According to the Catholic faith, baptism is a necessary prerequisite for salvation. It is important in the Catholic faith that those about to die are baptized, so they do not depart from the world without the possibility of being saved. However, for other baptisms, there are several steps to take in order to become a full member of the Catholic faith.
If one is an infant, it is relatively easy to be baptized Catholic. There are only two primary prerequisites for a baby to be baptized: First, at least one parent or caregiver must give their consent that the child be baptized; second, there must be some indication that the child will be brought up within the Catholic faith. The child must also have at least one godparent or sponsor.
Baptism for Adults and Older Children
Once one has reached the age of reason (considered to be about seven), it becomes more difficult to be baptized in the Catholic Church. The person who wishes to be baptized must go through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. This process can take from several months to up to a year to complete.
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, or RCIA, is a series of steps designed to further the knowledge of the Catholic faith in those who wish to be baptized, familiarize them with their church community, receive rites and blessings, and lead a more faith-oriented life. The RCIA ensures that those to be baptized meet the requirement outlined in the Code of Canon Law that they have: "Been instructed sufficiently about the truths of the faith and Christian obligations, and have been tested in the Christian life through the catechumenate."
Baptism for Those who are Near Death
If one is near death and would like to be baptized, the process is nearly as simple as it is for infants. In the Catholic faith, if one shows basic knowledge of the primary truths of the Catholic faith, and indicates that he or shes wishes to be baptized, one may receive the sacrament of baptism from a priest or, if none are available, from any person. It is only necessary for the person officiating to pour water on the head of the sick person while reciting: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
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