Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water and in the word.”
What is the outward, visible sign in baptism?
Water, in which candidates are baptized “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” the name of the Triune God into whom the candidate is baptized and made part.
What is the inward, spiritual grace set forth in baptism?
The grace set forth is a death to sin and a new birth to righteousness, through union with Christ in his death and resurrection (Romans 6:1–6). I am born a sinner by nature, separated from God, but in baptism, rightly received, I am made God’s child by grace through faith in Christ.
What is required of those who are baptized?
Repentance, in which I turn away from sin; and faith, in which I turn to Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, and embrace the promises that God makes to me in this sacrament.
Why is it appropriate to baptize infants?
Born with a human nature tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism.
Christian parents will recognize that this practice also accords with their role as nurturers of the life that God has entrusted to them.
By its very nature infant Baptism requires a post-baptismal catechumenate. Not only is there a need for instruction after Baptism, but also for the necessary flowering of baptismal grace in personal growth. The catechism has its proper place here.
Baptism is an indelible mark.
Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation. Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated.