The Celebration of the Christian Mystery
sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
apostles and their collaborators offer Baptism to anyone who be-
lieved in Jesus: Jews, the God-fearing, pagans.
is seen as connected with faith: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you
will be saved, you and your household,” St. Paul declared to his
jailer in Philippi. And the narrative continues, the jailer “was
baptized at once, with all his family.”
According to theApostle Paul, the believer enters through
Baptism into communion with Christ’s death, is buried with him,
and rises with him:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into
Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried
therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ
was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too
might walk in newness of life.
The baptized have “put on Christ.”
Through the Holy Spirit,
Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies.
Hence Baptism is a bath of water in which the “imperish-
able seed” of the Word of God produces its life-giving effect.
Augustine says of Baptism: “The word is brought to the material
element, and it becomes a sacrament.”
From the time of the apostles, becoming a Christian has
been accomplished by a journey and initiation in several stages.
This journey can be covered rapidly or slowly, but certain essential
elements will always have to be present: proclamation of theWord,
acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion, profession of faith,
Baptism itself, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and admission to
This initiation has varied greatly through the centuries according
to circumstances. In the first centuries of the Church, Christian initiation
saw considerable development. A long period of
series of preparatory rites, which were liturgical landmarks along the path
2:41; 8:12-13; 10:48; 16:15.
33 St. Augustine,
In Jo. ev.
80, 3: PL 35, 1840.