THE CURE II.0 – BAPTISMAL REGENERATION
The Administration of Holy Baptism begins on page 273 of the Book of Common Prayer. After prayers petitioning God’s promises are said, the minister questions the sponsors. Sponsorship has been an important office in the rite of baptism in the Church at least back to the third century and it may well go back even further. Sponsors were once required for both adults and children and there has been some revival of the practice of adult sponsorship in recent years. Sponsors must affirm the three creeds of the Church and it is their duty to regularly pray for the child once baptized, as well as to be as active as possible in their spiritual formation. Not only praying, but also encouraging, and taking an interest in the child’s Christian education is involved in sponsorship. In particular, the sponsor should be available to help prepare the child for confirmation by the Bishop. Our prayer book does not make sponsors an absolute rule and in any case parents are always assumed to take up the responsibilities given to sponsors. The questions directed to the sponsors follow another rehearsal of the benefits expected from the baptism. The celebrant then blesses the Font and baptizes the child after his naming:
“Name this Child.
N. I baptize thee In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”
This formula is taken from Matthew 28:19, and from the first century it has been universal. No other words are proper to holy baptism. Phrases such as, “In the Name of God” or “in the Name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer” will not do in Christian baptism. The essentials of baptism are (1) the naming of the child, (2) the pouring, sprinkling, or immersing into water, and finally (3) the benediction “I baptize thee in the holy Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” The invocation of God’s Name stamps the person baptized as his own child.
Immediately following the baptism the minister makes the sign of the Cross upon the child’s forehead and he prays:
“We receive this Child (Person) into the congregation of Christ’s flock; and do sign him with the sign of the Cross, in token that hereafter he shall not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under his banner, against sin, the world, and devil; and to continue Christ’s faithful soldier and servant unto his life’s end. Amen.”
The rubrics require that the Minister once more declare to the congregation the effect of the baptism just performed:
“Seeing now, dearly beloved brethren, that this Child (this person) is regenerate, and grafted into the body of Christ’s Church, let us give thanks unto Almighty God for these benefits; and with one accord make our prayers unto him, that this Child (this Person) may lead the rest of his life according to this beginning.”
The congregation and the celebrant then prays the Lord’s Prayer after which the minister prays to God Almighty and once again rehearses the benefits of the baptism just performed, only this time he gives thanks to God for the benefits.
“We yield thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased thee to regenerate this Child (this thy Servant) with thy Holy Spirit, to receive him for thine own Child, and to incorporate him into thy holy Church. And humbly we beseech thee to grant, that he, being dead unto sin, may live unto righteousness, and being buried with Christ in his death, may also be partaker of his resurrection; so that finally, with the residue of thy holy Church, he may be an inheritor of thine everlasting kingdom; through Christ our Lord. Amen”