Guidebook for Baptism

by Father Luis Esteban Latorre

This guidebook is subtitled "In Accordance with the new Code of Canon Law; Twenty One Questions Frequently Asked by Christian Parents and Godparents and the Complete Rite of Baptism for One Child." After Domestic-Church.Com posted Fr. Latorre's excellent Practical Examination of Conscience for Adults, he contacted us and offered his Guidebook for Baptism. When we gratefully accepted, Father photocopied the entire booklet and sent it by courier. This is perhaps not so remarkable until you consider that Father Latorre lives in the Phillipines, and we are based in Canada.

Because of the size of the document, we have formatted it so that clicking on each entry in the Table of Contents will bring you directly to that section of the booklet.

Table of Contents


A Homily on Baptism by Pope John Paul 11

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In 1982 the Holy Father, John Paul II visited England and Wales. The overall theme for the Roman Pontiff's pastoral visit to Britain was the seven Sacraments. In Westminster Cathedral (London), he baptized four people; in Southward Cathedral, he anointed the sick; he administered the Sacrament of Confirmation in Coventry, ordained 12 men in Manchester, gave First Holy Communion to a group of children in Cardiff, and spoke extensively about the Sacraments of Penance and Matrimony in Liverpool and York, respectively. We give below the main points of the Holy Father's homily on Baptism.

In Baptism we are drawn into the community of faith. We become part of the pilgrim People of God which, in all times and in all places, goes forward in hope towards the fulfillment of the 'promise.' It is our task to take our place responsibly and lovingly beside those who, from the beginning, 'remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers' (Acts 2,42).

Baptism creates a sacramental bond of unity linking all who have been reborn by means of it. But Baptism, of itself, is only a beginning, a point of departure, for it is wholly directed towards the fullness of life in Christ (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio, n. 22). Baptism is the foundation of the unity that all Christians have in Christ: a unity we must seek to perfect When we set out clearly the privilege and the duty of the Christian, we feel ashamed that we have not all been capable of maintaining the full unity of faith and charity that Christ willed for his Church.

We the baptized have work to do together as brothers and sisters in Christ. The world is in need of Jesus Christ and his Gospel - the Good News that God loves us, that God the Son was born, was crucified and died to save us, that he rose again and that we rose with him, and that in Baptism he has sealed us with the Spirit for the first time, gathered us into a community of love and of witness to his truth.

Another aspect of Baptism, perhaps the most universally familiar, is that we are given a name - we call it our Christian name. In the tradition of the Church it is a saint's name, a name of one of the heroes among Christ's followers - an apostle, a martyr, a religious founder, like Saint Benedict, whose monks founded Westminster Abbey nearby, where your sovereigns are crowned. Taking such names reminds us again that we are being drawn into the communion of Saints, and at the same time that great models of Christian living are set before us. London is particularly proud of two outstanding saints, great men also by the world's standards, contributors to your national heritage, John Fisher and Thomas More.

As the prophet Ezekiel reminds us, it is the Lord himself who is the true shepherd of this New People. He himself pastures his sheep. He shows them where to rest: 'As a shepherd keeps all his flock in view. . .so shall I keep my sheep in view. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered during the mist and the darkness....l shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the wounded and make the weak strong' (Ez. 34, 12 and 16).

Together we shall renew our baptismal promises. We shall reject sin, and the glamor of evil, and Satan, the father of sin and prince of darkness. We shall profess our faith in the One God, in his Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, in the coming of the Holy Spirit, in the Church, in life everlasting. And we shall be responsible for the words we say, and be bound by an alliance with our God.

Brothers and sisters! In order to be faithful to this alliance we must be a people of prayer and deep spirituality. Our society needs to recover a sense of God's loving presence, and a renewed sense of respect for his will.

Let us learn this from Mary our Mother. In England, 'the Dowry of Mary,'the faithful, for centuries, have made pilgrimages to her shrine at Walsingham. Today Walsingham comes to Wembley, and the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham, present here, lifts our minds to meditate on our Mother. She obeyed the will of God fearlessly and gave birth to the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. Faithful at the foot of the Cross, she then waited in prayer for the Holy Spirit to descend on the infant Church. It is Mary who will teach us how to be silent, how to listen for the voice of God in the midst of a busy and noisy world. It is Mary who will help us to find time for prayer. Through the Rosary, that great Gospel prayer, she will help us to know Christ. We need to live as she did, in the presence of God, raising our minds and hearts to him in our daily activities and worries.

May your homes become schools of prayer for both parents and children. God should be the living heart of your family life. Keep Sunday holy. Go to Mass every Sunday. At Mass the People of God gather together in unity around the altar to worship and to intercede. At Mass you exercise the great privilege of your Baptism: to praise God in union with Christ his Son; to praise God in union with his Church.

Brothers and sisters, to be faithful to our alliance with God we must be, not only a people that prays, but also a people that does the will of the heavenly Father. Again it is Mary who teaches us how. Through her obedience she accepted the whole of God's plan for her life. And in doing so she achieved greatness. 'Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord' ( Lk. 1, 45).

We express our real acceptance of Christ's word by respecting the moral demands of our Christian vocation. And the fulfillment of these demands is an act of loving obedience to the person of Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word of God. If our faith is strong, the moral demands of the Christian life - although at times, they are difficult to fulfill and although they always require effort and grace - will seem neither unreasonable nor impossible. Certainly, our fidelity to the Gospel will put us at odds with the spirit of the 'present age.' Yes, we are in the world, indeed as disciples of Christ we are sent into the world, but we do not belong to the world (cf. Jn. 17, 16-18). The conflict between certain values of the world and the values of the Gospel is an inescapable part of the Church's life, just as it is an inescapable part of the life of each one of us. And it is here that we must draw on the 'patience' which Saint Paul spoke to us about in the second reading. We groan inwardly as we await our salvation, in hope and with patience (cf. Rom. 8, 23-25).

I have often spoken of the decline of respect for the fundamental moral values that are essential to the Christian life. Indeed, moral values are essential to the life of all human beings as free agents created in the image and likeness of God, and destined to a higher creation.

The world has largely lost respect for human life from the moment of conception. It is weak in upholding the indissoluble unity of marriage. It fails to support the stability and holiness of family life. There is a crisis of truth and responsibility in human relationships. Selfishness abounds. Sexual permissiveness and drug addiction ruin the lives of millions of human beings. International relations are fraught with tensions, often because of excessive inequalities and unjust economic, social, cultural and political structures, and because of slowness in applying the needed remedies. Underlying all of this there is often a false concept of man and his unique dignity, and a thirst for power rather than a desire to serve.

Are we Christians to agree with such a state of affairs? Are we to call this progress? Are we to shrug our shoulders and say that nothing can be done to change all this?

My brothers and sisters, the essence of our Christian vocation consists in being 'light' and 'salt' for the world we live in. Let us not be afraid: 'The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness'(Rom. 8, 26).

Keep in mind that picture of Mary and the Apostles gathered together at Pentecost in Jerusalem. Remember that the same Holy Spirit who filled their minds and hearts also fills the whole Church today. And he brings us the loveliest and the most powerful gifts: 'Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self control' (Gal. 5, 22).

Let us really accept the words of Jesus: 'If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink' (Jn. 7, 37). Then we shall receive his gift: 'Out of our hearts shall flow rivers of living water.... Now he said this about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive.' Then, in the power of the Spirit we shall become a people that prays: indeed, the Spirit himself will pray in us and for us (cf. Rom. 8, 26). And we shall become a holy people.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, realize the greatness of your Christian vocation. Christ has called you out of darkness into his own wonderful light. Consider what God has done for you in Baptism, and lift up your eyes and see the final glory that awaits you.

'Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very great. O Lord how manifold are all your works. When you send forth your Spirit, they are created and you renew the face of the earth' (Ps. 104, 1, 25 and 30). Amen.

Part One:
Essential Doctrine On Baptism
Questions 1 To 14

1. What Is Baptism?

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Baptism is a sacrament of Christian initiation that gives our souls the new life of sanctifying grace by which we become children of God, members of the church, and heirs of heaven.

It is the very first Sacrament that we may receive. Unless we are baptized, we cannot and may not receive any of the other Sacraments.

Baptism has all the three essentials necessary for a Sacrament:

  1. Visible element: it is a sensible sign.
  2. Invisible element: it confers grace.
  3. Divine institution: it was instituted by Christ.

In the new Code of Canon Law the Church's basic doctrine on Baptism is summed up:

Baptism is the gateway to all the Sacraments. It is absolutely necessary in re (in fact) or at least in voto (desire), to be freed from sins, reborn as children of God, configured to Christ by an indelible character, and incorporated within the Church.

2. Who Instituted The Sacrament Of Baptism?

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Jesus Christ, our Lord, instituted the Sacrament of Baptism. This is proved by the Gospels and by the constant Tradition of the Catholic Church.

