Baptisms at St Peter's
Baptisms are conducted by arrangement with the Parish Priest and on undertaking a Baptismal Preparation Meeting. Details can be obtained by e-mail request, or contact the Parish Office. Baptisms take place at 2pm on the 1st and 4th Sundays of the month.
The sacrament of Baptism is the beginning of life—supernatural life. Because of original sin, we come into the world with a soul which is supernaturally dead. We come into the world with only the natural endowments of human nature. The supernatural life which is the result of God's personal and intimate indwelling, is absent from the soul.
Original sin is not, in the strict sense, a "blot" upon the soul. Indeed, original sin is not a "something" at all. It is the absence of something that should be there. It is a darkness where there ought to be light.
Jesus instituted the sacrament of Baptism to apply to each individual soul the atonement which He made on the Cross for original sin.
Jesus will not force His gift upon us, the gift of supernatural life for which He paid. He holds the gift out to us hopefully, but each of us must freely accept it.
We make that acceptance by receiving the sacrament of Baptism.
When the sacrament of Baptism is administered, the spiritual vacuum which we call original sin disappears as God becomes present in the soul, and the soul is caught up into that sharing of God's own life which we call sanctifying grace.
Children of God
The sacrament of Baptism not only gives us sanctifying grace: it also makes us adopted children of God and heirs of heaven.
We say "adopted" children because God the Father has only one begotten Son—Jesus Christ. He is God's only Son through generation; the rest of us become God's children by adoption.
As children of God, we receive our inheritance at the very moment of our adoption, at the very moment of Baptism. Our inheritance is eternal union with God, and we have that inheritance now, once we are baptized.
Nobody can take this inheritance away. Not even God, who has bound Himself by irrevocable promise never to take back what He has given. We ourselves can renounce our rights—as we will do if we commit mortal sin—but no one else can deprive us of our heritage.
The point to be emphasized, and never to be forgotten, is that we are potentially in heaven the moment we are baptized.
The mark of a christian
Two big things happen to us when we are baptized.
- We receive the supernatural life, called sanctifying grace, which dissipates the spiritual emptiness of original sin.
- And there is imparted to the soul a permanent and distinctive quality which we call the character or the mark of Baptism.
Precisely because we possess the baptismal character, we have the right to receive the other sacraments. None of them can mean a thing to us until first the capacity for receiving the other sacraments has been established in the soul by the character of Baptism.
This is because it is by the character of actual Baptism that we "put on Christ," in the words of St. Paul. It is the character of Baptism, according to St. Thomas, that "configures" us to Christ and makes us participants in His eternal priesthood.
By Baptism we are given the power—and the obligation—to share with Christ in those things which pertain to divine worship: the Mass and the sacraments.
We enter the church
The impression of the baptismal character upon the soul also makes us members of the Church.
The "mark" of Baptism is what differentiates between those who are members of the Church, Christ's Mystical Body, and those who are not.
This membership also imposes upon us an obligation to discharge the duties that go with our Christlikeness, our membership in Christ's Church. This means to:
- Lead a life according to the pattern that Christ has given us
- Give obedience to Christ's representatives, our bishops and especially our Holy Father the Pope.
Baptism is necessary for salvation
Baptism is necessary for salvation for anyone who has heard the Gospel of Christ and has the possibility of requesting Baptism.
The Catechism's section on Baptism also describes this requirement; see numbers 1257-1261.
Catechism of the Catholic Church — the Necessity of Baptism
1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.
1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.
1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.
1260 "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery." Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.
1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them," allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.
We can understand, then, why it is that the Church insists that babies be baptized as soon as possible after birth—as soon as the infant can safely be carried to church.
For parents, this means that they should not unduly delay the Baptism of their newborn child.
The Crowning Event of Life
If someone were to ask you, "What is the most important thing in life for everybody without exception?," You would, if your Catholic training has been adequate, answer without hesitation, “Baptism!”