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Parents: Donít Delay Baptism for your Infants!
Archdiocese of Washington ^ | April 22, 2012 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 04/27/2012 6:36:28 PM PDT by Salvation


There is a trend that has set up for years now, and that is that Catholics are waiting many months to get their children baptized. I suspect that what we have here is a combination of a much lower infant mortality rate and, also, a less fervent practice of the faith by many. Further, there seems little sense among the faithful today that an unbaptized infant would be excluded from heaven.

As regards the last point, I think it is pastorally sound to trust in God’s mercy for infants who die before baptism. However, I do not think it follows that we ought to disregard or substantially delay a sacrament which Jesus commands, and which the Church indicates ought not to be delayed. The Code of Canon Law says the following:

Parents are obliged to see that their infants are baptised within the first few weeks. As soon as possible after the birth, indeed even before it, they are to approach the parish priest to ask for the sacrament for their child, and to be themselves duly prepared for it. If the infant is in danger of death, it is to be baptised without any delay. Can. 867 §1,§2

The Catechism also states: The Church and parents deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer baptism shortly after birth. (CCC # 1250) So it seems clear that a higher priority should be given to scheduling the baptism of babies within the first few weeks after birth.

Protestant practice departs from the received Tradition – Another factor for American Catholics is that many are influenced by the Protestants. Protestants, (though not all of them) disagree with our Catholic practice of baptizing infants. They usually wait until a child is between 8 and 12 to baptize,  reasoning that the child will know and understand what is happening and be able to claim Christ for themselves.

But, I hope you see the supreme irony of this in the fact that the Protestants, who so emphasize that salvation does not come from works, delay baptism on the grounds that the infant has not achieved (i.e. worked up to) the proper level of maturity. To know, requires one to learn, which is a work. And we Catholics, who supposedly teach salvation through works (we do not), baptize infants who can work no work.

Novelty – Indeed, the Protestant denominations (mostly Baptists (another irony), Pentecostals, Fundamentalist and Evangelicals) who refuse baptism to infants, engage in a novelty unknown to the Church until recent times.

It is a simple historical fact that the Church has always baptized infants. Even our earliest documents speak of the practice. For example the Apostolic Tradition written about 215 A.D. has this to say:

The children shall be baptized first. All of the children who can answer for themselves, let them answer. If there are any children who cannot answer for themselves, let their parents answer for them, or someone else from their family. (Apostolic Tradition # 21)

Scripture too confirms that infants should be baptized if you do the math. For example

People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (Luke 18:15-17 NIV)

So the Kingdom of God belongs to the little children (in Greek βρέφη (brephe) indicating infants and little children still held in the arms, babes).

And yet elsewhere Jesus also reminds that it is necessary to be baptized in order to enter the Kingdom of God: Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:5 NIV)

If the Kingdom of God belongs to little children, and we are taught that we cannot inherit it without baptism, then it follows that baptizing infants is necessary, and that to fail to do so, is a hindering of the little children which Jesus forbade his apostles to do. So both Tradition and Scripture affirm the practice of baptizing infants.

Many of the Protestants who do refuse infant baptism also water down (pardon the pun!) the fuller meaning of baptism, no longer seeing it as washing away sins and conferring righteousness per se, but more as a symbol of faith that they claim to have already received when they said the “sinners prayer” and accepted Christ as their savior. But what a tragic loss for them, since baptism and particularly the baptism of infants, says some very wonderful things about the complete gratuity of salvation and the goodness of God. Consider these points:

1. The baptism of infants is a powerful testimony to the absolute gratuity (gift) of salvation. Infants have achieved nothing, have not worked, have not done anything to “merit” salvation. The Catechism puts it this way: The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant baptism. (CCC # 1250) The Church is clear, salvation cannot be earned or merited and infant baptism teaches that most clearly. Salvation is pure gift. How strange and ironic that some of the very denominations which claim that Catholics teach salvation by works (we do not) also refuse, themselves, to baptize infants. They claim that a certain age of maturity is required so that the person understands what they are doing. But this sounds like achievement to me. That the child must meet some requirement, seems like a work, or the attainment of some meritorious status wherein one is now old enough to “qualify” for baptism and salvation. “Qualifications….Achievement (of age)….Requirements….it all sounds like what they accuse us of: namely works and merit. To be clear then, the Catholic understanding of the gratuity of salvation is far more radical than many non-Catholics understand. We baptize infants who are not capable of meriting, attaining or earning.

