Sacrament of Baptism
The word Baptism is derived from the Greek word, βαπτο, or βαπτιζο, to wash or to immerse. The Syriac/Aramaic word is ܡܰܥܡܺܘܕܺܝܬܳ which means immerse, wash, plunge, sink, dip in. It signifies, therefore, that washing is the essential idea of the sacrament. Scripture uses the term baptise both literally and figuratively. It is employed in a metaphorical sense in Acts 1:5, where the abundance of the grace of the Holy Spirit is signified, and in Luke 12:50, where the term is referred to as the sufferings of Christ in His Passion.
Baptism is the gate to the sacraments, necessary for salvation in fact or at least in intention by which men and women are freed from their sins are reborn as children of God and configured to Christ, by an indelible character, are incorporated in the church, is validly conferred only by washing with actual water together with the required form of words. The water must be real water as commonly and ordinarily understood. Baptism is the first of the Christian Sacraments. It is the entry point to the Church. Jesus was categorical about the need to getbaptised for those who believe in Him. "Unless one is reborn with water and Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God" (Jn 3/5). He insisted that He should receive baptism from John the Baptist to set an example for those who believe in him.
1. Baptism is a must for being saved. "One who believes and getsbaptised will be saved" (Mk 16/16). In Mt, Jesus commands, 'Go to all people, baptise them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Mt 28/19). On the day of Pentecost, from among the listeners of Peter 3000 were baptised. Paul was baptised (Acts 9/18) and baptised several people (cf. 1Cor 1/14-16). Paul not only practised Baptism, but he also explained its theology. He gives the Christology of Baptism by explaining the ancient ritual of immersion into and rising the baptised from the baptismal water. Immersion symbolises the entrance of the Baptized into the death of Jesus and rising from the water to his resurrection. In a word, baptism symbolises the communion of the baptised person with the dying and ascended Christ.
2. One notices here the close relationship of baptism with the Eucharist. In Eucharist, we remember the death and accept the resurrection of Jesus. In Baptism, we establish communion with Him. In the earliest days of the Church, if baptism was administered in the name of the Lord (cf. Acts 18/5),ie. dedication to Lord Jesus, soon it was corrected as a dedication to the Holy Trinity as the Baptismal Formula in Mt 28/19: Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit. In this sense, Baptism is a dedication to the Holy Trinity, being drawn into the Love of the Father and the Grace of the Son and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit. It marks the newly baptised from the earthly situation to the domain of the Holy Trinity. These instances put together to show the importance the early Church gave to Baptism, how they prepared themselves to be baptised for it and how they lived the baptismal spirituality, which is nothing but being in the Love of the Father. The grace of the Son and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
3. In recent times in the Malankara Catholic Church, much insistence is given on administering Baptism, Myron, and Eucharist as sacraments of initiation. In Malankara Catholic Church, in cases of death under normal circumstances, these three sacraments are administered again one after another, first confession, second anointing with the oil of the sick, and finally the Eucharist. In case of death under normal circumstances, the preparation to leave this world to enter into life eternal with the same sacraments with which they began their early life. Both with the Eucharist. Thus it can be said that the Christian Life is a Sacramental Life.
The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the celebrated sacraments signify and present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.
The Church celebrates the sacraments as a priestly community structured by the baptismal priesthood and the priesthood of ordained ministers.
The Holy Spirit prepares the faithful for the sacraments by God's Word and the faith that welcomes that word in well-disposed hearts. Thus the sacraments strengthen faith and express it.
The fruit of sacramental life is both personal and ecclesial. For every one of the faithful,on the one hand, this fruit is life for God in Christ Jesus; for the Church, on the other, it is an increase in charity and her mission of witness.
THE SACRAMENTS OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION
The sacraments of Christian initiation - Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist - lay the foundations of every Christian life. "The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive the food of eternal life in the Eucharist. Using these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity."3
THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM
Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualisianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism, we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the world."
What is This Sacrament Called?
This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptise (Greek baptise in) means to "plunge" or "immerse"; the "plunge" into the water symbolises the catechumen's burial into Christ's death, from which he rises by resurrection with him, as "a new creature." This sacrament is also called "the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit," for it signifies and brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one "can enter the kingdom of God."
