Help Please - Baptismal Validity Question


#1

I was baptised with water at a very young age (I think I was an infant). Now I’m in the RCIA program and somehow my original baptism was valid. I turned away from God and Christ at a very young age (around 6?) and remained that way for a long time. Only until a year ago did I reaccept Christ as my savior (I’m 21 now). Even though I received baptism of repentance at infancy, I didn’t acknowledge God as my god most of my life. I feel I cannot be forgiven for this! Lately there have been these guys (I think from the Church Of Christ) trying to convert me and explaining to me that my baptism was invalid because they say not receiving full immersion in water is not biblical. What do I do? I almost want to believe them because I want to have a clean slate again. I am struggling so hard with this, please help.


#2

This is for the baptism by Immersion Only bit,
catholic.com/library/Baptism_Immersion_Only.asp
And if they attack the validity of it from an age point here is two things for you
catholic.com/library/Infant_Baptism.asp
catholic.com/library/Early_Teachings_of_Infant_Baptism.asp

Hope this helps you.


#3

Check out the tracts on Baptism here at Catholic Answers. they will give info about methods of Baptism. But for a starter:

Baptism does wipe the slate clean, there is no doubt. It is a re-birth. We receive our human nature from our biological parents and we receive our divine nature through Baptism.

I doubt your Church of Christ friends see it quite this way. Nevertheless, consider this: If you were to believe those folks and get re-Baptized as they suggest, what happens then? Is it reasonable to think you will never again commit a serious sin? It would be naive to think that you (or anyone else) will remain perfectly in that state of purity.

The beauty of the truth of Catholicism is that we have available to us the means of becoming pure again, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. God, in His infinite wisdom, knows we will fall at times throughout our lives, and has provided the means of wiping the slate clean again…after Baptism…whether that is infant baptism, or adult baptism.


#4

[quote=newbiefound] I want to have a clean slate again. I am struggling so hard with this, please help.
[/quote]

If you want a clean slate, stay steady on the course you’re on - continue with your RCIA training and come into the Catholic Church. Everything will be ok.

If the RCIA program has determined your initial baptism was valid, then it was valid. Don’t take the word of any other religious group out there, they don’t recognize the Truth.

So you lived your life outside of God all those years…you’re understandably concerned about the state of your soul after all you’ve been through.

  1. God knows your heart. If you are truly repentent of your past actions, God knows this. If you truly are trying to avoid future occasions of sin, God knows this. Trust in His love and Mercy, particularly during this time of RCIA since it is His calling to you to which you are obediently responding. Certainly, this is pleasing to Him.

  2. Once you complete RCIA you will be able to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is truly a wonderful gift from Jesus which He left to the Catholic Church. At that time you will be absolved of all the sins you confess amd you will be at peace.

  3. There will be residual affects on your soul after reconciliation which the Church defines as the ‘temporal effects of sin’. It’s like a faded stain on a garment. The original stain (say, using the Lord’s name in vain) is the sin we committed after having been baptised. When we went to reconciliation and were absolved of the confessed sin, our garment was washed, the stain removed, but there’s still a faded discoloration where the stain was. Jesus granted another gift to the Catholic Church to help us get that last bit of discoloration off our souls - it’s called an indulgence. Indulgences are not difficult to obtain, ritually, the key is to have the proper frame of mind, heart and soul when seeking to obtain one.

Anyway, by staying with RCIA and being welcomed into the Catholic Church these gifts from Jesus will be available to you and all will be well.

You can learn more about indulgences in this thread.


#5

[quote=newbiefound]I was baptised with water at a very young age (I think I was an infant)…
[/quote]

Do you have proof of your baptism?

[quote=newbiefound]Now I’m in the RCIA program and somehow my original baptism was valid. I turned away from God and Christ at a very young age (around 6?) and remained that way for a long time. Only until a year ago did I reaccept Christ as my savior (I’m 21 now). Even though I received baptism of repentance at infancy, I didn’t acknowledge God as my god most of my life. I feel I cannot be forgiven for this!
[/quote]

Satan always wants us to feel like we’ve done something so horrible that God could never forgive us for it. That way, we lose hope. If we lose hope we play right into the devil’s hands.
You can be forgiven! God will always forgive his children who are truly repentant! God’s mercy is infinate!

Do your fears have anything to do with the sacrament of confession? Like that you won’t be able to remember all your sins or the priest will be mortified a t hearing some of them??

[quote=newbiefound]Lately there have been these guys (I think from the Church Of Christ) trying to convert me and explaining to me that my baptism was invalid because they say not receiving full immersion in water is not biblical. What do I do?
[/quote]

I addressed this somewhat on another thread. The poster said that the Church of Christ only accepts baptism by immersion because that’s the only way mentioned in the Bible. That it was the way Jesus was baptised and the way that John the Baptist baptised. Look at those passages (Mt 3:13-16 and Mk 1:9-11). Here’s what I wrote:

Read and then ask yourself, could it be possible that the phase “on coming up out of the water” (I know you have a different version that may have a slightly different interpretation) might not mean that He went entirely underneath the water? Rather, could it be possible that He went out to even knee deep water and had the waters poured over Him by John? This would be closer to the customary ritual washings at that time.

