One may wonder why the sacrament of baptism welcomes an individual into the church as an infant when the other sacraments of initiation, first Communion and confirmation, occur when the person is aware of what is happening.
“The Catholic Church believes that the child receives grace at baptism,” said Father Leo E. Patalinghug, associate pastor of St. John, Westminster, “the grace to be initiated into the life of Christ. Why wait for the child to receive this special grace?”
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a person is reborn through baptism as a child of God (1213), and an infant would be denied this grace without being baptized shortly after birth (1250). Additionally, a person can only be baptized once.
“We believe, following the ancient liturgies, that the font of baptism is both a womb and a tomb,” said Father Patalinghug, “a place to be born again and a place to put to death all sins – and especially the stain of original sin.”
The act of baptism also helps parents remember their responsibility in raising their baby in the faith. The priest said it is the duty of parishes to compassionately and effectively convey the importance of baptism to parents and godparents, especially when “many young parents are not as familiar with the privileges and responsibilities of baptism,” said the priest, “perhaps due to less familiarity to the church and to the church’s official – but beautiful – teachings.”
While witnessing a baptism during liturgy, the parishioners are asked to repeat their baptismal vows and are called to remember that baptism washes away the stench of sin.
“It’s easy to forget that we’re all children,” said Father Patalinghug. “No matter how old we are, we are, in God’s eyes, as cute and beautiful as when we were first brought to the church as a child … you see, we can easily forget our goodness.”