Ancient Ablutions:

Bodily ablutions or washings have been an important rite in religious worship since the very beginning of the human race. The ancient Greeks and Romans had ceremonial ablutions. Even today, there still exist some uncivilized cultural minorities who still practice this form of worship. Under the Old Law, the Chosen People were obliged by God to adopt specific washings as part of their ritual.

John's Baptism:

When our Lord began his public life, his Precursor (and second cousin) St. John the Baptist, "baptized" in the river Jordon those who came to him and made public their repentance for their sins.

John's "baptism" was a figure of the Sacrament that our Lord himself was to institute some time later. Christ, as an example of humility, received baptism from John before he began his public ministry.

What the Bible Says:

From the Holy Bible, especially from the Gospels, it is clear that our Lord instituted a Baptism different from all previous baptismal ablutions. By its own inherent virtue {ex opere operato), it was to confer grace, something that God alone could do.

To Nicodemus, who sought instruction, Christ said: "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." (JOHN 3:5).

Baptism was made the Key of Heaven, the Sacrament of the renewal of the spirit, the rite effecting entry into God's Church, required of all men.

Before his Ascension into heaven, Jesus charged his Apostles most explicitly to teach all nations, "baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." (MATTHEW 28:19).

On that occasion, our Lord also said: "He that believes and is baptized, shall be saved." (MARK 16:16).

3. Did The Apostles Administer The Sacrament Of Baptism ?

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The Apostles personally administered the Sacrament of Baptism in the early Church.

First Condition of Entry into the Church:

From the very beginning, the Apostles administered Baptism. They made it, according to the wish of Christ, the first condition of entry into the Church.

On the first Pentecost Sunday, the multitudes who were then present in Jerusalem came together to listen to the Apostles. They were surprised to hear them speak in diverse tongues. Hearing the exhortation of St. Peter, they asked: "What shall we do?" Peter answered: "Do penance, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins." (ACTS 2:38).

"They therefore that received his word were baptized; and there were added (to the Church) in that day about three thousand souls." (ACTS 2:41 ).

The Apostles and John's Baptism:

The Apostles made a clear distinction between the "baptism of penance" of John the Baptist and the Sacrament of Baptism instituted by Christ. When Paul came to Ephesus, he found there were some who desired to become Christians. He learned from them that they had received John's baptism, and ordered that they should be "baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." (ACTS 19:3-5).

What the Apostles did After Pentecost:

It was St. Peter himself who received the first Gentile converts into the Church by the rite of Baptism (ACTS 10:47-48). Paul, after being converted miraculously, also received Baptism (ACTS 9:18).

The deacon Philip instructed a distinguished official of Ethiopia, the eunuch of Queen Candace, who was returning by chariot from Jerusalem: "As they went on their way, they came to a certain water; and the eunuch said: See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized? And Philip said: If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answering, said: I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still; and they went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch: and he baptized him." (ACTS 8: 36-38).

Baptism Picture

4. What Are The Principal Effects Of Baptism?

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The principal effects of baptism are: It takes away original sin and all actual sins, together with all the punishment due to them. It gives us the grace of rebirth and the infused virtues: It raises us to the dignity of adopted children of God. It incorporates us into Christ and his Church. It confers on us the baptismal character and the right to heaven.

Power Against Original Sin:

Baptism is the only Sacrament that can take away the stain of original sin from our souls. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden by their disobedience, they were not only driven out as a punishment, but upon them were inflicted other severe penalties.

The greatest penalty was deprivation of sanctifying grace with which they had been endowed when they were created - the supernatural gift which had made their souls pleasing to God.

This deprivation is what we term "original sin," which all men, as children of Adam and Eve, inherit: a stain that can be removed only in the cleansing waters of Baptism.

On account of the sin of Adam, we, his descendants, come into the world deprived of sanctifying grace and inherit his punishment, as we would have inherited his gifts had he been obedient to God.

This sin in us is called original sin. It is called original because it comes down to us through our origin or descent from Adam. The chief punishments of Adam which we inherit through original sin are: death, suffering, ignorance, and a strong inclination to sin.

The Church teaches that all are conceived in original sin, except the Blessed Virgin Mary. And this exception is not by virtue of her own merits, but by a singular privilege bestowed on her by God, since she was to be the Mother of his Son, Jesus Christ.

The Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved from original sin in view of the merits of her Divine Son. This privilege is called her Immaculate Conception.

The Sacrament of Rebirth and Renewal

Christ himself made Baptism the Sacrament of rebirth and renewal of the spirit (JOHN 3:5). At the same time that original sin is taken away from the soul, it is filled with the grace of God - sanctifying grace.

Thus we say that by Baptism, we are really "born again." Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are born to God, and made holy and pleasing to him.

"He that believes and is baptized shall be saved." (MARK 16:16). We are also united to Christ. As Saint Paul says: "Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ ?" (1 CORINTHIANS 6:15).

Remission of All Sins:

Baptism remits, not only original sin, but also all the sins we might have committed, and pardons all the eternal and temporal punishment due to them.

If an adult receives Baptism with the proper dispositions - with faith and at least attrition (sorrow for sins because of fear of punishment) - all his actual or personal sins and their punishment are pardoned by the Sacrament. If he dies immediately afterwards, he goes to heaven directly, however enormous the sins he might have committed. He would have no necessity of atoning for his sins in Purgatory.

Incorporation Into Christ and Membership in God's Church:

By Baptism we are incorporated into Christ's Mystical Body. We become members of the Church and children of God. We become brothers of all the angels and saints in heaven. By the key of Baptism we are given the right to enter heaven. From then on, we gain merits for our good works. This first Sacrament of Christian initiation gives us the right to receive the other Sacraments.

Grace From Baptism:

At Baptism we are granted sacramental grace which helps us live a truly Christian life. Grace is poured into our soul and the result is a spiritual life or the interior life of grace.

Just as a newly-born baby has, besides its natural life, all the means necessary to preserve and develop it (oxygen, nourishment, care of his parents, etc.), so too, the Christian, who by his spiritual rebirth in Baptism, not only receives the supernatural life but all the means necessary to retain and develop it: the sacramental graces and the right to the other Sacraments. This new spiritual life first received at Baptism is the life of Christ.

As St. Paul said: "Know you not that your bodies are members of Christ?" (1 CORINTHIANS 6:15). By Baptism we enter into our Lords life; we become his. We are joined to him as our members are joined to our bodies.

5. How Often May Baptism Be Received?

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Baptism may be received "only once.". It may not and cannot be repeated.

The Indelible Mark:

The character imprinted on the soul by baptism marks us forever as Christians, disciples and followers of Christ who have received a call to holiness; it makes us members of the Church, with the right and duty to spread Christ's Kingdom through the Apostolate; and it enables us to receive the other sacraments.

Baptism cannot be repeated because it imprints an indelible mark or character on the soul, to remain from then on through all eternity.

It is the mark by which the soul is known as Christian, a member of the Church of God. It is God's seal on the soul. St. Paul adds: "For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ." (GALATIANS 3:27).

Conditional Baptism:

Sometimes one hears of infants already baptized being taken to the church and rebaptized. At other times one hears of converts from non-Catholic sects, already baptized in their own churches, being rebaptized in the Catholic Church.

These cases are doubtful cases, and the rite administered is not absolute, but conditional baptism. If the previous baptism was valid, the conditional Baptism has no effect. If the previous baptism was invalid, the conditional Baptism avails the soul of the recipient.

The new Code of Canon Law has the following provisions regarding conditional Baptism which we will summarize as follows:

  1. If there is doubt as to whether one has been baptized, or whether Baptism has been validly conferred, and if the doubt remains even after a serious investigation, Baptism is to be conferred upon this person conditionally. (CIC 869, & 1 ).
  2. The question of Baptism with reference to receiving non-Roman Catholic Christians into full communion with the Catholic Church is also answered. The Code specifies that those who have already been baptized in a non-Catholic ecclesial community (which means a Christian church whose Baptism is valid) are not to be baptized conditionally unless, after the Matter and Form have been examined with reference to the conferral of Baptism, and also after having checked out the intention of the baptized adult and the Minister, serious reason for doubting the validity of Baptism is present.
  3. If, in the cases cited above, doubt either of the fact or of the validity of Baptism perdures, conditional Baptism is conferred with the following conditions:
    1. if the candidate is an adult - the doctrine of the Sacrament of Baptism is explained to him.
    2. if the candidate is an infant - the reasons for doubt about the validity of the previous baptism are made known to the parents.

6.Why Is Baptism Necessary For The Salvation Of All Men?

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Baptism is necessary for the salvation of all men because Christ said: "Unless a man is born through water and the spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God." (JOHN 3:5).

Baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation, and no one who has not been baptized can enter heaven. From the time of our Lord this has been the constant and unequivocal teaching of the Church. The reason lies in the fact that only Baptism can remit original sin, and no one with the taint of sin - original or mortal - can enter into heaven, God's holy home.

