The Sacrament of Baptism | New Life in Christ
The word baptism comes from the Greek word “baptizein,” which means “to plunge” or “immerse.” It has its origins in Judaism, which required converts to undergo a bath of purification as Jesus did when he was baptized by John in the Jordan River, after which he began his public life.
After his death and resurrection, he told his disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). Throughout history the church has followed Jesus’ command, instructing those who desire to become Christians and then baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Baptism marks the entry of the believer into the Christian community. Along with confirmation and Eucharist, it is one of the sacraments of initiation, giving access to the full sacramental life of the church. Through baptism we are freed from sin and join with Christ, sharing his divinity and destined for eternal life.
Baptism leaves us permanently changed, no longer the person we once were, but a new person, dying to death and sin, rising to new life in Christ. In the words of St. Paul, “We were buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so too may we live a new life” (Rom 6:4).
In ancient baptismal rites catechumens were dramatically plunged into large cisterns of water and, while the celebrant said the Trinitarian formula, “I baptize you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” immersed three times to signify their death to sin and resurrection to new life. Since the reforms of Vatican II there are three separate baptismal rites: one for infants, one for children old enough to understand, and one for adults.
The essential part of the rite is unchanged, consisting of pouring water over the head while saying the Trinitarian formula. Anyone can baptize in an emergency, although the usual minister of the sacrament is a priest or deacon. Usually the rite includes anointing the forehead with holy oil to indicate that, even as Christ was anointed priest, prophet and king, so does the candidate now share in his everlasting life, participating in his glory as a member of his body. The newly baptized Christian carries the light of Christ out into the world.
This sacrament is celebrated the third Sunday of the month during the 9:30 a.m. liturgy, except during Lent.
Couples need to contact the Office of Faith Formation (412-372-4577 x 208) to schedule an appointment for baptism preparation. Parents must attend a baptism preparation session prior to their child’s baptism.
Sponsors are required for baptism. The role of the sponsor is to help their godchild lead a Christian life. A godparent should be at least 16 years of age, having received the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist; be a member in good standing with the Catholic Church and not be the child’s parent. A sponsor must provide us with a sponsor’s certificate from the parish of which they are a member. All sponsors must be approved by the pastor.
For official sponsor guidelines, visit the Diocese of Greensburg.