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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: annalex; MD Expat in PA

annalex explains it better here

61 posted on 04/28/2012 11:44:56 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Taking a baby out of an oxygen tent doesn’t sound like a good idea. The fear that something might happen before the baby was baptized very well could have led to serious complications or death. This might even be regarded as child endangerment under some circumstances, and not without justification.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have family of varying denominational beliefs; some practice infant baptism, some don’t. I cannot imagine any of those who do, snatching a newborn out of what sounds like an ICU for baptism.

It comes across as being rather hysterical and dangerous, quite honestly, right up there with snake handling by holy rollers in some backwoods sect of a church.

I’ve come down on the side of believer’s baptism, personally, and understand that babies and children of believers, prior to their own understanding and ability to accept salvation, are regarded as being of the house of a believer, and therefore not in danger.

I’ve regarded infant baptism up to this point as harmless symbolism demonstrating intent to raise the child in a proper, Christian manner, and so haven’t gotten all that worked up about pro or con.

This gives me serious pause, however. It was a fortunate thing that the baby was not harmed.

62 posted on 04/28/2012 12:01:27 PM PDT by RegulatorCountry
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To: RegulatorCountry

My baby was turning blue and still breathing and coughing. I didn’t take the kind of chance you are speaking of. The nurses were right into the room to get him back into the oxygen tent and show me why he needed surgery since he had inhaled an object.

63 posted on 04/28/2012 12:05:38 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

I’m sorry, but a baby taken out of an oxygen tent turning blue and coughing, with nurses then rushing into the room to put the baby back into the oxygen tent, sounds as if a very grave chance was taken.

64 posted on 04/28/2012 12:13:01 PM PDT by RegulatorCountry
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To: Salvation

Thank-you for your response!

Also a number of parishes do have, besides RCIA, RCIC, for children and young people between the ages of 8 and 16 who were not baptized or were baptized but who have not made first holy communion.

65 posted on 04/28/2012 12:25:29 PM PDT by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: RegulatorCountry; Salvation

If Salvation says there was minimal risk then the discussion is pretty much over. You were not there, she was, she said the nurses were there.

This is the part where you take a step back and say: You are correct I over stepped my bounds since I was not there."

Go ahead try it, I am certain it won't hurt anything more than your pride.

66 posted on 04/28/2012 12:56:02 PM PDT by verga (Party like it is 1773)
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To: verga

The action sounded very ill advised as described and sounded worse upon elaboration. I’ve nothing for which to apologize.

67 posted on 04/28/2012 12:58:45 PM PDT by RegulatorCountry
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To: RegulatorCountry
The gravity was that the child should die unbaptized, and the obligaton of a parent is to serve the spiritual need of the child before the physical, especially as the medical personnel was on hand for the latter.
68 posted on 04/28/2012 1:07:33 PM PDT by annalex (
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To: RegulatorCountry; Salvation; annalex
The action sounded very ill advised as described and sounded worse upon elaboration. I’ve nothing for which to apologize.


Were you there? Than you don't know Jack, and it typical liberal prot fashion shooting your mouth off. Why didn't you just say that she was acting stupidly? That way you would remove all doubt as to your hero and motive.

69 posted on 04/28/2012 1:14:55 PM PDT by verga (Party like it is 1773)
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To: verga

Please try to maintain decorum, Verga. You’re on the religion forum.

70 posted on 04/28/2012 1:53:03 PM PDT by RegulatorCountry
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To: lightman; Craftmore
Was the thief on the cross baptised? NO Did he go to heaven? YES --Craftmore

It is a very dangerous thing to try to establish a general rule from an exception, particularly since you are not a thief dying on a cross next to Jesus.--lightman

It is particularly dangerous to say that baptism is not necessary for salvation based upon the example of the Good Thief who died before Christ gave the commandment to be baptized. It is traditionally held that baptism did not become instituted as a binding sacrament until after the Resurrection when Christ gave the Great Commission, commanding the apostles to go forth baptizing all nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matt 28:18-20) Before that time, baptism does not appear to have been required for salvation. Thus the commandment to receive baptism would not apply to those (like the Good Thief) who died before the commandment was given to baptize.

It is true that baptism was performed as a rite by John the Baptist, but it wasn't necessarily a Sacrament at that time. This is one of the reasons that those who had received the Baptism of John had to be "re-baptized" in Acts 19 which reads:

3And he [Paul] said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.

4Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

5When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The above passage indicates that the baptism of Repentance by John the Baptist wasn't enough to be a Sacramental baptism, and those who had received it had to be rebaptized under the rules that Jesus set out at the Great Commission (i.e. they had to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.)

Also, if baptism wasn't a Sacrament until the Great Commission, it would explain, why the spirits of the righteous who lived before baptism was commanded were able to be allowed into Heaven, when Christ came to preach to "the Spirits in prison" after he died on the Cross. (I Peter 3:19-21)

In short, baptism is a binding commandment upon those who have lived after the Great Commission was given. Those who are able to receive it must do so because Christ has commanded it. Those who intentionally neglect receiving it disobey a direct command from God and thus put their souls in grave danger.

