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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

BAPTISM

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: Iscool
And I agree with that 100 percent...However, there is no water in THAT baptism...

Baptism does not mean water and water does not mean baptism...Look it up if you don't believe me...

Thank you for giving me another opportunity to prove you wrong and the Catholic Church correct.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/baptize?s=t

bap·tize   /bæpˈtaɪz, ˈbæptaɪz/ Show Spelled [bap-tahyz, bap-tahyz] Show IPA verb, bap·tized, bap·tiz·ing. verb (used with object)

1. to immerse in water or sprinkle or pour water on in the Christian rite of baptism: They baptized the new baby.

2. to cleanse spiritually; initiate or dedicate by purifying.

3. to give a name to at baptism; christen. verb (used without object)

4. to administer baptism.

Origin: 1250–1300; Middle English < Late Latin baptizāre < Greek baptízein to immerse ( bápt ( ein ) to bathe + -izein -ize)

If you want to take it a step further it means to "Whelm" which means to fully wet.

Piece of really sound advice here, when a Catholic tells you something that you disagree with, just assume that you don't have a clue and change your opinion to match their facts.

121 posted on 04/29/2012 4:30:23 AM PDT by verga (Party like it is 1773)
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To: Cronos
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.

So you are at odds then with the Catholic originator of this thread who puts fear into your crowd by  suggesting there are dire consequences for your child if he/she dies without baptism...

So much for your beleaguered Catholic unity...

122 posted on 04/29/2012 5:29:23 AM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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To: JSDude1
Because Baptism doesn’t save a person, no less an infant who doesn’t know what it means to be “born again”

Are you saved by God's will, his action, and his grace, or by your own knowledge?

123 posted on 04/29/2012 6:00:05 AM PDT by Campion ("Social justice" begins in the womb)
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To: Dallas59
Baptism does not save you.

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ -- 1 Pt 3:21, KJV

124 posted on 04/29/2012 6:06:17 AM PDT by Campion ("Social justice" begins in the womb)
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To: Iscool
You must believe with all your heart that Jesus is the Son of God before you may be baptized...No babies

Phillip wasn't speaking to a baby, nor was he speaking of babies. You're trying to create general doctrine from a specific instance which doesn't necessarily apply.

125 posted on 04/29/2012 6:09:10 AM PDT by Campion ("Social justice" begins in the womb)
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To: verga
Piece of really sound advice here, when a Catholic tells you something that you disagree with, just assume that you don't have a clue and change your opinion to match their facts.

Yup...Just throw the bible in the trash and believe a Catholic...LOLOL...I don't think so...

1. to immerse in water or sprinkle or pour water on in the Christian rite of baptism: They baptized the new baby.

You need to find a real dictionary...Baptize does not mean sprinkle...Baptize means 'immerse'...It doesn't mean water...

That's why John the Baptist said, 'Joh 1:33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

You'll notice that it doesn NOT say that Jesus baptizes with water and the Holy Ghost...

John the Baptist baptized with water, for remission of sins...Jesus baptized with the Holy Ghost, (not water) for the birth of the New Man...There is no water in the New Birth...

2. to cleanse spiritually; initiate or dedicate by purifying.

You'll also notice in your posted definition that baptism does not indicate water...It does however signify a cleansing...Not the cleansing of water but a spiritual cleansing that only the Holy Ghost can provide...

Definition of WATER 1 a : the liquid that descends from the clouds as rain, forms streams, lakes, and seas, and is a major constituent of all living matter and that when pure is an odorless, tasteless, very slightly compressible liquid oxide of hydrogen H2O which appears bluish in thick layers, freezes at 0° C and boils at 100° C, has a maximum density at 4° C and a high specific heat, is feebly ionized to hydrogen and hydroxyl ions, and is a poor conductor of electricity and a good solvent

Water does not mean baptize... A far better piece of sound advice would be for you to dump your catechism and buy a Bible and do some serious study...

126 posted on 04/29/2012 6:14:30 AM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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To: lightman; Salvation; Cronos; BlackElk
The divide on this thread, and a few others over the last week or so, is between those who truly believe in Original Sin, and those who view it as something a “nice” god would never consider.

The problem is that if you through out Original Sin, you start asking if you need God at all to be saved, or to say it differently, what is your theology on salvation?

It is coming apparent to me that a great many Evangelicals have no concept of Original sin, or just plain sin for that matter. Some of the Easter threads and discussions have been rather interesting. Everyone seems to want to make a nice idol of Buddy Jesus, who never is mean and never judges. They forget what the real Jesus did to the market outside of the Temple, or what God did to the Canaanites. God is not nice. He is Good. That is the biggest thing many don't understand. God's mercy is why we hope for salvation. God's justice is why we needed Jesus's death to even have that hope, and why we are all damned without it.

127 posted on 04/29/2012 6:38:16 AM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: Iscool
Iscool table for one in the permanently smoking section, Do n’t worry I am certain you will become somewhat accustomed to the smell of brimstone over eternity
128 posted on 04/29/2012 7:52:17 AM PDT by verga (Party like it is 1773)
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To: Campion
Phillip wasn't speaking to a baby, nor was he speaking of babies. You're trying to create general doctrine from a specific instance which doesn't necessarily apply.

Sure it applies...The command is always, REPENT and be baptized...Babies don't repent...

Mar 16:16  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

If you believe not, you will be damned...Doesn't say a word about being damned for not being baptized...

129 posted on 04/29/2012 8:48:26 AM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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To: verga
Iscool table for one in the permanently smoking section, Do n’t worry I am certain you will become somewhat accustomed to the smell of brimstone over eternity

So that's the best refutation you can come up with, eh???  

