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More on Sacramental Theology

When celebrating a sacrament, provided that the correct form, matter, and minster are present, the sacrament is performed ex opere operato, a Latin phrase meaning, “by the work worked.” Essentially it means that God confers the graces of the sacrament when the sign is validly effected. We believe that God has bound himself to the sacraments—that is, as long as we utilize the proper form, matter, and minister, God will confer the graces of the sacraments to his children. However, a proper disposition in the recipient is necessary to receive the grace conferred. Let us look at each sacrament.



The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says in no. 1213:My baptism was valid...right? | Catholic News Agency

“Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: ‘Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.’”

In baptism, we are born anew into Christ Jesus. The Catechism notes: “Immersion in water symbolizes not only death and purification, but also regeneration and renewal. Thus the two principal effects are purification from sins and new birth in the Holy Spirit.” (1262). When a person is baptized, original sin, any personal sins, and the temporal punishments due because of them are forgiven and wiped away. If a person dies immediately after baptism, he or she would go straight to heaven. Baptism also incorporates us into the Body of Christ (CCC 1267) and by it we “become ‘living stones’ to be ‘built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood.’ By Baptism [we] share in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission.” (CCC 1268) As noted last week, baptism is one of the seven sacraments that creates an indelible spiritual mark (or character) on the person’s soul. The baptized person is forever configured to Christ and no amount of sin can ever remove the mark. Because of this permanent character, baptism can never be lawfully repeated.

Form, Matter, and Minister

Is Baptism by Immersion Catholic? - The Southern CrossForm: The form is, “[Name], I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” No other words may be used. Sadly, we have seen in the news in the last few years there have been people who have tried to “improvise” and say “We” instead of “I ,” or baptizing in the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. All of these are invalid and the person would actually not be baptized. Christ himself, through the minister, is the one who baptizes—not the community. And he himself gave us the words to use in Matthew 28:19—“Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

Matter: water, by a triple immersion (being pushed under the surface) or a triple infusion (pouring)

Minister: ordinary ministers are a bishop, priest, or deacon. In extraordinary circumstances (such as danger of death), anybody, even a non-Christian, can baptize as long as the proper form and matter is used and the person has the required intention: to will to do what the Church does when she baptizes. (CCC 1256).



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