2. The Baptism of infants also powerfully attests to the fact that the beauty of holiness and righteousness is available to everyone regardless of age. To be baptized means to be washed. Washed of what? Original Sin. At first this seems like a downer, “Are you saying my baby has sin?” Yep. All of us inherit Original Sin from Adam and Eve. We are born into a state of alienation from God that is caused by sin. The Scriptures are clear: [S]in entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned (Rom 5:12). So even infants are in need of the saving touch of God. Now why would we wish to delay this salvation and resulting holiness for 7 to 12 years? The Catechism says this,

Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by Original Sin, children also have need of new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and be brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God….The Church and parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer baptism shortly after birth. (CCC # 1250).

St. Cyprian Bishop of Carthage in the 3rd Century was asked if it was OK to wait to the 8th day to baptize since baptism had replaced circumcision. He respond with a strong no:

But in respect of the case of the infants, which you say ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, and that the law of ancient circumcision should be regarded, so that you think that one who is just born should not be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day We [the bishops] all thought very differently in our council. For in this course which you thought was to be taken, no one agreed; but we all rather judge that the mercy and grace of God is not to be refused to any one born of man. (Epist# 58).

So then here is the beauty, that infants are summoned to receive the precious gift of holiness and righteousness and that they are summoned to a right relationship with God by having their sin purged and holiness infused. Infants are called to this dignity and should not be denied it. With this done, some of the holiest and most innocent days of our lives may well be our first years. Then, as the will begins to manifest, and reason begins to dawn, the grace of holiness gives us extra strength to fight against the sinful world that looms.

3. The Baptism of Infants also attests to the fact that faith is gift for every stage of development- To be baptized is to receive the gift of faith. It is baptism that gives the true faith. Even with adults, true faith does not come until baptism. Prior to that there is a kind of prevenient faith, but it is not the Theological Virtue of Faith.

Now faith is not only an intellectual assent to revealed doctrine. It is that, but it is more. To have faith is also be be in a righteous and trusting relationship with God. An infant relates to his parents long before he speaks or his rational mind is fully formed. He trusts his parents and depends on them. It is the same with God. Thus the infant can well trust and depend on God and be in a right relationship with God, in an age appropriate way.

With his parents, his or her relationship of trust with parents, leads the infant to begin to speak and understand as he or she grows. It is the same with God. As the infant’s mind awakens, the infant’s faith grows. It will continue to grow until the day he or she dies (hopefully) as an old man or woman.

That faith accompanies us through every stage of our life, and develops as we do, is essential to its nature. An infant needs faith no less than an old man. An infant benefits from faith no less than a teenager or an adult. To argue, as some Protestants do, that you have to be a certain age before faith can exist, hardly seems to respect the progressive nature of faith which is able to bless EVERY stage of our human journey.

I have some very vivid memories of my experience of God prior to seven years of age and I will say that God was very powerfully present to me in my early years, in many ways even more so than now, when my mind sometimes “gets in the way.”

Too many Catholics are waiting months, even years to have their children baptized. Precious time is lost by this delay. Infant Baptism speaks powerfully of the love that God has for everyone he has created and of his desire to have everyone in a right and saving relationship with Him. Surely baptism alone isn’t enough. The child must be raised in the faith. It is the nature of faith that it grows by hearing and seeing. Children must have faith given at baptism but that faith must be explained and unwrapped like a precious gift for them.

Don’t delay. Get started early and teach your child the faith they have received every day.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: baptism; catholic; msgrcharlespope; sacrament; sacramentofbaptism; sacraments
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To: doc1019
Bull, nothing in the bible requires baptism for entrance into heaven. The only requirement is acceptance that Jesus is our Lord and savior

nonsense, baptism is clearly ordered in the bible. Your tagline explains a lot of what you don't understand.

101 posted on 04/28/2012 8:55:21 PM PDT by terycarl (lurking, but well informed)
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To: terycarl

Yes I do know that,Christ died,and both thieves still alive which is why they broke thier legs,,dont you read the Bible?

102 posted on 04/28/2012 9:19:23 PM PDT by Craftmore
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To: lightman

As the original sin is not one personally committed by the baby, he cannot repent of it.

103 posted on 04/28/2012 9:34:07 PM PDT by annalex (
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To: Bellflower
Jesus delayed His until He was thirty

But not because His "confession of belief" was given Him from St. John or demanded of Him from St. John. In fact, His baptism was obviously not a believer baptism as He is the giver rather than the receiver of our faith, so if one wants to pattern the baptism after the baptism of Jesus, one would have to abandon the unbiblical idea of baptism as manifestation of faith already formed.

