Baptism is “the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the Word." (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1213)
Baptism is a gift from God to humanity. Baptism is the first of three Sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) that initiates us into the family of God and cleanses us of sin. We do not need to earn this gift. God gives it freely to all who are open to it.
Baptism is an initiation rite which begins our journey by connecting us to a community of faith. It is a ritual which includes pouring on of water, lighting a candle for life and the presence of sponsors who promise to guide the person on their journey of faith. To learn more about Baptism, visit the USCCB's page on Baptism or view Baptism: Incorporated into Christ's Body, Sent on Christ's Mission.