Nearly 2,000 years ago Jesus Christ was put to death on a Cross. He was raised three days later by the power of God. People ask to be Baptised (often referred to as Christened) because they believe that Jesus really is risen and alive today and because they wish to follow him by living their lives according to the Gospel and the commandments that he gave to us, most especially the commandment to love God and love our neighbour.
During the ceremony of Baptism, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the candidate becomes a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, a member of God's Church, and is welcomed into the Christian family.
A sign of the Cross is made on the candidate’s forehead before they are Baptised — and they will be anointed with the Holy Oil of Catechumens and the Holy Oil of Chrism. Anointing is a very ancient custom, first used in Old Testament times and symbolises the strength which God will give to the newly Baptised Christian to help them to live up to the promises which they will make to Him during the ceremony.
If the candidate for Baptism is a child or infant and, therefore, too young to make the promises of the Baptism ceremony by themselves, their parents and Godparents will make the promises for them and will give a solemn undertaking before God to pass on their own Christian faith to their child by teaching them to know and love God and their neighbour and by the example of their own lives.
The priest then blesses the water used in the Baptism ceremony. He pours it over the candidate’s head three times — (1) in the name of the Father; (2) in the name of the Son; (3) in the name of the Holy Spirit. Just as water washes and cleanses us, so through Baptism God washes away and forgives our sins. In the early days of the Church people were baptised as adults and usually in a river. They were submerged under the water symbolising that they had died to their old way of life and entered the Tomb with Christ. They re-emerged, symbolising that they had risen with Christ to a New Life. When a person is Baptised, they are given the same New Life which is nothing less than a share in the everlasting, divine life of Jesus Christ himself. Through Baptism, the candidate is thus Born Again to a life that will last into eternity.
A lighted candle is given to the newly Baptised person. This is lit from the Paschal (or Easter) candle which burns beside the Font throughout the ceremony. It is so-called because it was carried into the church on Holy Saturday evening, as darkness fell and the celebration of Easter and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was beginning. The people followed this one light into the darkened church; it symbolised Christ, risen from the dead, enlightening our world that had been darkened by our sins. As the baptised person now shares in Christ’s own divine, eternal life, this is symbolised by lighting their Baptism candle from the Paschal candle. This Baptism candle is given to the baptised person to keep, as a life-long reminder that they are now Christian, that they share in Christ’s own life and to remind them always to reflect the Light of Christ in their daily life.
The newly Baptised person is clothed in a white garment to symbolise the holiness of the life of Christ whose divine, everlasting life they now share in. If the person who has been Baptised is a baby or small child, their Christening shawl is blessed in the ceremony and used for this purpose.
The benefits which a person receives at Baptism need to be renewed regularly otherwise it is possible that they may not succeed in embracing the Christian faith as adults, or that they could lose that faith altogether. God renews our Faith, our Hope and our Love when we take part in the life and worship of the Christian community in church and celebrate the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist (Mass), obeying Jesus’ command to us: "Do this in remembrance of me."
If you wish to arrange a Baptism, Please ask Fr Terry or Deacon Mike for application form. When you have returned the completed form, we shall meet with you to discuss our Baptism Preparation Course and arrange for you to take part in this.