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Chapter 15. Baptism: Becoming a Christian • 183


The Sacraments of Initiation—Baptism, Confirmation, and the

Eucharist—are the foundations of the Christian life. “Baptism, the

Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the

‘sacraments of Christian initiation,’ whose unity must be safeguarded”

(CCC, no. 1285). We begin with our study of Baptism in this chapter

and will treat the other two Sacraments in the following ones.


Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ

Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed bur-

ied with him through baptism into death, so that, just

as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the

Father, we too might live in newness of life.

—Rom 6:3-4

Baptism is birth into the new life in Christ. In accor-

dance with the Lord’s will, it is necessary for salvation,

as is the Church herself, which we enter by Baptism.

—CCC, no. 1277

In his dialogue with Nicodemus, Jesus taught that Baptism was necessary

for salvation. “No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born

of water and Spirit” (Jn 3:5). After his Resurrection, Jesus met with the

eleven Apostles and gave them the commission to preach the Gospel and

baptize, telling them, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved”

(Mk 16:16). The word


in its origins is Greek and means “immer-

sion” and “bath.” Immersion in water is a sign of death, and emersion out

of the water means new life. To bathe in water is also to undergo cleans-

ing. St. Paul sums up this truth when he says, “You were buried with him

in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the

power of God, who raised him from the dead” (Col 2:12).