Asking us to pronounce our allegiance to faith
Before one is to be baptized it is essential for the sponsors to repeat the words of belief to the church. However, when an adult, beginning with the age of reason, is asked on their own initiative, they must be able to respond themselves. In either case the sponsor or the one to be baptized is able to respond to the questions, it isn’t just a matter of answering from memory, it is understanding the depth of the words and what we are giving allegiance to.
When we respond to the questions there should be a complete adherence to what each acceptance means. At mass, when these are used during the Penitential Rite how easy it becomes to respond without identifying each “I do”.
Preparing an adult catechumen for the sacrament he/she must have some catechesis in order to make a promise by understanding where these statements come from. There can be times when a young person who has no affiliation to any religion or the family is spiritually absent from church itself, most Catholic parishes will require a connection to their local parish. Baptism like all the sacraments should have a base of adherence within the community.
However, there may be a time when this catechumen desires baptism without a specified church and will seek the sacrament by being catechised privately.
The following questions with a multiple array of answers are available and just require the most astute book of literature; the Holy Bible.
I have taken each question and followed them with scripture readings to back up the “I Do” responses.
“Do you believe in God the Father, creator of heaven and earth?” “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the earth, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. (Gn 1: 1-2) The wind equals the Holy Spirit. “Then God said; Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Gn 1: 26). “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gn. 1: 27). “Let us” more than one person! Thus the holy Trinity.
“Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord, who was born into this world and suffered and died?” The birth of Immanuel (Is. 7: 14) followed by The announcement of the Birth of Jesus (LK. 1: 26 - 38), The Birth of Jesus (Lk 2: 1 - 14). Jesus, the second person of the holy Trinity as in the Incarnation.
“Do you believe in the holy Spirit, the Communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting?” Holy Spirit; third person of the holy Trinity. The holy catholic church; lowercase “C” indicating a universal church. The communion of saints: a three spiritual level of the Catholic Church; The church militant, those of us living, the church Penitent, those not yet in heaven (Purgatory) the church Triumphant, those in heaven and praying for us. All three levels are spiritually connected and pray together. Those in purgatory can pray for us but not for themselves. They are already in the state of grace, but await when their previous sins that were not quite purged will be. CCC 1030 - 1032.
“The forgiveness of sins;” of which we cannot accomplish on our own. It took the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the needed divine person to pay the ransom for the sins of mankind, with his crucifixion. Mankind cannot forgive sin which was aimed at God. Only a divine person can accomplish this.
“The resurrection of the body and life everlasting.” “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? Words to the sister of Lazarus whom Jesus brought back to life. (Jn 11: 25 - 26).
Any small catechesis is never enough to completely catechise even well established Christians, let alone a catechumen. However this may be one of the best manners to reach the unbaptized.
Ralph B. Hathaway