About Me

I live in Suffolk County NY located in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. I have been involved in Catechesis for 10 years and accept all the teachings of the Catholic Church with complete faith. Above all, I want to spread the Gospel of salvation through the teachings of the Church. The contents of this blog have been taken from my RCIA course entitled RCIA: The Way, the Truth, and the Life, available at www.lulu.com/tombosco

Friday, November 17, 2006

Lesson 20 - Baptism and Confirmation

(Lesson 20)

Baptism and Confirmation

“…the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands…” Acts 8:17

Discussion Guide:

The primary purpose of Baptism is “for the forgiveness of sins”. Baptism “washes away” both original sin, and all actual sins. At Baptism, a person becomes the adopted child of God through the merits of Jesus Christ. The soul is infused with sanctifying grace. The baptized is “born again” of water and the Spirit (John 3:7). If an adult is being baptized, the promise to follow Christ is made in the presence of the congregation. When infants are baptized, since they have no actual sins, only original sin is taken away. Their parents and godparents make baptismal promises on their behalf. This entails a serious commitment to raise the child in the saving truth of the Catholic faith. The Catholic Church recognizes the Baptisms that take place in many other Christian denominations. The invocation of the Holy Trinity, the use of water, and the intention of doing what the church intends to do validate the sacrament. Baptisms in Non-Trinitarian churches such as the Mormons or the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not recognized as valid.

The sacrament of Confirmation strengthens the faith originally given at Baptism. It completes the process of initiation. In the Latin rite, this sacrament is generally given to young teenagers. A serious commitment to follow the faith is made at this time. Confirmation displays to the community that the recipient accepts responsibility for their faith life and ultimately their eternal destiny. The focus of this sacrament is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit also confirmed the apostles on the day of Pentecost with tongues of fire (Acts 2:1-4). We are given the grace to be bold and public witnesses to our faith. As usual, cooperation with this grace is needed for it to bear fruit. The bishop is the ordinary minister of this sacrament but priests can also be delegated to administer it. The minister raises his hands over the candidate and prays for the reception of the Holy Spirit. There is then a laying on of hands and an anointing with holy chrism.

Discussion Points:

· Baptism is a new birth into the life of Christ

· Baptism cleanses us from original sin

· Baptism is necessary for salvation

· Sanctifying grace is infused at Baptism

· The Trinitarian formula and plain water are the form and matter of Baptism

· The Holy Spirit is the focus of Confirmation

· Confirmation is a one time only sacrament that leaves an indelible mark

· Confirmation gives us the grace to be strong witnesses to our faith

· Although not necessary for salvation, Confirmation is tremendously important

Faith, Sacraments, and the Unity of the Church

Joint commission for the Theological Dialogue Between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church

6. Every sacrament presupposes and expresses the faith of the Church which celebrates it. Indeed, in a sacrament the Church does more than profess and express its faith: it makes present the mystery it is celebrating. The Holy Spirit reveals the Church as the Body of Christ which he constitutes and makes grow. Thus the Church nourishes and develops the communion of the faith of its members through the sacraments.

1. True faith is a divine gift and free response of the human person

7. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Through faith Got grants salvation. Through it, humanity has access to the mystery of Christ who constitutes the Church and whom the Church communicates through the Holy Spirit who dwells in it. The Church can only transmit what causes it to exist. Now, there is only one mystery of Christ and God's gift is unique, whole and irrevocable (Rom 11:29). As for its content, faith embraces the totality of doctrine and church practice relating to salvation. Dogma, conduct and liturgical life overlap each other to form a single whole and together constitute the treasure of faith. Linking in a remarkable fashion the theoretical and practical character of faith, Saint John Damascene says: "This [faith] is made perfect by all that Christ decreed, faith through works, respect for and practice of the commandments of the One who has renewed us. Indeed, the one who does not believe according to the tradition of the catholic Church or who by unseemly works is in communion with the devil, is an infidel" (De fide orthodoxa IV, 10, 83).

8. Given by God, the faith announced by the Church is proclaimed, lived and transmitted in a local, visible church in communion with all the local churches spread over the world, that is, the catholic Church of all times and everywhere. The human person is integrated into the Body of Christ by his or her "k™inonia" (communion) with this visible Church which nourishes this faith by means of the sacramental life and the word of God, and in which the Holy Spirit works in the human person.

9. One can say that, in this way, the gift of faith exists in the single Church in its concrete historical situation, determined by the environment and the times, and therefore in each and all of the believers under the guidance of their pastors. In human language and in a variety of cultural and historical expressions, the human person must always remain faithful to this gift of faith. Certainly, one cannot claim that the expression of the true faith, transmitted and lived in the celebration of the sacraments, exhausts the totality of the richness of the mystery revealed in Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, within the limits of its formulation and of the persons who receive it, it gives access to the whole truth of the revealed faith, that is, to the fullness of salvation and life in the Holy Spirit.

Baptism and Confirmation

“…the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands…” Acts 8:17

Opening Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we praise You and worship You and give You thanks. We thank You for the gift of Your son Jesus Christ who redeemed us from our sins. We thank You for the gift of Your Church on earth which gives us the means of salvation. Amen


The sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation are sacraments of initiation. They can never be repeated and they leave an indelible mark on the soul. Baptism initiates our life of grace. Confirmation gives us the strength, through the Holy Spirit, to be faithful Christian witnesses to the Catholic faith.

Bible Readings:

Mark 16:16-17 And he said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

John 3:3-7 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said 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?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born anew.'