This doctrine on the necessity of Baptism for salvation is complemented by the dogmatic teaching of the Church which is formulated as "Outside the Church there is no salvation." Baptism is the ordinary means of belonging to the true Church.

When we say, "Outside the Church there is no salvation," we mean that Christ made the Catholic Church a necessary means of salvation and commanded all to enter it, so that a person must be connected with the Church in some way to be saved. Hence, the Catholic Church is truly the universal sacrament of salvation.

Persons who are not members of the Catholic Church can be saved if, through no fault of their own, they do not know that the Catholic Church is the true church, but they love God and try to do his will, for in this way, they are connected with the church by desire. True ecumenical zeal should make us strive to bring Non-Catholics to the Catholic Faith and to a complete sharing in the mystery of Christ.

This teaching of the Church is a serious matter. If anyone deliberately omits it or treats it as something optional that could be whimsically accepted or rejected, he would be seriously putting his soul in danger. Any theory put forward regarding salvation which involves the recognition of some means of salvation supposedly instituted by Christ, as opposed to Baptism, is erroneous. (*) Baptism and membership in the Catholic Church became obligatory and necessary for all men, from the time of the proclamation of the Gospel after Christ's resurrection from the dead.

(*) One such theory is the so-called "Anonymous Christians" doctrine of the German theologian Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J. who recently passed away (March 30, 1984). If carried to its ultimate consequences, Rahner's "Anonymous Christians" could undermine all the missionary activity of the Church.

To stress the absolute necessity of Baptism for salvation (enjoyment of the Beatific Vision) is particularly important in these times due to the excessive tendency which now prevails for people to go their own way, or to do their own thing in matters of religion. We have a very common phenomenon today of "do-it-yourself" Christians who want to arbitrarily establish their own means of salvation based on private interpretation of the Bible. They reject God's ways, that which was established by Christ through his Church, as if this were an unwarranted intrusion, a limitation on one's freedom.

It is of course necessary to have Faith in order to see and appreciate God's desire to save all men. It is necessary to have Faith to accept the structure of God's plan of salvation. It goes without saying that Baptism does not guarantee actual automatic salvation. "Work for your salvation in fear and trembling," says St. Paul. (PHILIPPIANS 2:12).

The Sacrament of Baptism makes it possible for us to perform good works that can merit our salvation. It is not enough to believe (the so called "fiduciary faith" or faith alone in Jesus as your personal Saviour), and to be baptized. Good works, supernatural in their origin, are also necessary. And so, the Sacrament of Baptism is not an end point, but a beginning.

"The baptized must lead lives in keeping with the kind of person they have become: children of God, they must worship and praise him; apostles of Christ and temples of the Holy Spirit, they must acquire a sound doctrinal formation and allow that doctrine to permeate their lives, their hearts and minds so that the kingdom of Christ may be established in all its fullness. In their public lives, in the middle of society they must show themselves as they really are: people who love and live for Christ. Religion - Catholicism at any rate - is not to be shut up within the confines of the walls of a house. It has to come out, to be influential through the lives of ordinary Christian men and women in the street." (C.C.: 7-8)

The Ratzinger Report:

In August 1984, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was interviewed by a reporter of the Italian magazine Jesus. The following is a portion of that interview:

REPORTER: "What does your Eminence say about the present crisis in the missionary efforts of the Church?"

RATZINGER: "The old, traditional doctrine of the Church is that all men are called to salvation and one can truly save himself if he sincerely obeys the dictates of his own conscience, even if he were not a visible member of the Catholic community. This doctrine which was peacefully accepted in the past, was excessively emphasized in the years following the Council.

"The exaggerations were based on theories like that of the Anonymous Christians. It has been exaggerated to the point of saying that grace is always given when one accepts himself as man. This is so even if you don't believe in any religion or you are a follower of any type of religion outside of Christianity. The only thing that Christianity contributes would be the consciousness of a grace which is always present in everyone.

"This exaggeration has been applied to non-Christian religions, which some theologian has presented not only as extraordinary ways but also as ordinary ways to salvation. These hypothesis have naturally dampened the missionary zeal among many Christians. 'Why bother the non-Christians by leading them to Baptism and faith in Christ?', some have even dared to ask. 'Anyway, isn't his religion a way of salvation in his culture or for those in that part of the world?'

"They have forgotten the link which the New Testament has established between Salvation and Truth, the knowledge of which (as Jesus himself explicitly affirms) redeems and therefore saves. St. Paul also put it this way: 'God our Savior, who wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all.' (1 TIM. 2:4-6)"

7. Is Baptism Of Water The Only Kind Of Baptism?

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"Baptism of water"- is the ordinary means of Baptism, but there are two extraordinary means by which the remission of sin and the attainment of eternal salvation are possible.

Those who through no fault of their own, have not received the sacrament of Baptism can be saved through what is called Baptism of Blood or Baptism of Desire.

Baptism of Desire:

An unbaptized person receives the Baptism of Desire when he loves God above all things and desires to do all that is necessary for his salvation.

If someone believes and loves God above all things, is sorry for his sins, and ardently longs for Baptism when it is impossible to receive it, he is said to have received the Baptism of Desire.

Jesus promised.that whoever loves him will be loved by the Father (JOHN 14:21). No one can be pleasing to the Father unless he be in the state of grace. Consequently, one who sincerely loves God and wishes to do everything pleasing to him, whether he be baptized by water or not, will receive pardon for his sins, and obtain entrance into heaven.

In the final analysis, Baptism of Desire is the way of charity or the love of God. And so, it is a way open only to those who have reached the use of reason, because only these are capable of making an act of charity. One of the most eloquent examples of this excellent form of charity which could be said to be a forerunner of the Baptism of Desire, is the case of St. Dismas, the good thief.

Parents, on the other hand, cannot make this Baptism of Desire on behalf of their infant children. Fr. Connolly gives the following explanation:

"No matter how much parents may desire Baptism for their children, they cannot obtain for them Baptism of Desire. That is, they cannot make an act of charity on the child's behalf. If the parents' desire is a real one they will obviously have the child baptized as soon as possible, doing it themselves in case of danger of death.

"By an act of love of God - and this act belongs to the supernatural order, and made under the influence of an actual grace - a person is necessarily sorry for past sins and has to wish to do all that God wants and commands should be done in order to be saved. And so, this person desires, implicitly or explicitly, to be baptized, since this is the ordinary way of salvation set down by God's providence."

The Second Vatican Council states this constant doctrine of the Church, which in no way contradicts the Church's stand on true ecumenism:

"Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience-those too may achieve eternal salvation: Nor shall Divine Providence deny the assistance necessary for salvation to those who, without any fault of theirs, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God, and who, not without grace, strive to lead a good life." (LG:16)

To summarize all that we have said so far, we can say that anyone who makes an act of love of God, and at the same time does not know, through no fault of his own (invincible ignorance), that Baptism is necessary for salvation, can be saved by Baptism of Desire.

Baptism of Blood:

An unbaptized person receives the Baptism of Blood when he suffers martyrdom for the faith.

Martyrdom means the patient acceptance of a violent death, or an assault, which, of its very nature is likely to lead to death, for the sake of Christ: defending some point of religion and teaching of Christ, giving witness to a particular Christian virtue, etc.

One who is unbaptized and loses his life for Christ or for some Christian virtue receives the Baptism of Blood. Our Lord promised: "He that shall lose his life for me, shall find it." (MATTHEW 10:39).

The Holy Innocents of Bethlehem whom Herod slew out of his hatred for the Infant Jesus received the Baptism of Blood. The Church honors them with a feast on December 28. The case of the Holy Innocents is explained in the liturgy of the Mass of the feast with the following verse: that they died for Christ unknowingly, but still they gave testimony to the truth of our Faith, not by speaking but by dying (moriendo, non loquendo). From this we can also infer that the person who receives Baptism of Blood does not necessarily have to be an adult; not so with Baptism of Desire as we have seen earlier.

Obligation of Using the Ordinary Means of Baptism:

As the Baptism of Desire and Baptism of Blood are extraordinary means, they do not excuse from the obligation of making use of the ordinary means when available.

For this reason, one who has received that Baptism of Desire by an act of love or perfect contrition, is still bound to receive Baptism of Water if he is aware of it. In the same way, an unbaptized person being martyred for the Christian faith or some Christian virtue must be baptized by water if he survives.

8. Can Infants Or Babies Go To Heaven If They Die Without Baptism?

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Infants who die without Baptism cannot go to heaven. This does not mean, however, that they go to hell.

Infants cannot have Baptism of Desire. The reason for this is because it requires the use of reason. And in our times, infants have a very small chance of being slaughtered out of hatred for Christ, and so rarely can they have Baptism of Blood. Therefore they must have the Baptism of Water, and if this is not given them, they die unbaptized through no fault of theirs and can never go to heaven.

