Q What’s the difference between baptism and christening?
A ‘Baptism’ and ‘Christening’ are simply different words for the same thing. ‘Baptism’ is based on a Greek word meaning ‘immerse’ and it emphasises the way in which we are immersed in the water. On a deeper level this water symbolises the Holy Spirit and our Baptism in seen as an immersion into God’s very own life of love. ‘Christening’ comes from a Middle English word and emphasises how we are made Christ-like through this sacrament, sharing in His death and Resurrection and becoming adopted sons and daughters of God.
Q I’ve already been baptised. Do I need to be baptised again to become a Catholic?
A No. If your baptism was by a Christian community with water and made in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, then it will be recognised by the Catholic Church. If there is any doubt as to the validity of your baptism, for example if it was performed by a community that does not use the Trinitarian formula (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), then you might need to have a “conditional baptism”. This is effectively saying that you are being baptised if and only if your first baptism was not valid.
Q Is it too late for me to be baptised?
A No! It’s never too late for anyone to be baptised.
Q How long does it take before I can be baptised?
A Assuming you are an adult, this will depend on lots of factors. Your local parish will most likely support you through a process of discernment and formation called the RCIA so that you are able to know when you’re ready. It might take a few months but often it will take a year or more. You won’t need to know everything but you will need to know enough to make an informed commitment.
* Grateful acknowledgement to Fr. Stephen Wang, author of “How to Discover your Vocation”, CTS