Acts 8:14-17 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

Explanation of the Bible readings: Jesus commanded his apostles to go into the world, preach the gospel, make disciples and baptize them. In the gospel of St. Mark, Christ explicitly reveals that Baptism is necessary for salvation. This has been a part of Sacred Tradition since apostolic times. In St. John’s gospel, Jesus tells us that we must be born of water and the Spirit to enter the kingdom of God. This indicates not only the need for water Baptism, but also the need to be born again through the action of the Holy Spirit. Throughout our entire lives, we must strive to cooperate with the grace given at baptism. It is possible to fall from the state of grace by committing a mortal sin. The reading from the book of Acts demonstrates the transmission of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands by the apostles. The sacrament of Confirmation was being performed in one way or another throughout the history of the Church.

Ezekiel 36:25 A foreshadowing of baptism
Acts 8:14-17 Reception of the Holy Spirit through the sacraments
Mark 1:9-11 Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist
Acts 2:1-3 The twelve apostles receive the Holy Spirit

Catechism of the Catholic Church:


977 Our Lord tied the forgiveness of sins to faith and Baptism….Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of forgiveness of sins because it unites us with Christ, who died for our sins and rose for our justification, so that "we too might walk in newness of life."

1263 By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin….

1275 Christian initiation is accomplished by three sacraments together: Baptism which is the beginning of new life; Confirmation which is its strengthening; and the Eucharist which nourishes the disciple with Christ's Body and Blood for his transformation in Christ.

1276 "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Mt 28:19-20).

1277 Baptism is birth into the new life in Christ. In accordance with the Lord's will, it is necessary for salvation, as is the Church herself, which we enter by Baptism.

1278 The essential rite of Baptism consists in immersing the candidate in water or pouring water on his head, while pronouncing the invocation of the Most Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

1279 The fruit of Baptism, or baptismal grace, is a rich reality that includes forgiveness of original sin and all personal sins, birth into the new life by which man becomes an adoptive son of the Father, a member of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. By this very fact the person baptized is incorporated into the Church, the Body of Christ, and made a sharer in the priesthood of Christ.

1280 Baptism imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual sign, the character, which consecrates the baptized person for Christian worship. Because of the character Baptism cannot be repeated.

1281 Those who die for the faith, those who are catechumens, and all those who, without knowing of the Church but acting under the inspiration of grace, seek God sincerely and strive to fulfill his will, can be saved even if they have not been baptized (cf. LG 16).

1282 Since the earliest times, Baptism has been administered to children, for it is a grace and a gift of God that does not presuppose any human merit; children are baptized in the faith of the Church. Entry into Christian life gives access to true freedom.

1283 With respect to children who have died without Baptism, the liturgy of the Church invites us to trust in God's mercy and to pray for their salvation.

1284 In case of necessity, any person can baptize provided that he have the intention of doing that which the Church does and provided that he pours water on the candidate's head while saying: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."


1295 By this anointing the confirmand receives the "mark," the seal of the Holy Spirit. A seal is a symbol of a person, a sign of personal authority, or ownership of an object….

1306 Every baptized person not yet confirmed can and should receive the sacrament of Confirmation. Since Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist form a unity, it follows that "the faithful are obliged to receive this sacrament at the appropriate time," for without Confirmation and Eucharist, Baptism is certainly valid and efficacious, but Christian initiation remains incomplete.

1316 Confirmation perfects Baptismal grace; it is the sacrament which gives the Holy Spirit in order to root us more deeply in the divine filiation, incorporate us more firmly into Christ, strengthen our bond with the Church, associate us more closely with her mission, and help us bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied by deeds.

1317 Confirmation, like Baptism, imprints a spiritual mark or indelible character on the Christian's soul; for this reason one can receive this sacrament only once in one's life.

1318 In the East this sacrament is administered immediately after Baptism and is followed by participation in the Eucharist; this tradition highlights the unity of the three sacraments of Christian initiation. In the Latin Church this sacrament is administered when the age of reason has been reached, and its celebration is ordinarily reserved to the bishop, thus signifying that this sacrament strengthens the ecclesial bond.

1319 A candidate for Confirmation who has attained the age of reason must profess the faith, be in the state of grace, have the intention of receiving the sacrament, and be prepared to assume the role of disciple and witness to Christ, both within the ecclesial community and in temporal affairs.

1320 The essential rite of Confirmation is anointing the forehead of the baptized with sacred chrism (in the East other sense-organs as well), together with the laying on of the minister's hand and the words: "Accipe signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti" (Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.) in the Roman rite, or: Signaculum doni Spiritus Sancti [the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit] in the Byzantine rite.

1321 When Confirmation is celebrated separately from Baptism, its connection with Baptism is expressed, among other ways, by the renewal of baptismal promises. The celebration of Confirmation during the Eucharist helps underline the unity of the sacraments of Christian initiation.

1313 In the Latin Rite, the ordinary minister of Confirmation is the bishop.

Faith words:

Holy chrism: A mixture of olive oil and balsam, blessed by a bishop in a special manner and used in the administration of certain sacraments

Initiation: A formal entry into an organization, position or office

Seal: An official symbol or mark (A permanent character imprinted on the soul)

Reflection Questions:

Is receiving Baptism a guarantee that a person will get to heaven? Explain.

In what ways should we be expected to defend the Catholic faith?

Why would it be a bad idea for a believer to wait until old age to be baptized?

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