Session 7   Sacraments of Initiation


1.    Baptism

(From the Greek baptizein meaning to plunge or immerse)


 Baby being baptised
Baptism of an infant


What is Baptism?

This is the first Sacrament of Initiation, (adults normally receive Confirmation and Eucharist  immediately afterwards.  Can be conferred only once and puts a seal on the soul.



What does Baptism do?

  • Makes us children of God.
  • Incorporates us into the Body of Christ.
  • Therefore makes us members of Christ’s Church.
  • Remits sin.
  • Cleanses us from original sin.
  • We are reborn with water and the Spirit.
  • Provides us with God’s grace, enabling us to share in the divine nature of the Trinity.
  • It is a gateway to the other Sacraments.
  • We have a share in the kingly, priestly and prophetic ministries of Jesus Christ.
  • Essential part in the economy of salvation.



Prefigures of Baptism in the Old Testament e.g.

  • Noah’s Ark.
  • Parting of the Red Sea.
  • Crossing of the River Jordan.



Examples from New Testament

  • Christ’s own Baptism.  Mt. 3:13
  • Nicodemus told by Jesus that he must be born again through water and the Spirit.   Jn.3:1-21
  • “You must repent …..and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”    Acts 2:38
  • “…but when they came to accept Philip’s preaching of the good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptised, both men and women.”   Acts 8:12
  • Peter “then gave orders for them to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ.”  Acts 10:48
  • Also look up Acts 11:15-17
  • Christ sends his Apostles on a mission after the Resurrection telling them to spread the Gospel and baptise.  Mt. 28:19-20



The Ceremony

  • Sign of the Cross.
  • Proclamation of the Word.
  • Exorcism  (signifying turning away from sin)
  • Confession of Faith.
  • Anointing with the oil of the catechumens.
  • Essential rite of Baptism with water using the words “I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Water is essential, signifying cleansing from sin.  Water itself can be seen as sacred as it is so essential to life.  It is blessed at the Easter Vigil when the events of salvation history are commemorated. “At the very dawn of creation your Spirit breathed on the waters making them the wellspring of holiness.”   This reminds us that Baptism is part of God’s economy of salavation.
  • Anointing with sacred chrism signifying the gift of the Holy Spirit. (perfumed oil consecrated by the Bishop on the Wednesday before Maundy Thursday).
  • White garment symbolises “the putting on” of Christ.
  • A candle lit from the Paschal candle signifying Christ as the light of the world.



Minister of Baptism

            Priest or Deacon but anyone can baptise in an emergency, even a non-baptised person so long as

he has the required intention, i.e to do what the Church does when she baptises.



Methods of Baptism

a)  sprinkling  b)  pouring  c)  total immersion   (in three stages, Father, Son and Holy Spirit)



  • Small round bowl on a stand
  • Small pool for total immersion – possibly with steps going down and other steps at other side.
  • River or any supply of water.
  • Tomb-shaped font symbolising dying in Christ and rising again

“You were buried with him in Baptism in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God who raised him from the dead.” Col. 2:12



Other types of Baptism

  • Baptism of Desire  - when a person wishes for Baptism but is unable to receive it before death.
  • Baptism of Blood   - when  person is martyred for their faith but has not been formally baptised.



Infant Baptism

An infant is given the first Sacrament of Initiation only.  After suitable catechesis, the child may then receive Holy Communion.  Confirmation is seen as a Sacrament most suitable for teenagers/young adults and completes Initiation.


2.        Confirmation

“Spirit of God, refresh my soul”

 Confirmation of an adult
Confirmation of an adult


  • This is necessary for the completion of Baptismal grace and binds us more perfectly to the Church and enriches us with a special strength of the Holy Spirit.  
  • As true witnesses of Christ, we are more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed. (see C.C.C. 1285)


Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

Throughout his teaching, Jesus promised that he would send the Holy Spirit after he had gone.

e.g.  Lk.12:12                       Jn.7:37-39                     Jn.16:7-15                   Acts 1:8


Jesus Sends His Spirit

  • Evening of the Resurrection he appears to the Apostles  “Receive the holy Spirit…” Jn.20:22
  • At Pentecost when they are gathered in the upper room, the Holy Spirit comes upon them in the form of tongues of fire.  They were empowered to go out and preach the Gospel.  Acts 2:1-21


 Apostles Confirming People.

e.g. Acts 8:14-17


The Ceremony

Laying on of hands  of all the confirmands signifying that it perpetuates the grace of Pentecost, with the following words:

“All-powerful God, Father of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit, you freed your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life.  Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide.  Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgement and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence.  Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.  We ask this through Christ Our Lord.


Anointing with chrism (perfumed oil) consecrated by the Bishop at the Chrism Mass before Easter.  Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.”   is a sign of consecration, symbolising:

  • the participation in the kingly, priestly and prophetic offices of Christ.
  • linked to the idea of cleansing (anointing after a bath)
  • linked to  limbering up -  anointing (massaging) of athletes.
  • sign of healing as it soothes bruises and wounds.
  • makes us radiant with beauty, health and strength.
  • we can say that the newly confirmed gives off an aroma of Christ.
  • puts a seal/mark on the confirmand which marks us for Christ and gives us a personal authority.  (think about the seal on a slave/ the seal on an authoritative document)  Christ was marked with his Father’s seal  (Jn. 6:27)


Confirmation Name

Our new name symbolises being a new person in and for Christ.



Our sponsor will be a practising Catholic who knows us and can recommend us for Confirmation.