Lesson 20: The Sacrament of Baptism
"And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  This man came to Jesus by night, and said to Him:  Rabbi, we know that Thou are come a teacher from God; for no man can do these signs which Thou dost, unless God be with him.  Jesus answered, and said to him:  Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again, He cannot see the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus saith to Him:  How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born again?  Jesus answered:  Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."  (John 3:1-5)

  1. What is Baptism?

  2.     Baptism is the Sacrament which makes you a Christian and a member of the Catholic Church and gives you the right to receive the other Sacraments.

  3. What does Baptism do to your soul?
    1. It takes away all sin:  Original Sin, plus mortal and venial sins.
    2. "Do penance and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins."    (Acts 2:38)
    3. It puts Sanctifying grace into your soul for the first time.
    4. It brings the Holy Ghost to dwell in your soul.
    5. It makes you a member of the Catholic Church.
    6. It enables you to receive the other Sacraments.

  4. Why do you have to be baptized?

  5.     Because Jesus Christ said:
    "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."    (John 3:5)

  6. What kind of sin is it to delay your Baptism?

  7.     A serious (mortal) sin.
    "Why tarriest thou?  Rise up, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins."    (Acts 22:16)

  8. What do you have to do to be baptized?
    1. You have to take a full course of instructions in the Catholic religion;
    2. Give up all seriously sinful habits;
    3. Have the right intention.
    4. The "right intention" means that you wish to become a Catholic because the Catholic Church is the only true Church.

  9. Who gives Baptism?

  10.     Ordinarily, the priest, but anyone can baptize in an emergency.  (See Lesson 33, Q. 4)

  11. How is Baptism given?

  12.     It is given by pouring water over the forehead of the person to be baptized and, while pouring the water, saying, "I baptize thee in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost"  (Matthew 28:19), while having at least the minimum intention to do what the Church wants you to do by performing this sacramental act.
    Baptism can also be given by immersion or sprinkling, but in all cases the water has to flow over the head or forehead (not just the hair).

  13. What are sponsors for?

  14.     Sponsors at Baptism are supposed to see that their godchildren stay faithful to their religious duties.
    A sponsor has to be a good Catholic at least fourteen years old.

  15. Why do you take the name of a Saint at Baptism?

  16.     You take a Saint's name to have that Saint watch over you and to have someone to imitate.

  17. Do babies have to be baptized?

  18.     Yes, because they have Original Sin on their souls, which means they have no Sanctifying Grace.

  19. How soon should a baby be baptized?

  20.     Within two or three weeks of its birth.
    It is a mortal sin to delay the Baptism of a baby for a long time.


  1. Make arrangements with your priest a week before the baby's Baptism.  The baby's godfather and godmother should be good Catholics.
  2. An expectant mother in a hospital should tell the doctors and nurses that she is a Catholic and that, if there is any danger to the life of the baby, they should send for a priest right away.  In case of real emergency, somebody should baptize the baby, even in the womb, if necessary.
  3. If there is a miscarriage, the whole substance from the womb should be put into water right away, and the words, "I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost", should be said by the one baptizing.  It should be noted that the water has to flow over the skin of the fetus or embryo.  Consequently, it will be necessary to break the protective membrane which encloses the body.
  4. Regarding babies who die without Baptism, see Practical Point 3 in Lesson 8.
  5. If your were baptized in a Protestant church, you will probably still have to go through the Catholic ceremony of Baptism.  This is called conditional Baptism.  The reason for this is to make sure that you are really baptized.  It is practically impossible to find out if your Protestant Baptism was done according to the intention of Christ, since many Protestant ministers consider Baptism merely a sort of initiation ritual or symbol that produced no effect in the soul.