The Sacrament of Baptism
Baptism is the first of three sacraments of initiation, belonging. At Baptism one becomes a member of God’s family. The sacrament of Confirmation seals or completes Baptism, and the sacrament of Eucharist nourishes the baptized person and the community.
Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ. The baptized are called to serve others. Through our baptism we have certain obligations towards one another. We must love and respect one another.
Baptism is also the first sacrament of reconciliation, as it forgives all prior sin and original sin.
The word baptism comes from the Greek baptizein meaning “plunge” or “immerse.” This immersion signifies burial into Christ’s death, from which one rises up by resurrection with him, as a new creature. 2 Corinthians 5:17; Gal 6:15; Romans 6:3-4; Col 2:12
For a more complete overview of the meaning and significance of Baptism, please see Baptism: Incorporated into Christ's Body, Sent on Christ's Mission on the Council of Catholic Bishops' website.
Or if you would like a brief video explanation, click this link to visit Busted Halo.
Symbols of Baptism
The water signifies and brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one can enter the kingdom of God. (Titus 3:5; John 3:5) Water is both life giving and a symbol of death. It symbolizes communion with Christ’s death. Triple immersion brings about death to sin and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity.
Biblical references to water are found in the story of Creation (Genesis 1:1 2:4; Genesis 2: 4b-7); Noah and the great flood (Genesis 6:5 - 9:17); Crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 13:17 – 14:31); Jesus baptism by John the Baptist signified the beginning of his public ministry (Matthew 3: 13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22)
The first anointing with the oil of catechumen is to strengthen the person for baptism. The second anointing with sacred chrism is a consecration and signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit to the newly baptized who has become a Christian, one “anointed” by the Holy Spirit.
The white garment symbolizes that the person baptized has “put on Christ,” has risen with Christ.
The candle, lit from the Easter candle, signifies that Christ has enlightened the baptized. In him we are the “light of the world.”