1. Baptism is the first of the Christian Sacraments. It is the entry point to the Church. Jesus was categorical about the need to getbaptised for those who believed in him. “Unless one is reborn with water and Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdome of God” (Jn 3/5). He insisted that he should himself receive baptism from John the Baptist to set an example for those who believe in him. Baptism is a must for being saved “one who believes and getsbaptised will be saved “Mc 16/16. In Mt, Jesus commands, ‘Go to all people, baptise them in the name of the F+S+Holy Spirit (28/19). On the day of Pentecost, from among the listeners of Peter 3000 were baptised. Paul was baptised (Acts 9/18) and baptised severalpeople (cf. 1Cor 1/14-16). Paul not only practised Baptism, but he also explained its theology. He gives the Christology of Baptism by explaining the ancient ritual of immersion in and rising the baptised from the baptismal water. Immersion symbolises the entrance of the Baptized into the death of Jesus and rising from the water to his resurrection. In a word, baptism symbolises the communionof the baptised person with the dying and ascended Christ.
2. One notices here the close relationship of baptism with Eucharistic. In Eucharist, we remember the death and accept the resurrection of Jesus. In Baptism, we establish communion with him. In the earliest days of the Church, if baptism was administered in the name of the Lord (cf. Acts 18/5),i.e. dedication to Lord Jesus, soon it was corrected as a dedication to the Holy Trinity as the Baptismal Formula in Mt 28/19: Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit demands. In this sense, Baptism is a dedication to the Holy Trinity, being drawn into the Love of the Father and the Grace of the Son and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. It marks the newly baptised from the earthly situation to the domain of the Holy Trinity. These instances are put together to show the importance the early Church gave to Baptism, how they prepared the to be baptised for it and how they lived the baptismal spirituality, which is nothing but being in the Love of the Father, grace of the Son, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
3. In recent times in the MCC, much insistence has been given on administering Baptism, Myron, and Eucharist as sacraments of initiation. In MCC, in cases of death under normal circumstances, all these three sacraments are administered again one after another, first confession, second anointing with the oil of the sick and finally, the Eucharist. In case of death under normal circumstances, prepared to the recipients is leave or this life for life eternal with the same sacraments with which he\ she began their life. In this inclusion of life within the three sacraments, it can be said that the Christian Life is a Sacramental Life.
Baptismal Rite of the Malankara Catholic Church (Essentials only)
Learn by heart the formulas of:
1. Rejection of Satan – Koodasakal, 1988. P. 18
2. Acceptance of Faith in Jesus Christ and his teachings. Ibid P.18
3. Baptism Ibid P.29
The Baptismal Rite of the West Syrian (Malankara) church is a sacramental re-enactment of the Lord’s Baptism at Jordan, just as its Eucharistic celebration is the re-enactment of the Lord’s death and Resurrection. This Baptismal liturgy is constructed with a high degree of precision, high lighting, all the main elements attached to the baptism of Jesus during the celebrations: to have a clear understanding of the ritual of baptism and the theology involved in it, the knowledge of the individual rituals of it is required.
1. Memorial of the Lord’s Baptism at Jordan – snanathinethinadhan p.9
2. Epistle (Rom 5/20-614) symbolism of immersion in the death of Jesus and rising to his resurrection.
3. Gospel Lc 3/15-16, Jn 3/5-6, Baptism by Water and the Spirit.
4. SpiratioAsChrist did on the Apostles (Jn 20/23), as the ordaining Bishop does on the candidate(s) to Priesthood, confers the power of the Spirit on the candidate.
5. The threefold imprinting of the candidate with the sign of the cross in the name of the F + S + Holy Spirit. This gesture is known as the imprinting of the Mudra on the candidate. Through the mudra (signature), the signatory's authority passes on to the signed document. In baptism, the power of the F + S + Holy Spirit passes on to the candidate; they are taken possession of by the Holy Trinity. During the baptismal liturgy, the candidate is several times signed by the sign of the cross.
6. Calling by Name: The one who gets the Mudra is not an anynon-descript anonymous person but becomes someone called by God. God calls Moses by name (Moses, Moses). He changes the name Jacob to Israel. Jesus changed the name Simon bar Jonah to Peter before making him the rock on which He would build the Church. The neo-baptized receives the name of someone who played a role in the salvation history like Abraham, Joseph, Mary, etc.
7. Rejection of Satan. Baptism involves rejection of Satan and all his devices (Army - Sainyangal) and acceptance of Jesus as one’s Savior. As Jesus enters the synagogue of Capernaum, Satan leaves the man whom he has corrupted and polluted. Jesus and Satan cannot be served simultaneously by a faithful. One cannot serve God and Mammon at the same time. The rejection of Satan by the to be baptised (through his proxy)is a necessary condition for accepting Jesus in one’s life (Jesus living in him) and having faith in him that comes to him through the prophets and Apostles.
