Celebrating Baptism at St. John Neumann Parish
Congratulations on the decision to have your child baptized! We, the parish community of St. John Neumann, look forward to walking with you and your child as you grow together in our Catholic faith, pray for God's continued blessing, and learn more about living as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
To arrange a baptism and participate in the preparation session, please call our parish office: (570)-344-6159.
Baptisms at St. John Neumann Parish are scheduled at the following times:
- First Sunday of the month (at 10:00am Mass)
- Third Sunday of the month (11:15am)
A Brief Theology of Baptism
Baptism is the fundamental sacrament of the Church. Baptism is the "door" through which we enter the Church and receive the other sacraments. The rite of baptism has many profound meanings:
Through baptism, we participate in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Christ died and was raised to new life, so too do we die to sin in the waters of baptism. We are then raised to the promise of new life and salvation in Christ. When we are baptized, we are washed clean from the stain of all that separates us from God. Although babies do not commit sin, they nevertheless are born into a broken world. As members of the human family, our children also carry original sin, that is, the inclination that all of us have to disobey God. Adam and Eve first sinned against God. But Christ, who was totally obedient to God, restores us to relationship with God. This happens in baptism.
Also, baptism is our enlightenment. Once we are baptized, we become open to receiving the graces and spiritual gifts that God desires to share with us. Once baptized, we begin to walk the way of discipleship. We read and hear the Word of God in the Scriptures. We pray and develop a relationship with God. We participate in the Mass every Sunday and prepare to receive the sacraments of the Church. All of this occurs because we have been enlightened through baptism.
Baptism is likewise our membership into the Body of Christ, the Church. We become adopted sons and daughters of God in baptism. We join God's Family, the Church. We are therefore brothers and sisters with all members of the Church. Specifically, our baptism makes us members of the Catholic Church. We enter into a 2,000 year tradition of faith and we are surrounded by the prayer, example, and intercession of the saints - those baptized followers of Jesus who have gone before us.
At baptism, we also receive the Holy Spirit and we become the Temple of the Holy Spirit through baptism. Jesus promised his disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit. After Jesus returned to God's right hand, the Spirit was sent to fill the hearts of all believers. Through baptism, the Holy Spirit comes to rest in us forever. We are inspired by the Spirit of God to serve others. Baptism leaves a permanent mark. It can never be taken away. We can never renounce the Spirit of God who dwells in us. When we receive the sacrament of Confirmation after baptism, we confirm the Spirit's presence first given to us at baptism and we obtain the Spirit's gifts.
Signs and Symbols of Baptism
During the rite of baptism, there are many signs and symbols that are used to point to the deeper realities that take place in the sacrament of baptism. Here are a few of the elements you might see and experience at a baptism in the Catholic tradition:
Water is a very significant sign. Water gives life. Water nourishes. Water also washes us clean. Water drowns sin. God's Spirit hovered over the waters of the earth at the dawn of Creation. Noah survived the flood in the ark. The ancient Hebrews escaped slavery in Egypt by passing through the Red Sea. And Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River.
There are two anointings with oil at baptism. The first is with the oil of catechumens. We ask God to give strength to the child and to protect them from the effects of evil. The second anointing happens immediately after baptism. This oil, called sacred chrism, anticipates the sacrament of confirmation. It also is a special anointing of the newly baptized into the mission of Jesus Christ. We are anointed with chrism to become "priests, prophets, and kings" like Jesus.
The flame of the paschal candle reminds us of many things: we think of Christ as the light that shines in the darkness. We remember how the Holy Spirit came to the first disciples at Pentecost, in the form of tongues of fire. We recall baptism as enlightenment. The flame of the pascal candle reminds us that Christ shines the light of faith in our lives and we are called to do the same.
As the waters of baptism have cleansed us from all sin, we are made a new creation. Our souls are pure and clean. We have been returned to our original goodness. Therefore, we wear white, a color that symbolizes purity, cleanliness, and new life.