When I started serving as a deacon at Saint Anne last fall, I was asked to consider leading the Baptism Preparation ministry. I prayed and reflected on this and am so glad that I said yes! It is my responsibility to meet with parents of young children who are interested in having their children baptized at Saint Anne, and to explain what the Catholic Church teaches about infant baptism. I get to meet young couples and explain the Rite of Baptism, and lead them and their children on the most important sacramental journey. What an honor and a privilege that is.
Baptism is the basis of our Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to all the other sacraments. Baptism is about initiation, not obligation. Initiation into God’s family and the Church, and initiation into the best way to live. Baptism is the first step of the great life God desires for each of us. It’s important for parents to understand this, since it’s the parents (and godparents) that are the ones taking the vows. * (Reference: Starting Point Leader Guide, Dynamic Catholic, 2019; p. 2)
By Baptism, all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. For infants, there are no personal sins, of course, but for adults, all sins, including original sin, are forgiven. What an amazing gift from God this is, what a blessing to all of us.
Baptism is about becoming a member of God’s Holy church. Baptism is the foundation on which our spiritual lives are built. Baptism is the entryway that marks the first steps of our faith journey. Our Baptism preparation class helps parents better understand this.
The Rite of Baptism incorporates symbols used during the ceremony, including water, white garments, immersion into water, fire/light, oil of Catechumens, Sacred Chrism, and Holy Scripture. All of these symbols are discussed during the Baptism Preparation class. We discuss the responsibilities of parents and godparents, family members and friends, and the importance of leading good Christian lives, and setting a good example for the child being baptized.
Baptism preparation class is a warm and friendly welcome to God’s church, and is a chance to explain that baptism does more than just remove original sin. Baptism marks a new beginning, as children become filled with the Holy Spirit, and enter the family of God. It is very important that families feel welcome in the church. We want these young families to return to church, to practice their faith, and to live their lives as examples for their children. We want these new parents and families to feel connected to the parish, and to become part of the Saint Anne community.
Our Baptism preparation class is informal, and allows parents to ask lots of questions to better understand what baptism is all about. We walk thru the church and see up close the font, the Paschal candle, the oils used and what takes place during the ceremony. It helps the new parents feel more comfortable.
Although new parents are sent to our class to better understand what Baptism is all about, we must remember that we are ALL sent out on a mission to help teach others about Jesus Christ: “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20)
As Lent begins, we are reminded how Christ’s life on earth was about teaching others to love God and love our neighbors. During our Baptism Preparation classes, we invite new parents with small children to do the same thing.