The Sacrament of Baptism
Baptism is the sacrament of salvation: an encounter with God that cleanses us from sin and makes us true children of God, sharing in his very own divine life.
This great gift is offered to all who believe and to the children of families of faith. Since her earliest days, the Church has baptized adults and children because it is the only ordinary way God has revealed that we may receive the grace of salvation through this sharing in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as St. Paul teaches in his letter to the Romans:
“Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried 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. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as [being] dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:3–4, 8, and 11)
Baptism is the first of the three sacraments of initiation. The other two are confirmation and the Eucharist. When a person receives confirmation and eucharist depends on when they were baptized. Children baptized during infancy (birth to age 7) are confirmed in their eighth-grade year and receive their first Communion in the second grade. Anyone over the age of seven with the use of reason is considered by the Church as an adult for the purpose of initiation because they can and must manifest their intention to be baptized. Adults receive all three sacraments of initiation at the same liturgy.