The baptism of infants is a treasured practice dating from the earliest tradition of the Church. Preparation for the baptism of infants is a teachable moment for both parents and the faith community. It can encourage them to re-examine the meaning of faith in their own lives. Baptismal preparation centers on God’s love, on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, on the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church and on the cleansing of original and personal sin. It should reflect on all life as a gift from God, on our being created to the image and likeness of God and on the blessing we have in sharing life with God and with one another.
Who May Be Baptized at the Cathedral?
Parents who are registered in our parish, those who have some real link to the Cathedral, and those who can present some other legitimate claim may inquire about baptism for their child.
If you are registered at another parish, you are asked to obtain permission from your pastor to have your child baptized in another parish. Even if not registered formally, you live within a geographic jurisdiction called a “parish” somewhere. Thus, you will need to contact that parish and obtain the pastor’s permission to have the baptism celebrated at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. If you have attended a baptismal preparation program at the church you attend, ask your pastor to notify our rectory of this fact.
When Can a Child Be Baptized?
As mentioned above, the law of the Church requires that parents see to it that infants are baptized within the first weeks after birth. Some pastoral considerations are to be noted in determining when the actual celebration will take place.
Preparation of the parents (and godparents) is to be accomplished well before the baptism is to occur.
The health of the mother must be considered to assure her presence, if feasible, at the celebration of the sacrament. Her faith, along with that of her husband and of the wider Christian community, is being celebrated and shared with the child.
Any Sunday is an appropriate time to celebrate baptism, since it is the day that commemorates the Resurrection of the Lord. On Sundays, baptism may be celebrated during Mass so that members of the community may be present, and the necessary relationship between Baptism and Eucharist may be clearly seen. Ecumenical considerations or other reasons may suggest the celebration of baptism outside of Mass.
What Is the Form of Baptism?
Baptism is conferred either by immersion in or pouring of water. Immersion is encouraged, but at the Cathedral most are done by pouring.
When Should a Baptism Be Scheduled?
Contact the rectory early in the pregnancy before any family plans are made; that is at least six months before any date is formalized. This early contact enables parents to be scheduled for the necessary sacramental formation session before the child's baptism. It also allows time for sponsors to obtain letters from their parish pastor. Once the formation date is set and proper permissions are received, then a baptism date can be scheduled.
For more information or to register for the preparation class, contact our Baptism Coordinator at the rectory (202-347-3215 x555 or firstname.lastname@example.org).