Q. 620. When was baptism instituted?
A. Baptism was instituted, very probably, about the time Our Lord was baptized by St. John, and its reception was commanded when after His resurrection Our Lord said to His Apostles: "All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth. Going, therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
Q. 621. What is Baptism?
A. Baptism is a Sacrament which cleanses us from original sin, makes us Christians, children of God, and heirs of heaven.
Q. 622. What were persons called in the first ages of the Church who were being instructed and prepared for baptism?
A. Persons who were being instructed and prepared for baptism, in the first ages of the Church, were called catechumens, and they are frequently mentioned in Church history.
Q. 623. What persons are called heirs?
A. All persons who inherit or come lawfully into the possession of property or goods at the death of another, are called heirs.
Q. 624. Why, then, are we the heirs of Christ?
A. We are the heirs of Christ because at His death we came into the possession of God's friendship, of grace, and of the right to enter heaven, provided we comply with the conditions Our Lord has laid down for the gaining of this inheritance.
Q. 625. What conditions has Our Lord laid down for the gaining of this inheritance?
A. The conditions Our Lord has laid down for the gaining of this inheritance are: (1) That we receive, when possible, the Sacraments He has instituted; and (2) That we believe and practice all He has taught.
Q. 626. Did not St. John the Baptist institute the Sacrament of Baptism?
A. St. John the Baptist did not institute the Sacrament of Baptism, for Christ alone could institute a Sacrament. The baptism given by St. John had the effect of a Sacramental; that is, it did not of itself give grace, but prepared the way for it.
Q. 627. Are actual sins ever remitted by Baptism?
A. Actual sins and all the punishment due to them are remitted by Baptism, if the person baptized be guilty of any.
Q. 628. That actual sins may be remitted by baptism, is it necessary to be sorry for them?
A. That actual sins may be remitted by baptism it is necessary to be sorry for them, just as we must be when they are remitted by the Sacrament of Penance.
Q. 629. What punishments are due to actual sins?
A. Two punishments are due to actual sins: one, called the eternal, is inflicted in hell; and the other, called the temporal, is inflicted in this world or in purgatory. The Sacrament of Penance remits or frees us from the eternal punishment and generally only from part of the temporal. Prayer, good works and indulgences in this world and the sufferings of purgatory in the next remit the remainder of the temporal punishment.
Q. 630. Why is there a double punishment attached to actual sins?
A. There is a double punishment attached to actual sins, because in their commission there is a double guilt: (1) Of insulting God and of turning away from Him; (2) Of depriving Him of the honor we owe Him, and of turning to His enemies.
Q. 631. Is Baptism necessary to salvation?
A. Baptism is necessary to salvation, because without it we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Q. 632. Where will persons go who -- such as infants -- have not committed actual sin and who, through no fault of theirs, die without baptism?
A. Persons, such as infants, who have not committed actual sin and who, through no fault of theirs, die without baptism, cannot enter heaven; but it is the common belief they will go to some place similar to Limbo, where they will be free from suffering, though deprived of the happiness of heaven.
Q. 633. Who can administer Baptism?
A. A priest is the ordinary minister of baptism; but in case of necessity anyone who has the use of reason may baptize.
Q. 634. What do we mean by the "ordinary minister" of a Sacrament?
A. By the "ordinary minister" of a Sacrament we mean the one who usually does administer the Sacrament, and who has always the right to do so.
Q. 635. Can a person who has not himself been baptized, and who does not even believe in the Sacrament of baptism, give it validly to another in case of necessity?
A. A person who has not himself been baptized, and who does not even believe in the Sacrament of baptism, can give it validly to another in case of necessity, provided:
- He has the use of reason;
- Knows how to give baptism, and
- Intends to do what the Church intends in the giving of the Sacrament. Baptism is so necessary that God affords every opportunity for its reception.
Q. 636. Why do the consequences of original sin, such as suffering, temptation, sickness, and death, remain after the sin has been forgiven in baptism?
A. The consequences of original sin, such as suffering, temptation, sickness and death, remain after the sin has been forgiven in baptism: (1) To remind us of the misery that always follows sin; and (2) To afford us an opportunity of increasing our merit by bearing these hardships patiently.
Q. 637. Can a person ever receive any of the other Sacraments without first receiving baptism?
A. A person can never receive any of the other Sacraments without first receiving baptism, because baptism makes us members of Christ's Church, and unless we are members of His Church we cannot receive His Sacraments.
Q. 638. How is Baptism given?
A. Whoever baptizes should pour water on the head of the person to be baptized, and say, while pouring the water: "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
Q. 639. If water cannot be had, in case of necessity, may any other liquid be used for baptism?
A. If water cannot be had, in case of necessity or in any case, no other liquid can be used, and the baptism cannot be given.
Q. 640. If it is impossible, in case of necessity, to reach the head, may the water be poured on any other part of the body?
A. If it is impossible, in case of necessity, to reach the head, the water should be poured on whatever part of the body can be reached; but then the baptism must be given conditionally; that is, before pronouncing the words of baptism, you must say: "If I can baptize thee in this way, I baptize thee in the name of the Father," etc. If the head can afterward be reached, the water must be poured on the head and the baptism repeated conditionally by saying: "If you are not already baptized, I baptize thee in the name," etc.
Q. 641. Is the baptism valid if we say: "I baptize thee in the name of the Holy Trinity," without naming the Persons of the Trinity?
A. The baptism is not valid if we say: "I baptize thee in the name of the Holy Trinity," without naming the Persons of the Trinity; for we must use the exact words instituted by Christ.
Q. 642. Is it wrong to defer the baptism of an infant?
A. It is wrong to defer the baptism of an infant, because we thereby expose the child to the danger of dying without the Sacrament.
Q. 643. Can we baptize a child against the wishes of its parents?
A. We cannot baptize a child against the wishes of its parents; and if the parents are not Catholics, they must not only consent to the baptism, but also agree to bring the child up in the Catholic religion. But if a child is surely dying, we may baptize it without either the consent or permission of its parents.
Q. 644. How many kinds of Baptism are there?
A. There are three kinds of Baptism: 1.Baptism of water, of desire, and of blood.
Q. 645. What is Baptism of water?
A. Baptism of water is that which is given by pouring water on the head of the person to be baptized, and saying at the same time, "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
Q. 646. In how many ways was the baptism of water given in the first ages of the Church?
A. In the first ages of the Church, baptism of water was given in three ways, namely, by immersion or dipping, by aspersion or sprinkling, and by infusion or pouring. Although any of these methods would be valid, only the method of infusion or pouring is now allowed in the Church.
Q. 647. What are the chief ceremonies used in solemn baptism, and what do they signify?
A. The chief ceremonies used in solemn baptism are:
- A profession of faith and renouncement of the devil to signify our worthiness;
- The placing of salt in the mouth to signify the wisdom imparted by faith;
- The holding of the priest's stole to signify our reception into the Church;
- The anointing to signify the strength given by the Sacrament;
- The giving of the white garment or cloth to signify our sinless state after baptism; and
- The giving of the lighted candle to signify the light of faith and fire of love that should dwell in our souls.
Q. 648. Should one who, in case of necessity, has been baptized with private baptism, be afterwards brought to the Church to have the ceremonies of solemn baptism completed?
A. One who, in case of necessity, has been baptized with private baptism should afterwards be brought to the Church to have the ceremonies of solemn baptism completed, because these ceremonies are commanded by the Church and bring down blessings upon us.
Q. 649. Is solemn baptism given with any special kind of water?
A. Solemn baptism is given with consecrated water; that is, water mixed with holy oil and blessed for baptism on Holy Saturday and on the Saturday before Pentecost. It is always kept in the baptismal font in the baptistry -- a place near the door of the Church set apart for baptism.
Q. 650. What is Baptism of desire?
A. Baptism of desire is an ardent wish to receive Baptism, and to do all that God has ordained for our salvation.
Q. 651. What is Baptism of blood?
A. Baptism of blood is the shedding of one's blood for the faith of Christ.
Q. 652. What is the baptism of blood most commonly called?
A. The baptism of blood is most commonly called martyrdom, and those who receive it are called martyrs. It is the death one patiently suffers from the enemies of our religion, rather than give up Catholic faith or virtue. We must not seek martyrdom, though we must endure it when it comes.
