.    Lighted Candle it symbolizes Christ as the light of the world.
a.   Reminds the baptized of his vocation to be a beacon that points to the Good News of Jesus.
b.   Reminds us to let the light of Christ shine through
c.   Reminds us of Christ all consuming love.
3.    Holy Oil (Chrisms) to show that we are the anointed in the name of Christ and therefore set a Christian life example patterned in the teachings of Christ.
4.   White Cloth – it signifies purity, Christ the new man, turning away from sin (old self) and live according to the Law of the Spirit and the Law of Love.

J.    Who can administer the sacrament of baptism?

      The priest is the usual minister of baptism, but if there is danger that someone will die without baptism, anyone else may and should baptize.
      Because baptism is a necessary prerequisites to enter heaven, when an unbaptized person is in danger of death, and if no priest is available, anyone may be baptize. However, it would be very wrong to do it without serious reason.
      The bishop or pastor, or priest properly delegated, is therefore the ordinary minister of baptism. But in cases of necessity, when there is danger of death and an ordinary minister is unavailable, anyone – man, woman, or child, catholic or non catholic, atheist, or pagan – may and should baptize; that person then becomes the extraordinary minister of baptism.
      If a person by an extraordinary minister survives, he cannot be baptized again. However, is taken to the church, and the ceremonies that had been omitted are supplied.
      Baptism administered by a Protestant or other minister is valid if properly performed that is, with the use of water, together with the form of Baptism, and having the intension to do what the church does.
      After baptism, a certificate is given containing the name of the child, of his parents, of his godparents, the dates of birth, of baptism, and the place of baptism. This is known as the Baptismal Certificate. It should be very carefully kept, as later it will be needed for the sacrament of Confirmation. The certificate is also necessary for marriage, holy orders or entrance into a religious community. Parents should tell their children when and where they were baptized, so that even should the certificate lost and the parents, the registration can and may be traced.

K.    Matter and Form of the Sacrament of Baptism.

      Baptism is ordinarily done by pouring water on the forehead of the person to be baptized, saying while pouring it: (mention the name given), "I baptized you in the name of the father, and of the son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen"

      The pouring of water is the matter, and the, "words" being said is the form of the sacrament of baptism.

L.    Important considerations:
1.   The form must be said and the same time the water is poured, and must be said by the same person pouring the water, so that everything takes place as one act.
2.   No changes may be made in the wordings. For example, the words "of the holy Trinity" may both substituted for " of the father , and of the son , and of the holy spirit" because Jesus explicitly commanded baptism to be given" in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit "(Mt. 28:19). The word "Ghost" may be substituted for "Spirit".
3.   Baptism is validly administered whether perform by total immersion, by infusion, or by aspersion. In cases of emergency, it may be poured on the head, forehead or any part of the body. The water must flow on the skin, of the person being baptized, not merely on the hair.
4.   The water used for solemn baptism, is called spiritual water. It is natural water mingled with holy oil and chrism, and blessed with special prayers. Ordinary water is not baptismal water. Jesus spoke of the "water and of the Holy Spirit". Peter baptized Cornelius and his family in water (Acts. 10:47). Philip did the same with the Eunuch (Acts. 8:38). From the gospel one cannot conclude the use of anything but water in baptism administered during the apostolic times.
5.   In cases of necessity, when someone other than a priest administers the baptism, any natural water, such as water from the sea, river, fountain, faucet, rain or even mineral water may be use. Holy water may also be used. But for reason of health, the water to be used should and must be clean.

L.    Who should be chosen as Godparents for Baptism?
Only Catholic who know their faith and live up to the duties of their religion should be chosen as Godparents for baptism. A Godparent is supposed to be a practicing Catholic. Non - catholic, masons, those who married out of the church, and all other excommunicated persons cannot be sponsors. Neither can the father, the mother, the husband or the wife of the person to be baptized be the Godparent.

M.    Condition for Persons acting as Godparents.
1.   Should be a mature Christian mature enough to undertake his responsibility.
2.   Have received the three sacrament of initiation.
3.   Must be a catholic not excommunicated or affiliated to a forbidden sect.

N.    Duties of Godparents.
1.   To provide spiritual guidance or proper religious education.
2.   To guard his moral formation even when is grown.

O.    What do we promise through our godparents in baptism?
   We promise trough our Godparents in baptism to renounce the devil, and to live according to the teachings of Christ and of His Church.