This doctrine that an unbaptized infant can never enter heaven and live with God may at first sight seem extremely harsh and cruel. This divine design becomes still more difficult to understand and more mysterious if we consider also that the child's failure to be baptized would be due to no fault of his own. But Christ's words regarding the necessity of Baptism is absolute: "Unless a man (that is, a member of the human race or species) be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (JOHN 3: 5)

9. What Is Limbo?

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Limbo is the place where unbaptized infants go. It is a place of natural happiness surpassing the most exquisite joy of the present life.

When we stated in the previous question that unbaptized infants (that is, below the age of reason) cannot go to heaven, we are not implying that they either go to hell or purgatory.

Hell and Purgatory are places of expiation for those who have committed actual or personal sins. Infants only have original sin. Not having the use of reason, they cannot be guilty of personal sins. And so, they cannot be sent either to Hell or Purgatory.

They are in a place where they do not see God, but where they do not suffer any pain. They are in Limbo.

Heaven Better than Limbo:

Although in Limbo infants enjoy complete natural happiness for all eternity, such happiness cannot be compared to the perfection of bliss they would have enjoyed if they had been baptized and had gone to behold God face to face in Heaven.

In Limbo their joy is natural. In Heaven it would have been supernatural, an infinitely superior ecstasy of joy. For this reason every Christian should concern, himself in the Baptism of infants, especially of those in their care. How many infants now in Limbo would be enjoying the Beatific Vision if it were not for the ignorance or neglect of their parents! And what about the souls of those poor babies who were victims of abortion? Consider that in the U.S. alone, there were around 16 million abortions from 1973 to 1984!

Some persons assert that the Catholic doctrine of Limbo would make God out as unjust. They forget that Heaven is an entirely free gift. God is not obliged to take us to Heaven. He only offers the gift to us, but under certain conditions. One such condition is Baptism.

God is free to dispense his gifts to whoever and however he wills. In the same way, we would not for example, accuse a charitable person of injustice if he gives alms to one orphanage and not to another.

Delaying a Child's Baptism:

Children should be baptized within the first weeks after birth. Children in danger of death should be baptized without delay. Catholic parents who neglect or unreasonably put off for a long time the Baptism of their children commit a mortal sin.

It would be a mortal sin, for example, to delay or postpone indefinitely the Baptism of a child in order to save-up or prepare for a big feast, a great worldly show, with dances and dinners and what not. Or, to delay the Baptism in order to wait for the coming of a VIP godparent.

Since the time of the probable birth of a child is known, preparations for any celebration can easily be made beforehand. If the chosen godparents cannot be present, proxies can take their place. The Baptism of a child should never be delayed, not even to wait for the mother's recovery.

In the new Code, Canon 868 states very clearly that infants should be baptized as soon as possible. It states further that in danger of death, it should be administered immediately.

For reasons which are beyond the scope of this basic catechetical work, we have heard that in some places an abuse has been introduced by some priests who purposely delay the Baptism of infants. This practice is allegedly based on pastoral reasons, which is in fact foreseen in Canon 868, & 2 of the new Code. However, the real reasons could be more theological or doctrinal than pastoral.

To curtail these abuses, the late Pope Paul Vl, a few years ago, issued a document through the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (SCDF) called Instruction on Infant Baptism (IIB), dated October 20, 1980.

Among other things, Paul Vl reaffirmed the centuries-old teaching of the Church on infant baptism: "Baptism should be conferred even on infants who are yet unable to commit any sin personally, in order that, having been born without supernatural grace, they may be born again of water and the Holy Spirit to divine life in Christ Jesus."

The usual argument against infant baptism, often borrowed from some of our separated Christian brethren (e.g., the Baptists) who deny the validity of infant Baptism, is as follows:

"Wouldn't that be a restriction of the freedom of the child, of the future adult, and contrary to his dignity as a human person? Aren't the parents imposing an obligation on him which he might later regret or refuse to accept?"

The Church's Magisterium gives a very clear answer to these fallacious arguments:

"Children are persons long before they can show their consciousness and freedom. As persons, children are already capable of becoming, through the Sacrament of Baptism, children of God and co-heirs of Christ. . .Such an attitude is simply an illusion. There is no such thing as pure human freedom (. . .)

"Even on the natural plane, parents make choices for their children that are essential for their lives. A so-called neutral attitude on the part of the family toward the child's religious life would be in fact a negative choice that would deprive the child of an essential good."

Baptism Picture

10. What Elements Compose Baptism ?

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Like all the other Sacraments, Baptism is composed of two elements: matter and form. The "matter" of Baptism is natural water. The "form" is "(N.), I BAPTIZE YOU IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT."

Matter of Baptism:

Natural water is the matter of Baptism by divine institution. the new Code states that, outside of a case of necessity, the water used in conferring Baptism should be blessed according to the prescriptions of the liturgical books.

In cases of necessity, any natural water may be used, such as: water from the sea, river, fountain, faucet, rain, mineral water, or water melted from snow or ice. If there is holy water, this should be preferred.

n order to guard reverence towards the Sacrament, the water should be clean. If this is impossible to obtain, even muddy water is valid matter. As long as the matter can be regarded as water in the common estimate of men, it is valid for Baptism.

That is why, the following cannot be used and are not valid matter for Baptism: milk, blood, tears, wine, fruit juice, saliva, perspiration, soup, ink, etc. Commonly speaking nobody thinks of these things as water.

If a person is in doubt whether the liquid available is real water or not, he should have the benefit of the doubt and baptize anyway. Since it is a doubtful matter, of doubtful validity, it must be used with a condition: "If this Matter is sufficient. . ." prefixed to the Form of Baptism.

Form of Baptism:

The words: "(N.), I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," must be said at the same time the water of Baptism is poured (or the subject is immersed in water). This is ordinarily done three times.

The Form must be pronounced very carefully, by the person baptizing. He must say it simultaneously while he is pouring (or immersing in) the water; not before, nor after.

No other substitute words may be used. For example, it would be invalid to substitute: ". . .of the Holy Trinity" instead of ". . .of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," because Jesus explicitly commanded that Baptism should be "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." (MATTHEW 28:19).

11. How Is Baptism Administered?

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Baptism is administered by pouring water on the forehead of the person to be baptized, saying while pouring it: "(N.), I BAPTIZE YOU: IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT." Baptism may also be administered by immersion.

Three Methods of Baptizing:

The Catholic Church teaches that Baptism is valid whether it is administered by immersion, by infusion, or by aspersion.

Immersion means plunging the candidate into water. Infusion means pouring the water. Aspersion means sprinkling the water. All these three methods are valid, but our present practice is by infusion or immersion. This is clearly stated in the new Code: "Baptism is to be conferred either by immersion or by pouring, the prescriptions of the conference of bishops being observed."

Some Objections to Infusion from our Separated Brethren:

Some Christian denominations, notably the Baptists and the Eastern schismatic churches, hold that Baptism can be validly administered only by total immersion. Their arguments are based on a strict interpretation of the word "baptize" which, in Greek, originally meant "to immerse" or "to plunge."

To answer this objection, we can say that although the word "baptize" in Greek originally meant "to immerse," during the time of Christ, it had acquired a broader meaning: "to wash" or "to cleanse."

In MARK 7:4, in the original Greek text, the Evangelist writes about the custom of the Pharisees of not eating until they had been "baptized." From the context, it meant that they did not eat until they had "washed" their hands.

We can say then that Christ used the word "baptize" in its broad sense, the one generally taken during his time. When he gave the command to baptize, he meant it to be some sort of ablution or washing with water, and not total immersion alone.

Furthermore, although immersion was described in the Gospels as used in some baptisms (as in the Baptism of the eunuch by Philip), other baptisms mentioned were done by infusion.

These were the cases wherein, obviously, to baptize by immersion would have been difficult if not impossible, given the circumstances. We must cite here the baptism of 3,000 people on the first Pentecost. Another example would be the Baptism of the jailer and his family in the prison where St. Paul was confined.

From the very beginning of Christianity the practice of baptizing by infusion became the more frequent method. In the Didache or The Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles (100 A.D.), there is a description of Baptism by pouring the water three times on the head, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. St. Cyprian mentions in his writings that it became customary not to baptize the sick by immersion for obvious reasons. In the fifth century, St. Augustine attests to the adequacy of sprinkling for the administration of Baptism, especially for those sick in bed.

Cases of Doubtful Validity of Baptism:

Water must flow over the skin, so that not every sprinkling or pouring suffices for the Sacrament. If the water just flows over the hair, the validity is doubtful. The normal procedure is to pour water three times in the form of a cross over the head. In urgent cases, it is only necessary to pour the water once.

If there is only one drop of water available, and the case is urgent, the water should be rubbed over the person's forehead with the finger. This, of course, would be of doubtful validity. If the person recovers, Baptism should be repeated conditionally.

