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Friday, March 16, 2012

Symbols of Baptism

Baptism is the sacrament of faith. But faith needs the community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe. The faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop. The catechumen or the godparent is asked: "What do you ask of God's Church?" The response is: Faith. 

The sign of the cross, on the threshold of the celebration, marks with the imprint of Christ the one who is going to belong to him and signifies the grace of the redemption Christ won for us by his cross. Since Baptism signifies liberation from sin and from its instigator the devil, one or more exorcisms are pronounced over the candidate.The celebrant then anoints him with the oil of catechumens, or lays his hands on him, and he explicitly renounces Satan. Thus prepared, he is able to confess the faith of the Church, to which he will be entrusted by Baptism.

The baptismal water is consecrated by a prayer of epiclesis (either at this moment or at the Easter Vigil). The Church asks God that through his Son the power of the Holy Spirit may be sent upon the water, so that those who will be baptized in it may be "born of water and the Spirit." It signifies and actually brings about death to sin and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity through configuration to the Paschal mystery of Christ. The use of water as apurifying substance is universal. Water is also symbolic of the oceanic beginnings of life, and human life which emerges from the amniotic waters of the womb.
The anointing with sacred chrism, perfumed oil (olive oil mixed and perfumed with other precious oils) consecrated by the bishop, signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit to the newly baptized, who has become a Christian, that is, one "anointed" by the Holy Spirit, incorporated into Christ who is anointed priest, prophet and king.

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 neophyte. In him the baptized are "the light of the world."

The solemn blessing concludes the celebration of Baptism. At the Baptism of newborns the blessing of the mother occupies a special place. 

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