How much do you know about (probably) the first sacrament you received?
"Baptism, says the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 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." How much do you know about this sacrament of initiation? To find out, begin with the first question.
Let's start with infant Baptism. According to the catechism, when parents choose a baptismal name for their baby it:
Doesn't have to be the name of a saint.
Does have to be the name of a saint.
And speaking of sponsors -- or "godparents" -- how many are required for a child to be baptized?
We'll try one more on godparents. A person can't be a sponsor if he or she:
Is under 16.
Hasn't been confirmed.
At an infant Baptism, water is the principal "sign." What else is used?
An adult who wants to be baptized in the Church goes through a parish program known as the RCIA. What do those letters stand for?
Roman Catholic Instructions Association.
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
The RCIA isn't just about Baptism, but a couple of other sacraments, too. What are they?
Confession and Holy Communion.
Confirmation, Confession, and Holy Communion.
There's one other category of students in the RCIA, those who have been baptized in a Christian denomination but not in the Catholic Church. If that's the case, the person:
Is rebaptized into the Church.
Makes a profession of faith.
Ordinarily it's the bishop who confirms, but as part of the RCIA, the pastor is given permission to do that. In an emergency, who can baptize someone else?
Anyone who is Christian.
The Church also teaches about two other kinds of Baptism. One is called "Baptism of desire." What's the other?
"Baptism of fire."
"Baptism of blood."
We've been quoting the new catechism a lot. What does it have to say about limbo, the place where the souls of unbaptized infants go?
It doesn't mention it.
It refers to the early Church Fathers, including St. Augustine.
How about an easy one? What New Testament figure is especially associated with Baptism?
We use the word baptism to mean "initiate" or "welcome into." To what did the original Greek word refer?
It meant the same thing.
It meant "plunge" or "dip."
At the time of the Apostles and in the early Church, how was Baptism administered?
Usually by full immersion.
Always by full immersion.
This is your last question. When did the Church begin baptizing infants?
During the Middle Ages.
Since apostolic times.
Let's end with one final quote from the catechism, a reminder that receiving this sacrament is only a beginning: "For all the baptized, children or adults, faith must grow after Baptism." We must nurture its growth after we pass through that gateway, after we enter that door.
Parents can choose "the name of a saint -- that is, of a disciple who has lived a life of exemplary fidelity to the Lord." Or they may pick one that will "express a Christian mystery or Christian virtue." But "parents, sponsors, and the pastor are to see that a name is not given which is foreign to Christian sentiment." For example, "Grace" or "Joy" would be acceptable, "Slasher" or "Greed" would not.
Yes, though ...
... These days, customarily, two are used. (And there can be more than two.) Not just an honorary position, the sponsors' task is "a truly ecclesial function," the catechism says. Their role is to help the child grow in faith.
You can't lose on this one!
Both answers are correct. A sponsor must be a Catholic who is a "firm believer," has received First Communion, and has been confirmed. Ordinarily, he or she must be at least 16. Also, the godparent can't be the child's parent. When there are two baptismal sponsors -- and when pastoral circumstances warrant -- one may be a baptized, non-Catholic Christian witness of the Baptism.
It's the same "chrism," or oil used at Confirmation, and is a sign of the child being filled with the Holy Spirit. It's a link between the two "sacraments of initiation."
This relatively new form of instructions began in 1972 and became mandatory in 1988.
The program isn't just for adults who have never been baptized, but for those baptized Catholics who have never received the Eucharist or been confirmed. The classes lead up to the reception of Holy Communion and Confirmation at the Easter Vigil Mass.
There is no such thing as "rebaptism." "Baptism," explains the catechism, "seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his or her belonging to Christ.... Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated." Members of the RCIA who have never been baptized are called "catechumens." Those who have been are referred to as "candidates" for full communion with the Church.
He or she has to "have the intention of doing that which the Church does" and needs to pour water on the person's head while saying, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
The Church teaches that those who are killed for the sake of faith without having been baptized are "baptized by their death for and with Christ" (Catechism of the Catholic Church). "This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament."
It doesn't say anything about it -- neither defending nor denying the concept -- but tells people the Church can only entrust children who have died without Baptism to the mercy of God, as it does in funeral rites for them.
Which John? John the Baptist, of course.
Jesus went out to the Jordan River to be baptized by his cousin. Before John, baptism in the Judaic tradition had to do with a newcomer to the faith washing away his or her uncleanness. With John, it was conversion, a turning from sin. And after him, when the Apostles baptized as Jesus told them to, Baptism became necessary for salvation.
The noun meant "the dipping" or "the washing." The word became specific, so later it wasn't translated from the Greek into the Latin but "transliterated" from Greek letters into Latin ones.
Full immersion most of the time, yes ...
... But probably not always. The New Testament doesn't mention infusion, pouring water on the forehead, but it seems a more likely method for the baptizing of 3,000 people on Pentecost. The Didache, written before the end of the second century, advises "if you have no running water ... pour water on the head."
There's testimony of the practice dating back to the second century, and it's reasonable to assume that during the time of the Apostles, when whole "households" were baptized, infants were included.
Are you surprised?
That's the custom, but ...
... It's not a requirement.
You're a bit astray, pardner!
Has it been a while since you were at a Baptism?
In the former rite, a few salt grains were put on the child's tongue to symbolize wisdom and incorruption, but that's no longer done.
It's not limited to Christians.
That's a common expression, but no.
... Though St. Augustine and St. Gregory Nazianzus did write about the idea of limbo.
"Always"? Probably not.
No, before then.