When can you be baptized?
From the moment after birth until the moment before death. It is never too early or too late to be born again in the Holy Spirit and marked as a child of God. Before baptism, one should be appropriately instructed in the meaning and purpose of this beautiful and life changing sacrament of initiation.
Where can you get Baptized?
In ancient times, it was outside of a church since it was a “prerequisite” or a “gateway” to entering into full communion with the church. It might have even been at a river or lake. Now most Baptisms are performed within a church at a baptismal font, which could be located in the narthex, the back of the church, or near the altar. This format has been adopted because the vast majority of Baptisms are for infants, and those that are being baptized are no longer restricted from entry to the church sanctuary. Also, since Baptism is the sacrament by which we enter the Church, it is fitting that Baptism is done in a church, the place dedicated as the common home of the faithful and the house of God. This is also why Baptisms should be done by a priest or deacon, because they stand at the head of the household, the community. Thus, the most preferred time for Baptism is within the context of Sunday Mass, because it is in that context that the entire community welcome to child into the fold (but for pastoral reasons, this is not always possible).
Why do Catholic Christians get Baptized?
Christians are baptized first and foremost because it is the sign that Christ established for becoming his disciple and participating in the victory over sin that he won for us: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19 Christians are baptized in order to begin a permanent relationship with God. It is the first step in a journey towards the paradise that God our Father has prepared for us. It cleanses us from Original Sin received from Adam and Eve. It does not remove our tendency to sin, concupiscence, but through sanctifying grace we are strengthened against it.
Baptism is the prerequisite gateway to all the other sacraments. One cannot receive the other sacraments, or be in full communion with the Church, until they have been baptized. It is the ordinary means by which we enter into the eternal life, by which we receive the redemption won by Christ outside of which there is no salvation. While this is the certain path established by Christ, it does not mean that redemption is impossible for those who are not baptized. While we are bound to enter into communion with God through the concrete means through which he promised to act; God’s actions in the world are not limited to the sacraments, and each person will be judged according to their desire to seek God and participate in His plan.
This applies in a special way to those who pass from this life in infancy before baptism. These we commend to the mercy of God who will not condemn the innocent. We should not, however, relativize or cheapen the Sacrament of Baptism because it is the sacrifice of Christ, by it we are washed in the blood of the Lamb. By the Baptism of our child, we recognize and affirm that there is no redemption outside of Christ.