Effect of the Eucharist on the unbaptized?

I’m just curious. I have a friend who has been a practicing Catholic. Recently an error was discovered that would render her (protestant) baptism invalid. She had of course been taking communion for a number of years before this was discovered, believing herself to be validly baptized.

I know that there was no sin that she committed in receiving, but I was wondering if she still received the graces of the sacrament?

Sanctifying grace, no. This is not possible on the unbaptized. However, she obviously received actual grace, bringing her to the necessary realization that she needs to be properly baptized.

How would baptism of desire apply to such a case? Does it still not suffice for aid for the other sacraments? This seems a pretty clear-cut case where that would be in evidence. Obviously we can’t know the state of someone’s soul, but she was definitely living a faithful Catholic life and expressed an immediate desire for baptism when the defect was discovered.

I don’t see a problem here. She though she was baptized and The Church did it as well, so if someone have done anything wrong it is, surprise surprise, The RCC. She did receive the Communion in full.

What I wonder is how this did happen. When I did convert I had to get a certificate that I was baptized, which I of course was.

What is more important? The “rules” or the faith?

Sometimes I think the “rules” is more important then our faith. To be a true, devoted and good Christian is to follow very simple rules of the road, namely the Ten Commandments and "love your neighbour as you love your self. Easy and simple. Did Jesus teach that if someone by mistake think he/she is baptized is not good enough for God? No! Reckon The Church need rules, but most of them are man made and the only rules we know for sure is what The Gospels teach, IMHO. The truth is in The Holy Bible.

“When a rule make your life harder and dictate your life stick with the truth from The Gospels”

The Sacraments are NOT man made. Jesus himself said said we must be Baptized in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The “rules” as you call them, and the Catholic Faith go together. They are our guide thru life to help us live a holy life and be prepared for Heaven. Without true guidelines we could wander off into many different paths that can lead to disaster. The Baptism of Desire would have covered her during those years. The Church is our loving Mother and will never lead us astray. We can trust the Holy Spirit to guide Her till the end of time God Bless Memaw.


But, the person did not know she was not baptized. The RCC did not know she was not baptized, and finally, the priest who did give her Communion did not know it. So, I don’t see God as a merciless God. Yes, Christ did teach the importance of baptize, but when nobody except God know that you are not baptized I don’t think He will see it not valid.

When I use the word “rules” I mean endless chapters who someone have been writing. Too much information is the biggest cause to mistakes. All we need to know is what The Holy Bible has on it’s pages. Theology is not a form of Christianity, it is not what we should worship, and I guess few do.

I have for some reason a disorder no doctor have been able to understand that makes it impossible for me to understand written knowledge except for The Bible. I can also understand short passages from the CCC. I can read a newspaper and I am good with cross-word puzzle’s and I am able to learn a new language only by listening, and it does not take long, but I write as I would speak it. (I speak Finnish, my native language, Swedish, English and Deutsch and understand many other langauges.) For some it would be a curse, for me it is a blessing, it bring the truth from The Gospels very close and I understand them very well. I have never, to my knowledge, said or wrote anything against The RCC, I am merely saying that knowledge is important, but much more important are what we feel. How we understand what Christ did speak to his apostles and those who did follow Him then, and today He speak to us both from The Bible and His Holy Church. I understand the importance of theology but the foundation is what Christ did teach us. Many “rules” are man made and we all know that, it is not a secret. They all are based on what we read in The Bible, but altered many times thru the years and most likely some have been interpreted by now, so all we know for sure is what we read in The Bible.

The other issue is what do we need to know? Some people “love” knowledge, and why not, as long as it is not the most important thing in the world. Most of us, however, are quite happy knowing the “basics”. Too much will eventually complicate the whole thing and knowledge and “nitpicking” will be more important, and soon the most important thing will lose all importance. So what do we need to know? How much do we need to know? I can not answer that correct and reckon not many others, so I turn to to The Bible and when I am in a dilemma I try to remember what Jesus did teach us, and in the sentence “love your neighbour as you love your self” is the whole foundation of the Christian faith. So I really don’t think God make a Communion not valid only because someone, including His Church, don’t know if that person is baptized or not. What matters, I think and hope, is that the person who receive the Communion understand what it is and how blessed he/she is to receive it, and I know Christ pretty good, we talk each day and I am sure He don’t mind if a [simple] mistake make it a “not valid” Communion in the eyes of The Church, it is valid in His eyes. You see, Christ is The Church, all others are just “working” for Him, and we know that we are very good in doing mistakes, Christ however do not make mistakes, and He did give us The Sacrament of Communion.

Baptism of desire only applies in cases of death. If you die desiring to be baptized, your death is considered your baptism.

Baptism of Desire is when one desires Baptism and does what they can to do God’s will. That lady did exactly that. You don’t have to be dying. God Bless, Memaw

I would say that she may have been receiving grace from the sacrament, we don’t know whether she actually did.

She needs to receive a valid baptism.

By the way, might you be able to share what was the reason stated for the baptism being invalid? I think that might help others who want to understand.


1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.

1259 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.

The original baptism was performed “In the name of Jesus” only. The catholic parent had not known that the trinitarian formula was invalid, and the parent’s testimony plus the baptismal certificate were submitted to the first communion classes and accepted as proof of a valid baptism.