I am not trying to say that baptism by immersion is wrong! But pouring is an acceptable method, too. When I was baptised, I stepped into a foot deep pool of water and got on my knees. The priest then poured water over my head three times (I was pretty soaked!), and I “came up from the water.”

So, can you see how baptism doesn’t have to be by immersion only?
:wink:

[quote=newbiefound]I almost want to believe them because I want to have a clean slate again. I am struggling so hard with this, please help.
[/quote]

It’s understandable to want to have a clean slate. You can obtain a clean slate by going to reconciliation, doing your penance, and obtaining a plenary indulgenge (ask me about this if I am confusing you).
Feel free to ask any questions! And PM me or e-mail me If you wish!
:blessyou: and I will be praying for you!!


#6

If a person was baptized as an infant in the Catholic Church, I don’t see any reason why that person would have to wait until RCIA is complete to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.


#7

[quote=Matt16_18]If a person was baptized as an infant in the Catholic Church, I don’t see any reason why that person would have to wait until RCIA is complete to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
[/quote]

Actually even if you weren’t baptised in the Catholic Church and you are in RCIA, I don’t think there’s anything prohibiting you from going to reconciliation…


#8

[quote=Matt16_18]If a person was baptized as an infant in the Catholic Church, I don’t see any reason why that person would have to wait until RCIA is complete to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
[/quote]

The OP never indicated what type of baptism she had, it seemed from her posts that it was not Catholic, but some other denomination or non-denominational form.

But yes, if one is baptized Catholic as an infant they’d probably only have to go through the proper catechesis of the sacrament of reconciliation in order to receive that sacrament.


#9

[quote=RCCDefender]Actually even if you weren’t baptised in the Catholic Church and you are in RCIA, I don’t think there’s anything prohibiting you from going to reconciliation…
[/quote]

I am inclined to agree with you. Perhaps if there is something in canon law that specifically addresses this question.

It is not unheard of for a person in RCIA to be validly baptized, and yet, in need an annulment before they can receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The process of obtaining an annulment can take a lot of time. I would think that a person in RCIA that is caught up in dealing with an annulment tribunal would be encouraged to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation before the annulment tribunal renders its final decision.


#10

[quote=RCCDefender]Actually even if you weren’t baptised in the Catholic Church and you are in RCIA, I don’t think there’s anything prohibiting you from going to reconciliation…
[/quote]

Isn’t Reconciliation a separate Sacrament?
I would think the person would have to receive the proper instruction leading up to the initial reception of the Sacrament in order to participate in it. Perhaps you’re taking into consideration the person would receive that instruction through RCIA. But until the person receives the sacrament for the first time, whether that’s during RCIA or after the full program, they can’t go to confession with a priest and receive absolution…can they?


#11

[quote=YinYangMom]Isn’t Reconciliation a separate Sacrament?
I would think the person would have to receive the proper instruction leading up to the initial reception of the Sacrament in order to participate in it. Perhaps you’re taking into consideration the person would receive that instruction through RCIA. But until the person receives the sacrament for the first time, whether that’s during RCIA or after the full program, they can’t go to confession with a priest and receive absolution…can they?
[/quote]

I’m not positive, but it seems like I heard someone on another thread talking about going to confession and s/he was still a candidate. I don’t know the Church teaching on this. Newbie, I would ask your priest about it.


#12

[quote=newbiefound] I almost want to believe them because I want to have a clean slate again. I am struggling so hard with this, please help.
[/quote]

God love you. Get yourself to the parish priest with our prayer. Things will work out, and Christ will wash you whiter than snow once again.

What follows is not for you but a response to the other fine posters.

[quote=Matt16_18]I am inclined to agree with you. Perhaps if there is something in canon law that specifically addresses this question.
[/quote]

We have some canon and some liturgical law that you might want to consider.

Canon 844
§3. Catholic ministers administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist and anointing of the sick licitly to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed. This is also valid for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches.
§4. If the danger of death is present or if in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or the conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such of their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in these sacraments and are properly disposed.
§5. For the cases mentioned in §§ 2, 3, and 4, the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops is not to enact general norms except after consultation at least with the local competent authority of the interested non- Catholic Church or community.
Note the conditions in paragraph 4 for baptized Christians who don’t fall into paragraph 3.

However, there is also the situation of the baptized who are becoming Catholic by a profession of faith.

According to the Rite of Receiving Baptized Christians into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church, 9, RCIA, US 482), people who are going to be received into full communion should
confess their sins, having informed the confessor of their situation.

The National Statutes on the Catechumenate provide for reconciliation to be celebrated prior to confirmation and Eucharist. “36. The celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation with candidates for reception into full communion is to be carried out at a time prior to and distinct from the celebration of the rite of reception.”

[quote=YinYangMom]I would think the person would have to receive the proper instruction leading up to the initial reception of the Sacrament in order to participate in it.
[/quote]

I think so even apart from the case of reception into the Church where that is kind of presumed.

