What are the seven sacraments and what is required for a Catholic to receive them? Over the coming weeks, the Sun will present features on each of the sacraments celebrated in the Catholic faith: baptism, Eucharist, reconciliation, confirmation, anointing of the sick, matrimony and Holy Orders. This week, we begin with baptism.

To learn about baptism, students in Debbie Boronczyk’s kindergarten class at St. Mary’s Academy in Baldwinsville participated in a classroom mock baptism of a doll, Jane Elizabeth, with the help of Father Joseph Scardella. After learning about the sacrament, the students eagerly shared what they learned with the Sun.

What is baptism?
“When you’re little you get baptized and Jesus and God go in you.”
— Nora, 5 ½

Baptism, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Guide to Catholic Baptism, is considered the first of the seven sacraments. The word “baptism” comes from the Greek “baptizein” which means to plunge, or immerse in water. According to the Vatican’s website, the Sacrament of Baptism is also called the “washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit, for it signifies a birth of water and spirit which without, no one can enter the kingdom of God.”

Why are Catholics baptized?
“Because a snake hid in a tree in the garden and tricked Adam and Eve. They ate from lots of trees but then they ate from a tree they weren’t supposed to because of the snake and that was a sin. So then there were forces of good and evil and now the priest puts holy water on the baby to wash out the sin from the snake.” — Joshua, 6 ½

The purpose of baptism is to forgive and remove sin from an individual, which includes original sin passed down through Adam and Eve, mortal sin and venial sin. Through baptism the recipient is given new life in Jesus Christ, freed from sin, given grace through God and welcomed into the Church as part of the Body of Christ. The action of baptism leaves an imprint, or what is known as an indelible character, on a person’s soul that will last forever.

Once baptized, a person can receive the other six sacraments and, in accordance with the Vatican, “be nourished with the Word of God and to be sustained by the other spiritual helps of the Church.”

Why do we want to be part of God?
“Because God is a nice person.”
— Bailey, 5

“Because He’s nice and kind and part of the Holy Spirit.” — Abigail, 6

“Because God is special.”
— Christiano, 6

Was Jesus baptized?
Yes. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Although Jesus himself was without sin, he was baptized so that sinners would understand that they could repent and walk with God. When John baptized Jesus, he also declared to the people that Jesus was the Messiah, “the one they had waited for” (Matthew 3:11).

How are Catholics baptized?
“A priest puts water on a baby’s head and then they are part of God and can be good and learn all about God and Jesus.”             — Aidan, 6

According to the USCCB’s Guide to Catholic Baptism,  “The form of a sacrament is the words that are said when performing or receiving the sacrament. In the case of baptism this form would be, ‘I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’ The matter of a sacrament is the physical signs that are present or used, such as water and oil in the case of baptism.”

When someone is baptized in the Church, those present profess their faith and reject Satan. A priest or deacon administers the Sacrament of Baptism, anointing the crown of the person being baptized with sacred chrism (holy oil with perfume) and pouring blessed water over his or her head three times to represent the Holy Trinity. The priest or deacon makes the sign of the cross to indicate the person being baptized belongs to Christ and has entered into a life of faith. Before the baptism is concluded, the priest or deacon places a white garment over the person being baptized to signify the purity of Jesus Christ. A candle is lit to signify that the person baptized now has the light of Christ within his or her soul.

Is the water used during baptism  special?
“Yes. God puts a spell on it.”
—Olivia, 5
“Yes. The priest says a prayer to the water and it gets holy.” — Brady, 6

The water used in baptism is water that is blessed so that those who are baptized “may be born of water and the Spirit.”

What is the role of a godparent?
“The godparents help by holding the baby during the baptism and feeding it.”
—Christiano, 6

Although godparents have no legal or custodial rights over the person being baptized, they are usually chosen for being good role models of faith. As witnesses of the Catholic faith, godparents stand up for the child or baptismal candidate during baptism, and later help with faith instruction and spiritual development.

The next sacrament we will explore will be the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Sun thanks the faculty, staff and students at St. Mary’s Academy for all their help and information.

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