Christening and the rite of Baptism

The term “christening” refers to the Christian ceremony to name an infant child. The word christeninghas also been adopted to refer to the naming of other things, such as a ship before it embarks on its maiden voyage, but christenings for infants are usually combined with the rite of baptism. The terms “christening” and “baptism” are often used interchangeably; they are however separate and distinct from each other.

Typically, only infants are christened, while a baptism can be performed on anyone of any age.

A christening is the act of naming an infant child. A baptism is a ceremony or trial, in which a person is purified and initiated into a religious faith. A baptism is widely accepted as the rite of admission into the Christian faith.

While historically it’s a Christian ceremony, there are other doctrines of faith that have forms of baptism.

In a baptism, water is used to cleanse and purify the inductee. The water is symbolic, signifying the cleansing of the mind and spirit in order to rid the spirit of sin. It’s also meant to prepare the inductee for a lifelong journey as a disciple of Christ. It is the Church’s way of welcoming a disciple into the faith and to receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit.

In a baptism, water is used to cleanse and purify the inductee. The water is symbolic, signifying the cleansing of the mind and spirit in order to rid the spirit of sin. It’s also meant to prepare the inductee for a lifelong journey as a disciple of Christ. It is the Church’s way of welcoming a disciple into the faith and to receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit.

The use of water in the rite of baptism is used in different forms among various doctrines. In an infant christening, a priest or holy figure pours water over the baby’s head three times. The purifying water cleanses the child, preparing him or her for a life of Christian devotion. This is also referred to as “affusion“. Afterwards, the child is anointed with other oils, such as balm or olive oil, and then clothed in a white robe. The dress of the white robe also represents purity and new life.

Baptism is, in fact, the only one of the seven sacraments that can be performed by a non-Catholic or non-Christian. It is typically performed by a priest or a deacon, but can be performed by anyone in the case of an emergency, on someone’s death bed for instance. What matters are only the proper words and use of water as the purifier.

In modern times a “christening” is performed at the Church and is followed by a party with balloons at a local hotel, public house or hall. All the guests buy gifts for the newly christened infant and either the Godparents or natural parents will arrange the food, decorations and Christening balloons for the celebrations. There will usually be a cake that will take pride of place and be decorated with storks or crosses and usually the date of the Christening.