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The Celebration of the Christian Mystery

315

sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

26

The

apostles and their collaborators offer Baptism to anyone who be-

lieved in Jesus: Jews, the God-fearing, pagans.

27

Always, Baptism

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.”

28

1227

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.

29

The baptized have “put on Christ.”

30

Through the Holy Spirit,

Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies.

31

1228

Hence Baptism is a bath of water in which the “imperish-

able seed” of the Word of God produces its life-giving effect.

32

St.

Augustine says of Baptism: “The word is brought to the material

element, and it becomes a sacrament.”

33

III.

H

ow

I

s

the

S

acrament of

B

aptism

C

elebrated

?

Christian Initiation

1229

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

Eucharistic communion.

1230

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

catechumenate

included a

series of preparatory rites, which were liturgical landmarks along the path

26

Acts

2:38.

27 Cf.

Acts

2:41; 8:12-13; 10:48; 16:15.

28

Acts

16:31-33.

29

Rom

6:3-4; cf.

Col

2:12.

30

Gal

3:27.

31 Cf.

1 Cor

6:11; 12:13.

32

1 Pet

1:23; cf.

Eph

5:26.

33 St. Augustine,

In Jo. ev.

80, 3: PL 35, 1840.

790

1248