The Sacrament of Baptism

Isaiah 49:1-7 contains the second of the four “Servant of the Lord” oracles. It contains the prophecy: “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” In the context of the Old Testament passage, these words were meant for Israel. However, could it be that like many of the Old Testament prophecies, this one was also fulfilled by Jesus Christ in the Gospels? Let us examine what Jesus said to the eleven apostles in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Salvation has indeed reached the ends of the earth through Baptism and the preaching of the Gospel by the Church – the new Israel.     

Since the day of Pentecost, the Church has administered Baptism. St. Peter said to the crowd: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

Among the 7 Sacraments of the Church, Baptism is the first one to be received. It is the door which gives access to the other sacraments. (CCC 1213)

The effects of Baptism

Baptism washes away original sin. At the same time, it is the Sacrament in which sanctifying grace is given to the soul of the baptized; sanctifying grace is the grace of justification. (CCC 1266) With sanctifying grace, a baptized person becomes an adopted son or daughter of God through Christ; that is what it means to be “born again.” (CCC 1279) A baptized person loses sanctifying grace when he commits a mortal sin. However, sanctifying grace may be restored through the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. (CCC 1446)

Baptism puts a permanent sign (spiritual mark) on a person’s soul, which means that the baptized person belongs to Christ. Baptism is given once for all and cannot be repeated in someone who has already been baptized. (CCC 1272)

Does a person need to be baptized in order to be saved?

Baptism is necessary for salvation, according to what Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.” (John 3:5) Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. (CCC 1257)

Persons who through no fault of their own have not received the Sacrament of Baptism can be saved through “baptism of blood” or “baptism of desire.” An unbaptized person receives “baptism of blood” when he is martyred for the faith. On the other hand, an unbaptized person receives “baptism of desire” if he repents of his sins and desires to be baptized even when it is not possible for him to be baptized. (CCC 1258-1259)

How are adults baptized?

Baptism of adults require the following steps: conversion, profession of faith and the rite of Baptism. For the Rite of Christian Initiation to be complete, the adult must also receive the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist. (CCC 1229)

Why are infants baptized?

All persons are born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin; hence, infants also need to be born again in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called (cf. Colossians 1:12-14). The gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism, so why would the Church and the parents deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God by not allowing children to be baptized? (CCC 1250) 

Baptism of infants and children is practiced in the Catholic Church, as well as in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Some Protestant denominations like the Anglicans and Lutherans also practice the baptism of children. A baptized child requires post-baptismal instruction in the faith. (CCC 1231)

Canon Law on the Baptism of children

Unless a child is in danger of death, the child cannot be baptized without the consent of his parents or guardians. (cf. Canon Law 867 §2, 868 §1) Children who have reached the use of reason are considered, for purposes of Christian initiation, to be adults (canon 852 §1); hence, they cannot be baptized without their own consent.

What then after Baptism?

For all the baptized, children or adults, faith and love must grow after Baptism. For the grace of Baptism to unfold in children, the parents’ guidance and instruction in the faith is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized – child or adult on the journey of Christian life. Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium). The whole ecclesial community also bears some responsibility for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at Baptism. (CCC 1254-1255)

Keep watch with Jesus on Chinese New Year’s Eve. We still need people to sign up for Eucharistic Adoration from the hours of 1:00pm to 5:00pm on January 21, 2023. The sign-up sheet is on welcome counter in the front foyer. Come and spend a holy hour with Jesus!

Eucharistic Adoration on Sunday, January 22, 2023 from 9:30am to 12:00pm has been cancelled due to preparations for the Chinese New Year celebration later that day. Instead, there will be Eucharistic Adoration on Monday, January 23, 2023 immediately after the 12:00pm Mass until 3:00pm in observance of the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children in the U.S.

Attention parents and students: the Sunday School class scheduled for January 22 has been cancelled due to the Chinese New Year celebration. Instead, there will be class on January 15. Students please proceed to the Nursery room immediately after Mass. 

There will be English class with Ms. Madison Pickney after the 10:30am Mass today in the Youth Room. 

Prayer List: Liang Chenjing, Deng Lizhen, Pan Bohao, Angela Griffin, Wang Dacheng, Long Guorui, Zhang Qiang, Li Kuiying and Xu Taicheng.