Baptism is the sacrament of faith. The faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop. The catechumen or the godparent is asked: "What do you ask of God's Church?" The response is: "Faith!" For all the baptized, children or adults, faith must grow after Baptism. Preparation for Baptism leads only to the threshold of new life. Baptism is the source of that new life in Christ from which the entire Christian life springs forth.
The different effects of Baptism are signified by the elements of the sacramental rite. Immersion in water symbolizes not only death and purification, but also regeneration and renewal. Thus the two principal effects are purification from sins and new birth in the Holy Spirit. Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte "a new creature," an adopted child of God, who has become a "partaker of the divine nature," member of Christ and coheir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: "Therefore we are members one of another." Baptism incorporates us into the Church. From the baptismal fonts is born the one People of God of the New Covenant, which transcends all the natural or human limits of nations, cultures, races, and sexes: "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body."
The Sacrament of Baptism is administered under two forms in the Catholic Church.
- Children under seven (7) years old
- Children over seven years old and Adults
*(Older children and adults are baptized under the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), and (RCIC) adapted for the Initiation of Children, and is a two year process).