The baptism of Jesus is the sanctification of the Baptismal basin for of us. He never said "these waters are for adults who profess their faith"; but rather "it becometh us to fulfill all justice". Unless you are prepared to argue, with the Roe v. Wade babykillers, that "all justice" is bypassing babies, you have to admit that the baptismal font is for all men regardless of age.

104 posted on 04/28/2012 10:10:15 PM PDT by annalex (
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To: Lakeshark; tumblindice; MD Expat in PA
If you think your child who only lived one hour is going to Hell because you didn't have it baptized before he/she died, you have no understanding of God at all.

Who exactly said that. No one did or does. What we do know is that Jesus Christ included Baptism in His plan of salvation and we also know that Jesus loved children and that God is merciful.

Nowhere do we Christians believe that unbaptised children are going to hell. We believe that our merciful God takes care of them

105 posted on 04/29/2012 12:01:50 AM PDT by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: Turtlepower
There are some Biblical verses that seem to imply that water baptism is required for salvation, but there are many other verses that speak of salvation with no mention of water baptism.

Water is the medium through which the baptism takes place mostly. Why? God knows...

106 posted on 04/29/2012 12:03:25 AM PDT by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: annalex; lightman

It’s not “protestant” but one group. Our Lutheran brethern believe Christ’s words on baptism

107 posted on 04/29/2012 12:04:21 AM PDT by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: Salvation
And yet the Bible tells us about the Ethiopian to whom Philip explained Isaiah.

The Ethiopian saays something like “There is some water, why can’t I be baptized right now.”

So in the book of Acts water was used.

I did not say that there is no water in any baptism...I said there was no water in THAT baptism...

Baptism does not mean water and water does not mean baptism...

And here is another salient verse when it comes to baptizing little children...

 Act 8:36  And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

The answer to that question is the answer that apllies to everyone, including little children...Did Philip say that nothing hindered the Eunuch from being baptized???  No he did not...

The Eunuch and babies would be hindered from being baptized for the following reason:

Act 8:37  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

You must believe with all your heart that Jesus is the Son of God before you may be baptized...No babies and no way around it...

108 posted on 04/29/2012 12:30:01 AM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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To: annalex
What sin is the baby supposed to be repenting of?

Exactly...Babies can not repent, ergo; no baptism for babies...

109 posted on 04/29/2012 12:32:40 AM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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To: Salvation
U’ve sourced my material. What is your source.

Paul baptizes entire households. Do you think infants were also baptized? Of course they were.

Straight from the Bible.

You are making stuff up again...Have you no shame???

Under your premise, dogs, cats and goats were baptized as well...

Can you show a single verse in the entire bible where a baby was baptized???  Of course not...Are there any households that do not have babies???  Of course...

Is there scripture that shows that one must repent before being baptized???  Absolutely...

Your statement that your position is 'straight from the bible' is false...

110 posted on 04/29/2012 12:40:26 AM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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To: terycarl
WRONG there are zillions of babies in heaven because they were baptized....can't you read???

Read what???  What book do you have that says babies are in heaven because of baptism???  And don't tell me the Bible, because it's not in there...

111 posted on 04/29/2012 12:46:14 AM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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To: terycarl
oh, please...rules don't matter,??? Christ established a religion for a don't get to make up the instruction book as you go along.

Your problem is that we have the instruction book, in our hands...We don't care about your religion's rules...They are meaningless in light of the scriptures...

112 posted on 04/29/2012 12:49:36 AM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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To: terycarl

“the new covenant did not begin until the death of Christ.That having been said, Christ (God) can do anything and to attribute one persons salvation to your opinion is a little questionable..”

Paul stated that Abraham and the prophets of old were saved by their faith. Paul himself lays down the case that the “new covenant” was in operation even before the “new covenant” was said “traditionally” to have been put in operation. The “new covenant” is a transtemporal concept sealed by the blood of Christ. Once his Death and resurrection had occured in our own measured temporal time, its effects sent ripples across time to include the faithful of old, the present and all those who would come in the future.

113 posted on 04/29/2012 1:51:31 AM PDT by mdmathis6 (Kiss the Son!)
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To: Kent1957
When this was first brought up a couple thousand years ago Anabaptists were killed by the thousands for disagreeing.

