Goffine’s Devout Instructions – Baptism

detail from 'Baptism of Christ', by Henryk Siemiradzki, 1876, Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg, RussiaBaptism is a sacrament in which by water and the word of God we are cleansed from all sin, and regenerated and sanctified in Christ to life everlasting.

What are the different ceremonies of Baptism?

  1. The preparatory ceremony.
  2. The Baptism proper.
  3. The concluding ceremonies.

The preparatory ceremonies at the church door during the first period of instruction, namely the period of hearing, are as follows:

  1. The candidate remains outside the church, since he can enter the Church only by Baptism.
  2. He is given a saint’s name so that he may have an advocate before God, and an example after whom to model his own life.
  3. He is asked if he desires Baptism, and through it eternal life.
  4. The priest breathes upon him three times, saying: “Depart from him, thou unclean spirit, and make way for the Holy Ghost, the Comforter”. (John 20:22)
  5. He makes the sign of the cross upon his forehead and breast as a sign that he belongs to the crucified Saviour, Whose teachings he must cherish in his heart and openly proclaim.
  6. He places blessed salt in his mouth, with the words: “Receive the salt of wisdom; it will be a propitiation for thee unto eternal life.” Salt is a symbol of Christian wisdom) and protection from the foulness of sin.
  7. Through repeated exorcisms the power of Satan, who “has the power of death” (neb. ii. 14), is ~ broken in the name of the Triune God.
  8. For the second time, the priest makes the sign of the cross on the forehead of the person to be baptized, saying: “Defile not, accursed spirit, this sign of the cross which we place upon his brow.”
  9. The priest by the imposition of hands symbolizes the protection of God, and the stole p1aced upon the candidate as he is led into the f church is a sign of the Church’s power by virtue of which the priest receives him into its fold.

The ceremonies at the second period, namely, for the supplicants, are performed within the church. They are:

  1. Since Baptism is the sacrament of faith, the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer are recited while entering the church.
  2. The priest, after the example of Jesus (Mark 7:33), touches the ears and nose of the person to be baptized with spittle, saying, “Ephpheta,” which means, “Be thou opened.” This signifies that man’s spiritual sense through the grace of Baptism is opened for the reception of instruction in heavenly truths.
  3. The person being baptized must renounce Satan with all his works and pomps; for without this renunciation no man can follow Christ. By the words Satan and his works we mean sin, and by his pomps the spirit and vanities of this world by which Satan dazzles the eyes of men and leads them into sin. (Matthew 4:8,9) Here follows the profession of faith, in the recital of the Apostles’ Creed.
  4. Next comes the anointing of the shoulders and breast with holy oil, since from now on the newly-baptized person must be a soldier of Christ in the battle against the world and the devil.

How is the actual Baptism performed?

The person baptizing pours water upon the head of the person to be baptized, at the same time saying these words: “I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

What ceremonies follow Baptism?

  1. Anointing the head with chrism, because the person baptized is now a Christian, one of God’s anointed.
  2. The presentation of a white cloth, and
  3. a lighted candle.
  4. Dismissal, with a blessing.

Of what are we admonished by the white cloth which we receive at Baptism?

That we should preserve our innocence, throughout our whole life, pure and unspotted. At its presentation, therefore, the priest says: “Take hence the white garment and bear it unstained before the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ our Lord, that thou mayest reach everlasting life.”

What is the meaning of the lighted candle which the person just baptized must hold in his hand?

That the Christian by his virtuous life should be a guide to all the world. “So let your light shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) On presenting the candle the priest says: “Receive this burning light; keep thy Baptism without stain; obey the commandments of God, that when the Lord shall come to the nuptial feast thou mayest go forth to meet Him with all the saints of heaven, and mayest have life everlasting and live forever and ever. Amen.”

Why has the Church ordained the presence of sponsors?

  1. That they may make the vows and promises in the name of the child to be baptized.
  2. In the event of the death of the parents to see that it is brought up a Christian.

The sponsors, who should be good Catholics, are the spiritual parents of the child baptized. They become spiritually related both to child and parents, and cannot marry with either. In order that this relationship and consequent impediment to marriage might not extend too far, the Church has ordained that there shall be at most two sponsors, one of each sex.

Besides Baptism by water, there is also a Baptism of desire and a Baptism of blood, which may take the place of the Baptism of water when that cannot be obtained.

Baptism of desire is an earnest wish to obtain Baptism, joined to perfect contrition and love for God. In such a case those conditions are present that are necessary to a valid reception; for if the possibility do not exist God regards the good will, and takes the will for the deed.

Baptism of blood is a voluntary martyr’s death for the sake of Christ. The constancy which gives up life itself includes faith, charity, desire, and contrition.

Goffine’s Devout Instructions