71 posted on 04/28/2012 2:22:20 PM PDT by old republic
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To: lightman

I will try, but the last thread this came up I got called a monster. Original sin is not something many want to think about. Which may explain the luke warm prolife efforts of many.

72 posted on 04/28/2012 3:14:11 PM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: Salvation
It’s not called Limbo any longer, but the unbaptized children are in the presence of God, but in a different place/level than those who were baptized.

Actually, this is a common misunderstanding that has circulated since the International Theological Commission (ITC) released its report on Limbo a few years ago. The Church's ITC did not say that Limbo exists neither did it say that Limbo does not exist. In fact, the Theological Commission didn't change any of the Church's teaching on Limbo. The Commission simply said that it hopes that unbaptized children will be saved, not that they are saved.

Also, an important thing to note is that Limbo is not a lower level of Heaven, it is actually the outermost edge of Hell. According to the Theologians, those who go to Limbo are deprived of the Beatific Vision of God (a supernatural happiness), but because they have no actual sin, they can still enjoy a perfect natural happiness.

The theory of Limbo is actually one of the best possible Catholic Theological outcomes for the fate of unbaptized infants, because the Ecumenical Council of Florence appears to dogmatically (i.e. infallibly) define that even those who die with the stain of original sin alone go immediately to hell. The decree is very stern and solemnly worded. It reads:

We also define...Also, the souls of those who have incurred no stain of sin whatsoever after baptism, as well as souls who after incurring the stain of sin have been cleansed whether in their bodies or outside their bodies, as was stated above, are straightaway received into heaven and clearly behold the triune God as he is, yet one person more perfectly than another according to the difference of their merits. But the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal penalties.

This decree makes the plight of the unbaptized sound very serious. The serious tone of the decree is further compounded by another part of the decree of this council which goes on to warn parents against putting off baptism too long, warning the parents of the danger that the child is in while yet unbaptized. This other part of the decree declares:

With regard to children, since the danger of death is often present and the only remedy available to them is the sacrament of baptism by which they are snatched away from the dominion of the devil and adopted as children of God, it admonishes that sacred baptism is not to be deferred for forty or eighty days or any other period of time in accordance with the usage of some people, but it should be conferred as soon as it conveniently can; and if there is imminent danger of death, the child should be baptized straightaway without any delay, even by a lay man or a woman in the form of the church, if there is no priest, as is contained more fully in the decree on the Armenians.

All of the teachings of the Scriptures on this matter are very grave sounding so, it is best not to take chances and get children baptized as soon as possible. Nevertheless, if a child is not baptized it is God who decides that persons ultimate fate and we can hope in His wisdom and mercy.

73 posted on 04/28/2012 3:39:56 PM PDT by old republic
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To: Salvation

Repent and be baptized. In that order.

74 posted on 04/28/2012 3:57:45 PM PDT by crosshairs (As long as there is evil, "Coexist" is impossible.)
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To: Salvation

When this was first brought up a couple thousand years ago Anabaptists were killed by the thousands for disagreeing.

75 posted on 04/28/2012 4:24:16 PM PDT by Paperpusher
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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."

Are you sure you are referring to the Anabaptists? They were a 16th century movement suppressed by both Protestants and Catholics for, among other things, rebaptizing converts.

76 posted on 04/28/2012 4:37:51 PM PDT by Natural Law (The Pearly Gates are really a servants entrance.)
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To: Salvation
What if they should die the next week?

Providing some fearmongering, eh???  To keep the gullible parents in bondage to the Catholic religion...

 The young children will  then go straight into the arms of Jesus...

Rom 4:8  Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Rom 3:20  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Rom 7:7  What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

Where the is no faith and no Law, conscience is the factor in judgment..

.Rom 2:14  For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
Rom 2:15  Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

This is where young children and babies fall into the mix...They don't have the capacity for the knowledge of saving faith nor do know and understand God's Law...They will be judged on their conscience...

Try that on a baby...

77 posted on 04/28/2012 4:39:18 PM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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To: Salvation
Jn 3:5; Mk 16:16 – baptism required for entering heaven

Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

That's not what the verse says...That may work when other Catholics are told what the scriptures say and you guys know they won't check you out...But it won't work with people who read the scriptures...

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

And this says the opposite of what you claim...

78 posted on 04/28/2012 4:48:00 PM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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To: Salvation
Ir would seem tham many people do NOT realize that there is an imparting of the Holy Spirit to the child.

No there is not...There is no imparting of the Holy Spirit without repentance...You guys just make this stuff up...

79 posted on 04/28/2012 4:53:56 PM PDT by Iscool (You mess with me, you mess with the WHOLE trailerpark...)
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To: Iscool
It would appear that you do not know the ritual of Catholic baptism. The words said by the priest are "I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

The child is then annointed with the Chrism of Salvation used in only three sacraments -- Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders That mark of Baptism and the Father, Son and Holy Spirit will be with the child forever.

That's why we as Catholics can say to anyone who was baptized in the Catholic Church that they are still a Catholic. The Holy Spirit is still there, perhaps the person has rejected the Catholic faith momentarily, but they will be back. One flock and one shepard.

You also talked about repentance. The godparents and parents announce for the child that they reject Satan and believe in the precepts stated in the Nicene Creed.

80 posted on 04/28/2012 5:23:26 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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