The Celebration of Baptism at Our Lady of the Mountains
If you do not have a street address within the parish or are not registered members of the parish, Church norms require the permission of the parish in which you reside.
Baptism Sponsors…In the case of two adult sponsors (either gender) ONE must be an active Catholic who can provide written documentation from his/her home parish. In the case of a Teen serving as sponsor, he/she must be Baptized & Confirmed and over age 16, documented by his/her home parish.
If the sponsors are not members of this parish, they are required to obtain from the parish in which they worship a SPONSOR CERTIFICATE which attests to their being practicing Catholics and which should be presented at registration.
Only one sponsor is required, but two are customary. If there are to be two sponsors, there should be one of each sex. A non-Catholic Christian (baptized) may serve as a sponsor at a Catholic Baptism provided the other sponsor is a practicing Catholic.
Here at Our Lady’s the Sacrament of Baptism is normally celebrated on the last Sunday of the month after the 10:30 a.m. Mass. (There are NO Baptisms during Lent except in extreme emergency.) Registration for the Sunday of your choice takes the first Sunday of every month after the 10:30 a.m. Pre-registration is required. If possible both parents and godparents should be present for registration which is followed by a brief instruction period in preparation for Baptism. Godparents present their SPONSOR CERTIFICATES at this time.
Many times we are asked “What is the cost for Baptism”. The answer is there is no cost. However, it is customary to offer a donation at the time of Baptism to help defray the operating expenses of the Church. If an offering is made, the amount is entirely up to the donor.
SYMBOLS OF BAPTISMS
Symbols like the water, the cross, the oil, the candle, the Godparents and the church speak to you about the life your child will live in the Christian community. What better way to begin your role as Christian parents than to ponder the ageless symbols of the church and to understand both the burden and the promise of being parent to your newly Christened child!
One of the most touching ceremonies in the baptismal liturgy occurs when the minister makes a tiny sign of the CROSS on the forehead of the infant and asks parents and Godparents to do the same. The whole Christian community reaches into its past for a symbol to portray its deepest belief about life. That symbol is the cross of Jesus.
As the cross is traced upon the child’s tiny forehead, Christians remember that Jesus tasted the fullness of human life and will be with this young person through every phase of his or her own life. Together with Jesus, this child will touch and taste all of life’s beauties and sorrows. Because Jesus is present, the child will never be alone.
The most obvious symbol is WATER. It is obvious that water is for washing and for drinking. It floats away what is dirty and sustains life in us. Using water in the baptismal ceremony says that the child will move away from all that is evil and be sustained in a new life, the life promised by Jesus himself. This much is clearly evident to all of us. Yet there is another meaning to this water symbol, one lost to many of us moderns. Ancient people also thought of water as a sign of death. Water, when it came rushing out of the riverbeds to destroy their fragile civilizations, was a sign of chaos and death. When an early Christian saw a child plunged into the water, he or she remembered that the baptized person was dying with Christ. When the child emerged from the water unharmed, they remembered that the child was raised up with Christ in a newness of life. Death and resurrection were both portrayed by the passage into and out of the water.
CHRISM is the mixture of vegetable oil (often olive oil is used) and a fragrant perfume. It is blessed during Holy Week by the Bishop in the Cathedral Church and is carried to every parish in the Diocese to be used in Confirmation and in the anointing of infants at baptism. The use of the gleaming oil with its sweet aroma speaks of the specialness of this child. In ages past, oil was a healing remedy and a sign of power. Kings, priests, and prophets anointed, as were the sick, so that they might be strengthened and healed. By using chrism (oil), the church dramatizes its prayer that this child will be strengthened by God and by the prayer of the whole Christian community will once again anoint this young person, on Confirmation day. Again, that anointing, like this one, will be a prayer for greater strength to live out the demands of the gospel of Jesus in everyday life.
In earlier days all who were baptized, young and old, were clothed in a long white garment which they wore for the week after their baptism. The WHITE GARMENT reminded all in the community that these new Christians were wrapped in Christ”; that in a very real sense Jesus shared their lives. They were urged to carry that new life with him and to keep it unstained until the day they met the Lord in heaven. Toward the end of the ceremony, a small symbolic garment is placed on the child, a reminder to all who witness the ceremony that we are called to live simply.
The lighting of the CANDLE from the parish Easter (Pascal) candle is one of the brief concluding rites of the Baptism liturgy. The presence of the lighted Easter candle at every baptism celebration recalls that this is an Easter sacrament; that it takes its meaning from the dying and rising of Christ. Jesus says: “I am the Light of the world. No follower of mine shall ever walk in darkness; no, he shall posses the LIGHT OF LIFE.” (John 8:12)
GODPARENTS are a symbol, too, a sign of the whole church’s concern for this new child. In days when parents often died before a child reached maturity, godparents promised to take on the responsibility for rearing the child of faith if anything happened to the parents. Today the GODPARENTS promise to help parents in their task as Christian mothers and fathers. Godparents are to be role models for the child. What is important is not so much how closely they are related to the child as how closely they seem related to the Lord.
BAPTISM marks the passage into Church, by God’s grace. The kingdom of God comes to the baby in the love of the parents. The roots of the word “baptism” have to do with dipping and with plunging. Baptism by water for the followers of Jesus became the ritual marking the passage of a person into the Church. BAPTISM is the sacrament of ‘belonging’; becoming a ‘new member’ in the Church.
We mean by the Church first of all, the people: OURSELVES. We mean especially a particular Church: the Church of OUR LADY OF THE MOUNTAINS PARISH. Parents, yours is a great responsibility, but it is also shared with the parish community. You are asking that your child share in the life of the Christian community – that of the Church. “The people of God, that is the Church, made present in the local community, has an important part to play in the baptism of both children and adults. Before and after the celebration of the sacrament, the child has a right to the love and help of the community.” By baptism, the members of the Christian family also say “yes, we accept your child as a new member.” Members of the family and other parishioners are not present at a baptism as spectators. They are there as CHURCH!
The very brief rite of Ephphetha (also called a “Prayer Over Ears and Mouth”) is optional in the rite of baptism. If used it comes after the candle is lighted from the Easter candle. Touching the baby’s ears and mouth, the minister prays that Jesus will “soon touch your ears to receive the word and your mouth to proclaim his faith.” In effect, this rite looks toward the completion of the child’s initiation in a mature practice of faith.
Sacraments give grace as a free gift from God, given by reason of the rite itself, depending on the free cooperation of the person receiving the sacrament. A sacrament is a sensible sign instituted in the tradition of Christ which gives us the grace to be holy. The presence of both matter and form (matter are the things used, form are the prescribed words and actions) show sacrament.