[Prophecy] Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. - Ezekiel 36:25
Baptism is the First Sacrament, without it, no other sacrament can be validly received. The Old Covenant was entered into through circumcision; the New Covenant is entered into through Baptism.
"Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of GOD...Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of WATER AND THE HOLY GHOST, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of GOD." St. John 3:3-5
By these words Our Saviour has declared the necessity of Baptism as the first step to our salvation. The Catholic Church established on St. Peter has been Baptizing in the Name of the Blessed Trinity ever since its inception 2000 years ago:
"Going therefore, teach ye all nations; Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." St. Matthew 28:19
It is through our Baptism that we are washed from Original Sin (the sin of Adam and Eve). Our Salvation depends on Baptism in the Church Christ built on St. Peter, for Baptism is the initial step to our salvation (St. John 3:3-5).
Jesus redeemed us by His Sacrifice on the Cross:
"This is He that came by Water and Blood, Jesus Christ: not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit which testifieth, that Christ is the Truth." 1 St. John 5:6
Not only did Jesus come to wash our sins away by the water of Baptism, by His own Blood, our salvation also was won by His Crucifixion. Through His death He destroyed our death and by His rising from the dead, He restored us to Life:
"Know you not that all we, who are Baptized in Christ Jesus, are Baptized in His Death. For we are buried together with Him by Baptism into death; that as Christ is Risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life." Romans 6:3-4
Therefore Baptism incorporates us with Christ, an everlasting spiritual relation. The Baptized person is then filled with divine life (adorned with Sanctifying Grace) and all his sins are forgiven.
Baptism was foreshadowed in the Old Testament:
"And I will pour upon you clean water, and you shall be cleansed from all your filthiness..." Ezechiel 36:25
The Baptism of St. John the Baptist was introductory; he paved the way for the coming of Christ by Baptizing in water; Jesus would Baptize with the Holy Spirit:
"I indeed Baptize you in water unto penance, but He that shall come after me, is mightier than I, Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; He shall Baptize you in the Holy Ghost and Fire." St. Matthew 3:11
By being Baptized by water and spirit, we become Christians, children of GOD and members of Christ's Holy Church. Baptism gives us the life of grace and spiritual birth (St. John 3:3-5). Just as our first natural birth gives us human life and makes us man, so our second birth gives us divine life of Grace and makes us GOD's children. Once Baptized, our bodies become the temples of GOD. We become One with Christ Jesus.
In emergencies when their is no priest present, lay people can baptise. When their is no emergencies, only a Priest may baptize for they have the Holy Spirit through Christ Jesus, as Baptism must be by both, water and the Holy Spirit (St. Matthew 3:11).
"He breathed on them; and he said to them: 'Receive ye the Holy Ghost'..." St. John 20:22-23
The Apostles of Jesus were the first Bishops of the Church, with St. Peter being chosen by Christ to be the visible head on Earth (St. Matthew 16:18-19).
On the Feast of Pentecost, Jesus bestowed the Holy Spirit onto His Apostles, and at that moment the Church was born. The Apostles of Christ who have the Holy Spirit, in turn bestowed the Holy Spirit onto others who wished to consecrate themselves to GOD; to become Priests of GOD.
The Pope, Bishops and Priests are the apostolic successors, so at their consecration as Priests, they received the same Gift as did the Apostles of Christ.
What if GOD Our Father called His children at an early age from say 1 day old or to 14 years old or older depending on what age they are baptized? Where do their souls go? According to the constant teaching of the Church, those who die before baptism will never see the Kingdom of GOD . In order to understand this we will first consider we must first of keep some things in mind, like what about for example the repentant Thief Dismas, on the right hand side of Christ, who asked Jesus to remember him.
"And Jesus said to him: 'Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise'." St. Luke 23:43
The repentant Thief was saved by Baptism of Desire, so not all who die without being Baptized by water under the Catholic Church are condemned. This is another example of GOD' s Mercy.
Nowhere in the Holy Bible does it say you must reach a certain age of maturity to be Baptized, the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus Baptized families, young and old:
"Peter said to them;...'be Baptized everyone of you in the Name of Jesus Christ...and you shall receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost...For the promise is to you, AND TO YOUR CHILDREN and to all'..." The Acts 2:38-39
In summary, as the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus at His Baptism, so too at our baptism the Holy Spirit descended on us and our bodies became the temples of the Holy Spirit, the temples of GOD. We became Christians, children of GOD, members of His Holy Church, and HEIRS of Heaven. Jesus said, (St. John 3:5): "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of GOD."
This is the first of the Seven Sacraments Jesus Himself established (St. John 14:6), and were implemented by His Apostles and Disciples. Baptism is the initial step which all Christians must fulfill to become Catholics.
- CATHOLIC APOLOGETICS -