Baptism Dilemma


I am a recent convert to Catholicism from evangelical protestantism. My teenage brother has shown a lot of interest in the Church, but I don’t want to try and “convert” him as I feel that would be undermining my staunchly evangelical parents. I have tried to answer his questions honestly while emphasizing that he is still under their authority. Nonetheless, he finds himself drifting closer to Catholicism.

Now here is where it gets tricky. My parents’ church only baptizes “believers” (no babies), and my brother has never been baptized despite my parents encouragement, though they don’t believe its necessary for salvation. Now that he realizes how crucial baptism is, he wants to get it done ASAP. He believes it is necessary for salvation.

He went to the first baptism prep class at the evangelical church tonight. Of course, they talked about it just being symbolic and not necessary for salvation, which he doesn’t believe anymore. He thought the verses they used to “prove” this, such as Roman 6:1-4, actually show the opposite. Even my dad was perplexed. The problem is in order to be baptized in the evangelical church, he needs to give his testimony and explain why he’s being baptized. The truth, he says, is that he believes its necessary for salvation.

However, if he says this, they won’t baptize him. If he waits until he can be baptized as a Catholic if he decides to convert, it will be 3 years until he’s over 18 and can make his own choice. Given how he now feels about baptism, he doesn’t want to take that risk. However, he doesn’t want to lie to be baptized either!

I am so proud of him for the way he is wrestling with difficult issues in his faith, and I want to give him the best counsel possible. How do you think he should proceed? Short of baptizing him myself with the garden hose (I’m only kidding;) ), I have no idea how he can be baptized soon without pretending to believe something he doesn’t.


Have you showed him these tracts?
Print them out and give them to him.


This looks to me like a clear case of Baptism by Desire. If anything happened to him before he was able to get baptised he would be spiritually and supernaturally baptised by his sincere desire for it.

Ironically we lay Catholics while having the authority to baptise during emergencies are prohibited to do so in the general case while the Church also permits any other person to baptise a person if they use the prescribed formula. All that is necessary is to pour pure water over the head 3 times while invoking the blessing "I baptise you in the name of The Father (pour water), The Son (pour water), and the Holy Spirit (pour water).

But with respect to the person being of the age of consent but still legally under your parents custody I think you are wise to not go around your parents. There is also another consideration - baptism must not be administered more than 1 time or it is a sacrilege since its irrevocable and permanent. Another reason why the person should wait to have it officially done by the Church rather than some lay person so that records can be kept. The Church is very good at keeping its Catholic records in good order and can validate baptisms credentials when the time comes for the other sacraments that require baptismal proof.

Just the same, I’d keep a bottle water handy if some emergency ever comes up. But you brother really needs to know the Catholic Faith enough before he can consent on his own and his parents do not desire a Catholic baptism.

Here is a reference:
Ref: CCC 1256
The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and priest and, in the Latin Church, also the deacon.[57] In case of necessity, any person, even someone not baptized, can baptize, if he has the required intention. The intention required is to will to do what the Church does when she baptizes, and to apply the Trinitarian baptismal formula. The Church finds the reason for this possibility in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of Baptism for salvation.[58]

Also note:
For a sacrament to be valid, three things have to be present: the correct form, the correct matter, and the correct intention. With baptism, the correct intention is to do what the Church does, the correct matter is water, and the correct form is the baptizing "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19).

Keep his interest!

Oh, one more thing. Most people do not know this but as soon as some one is baptised he is targeted by Satan as a dire enemy and will be tried and tested over his life. But he is under full protection of God and his guradian angel.




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