Does baptism of desire confer same graces as water baptism?


#1

Hi All,

The answer is “no” to my knowledge and yet I don’t understand the details.

I suspect that my non-Catholic Christian friends, including possibly myself, may have already received a baptism of desire because we love Christ and seem to possess in some measure the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. What awaits us in water baptism? If in fact we have been already baptized by a baptism of desire, how will our soul be changed after a water baptism?

Of course, many non Catholic Christians have received water baptisms. I guess I’m wondering about someone like myself, raised Mormon. Mormon baptisms aren’t valid. But I do think perhaps myself and Mormon relatives may have benefited from a baptism of desire. So again, what graces do I have to look forward to and what graces, up until now, have I and my family had to go without?


#2

You don’t have baptism of desire because you’re not dead yet. Baptism of desire kicks in only at the moment of death, and only if you never had the opportunity to receive the Sacrament. But till then, for as long as you’re in the wayfaring state, you are bound to water baptism, which is the real thing.

Baptism of desire confers the grace of salvation, but since it is itself not a sacrament, the soul does not receive the indelible mark of Baptism. So what you have to look forward to is the actual regeneration into the death and resurrection of Christ, the reception of sanctifying grace, and your adoption as a child of God.


#3

St Thomas Aquinas discussed this question a little in his, Part 3, Question 69, Article 4, Reply to Objection 2Summa Theologica:
Reply to Objection 2. As stated above (1, ad 2; 68, 2*) man receives the forgiveness of sins before Baptism in so far as he has Baptism of desire, explicitly or implicitly; and yet when he actually receives Baptism, he receives a fuller remission, as to the remission of the entire punishment. So also before Baptism Cornelius and others like him receive grace and virtues through their faith in Christ and their desire for Baptism, implicit or explicit: but afterwards when baptized, they receive a yet greater fulness of grace and virtues. Hence in Psalm 22:2, “He hath brought me up on the water of refreshment,” a gloss says: “He has brought us up by an increase of virtue and good deeds in Baptism.”

*These seem to be references to Question 69, Article 1, Reply to Objection 2; and Question 68, Article 2.


#4

Going with the last posters comments. We receive the fullness of Gods graces with Baptism as written in this scripture.

Acts 2:38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

So what are the spiritual 'gifts of the Holy Spirit?" These are found in the scriptures but the Church sums them up as 7 gifts…

Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.

Can these gifts be attained in Spiritual baptism, Yes… Can a person be completely immersed in them without water baptism? IMO…Without the understanding of why we are baptized with water in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, can one receive the understandings as completely? I tend to think a person would be stunted in the amounts of gifts they receive due to them limiting their faith because of their personal beliefs. That’s what I believe anyway…

Ephesians 4:7 7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it is said,

“When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
he gave gifts to his people.”


#5

Wow. Can’t get better than that!

Also, it makes sense that God would not apply a baptism of desire until death, otherwise the spiritual incentive to seek out baptism would be lessened.

Interestingly, I have always been very obedient, but felt that something was missing at the heart, and “feeling connected” level. I think maybe God has withheld some of those graces because he’s been waiting for me to meet Him in the sacrament if baptism.

Do you have any additional thoughts on the “indelible mark of baptism” and what that is?


#6

I see. Does St. Thomas elsewhere affirm that baptism of desire is not granted until the moment of death? Or does he think it can be applied sooner?

The point about “remission of the entire punishment” is also notable. I have seen elsewhere that baptism of desire does not forgive temporal punishment for sin.

Looks like a proper water baptism is the way to go!:thumbsup:


#7

The indelible mark, or character in imprinted on the soul by three Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders. Because this mark can never be erased, these Sacraments can be received only once in one’s lifetime. It means our souls are configured to Christ in the manner intended by the Sacrament.

God does provide actual graces to the unbaptized, as this is what moves them to conversion and the Sacrament. Of course what is being withheld is sanctifying grace, that is, the sharing of the very supernatural life of God. That will come with Baptism.


#8

Pope Pius XII confirms your reasoning in Mystici Corporis (103). He says something about those who are joined to the mystical body by desire not having a fullness of graces and gifts because a fullness is enjoyed only within the church.

I do wonder if God chose in times past to lavish extra graces on people who really never would have the chance to join, for example someone in 8th century Brazil. But nowadays, the world is petty evangelized. Especially here in America, there’s a Catholic Church every 5-10 miles. If God wants people in the Church, makes sense that He would not award them every grace, so that they’ll keep searching!


