History and Theology
From very early on in Church tradition there has been a strong emphasis on initiating potential members in the proper way. Different liturgical practices sprang up in various places, all with their own unique understanding of what Christian initiation meant. Very early on baptism, anointing (what happens at Confirmation), and Eucharist are seen within these practices. However, the method of doing these things varied, sometimes widely, in the ancient Christian world. Some of the rites of these areas seemed to baptize with oil instead of water, some intertwined baptism with a profession of faith, while others simply used the Trinitarian formula (in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) found in the Gospels. Some traditions accompanied their Eucharistic celebrations with entire meals, where others may have simply had the bread and wine.
These early traditions eventually encountered one another, shared ideas, and slowly overlapped and became more and more similar. The overall initiation sacrament, which encompassed all baptism, anointing, and Eucharist slowly developed into three distinct sacraments, Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.
Baptism is the first sacrament of initiation into the Christian life. It is rooted in Christ’s baptism (Matthew 3:13–17; Mark 1:9–11; Luke 3:21–23) as well as his command to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). It existed in the early Church, where whole households (men, women, children, servants, etc) were baptized (Acts 10, Acts 16, and 1 Corinthians 1), and it was common practice by the late 2nd century.
The Catholic Church teaches that “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water and in the word.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1213)
According to the Bible, “Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.” (I Peter 3:18-22)
Baptism for Children: To have your child baptized, contact Peg in the parish office to schedule the baptism and sign up to learn more about the Church’s teachings regarding baptism. (919-848-1533)
Baptism for Adults: Adults who wish to be baptized into the Christian faith enter the Catholic Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). The RCIA is a process of spiritual growth and learning about Catholicism. Through the RCIA, you are invited to enter into a relationship with God and the Church. Those who go through the RCIA and wish to become Christians are baptized. Contact Tim in our parish office to join RCIA. (919-848-1533).