12. Who Can Be Baptized?

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Any person who is not yet baptized can be baptized. That person is said to be the "subject" of Baptism.

Adults and Children with the Age of Reason:

A person who has reached the age of reason - normally around seven years of age - cannot be baptized validly unless he has the intention to be baptized. An adult cannot be made a Christian against his will.

If the rite were performed against a person's will it would be invalid. There would be no sacrament at all, even if he were at that time bereft of his senses. However, if before falling unconscious he had made an intention to be baptized, the Sacrament can be conferred validly.

In order to profit from the fruit of Baptism- for example, to receive help to live a Christian life - one must also have made an act of faith in the chief doctrines of the Church, and have sorrow for all his past sins.

Small Children:

In the case of children who have not yet reached the age of reason, it would not be possible to demand from them to make the necessary acts of faith and contrition. Nevertheless they can be validly baptized and will receive the fruits of the Sacrament. This is because Sacraments are effective signs; that is, they produce directly by their own inherent virtue - and not dependent on the worthiness of the minister or the subjective dispositions of the recipient or subject - the graces which they signify.

In other words, the Sacraments themselves are the true causes of the grace they confer. They are instruments of divine power, not, as non-Catholics mistakenly assert, mere rites inciting the recipient to pious acts.

For children below the age of reason, the lack of faith and intention does not nullify the Sacrament. And even for those who have reached the age of reason, the acts of faith and contrition they make do not add to the efficacy of the Sacrament, but are merely conditions required by God, who does not wish to sanctify such people against their will.

Infant Baptism:

The main argument for the perennial practice of the Church regarding infant Baptism is the absolute necessity {necessity of means) of the Sacrament for entrance to heaven. If Baptism is necessary for salvation, it must be administered to infants as well as to adults. If not, we would be guilty of thinking that God had deprived infants of every means of salvation.

We can find many examples of infant Baptism in the New Testament. For example, when Paul baptized Lydia and her household (ACTS 16:15), there were obviously children in that group. A jailer and his whole family (ACTS 16:33) and the household of Stephanas (1 COR 1:16) are other examples. The probability is that in these households there were at least some young children.

The Fathers of the Church also testify to infant Baptism: St. Cyprian, St. Augustine, and Pope Siricius, to mention only a few. Even in those countries where for a time it became a custom to defer Baptism so that the recipient, having the use of reason, might benefit more from its effects, still the Sacrament was administered to infants in danger of death.

In the SCDF's Instruction on Infant Baptism of 20 October 1980, we are given two clear pastoral principles with regard to infant Baptism:

  1. "Baptism, which is necessary for salvation, is the sign and the means of God's prevenient (guiding) love, which frees us from original sin and communicates to us a share in the divine life. Considered in itself, the gift of these blessings to infants must not be delayed.
  2. "Assurances must be given that the gift can grow by authentic education in the faith and Christian life, in order to fulfill the true meaning of the Sacrament. As a rule, these assurances are to be given by the parents or close relatives, although various substitutions are possible within the Christian community. But if these assurances are not really serious there can be ground for delaying the Sacrament; and if they are certainly nonexistent the Sacrament should even be refused."

13. Why Is It That Sometimes People Are Re-Baptized?

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In cases where people are mistakenly thought "rebaptized" what takes place is really either an "absolute baptism" or a "conditional baptism". What is non-existent is the so-called "born-again baptism."

Absolute Baptism:

In emergency baptism, usually administered by lay persons without experience, the person baptizing sometimes gets nervous or excited. He could make a mistake in the Form (reciting the formula incorrectly or omitting essential words) or in the Matter he uses (for example, using alcohol or medicine). In this case there is no Baptism and the infant must later be given Baptism in the absolute form.

When non-Catholics are converted into the Catholic Church and their sect has no baptism or uses an invalid form, the converts must be given Baptism absolutely.

Conditional Baptism:

If there is doubt that the proper Form and Matter for valid Baptism has used, the Subject is baptized conditionally with the words: "If you are not yet baptized. . .'' (followed by the baptismal formula). When the previous baptism is doubtful, converts are given conditional baptism.

Infants born apparently dead are baptized conditionally with the words: "If you are alive. . ." (followed by the form). The same is done with adults who are baptized when they are already in a coma or apparently dead. These, of course, must have expressed their desire for Baptism before losing consciousness.

Other conditional forms used for various circumstances are: "If you are a human being. . ." or "If you are capable of being baptized. . ."

14. Who Is The Ordinary Minister Of Baptism?

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The ordinary minister of Baptism is the bishop, the priest, and the deacon. In case of necessity, as in imminent danger of death, and no priest or deacon is available, anyone with the right intention may and should administer Baptism.

Solemn Baptism:

Baptism which is administered by a priest and with all the ceremonies in the Rite of Baptism is what we call Solemn Baptism. In emergencies or urgent necessity, a priest may administer "private Baptism" without the ceremonies.

Lay Baptism:

The Sacrament of Baptism, when administered by a lay person - whether man, woman, boy or girl - is called lay Baptism. When properly given, lay Baptism is as valid as that given by a priest. In these cases, as far as possible, one or two witnesses should be present to attest to the validity of the rite. If the subject of a lay Baptism survives, he should be taken to the church to have the omitted ceremonies supplied.

Any person with the use of reason can and should baptize in case of necessity, whether he be Catholic or pagan, Mohammedan, Jew, Aglipayan, Protestant or any other non-Catholic, whether baptized or unbaptized. So long as he has the intention of doing what the Church does, any person can baptize in cases of emergency. He must of course pronounce the words of Baptism: "I baptize you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," and at the same time pours water on the subject.

You might want to ask now, how can one who does not believe in the Christian religion and is himself not baptized, validly administer the Sacrament of Baptism? Because of the absolute necessity of this Sacrament, the Church requires only the minimum interior disposition on the person who has to perform a lay Baptism: the intention to do what the Church does.

Parents should not baptize their own child unless there is no one else present who knows how to do it. No one may baptize himself. Lay Baptism is forbidden except in cases of necessity.

Doctors, nurses, and others assisting at the birth of an infant are the ones who are most often called upon to save the eternal life of an innocent human being. Knowing the necessity of Baptism for all, including infants, a person present at a delivery.should be ready at any time to play the part of a good Samaritan, and if necessary, baptize the child, or the fetus in premature births.

The Essentials Of Lay Baptism

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Pour water on the head of the person being baptized, if possible in sufficient quantity to flow, and while pouring, pronounce distinctly and exactly the words:

"(N), I Baptize You In The Name The Father, And Of The Son, And Of The Holy Spirit.

Part Two:
Some Pastoral Considerations
Questions 15 To 21

Baptism Picture

15. What Important Points Should Be Kept In Mind Regarding The Baptlsm Of Infants And Fetuses ?

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With regard to the baptism of infants and fetuses, the following should be kept in mind:

Ordinarily, an infant should not be baptized until fully delivered. If it is weak and sick, but will probably live till a priest can be summoned, then the priest should be called to baptize it. If it is probable that the infant may die before the arrival of the priest, it should be baptized by someone present, in the absolute form.

If in the process of delivery it is feared that before it can be fully delivered the child will die, then it should be baptized at once. If the head emerges first, water is poured on it and the absolute form is pronounced.

If any other part emerges first, water is poured on it, and the conditional form is used: "If you are capable of being baptized, I baptize you.... etc." This is because one is not sure if the child is dead or alive.

From the first moment of conception the human fetus is animated by a rational soul. Therefore, in cases of premature birth or miscarriage, the fetus, however small, even if only a few weeks old, must be baptized as long as there is a chance that it has life. If it shows certain signs of life, it must be baptized conditionally: "If you are alive, I baptize you. . .etc."

Many newly-born infants and fetuses show no signs of life for some hours after delivery, but are really alive. This is why unless putrefaction has set in, such infants and fetuses should be baptized conditionally: "If you are alive. . .etc."

In cases where the fetus is expelled still enveloped in the membranes, the sac should be opened, and water poured over the fetus, or the fetus immersed in water, and the conditional form is given: "If you are alive. . .etc."

If the mother dies while the child is still undelivered, it should be withdrawn without delay. Many instances have proven that an undelivered infant may be alive some time after the mother's death. After withdrawal, the infant or fetus should be baptized absolutely or conditionally, according to whether it shows signs of life or not.

Let us insist on this point: we should not miss any chance to send a human soul directly to heaven through these emergency Baptisms. If one cannot take an oath that the infant or fetus is absolutely dead; or that it is absolutely not a human being, then it must be baptized.

In case of doubt, always decide in favor of the human being, for the Sacraments were instituted for man. Reverence for the Sacrament is guarded, in case the subject is dead or not human, by giving the rite conditionally.

