THE CATECHISM OF ST. PIUS X – Baptism
Nature and Effects of Baptism
1 Q: What is the sacrament of Baptism?
A: Baptism is a sacrament by which we are born again to the grace of God, and become Christians.
2 Q: What are the effects of the sacrament of Baptism?
A: The sacrament of Baptism confers first sanctifying grace by which original sin is washed away, as well as all actual sin if any such exists; it remits all punishment due on account of such sins; it imprints the character of a Christian; it makes us children of God, members of the Church, and heirs to Paradise, and enables us to receive the other sacraments.
3 Q: What is the matter of Baptism?
A: The matter of Baptism is natural water which is poured on the head of the person to be baptized in such a quantity as to flow.
4 Q: What is the form of Baptism?
A: The form of Baptism is: “I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”
Minister of Baptism
5 Q: To whom does it belong to confer Baptism?
A: To confer Baptism belongs by right to bishops and parish priests, but in case of necessity any person, whether man or woman, even a heretic or an infidel, can administer it, provided he carries out the rite of Baptism, and has the intention of doing what the Church does.
6 Q: If it were necessary to baptize a person in danger of death, and if several people were present, who should administer the sacrament?
A: If it were necessary to baptize a person in danger of death, and if several people were present, a priest, if such were at hand, should administer the Sacrament, and, in his absence, one of the inferior clergy; and in the absence of such, a layman in preference to a woman, unless in the case in which the greater skill on the part of the woman, or the claims of propriety, should demand otherwise.
7 Q: What intention should the person baptizing have?
A: The person baptizing should have the intention of doing what Holy Church does in baptizing.
The Rite of Baptism and the Disposition of the Adult who Receives It
8 Q: How is Baptism given?
A: Baptism is given by pouring water on the head of the person to be baptized — and if it cannot be poured on the head, then on some other principal part of the body — saying at the same time: “I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
9 Q: If one were to pour the water and another to pronounce the words would the person be baptized?
A: If one poured the water and another said the words the person would not be baptized; because it is necessary that the person who pours the water should pronounce the words.
10 Q: When in doubt whether the person is dead, is it right to omit baptizing him?
A: When in doubt whether the person is dead, he should be baptized conditionally, saying: “If thou art alive I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
11 Q: When should infants be brought to the Church to be baptized?
A: Infants should be brought to the Church to be baptized as soon as possible.
12 Q: Why such anxiety to have infants receive Baptism?
A: There should be the greatest anxiety to have infants baptized because, on account of their tender age, they are exposed to many dangers of death, and cannot be saved without Baptism.
13 Q: Do parents sin, then, who, through negligence, allow their children to die without Baptism, or who defer it?
A: Yes, fathers and mothers who, through negligence, allow their children to die without Baptism sin grievously, because they deprive their children of eternal life; and they also sin grievously by putting off Baptism for a long time, because they expose them to danger of dying without having received it.
14 Q: When the person who is being baptized is an adult, what dispositions should he have?
A: An adult who is being baptized, besides faith, should have at least imperfect contrition for the mortal sins he may have committed.
15 Q: If an adult in mortal sin was baptized without such sorrow, what would he receive?
A: If an adult was baptized in mortal sin without such sorrow he would receive the character of Baptism, but not the remission of his sins nor sanctifying grace. And these two effects would be suspended, until the obstacle is removed by perfect contrition or by the sacrament of Penance.
Necessity of Baptism and Obligations of the Baptized
16 Q: Is Baptism necessary to salvation?
A: Baptism is absolutely necessary to salvation, for our Lord has expressly said: “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.”
17 Q: Can the absence of Baptism be supplied in any other way?
A: The absence of Baptism can be supplied by martyrdom, which is called Baptism of Blood, or by an act of perfect love of God, or of contrition, along with the desire, at least implicit, of Baptism, and this is called Baptism of Desire.
18 Q: To what is the person baptized bound?
A: The person baptized is bound to always profess the faith and observe the Law of Jesus Christ and of His Church.
19 Q: In receiving holy Baptism what do we renounce?
A: In receiving holy Baptism we renounce, for ever, the devil, his works and pomps.
20 Q: What is meant by the works and pomps of the devil?
A: By the works and pomps of the devil we mean sin and the maxims of the world that are contrary to the maxims of the Gospel.
Names and Sponsors
21 Q: Why is the name of a saint given to him who is being baptized?
A: To him who is being baptized is given the name of a saint in order to put him under the protection of a heavenly patron and to animate him to imitate that saint’s example.
22 Q: Who are the godfathers and godmothers in Baptism?
A: The godfathers and godmothers in Baptism are those persons who, in accordance with the decree of the Church, hold the infants at the font, answer for them, and become guarantees in the sight of God for their Christian education, especially in the absence of the parents.
23 Q: Are we obliged to keep the promises and renunciations made for us by our sponsors?
A: We are certainly obliged to observe the promises and renunciations made for us by our sponsors, because it is only on this condition that God has received us into His grace.
24 Q: What sort of persons should be chosen as godfathers and godmothers?
A: There should be chosen as godfathers and godmothers Catholics of good life, and obedient to the laws of the Church.
25 Q: What are the obligations of godfathers and godmothers?
A: Godfathers and godmothers are bound to see that their spiritual children are instructed in the truths of faith, and live as good Christians and they should edify them by their good example.
26 Q: What tie do sponsors contract in Baptism?
A: Sponsors contract a spiritual relationship with the baptized and with the parents of the baptized, which causes an impediment to marriage with these persons.