Friday, October 15, 2010

Baptism, Part 3

This is the final part on the topic of Baptism which is part of the larger topic of the seven Sacraments.

Baptism takes away original sin, infuses sanctifying grace, and makes the baptized person a child of God and an heir to the Kingdom of Heaven. There are certain requirements that must be met in order for this Sacrament to be licit and valid.

Parents are obliged to take care that infants are baptized in the first few weeks; as soon as possible after the birth, or even before it, they should go to the pastor to request the sacrament for their child and to be prepared properly for it. Baptism is the priority and not the celebration and not the convenience of the intended invited guests. Parents need to focus on the gift of this Sacrament. Sometimes a Baptism is postponed for months or even years because not all of the family can be present at an earlier time. Other times parents put off this Sacrament because they want to save and prepare for a party. When this happens, their baby is deprived all the longer of the grace and benefits flowing from this beautiful gift from God.

As a rule an infant is to be baptized in the parish church of the parents unless a just cause suggests otherwise. For an infant to be baptized licitly, the parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place must consent. There must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed.

There is to be only one male sponsor (godfather) or one female sponsor (godmother) or one of each. This means that you cannot have two godmothers or two godfathers. Most have two godparents, but only one is necessary.

A godparent is really a sponsor as was the case in the early Church. This person must be a Catholic who lives the faith. He or she must be in good standing. It is required that each godparent be at least sixteen years old and not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized. It is also necessary that each be a Catholic who has been confirmed (that is, received the Sacrament of Confirmation) and has already received the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on. The prospective godparent may not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared. This means if married, the marriage took place in a Catholic Church. Because they are standing up for the child who is to be baptized in the Catholic Faith, the godparents must be practicing Catholics.

This concludes the topic of Baptism. Next week, I will continue with the Sacraments by focusing on Confirmation.

Father Stanley