If possible, when you baptize, have one or two witnesses who can testify to the manner in which you have conferred Baptism. Under trying circumstances, even the most experienced person makes mistakes. The witnesses would be an assurance as to:

  1. whether the person who baptized knew how to do it;
  2. whether natural water or any other kind was used;
  3. whether the water was poured on the head or on any part of the body;
  4. whether a sufficient quantity of water was used, so that it flowed;
  5. whether the water touched the skin;
  6. whether the entire form of words was correctly pronounced in an audible tone;
  7. whether the form was pronounced at the same time that the water was poured; and
  8. whether form and matter were applied by the same person.

16. What Does The Child To Be Baptized Promise Through His Parents And Godparents?

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Through his parents and godparents, the child to be baptized promises to strive after holiness by renouncing sin and the devil, and by living the faith according to the teachings of Christ and his Church. Parents and godparents profess the Faith and renounce sin and the devil with all his works and empty promises in behalf of those children

The godparents or sponsors at Baptism take the oath of Faith and make the promises for the child. These baptismal vows or promises are renewed by the child himself at the proper age, usually before his first Holy Communion and again at Confirmation.

Among these promises is included that of renouncing sin and the devil, with all his works and empty promises. By the works and empty promises of the devil we mean the sins, perverse teachings and vanities of this world.

The godparents assume the duty of teaching the child the truths of Faith when his parents are, for any reason, unable to do so. It should be remembered that godparents or sponsors are not, as so many cases they appear to be, mere "convenient friends"; "compadres" or "comadres" of the parents who are useful in politics and other worldly purposes.

Godparents are spiritual guides, spiritual parents. In default of natural parents, they are bound to see that their godchildren are brought up correctly, make their First Confession and First Holy Communion at the proper age, receive Confirmation and receive a good Christian education.

St. Augustine called baptismal sponsors "sureties, guarantors, and teachers," and warned them of their solemn obligation not only to admonish their godchildren, but also to give them good example by a Christian life.

We can summarize as follows, the commitments which godparents of baptized infants acquire: Godparents of baptized infants should be ready to help parents bring up their children to profess the Faith and show this by living it and to instruct their godchildren in their religious duties.

17. Who Should Be Chosen As Godparents For Baptism?

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As much as possible, only Catholics who have received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Penance and Holy Eucharist, and who are mature enough to undertake this responsibility should be chosen as godparents for Baptism. They should also know their faith and live up to the duties of their religion.

The following, therefore, may not act as godparents:

  1. non-Catholics or Catholics who have apostatized (abandoned the Catholic religion);
  2. criminals, or persons with evil reputation in the community;
  3. the parents of the infant or, in the case of adults, the wife, husband or children of the person to be baptized;

The question is sometimes asked why the Church forbids non-Catholics from acting as godparents of Catholic children. The answer is easily deduced from. the duties of godparents: if such godparents have the obligation of raising the godchild a Catholic, should there be a default of the natural parents, how can they do so unless they themselves are Catholics?

For the same reason, bad Catholics, persons of ill-repute, Masons, or persons known to be excommunicated, etc., are all forbidden to be sponsors of Baptism.

Finally, we must also mention here that Catholics cannot act as sponsors or godparents in baptism of non-Catholic sects or other churches.

The new Code of Canon Law lays down some guidelines regarding duties of godparents or sponsors. Canon 872 states that the role of the godparent is as follows:

  1. In an adult Baptism, to support him or her during the rite of Christian initiation;
  2. In the case of infant Baptism, to present along with the parents, the infant candidate.

The godparent must see to it that the godchild lives a Christian life congruous with Baptism, and faithfully fulfill the obligations intimately connected with it.

Canon 873 specifies that one godparent is sufficient: either a man or a woman or both. The usual practice is to have two; one godfather and one godmother.

Canon 874 lists down five qualifications of a godparent:

  1. The godparent must be designated by the one about to be baptized (in adult Baptism), or by the subject's parents (in infant Baptism), or by those who are taking the place of the parents. If none of these is able to make the designation, the godparent might be named by the priest. The sponsor should also have the suitability (aptitudinem) and intent to carry out his or her office as godparent.
  2. The godparent must have completed the 16th year of age, unless another age has been decreed by the diocesan bishop.
  3. The godparent should be a Catholic who has been confirmed. He or she should be living a life of faith in keeping with the office of sponsor or godparent.
  4. The godparent must not be bound by any canonical penalty (for example, excommunication), either legitimately imposed or declared.
  5. The godparent must not be the father or mother of the candidate.

In Paragraph 2 of the same Canon 874 we are given a norm about non-Catholics who are asked to witness to Baptisms performed in the Catholic Church. A baptized person who is a member of a non-Catholic community, is not to be admitted except with a Catholic godparent, and then only as a witness of the Baptism. This is mentioned in the Rite of Baptism for Children and is referred to as a "Christian witness."

18. Why Is The Child Given The Name Of A Saint At Baptism?

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The child is given the name of a saint at Baptism because it symbolizes newness of life in Christ and incorporation into the Christian community. The saint whose name is taken at Baptism becomes a heavenly patron vho exercises special lifelong care over the baptized person.

Canon 853 of the new Code reminds parents and godparents that the name of the new Christian should not be alien to a Christian sense (ne imponatur nomen a sensu cristiano alieno). Pastors are advised to be vigilant on this matter.

Definitely we should avoid names of notorious men and women or strange names from movies, comics, etc. Thus, we should not choose names like "Lenin," "Marx" or "E.T.," etc.

19. Where Should Baptism Take Place?

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Baptism should take place in the parish church, and ordinarily at the baptismal font.

The same Canon 857 also states that, as a rule, an adult is baptized in his own parish, and an infant in the parish of his parents, unless a just cause recommends otherwise.

Canon 860 adds that outside of a case of necessity, Baptism is not to be conferred in private homes (unless permitted by the Ordinary for a grave reason). In hospitals, unless the Diocesan Bishop decrees otherwise, Baptism is not celebrated except in cases of necessity or for urgent pastoral reasons.

Canon 862 further stipulates that outside of a case of necessity, no one is allowed to confer Baptism without due permission. An example would be a priest who is in an area in which he lacks jurisdiction. This means that he is outside the territory of his parish. This frequently happens in parish organized pilgrimages to well-known shrines. If one of the parishioners in the group delivers a baby during the tour or pilgrimage, the parish priest cannot just baptize the baby of his own subject (a parishioner of his in their homeland). He must first ask the necessary permission of the Pastor of the place where they are, unless of course there is a case of emergency. This is to assure a minimum of order in the conferral and recording of Baptism.

The Certificate of Baptism is ordinarily issued by the parish church where the subject was baptized. This important document should be kept very carefully. It will later on be necessary for the Confirmation,of the child. He might also need it later on for his marriage, entrance into religious life, or call to the priesthood.

Parents should tell their child where and when he was baptized, so that even should the certificate be lost and the parents die, the baptized may know where to look for the registration.

Baptism Picture

20. What Persons Should Be Baptized According To The Rite Prescribed For Adults?

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"Adult Baptism" is given to persons who are not yet baptized, and:

a. have reached the age of which they can sufficiently understand the significance and necessity of Baptism;
b. have received sufficient instruction in the fundamentals of the Catholic religion, and understand the commandments of (;od and of the Church; and
c. have the desire to receive the Sacraments, and are willing to comply with the duties inherent in the profession of the Catholic Faith.

Concerning Adult Baptism the new Code of Canon Law provides several dispositions of which we will point out some of the more relevant canons:

Definition of "Adult":

With reference to Baptism, adults are all who, having passed infancy, possess the use of reason. Where Baptism is concerned, a person who is mentally ddeficient is to be viewed as an infant.

Dispositions Required:

For an adult to be baptized, he must manifest a willingness to receive Baptism, be adequately instructed about Christian truths and obligations, and be tried and proved in the Christian life through a catechumenate. The candidate should also be admonished to be contrite for his sins.

Order of Initiation:

An adult seeking Baptism is admitted to the catechumenate, and insofar as it is possible, led through the various stages toward sacramental initiation. This is done according to the order of initiation adopted by the Bishops' Conference and according to the special norms issued by it.

Confirmation and Full Participation at Holy Mass

Unless a grave reason impedes it, the newly baptized is immediately confirmed after his Baptism, and participates in the celebration of the Holy Mass including the reception of Ho1y Communion. (CIC: 866)

ln Danger of Death (In Articulo Mortis):

An adult who is in danger of death may be baptized if he, having a knowledgee of thc principal truths of our Faith, in some manner manifests his intention to receive Baptism, and promises to keep the mandates of the Christian Faith and the Catholic religion. (CIC: 865)

21. When And How Are Converts Baptized?

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Converts are "baptized absolutely" after a careful inquiry reveals that they have never been validly baptized. If the inquiry reveals some doubt as to the validity of a former Baptism, converts are "baptized conditionally"

Before going into specifics of the when and how converts are received or baptized in the Catholic Church, let us make a distinction:

  1. Christians who separated themselves from Rome historically through schism (e.g. Greek Orthodox) or heresy (e.g. Lutherans). Separated brethren have valid Baptisms. This means that they are authentic Christians even if they do not have 100% of the depositum fidei (the content of Revelation).
  2. Later, especially in our century, there have been many sects and so-called Christian churches, whose members claim that they are also followers of Christ. However, they have altered the original message of Christ substantially, so that in fact most of them are just Christians in name. The most common error of these sects is the denial of the divinity of Christ. Some well-known examples are Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and members of the INK (Iglesia ni Kristo). All these and similar sects administer some type of baptism which is not valid. Strictly speaking they are not real Christians.