Sorry, your post is wrong. The Anabaptists date only from the 16th century as a bunch who tried to go once step further than the 1st and 2nd generation reformers (Lutherans and Calvinists/Zwinglists respectively). They do not date back to Apostolic times

114 posted on 04/29/2012 1:52:47 AM PDT by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: Iscool
You guys just make this stuff up...

No, we Christians (Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists etc.) do not make up stuff.

We believe in a Triune God, and that Jesus Christ is God. So whatever "you guys" want to believe in, whether Christ is just a prophet second to whatever "prophet" y guys follow, that's this minute cult's problem.

115 posted on 04/29/2012 1:54:59 AM PDT by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: HereInTheHeartland; Salvation
The Bible says nothing about an infant needing infant baptism to be a child of God. An infant is incapable of making any decisions for itself. Infant baptism has no bearing on an infants salvation.

Firstly, no one said or believes that you are not a child of God if you are not baptised. Even the heathen are children of God -- even Canaanites as they were created by Him.

Your salvation is from Christ, the same Christ who said He who believes and is baptized will be saved. (Mk 16:16) , the same who said [U]nless you repent you will all likewise perish. (Lk 13:3), the same who said ,b>[H]e who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (Jn 6:54) and he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Matt 24:13

It's not just saying "Lord, Lord", it's not just belief.

"Baptistm now saves.." through God's grace, through the one-time sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the same One who gave us the above commandments. Baptism plays a role in the salvic process as commanded by Christ. For infants who do not receive this, I personally believe that God takes care of the little ones, and the Church holds that God is merciful -- He never commanded for all exceptions, He commanded what we, the ones who grow to reason ought to do in our salvic process.

116 posted on 04/29/2012 2:00:59 AM PDT by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: Bellflower

And “entire households” we baptised as well. Did they include children? Most probably — though I’ll agree with you that it is ambiguous.

117 posted on 04/29/2012 2:02:37 AM PDT by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: mdmathis6

“Once his Death and resurrection had occured in our own measured temporal time, its effects sent ripples across time to include the faithful of old, the present and all those who would come in the future.”

Your post reminds me of one gal’s (a physicist) theory on the Shroud of Turin that it was some time-space continuoum big-bang thing that created the energy that imprinted the shroud. (I probably messed that up, but something like that). But almost like a new “creation” event.

And I think that the main event would be the Resurrection - not so much the death of Christ. Obviously it takes both (”by His stripes we are healed” from the Passion), but I imagine the Power comes from the Resurrection. Otherwise he would just be another dead guy.

118 posted on 04/29/2012 2:16:13 AM PDT by 21twelve
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To: 21twelve

Well i don’t know about the “physics” part, but when reading that Christ raised the ire of the religious authorities by saying..”Before Abraham was ...I AM!,” it opened up in me the notion that time is an artificial concept...that God always exists in the NOW!

119 posted on 04/29/2012 2:57:02 AM PDT by mdmathis6 (Kiss the Son!)
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To: Cronos; annalex
Children can believe in Jesus, even small children. The LORD clearly said we must have the faith of a child to be saved so, of course, a child can be saved. The point is that baptism is a response to saving faith, it isn't a rite unto salvation for those who cannot or do not believe. To think that you can sprinkle someone, anyone, with water, say a few words, and that makes them saved is contrary to everything the Bible teaches.

According to The Bible, parents, including Jesus' parents, dedicated their children to God. This was a way of agreeing with The LORD know that their children belonged to Him, and they were dedicating themselves to raising their children as His. All the Jews, including the ones who had Jesus crucified were as babies dedicated to God, so it is plain that dedication did not automatically save them. If they had been truly saved they would not have had Jesus crucified. Jesus would not have told many of them that their father was the devil.

The Bible says that when King David's baby died shortly after he was born that the child was in heaven. If a child dies before the age of accountability it is taken to heaven, by the sheer and utter mercy and grace of The LORD. Somehow He is able to apply Jesus' sin cleansing blood unto a child who dies, because the child is yet without accountability.

Heaven is likely full of children. Just think of all the children, from the beginning of time, who have died in the womb, or of starvation in third world countries, or have been too weak to make it having died early, or have been not wanted by heathen parents and set aside to die, or have been aborted. When Jesus said "for such is the kingdom of heaven", He may well have been referring, at least in part, to how very many children are up there.

Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw [it], he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

Mark 10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

Mark 10:16 And he took them up in his arms, put [his] hands upon them, and blessed them.

120 posted on 04/29/2012 3:32:55 AM PDT by Bellflower (The LORD is Holy, separated from all sin, perfect, righteous, high and lifted up.)
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