Baptismal regeneration and the unwilling


#1

Hi, I am a faithful Catholic who entered the Church in Easter 2012, and a regular listener to Catholic Answers Live. I have no problems at all with accepting the teachings of the Church -- but I've managed to work myself into a conundrum in my understanding of baptismal regeneration. I am sure that it is nothing that hasn't been answered a hundred times before. God, I love my Holy Mother Church.

Now, I want to be sure I am correct in my semantics and terminology, so correct me viciously: The Church teaches that Baptism works ex opere operato, meaning that it is efficacious by the fact of its working, with no dependence on the holiness of the person administering it -- since it is really Christ who administers it. It also teaches that the person receiving the Sacrament must be properly disposed in order to receive its grace.

So if a priest grabbed a person off the street kicking and screaming and baptized him -- the person would not properly receive the grace of Baptism and would not have been validly baptized. But, do we still say that the Sacrament worked, even if no grace was received, only that it was invalid (and probably also illicit)? Is it still said to have been efficacious, even if it didn't accomplish its purpose of granting the grace of baptismal regeneration? Does Jesus still operate on the person in the Sacrament of Baptism even if the person is unwilling to receive it?

Okay -- so you can't validly baptize an unwilling adult, someone who is not only poorly disposed, but actively opposed. The person must have the proper disposition. How, then, does it work to baptize an infant, or a person in a vegetative state, who can't consent or understand or be "properly disposed" in the sense we mean that for healthy adults? It seems like I've maybe heard this explained before, but don't remember.


#2

I hoping to hear answers on this question also. I was told by an older priest that I could baptize my grandchildren without their parents permission.

Therefore, I baptized the 4 year old and the 7 year old while I was bathing them. I didn't feel comfortable, for some reason, doing it to the 10 year old.

I think she will be able to make that determination soon herself.

What are the thoughts here?


#3

Invalid means it didn't happen (it was not "efficacious"). The same word is used to describe marriages that have since been annulled. An adult who had water poured over his head while struggling to get away got wet - and that's it.

StillCatholic:
Illicit, but valid. I hope you informed the priest (and probably the parents - that matter is kind of sticky, but honesty is the high road). The 10-year-old would definitely have to seek baptism herself.


#4

They aren't Catholic. My son and daughter-in-law are believers but in a non-denominational church.They are not specifically anti-Catholic, but not opened to all things Catholic. I don't think they would be too happy that I did that. But, the reason I did was because the 70 year old priest I spoke to about it said it was important to protect them from the enemy and I do want them to be protect from the enemy.


#5

[quote="LonelyPilgrim, post:1, topic:322347"]
Okay -- so you can't validly baptize an unwilling adult, someone who is not only poorly disposed, but actively opposed. The person must have the proper disposition. How, then, does it work to baptize an infant, or a person in a vegetative state, who can't consent or understand or be "properly disposed" in the sense we mean that for healthy adults? It seems like I've maybe heard this explained before, but don't remember.

[/quote]

At least in the case of infants (I'm not positive for incapacitated adults) the parents and godparents stand in as a proxy for the infant. They are the ones who consent and profess the faith on behalf of the child.


#6

[quote="JMJ_coder, post:5, topic:322347"]
At least in the case of infants (I'm not positive for incapacitated adults) the parents and godparents stand in as a proxy for the infant. They are the ones who consent and profess the faith on behalf of the child.

[/quote]

Thanks for all the responses, everybody. To the above: yes, I think that is what I've heard before. I would suppose that it also makes a difference that we can assume in good faith that an infant, cared for by such loving parents and godparents (and a loving God), would consent to such a loving action.

For the incapacitated adult: I would think it should be valid If it was known that the person had wanted to be baptized. But I am really curious about a case in which a child had never been baptized and grew up and lived a prodigal life and was then in an incapacitating accident, and yet had loving and faithful parents who wanted to see the person baptized. Could such parents be proxies for somebody when it could not be reasonably assumed that the person would have been willing were they healthy? (If a notorious sinner was in such an accident and it was only the doctor or the local priest who wanted to see him baptized, I doubt that would be valid.)


#7

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