This is also a good occasion to remind ourselves of the meaning of the dogmatic formula "Extra Ecclesi nulla salus" ("Outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation"). This means that those who through their own grave fault do not know that the Catholic Church is the true Church, or knowing it, refuse to join it, cannot be saved.

A man who knows the Catholic Church to be the true one, but leaves it or refuses to join it because he wants to make a good marriage, or to advance in business, or for some other worldly motive, will not be saved. The reason is because he is a willful and malicious unbeliever.

If one leaves the Church or does not enter it because of human respect, or because its doctrines require personal sacrifice, he will also not be saved.

One who belongs to another church and has doubts about the truth or falsity of his own church, but takes no pains to find out the truth, will not be saved either.

On the other hand, those who remain outside the Catholic Church through no grave fault of their own, and do not know that it is the true Church, can be saved by making use of the graces which God gives them. God condemns no man except for grave sin. Therefore He will not condemn those who through no fault of their own are unaware of His command to belong to the true Church. They are of course required to serve God faithfully according to their conscience, have a sincere desire to do His will in all things, and therefore implicitly wish to become members of the Church, in desire. We might say that although they do not visibly belong to the Mystical Body of Christ (the Church), they belong to the Soul of that Mystical Body.

Converts who have to make a Formal Abjuration and Solemn Profession of the Catholic Faith:

Validly baptized converts are required to make a Formal Abjuration of their past errors and a Solemn Profession of the Catholic Faith. If believed advisable, the ceremonies of the Catholic Baptism (without the Sacramental Ablution or Baptism proper) may be supplied.

To make the Abjuration, the convert kneels before the priest in front of the altar, and placing his right hand upon the Book of the Gospels (New Testament, complete Bible, or Lectionary) held by the priest, he solemnly reads his Abjuration. If he cannot read, the priest reads the abjuration for him, while he repeats the words after the priest.

Converts who have to receive Conditional Baptism:

After having received instruction in the doctrines, practices, and laws of the Catholic Church, the convert is taken to church to make his Formal Abjuration and Solemn Profession of the Catholic Faith.

Then, conditional Baptism is administered privately to the convert with the rite of adults. In the new Code, Canon 869 lays down the law applied to different circumstances:

If there is doubt as to whether the convert has been baptized, or whether the previous baptism has been validly conferred, and if doubt remains after serious investigation, Baptism is to be conferred conditionally.

As regards reception of non-Roman Catholic Christians into full communion with the Catholic Church, the following norm is observed: those who have already been baptized in a non-Catholic ecclesial community are not to be baptized conditionally unless after examination of:

  1. Matter and Form,
  2. Manner of conferral,
  3. Intention and faith of Minister, and
  4. Intention and faith of Subject (if adult),

there are still present serious reasons for doubting the validity of the previous baptism.

In the cases cited above, if there is doubt either of the fact or of the validity of the previous baptism, conditional Baptism is administered with the following requirements:

  1. If the candidate is an adult, the doctrine of the Sacrament is explained to him:
  2. If the candidate is an infant, the reasons for doubt about the validity of the previous baptism are explained to the parents.

Finally, after conditional Baptism, the convert makes a Sacramental Confession of all his sins, and receives Conditional Absolution.

If his former Baptism was valid, his conditional Baptism was of no effect, and the Absolution (of the Sacrament of Penance) is effective. If his former Baptism was invalid, his Conditional Baptism washed his soul from all stain of sin, and the Absolution was unnecessary, but reverence for the Sacraments was guarded by making them conditional.

Converts who are Baptized Absolutely:

In the case of converts who have never been baptized, or whose previous baptisms are proved surely invalid, the convert is Baptized Absolutely, without any Abjuration or Confession, since this Baptism, received in the spirit of faith and repentance, remits all previous sins.

Converts from non-Catholic Christian churches in the Philippines:

In our country, because of widespread religious ignorance and the proliferation of many pseudo-christian sects and religious groups, the common practice among parish priests is to baptize conditionally.

With respect to the more established Christian churches, conditional Baptism should be administered whenever there is doubt concerning:

  1. Matter and Form;
  2. The Minister's faith and intention, and
  3. The application of the Matter.

The following churches are usually considered to administer a valid Baptism in the Philippines:

  • Lutheran Church in the Philippines (LCP)
  • Philippine Episcopal Church (PEC)
  • United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP)
  • Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas (IEMELIF)
  • United Methodist Church in the Philippines (UMCP)
  • Convention of the Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC)
  • Presbyterian Church
  • Seventh Day Adventist Church

The Baptism administered by these churches is to be considered valid. The official baptismal certificate should be enough proof of its validity. If the candidate cannot obtain this, a conditional Baptism might be the safest procedure. Let us remember the important rule:

If A Positive Doubt Exists As To The "Fact" Or "Validity" Of Baptism, This Should Be Repeated Conditionally As This Is A Sacrament Necessary For Salvation.

As for other churches or religious groups in the Philippines, each case is to be examined individually (e.g., Aglipayans). Needless to say, the Iglesia ni Kristo (INK), Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) do not have valid Baptisms since they do not even believe in the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Part Three:
Baptism For One Child

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Reception Of The Child

If possible, baptism should take place on Sunday, the day on which the Church celebrates the paschal mystery. It should be conferred in a communal celebration in the presence of the faithful or at least of relatives, friends, and neighbors, who are all to take an active part in the rite.

It is the role of the father and mother, accompanied by the godparents to present the child to the Church

The people may sing a psalm or hymn suitable for the occasion. Meanwhile the celebrating priest or deacon vested in alb or surplice, with a stole, (with or without a cope) of festive color, and accompanied by the ministers, goes to the entrance of the church or to that part of the church where the parents and godparents are waiting with the child.

The celebrant greets all present, and especially the parents and godparents reminding them briefly of the joy with which the parents welcomed this child as a gift from God, the source of life, who now wishes to bestow his own life on this little one.

First the celebrant questions the parents:

Celebrant: What name do you give your child? (or:what have you given?)

Parents: N.

Celebrant: What do you ask of God's Church for N?

Parents: Baptism.

The celebrant speaks to the parents in these or similar words:

You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him (her) in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God's commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?

Parents: We do.

Then the celebrant turns to the godparents and addresses them in these or similiar words.

Are you ready to help the parents of this child in their duty as Christian parents?

Godparents: We are.

The celebrant continues :

N., the Christian community welcomes you with great joy. In its name I claim you for Christ our Savior by the sign of his cross. I now trace the cross on your forehead, and invite your parents (and godparents) to do the same.

He signs the child on the forehead, in silence. Then he invites the parents and (if it seems appropriate) the godparents to do the same.

The celebrant invites the parents, godparents, and the others to take part in the liturgy of the word. If circumstances permit, there is a procession to the place where this will be celebrated, during which a song is sung, e.g., Psalm 84:7, 8, 9ab.

Celebration Of God's Word

Scriptural Readings and Homily

One or even two of the following gospel passages are read, during which all may sit if convenient.

John 3:16 The meeting with Nicodemus.
Matthew 28:1&20 The Apostles are sent to preach the gospel and to baptize.
Mark 1:9-11 The baptism of Jesus.
Mark 10:13-16 Let the little children come to me.

After the reading, the celebrant gives a short homily, explaining to those present the significance of what has been read. His purpose will be to lead them to a deeper understanding of the mystery of Baptism and to encourage the parents and godparents to a ready acceptance of the responsibilities which arise from the sacrament.

After the homily, or in the course of or after the litany, it is desirable to have a period of silence while all pray at the invitation of the celebrant. If convenient, a suitable song follows.

Intercessions (Prayer of the Faithful)

Then the prayer of the faithful is said:

Celebrant: My dear brothers and sisters, let us ask our Lord Jesus Christ to look lovingly on this child who is to baptized, on his (her) parents and godparents, and on all the baptized.

Leader: By the mystery of your death and resurrection, bathe this child in light, give him (her) the new life of Baptism and welcome him (her) into your holy Church.

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader: Through Baptism and Confirmation, make him (her) your faithful follower and a witness to your gospel.

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader: Lead him (her) by a holy life to the joys of God's kingdom.

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader: Keep his (her) family always in your love.

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader: Renew the grace of our Baptism in each one of us.