8. Acceptance of Jesus in faith:Nowadays, phrases like “come to faith” and “ become faithful” are becoming too familiar, even for many traditionally Catholics from childhood. One receives baptism by declaring.” Jesus, I……….. (name) believe in you”. Later, the believer solemnly says, several times a day, “I believe”. Believing in Jesus accepts him as the force that guides all one’s desires, decisions and judgments. Howmuch faith has to be practised is not self-invented but has come to us through the prophets, Apostles, and Fathers of the Church. Acceptance of faith in Jesus Christ is, so to say, the satyapredinjafaithful makes as he enters the group of disciples of Jesus by receiving Baptism, which is the most important undertaking one makes as a Christian.
9. The acceptance of Jesus in faith by the to be baptised is followed by the recital of one’s faith in the form of the Nicene Creed. The importance of reciting the Creed during the baptism ceremony cannot be compromised by omitting it during the celebration.
10. From here onwards, the celebration of Baptism “by water and the Spirit” follows. The aspect of Baptism by the Spirit constitutes the epic serial dimension of the Sacrament of Baptism. In the prayer said in private, the celebrant prays for the gift of the Spirit to the candidate.
- Lord, send thy Holy Spirit…………………
- Mix the powder and efficacy of your Holy Spirit into the water. P 19.
- Through the action of the Holy Spirit
- A dove descended on the Son
- Those on earth ……….. Invite the Spirit; he responds by descending……….. and sanctifying the Baptismal water.
- We believe in the Spirit that descends in the form of the dove
- The living Spirit that you have blown on the disciples
- Declaration by the Deacon. How dreadful is this time when the Spirit descends on this Baptismal water and sanctifies it?
- Send your Spirit on us and this water, just as in the epiclesis in Eucharist.
- Hear me, O Lord, three times just as in Eucharist calling down the fire that is the symbol of the Spirit.
- (making the sign of the cross on the water…..) drive this water regeneration in the Holy Spirit
- The mixing of Myron in the baptismal water symbolises the gift of the Spirit. (see the anointing with Myron, in confirmation and Priesthood, the consecration of church)
- The Spirit gives birth to this (child) from Baptism
- Baptism by water takes its origin from baptism administered by JB in water, which did not give the Spirit. The new element added by Jesus was the gift of the Spirit.
- It was pouring water into the Baptismal font. By mixing the water and the Myron, the Baptismal font becomes the spiritual womb that would fashion the immortality p.19.
- By his baptism, Jesus raised water, a crated element, into the Sacramental order.
- Baptism and church are compared to two sisters. The former begets spiritual children, and the church nurses them.
Conclusion: Baptism in the MCC highlights.
1. Rejection of Sin & Satan.
2. Acceptance of faith in Jesus Christ.
3. They are conferring the gift of the spirit.
4. Dedication to the Father + Son + Holy Spirit.
Thus, with the Baptism in the water and the spirit, a total regeneration of the recipient takes place.
- Consecration of water as the Bread and wine are transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Jesus; the Baptismal water is consecrated as water that makes the baptised enter into the death and resurrection of Jesus. One notices the explicit parallelism in the consecratory formulas.
Eucharist: Remembers the death and confesses the Resurrection of Jesus
Baptism: Makes the baptised enter into the death of Jesus and is raised to his resurrection.
The Epiclesis in Eucharist, as well as in Baptism, uses the word ‘make.’
Eucharist: Let the Holy Spirit “make” this Bread/ Wine, the Body/ Blood of Jesus
Baptism: Make this water that sanctifies/cleanses the body and soul, unbinds the bonds, pardons the debts, illumines the body and the souls, and robes the recipient with incorruptibility and regeneration of the Holy Spirit.
- The baptismal water, combining the two elements of water and spirit, celebrates the great mystery of God over the waters manifested by Yahweh in the Red Sea (Exodus) by walking over the sea and stilling of the sea by Jesus is displayed in Baptism by making the Baptismal water source of regeneration
- Water is blessed to become water of regeneration
With the prayers and blessings over the water, the water is pushed into the womb, giving the newly baptised child new birth. It is a new birth as a child of God that baptism brings about.
Baptism: The ritual formula of Baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit was fixed already in the very early period of the Church’s existence as it is found in the mission command of Jesus in Mt 28/19, is a specification made by the church guided
by the spirit. In the name of Father+ Son + Holy Spirit must have been a formula developed by the
Church in the light of its Trinitarian faith, evidenced in 2Cor 13/13. To be baptised in the name of the F + S + H Sp is passing on of the one baptised to the domain of the Love, Grace and Fellowship of the Holy Trinity.
Welcoming to the Church: Passing on to the domain of F + S + H Sp is through the medium of the Church.
(prepared by Fr. Varghese Anjanithadathil)