. Let us mindfully renew those baptismal promises so that we may love God and our neighbor, be a faithful witness to Christ and prepare ourselves to share in the glory of His resurrection. First, it is helpful to understand the unique nature of the Catholic understanding of the sacrament of baptism as opposed to the understanding of baptism by other Christian denominations. The answer to this question, however, involves more than a simple difference of tradition. Christian baptism not only forgives sins, but infuses the life of God into the soul, making us God’s children. His inaugural gesture is an anticipation of the Cross. Before the Christian usage, a “trinity” (triadin Greek) was simply any grou… Many other Christian denominations think that it is odd that the Church would require baptism of babies, the most innocent of God’s creatures. Even within the Catholic Church herself we put the good catechumen ahead of the wicked baptized person” (On Baptism, Against the Donatists 4:21:28 [A.D. 400]). The Fundamentalist contention that baptizoalways means immersion is an oversimplification. ), St. John of the Cross—Reflection on His Sayings of Light and Love. The Catholic Church, it noted, believes that the minister of a baptism is not acting on behalf of only himself or the local community, but … When you boil it all down, this is the essence of how we fulfill our baptismal mandate to become saints. The word “saint” derives from the Greek term, The world tends to value the letters at the end of people’s names—M.D., M.B.A., Ph.D. It turns the baptized into a newly adopted son or daughter of God and a member of the Church. In the … Your child will receive the Baptismal grace and freed from original sin. 14:21-31). The baptism of the Lord also reminds us, of course, of our own baptism. We breath with the Lord Jesus and with every other baptized person. It’s also an annual occasion for many to ask, “Why was Jesus baptized?”. We can remember the importance of baptizing infants specifically by remembering the importance of the sacrament as we understand it: baptism is not a mere symbol of gaining a new life in Christ, but rather is the actual conferral of grace by which mankind is able to be a part of the Body of Christ. . The easiest and perhaps best answer would simply be that this was the constant Tradition or teaching of the early Church, right from the time of the Apostles. Each time we witness the baptism of a child, we can remember the truth of Christ’s saving power. Monday’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord marked the official end of the Christmas season. This can lead us into reflecting on the theological virtues of faith, hope and love as well: in faith we recognize the immensity of the sacrament of baptism, in hope we await the fullness of God’s grace, and in love we are struck by both the innocence of the newborn child and the magnitude of the Redemption. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “By Baptism all sins are forgiven, Original Sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin.” (CCC-1263) We know that sin is anything that creates division between us and God. All rights reserved. This also explains why, in his own discourses, Jesus uses the word. Sacraments 101: Baptism (why we baptize) By The Editors November 15, 2011. “Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and … In the Easter Vigil liturgy of the Roman Rite, the paschal candle is plunged into the waters of the baptismal font, much as Moses stretched his staff over the waters of the Red Sea, which God parted (Ex. But Catholics care most of all about the letters we hope one day will come before our names: “St.” This was the ultimate reason the Lord was baptized, establishing the sacrament, and it’s why we are baptized, too. “baptism” to refer to his death (18). He is, as it were, the true Jonah who said to the crew of the ship, ”Take me and throw me into the sea” (Jon. In their churches, baptism is ultimately just an outward sign of a choice that a person has made, namely that they have made the decision to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior and live according to His laws. There’s a whole chapter in the book on Jesus’ baptism, but here are a few of his key thoughts. A fair question. Throughout the months of December and January, the Catholic Church celebrates several feasts commemorating certain events in the life of Christ. If we want everyone we know and love to get to heaven, if we want them to see Jesus, they must become saints as well—no exceptions. The Church teaches that baptism not only lets us participate in Jesus’ victory over sin and death, but calls us to our own personal holiness and apostolate (sharing our faith). The Catholic Church has been baptizing babies ever since Christ commanded His apostles to baptize all people in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (see Mt 28:18-20). Since Catholics believe that all mankind has been stained with original sin through the sin of Adam and Eve, it is necessary to remove this original sin through the grace of baptism even in the case of those who have not been able to commit actual sin. This is especially true because in Christian usage the word had a highly particular meaning distinct from the term’s ordinary, everyday usage. Jesus had no need to be cleansed by the waters of baptism, for he had