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Infant Baptism

Baptism is a sacred action in which the Christian community comes together to celebrate. It is the first of the three sacraments of initiation, which make a person a full member of the church. In baptism, the child will be free from sin and evil. This sacrament is a symbol of God’s care for us, and by carrying it out we bring ourselves together closer to the Lord. I will describe and explain the central features of infant baptism. Infant Baptism. An infant is not able to make the promises of faith in the Catholic Church, but he or she belongs to a family who has faith, and parents and godparents promise to make the faith known to the child as they become older. The crowd and the priest at the back of the church welcome the child. The sponsors and parents declare their intentions asking on behalf of the child for baptism.

The priest gives and short homily to explain the reading from the bible and is then followed by the prayers of the faithful. The priest now recites the Prayer of exorcism; asking for the child to be rescued from the slavery of sin and pass into the freedom of God. The priest then anoints the child on the breast with the oil of catechumens and everyone proceeds to the Baptismal font. (a catechumen is someone who is preparing to be baptized.) The oil is a sign of strength and healing. Then the water is blessed and as the child cannot declare faith for himself the parents and godparents renounce sin and profess their faith, the priest asks: ‘Do you reject Satan and all his works and all his empty promises?’ Parents and godparents answer =’ I do’

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‘Do you believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?’ ‘I do’ ‘Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the father?’ ‘I do’ ‘Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting?’ ‘I do’ The child is then baptized with the water being poured three times over the child’s forehead while the priest says, ‘I baptize you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’ This is the sacrament of baptism. The ceremony that acts as the setting is beautiful and valuable.

He then anoints the child on the crown of the head with Chrism. Which is a sign of strength against evil. And is used for a special service in the family of God. The priest put a white garment around the child. White is the colour associated with innocence and purity, so it is a good sign. A candle is given to one of the parents who lights it from the great paschal candle (which represents life, and knowledge) as a sign of sharing. The Our Father is recited by all those present; the Priest blesses the mother, then the father and finally he finishes by blessing the congregation.

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Believers Baptism. Baptists believe in immersion, plunging the whole person beneath the water, carried out in rivers or baptismal tanks. Jesus himself, along with many others, was baptized by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. Baptism is a public confession of faith in Christ and is an act of obedience to God, and the means of entry into his Church. Adults or young people mature enough to have made their own Christian commitment are only baptized. (This distinguishes the Baptist church from infant baptism). When a candidate asks for baptism, the minister to see if he is ready for baptism normally interviews him/her and if he is accepted for baptism the preparation will be given for the ceremony.

Friends and relatives usually crowd into the church with the normal congregation for the baptismal service. This is an important step in a Christian’s life, a public declaration of his faith in Christ. During the service, the minister explains the meaning of baptism and the candidate has the chance to say why they have decided to be baptized. The minister asks questions about the candidate’s faith, and in response to these, invites him/her to be baptized. Baptism is normally by ‘full immersion ‘ which means that the minister and the candidate both stand in the water. The minister then asks a final public question, ‘Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your own personal saviour?’ If the reply is ‘ yes ‘, the minister says, ‘On your confession of faith, I gladly baptize you in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’

And the candidate is immersed in the pool of water. For a brief moment, the minister rocks the person in the water so that he/she is fully under. This symbolizes the death of all that the old life represents, and the burial of the person with Christ who spent three days in the tomb. The person comes out and leaves the pool out different steps to show that the new life that they are now sharing with Jesus has already begun. A friend usually assists with towels etc. immediately after the baptism, and a room is set aside for the candidate to change afterwards. The colour of white is worn to show purity and forgiveness. A certificate is given to the newly baptized Christian. Baptism is a highly symbolic occasion with every word and action having major significance in the life of a Christian.

First of all the candidate for baptism is presented along with the parents and godparents. The people who have come (parents and godparents) independently to offer this child to the church. The priest meets the people at the back of the chapel and acts as God’s representative he is reaching into the community and is welcoming the new member into God’s family. The child is given the sign of the cross, which is the ultimate symbol of Christianity, the sign by which the infant will live out the rest of its life, believing that Jesus was crucified, died and was buried. Anointing with the Oil of Catechumens is a sign of being given strength. Christians today knew that it is very difficult to be a good Christian (even the disciples’ denied Jesus when he was arrested) one requires strength to say ‘no’ to evil such as ‘murder’. This is what makes this action important for Christians.

Promises made by the parents and godparents on behalf of the candidate because the child is too young. This very significant for the parents and godparents as it serves as a reminder of their beliefs as a Christian such as ‘Do you believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This helps to spread the responsibility of Christianity to the wider community. Children will grow up as better Christians as the people around them are good Christian role models. Unfortunately, this is not often the case as many parents and godparents do not even take their children to church or ensure they receive the sacraments.

