Acts 2:38-39 "But Peter said to them: Do penance: and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins. And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, whomsoever the Lord our God shall call."
what are the effects of Baptism? What does Baptism do? Baptism:
An emergency, bare-essentials baptism which can be performed anywhere, by anyone -- Catholic, pagan, Jew, Protestant -- who uses the proper matter and form and intends to do what the Church does when She baptizes. Because of that last condition, Baptism by heretics or apostates should always be followed by a conditional Baptism (see below). Note that Baptism must only be administered to those who request it; Baptism must never, ever be against the will of the person to be baptized, or his parents' will if he is a child. Also, rest assured that those who, with contrite hearts, have expressed a true desire for Baptism and have vowed to receive the Sacrament, but die before receiving it are baptized "by desire." In any case, a person baptized in a private Baptism should participate in the Solemn Rite of Baptism if and when he is able.
Baptism by a priest, who is the usual minister of Baptism, during the Rite of Baptism which includes ceremonies such as a formal renunciation of Satan and all his works, exorcism, the use of water blessed at the Easter Vigil or Pentecost, the imposition of blessed salt, an annointing with Chrism, etc. One may be solemnly baptized as an infant; or by preparing oneself through catechesis and being baptized by a priest outside the Easter Vigil; or, as is most common, by being baptized at the Easter Vigil by a priest and after a period of official catechesis.
The bare necessity for Baptism -- and the procedure used to baptize someone in an emergency -- is to say the following words while pouring clean water (hot or cold, fresh or salt -- though cold and fresh is preferred) over the forehead of the one to be baptized. The water must touch and flow over the skin of the head:
I baptize thee in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.
Ego te baptizo in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.
Small variations may occur in this formula -- e.g., the use of "christen" for "baptize," "you" instead of "thee," "Holy Spirit" instead of "Holy Ghost," etc. -- but "baptize" or "christen" must be used in the English language, the Most Holy Trinity must be invoked using their Biblical titles, water must be used, it must be at least poured over the forehead such that it touches the skin (immersion, of course, is fine, too), and the words of Baptism must be said as the water is being poured or as the person is being immersed. However, the form written above is the precise method that should be encouraged and that every Catholic should know and teach their children in case they ever find themselves in the position of having to administer the Sacrament to someone in emergency need. Ideally, there should be a triple pouring or immersion -- once during each invocation of a Divine Person (e.g., "I baptize thee in the Name of the Father [pour] and of the Son [pour] and of the Holy [pour] Ghost").
If there is any doubt that Baptism validly took place, that is, according to the method above, a "conditional Baptism" is later administered. A conditional Baptism is also the style of private Baptism used when baptizing someone who is not sure he is baptized. The words of a conditional Baptism are:
If thou art not baptized, I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Si non es baptizatus (-a), ego te baptizo in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.
Again, private Baptism should always be followed, if possible, by the formal Solemn Rite of Baptism.
First things first: Catholic parents should arrange for the Baptism of their newborn as soon as possible. Do not delay! It should be the first thing on the new parents' minds (well, maybe just after they count fingers and toes...).
The name you choose for your child should, ideally, be that of a Saint; at the least, he should not be given a name that conflicts with the Faith or recalls anything unsavory. The name you, as a Christian parent, give your child is known as his "Christian name" for a reason (note that he will receive a new name at Confirmation, too).
When planning for a Baptism, sponsors (called "godparents" in the case of children) are chosen -- by the parents or by the catechumen himself, if he is of age -- to stand up for the catechumen during the Rite. There should, ideally, be one male and one female for this task, both baptized Catholics who are in good standing with the Church and who've reached the age of sixteen. If two sponsors are unavailable, one will suffice. Among those who may not act as sponsor are: members of religious orders, spouses in respect to each other, parents in respect to their own children, infidels, heretics, members of condemned secret societies, and public sinners (Note: the 1983 Code of Canon Law does not mention that spouses may not sponsor each other and that members of religious orders may not act as sponsors. As to Christian heretics, it says that while Protestants may not act as sponsors, they may act as "witnesses").
The spiritual relationship formed between sponsor and the the one sponsored is so close that, traditionally speaking, it is considered an impediment to marriage if a sponsor were to attempt to marry anyone s/he sponsors, or even a parent of the one sponsored (the 1983 Code of Canon Law doesn't mention this tradition).
What Sponsors Do
In the case of children, the role of the godparent is to be that of "spiritual guardian" who takes up any "slack" in the child's catechesis, helps ensure that his godchild learns the Faith, and prays for the godchild throughout his life. St. Thomas Aquinas writes in his Summa Theologica III-67-8:
Now it has been stated...that godparents take upon themselves the duties of a tutor. Consequently they are bound to watch over their godchildren when there is need for them to do so: for instance when and where children are brought up among unbelievers. But if they are brought up among Catholic Christians, the godparents may well be excused from this responsibility, since it may be presumed that the children will be carefully instructed by their parents. If, however, they perceive in any way that the contrary is the case, they would be bound, as far as they are able, to see to the spiritual welfare of their godchildren.
This is a very solemn obligation, not one to be entered into lightly. Parents should choose their child's godparents very carefully and select traditional Catholics who know the Faith, understand the obligations of god parenting, and are willing and able to live up to them. Parents and godparents should work together for the goal of helping the child to know, love, and serve God! During the Rite of Baptism, the godparents will answer for the child, that is, they will make the replies to the questions asked by the priest of the one to be baptized.
Sponsors for adults should express the same type of concern for the newly baptized soul, helping to ease the person into Church life and answer questions that may arise. During the Rite of Baptism, the sponsors for adults stand silent, with a hand on the candidate's shoulder (and sometimes signing the catechumen with the Cross, in some variations of the Rite); the one to be baptized answers the priest's questions himself.
On a cultural note, it is common for sponsors to give a gift to the newly baptized on the day of his Baptism, and also common for the godparents of children to give gifts throughout the year, on days such as Christmas, Name Days, and birthdays -- to sort of act as an aunt or uncle would toward the child on special days such as these. These gifts need not be anything expensive, of course, but should be religious in nature.
Note, too, that it is typical for guests at a Christening to give small gifts or cards to the newly baptized on the day of his Baptism, just as it is the custom for guests to do so for those who receive their First Communion, who are Confirmed, or who receive the Sacraments of Holy Matrimony or Holy Orders. Finally, Christening parties often follow Baptism -- especially after the Baptism of babies; they are usually small "family and close friends affairs" involving the serving of dessert and coffee.
On another cultural note, it is customary to give the priest a stipend for his time, especially for a "stand-alone" Baptism, i.e., a Baptism that does not take place during the course of a regularly scheduled Mass.