February 18, 2022

Worship and Evangelization Outreach / Jim Wood

Ask your pastor about new baptism prep guidelines

Jim Wood“Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure!” These words were spoken by Pope St. John Paul II while addressing the young people of the Czech Republic on April 26, 1997.

The Holy Father’s context for the youths was not to be afraid to take Christ with them into the third millennium; not to be afraid to let Christ be the center of their lives; and that only through Christ will our lives achieve full meaning. I believe these words also apply to the wonderful adventure in the sacrament of baptism.

This past December, the archdiocesan Office of Catechesis published its first of what will be several documents regarding sacramental preparation. The new document titled “Order of Baptism of Children: Guidelines for Sacramental Preparation” offers parents, godparents, pastors and parish catechetical leaders the opportunity to fully prepare for the sacrament of baptism. More than just rehearsing the steps in the Rite of Baptism, this document opens the path of evangelization for parents and godparents. It gives our pastors and parish leaders the ability to apply best practices when preparing parents for the baptism of their infant children.

The 12-page document, available in both English and Spanish, not only helps parish leaders prepare folks for baptism initially, but also offers steps with the ongoing opportunity of mystagogy and accompaniment.

As we prepare parents and godparents for baptism, we also offer them the opportunity to reflect on the baptism of their child so they can remain faithful to the Church by raising their child in the Catholic faith. This guideline should help parents center around the experience of the celebration, helping them understand their role as parents and understand what God’s purpose is for celebrating the sacrament.

As pastors and parish leaders, we want to accompany these families by engaging them after baptism.

Baptism opens the door for evangelization to bring families back to the Church if they haven’t been back for a while. We want families to feel safe when asking for baptism for their children. We want them to come to our parishes; we want to invite them to sacramental preparation; and we want them to stay to live a life with their children that is filled with faith, hope and love through Jesus Christ.

We want our parents to prepare well for baptism, and we want to give them the means for discipleship. As noted in the document, “the parental sense of discipleship—lived in full communion with the mystical body of Christ, the Church—helps equip parents to live their call as primary educators of their children.”

Also noted, “To do this well, a parent must strive to live a good Catholic life that will be an example to their child. Therefore, parents must make it a priority to continue learning about their faith throughout their life—so they may better witness to the faith in their home and catechize their growing family, the next generation of Catholic disciples of Jesus Christ.”

Life with Christ is truly an adventure, one that begins at baptism and continues for the life of the child and their parents. To view the “Order of Baptism of Children Guidelines for Sacramental Preparation,” go to www.archindy.org/catechesis.
 

(Jim Wood is coordinator of catechetical resources and a diaconal candidate for the archdiocese. He can be reached at jwood@archindy.org.)

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