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The actual baptism with water is the focal point of the ceremony. Water is well known as a symbol of cleansing and new life. Christians today believe that all children are born with original sin and that the water of baptism frees the child from sin and also welcoming it into the house of God. Getting a fresh start is important to everyone and the symbol of the water in baptism is widely accepted by all Christians. Jesus himself has baptized himself in water in the River Jordan and Christians believe it is right for them to get baptized with water too. Anointing with Chrism, Chrism is ancient oil, previously used to anoint kings. It symbolizes that the baptized person is special. Christians today appreciate this special anointing as it sets them out from others. However it alone does not make a Christian act special, a Christian’s behaviour and attitudes to others are what make them good Christians and the child will not know this.

White Robe is another item used in Infant baptism. The colour white is another sign of new life and faith. A baptized baby is a perfect Christian as it is sinless. The white garment wrapped around the baby after the baptism represents the child being surrounded by faith and security. To finish the ceremony a baptismal candle is lit from the paschal candle. The paschal candle is the Easter candle, representing the resurrection of Christ. The fact that the child gets its candle’s light from the Paschal candle means that this child’s Christianity will be a guiding light to the world, just like Jesus himself was. This closely links the baptism of a child to the life of Jesus, which is important for Christians today. The next time in the child’s life the paschal candle will be ignited is at the child’s confirmation. In reality, the child in baptism might be too young for these commitments in Christianity that are promised by the parents and godparents and maybe the child should make these promises themselves at confirmation and not just renew them. And maybe this is too young for the child.

Adult baptism-immersion. The entire body is immersed under the water symbolizes the death of the old life of the person and the burial of the person with Christ who spent three days in the tomb. This is a highly symbolic action, the image that only an adult can take. It also reflects Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan, which would offer an immediate attraction for a lot of believers. The person then leaves the pool by a different entrance, which symbolizes that their new life with Jesus has already started. They have ‘risen’ from the water he starts a new life with Christ. This makes you question the ability of a human to stop living one lifestyle and then start living another. As with infant baptism, a believer’s baptism is practiced in a Baptist church is equally symbolic, with each action holding some significance in the life of the new Christian.

The symbolism of Believers Baptism is similar to that of Infant Baptism, with the main difference being baptized by immersion and the candidate is an adult who has chosen to be baptized. This will affect the Christians’ life as they themselves are choosing what road to take in Christian life by thinking and committing Christianity to the promises of Christianity themselves. No, I don’t agree as the sacrament of Baptism is a sacrament of initiation in the Catholic Church and as the word ‘initiation’ suggests, it is just for starters. The baptism of the infant does not make a child a Christian; it is a combination of spiritual growth and further sacraments that guide the child into adult Christianity. Yet some still argue why baptize babies?

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The main argument for adult baptism is that Jesus himself was not baptized until he was an adult (around thirty years old). As an adult, he was able to take full responsibility for his discipleship. Baptists who believe that promises from others do not count also hold this view. So are there any valid arguments for babies being baptized? Baptizing babies comes from the Old Testament. By baptizing babies today modern Christian churches believe includes the child part of God’s new Covenant. Many parents take their infants to be baptized due to the fear of their child dying with ‘original sin’ and not going to heaven. It is believed that prevents this. Many fail to see is that baptism does not cleanse every child from sin but only while that child has the ability to make choices for themselves.

In my opinion, baptizing infants only offers a stepping-stone into the life of a Christian. From as little as six or seven years old that child has the ability to make choices such as to steal or not to steal, or a more worrying issue bullying. I believe how the child responds to sin will depend on the experiences of Christianity in its home, community and school that bring in a lot of people to help our child become a good Christian. Being baptized in the Catholic Church allows children into Catholic schools and catholic communities, which strive to help the child to be brought up Christianly. Surely we are better at baptizing children so they can be exposed to Christian life at work in their everyday lives. To me, I believe my parents, brothers, sisters, aunts; uncles, godparents, parents’ friends and neighbours had influenced me in the moulding of my Christianity.

On the other hand, people might say that Jesus was baptized as an adult, which they wish to follow his example. Today, believers’ baptism follows the principle that belief in Christ comes before baptism. The ceremony is seen as important because it is an outward sign and declaration of the changes that have taken place in a person’s life through belief in Jesus Christ. People also might say that the babies are too young for the promises that are made for them and it should be the actual candidate’s choice. And adults can see for themselves this materialistic world then decide should they follow in the way Jesus lived his life unlike being baptized in your early years with no experience of the world you’re going to grow into.

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