On the sacrament of Baptism: Advice from Pope Francis

Pope Francis thrives on connecting with the crowd. He wows his audiences by converting complex Christian dogmas into digestible lessons full of love and solidarity. Let’s see what he has to say about Baptism, but first...

A STEP BACK: WHERE DOES BAPTISM COME FROM

Long before he met Jesus, John the Baptist advocated repentance in preparation for the Final Judgement and offered baptism in the River Jordan to all those who wanted to obtain forgiveness of their sins. Later on, Messiah himself requested to be baptized at the hands of Saint John — such an event started the ministry of Jesus and made John the Baptist a central figure in the consolidation of this sacrament.

Baptism of Christ. Leonardo da Vinci, Andrea del Verrocchio (1470 - 1475)

Mentioned in all four Gospels of the New Testament, the baptismal rite consists of either immersing the candidate in water or pouring water on her/his forehead. Although not all of the Christian groups agree on its meaning, most of them consider the cleansing of the soul and body be the function of Baptism.

Now, you’re certainly aware of the fact that the Easter Season is directly connected to the celebration of Baptism, but do you know why? In short, Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension celebrated during Eastertide provide a particularly fertile ground for the Christian initiation. For one thing, before his Ascension, Jesus Christ instructed his followers to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them” (Matthew 28:19). In addition to that, Christian Church was officially born on Pentecost, ten days after the Ascension of the Lord, when Saint Peter’s fervent discourse convinced many assistants to undergo a baptism.

 

THE PONTIFF ON THE HOLY BAPTISM

Twice a week, the Holy Father of the Catholic Church manages to attract the masses for his general audiences, in the course of which he dispenses lessons of faith. Recently, on one such occasion, the Pontiff underlined once more the necessity to baptize our little ones, substantiating it with the following words:

“When we baptize a child, the Holy Spirit enters that child, and the Holy Spirit makes... the Christian virtues grow in that child, who will then flourish.”

He explained that in baptizing our children we give them the opportunity to let the Holy Spirit naturally instill faith in them. As the matter of fact, His Holiness pointed out that the benefit obtained from the Baptism is a gift of God, which cannot be obtained later on through reason. By receiving this sacrament the baptized internalize both Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Don’t know what gift to pick for an upcoming Baptism? Browse our dedicated section to get inspired! →