A non catechized Catholic or a baptized Christian under the conditions of paragraph 4 of canon 844 would need enough knowledge to formulate the intention and confess integrally which would be necessary to place a true sacramental confession (cc. 959-960). A priest confessor would judge this, I think, in a particular circumstance. (I also have a hunch that Catholic chaplains are hearing the confessions of all sorts of baptized non Catholics over in Iraq and Afghanistan.)

Dcn John Cameron
Lansing


#13

Thank you Deacon Cameron!!


#14

[quote=RCCDefender]Do you have proof of your baptism?
[/quote]

Not yet, my mother tells me that I was and I believe her, but so far we have not received written proof of it.

Yes! What happens if I cannot confess everything?


#15

My husband is a convert.
He was baptised in the presbyterian church. Most churches keep records of their baptisms.
My husband was asked to obtain a copy of his presbyterian baptismal certificate - which he did (not sure what would have happened if they didn’t have it)

He too had a “falling away” time in his youth.
During his RCIA he was told his baptism was accepted as valid (most are - except for JW, mormons…those who have a different view of the trinity)
At the Easter vigil he received the sacrament of confirmation and first eucharist.
RCIA continued for a few months after - and he began to visit the priest regularly for the sacrament of reconciliation.

If there are doubts concerning documentation or validity of your baptism - your priest or RCIA director should be able to steer you in the right direction. I’m sure they’ve seen your situation before.
Good luck!


#16

[quote=newbiefound]Not yet, my mother tells me that I was and I believe her, but so far we have not received written proof of it.

Yes! What happens if I cannot confess everything?
[/quote]

Well the RCIA director should be working on obtaining proof of your baptism. I suppose if there is none they may initiate you into Catholicism with the sacrament of baptism just to be sure, but don’t quote me on that.

As for not being able to remember everything during confession, don’t worry…who can? There’s a sentence we offer after we go down the list of stuff we do remember, it goes something like: “…and for all the other sins I probably committed but cannot recall at the moment, any offenses to God that’ll probably come to mind as soon as I leave this room, I truly am sorry and will do my best not to do again.”

There probably are some formal ways of saying the same thing, but I always find when I’m in the confessional, by that point I’m kinda flustered anyway so I’m speaking from my heart, fumbles, stutters and all…the point of any good confession is to have whatever it is you’re saying come from a sincere heart. Remember that God already knows what’s in your heart, confessing to a priest helps you release all that baggage, it doesn’t need to be done eloquently.


#17

In a case where there is reasonable doubt about whether or not the candidate has received a valid Sacrament of Baptism, the candidate in RCIA should receive conditonal Baptism.Conditional Baptism

Baptism administered with these words expressing a condition, “If thou art not yet baptized, I baptize thee,” etc. Baptism cannot be repeated; but in the reception of converts, when, after diligent investigation, there remains a reasonable doubt as to the fact or validity of their Baptism, the sacrament is given conditionally.

New Catholic Dictionary


#18

[quote=newbiefound]Not yet, my mother tells me that I was and I believe her, but so far we have not received written proof of it.
[/quote]

Was this baptism done in a Catholic Church or in a Protestant denomination?


#19

It was done by a protestant denomination. Episcopal I think.


#20

There are several different kinds of people in the typical RCIA class for adults. Some have never been baptized, are entirely new to Christianity and the Gospel message, are undergoing a real conversion from a life without Christ, are preparing for baptism, confirmation and first communion. They are called catechumens, and will be prepared for first confession sometime after the Easter in which they enter the Church, through baptism, confirmation and first communion. Their baptism will indeed remove original sin and all actual sin they have committed in their lives, put them in a state of sanctifying grace, that is, union with Christ.

Some have been validly baptized into other Christian denominations, and may have lived good Christian lives, or may have grown up without much Christian teaching, but either way have come to a point where they believe the truth of what the Catholic Church teaches and wish to be completely united with her. They are called candidates, are also experiencing a process of conversion, and are preparing for confirmation, profession of faith and first communion. The are also usually received into the Church at Easter. They will at some point before Easter be prepared for and make their first confession, a general confession of all the sins of their past life. They will tell the priest at the time of confession that they are in RCIA etc.

Some people in your class may have been baptized Catholic but never catechized, never taught the faith, or because of family circumstances fell away from the Church, perhaps into another Christian denomination, perhaps into a pagan way of life. They too are undergoing conversion, and are preparing for confirmation and/or first communion. They too at some point before first communion will be prepared for and make their confession of all the sins of their past life.

The content of the classes may be the same for everybody, but the process of conversion for each may be different because all started in a different place, have different challenges, different difficulties to overcome. Also the rites they celebrate along the way will be different, because the distinction between the baptized and unbaptized is always maintained.

As far as valid baptism, that should be determined at the time the candidate enters the RCIA process. You will be asked to obtain a letter or certificate from the Church where you were baptized, or failing that a notarized statement from witnesses to the baptism. the bishop of your diocese has guidelines for determining whether baptisms of various denominations are valid.

Yes, your good confession, with absolution and penance, renders you completely free from sin and returns you to the state of sanctifying grace you enjoyed on the day of your baptism.


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