Nothing to do with “rules”. The way the Sacraments operate are divinely ordained and revealed. The fact of the matter is, and the Church cannot change this no matter how hard she tries, is that Baptism is the gateway to all sacraments. This poor lady was unable to receive sanctifying grace in all those objectively unworthy Communions, but since she was in error, therefore there is no sin.

So the fact is in place. She received no sanctifying grace, because sanctifying grace is not first given in Communion. It’s given in Baptism. What she would have received is actual grace, which moved her towards rectifying her baptismal situation.

bben is actually correct. Baptism of desire kicks in only upon death after having had all avenues for water baptism exhausted. The mere desire for baptism, when there are opportunities for ordinary baptism, does not “suffice” for Holy Communion.

You seem to be under the impression that we’re accusing the poor girl of sin, which was eliminated at the very first post.

No baptism, no sanctifying grace. God’s words, not ours, not the Church’s. No sanctifying grace, no “valid” Communion. That does not say there was no benefit because God gives actual graces, especially since she was in a state of ignorance.

What’s uncharitable and “rules” about all this?

Ok that makes sense. I was pretty sure it didn’t count for some reason, but I didn’t know why.

And yes, everyone’s agreed there was no sin on her part, since she had as good evidence as any of us that she was validly baptized. She acted in the sincere belief that she was baptized in taking communion, and ceased receiving and moved to rectify the situation as soon as the error was discovered.

(Btw, she was baptized properly this morning, just over a week from when the error was discovered.)

If one desires Baptism and then knowingly does nothing to be Baptized, then that person is not really desiring it properly. But if one desires Baptism and doesn’t truly know how to acquire it, then they are still able to receive forgiveness and Grace, until they are actually Baptized or die. All the time a person is under Baptism of Desire, they are able to receive grace just like one who is Baptized. But as soon as they know, and can receive Baptism of Water, then they are required to do so.God Bless. Memaw

I am not under any impressions. All I say is that God do understand mistakes, as it was in this case. That is not against any of the teachings.

If a person think he/she is baptized or what ever needed to receive a Sacrament that must be enough for God. The RCC is a very complicated Church, and that will cause confusion in many ways. If God is a bureaucrat we don’t have much hope. I say, and that is not against anything or anyone, that what make a thing valid is totally up to our own heart. Where in the CCC is the passage where it say’s that “if you don’t know (what ever you need to know) it is not valid because you are not baptized”?

What we don’t know is a sin is not a sin due to lack of understanding, that many have stated as a fact, you can not break a rule you don’t know exist. Why on earth do you think God would punish us for that?

I don’t think anyone on here ever said that God would punish us for something we didn’t know!. God Bless, Memaw

No, nobody did, as such, but a few hint’s, maybe.

I am a bit confused though. We have The Bible, and then we have our lovely CCC with all answers we can think of. Sounds OK but there is flip-side as well. I have, and I am not pleased with what I see and read. There is this other thread (I was stupid enough to post a few things.) where the same phenomen do surface: it does not matter if we are good Christians as long as we are good Catholics and the “rules” are more important then what they mean.

In my way of thinking, and I do know that not all will agree, we are first and foremost Christians who follow what Christ did teach us, and on His teachings there is a church who continue His work. That is fine and not bad at all. But, yes, there is always a but, (and I am still aware of the fact that the word “but” has two meanings) for almost 2000 years the church we call “Catholic” which mean “universal” as we all know, been forced to adapt to new things, to a absolutely new world, and that have, as we all also know, not always gone as it should have. And nobody can deny that there are indeed some “man made” rules among every passage. They should be based on The Bible but that is impossible. The Bible does not have any answers for abortion, driving when drinking, euthanasia, porn (?) and many others things. If someone start looking for what The Bible say about driving after one to much that someone will be reading The Bible a long time because there is nothing that would fit that problem. That is no problem as if we recognize the problem. And that is why we, in my mind, and HO, must first be Christians, then we can call us Catholics, if we don’t do it that order we do worship a thick book, the CCC. We belong to the [universal] Church founded by Christ Himself and we call it Catholic because it is universal. So we are not Catholics, in a way, we are “Universalists”. The best “rule” we have is what Christ did teach us, “love your neighbour as you love yourself”, that is the law and that is the rule. If we forget this and start digging around thousands and thousands books we lose sight. We don’t see the forest because there are to many trees. Conclusion: a Sacrament given as God want and received in good faith is valid to full extent. No “earthly” mistake will wipe away that.

And all of you who think I am against The RCC are wrong. My love for The RCC is why I want to defend it and it’s faith when I see or get, as someone did point out, wrongly, am under “a impression” are wrong. I am a Christian, practicing my [universal] Catholic faith all the way. That is what I have always done and most likely always will. The only “impression” I am guilty of is blind faith and the fact that no matter what, God does not punish anyone, or wipe away, the effect of a Sacrament given in good faith, or in a situation where there is not time or all the things needed to administer a Sacrament to it’s full extent. What a priest give and do is always “in Christi persona”, or should be, and is therefore always valid, even if the priest may not do it right, or for some other reason, not act as expected. One who receive a Sacrament in good faith, without a knowledge that he/she may not be worthy this blessing, The Sacrament, will always, and this is my privat thought, and I can’t see why I would be wrong, is valid if one think it is.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.