#9

Aha. I wondered this. I wondered if it had to do with actual verses sanctifying grace, but what I was unclear on is when baptism of desire is applied. Some people seem to think it can be applied to living unbaptized people. In that case, there could be lots of people walking around who are unbaptized, but still living in sanctifying grace. That doesn’t make sense. It makes baptism less special, honestly.

Do you have a catechism reference or some such for the idea that baptism of desire is applied at death?


#10

“For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament” (CCC 1259).


#11

The baptism of desire and blood is “regarded by theologians generally as a truth of Revelation” (sententia fidei proxima). In Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (1954) by Ludwig Ott, p. 356-7:In case of emergency Baptism by water can be replaced by Baptism of desire or Baptism by blood. (Sent. fidei prox.)

a) Baptism of desire (Baptismus flaminis sive Spiritus Sancti) Baptism of desire is the explicit or implicit desire for sacramental baptism (votum baptismi) associated with perfect contrition (contrition based on charity).


Baptism of desire works ex opere operantis. It bestows Sanctifying Grace, which remits original sin, all actual sins, and the eternal punishments for sin. Venial sins and temporal punishments for sin are remitted according to the intensity of the subjective disposition. The baptismal character is not imprinted, nor is it the gateway to the other sacraments.
From page 9 of the same source, (8. The Theological Grades of Certainty)3. A Teaching proximate to Faith (sententia fidei proxima) is a doctrine, which is regarded by theologians generally as a truth of Revelation, but which has not yet been finally promulgated as such by the Church.

But Trent stated: Council of Trent: CANON IV. If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof**,** men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification; though all (the sacraments) are not indeed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema."


#12

Since Catholics don’t practice proxy baptism for the dead, when he speaks of the man receiving Baptism after having his sins forgiven through baptism of desire, he understands that baptism of desire can occur before death.

If I remember correctly, to Aquinas, baptism of desire occurs the moment a person manifests love of God and he has a desire to do God’s will whatever that may entail, even if he doesn’t know that that includes Baptism.


#13

Baptism of desire is not applied at death. Look again at the example of St. Thomas that was cited here in this very thread. Those who desire the sacrament of baptism receive the forgiveness of sins and infusion of grace before they receive the sacrament of baptism not merely at death, but when they begin to desire the sacrament. In case his meaning is unclear there, here is another passage where his meaning is ambiguous.

As stated above (1, ad 2; 68, 2) man receives the forgiveness of sins before Baptism in so far as he has Baptism of desire, explicitly or implicitly; and yet when he actually receives Baptism, he receives a fuller remission, as to the remission of the entire punishment. So also before Baptism Cornelius and others like him receive grace and virtues through their faith in Christ and their desire for Baptism, implicit or explicit: but afterwards when baptized, they receive a yet greater fulness of grace and virtues. Hence in Psalm 22:2, “He hath brought me up on the water of refreshment,” a gloss says: “He has brought us up by an increase of virtue and good deeds in Baptism.”
(III, q. 69, a. 4, ad. 2)
newadvent.org/summa/4069.htm#article4

In his example, he states that Cornelius received sanctifying grace before his baptism. He says, that sanctifying grace is received before baptism, and only that they receive a greater fullness of grace (along with the the sacramental character, which he does not mention here, but does discuss elsewhere).

EDIT: Looking back over the thread, I now see that the passage Todd posted was the same one I just did. I think that should have settled it the first time it was posted, but I’ll leave my post up in case it’s helpful to see it twice.


#14

FYI, St. Thomas also teaches that sanctifying grace was received in circumcision through faith since those who received circumcision participated in baptism by a figure. He appears to more or less equate circumcision with baptism of desire.

newadvent.org/summa/4070.htm#article4


#15

Keep in mind also that St Thomas is certainly one of the greatest, if not the greatest theologians the Church has had. But he was just that - a theologian. He was not the Magisterium, and not every last thing he said agrees with the Magisterium.


#16

That may be true, but St. Thomas’ teaching here is in agreement with the magisterium.


#17

I know of no other place where the Church teaches that circumcision constitutes baptism by a figure, or where the Church equates circumcision with baptism by desire - perhaps you can help me on this? I am always open to learning something new.

Galations 5:6 “For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”


#18

St. Thomas Aquinas is addressing circumcision in the time before the Passion of Christ.


#19

That is an important clarification. Thomas taught that it is mortally sinful to observe the ceremonies of the old law after Christ, so what I said would be misleading if that were not in mind.


#20

Yup. Perhaps I wasn’t clear in how I addressed the original post. It appeared as if the good Saint were commenting on sacramental theology after Christ.


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