SUMMARY of the CEREMONIES used in Baptism

1. Reception of the candidate.

At the church door the priest, in the name of the Church, welcomes the candidate, saying: “Peace be with you.” Then he questions him as to his purpose in wishing admission into the Church. He is commanded to keep the commandments, to love God and his neighbor. The priest then breathes three times upon his face to signify the spiritual breath of life that is to be infused into his soul, signs him with the cross, imposes his hand on him as a sign that the Church takes him as a ward, and then puts blessed salt in his mouth.

The exorcisms follow, by which the devil is cast out, with his power over the soul of the candidate. The priest again signs the forehead with a cross, as a seal, and commends the soul to God.

2. Admittance into the church or baptistery.

The priest then lays his stole on the child as a sign of his ecclesiastical powers, and leads him into the baptistery, that he may have part with Christ in everlasting life. The godparents and the priest, together with the candidate if he already is an adult, recite the “Apostles’ Creed” and the “Our Father” in sign of acceptance of the Faith.

Prayers of exorcism are recited again to break the power of Satan over the child. The priest touches the ears and nostrils of the candidate with his moistened thumb, to signify that the hearing should be opened to the Word of God, and that the candidate should live in the odor of sanctity.

3. The baptismal vows.

The candidate’s good will is tested in the baptismal vows, in which he renounces Satan “and all his works and display,” that is, all sins and all occasions of sin.

If the person baptized is an infant, his godparents take the baptismal vows for him, in his name. The vows and profession of faith take the form of answers to six questions. Then the candidate is anointed with the oil of catechumens, touched on the breast that wisdom may thrive in his heart, and on the shoulders, that he may patiently bear the yoke of Christ. Then the priest changes his violet stole for a white one, to show that the separation from God of the soul is about to give way to a life of grace. Follows the profession of faith, a reiteration of the Apostles’ Creed, and formal petition for Baptism.

Nota Bene: In some dioceses the ceremonies of giving salt, touching the ears and nostrils and anointing the breast and shoulders may be omitted.

4. The main act.

The priest pours the baptismal water three times upon the head of the candidate in the form of the cross, at the same time pronouncing the words: “(Name of candidate), I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

At this actual moment of Baptism, the godparents must touch the candidate, to show that they incur and accept the spiritual relationship.

5. Anointing with Chrism.

After the pouring of water the person is anointed with Chrism on the crown of the head, to show that he is now anointed of God.

A white garment is placed upon him to show that his soul is now spotless with grace. A lighted candle is put in his hand to impress upon him that he should ever keep burning in his heart the light of faith and virtue. And finally, the newly baptized child of God is dismissed, with the blessings of the Church: “Peace be with you.” The garment and candle are kept as souvenirs of one’s baptism. 

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The essential part of Baptism is the pouring of water (2) together with the saying of the words of baptism. At that moment the godparents must be touching the child. Blessed salt is put in the child’s mouth (1), symbol of the spiritual wisdom received through Baptism. A lighted candle is given to the person baptized, or if an infant, to the sponsors (3), to denote the light of the Holy Spirit received.

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