no sins to be washed away. But Catholics care most of all about the letters we hope one day will come. . This created a means of escape for God’s people from the stampeding armies of Egypt and its Pharaoh, which are types of sin and Satan. Catholics believe we are born into "original sin," we inherit it. The first feast that springs to our minds is almost without a doubt Christmas, the Nativity of Our Lord, but there are several others which are truly worthy of remembrance and celebration, and can aid us in recognizing the many truths woven into the fabric of Catholicism. . © 2013-2021 The Mystical Humanity of Christ. One week following our celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord, we celebrate His baptism. It also states that baptism is what incorporates mankind into the life of the Church, and so it is through baptism that mankind is able to attain salvation at all. Second, this feast helps us consider the meaning of baptism itself in the Catholic Church, and the meaning of sacraments in general. The Catholic Church's Clear Teaching About Infant Baptism. In baptism, we are made one. of course, of our own baptism. This feast causes us to ruminate on numerous things. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". Despite this, the first objection often is that babies cannot personally make the commitment necessary for Baptism. Who are the saints? Opposition to infant baptism is not a new phenomenon. Turning to the Catholic understanding of baptism, however, we bear witness to several beautiful truths that are fundamental to the Catholic faith. When you boil it all down, this is the essence of how we fulfill our baptismal mandate to become saints. It turns the person into a newly adopted son of God and a member of Christ. ... is why our Catholic Tradition places the Baptism of the Lord alongside the visit of … Pope Benedict XVI (writing as Joseph Ratzinger), in his Jesus of Nazareth, offers some illuminating insights on all this. According to aboutcatholic.com baptism does five things : It forgives all sins that were committed before baptism including original, mortal, and venial sin. 2:9-10). Catholics understand that Baptism is more than a symbol – instituted by Christ, it is a means by which God confers upon us his grace. The answer involves the foundation of Catholicism, namely the reason that Christ became man, died and then rose from the dead. In the Catholic Church, infants are baptized to welcome them into the Catholic faith and to free them from the original sin they were born with. PD. “The fruit of Baptism, … Saint Paul, looking back at this event, refers to it as a prefigurement of Christian baptism (1 Cor. It brings someone into the flock of the faithful and brings them to share in the royal priesthood of Christ (1 Pet. Baptism is the gateway to the other sacraments, and so it prepares the child for later reception of confirmation and the Eucharist, among other sacraments. The feast of Christ’s baptism, then, is one we should commemorate with a great deal of reverence and contemplation since it is in part through His baptism on behalf of humanity that we have been given the grace to be able to join our God in heaven. Baptism is thus the necessary precursor to all other sacraments. The ancient mind perceived the ocean as a permanent threat to the cosmos, to the earth; it was the primeval flood that might submerge all life . The Church teaches that baptism not only lets us participate in Jesus’ victory over sin and death, but calls us to our own personal holiness and apostolate (sharing our faith). This has always been the practice of the Orthodox churches and of many Protestant denominations as well. The Church recognizes the validity of Baptism in other Christian Churches as long as the rite involved the pouring of or immersion in water, a Trinitarian formula, and the intention to baptize. First, in antiquity water conjured up two distinct images: death and life. When we are saved, we are “baptized” by the Spirit into the Body of Christ, which is the church. And the origin of this sacrament is Jesus’ own baptism. In the Easter Vigil liturgy of the Roman Rite, the paschal candle is plunged into the waters of the baptismal font, much as Moses stretched his staff over the waters of the Red Sea, which God parted (Ex. It is an article of faith that anyone who dies in the state of original sin is excluded from heaven, from the vision of God. And we can begin by affirming that indeed we have been created in God’s image and likeness. The same principle can be seen with other special Christian terms, such as “Trinity,” that were originally ordinary Greek words with no special religious significance. The answer to these questions may require some thorough explanation. “I do not hesitate to put the Catholic catechumen, burning with divine love, before a baptized heretic. The world tends to value the letters at the end of people’s names—M.D., M.B.A., Ph.D. Why do we still need to be baptized? He inaugurated his public activity by stepping into the place of sinners. “baptism” to refer to his death (18). The baptism is an acceptance of death for the sins of humanity, and the voice that calls out “This is my beloved Son” over the baptismal waters is an anticipatory reference to the Resurrection. 14:21-31). His baptism was a fulfillment of righteousness, but not of His own; in the baptism in the Jordan, Christ fulfilled the righteousness of everyone who would ever be born. All four evangelists report Jesus’ baptism (Mt 3:13-17; Mk 1:9-11; Lk 3:21-22; Jn 1:31-34) which means that it is extremely important. 3:14, John 3:30). Jesus had no need to be cleansed by the waters of baptism, for he had no sins to be washed away. The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God's suffering Servant. It would thus not be fitting to hold a baptism for a baby since they are incapable of making this choice which is the reason for baptism in their understanding. Baptism is conferred upon infants to free them from original sin, to initiate them into the Church as Christians, and to give them the supernatural grace of God that will allow them to be formed in sanctity. The baptism is an acceptance of death for the sins of humanity, and the voice that calls out “This is my beloved Son” over the baptismal waters is an anticipatory reference to the Resurrection. Acts 2:38,39 Peter in his first sermon makes it very clear that the promises of baptism are for adults and their children. Baptism is equated with dying with Christ ( Romans 6:8 ), and so the symbolism of being buried is a public declaration of our dying with Christ as well as our identification with him. It makes the baptized a new creature. It seems odd that Jesus would be baptized. The word “saint” derives from the Greek term hagios, which means “the holy ones.” Being a holy person just means being, with God’s considerable help, the person you were created to be. On the other side, the sacrament itself shows to us the possibilities that come into existence when we unite ourselves to Christ and ready ourselves to accept His grace, even in spite of the fall. . This is why the Church encourages baptism of even the smallest infants, for it is by being baptized into the Church that we are able to fully receive grace in the time afterward. That was what happened when God decided to create man through the creation of our first parents, Adam and Eve. In Matthew 3:13-17, Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized. . This is also why we need to share our faith! But the flowing waters of the river are above all a symbol of life (15-16). 3:14, John 3:30). . BAPTISM IN THE ECONOMY OF SALVATION. One of these feasts is the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, which occurs in early January, and commemorates the baptism of Christ by St. John the Baptist. As Catholics, by way of reminder, we situate our reflection on the sacrament of baptism not only in a personal but also in a communal level, that is, the Church. John Chrysostom writes: “Going down into the water and emerging again are the image of the descent into hell and the Resurrection” (19). He is, as it were, the true Jonah who said to the crew of the ship, ”Take me and throw me into the sea” (Jon. On the one side, the innocence of a newborn child shows to us the goodness that is still present in the world despite the fall of Adam and Eve. That is why Catholics baptise babies "in the name of … Prefigurations of Baptism in the Old Covenant. Rather, he sanctified the waters by his descent into them. The Bible says, “without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb. Baptism is the first holy sacrament followed by: Eucharist, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Anointing of the sick, Marriage and Holy Order. What My Aborted Uncle or Aunt Has Taught Me, Living Your Baptismal Mission as Priest, Prophet, and King, How to Make the Most of the Christmas Octave (& Season! Baptism is thus the necessary precursor to all other sacraments. This also explains why, in his own discourses, Jesus uses the word, Jesus’ baptism not only is deeply intertwined. Baptism incorporates a person into the Church, which is the body of Christ. Why, exactly, do Catholics have the practice of baptizing infants? The Eastern traditions of iconography pick up on many of these themes, as the current pope emeritus elucidates: The icon of Jesus’ baptism depicts the water as a liquid tomb having the form of a dark cavern, which is in turn the iconographic sign of Hades, the underworld, or hell. with the salvific events of the Passion and of Easter, but it also reveals him to be a new and greater Moses. Benedict notes: On the one hand, immersion into the waters is a symbol of death, which recalls the death symbolism of the annihilating, destructive power of the ocean flood. Jesus’ descent into this watery tomb, into this inferno that envelops him from every side, is thus an anticipation of his act of descending into the underworld . This also explains why, in his own discourses, Jesus uses the word Why we celebrate Christ's baptism close to the Epiphany. The baptism is an acceptance of death for the sins of humanity, and the voice that calls out “This is my beloved Son” over the baptismal waters is an anticipatory reference to the Resurrection. Since babies cannot speak for themselves, their parents and godparents play a vital role in their baptism. Now baptism is the door to all the sacraments, so without baptism, one cannot receive the other sacraments. Already he is … If original sin is the source of our damnation then we are born with it. First, it helps us pause and reflect on the meaning of the Incarnation and of Christ taking on the burden of humanity since Christ chose to be baptized not because He had sinned but rather because He had chosen to offer Himself up to repent for the sins of humanity. 1:12) . Jesus’ baptism not only is deeply intertwined with the salvific events of the Passion and of Easter, but it also reveals him to be a new and greater Moses. Witnessing a baptism, then, reminds us both of the goodness that exists in the present world as well as the infinite goodness that awaits us in the next. Looking at the events (of Christ’s baptism) in light of the Cross and Resurrection, the Christian people realized what happened: Jesus loaded the burden of all mankind’s guilt upon his shoulders; he bore it down into the depths of the Jordan. Why did Christ, then, place such great importance on His own baptism even though there was no sin to wash away? Therefore, when someone is publicly baptized, he is proclaiming his allegiance to … Who are the saints? Following this understanding of baptism, it would make sense that Christian denominations, in general, would not baptize their babies. The Problem. Since Catholics believe that all mankind has been stained with original sin through the sin of Adam and Eve, it is necessary to remove this original sin through the grace of baptism even in the case of those who have not been able to commit actual sin. Even the physical act of baptism, especially baptism by immersion, represents death and new life: the descent into the waters is a form of death and burial; the rising to a new life is an icon of resurrection. We all know what baptism does. This is greatly different from the understanding of the sacrament of baptism that is held by many other Christians, which simply put is that baptism does not actually confer any of the grace it symbolizes, but rather is a manifestation of a person’s acceptance of Christ as their Savior. The first is the presence of God’s grace in our lives, for as Catholics, we believe that the sacrament of baptism does not merely symbolize the conferral of grace, but rather actually cleanses us of original sin and gives us the grace necessary to receive more of His grace for the rest of our lives. 1:12) . Why was Jesus baptized? The purpose of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection is to unite all things in Him and to redeem His people by taking on the burden of the sins of all mankind. One of the questions that arise from this latter consideration is why Catholics baptize babies instead of waiting until children have reached the age of reason, as is common in many other Christian denominations. The purpose is to cleanse babies of original sin at the earliest age possible, so they can become children of God, members of His Body, and the Church. Rather, Pope Benedict XVI (writing as Joseph Ratzinger), in his, First, in antiquity water conjured up two distinct images, Looking at the events (of Christ’s baptism) in light of the Cross and Resurrection, the Christian people realized what happened: Jesus loaded the burden of all mankind’s guilt upon his shoulders; he bore it down into the depths of the Jordan. And the origin of this sacrament is Jesus’ own baptism. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back toward God” (CCC 407). One begins to wonder about the purpose of baptizing someone who cannot answer for himself or herself, especially since it is readily apparent that babies are incapable of choosing to act sinfully, and so do not need to be cleansed of sin in the same way that adults who have chosen to sin do. The answer points towards several tenets of the Catholic faith, such as the existence of original sin, the fact that all mankind has been redeemed by the Incarnation and Christ’s subsequent death and resurrection, the meaning of a sacrament and the working of God’s grace in our lives on earth. Jesus and Baptism. Considering that baptism washes away original sin (as well as actual sin in the case of older children or adult baptisms), we are led to ponder the meaning of Christ’s baptism in the Jordan as that feast approaches, since although Christ took on our humanity He remained sinless. Baptism, according to Mary Collins, OSB, is always about relationships. Christ Calls All to Baptism. … One is that the Bible says to be baptized once we have faith and repent of our sins (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15–17); no one should be baptized “in … He inaugurated his public activity by stepping into the place of sinners. First Corinthians 12:13 says, “We were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” Christian baptism not only forgives sins, but infuses the life of God into the soul, making us God’s children. In the gospel of Matthew, the public ministry of Jesus opens and ends with baptism. So, we have some key differences in the Catholic doctrine of baptism compared to Scripture. Do the godparents of our child need to be married to each other? Baptism provides a common foundation among all Christians, including those not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church. 12:14, NIV). Christ chose to be baptized not out of personal necessity, but rather because He thought it fitting to be baptized on behalf of the humanity whose sins He was choosing to take on. . Christian baptism is of course greater than John’s baptism, even as Jesus himself is far greater than John (Matt. 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