Sacrament of Infant Baptism
The church has always followed the model given by Christ in welcoming children into his midst. As families came for baptism their children were also baptised. Over time baptism came to be celebrated for infants, rather than adults. Children then would be formed in the faith in which they have been baptised. They would learn God’s plan in Christ so that they may accept for themselves the faith in which they have been baptised. In our own generation a ritual was prepared focusing upon infants rather than simply adapting the adult ritual to infants.
The ceremony begins with a welcome of the child in the context of the parents’ affirming their willingness to lead their child in the practice of the faith. This will lead their child to keep God’s commands and to love God and neighbour. A child may have godparents. Then follows the Liturgy of the Word which concludes with an anointing with the Oil of Catechumens.
The water to be used in this Sacrament is blessed. Parents and godparents are invited to affirm their Profession of Faith, for it is this faith in which their child is to be baptised. Baptism in water, either as immersion or pouring, follows.
The church then speaks of the significance of Baptism using three symbols: oil of Chrism, white garment and lighted candle. The Church affirms that the child has been freed from sin, given new birth and welcomed into the Church and she prays that this dignity may be sustained by walking as a child of light.
The community then unite in praying the Lord’s Prayer. The ceremony closes with the solemn blessing of the parents and all the assembly.
In the celebration of Infant Baptism the Church uses various sacramental signs to speak of the wonders of God’s unseen power. Using water she speaks of the child being freed from sin and given a new birth of water and the Spirit. This new creation is all the work of God. The work is made possible through the community of faith using various sacramental signs. It is only in the context of faith that these signs have meaning.