Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spirtualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are free from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Chris, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water and in the word”. CCC 1213
Baptism in the Church
From the very day of Pentecost the Church has celebrated and administered holy Baptism. Indeed St. Peter declares to the crowd astounded by his preaching: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The apostles and their collaborators offer Baptism to anyone who believed in Jesus: Jews, the God-fearing, pagans. Always, Baptism is seen as connected with faith: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household,” St. Paul declared to his jailer in Philippi. And the narrative continues, the jailer “was baptized at once, with all his family.” CCC 1226
From the time of the apostles, becoming a Christian has been accomplished by a journey and initiation in several stages. This journey can be covered rapidly or slowly, but certain essential elements will always have to be present: proclamation of the Word, acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion, profession of faith, Baptism itself, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and admission to Eucharistic communion. CCC 1229
Necessity of Baptism
The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation (Jn 3:5). He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them (Mt 28:19-20). Baptism is necessary to salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament (Mk 16:16). The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are “reborn of water and the Spirit.” God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments. CCC 1257
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