OSJ On Baptism

A crash course on baptism for those who have had no previous guidance.

What is 'baptism'?

The word 'baptism' comes from the Greek word 'baptizein' meaning to "immerse, plunge, or dip." 

Baptism symbolises a transition from death to life/leaving the old behind and a new beginning/a washing away.  

Baptism should not be entered into without some prior thought and reflection.  

It is an outward sign of something that has happened, an internal response to a spiritual desire, a statement of intent and commitment.  

It marks the first steps in a personal journey.

It is also a formal welcome into full time membership of the Christian community.

What happens in a baptism?

A typical baptism service will ask questions of parents, godparents, the candidates (if they are of an age to respond themselves), and other members of the family and friends to make sure that they fully understand what they are doing and their responsibilities.

Those taking part in a baptism service should be aware that these questions are asked before God and there is a commitment on each person’s part to uphold those promises made.

The person being baptised is often first anointed with the holy oil (catechumens), and then parents and godparents (or candidate if they are old enough to speak for themselves) make a profession of faith. 

The essential part of Baptism consists of the priest/minister/pastor immersing the candidate in water once or pouring/sprinkling water on the candidate's head three times, while saying the words, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." 

The candidate is then anointed a second time in some traditions but this time with a different kind of holy oil (chrism). 

Usually the candidate then receives a blessing and receives a lit candle to remind them the carry the light of Christ with them and he lights their path.

Getting baptised:

If you are already a member of a church, baptism is usually not a problem.  

However, those parents with no or little connection with their local church may find things very different. 

In many cases they will be refused by their local churches unless the parents become regular members.  They may even have to attend preparation classes.
It isn't always as easy or as straight forward as people think.

Then there are are also those who would like to be baptised at a later stage in life but do not know who to turn to.  

Order of St James priests will not place obstacles or conditions in the way of anyone who comes with a genuine desire to be baptised themselves, or have their children baptised.  They will be baptised into the worldwide Christian family and be without any specific denominational bias.

The form of words used for the baptism will include the words, 'I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit', and these words are accepted as appropriate by most of the mainstream denominations.

Alternatives to Baptism:

(1)  Dedication services can be appropriate for those who feel that they, in faith, cannot accept the principle of child baptism but wish to make a public declaration of their intent to bring up their new child in the Christian tradition.

There is no set form to this kind of service but may (or may not) contain all the elements of a 'traditional' service (readings, prayers, hymns and songs, psalms or poetry and a short talk).

The main focus would be on the promises made by the parents. OSJ priests are usually very happy to work with parents in putting together a dedication

(2)  Thanksgiving services for the new life of a child, an adoption, or following a difficult birth may also be another alternative to consider. 

This is a completely open form of liturgy in the sense of there are 'no rules' as to what needs to be included. 

It should be a happy service that has something for everyone.

It is a good idea to plan a thanksgiving service with your OSJ (UK) priest as they will be able to advise you how to balance the sacramental integrity of the
service whilst keeping it an enjoyable family event.