Sacraments are traditional rites that are recognized as having a particular significance or importance. There are seven sacraments and baptism is on of them, it is the first of the three sacraments of initiation. Baptism involves the use of water symbolically and leads to the admission of a person into a community of believers. Baptism is based on John the Baptist practice where he baptized people including Christ. Baptism now incorporates the idea of creation of unity between believers and Jesus
It is often referred to as the door of the church since it is the first of the seven sacraments. This sacrament is necessary since Christ had ordered his disciples to preach his gospel and baptize those who accept the message. It was clear that baptism was very necessary when it came to salvation. It does not mean that only the formally baptized can be saved; there are two forms of baptism apart from baptism of water which are baptism of desire and baptism of blood
. The baptism of desire is meant for those who wish to be baptized but die before they receive the sacrament. Baptism of blood refers to martyrdom of the believers killed due to their faith before they got a chance to be baptized. This has the same effects as the baptism of water. Baptism can be administered to both infants and adults.
Theology of the Sacrament
Baptism incorporates an individual into Christ's life that is continued in the church. Baptism gives a person supernatural life; when one is conceived they receive a soul which is the principal on natural life in the body. Upon baptism the soul receives the principal supernatural life. Sacrament of baptism formed the basis of supernatural existence. It is a sacrament of rebirth or regeneration; this is because even though we are born naturally baptism offers us new life. This life is important since everyone has the hope of reaching heaven after the natural life comes to an end upon death. Death is separation of immortal soul from the body, the soul however never ceases to exist .the soul needs top be animated by Grace that is received at baptism so that one can have perpetual life.
It is very important for one to receive the baptism of water or even the baptism of desire. There are effects of baptism and they are all supernatural. These effects are sin, power, life, character and church
Removal of sin
Baptism is done so as to remove the guilt of original sin as well as the restoration of the corresponding title to a heavenly glory. This means that the guilt that one might be having on their soul is removed by baptism. A child that has been baptized before they reach a reasoning age and dies is immediately entitled to beatific vision. After a person has reached the age or reasoning, if they are baptized they are free from the original sin and all the sins they have committed
. They are also freed from the punishment they were to get from their personal sins. There are two penalties in the original sin that are not removed by baptism these are being free from desires that are irrational and bodily immorality. There is no restoration through baptism of the preternatural gifts that would have been inherited.
Through Adam's sin there was a loss of divine life. Through the death of Jesus, the savior there can be restoration of this life. Therefore, baptism restores the supernatural life. This is what referred to when he was talking to Nicodemus emphasizing that people must be born again through water and the Holy Spirit. Supernatural life is known as the sanctifying grace and it gives the soul a supernatural life. Sanctifying grace is an effect of the Holy Spirit indwelling. The most important effect of the sacrament is having the holy trinity dwelling in an individual's soul. This trinity dwelling within our souls is known as uncreated grace that is received upon baptism and is to be retained when we are called by the lord to the everlasting destiny
Virtues gifts and fruits
Baptism also provides the soul with supernatural powers, joys and instincts that are known as gifts, virtues and fruits of the Holy Spirit. These supernatural powers enable a person do what they can not in the human nature. The three most important powers are faith, charity and hope. By faith one is empowered to believe everything revealed by God that is; He is the father, son and Holy Spirit; that Jesus suffered for our sake. Through hope one is empowered to trust all what God promised we shall obtain. Charity empowers us to love God above every other thing and love others more than ourselves.
When one is baptized they are incorporated into a church that is founded by Christ. The baptized have a right to be called Christians and accepted as brothers in the church. Therefore, a baptized person has right to receiving graces that are channeled through the church
Baptism enables a person to receive a permanent character that can not be removed. This seal remains in an individual's life up to eternity and nothing can remove it. It symbolizes a permanent relationship with Christ.
Ritual of Baptism
Baptism requires water and words which can be administered by clerics or any other person that has been baptized. The person who is administering the ritual pours water on the head of the subject or in other cases they are immersed fully into the water. This followed by reciting the words "I baptize you in the name of the father, son and holy spirit" (Stanford,2010).Incase of infant baptism the procedure is performed in the presence of the parents of the child and god parents. There is also need for a sponsor in adult and infant baptism .the sponsor is very important as they will guide the baptized person in their life after baptism. The immersion in water means that the person has been cleansing their sins. The baptism procedure slightly differs in different churches depending on the particular church
Symbols and signs in baptism
There are signs and symbols associated with the sacrament of baptism. These are the assembly; this is an assembled community that welcomes the person to be baptized. The baptized person will now become part of this assembled community. This assembly is not made up of random people but it is a community that is gathered to get the word of God. The other symbol is the sign of the cross on the forehead of the person to be baptized and their sponsors or parents in the case of infant baptism. This is a reminder of the love that Jesus had for us and gave his life for us. This cross on the forehead of the person who is being baptized indicates that they are branded and they now belong to Christ
The word of God is read during baptism to proclaim the presence o Jesus in the assembly. There are baptismal promises that are from the Apostles creed. Incase of infant baptism the parent makes the promises on behalf of the child. Water is a very important part of the baptism sacrament it is shows that the person who is being baptized has been cleansed and their sins have been washed away. Water is a necessity in life and it is a sign that the baptized person has claimed the life of Christ that has risen. Without water nothing can grow it is therefore a sign that the person is entering a new spiritual life that has to be natured and sustained. There is use of oil that is rubbed on the breast of the person being baptized.