Faith/Spirituality Forum: Baptism
Baptism QUESTION from Ron July 30, 2001 I would like to know what the Catholic veiws on baptism. Is it nescessary as an adult or beyond the age of accountability, and, Is it biblical for infant baptism?
Can a believing Christian perform baptism for a believer of Jesus Christ? Any respnse would be greatly appriciated.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on July 31, 2001 Dear Mr. Ron:
Baptism is one of the Seven Sacraments instituted by Chirst. It is normally necessary for salvation (John 3:5; Mk 16:16). Baptism can be experienced by an Adult who converts to Christ, or by an infant who, on the basis of the love of his parents, is birthed into the kingdom of God (Mk 10:4; Acts 16:15, 33; 1 Cor 1:16)
In the passages in Acts and 1 Cor just cited we find the entire household being baptized. Entire Household means ENTIRE household -- wife, kids, servants, slaves.
We also see baptism as a sign of the covenant as a rite of initiation in Col 2:11-12 that replaces circumcision. Just as the parents faith brought the Jewish children under the covenent, just as we, as parents, do not ask our children if they want to be born, but bring them into the world out of love, so too, we as parents ought to lift up our children to God and bring them into His Kingdom through baptism.
We don't think, we KNOW that the early Christians interpreted and practiced baptism in this manner. For example, St. Hippolytus of Rome in 215 AD wrote: Baptize first the children; and if they can speak for themselves, let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them. (The Apostolic Tradition, 21).
Origen around 244 AD wrote: the Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism to infants. (Commentary on Romans 5,9)
And in 252 AD the Council of Carthage condemned the opinion that infants must wait until the eighth day after birth to be baptized, as was the case with circumcision. (St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter 64 (59), 2.
These people were not inventing infant baptism, they were affirming what had always been taught and in the case of Origen specifically stating that the practice came from the apostles themselves.
The fact is that the believer's baptism people cannot prove that any such practice existed before the 16th century as a normative practive of the church. But the Catholic Church can provide truckloads of evidence to prove its point. Yes, a anyone, in the case of an emergency, can baptize someone as long as they do as the church intends, pours water or emerse the person in water, while giving the Trinitarian Forumula. The Catechism explains: V. WHO CAN BAPTIZE?
1256 The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and priest and, in the Latin Church, also the deacon. 57 In case of necessity, anyone, even a non-baptized person, can baptize, 58 by using the Trinitarian baptismal formula. The intention required is to will to do what the Church does when she baptizes, and to apply the Trinitarian baptismal formula. The Church finds the reason for this possibility in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of Baptism for salvation. 59
Here are some excerpts from the Catechicm on the nature of Baptism: 1121 The three sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders confer, in addition to grace, a sacramental character or seal by which the Christian shares in Christ's priesthood and is made a member of the Church according to different states and functions. This configuration to Christ and to the Church, brought about by the Spirit, is indelible, 40 it remains for ever in the Christian as a positive disposition for grace, a promise and guarantee of divine protection, and as a vocation to divine worship and to the service of the Church. Therefore these sacraments can never be repeated. 1213 Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), 4 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. 5
1214 This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to plunge or immerse; the plunge into the water symbolizes the catechumen's burial into Christ's death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as a new creature. 6
1215 This sacrament is also called the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit, for it signifies and actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one can enter the kingdom of God. 7
Baptism in the Church
1226 From the very day of Pentecost the Church has celebrated and administered holy Baptism. Indeed St. Peter declares to the crowd astounded by his preaching: Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 26 The apostles and their collaborators offer Baptism to anyone who believed in Jesus: Jews, the God-fearing, pagans. 27 Always, Baptism is seen as connected with faith: Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household, St. Paul declared to his jailer in Philippi. And the narrative continues, the jailer was baptized at once, with all his family. 28
1227 According to the Apostle Paul, the believer enters through Baptism into communion with Christ's death, is buried with him, and rises with him:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 29 The baptized have put on Christ. 30 Through the Holy Spirit, Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies. 31 1228 Hence Baptism is a bath of water in which the imperishable seed of the Word of God produces its life-giving effect. 32 St. Augustine says of Baptism: The word is brought to the material element, and it becomes a sacrament. 33
1229 From the time of the apostles, becoming a Christian has been accomplished by a journey and initiation in several stages. This journey can be covered rapidly or slowly, but certain essential elements will always have to be present: proclamation of the Word, acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion, profession of faith, Baptism itself, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and admission to Eucharistic communion.
