Baptism is the sacrament by which we become Christians. It frees us from Original Sin, makes us children of God, temples of the Holy Spirit and members of the Church.
Baptism is of the greatest importance for us because it is the ordinary way of salvation for every human being (ccc. 1257). It is the gateway to the other sacraments and the whole Christian life.
The water of Baptism symbolises both washing and new life. The effects of Baptism are: the washing away of all sins, especially the state of Original Sin inherited from our first parents; a new and supernatural life as children of God and members of the Church.
"You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead." Col 2:12
How do we prepare for Baptism?
An adult prepares for Baptism by becoming a catechumen, that is, someone who is being catechised (educated) in the Christian Faith. The formal process and rite for this is called the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).
How does Baptism take place?
Anyone who believes and has not already been baptised can receive Baptism. Following early Church practice, the Church also baptises the infants of Christian parents, which sacrament bestows the initial grace of faith on those babies. Parents make a promise to bring up their child in the faith of the Church, until that child can make a personal act of commitment to Christ, New born babies should be baptised as soon as possible.
A sacred minister normally baptises. In cases of necessity, however, any person can baptise if intending to do what the Church does in Baptism. Baptism is conferred by immersion in water or by pouring water over the head, together with the proper form of words: "[The person's name] I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
God wants and loves each one of us
.."All of us are likewise children of God. God is the origin of the existence of all creatures, He is the Father of each individual human being, with each of whom He has a unique personal relationship. God wants and loves each one of us. ... Thanks to the faith, thanks to a profound and personal 'yes' to God as the origin and foundation of my existence, ... I welcome life as a gift of the Father Who is in heaven; a Parent ... Who, in the depths of my heart, I feel to be my Father, the Father of all my brothers and sisters in humanity, a Father Who is intensely good and faithful".
"This faith in God the Father rests upon Jesus Christ. His person and His history reveal the Father to us. ... To believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, enables us 'to be reborn from above', in other words from God Who is Love. ... This is the significance of the Sacrament of Baptism: it is a new birth which comes about thanks to the Holy Spirit"..
Pope Benedict XVI – Angelus 8th January 2012