Monday, April 9, 2012

Baptism at Blessed Sacrament

By Danielle Hetzel
This is the first of a series about Baptism at Blessed Sacrament.

My husband and I are preparing to have our first child baptized at Blessed Sacrament sometime this summer. In getting ready for this important step in our lives, we are learning about the sacrament at Blessed Sacrament and worldwide. It is an important rite that all in the Church should come to understand and appreciate.
Photo courtesy of simonella_virus on Flickr
The sacrament of Baptism is an integral and renewing part of the Church. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "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" (CCC 1213). By being baptized, a person is reborn and freed from sin.

The community of believers forms an important part of this sacrament. By receiving a new member, free of original sin, all in the community benefit. "Baptism is the sacrament of faith. But faith needs the community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe"(CCC 1253). The baptized are not just being presented to God, but also to the Catholic community at the parish and throughout the world.

The Catechism also highlights Christ’s teaching of the necessity of baptism for salvation: “The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. (“Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above” (John 3:5))…The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are ‘reborn of water and the Spirit.’ God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments” (CCC 1257).

Here we will focus on infant baptisms, as the steps for adults are different. In our Church community, there are multiple steps to take to prepare for baptism. My advice is to start early! First, call the Parish office (703-998-6100). They will send you the paperwork you will need to fill out, can give you information on classes (discussed below), and answer any questions you have. “Parents are obliged to see to it that infants are baptized within the first weeks after birth” (Canon, no. 867,§ 1).

The parents of the child take a two-hour class to learn about Baptism and the commitment they are going to be making as Catholic parents. This class is offered one Sunday a month at Blessed Sacrament. My husband and I are scheduled to attend in April, so I will provide updates on the class and our status after that.

Godparents, at least one of whom must be a practicing Catholic in good standing, are also an important part of the baptism process. They take the same Baptism class as the parents to be fully immersed in the process. This requirement can be fulfilled at any Catholic Church. In our case, we have Godparents in California and Michigan, and both were able to make arrangements with their church without any difficulties. From our experience, it seems pretty standard for parishes to offer the class on a monthly basis. Written proof of this class, along with a packet of paperwork, must be submitted to Blessed Sacrament by the parents. At that point, the family is ready from an administrative standpoint for the sacrament of Baptism.

Baptisms are held twice a month - once on a Saturday and once on a Sunday. We are still working on getting the required paperwork together to pick a date. Please join me as I continue to go through the process and learn more about the sacrament of Baptism at Blessed Sacrament.
My husband and I celebrating our "babymoon" in Hawaii in February.

No comments: