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Infant baptism?

Some protestants claim it is wrong to baptize infants stating its neither biblical nor a traditional in the Early Christian history. Their argument is based on the infants inability to understand what the sacraments entail and to make a choice. However, the Catholic Church holds that the Faith of the Parents, godparents, and community is sufficient to confer the graces of baptism which the faiths of these will nurture to maturity.

"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. For the promise is to you and to your children" (Acts 2:38–39).

The Early Church baptized “Entire households” comprising adults, children, infants and servants.

Here are some Quotes from the Fathers on the subject.:

Irenaeus

“He [Jesus] came to save all through himself; all, I say, who through him are reborn in God: infants, and children, and youths, and old men. Therefore he passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age . . . [so that] he might be the perfect teacher in all things, perfect not only in respect to the setting forth of truth, perfect also in respect to relative age” (Against Heresies 2:22:4 [A.D. 189]).

“‘And [Naaman] dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan’ [2 Kgs. 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [this served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as newborn babes, even as the Lord has declared: ‘Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5]” (Fragment34 [A.D. 190]).

 

Hippolytus

“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 21:16 [A.D. 215]).

 

Origen

“Every soul that is born into flesh is soiled by the filth of wickedness and sin. . . . In the Church, baptism is given for the remission of sins, and, according to the usage of the Church, baptism is given even to infants. If there were nothing in infants which required the remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of baptism would seem superfluous” (Homilies on Leviticus 8:3 [A.D. 248]).

“The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of the divine sacraments, knew there are in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit” (Commentaries on Romans 5:9 [A.D. 248]).

 

Cyprian of Carthage

“As to what pertains to the case of infants: You [Fidus] said that they ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, that the old law of circumcision must be taken into consideration, and that you did not think that one should be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day after his birth. In our council it seemed to us far otherwise. No one agreed to the course which you thought should be taken. Rather, we all judge that the mercy and grace of God ought to be denied to no man born” (Letters 64:2 [A.D. 253]).

“If, in the case of the worst sinners and those who formerly sinned much against God, when afterwards they believe, the remission of their sins is granted and no one is held back from baptism and grace, how much more, then, should an infant not be held back, who, having but recently been born, has done no sin, except that, born of the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of that old death from his first being born. For this very reason does he [an infant] approach more easily to receive the remission of sins: because the sins forgiven him are not his own but those of another” (ibid., 64:5).

 

Gregory of Nazianz

“Do you have an infant child? Allow sin no opportunity; rather, let the infant be sanctified from childhood. From his most tender age let him be consecrated by the Spirit. Do you fear the seal [of baptism] because of the weakness of nature? Oh, what a pusillanimous mother and of how little faith!” (Oration on Holy Baptism 40:7 [A.D. 388]).

“‘Well enough,’ some will say, ‘for those who ask for baptism, but what do you have to say about those who are still children, and aware neither of loss nor of grace? Shall we baptize them too?’ Certainly [I respond], if there is any pressing danger. Better that they be sanctified unaware, than that they depart unsealed and uninitiated” (ibid., 40:28).

 

John Chrysostom

“You see how many are the benefits of baptism, and some think its heavenly grace consists only in the remission of sins, but we have enumerated ten honors [it bestows]! For this reason we baptize even infants, though they are not defiled by [personal] sins, so that there may be given to them holiness, righteousness, adoption, inheritance, brotherhood with Christ, and that they may be his [Christ’s] members” (Baptismal Catecheses in Augustine, Against Julian 1:6:21 [A.D. 388]).

 

Augustine

“What the universal Church holds, not as instituted [invented] by councils but as something always held, is most correctly believed to have been handed down by apostolic authority. Since others respond for children, so that the celebration of the sacrament may be complete for them, it is certainly availing to them for their consecration, because they themselves are not able to respond” (On Baptism, Against the Donatists 4:24:31 [A.D. 400]).

“The custom of Mother Church in baptizing infants is certainly not to be scorned, nor is it to be regarded in any way as superfluous, nor is it to be believed that its tradition is anything except apostolic” (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis 10:23:39 [A.D. 408]).

“Cyprian was not issuing a new decree but was keeping to the most solid belief of the Church in order to correct some who thought that infants ought not be baptized before the eighth day after their birth. . . . He agreed with certain of his fellow bishops that a child is able to be duly baptized as soon as he is born” (Letters 166:8:23 [A.D. 412]).

“By this grace baptized infants too are ingrafted into his [Christ’s] body, infants who certainly are not yet able to imitate anyone. Christ, in whom all are made alive . . . gives also the most hidden grace of his Spirit to believers, grace which he secretly infuses even into infants. . . . It is an excellent thing that the Punic [North African] Christians call baptism salvation and the sacrament of Christ’s Body nothing else than life. Whence does this derive, except from an ancient and, as I suppose, apostolic tradition, by which the churches of Christ hold inherently that without baptism and participation at the table of the Lord it is impossible for any man to attain either to the kingdom of God or to salvation and life eternal? This is the witness of Scripture, too. . . . If anyone wonders why children born of the baptized should themselves be baptized, let him attend briefly to this. . . . The sacrament of baptism is most assuredly the sacrament of regeneration” (Forgiveness and the Just Deserts of Sin, and the Baptism of Infants 1:9:10; 1:24:34; 2:27:43 [A.D. 412]).

 

Council of Carthage V

“Item: It seemed good that whenever there were not found reliable witnesses who could testify that without any doubt they [abandoned children] were baptized and when the children themselves were not, on account of their tender age, able to answer concerning the giving of the sacraments to them, all such children should be baptized without scruple, lest a hesitation should deprive them of the cleansing of the sacraments. This was urged by the [North African] legates, our brethren, since they redeem many such [abandoned children] from the barbarians” (Canon 7 [A.D. 401]).

 

Council of Mileum II

“[W]hoever says that infants fresh from their mothers’ wombs ought not to be baptized, or say that they are indeed baptized unto the remission of sins, but that they draw nothing of the original sin of Adam, which is expiated in the bath of regeneration . . . let him be anathema [excommunicated]. Since what the apostle [Paul] says, ‘Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so passed to all men, in whom all have sinned’ [Rom. 5:12], must not be understood otherwise than the Catholic Church spread everywhere has always understood it. For on account of this rule of faith even infants, who in themselves thus far have not been able to commit any sin, are therefore truly baptized unto the remission of sins, so that that which they have contracted from generation may be cleansed in them by regeneration” (Canon 3 [A.D. 416]).










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21 comments

  1. Susan Schneider Reply

    Sure and why would you want that stain of original sin still on the infants soul if you could give the sacrament of Baptism to the child. You lessen the hold that satan has on that child. Then you start their religious education early so that they can learn about why they are here and what God wants of us.

  2. Elvia Reply

    I have been trying to get my grandson baptize but there are so many restrictions it’s making it difficult. We don’t have a Godparents you have all their sacraments so we keeping hearing no his already 3 yrs old. I don’t see why we can’t just baptize him without them yes it would be great to have godparents but I think it’s more important for soul to be saved.

    1. Catholic Say Staff Reply

      There must be someone you guys can meet. Are you new in your neighborhood?

    2. Frances johnson Reply

      my grandson was8 yrs old because no church would baptize for so many reasons. There actually was prejudice because she was a single mom when grandson was 3 years old. Finally she found a family church that welcomed them with open arms. They didn’t have God parents so I became his God parent. This Catholic church really was an example of Christ’s love as well as adhering to Jesus demand to let the little children come. Churches are like people, in all stages of growth. Pray about it, and don’t give up. Try a church that is connected to a Catholic school, or one that
      is a “family friendly ” parish. My best to you. God loves you and knows your heart.

      1. AvengingRelic Reply

        Just one more piece of evidence Catholicism is not a Christian religion based on biblical principles… Nowhere in the bible does it say, infants need Godparents… Not to mention the fact that baptizing an infant does nothing for them spiritually… Infants are innocent without sin. Traditions are not required by God to be a Christian… If you want to please God, just obey the word as it’s written and stop putting standards on yourself that are worthless.

  3. Paul Reply

    None of those you’ve quoted are in the bible. They came after which makes them uninspired. Ez. 18 no one is guilty of another’s sin. the son does not share the guilt of the father nor the father share the guilt of the son. each is responsible for only their own sins. That being said infants are not born with guilt but as Jesus said, “their angels see the face of God” implying that as we grow and become sinners ours don’t. Children are pure and innocent. it’s only once they are of the age of accountability that they become separated from the love of God by their informed choice to sin. When they are old enough to choose to be a christian through faith are they able to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Acts 2:38. Baptism is the participation in the death burial and resurrection of Jesus. It’s when we are baptized that we are born again. Roms 6. We died to sin and were buried in the waters of baptism just as Jesus was buried in the tomb. And just as he was raised to a new life through his resurrection we too through our faith and obedience are raised to a new life when we are lifted up out of the waters of baptism.

    1. Lea Leger Reply

      Read the article properly or read the Bible. The apostles baptised the whole household, meaning all members of the family or all who live in the house. u can read that in the Bible. Acts 16 v 15 when she and the members of her household were baptised. Mark 16 v 16 He who believes and baptised shall be saved.

      1. avengingrelic Reply

        who’s to say the household had infants? Young teenagers who have faith and a willingness to become christians can undergo baptism. The whole point though is you have to make a conscious choice to become a disciple repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. it’s an act of obedience through faith (it’s your faith that saves you)… Children are too simple to grasp the concept.

  4. BJ Reply

    Paul my guesstimate is all you believe as Truth from God, is NOT IN the Sacred Writings. St John tells us that ALL that was seen and heard was NOT written….no book could contain it. I don’t have the bcv, but could look it up for you, if you would like.

    1. Paul Reply

      You can’t assume what was not written then to be infallible truth… I know the scripture you’re referring to but that has nothing to do with obedience to Jesus but about how his miracles were so abundant you couldn’t list them all. The word says don’t add or subtract what is written. Read Matt. 18 read. Acts 2 ..repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Babies are sinless and on top of that can’t repent or choose to be a disciple. Parents can raise them and encourage them to be disciples but it’s ultimately up to each one that comes of age to make a choice. Romans 6 explains beautifully how baptism is a participation in the death burial and resurrection of Christ. Buy doing to your old self as Jesus died on the cross being buried in the water as Jesus was buried in the tomb and being raised up out if the water just as Jesus rose from the grave.

      1. Paul Reply

        That should read dying to yourself not doing…

    2. Paul Reply

      Anything that happened while Jesus had not yet been resurrected was under the old covenant… His resurrection and the day of pentecost in Acts 2 is where the new covenant began. Where the Christian Church began. The 3000 that were baptized in that day were the first Christians.

  5. Ibañez Reply

    So how come Jesus Christ Himself was baptized when he was an adult? Was He not baptized as an infant?

    1. avengingrelic Reply

      baptism of repentance was to fulfill all righteousness… it was not the same baptism that was to come after the resurrection. Read Acts 19 about how Apollos though a believer had only received John’s baptism and had to be re-baptized into the name of Jesus.

  6. Marlon Reply

    In view to some christian group who antagonize infant baptism either because according to them it is not written in the bible nor the infant is young to understand baptism and the concept of christianity, etc., I personally say that there is NO Wrong to baptize infants. Remember, through baptism we officially recieved the HOLY SPIRIT and CHRIST as our Saviour, to be officially Christian. Is JESUS CHRIST came here only to save the adults?? Absolutely NO. Jesus came to save the entire humanity from sins whether an infant, child, old, adolescent…etc. So why not give the blessing of baptism to an innoscent baby if that will save his/her soul?? That is why we are adults capable enough to think and decide, and they are innoscent infant who are still young and not yet capable to decide by themselves…. As an adult, think and decide for the best to the young, and that is to let the young officially recieve the graces of baptism…

  7. Cindy Reply

    Seeing that in the time of the bible, after Jesus came, Christianity was new and therefore there were so many adults baptised not because people were supposed to be baptised as understanding adult but because it was the beginning of christian baptism. Putting this reasoning together with scriptures of John 3 then it makes sence to me that everyone including children should be baptised as God entrusted parents to do whats right for the children he has given us. We should not withhold the children from God as he says in the Bible to let the little ones go to him and in todays life what better way to let your child go to Him that through baptism.

    1. AvengingRelic Reply

      Jesus said children’s angels see the face of God implying they are pure and without sin. Infants are sinless since it takes an understanding of right and wrong to be a sinner. Without God’s law there would be no sin. Sin is doing what you know is wrong. Without knowledge of God and his laws the bible says people will be judged by their conscience of what they think is right and wrong. Infants and small children have no clue or ability to have faith. They are born sinless.

      1. Cindy Reply

        Please tell me where in the bible it says that. Dont mean it in a rude way but i would really like to read it. I honestly think that if it was important to the Lord what age your are when being baptised it would of been stated clearly in the bible. All these arguments between Christians over things not clearly stated in the bible, one Christian trying to prove the other wrong instead of teaching non Christians about God, is a waste of time for others that need God but dont know Him. Most important thing is that we live for Him and love one another as He loves us. I tust what i feel in my heart comes from God and He knows us all inside out and therefore He knows that what we do and the way we believe, we do it for Him even if its not all the same.

        1. AvengingRelic Reply

          Cindy,
          Read Matthew 18:10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
          Consider that the bible is very clear about the proper baptism but is overlooked because it doesn’t fit into the thinking of what man thinks it’s supposed to say. Read about Paul in Ephesus
          19 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"
          They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
          3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?"
          “John’s baptism," they replied.
          4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
          The proper baptism does matter… By the way, the word baptism in the greek means to immerse, as in your whole body, not sprinkle which has a different greek word for that.
          some feel that faith alone saves you which is not the whole message but only a part arguing that faith is required for salvation. Children have no faith and in fact have no understanding of sin at all. The are sinless… a special needs child can be in that same category never able to comprehend sin or have faith in God… they too are sinless…
          If someone is lost even if they know about Jesus should we neglect them because they are “close enough?” It matters… and baptism is only the beginning… it’s like being born again… like a child that needs teaching rebuking correcting and training so do adults who are new to the faith. if you are in sin and refuse to repent the bible says, confront the sinner and get them to repent. Read Matt. 18:18-21

          Hebrews 10:26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, “The Lord will judge his people." 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

          Baptism is the point of being born again, but how you live until the end matters too.

  8. Jose B. Fuliga Reply

    AvengingRelic and Paul say that infants have no sin and are innocent. So where do they go when they die as infants if they yet cannot believe and respond as they have not reached the age of accountability? If they go to heaven because they have no sin or are innocent, does that mean that there are in heaven sinless, non-believing infants? The age of accountability is not found in the Bible. At what age is the age of accountability?

    1. AvengingRelic Reply

      yes, infants and anyone too simple to grasp the concept of faith or sin get to be with God… The Jews believe adulthood starts at age 13 at the start of puberty but it has more to do with mental capacity. Since Christianity is really the next chapter of Judaism it makes sense to continue in that line of thinking. And once you get to heaven… there’s no need for faith… you’ll see it face to face and naturally believe.

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