1230 This initiation has varied greatly through the centuries according to circumstances. In the first centuries of the Church, Christian initiation saw considerable development. A long period of catechumenate included a series of preparatory rites, which were liturgical landmarks along the path of catechumenal preparation and culminated in the celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation.
1231 Where infant Baptism has become the form in which this sacrament is usually celebrated, it has become a single act encapsulating the preparatory stages of Christian initiation in a very abridged way. By its very nature infant Baptism requires a post-baptismal catechumenate. Not only is there a need for instruction after Baptism, but also for the necessary flowering of baptismal grace in personal growth. The catechism has its proper place here.
The Baptism of adults
1247 Since the beginning of the Church, adult Baptism is the common practice where the proclamation of the Gospel is still new. The catechumenate (preparation for Baptism) therefore occupies an important place. This initiation into Christian faith and life should dispose the catechumen to receive the gift of God in Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist.
1248 The catechumenate, or formation of catechumens, aims at bringing their conversion and faith to maturity, in response to the divine initiative and in union with an ecclesial community. The catechumenate is to be a formation in the whole Christian life . . . during which the disciples will be joined to Christ their teacher. The catechumens should be properly initiated into the mystery of salvation and the practice of the evangelical virtues, and they should be introduced into the life of faith, liturgy, and charity of the People of God by successive sacred rites. 47
1249 Catechumens are already joined to the Church, they are already of the household of Christ, and are quite frequently already living a life of faith, hope, and charity. 48 With love and solicitude mother Church already embraces them as her own. 49
The Baptism of infants
1250 Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. 50 The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth. 51
1251 Christian parents will recognize that this practice also accords with their role as nurturers of the life that God has entrusted to them. 52
1252 The practice of infant Baptism is an immemorial tradition of the Church. There is explicit testimony to this practice from the second century on, and it is quite possible that, from the beginning of the apostolic preaching, when whole households received baptism, infants may also have been baptized. 53
Faith and Baptism
1253 Baptism is the sacrament of faith. 54 But faith needs the community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe. The faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop. The catechumen or the godparent is asked: What do you ask of God's Church? The response is: Faith!
1254 For all the baptized, children or adults, faith must grow after Baptism. For this reason the Church celebrates each year at the Easter Vigil the renewal of baptismal promises. Preparation for Baptism leads only to the threshold of new life. Baptism is the source of that new life in Christ from which the entire Christian life springs forth.
1255 For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents' help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized - child or adult on the road of Christian life. 55 Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium). 56 The whole ecclesial community bears some responsibility for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at Baptism.
VI. THE NECESSITY OF BAPTISM 1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. 60 He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. 61 Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. 62 The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are reborn of water and the Spirit. God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.
1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.
1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.
1260 Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery. 63 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.
1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: Let the children come to me, do not hinder them, 64 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.
For the forgiveness of sins . . .
1263 By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. 66 In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam's sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.
1264 Yet certain temporal consequences of sin remain in the baptized, such as suffering, illness, death, and such frailties inherent in life as weaknesses of character, and so on, as well as an inclination to sin that Tradition calls concupiscence, or metaphorically, the tinder for sin (fomes peccati); since concupiscence is left for us to wrestle with, it cannot harm those who do not consent but manfully resist it by the grace of Jesus Christ. 67 Indeed, an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 68
A new creature
1265 Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte a new creature, an adopted son of God, who has become a partaker of the divine nature, 69 member of Christ and co-heir with him, 70 and a temple of the Holy Spirit. 71
1266 The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification:
enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues;
giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit;
allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues.
Thus the whole organism of the Christian's supernatural life has its roots in Baptism.
Incorporated into the Church, the Body of Christ
1267 Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: Therefore . . . we are members one of another. 72 Baptism incorporates us into the Church. From the baptismal fonts is born the one People of God of the New Covenant, which transcends all the natural or human limits of nations, cultures, races, and sexes: For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. 73
1268 The baptized have become living stones to be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood. 74 By Baptism they share in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission. They are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that [they] may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called [them] out of darkness into his marvelous light. 75 Baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers.
1269 Having become a member of the Church, the person baptized belongs no longer to himself, but to him who died and rose for us. 76 From now on, he is called to be subject to others, to serve them in the communion of the Church, and to obey and submit to the Church's leaders, 77 holding them in respect and affection. 78 Just as Baptism is the source of responsibilities and duties, the baptized person also enjoys rights within the Church: to receive the sacraments, to be nourished with the Word of God and to be sustained by the other spiritual helps of the Church. 79
1270 Reborn as sons of God, [the baptized] must profess before men the faith they have received from God through the Church and participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the People of God. 80
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