Q. 653. Is Baptism of desire or of blood sufficient to produce the effects of Baptism of water?
A. Baptism of desire or of blood is sufficient to produce the effects of the Baptism of water, if it is impossible to receive the Baptism of water.
Q. 654. How do we know that the baptism of desire or of blood will save us when it is impossible to receive the baptism of water?
A. We know that baptism of desire or of blood will save us when it is impossible to receive the baptism of water, from Holy Scripture, which teaches that love of God and perfect contrition can secure the remission of sins ; and also that Our Lord promises salvation to those who lay down their life for His sake or for His teaching.
Q. 655. What do we promise in Baptism?
A. In Baptism we promise to renounce the devil, with all his works and pomps.
Q. 656. What do we mean by the "pomps" of the devil?
A. By the pomps of the devil we mean all worldly pride, vanities and vain shows by which people are enticed into sin, and all foolish or sinful display of ourselves or of what we possess.
Q. 657. Why is the name of a saint given in Baptism?
A. The name of a saint is given in Baptism in order that the person baptized may imitate his virtues and have him for a protector.
Q. 658. What is the Saint whose name we bear called?
A. The saint whose name we bear is called our patron saint -- to whom we should have great devotion.
Q. 659. What names should never be given in baptism?
A. These and similar names should never be given in baptism:
- The names of noted unbelievers, heretics or enemies of religion and virtue;
- The names of heathen gods, and
Q. 660. Why are godfathers and godmothers given in Baptism?
A. Godfathers and godmothers are given in Baptism in order that they may promise, in the name of the child, what the child itself would promise if it had the use of reason.
Q. 661. By what other name are godfathers and godmothers called?
A. Godfathers and godmothers are usually called sponsors. Sponsors are not necessary at private baptism.
Q. 662. Can a person ever be sponsor when absent from the baptism?
A. A person can be sponsor even when absent from the baptism, provided he has been asked and has consented to be sponsor, and provided also some one answers the questions and touches the person to be baptized in his name. The absent godfather or godmother is then said to be sponsor by proxy and becomes the real godparent of the one baptized.
Q. 663. With whom do godparents, as well as the one baptizing, contract a relationship?
A. Godparents, as well as the one baptizing, contract a spiritual relationship with the person baptized (not with his parents), and this relationship is an impediment to marriage that must be made known to the priest in case of their future marriage with one another. The godfather and godmother contract no relationship with each other.
Q. 664. What questions should persons who bring a child for baptism be able to answer?
A. Persons who bring a child for baptism should be able to tell:
- The exact place where the child lives;
- The full name of its parents, and, in particular, the maiden name, or name before her marriage, of its mother;
- The exact day of the month on which it was born;
- Whether or not it has received private baptism, and
- Whether its parents be Catholics. Sponsors must know also the chief truths of our religion.
Q. 665. What is the obligation of a godfather and a godmother?
A. The obligation of a godfather and a godmother is to instruct the child in its religious duties, if the parents neglect to do so or die.
Q. 666. Can persons who are not Catholics be sponsors for Catholic children?
A. Persons who are not Catholics cannot be sponsors for Catholic children, because they cannot perform the duties of sponsors; for if they do not know and profess the Catholic religion themselves, how can they teach it to their godchildren? Moreover, they must answer the questions asked at baptism and declare that they believe in the Holy Catholic Church and in all it teaches; which would be a falsehood on their part.
Q. 667. What should parents chiefly consider in the selection of sponsors for their children?
A. In the selection of sponsors for their children parents should chiefly consider the good character and virtue of the sponsors, selecting model Catholics to whom they would be willing at the hour of death to entrust the care and training of their children.
Q. 668. What dispositions must adults or grown persons, have that they may worthily receive baptism?
A. That adults may worthily receive baptism:
- They must be willing to receive it;
- They must have faith in Christ;
- They must have true sorrow for their sins, and
- They must solemnly renounce the devil and all his works; that is, all sin.
Q. 669. What is the ceremony of churching?
A. The ceremony of churching is a particular blessing which a mother receives at the Altar, as soon as she is able to present herself in the Church after the birth of her child. In this ceremony the priest invokes God's blessing on the mother and child, while she on her part returns thanks to God.