Becoming Part of the Catholic Church: Baptism, First Holy Communion, and Confirmation
There are seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church which are essential for salvation and living the life that Christ intended us to live. Of these seven, there are three important Sacraments that initiate an individual and welcome him or her into the family of Christ – Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation. Baptism is the foundation of the Sacrament of initiation and frees one from original sin. Confirmation is the second Sacrament of initiation and is a ritual that signifies strengthening of one’s faith. Communion is the third and in this Catholics partake the Body and Blood of Christ to be a part of his sacrifice. These three Sacraments serve to confirm, strengthen, and increase one’s faith and closeness with the community of Christ.
Derived from the Greek word, bapto or baptizo, baptism means to wash or immerse. The ritual of Baptism symbolizes the washing away of sins and cleansing the soul by immersing it in water. Baptism is an important Sacrament and being baptized is an important part of being initiated into the family of the Catholic Church. Water baptism is an act of obedience and represents forgiveness and unity with Christ and the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
First Holy Communion
The First Holy Communion is a Catholic ceremony, which marks a child or adult’s first reception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. It is an extremely important event in a Catholic family’s life and is marked with celebrations, family gatherings and festive parties as well as gift-giving and special white clothes. The white symbolizes purity and newness while gifts are mainly religious in nature. However, lately cash too has become the gift of choice for First Communions. The First Communion generally takes place when a child is around 7 or 8 years of age.
Confirmation is the completion of the process of initiation into the family of Christ and is preceded by Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. It is one of the 7 Sacraments of Catholicism. Confirmation involves being responsible for one’s faith and actions and is a coming-of-age ceremony. Performed by the Bishop, the confirmation rituals involve laying on of hands as well as anointing with holy oils. In addition, the person chooses a new name which is generally the name of a saint and is added to the Christian name after being confirmed by the Bishop.
These three Sacraments are all part of the initiation of an individual into Christ and the Church. Solemn and meaningful, the rites, rituals, and ceremonies of Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation all serve to bring a person closer to Christ, help him or her to understand the responsibility of being a Christian, and lead a life of faith.