Congratulations on the birth of your child. This is a truly joyous event in the life of your family. We are very pleased and happy for you. Now that you have decided you wish to have your child baptised, we would like to tell you about the sacrament and acquaint you with the solemn commitments you are undertaking on behalf of your child whom you love.
A word about sacraments in general:
“The sacraments of the New Testament were instituted by Christ the Lord and entrusted to the Church. As actions of Christ and of the Church, they are signs and means by which faith is expressed and strengthened, worship is offered to God and our sanctification is brought about. Thus they contribute in the most effective manner to establishing, strengthening and manifesting ecclesiastical communion. Accordingly, in the celebration of the sacraments both the sacred ministers and all the other members of Christ’s faithful must show great reverence and due care.” (Can. 840)
Baptism is the gateway to the sacraments.
“By it people are freed from sins, are born again as children of God and, made like to Christ by an indelible character, are incorporated into the Church.” (Can. 840)
Given the sacred nature of the sacraments, we are obliged to prepare well for their worthy reception:
“The celebration of baptism should be properly prepared. Accordingly: the parents of a child who is to be baptised, and those who are to undertake the office of sponsors, are to be suitably instructed on the meaning of this sacrament and the obligations attaching to it. The parish priest is to see to it that either he or others duly prepare the parents, by means of pastoral advice and indeed by prayer together; a number of families might be brought together for this purpose and, where possible, each family visited.” (Can. 851 2)
When should your child be baptised?
“Parents are obliged to see that their infants are baptised within the first few weeks. As soon as possible after the birth, indeed even before it, they are to approach the parish priest to ask for the sacrament for their child, and to be themselves duly prepared for it.”(Can. 867 §1)
To avoid disrespect to the Sacrament, its trivialization, or reception for unworthy motives, the Church sets down some conditions:
“For an infant to be baptised lawfully it is required:
- that the parents, or at least one of them, or the person who lawfully holds their place, give their consent;
- that there be a well-founded hope that the child will be brought up in the catholic religion. If such hope is truly lacking, the baptism is, in accordance with the provisions of particular law, to be deferred and the parents advised of the reason for this.”
These principles are made explicit in the Rite (Ceremony) of Baptism. At the beginning of the Rite the parents are asked what name they give their child. Then they are asked: “What do you ask of God’s Church for NAME?” They answer: Baptism.
The minister of the sacrament then goes on: “You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility or training him (her) in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbour. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?”
In this way the parents promise that they will bring the child up in the Catholic faith and be good and practising Catholics themselves and that they will be examples of Christian living to inspire their child.
When choosing Godparents it is important to choose people who are fitted for the task:
“In so far as possible, a person being baptised is to be assigned a sponsor. In the case of an infant baptism, the role is together with the parents to present the child for baptism, and to help it to live a Christian life befitting the baptised and faithfully to fulfil the duties inherent in baptism.” (Can. 872)
“One sponsor, male or female, is sufficient; but there may be two, one of each sex.” (Can. 873)
To be admitted to undertake the office of sponsor, a person must:
- be appointed by the parents or whoever stands in their place; to be appointed the person must be suitable for this role and have the intention of fulfilling it;
- be not less than sixteen years of age, unless a different age has been stipulated by the diocesan Bishop, or unless the parish priest or the minister considers that there is a just reason for an exception to be made;
- be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has received the blessed Eucharist, and who lives a life of faith which befits the role to be undertaken;
- not be either the father or the mother of the person to be baptised.
Baptism ceremonies take place on Saturdays at 4.00pm or Sundays at 12.30pm. Please contact Fr. Garrett to arrange.