some of the roles and symbols present in baptism

A run through the rite of Baptism, and what the various parts mean

The parish priest undertakes to meet with the parents before the baptism and explain the rite, unless it is impossible. A future baptismal team will hopefully aid in this responsibility.  Here are some aspects that are good to reflect upon in the meantime.

Naming your child: Why have you picked the particular name? What does the name mean? It is in keeping with Christian sentiment?

The commitment to train him/her in the practice of the faith: outlined in Why Baptism?

The Godparents, one male and one female, or just one Godparent: They must be at least 16 years old, and be baptised and Confirmed in the Catholic faith. Some national bishops conferences are asking that they be also practicing Catholics (not in place in Ireland). 

The Role of Godparents
Being a Godparent is a great honour for any person and is a position of trust offered by the parents of the child. The primary function of a Godparent is to assist the parents in the faith formation of the child. This is done by supporting parents as they educate the child in the ways of faith and by offering good example to the child. It’s a nurturing and caring role which underpins the good work done by parents. As with parents, Godparents likewise take on a formal role and responsibility during the ceremony of baptism.
Since part of their responsibility is to teach the faith by word and example Godparents should be familiar with the Christian faith themselves and be both baptised and confirmed. A person who is not a Christian or who has made a conscious decision not practice the Catholic faith may act as a witness to your child’s baptism, but would not fulfil the important requirements of the role of Godparent. Godparents are also role models given to the child; as such Godparents need to be male and female and not both of the same sex. At least one Godparent is required at Baptism. If that person cant be present, another person can stand in as a proxy for the Godparent. Remember that being a Godparent is not firstly a great honour for your chosen family member or friend, but a great need of your child. Pray for guidance in choosing the best man and woman for them.

The water: Blessed to become Holy Water for the Trinitarian invocation “I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”. 

The two oils: The first oil that the child receives is for healing. This helps undo the effects of original sin, where humanity’s first parents took it on themselves to “be like gods” and decide on good and evil. It hence helps us to live in a deeper communion with God and our fellow man.

The second oil is received in two parts in our Catholic rite. For the first part, we are reminded that Christ was anointed “Priest, Prophet & King” and that we share in His royal lineage. We form part of the common priesthood, are called to be prophetic (make known in our day Gods will and live it thoroughly) and have a kingship, that is lived in the spirit of a Shepard (the Hebraic notion of Kingship, not the modern ceremonial variety). For the second part, we wait until the child’s Confirmation, when they will decide for themselves that they want to continue on this road their parents started them on. 

The Renunciation of Sin and the Profession of Faith: Faith is passed on, from generation to generation, in some ways like the Olympic torch. We are given this great gift by God, but He uses the lives and examples of our families and parish community to inspire and instruct the child. It happens quite naturally during the course of our days, PROVIDED we keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts by regular practice. The rite of Baptism says: “if your faith makes you ready to accept this responsibility, renew now the vows of your own baptism. Reject sin, profess your faith in Christ Jesus” 

The white shawl: symbolises the new creation wrought by Baptism. The ensuing dignity, resulting from being reborn as a son or daughter of God by adoption, is called to be kept “clean”. This is a powerful affirmation of the beauty and value of each human life, and explains why the Catholic church has such high moral standards in regards to human sexuality and pro-creation. 

The lighted candle: will make many appearances in your young child’s life, the opening mass of the preparation year for first Holy Communion, first Confession, Service of Light, and more. The rite says; “Parents & Godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly”. It is your responsibility not to get this little flame go out until their Confirmation, and long into the future. 

It is possible, and quite common, for families to use the same white shawl time and time again, but we never share the same Baptism candle. Why? We share a common dignity, with no one more precious and loved in Gods eye’s than anyone else. However, we “burn” in the world with different lights, each unique giving its own light. We are created as individuals, called to live in communion and share together. 

If you are happy with all this, please now go to the Baptism booking form, which does not guarantee your child will be baptised, but “gets the ball officially rolling”, and the parish  priest will make contact with you when he receives it.