How wonderful it is when new life enters the world, reminding us that God’s plan for the human family is still unfolding, one generation after another.
For Catholic families, the process of birth is inseparable from the foundational sacrament of human life: the Sacrament of Baptism. This sacrament opens the door to a life of faith and lays the groundwork to all the other milestones of life lived at the spiritual level. Some people believe that faith is passed on like a genetic trait would be.
But that’s not true. The child of American parents is automatically a U.S. citizen, but the child of Catholic parents is not automatically Catholic, even if they are in church every week. Membership in the Catholic Church always requires a decision, and for a child younger than seven, that decision is in the hands of the parents.
Parents of a child approaching Baptism need to prepare themselves to raise a spiritual being by attending a training session led by parents who have already baptized their children and raised them in the Catholic faith.
Why should I baptize my child?
Baptism is the gateway to the spiritual life for a Catholic. We believe it initiates inclusion in God’s earthly family, makes the child one with Jesus and gives grace to counteract Original Sin, which endures within the human family.
What happens if I don’t baptize my child?
Nothing would “happen” per se, but your child would not be Christian or Catholic. They would not have communion, be confirmed, marry in the Church, be anointed when they are sick or have a Catholic funeral Mass.
Scary question, but… do the unbaptized risk the loss of heaven?
In earlier times it was believed that an unbaptized child could not go to heaven when they died, but that is not our contemporary teaching. We entrust those who aren’t baptized to God’s mercy, just as we entrust everyone – including ourselves who are baptized.
What would I need to do to have my child baptized?
You would need to desire to raise your child in the Catholic faith and be willing to state that publicly. You would choose 1-2 Catholics to be your child’s sponsors (often referred to as a Godparents). You would attend one preparation class led by Catholic parents to learn about the ceremony and the lifestyle that accompanies baptism. Call us at 731-8800 to get started.
Do the Sponsors (Godparents) raise the child if something happens to me?
No. Not unless you name them as your child’s legal guardians in case of tragedy. That is a legal matter that would be handled with a lawyer; the Church is not involved.
When and where will the Baptism occur?
Baptisms always happen in the church, at the marble baptismal font. They happen either: (1) at a Sunday Mass with the parish community present, along with your family, or (2) at a ceremony with family and friends at a pre-chosen time. These Baptisms usually happen on weekend days, but that’s not a firm rule. We don’t baptize in Lent (Ash Wednesday through Easter).
Which is a better option: at Mass or at a designated time with a smaller group?
There is something beautiful about receiving the sacrament at Mass. There’s a large community of people there from all ages and backgrounds. Kids and old ladies get especially excited to see your child become a Catholic in such a beautiful ceremony. At a Mass, the Baptism happens right after the homily (sermon), before the consecration. If you choose that option, you family would sit in reserved pews with the best view of the ceremony.
Some people prefer to gather their family and friends for a quieter ceremony at a time when the church is mostly empty (with the exception of a small number of people in assorted places praying). The decision is yours.
Does this sound like a Sacrament and a process that speaks to the hopes in your heart as a parent? We hope it does! If so, please call us at 731-8800 or fill out the form below, and let’s have a conversation as a way to begin.