The Baptism of an Adult or Baby in the Catholic
After Christ was raised from the dead, more and more
people wanted to be his followers. They wanted to become
part of his Church. The Church was (1) the baptised
people (2) who believed in Jesus, and (3) who came together
to celebrate the Eucharist each Sunday. This has been
the case from the beginning. No one would think of missing
the Eucharist, and consider themselves as his follower.
This is also true today. No one can change this, and
at the same time be a follower of Jesus. This is why
we take the connection between Baptism and Eucharist
so seriously. Jesus left us with no other option. If
we want to be a follower of Jesus we (1) are first baptised,
and (2) believe the Good News, (3)and then we come together
to celebrate the Eucharist on Sunday. This is the very
minimal for the Christian, but of course there is so
much more. We are to follow the will of God as enunciated
by Jesus, and found in scripture. The very definition
of a believer from the beginning was (1) a baptised
person, (2) who celebrated the Eucharist every Sunday,
and (3) who followed the will of God. No one may separate
Faith and Baptism from the celebration of the Eucharist
each Sunday. This is the will of God as preached by
Christ, and practised from the time of the Resurrection.
Church means the Assembled People of God -- the people
who assemble for the Eucharist. We are not church if
we do not assemble for the Eucharist like the early
We must ask how one became part of this church who met
every Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist? The simple
answer is Baptism. In the early church those who applied
for Baptism were adults. They had a long preparation
for Baptism as we all know. It took usually a year.
During this year they could not join the community for
Mass. They could only join the community up until the
homily. In other words they joined for the Word of God.
Then they left the community, and the Eucharist continued.
While they were present the community prayed for them
during the prayers of the Faithful. This was the community
which they had asked to join. They also had to pray,
fast, do works of mercy, and listen to God speak to
them in scripture during the week. They were helped
by a sponsor. It was only when the candidate reached
a certain depth of faith that they went on to a more
severe time of preparation. The Community decided if
the candidate was ready. If so they were received into
the Church at Easter. This time of preparation still
takes place for an adult who wants to become a Catholic
In our time it is usually babies who are baptised. But
the preparation doesn’t disappear. Now it is the
Parents who hand on the Faith to the child. We are asked
to insure that the parents hand on the faith to their
child if they want the child baptised. If they haven’t
the faith themselves, and therefore don’t go to
Mass themselves they would be unable to hand on the
Faith. One cannot give what they haven’t got.
Usually Parents wouldn’t want a child baptised
unless they celebrated the Eucharist each week. Why
would they want for their child, what they don’t
want for themselves?. The celebration of the Eucharist
each week was always the acid test of a follower of
Christ. It is still the acid test. It is always necessary
for parents who request to have their child baptised.
It hasn’t changed from the beginning. If parents
are not going to Mass the baptism should be postponed
until parents decide to change their way of living.
In other words there must be some proof that they are
celebrating the Eucharist each week; living a Christian
life; and concerned for their Parish.
This is the reason why some Parishes have Baptismal
Courses before Baptism. In fact every Parish should
have a Team for this work. This is the mind of the church
as expressed by the Vatican Council fifty years ago.
The Baptism of a child is a very big event for parents.
Parents take on an awesome responsibility when they
have their child baptised. They hand on the Faith by
their own example as well as through their words. If
they don’t pray at home the child won’t
pray. If they don’t celebrate the Eucharist the
child will not celebrate the Eucharist. In other words
if parents don’t practice, the child’s baptism
becomes meaningless, empty, and a pure joke. And all
of us have colluded in making it a joke. This is a serious
sin by any way of thinking, for we are telling God a
If we are to baptise a child the Sponsors also should
be practising Catholics. They are to represent the believing
people. They are to help the parents bring the child
up in the Faith. Obviously they cannot do this if they
don’t practice, by celebrating the Eucharist themselves.
When we talk about having a relationship with Christ
and expressing that relationship by going to Mass we
are talking about a minimum. As St James says: “Faith
without good works is totally in vain”. We are
called also (1) to live the will of God, (2) to follow
the teaching of Christ as found in Scripture. We are
to be people of the Commandments, and the Beatitudes.
We are “to be perfect as our heavenly Father is
perfect”. The standard set by Jesus is high; we
cannot decide to lower that standard without acting
as if we are God. We are not God.
Parents should read, and pray the Ceremony of Baptism
before a child is born. God is our tremendous lover
who awaits the birth of their child, and parents make
this love of God present for the child during life.
This is their privilege and this is their responsibility.
Therefore they should become convinced of their exalted
calling, and stand before God in awe, thanking him for
his goodness to them. Sometimes parents underestimate
their great vocation. They are working with God and
for God. They are involved in leading new people to
God now, and also in leading them to heaven when they
die. Is there any greater work? If you think that this
is not the greatest of work, you should not have your
child baptised for you have not allowed the excitement
of the Holy Spirit to touch you. Parents are envolved
and in tune with life at all the high points. They should
rejoice and be glad.
Some parents don’t believe in Christ, and therefore
don’t celebrate Mass on Sunday. Naturally these
parents may decide not to have their child baptised.
We should accept this fact in a society in which some
do not have faith in Jesus. We should have equal respect
for such parents. At a future date they may decide otherwise,
but if not we hold them with equal regard and respect.
Baptism is for those who believe and express their belief
through the celebration of the Eucharist, and by the
way they live. All should be honest and true to themselves.