Mysteries of Initiation (Baptism)
 (The Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation) BAPTISM is the first of the Mysteries (Sacraments) of the Church to be received. It opens the doors to the Christian Faith and to the other Mysteries (Sacraments). Without Baptism, none of the other Mysteries (Sacraments) of the Church could ever be received. It is also the formal reception of a new member into our Catholic family, our Maronite family, and on the local level, our parish family. The pastor of a parish is the father of his spiritual family and has great responsibilities toward his spiritual children, thus, the term “Father” (Abouna). Among his many duties, he is to remind the parents that their spiritual responsibilities are just as equal as their others duties toward their children. The Catholic Church insists that parish priests see to it that parents, or at least one parent, take their spiritual responsibilities seriously before Baptizing their children. The entire responsibility of the Faith and a commitment to that Faith falls, first and foremost, on the parents, and then, on the sponsors (commonly called Godparents). In the celebration of the Mystery (Sacrament) of Baptism, the priest plants the “seed” of the Faith and he must be morally convinced that the parents will “water” that newly planted seed. Otherwise, there is the risk that the seed will die. The priest must see if the parents are registered parishioners of his parish. This basically shows that the parents have the intention of being a part of the local “Family of Faith.” Through parish registration, parishioners have the privilege of receiving all of the spiritual benefits offered by the Church through their parish priest. Of those, the most important, of course, is the reception of the Mysteries (Sacraments). On the other hand, a registered parishioner is also bound by certain obligations: attending the Qurbono (Mass) at the parish church on a regular basis thereby contributing to the spiritual bond which ties the parish family together, and using the weekly offering envelopes thereby contributing to the temporal responsibilities of the parish. Godparents must also be responsibly chosen by the parents. The Church teaches that they must “help the Baptized person lead a Christian life in harmony with Baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations connected with it.” Regarding the choosing of Godparents, the Catholic Church insists that parish priests be sure: • That they have received the Mysteries (Sacraments) of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and First Holy Eucharist; • That they are practicing Catholics; • That they are married in the Church; • That if Godparents are not members of the parish where the Baptism is being celebrated, they must present a letter of good standing signed by a parish priest of the church where they are members. (A member of an Orthodox Church may also serve as one of the Godparents, but a letter from his/her priest is needed as well). Letters of good standing must be presented at least one week before the Baptism; • That a Godparent cannot be the father or mother of the child; • That both Godparents must be at least 18 years old, according to the norms established by the Maronite Church. In the Maronite Church, the Mystery of Chrism (Sacrament of Confirmation) is administered at the same time as Baptism. Parents should be very careful to be sure that the Mystery (Sacrament) of Confirmation is not received again when the child is older. Baptisms are usually celebrated on Saturdays or Sundays but arrangements for weekday Baptisms can also be made with the priest. There is no fee for a Baptism. It is customary that a donation, according to the means for the family, be made to the parish church and a stipend given to the priest who celebrates the Baptism.

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