   The Godparents make the responses for an infant being baptized. These are called the baptismal vows. By them, the * person renounces Satan and all his works and pomp; that is, sin and all occasions.
1.   To the first three questions, we reply through our godparents in baptism. "I do renounce him (or them)". To the last three questions we reply, "I do believe"
a)   Do you renounce Satan?
b)   And all his work?
c)   And all his display?
d)   Do you believe in god, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
e)   Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only son, our lord who was born into the world and suffered for us?
f)   And do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

2.   We should renew our baptismal vows after the blessing of the baptismal font at Eater Vigil Service. We should also renew them on our first communion day, on New Year's Day, and after a mission or spiritual retreat.

P.    Meaning of the symbols and gestures used in baptism

1.   Making the sign of the cross over the child's forehead.
      It renders present and actual the Paschal Mystery of Christ in the "here and now". (Rom. 6: 13; 5: 12-15). It indicates salvation and the promise of well being, joy, happiness, etc., which flow from the abounding mercy and love of God. Furthermore, it signifies communion in the love of the Blessed Trinity and the ability to place oneself before God with the same attitude of his Son – Jesus and with the help of the Spirit which is at work in Baptism, we or the baptized child may be able to proclaim in his Christian life the word: "ABBA FATHER".

2.   White cloth being put over the child's forehead or body.
      It signifies putting on of Christ in one's life. From now on the Child experiences the presence of Christ in his life and strives more fully in his mature life to live to the full of his Christian commitment

3.   Descending and emerging the child into the water.
      This signifies death to one's sin (old self and new life in the spirit. It speaks of the transition from death to life. So that unity with Christ in a death similar to him, he or she dies with him and rises to a new and everlasting life with God.

4.   The laying of hands by the priest over the mother's forehead.
      It signifies the ability and responsibility of the mother over the child that ability and responsibility of the mother should be fulfilled through the prayers of the priest. That she may fulfill her duty and role as mother in leading her child to a good and well – founded life with and in Christ.

Additional Information:

1)   In solemn Baptism, there must be at least one Godparents of the same sex as the one Baptized. It is permitted to have two sponsors: A Godfather and a Godmother, and these two must be of different sexes. Others who may be present are only witnesses. Godparents should be at least thirteen years of age.

2)   A Godparent has the duty of looking the baptized person as his spiritual child, of providing for him when necessary the proper religious education, and of guarding him spiritually even when he is fully grown.

3)   A spiritual relationship established between the person baptized and his sponsor, as well between him and the one who baptizes him. This relationship called spiritual affinity, forbids marriage between the person thus related. No spiritual affinity is contracted between the Godfather and the Godmother of a person or between his parents and his Godparents.

4)   If the person chosen to be Godparent cannot be present at the baptism, another can act in his place, that is, he can be sponsor by proxy. The absent Godparent must, however the intention of being a Godparent.

Why is the Name of the Saint given in Baptism?

   The name of a saint is given in Baptism in order that the person baptized may imitate his virtues, and have him for a protector.

   The names of angels are also given, as well as names referring to mysteries or sacred affiliations, events, and doctrines. In certain countries, it is practice, even when another baptismal name is given, to include for girls the name Mary, and for boys the name Joseph; for example: Mary Louise, Joseph Francis, etc.

   The church does not approve of heaten or fantastical names, such as combinations taken from a film or novel, or made up from various words.
Christian parents will quite naturally want to give a Christian name to their child. At least one of the child's names must be a saint's name, so that the child may have a patron in heaven whose virtues he may imitate and to whom he may look for protection and help.

Structure of the Rite of Baptism

1.    Reception of the child.
      The rite begins with the reception of the children. The celebrant greets all present and especially the parents and Godparents. This indicates the desire of the parents and Godparents, as well as the intention of the church, to have the celebration of the sacrament of baptism. These purposes are expressed in action when the parents and the celebrant trace the sign of the cross on the foreheads of the children.

2.   Celebration of God's word.
   The liturgy of the word is directed to stir up the faith of the parents in common for the fruits of baptism before the sacrament itself. This part of the celebration consists of the reading of one or more passages from the Holy Scripture, a short homily by the celebrant explaining the significance of what has been read.

3.   Celebration of the Sacrament.
      The celebration of the Sacrament is performed by way of immersion or infusion according to the local custom. The invocation of the blessed trinity is given at this moment. The sacrament is concluded by the anointing with chrisms, which signifies the royal priesthood of the baptized and enrollment of God's people; this is followed by the ceremonies of the white garment and lighted candle, and the EPHEPPETHA or prayer over ears and mouth. (This later part is optional.)

4.   Conclusion of the rite.
      The celebrant speaks of the future reception of the Eucharist by the baptized children; the Lord's Prayer, in which God's children pray to their Father in heaven, is recited before the altar. Finally, a prayer of blessings is said over the mothers, fathers, and all present, to ask God's grace in abundance for all.

UAAP Action: Falcons foil Archers; Warriors score

UAAP Action: Falcons foil Archers; Warriors score