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Baptism according to Catholics

I have been asking myself several questions about baptism. I wonder why Catholics do it differently. I hope to find answers today in this forum. Jesus was immersed in water to signify that he was washed of his sins. I wonder why Catholics only wash someone's head and term it as baptism. Anyone with a relevant answer? 


  • Posts: 129
    Baptism is just a ceremonial act. No matter if it is just he head that is washed (or wetted) or even if the entire person is submerged in water, what's more important is the prayer that comes with the act and not the act per se. Catholics are baptized when they are born because babies are believed to be strengthened by the baptism. It doesn't matter if the baby has no consciousness of the baptism but it is the consenf of the parents that matter more. When a baby becomes a Catholic by baptism, there is the confirmation rites that would cement the Catholic child's faith when he turns 12 years old.
  • @Corzhens, baptism is only for those who believe and are certain of the path they have chosen. Why then are Catholics baptizing children yet they do not believe and are uncertain of the ways they have chosen?
  • Posts: 59
    I don't think that Jesus was immersed in water. He was standing in water a John poured water over His head. Why was he baptised, did He have any sin? There is no difference there compared to how we are baptised in Catholic. It is only that we don't stand in water.
  • Posts: 129
    @Ellyjude, if you are again going to cite the Bible, let me inform you that Christian denominations have their own beliefs aside from the Bible. For Catholics, it is called dogma, a belief based on tradition that is declared by the Pope. And children are the responsibilities of the parents so the parents have the right to have their children baptized as Catholics. And that is right as per the belief of Catholics whether it is in the Bible or not. Again.. unless the Bible explicitly said it is wrong.
  • Posts: 5
    I respectfully disagree with your statement that Jesus was baptized to signify that he was washed of his sins.  Jesus was incapable of sin. He did not descend into the water to be cleansed of sin. John knews he was sinless and refused to baptize him. Jesus insisted and humbled himself to the level of a sinner. 

    The Catholic Catechism has the following to say about Christ's baptism. 

    537 Through Baptism the Christian is sacramentally assimilated to Jesus, who in his own baptism anticipates his death and resurrection. The Christian must enter into this mystery of humble self-abasement and repentance, go down into the water with Jesus in order to rise with him, be reborn of water and the Spirit so as to become the Father's beloved son in the Son and "walk in newness of life": 

    The following is my own additional thought. He, sinless, descends into the waters of baptism, that dirty water that contained all the sins of those who had been baptized....as a symbolic way of taking on those sins, the sins for which he would be the sacrifice. 

    For Catholics, we have a two part sacrament of initiation: Baptism, usually as infants, and Confirmation, as young adults. 

    For more on Catholic scriptural rationale for infant baptism, see the following link:

    and note that this was indeed the practice from the early centuries of Christianity. 

  • Posts: 129
    I agree that the baptism of Jesus is not for washing off the sins but a sort of ritual with the Holy Spirit which descended on Jesus. But the baptism of Catholics is to mean taking away of the sin that was inherited from the parents. In other words, a newly born child already has a sin that was passed on to him by his parents. Sorry, I forgot the name of this sin. And baptism will wash away that sin from the child.
  • I read a few years ago in theological studies, that centuries ago Catholics practiced the baptism by immersion under water. This changed after an important King that was dying, was no longer able to be baptized by immersion under water due to his condition and so in order to preserve the ceremonial act, his head was sprinkled with the water, soon other people of influence started having baptisms in the same manner as well. It became trendy and it stuck.
  • Posts: 64
    I think it would just not be practical or possible to have a complete immersion in water. 

    Also if one is being washed/sprinkled with holy water, would not just a touch of the water purify the entire being? The cleansing is really of the spirit, not the body. 

    @ellyjude, I understand your view of baptism being only for adults who have chosen to follow Christ. But I don't understand how that view plays out in regards to children - if the end were to come tomorrow, what would happen to all the unbaptized children who were not yet of age to choose baptism? 
  • Posts: 129
    As with the full immersion in water to baptize a person, it depends on the tradition and belief. The Jehovah's Witness conduct their baptism in swimming pools so the person being baptized can be fully immersed. Likewise with Iglesia Ni Cristo, a Philippine sect of Christianity, they also use a swimming poll and the person wears an all white attire for the occasion.

    Baptism is symbolic so whether a sprinkling of water or full immersion, it is practically the same. For me, even if there is no water, baptism is still effective as long as there is the prayer and the belief.
  • The so called "original sin" is the sin that we inherited from our first parents in the Garden of Eden. They say that being baptized is like clearing the infant of that sin, so that the child will enter the church with a clean slate, ready to embark on his journey of life. The Catholic Church is full of traditions and rituals, baptism is certainly one of the most common. With regards to unbaptized children, if the end does come tomorrow, they will not go to hell. That's for sure, because according to some priests I have spoken with, they are angels, they belong in heaven. True or not, I would rather think of it that way. 
  • Posts: 129
    You are right, @lamanlupa that the Catholic church is full of traditions and rituals. During each season like Christmas and Holy Week, there are many rituals involved. I think only here in the Philippines is practiced that ritual of Santacruzan, a procession to commemorate the search for the holy grail.

    Back to baptism, I think Catholics were the first one to have that and some other sects just followed and revised the ceremony so as not to say that they imitated the Catholics.
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