Dearest friends, I am sure that as Catholics, you must have noticed that at Baptism, you are given a NEW NAME which is different from the one you were given at birth. Have you taken time to know why it is so?

I deemed it necessary to highlight this aspect of our faith because of the difficulties that people have faced regarding the choice of and the rejection of proposed BAPTISMAL NAMES; either before or during the baptism.

Well, the Church’s intention and guidelines regarding this noble baptismal act are very clear. The Church understands *BAPTISM* as the beginning of a *NEW LIFE* with Christ in the Church (Cf. CCC, nn. 1265-1270). Regarding the above, the Church teaches: “In Baptism, the Lord’s name sanctifies man, and the Christian receives his *NAME* in the Church. This can be:

👉🏽1. *The name of a SAINT* (e.g: Sts. Pio, Augustine, Cecilia, Clare, etc.), that is, of a disciple who has lived a life of exemplary fidelity to the Lord. *The patron saint provides a model of charity; we are assured of his intercession.*
👉🏽2. *The “baptismal name” can also express a CHRISTIAN MYSTERY*, (e.g: Emmanuel, Paschal, Assumpta, Immaculate, etc.).
👉🏽3. *The “baptismal name” can also express CHRISTIAN VIRTUE*, (e.g Faith, Hope, Charity, etc.).
👉🏽4. Parents, sponsors and the pastor are to see that a name is *NOT* given which is foreign to Christian sentiment (Cf. CCC, nn. 2156, Can 855).

From the above then, it is clear that, though the name of a saint should be preferred in choosing a name at Baptism because of its enormous benefits; however, there is also room for names that express Christian mystery or Christian virtues. From the above too, some vernacular names which are not against Christian Sentiment can also be given, e.g *Ifunanya, Chekwube, Chibuike, Favour, Blessing, etc*
Over and above all, *on no account should you CARELESSLY choose a name (either for yourself or for your child) at Baptism because Naming is very important in our Christian journey. Many are already SAINTS because the names they received at Baptism spurred them to greater virtues while on earth. You can also join the company of these saints through the inspiration of your name.*

Remain blessed!

– Rev. Fr. David Okolie

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