Today we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. This brings the season of Christmas to an end. Today’s celebration marks the transition from the liturgical season of Christmas into Ordinary Time. Until yesterday, we celebrated an infant Jesus; from today forward, we will celebrate an adult Jesus. The Baptism of Our Lord by John is such an important event in Jesus’ life that all four evangelists describe it in their Gospels. The feast is important for several reasons: 1) it describes the presence of the Holy Trinity—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, 2) it marks the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, and 3) it reveals Jesus’ identity as the Beloved Son of God.
The Feast of Jesus’ Baptism is an important one for many reasons. Today, I invite you to understand your own baptism along with the roles of parents and godparents in this process. Baptism is the prime Sacrament for Christians. Through Baptism, a person is welcomed into the company of Jesus as a member of the Body of Christ. At Santa Sophia Parish, we celebrate the Baptism of infants in groups following the 11:00 am Mass on the third Sunday of every month. Baptisms, as well as other Sacraments, are community celebrations which should remind us of our responsibility in helping the newly baptized to grow in faith.
Vatican Council II instructs that parents are the primary teachers of faith to their children. Through word and example, parents teach their children such things as having a sense of their own goodness as children of God, a sense of trust in others, and thus, in God who loves them, a sense of belonging, an understanding of forgiveness and reconciliation, reverence of all creation, and also an appreciation of religious traditions. In asking to have their child baptized, parents take on the responsibility of raising their child in the Catholic Faith. This includes participating in Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, encouraging your children to attend faith formation classes in the parish, praying as a family, and teaching your child Bible stories as well as the instructions and traditions of the Church.
Parents must give prayerful consideration to choosing godparents for their children, because godparents, together with the child’s parents, publicly profess the Catholic Faith into which the child is baptized. A godparent accepts the responsibility of helping the child grow in the faith. A godparent agrees to help the parents teach the child about the Faith and how to live as a practicing Catholic. To become a godparent, one must be at least sixteen years of age, have already received all of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion), attend Mass regularly, and be living in a way that demonstrates that one’s faith is strong enough to be able to fulfill the responsibilities of a godparent. A godparent who is married must be married in accordance with the laws of the Catholic Church. One godparent is required. Two may be chosen. If two are chosen, they must be of opposite genders. A baptized non-Catholic Christian may serve with one Catholic godparent as a Christian witness to the baptism.
For information regarding baptism please call Rosario Corpus at the Catechetical Ministry Office for an appointment to initiate the process. You can find Rosario’s contact information in our parish bulletin. I will then meet with you to discuss your family’s preparedness for baptism. Prior to baptism, parents and godparents must attend a seminar organized by the parish. Attendance of this seminar is important, as it teaches the history, meaning and process of baptism. We have a dedicated team of parishioners to teach these classes, and I thank these volunteers for their long and dedicated service.
Our parish accepts another parish’s requirements for becoming a godparent if the godparent is an active member of another parish. Parents from other parishes who wish to have their child baptized at Santa Sophia Parish are welcome to do so after they have completed the requirements of their home parish. Once we receive a letter from their pastor giving permission for the baptism to be celebrated at Santa Sophia Parish, we will be glad to perform the baptism, formally welcoming your child into the Catholic Faith. It is an important Sacrament, and I want parents, godparents and family members to fully understand it. Baptism alone is not enough, but for the grace to grow in your child you must become active in the faith-life of your child. Please know that my staff and I are here to assist you; please call us if you have questions.
On another note, I am on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, travelling with a group of priests and deacons. It is a great opportunity to see where Jesus carried out His ministry, and I have been looking forward to it for some time. I will be visiting different holy sites and possibly celebrating Masses. I will pray for you, your families and our wonderful parish community. Please keep me and the other pilgrims in your prayers.