Sacraments of Initiation
Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist (Communion) are the Sacraments of Initiation. Through the rites of initiation, a person is introduced to full communion with a group. These three sacraments incorporate a person into the full life of the People of God, the Church.
BAPTISM is the sacrament of faith by which men and women (and they on behalf of infants and children) accept Christ’s call to salvation and the Reign of God. Moreover, the newly baptized are incorporated into Christ and the People of God. They obtain forgiveness of all their sins and become a “new creation” through water and the Holy Spirit. cf Gal 3:26-27; Acts 8:12; Rom 6:4-5
What is expected of the parents of infants being baptized? Why are you having your child baptized?
This may sound like a meaningless question but the answer you have in your heart is critical. Is it because of family pressure? The grandparents would be shattered if we didn’t do this? Is it the family custom? My relatives expect it? NONE of these is the best answer.
The best answer is:
I wish my child to be developed in a good Catholic Christian faith community, and I will do my best to encourage and support that intention. In presenting your child for baptism, you are promising to raise your child in the practice of the faith. In baptism your child will be born again, receive new life and become a member of the body of Christ. As a parent you provide your child with clothing, food, a loving home and nurturing relationship. In choosing to have your child baptized, you are promising to see that the divine life, which God is giving to your child, will grow stronger.
Parents should prepare for the baptism of their child with faith, prayer and adequate understanding of the sacrament. This includes taking instructions given in your local Catholic parish. You should check with your local Catholic Church or nearest Irish Apostolate Pastoral Center for specific information about preparation and times for celebration of the sacrament.
How to choose Godparents and their Qualifications
Choosing Godparents is a decision not to be taken lightly. Too often parents want to honor a special friend, repay a favor, or encourage a non-relative to have a closer relationship with their child. While all of these motives are well intentioned, they are not ideal.
A Godparent serves a special role for the one to be baptized. Godparents are to represent the Catholic Christian community, the Church. They are to assist the child’s parents in raising their child in our Catholic faith, so that the child may profess and live it as an adult. Since the Godparent represents the Christian community, you want at least one active and committed Catholic. cf Catechism of the Catholic Church #1255. Being a Godparent is truly a ministry in the Church, and not simply an honor. The task of choosing Godparents is one which should be performed with much prayer, careful thought and with greatest concern for the future spiritual life of your child.
The qualifications for Godparents are defined in the Code of Canon Law #872-874 (Catholic Church Law).
There can be no more than two sponsors for Baptism, one man and one woman.
These qualifications include that the sponsor or Godparent be:
• A fully initiated who is living a life befitting the role of sponsor,
• One who is not a parent of the person being baptized,
• One who is at least sixteen years of age.
Please note that only ONE sponsor is required for Baptism, who, of necessity must fulfill all of the canonical requirements for this role. When circumstances warrant it, one of these sponsors may be replaced by a baptized Christian as a witness of the Baptism. If the desired qualified Godparent cannot be physically present at the ceremony, a proxy can stand in.
CONFIRMATION is the sacrament in which we ratify the promises made at Baptism to be committed to the Gospel of Christ and to membership in the People of God. In addition, the confirmed commit themselves to a missionary spirit on behalf of Christ’s reign of love, justice and mercy.
The Holy Spirit is given to us in a very special way in Confirmation. We receive a spiritual sign or seal that makes us more like Jesus and deepens our commitment to the Church.
The EUCHARIST is a sacrament of our faith that awakens our awareness of Christ’s redemptive work. It conditions us to identify, as closely as possible, with his sacrificial love.
It is also a sacrament of Christ’s redeeming power, reconciling us to God. Through it we become a vital Church community, enabling us to be moral and spiritual witnesses to and in the world.