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

The celebrant next invites all present to invoke the saints.

Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us
Saint John the Baptist pray for us
Saint Joseph pray for us
Saint Peter and Saint Paul pray for us

The names of other saints may be added especially the patrons of the child to be baptized, and of the church or locality. The litany concludes:

All you saints of God pray for us

After the invocation, the celebrant says: Almighty and ever-living God, you sent your only Son into the world to cast out the power of Satan, Spirit of evil, to rescue man from the kingdom of darkness, and bring him into the splendor of your

kingdom of light We pray for this child: set him (her) free from original sin, make him (her) a temple of your glory, and send your Holy Spirit to dwell with him (her). (We ask this) through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

The celebrant continues:

We anoint you with the oil of salvation in the name of Christ our Savior; may he strengthen you with his power, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

All: Amen.

He anoints the child on the breast with the oil of catechumens

If for serious reasons, the conference of bishops so decides, the anointing before Baptism may be omitted. In that case the celebrant says:

May you have strength in the power of Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

All: Amen.

And immediately he lays his hand on the child in silence.

Then they go to the baptistry, or to the sanctuary when baptism is celebrated there on occasion.

Celebration Of The Sacrament

When they come to the font, the celebrant briefly reminds the congregation of the wonderful work of God whose plan it is to sanctify man, body and soul, through water. He may use these or similar words:

My dear brothers and sisters, we now ask God to give this child new life in abundance through water and the Holy Spirit.

Blessing and Invocation of God over Baptismal Water

Then, turning to the font, he says the following blessing:

Father, you give us grace through sacramental signs, which tells us the wonders of your unseen power.

In Baptism we use your gift of water, which you have made a rich symbol of the grace you give us in this sacrament.

At the very dawn of creation your Spirit breathed on the waters, making them the wellspring of all holiness.

The waters of the great flood you made a sign of the waters of Baptism, that make an end of sin and a new beginning of goodness.

Through the waters of the Red Sea you led Israel out of slavery, to be an image of God's holy people, set free from sin by Baptism.

In the waters of the Jordan your Son was baptized by John and anointed with the Spirit.

Your Son willed that water and blood should flow from his side as he hung upon the cross.

After his resurrection he told his disciples: "Go out and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Father, look now with love upon your Church, and unseal for her the fountain of Baptism.

By the power of the Spirit give to the water of this font the grace of your Son.

You created man in your own likeness: cleanse him from sin in a new birth to innocence by water and the Spirit.

The celebrant touches the water with his right hand and continues:

We ask you, Father, with your Son to send the Holy Spirit upon the water of this font. May all who are buried with Christ in the death of Baptism rise also with him to newness of life. (We ask this) through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Renunciation of Sin and Profession of Faith

The celebrant speaks to the parents and godparents in these words:

Dear parents and godparents: you have come here to present this child for Baptism. 8y water and the Holy Spirit he (she) is to receive the gift of new life from God, who is love.

On your part, you must make it your constant care to bring him (her) up in the practice of the faith. See that the divine life which God gives him (her) is kept safe from the poison of sin, to grow always stronger in his (her) heart.

If your faith makes you ready to accept this responsibility, renew now the vows of your own Baptism. Reject sin; profess your faith in Christ Jesus. This is the faith of the Church. This is the faith in which this child is about to be baptized.

The celebrant questions the parents and godparents.

Celebrant: Do you reject Satan?
Parents and godparents: I do.
Celebrant: And all his works?
Parents and godparents: I do.
Celebrant: And all his empty promises ?
Parents and godparents: I do.

Next the celebrant asks for the threefold profession of faith from the parents and godparents:

Celebrant: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?

Parents and godparents: I do.

Celebrant: Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

Parents and godparents: I do.

The celebrant and the congregation give their assent to this profession of faith:

Celebrant: This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

All: Amen.


The celebrant invites the family to the font and questions the parents and godparents:

Celebrant: It is your will that N. should be baptized in the faith of the Church, which we have all professed with you?

Parents and godparents: It is.

He baptizes the child, saying:

N.,L Baptize You In The Name Of The Father,

He immerses the child or pours water upon it.

And Of The Son,

He immerses the child or pours water upon it a second time.

And Of The Holy Spirit.

He immerses the child or pours water upon it a third time.

After the child is baptized, it is appropriate for the people to sing a short acclamation.

Anointing With Chrism

Then the celebrant says:

God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into his holy people. He now anoints you with the chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.

All: Amen.

Then the celebrant anoints the child on the crown of the head with the sacred chrism, in silence.

Clothing with White Garment

The celebrant says:

N., you have become a new creation, and have clothed yourself in Christ. See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example, bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven.

All: Amen.

The white garment is put on the child. A different color is not permitted unless demanded by local custom. It is desirable that the family provide the garment.

Lighted Candle

The celebrant takes a lighted candle and says:

Receive the light of Christ.

The celebrant then says:

Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He (she) is to walk always as a child of the light. May he (she) keep the flame of faith alive in his (her) heart. When the Lord comes, may he (she) go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.

Ephphetha or Prayer over Ears and Mouth

If the conference of bishops decides to preserve the practice, the rite of ephphetha follows. The celebrant touches the ears and mouth of the child with his thumb, saying:

The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May he soon touch your ears to receive his word, and your mouth to proclaim his faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father.

All: Amen.

Conclusion Of The Rite

Next there is a procession to the altar, unless the baptism was performed in the sanctuary. The lighted candle is carried for the child.

A baptismal song is appropriate at this time, e.g.:

You have put on Christ, in him you have been baptized. Alleluia, alleluia.

Lord's Prayer

The celebrant stands in front of the altar and addresses the parents, godparents, and the whole assembly in these similar words: Dearly beloved, this child has been reborn in baptism. He (she) is now called the child of God, for so indeed he (she) is. In Confirmation he (she) will receive the fullness of God's Spirit. In Holy Communion he (she) will share the banquet of Christ's sacrifice, calling God his (her) Father in the midst of the Church. In the name of this child, in the Spirit of our common sonship, let us pray together in the words our Lord has given us: All present join the celebrant in singing or saying: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who

trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

The celebrant first blesses the mother, who holds the child in her arms, then the father, and lastly the entire assembly:

Celebrant: God the Father, through his Son, the Virgin Mary's child, has brought joy to all Christian mothers, as they see the hope of eternal life shine on their children. May he bless the mother of this child. She now thanks God for the gift of her child. May she be one with him (her) in thanking him for ever in heaven, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

All: Amen.

Celebrant: God is the giver of all life, human and divine. May he bless the father of this child. He and his wife will be the first teachers of their child in the ways of faith. May they also the best of teachers, bearing witness to the faith by what they say and do, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

All: Amen.

Celebrant: By God's gift, through water and the Holy Spirit, we are reborn to everlasting life. In his goodness, may he continue to pour out his blessings upon these sons and daughters of his. May he make them always, wherever they may be, faithful members of his holy people. May he send his peace upon all who are gathered here, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

All: Amen.

After the blessing, all may sing a hymn which suitably expresses thanksgiving and Easter joy, or they may sing the song of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Magnificat.

Where there is the practice of bringing the baptized child to the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary, this custom is observed if appropriate.

List Of Abbreviations

C.C. -Charles Connolly, How To Be "Born Again," Sinag-Tala, Manila 1977.

Cic -Codex Iuris Canonici (New Code Of Canon Law 1983) Latin-English Ed., Canon Law Society Of America, Washington, D.C., 1983.

Iib -Instruction On Infant Baptism Issued By The Sacred Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith (Scdf), Rome, 20 October 1980.

Lg -Vatican I I, Lumen Gentium.

Scdf -Sacred Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith.

Qa -Question And Answer Catechism, Ed. By Fr. Marciano M. Guzman And Fr. Mario M. Castillo, Sinag-Tala, Manila 1983.


To all who have helped, in one way or another, in the preparation and promotion of this book, especially: Alex and Nora Mabasa, Van and Lolette Mabasa, Clement, Aning, and Paul Timothy Mabasa, Steve and Helen Gan, D.V. Savellano and Marissa Heredia, Susan M. Dizon, Rosario Ching, Josephine Lily Qua, Joy Dy Buncio, Stephen Onglao, Anthony C. Aguirre, Trixie Guerrero, Kukay Arespacochaga, and Maria Theresa Bawiga.

This work incorporates a number of ideas and in some cases the actual wording of a work (which has long been out of print) by Rev. Fr. Louis LaRavoire Morrow, now Bishop of Krishnagar. The title of the book is "My Baptism," published by the Catholic Truth Society (Manila) in the year 1939. To avoid undue use of quotation marks, these sections have simply been included as part of the text of this present work. All basic definitions are taken from QA ("Question and Answer Catechism" by Guzman and Castillo) and normally appear in bold face type.

All images used are from the Ecole Initiative - an incredible library of images.

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