September 20, 2017

Baptism

Baptism

Baptism of adults and school-age children is scheduled through participation in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program.  Information about this program is available here .

Parents wishing to have a child (6 and under) baptized must be registered and active parishioners for a minimum of three (3) months prior to the date of baptism and are required to attend a Baptism Preparation Class prior to setting a date.  Dates and times of classes will be noted in the bulletin.  Classes are generally scheduled on the third Thursdays of each month, but please consult the bulletin to confirm.  (The Weekly Bulletin is available through the “Communications” drop down menu above.)   Please call the Church Office at (901) 756-1213 with any questions or to schedule a child’s baptism.

The role of a godparent is significant aspect of the sacrament.  Godparents should be chosen carefully for their visible witness to the Catholic faith and the example they will provide to the person being baptized.  To qualify as either a godparent or a confirmation sponsor, a person must be a practicing Catholic who is at least 16 years of age.  He or she must have received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.  The person must be living a life in harmony with the faith.  If the person is married, their marriage must be valid according to the norms of the Church.  If the person is single, they should be practicing chastity.  For godparents/sponsors who are members of a parish other than St. Francis, a letter from their pastor confirming their eligibility to be a godparent/sponsor must be presented.

Theology of the Sacrament of Baptism

In his dialogue with Nicodemus, Jesus taught that Baptism was necessary for salvation. “No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” (Jn 3:5). After his Resurrection, Jesus met with the eleven Apostles and gave them the commission to preach the Gospel and baptize, telling them, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk 16:16).

The word baptism in its origins is Greek and means “immersion” and “bath.” Immersion in water is a sign of death and emersion out of the water means new life. To bathe in water is also to undergo cleansing. Saint Paul sums up this truth when he says, “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead” (Col 2:12).

The origin and foundation of Christian Baptism is Jesus. Before starting his public ministry, Jesus submitted himself to the baptism given by John the Baptist. The waters did not purify him; he cleansed the waters. “He comes to sanctify the Jordan for our sake . . . to begin a new creation through the Spirit and water” (St. Gregory Nazianzen, Liturgy of the Hours, I, 634).

Jesus’ immersion in the water is a sign for all human beings of the need to die to themselves to do God’s will. Jesus did not need to be baptized because he was totally faithful to the will of his Father and free from sin. However, he wanted to show his solidarity with human beings in order to reconcile them to the Father.

By commanding his disciples to baptize all nations, he established the means by which people would die to sin—Original and actual—and begin to live a new life with God.