Sorry Charlie, my testimony is and always has been that I have repented; turned to Jesus and made him MY Lord and Savior...I have been baptized with the Holy Ghost and have been baptized (immersed) in water for a public and personal show of my convictions...

What's YOUR testimony???

130 posted on 04/29/2012 8:54:43 AM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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To: Iscool
"Sorry Charlie, my testimony is and always has been that I have repented; turned to Jesus and made him MY Lord and Savior...I have been baptized with the Holy Ghost and have been baptized (immersed) in water for a public and personal show of my convictions..."

I am not going to debate your theology, only your hermeneutics, because you are asserting things with respect to Catholicism not supported by facts. Personally I find Baptism by immersion commendable.

Although Baptism (βαπτίζω) can mean immersion, it does not exclusively do so. It idiomatically also meant to ritualistically clean or even to dye. There are two versus in Scripture where it clearly did not mean to immerse. The first:

"Now when He had spoken, a Pharisee *asked Him to have lunch with him; and He went in, and reclined at the table. When the Pharisee saw it, he was surprised that He had not first ceremonially washed before the meal. But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness." - Luke 11:37-39

The word used for wash was (ἐβαπτίσθη, aorist passive of βαπτίζω—literally, "be baptized") before eating.

The second:

"The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed.(For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.)- Mark 7:1-4

Here too the word wash was literally, "baptize themselves" (βαπτίσωνται, passive or middle voice of βαπτίζω). We see additional evidence of the intended meaning to wash away sin when the word used was apolouo (ἀπολούω) in Acts 22:16.

Peace be to you.

131 posted on 04/29/2012 10:15:06 AM PDT by Natural Law (The Pearly Gates are really a servants entrance.)
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To: redgolum
The divide on this thread, and a few others over the last week or so, is between those who truly believe in Original Sin, and those who view it as something a “nice” god would never consider

The divide also fractures between the neo-Pelagians (most "evangelicals" who believe that you have to "do" something in order to be saved) and the orthodox catholics (intentionally lower case for both words) who trust God's grace and Christ's plain words.

132 posted on 04/29/2012 10:48:40 AM PDT by lightman (Adjutorium nostrum (+) in nomine Domini--nevertheless, Vote Santorum!)
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To: Iscool
I am not sure what language you speak in your universe, but here in america we like to follow the plain text in English:

1Pe 3:20 that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water:

1Pe 3:21 which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ;

Jesus was baptised in the Jordan river with wait for it .........Water.......the exact same thing that the Didache calls for.Is there some part of that which is unclear to you? (That is really a rhetorical question sionce I know you will find some ignorant comment to use ignoring the facts.

133 posted on 04/29/2012 12:13:43 PM PDT by verga (Party like it is 1773)
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To: Natural Law
Although Baptism (βαπτίζω) can mean immersion, it does not exclusively do so. It idiomatically also meant to ritualistically clean or even to dye. There are two versus in Scripture where it clearly did not mean to immerse. The first:

I believe there is more than enough room for debate here...

Since the idea is to clean, it stands to reason that water is the medium...It also stands to reason that the hands had to be immersed or covered with water to achieve a sufficient cleaning...

Sprinkling 3 drops of water onto dirty hands will never do the trick...

134 posted on 04/29/2012 12:54:51 PM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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To: Cronos; lightman
Our Lutheran brethern believe Christ’s words on baptism

Correct; as with any other issue, it is near impossible to generalize among all the Protestants. I believe, Presbyterians likewise baptize babies.

One thing is common to all Protestants: letting their pastors interpret the Bible for them, and that was the subtext of my admittedly aggressive in tone post.

135 posted on 04/29/2012 12:55:02 PM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: Iscool
Babies can not repent, ergo; no baptism for babies

You understand, do you not that the point is not that a baby cannot repent (for example, because he cannot talk) but that he has nothing to repent about?

Logically, if babies have nothing to repent of, then they should be baptized without expecting repentance.

136 posted on 04/29/2012 12:59:16 PM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: Iscool
"Sprinkling 3 drops of water onto dirty hands will never do the trick..."

That all depends on what it is you are trying to remove.

137 posted on 04/29/2012 12:59:43 PM PDT by Natural Law (The Pearly Gates are really a servants entrance.)
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To: Bellflower; Cronos
baptism is a response to saving faith

Where is that in the Bible? Mark 16:16, at least, implies that baptism and faith are at least to some extent independent. And besides, baptism is only possible if the parents of the child are of solid faith.

Heaven is likely full of children

No one on this thread argues otherwise.

138 posted on 04/29/2012 1:07:05 PM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: verga
I am not sure what language you speak in your universe, but here in america we like to follow the plain text in English:

Okay,  you don't have a testimony where you turned to Jesus and asked him to be your own personal Lord and Savior...

1Pe 3:20 that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water:

 1Pe 3:20  Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

Nope...No one was saved thru water...They were saved by the water...In fact, they all stayed dry...Luckily, the boat floated...

And so what was that??? A baptism???  Of course not...It turns out for us to be a 'like figure' of a baptism...

Did they get wet???  Nope...And do we get wet in the baptism referred to here???  Nope...

In fact, Peter makes a distinction between getting a 'wet' baptism and a 'dry' one...

1Pe 3:21  The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, 

No water...Baptism does not mean water, or a wet cleansing...

but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: No water in the good conscience baptism...It's a spiritual baptism...It's all in your mind, and soul, and spirit...

139 posted on 04/29/2012 1:18:31 PM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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To: Iscool

Baptism requries water since it literally means to wet. Show something different with a legitimate opinion. Use the orignal Greek I dare you.


140 posted on 04/29/2012 1:22:09 PM PDT by verga (Party like it is 1773)
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