My (fallen away catholic) daughter just had first child. When I asked her about baptism for the baby, response was had not even thought about it. when I tried to talk to her about the importance of it to cleanse the soul of original sin, she expressed how could a baby have sin. Jesus in scripture has referenced that to have eternal life an adult needed to like a child. Can someone help me frame a response to her?
John 3:5 - Jesus answered, Believe me, no man can enter into the kingdom of God unless birth comes to him from water, and from the Holy Spirit.
Luke 18:16 - but Jesus called the children to him, and said, Let them be, do not keep them back from me; the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Original sin is not the same as personal sin. Original sin is an inheritance, namely being the lack of the grace of original holiness God gave to man. The truth of the life we’re born into is death. Through Baptism, we are truly reborn into the life of Christ. It is by Baptism that we are washed away of the inheritance of death that is the result of Adam, and reborn as brothers and sisters of Christ. It’s not only the washing away of sin; we are spiritually regenerated into a new life in Christ. It is through Baptism that we become part of God’s Church. Who wouldn’t want to bring their children into life with Christ as early as possible? Christ told his disciples to let the children come to him.
There is baptism of desire, baptism of blood, and other such things, but there’s really no reason to delay bringing their child the grace and new life of Christ, no reason to not have the assurance of the sacrament Christ instituted instead of doubt. Even if your daughter is skeptical of the original sin, wouldn’t she still want to give the child as much as possible?
I don’t know if that’ll fly with your daughter.
Many non-Catholics will use the argument that infants and young children do not have the capacity to sin. They themselves have not sinned.
The Catholic Church itself holds to the idea that First Communion be given at the age of reason, about seven years old. Of course a very young child is not culpable.
Even so, every person is born with the stain of sin because of Adam’s Fall from grace. Baptism returns the person to the original grace that Adam had before his Fall. This washing away of Adam’s sin also brings the individual into the Body of Christ, into the Community that we call Church.
The Catholic Church is not a building or an institution. We are God’s people. We are Church. In essence, it replaces the circumcision of the Old Testament by leaving an indelible mark that not only washes away Adam’s sin, but seals the new creation with the Holy Spirit. I liken it to vaccinations against physical diseases, except in this case the child is protected against spiritual enemies.
The young child still needs to learn from godparents what the Catholic Church teaches. This is where infant Baptism differs from adult Baptism. The adult makes the conscious decision for the child. The adult decision is made at Confirmation as the individual is fully integrated into the life of the Church.
Others have addressed original sin. The next is if baptized who or will the parents see the child is raised in the Catholic faith.
I hope that your conversation will also focus on the parents’ role in baptism.
During the rite of baptism, the priest says:
You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him (her) in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?
Is your daughter ready and willing to take on the responsibility to raise her child in the faith?
Later the priest says:
Dear parents and godparents: You have come here to present this child for baptism. By water and the Holy Spirit he (she) is to receive the gift of new life from God, who is love.
On your part, you must make it your constant care to bring him (her) up in the practice of the faith. See that the divine life which God gives him (her) is kept safe from the poison of sin, to grow always stronger in his (her) heart.
If your faith makes you ready to accept this responsibility, renew now the vows of your own baptism. Reject sin; profess your faith in Christ Jesus. This is the faith of the Church. This is the faith in which this child is about to be baptized.
Clearly infant baptism isn’t merely a matter of pouring water on a baby, but of taking on the responsibility to start them on a lifetime journey of faith.
Perhaps before you try to convince your daughter to have your grandchild baptized, you should talk with her about what her baptism means and how she lives it out. Prepare her to take on this responsibility for her own child.
I’d say just hedge your bets. If it doesn’t harm the baby, it can only help. Why not do it? That is the real question! Lets say it turns out to be meaningless, then it has harmed nothing, but lets say it turns out to be needed! Then by not doing it you have seriously handicapped your child!!!
At least that’s the argument I’ve used before to some benefit, not everyone will agree, but some see the logic in it.
The parents have to make this decision, and, moreover, they have to say that they will raise the child in the faith, and select godparents who are on the same page.
All you can do is pray at this point. It sounds like they are not practicing their faith.
At any rate,it’s not your decision.
The priest will expect them to start going to church regularly and participating in the sacraments and the life of the parish.
Just pray for conversion.
Here you are keeping it simple for an individual who looks at Baptism simply as ritualistic. It is unfortunate that for many Catholics the Sacraments have become merely a matter of social tradition. It is a start that begins the process. Many parishes now require parents register up to a year in advance to prepare for the Sacrament.
In preparing for the child’s Baptism, the parents may more fully understand the beauty and need of the Sacraments.
While some non-Catholic communities use the same words from scripture to Baptize infants, they use the term “Christianizing” to describe bringing a young child into the Church. Some will say they are consecrating their child to God and not use the Baptismal formula. Why not include the protection of the Holy Spirit throughout life? Even if there is no belief at this time, the Sacrament is real and no harm is done in having a child Baptized.
The scriptural reference comes from the Book of Acts in which whole households were Baptized. Historically, the household worshiped the God or gods of the master of the household. In the Book of Genesis, when Abraham was circumcised, all the males in his household were circumcised, slave and free alike.
Don’t explain it in terms of sin, but rather, explain it as the first step in sharing in God’s eternal life. After God created the heavens and the earth, the Spirit moved among the the waters, forming everything. In the same way, after being born, the Spirit moves among the waters of the baptismal font, beginning the formation of the child into a son or daughter of God. The old creation is made through water and the Spirit, and so the new birth is made through water and the Spirit.
Tell her that Christ was born of the Father as the Son of God and reborn of the Blessed Mother as the Son of Man, so that we sons of men born from our mothers can be reborn in the Spirit as sons of God. Just as the Sonship of Christ was announced at his baptism, so too is her child’s sonship announced at his own baptism.
Tell her that as sons of God, we share everything the Son of God inherits from His Father, and that just as circumcision entered one into the old covenant with God, baptism enters one into the new covenant with God.
You could try and explain what original sin is, and why it is not personal sin, but I think she might have some reservations about the common presentation of the doctrine, and so explaining baptism in terms of Divine adoption and rebirth would be more convincing, especially sin these are terms Christ himself explains baptism in as much as the absolution of sins.
If you do have to explain original sin, explain it in terms of exile: Adam and Eve were exiled from God’s grace, and what happens to children born from exiled parents? They too are born in exile. But the King in his mercy has sent servants (the Prophets), and eventually his very Son, to invite the children of Adam back into the Kingdom of God.
Baptism is the means to be part of God’s family. John 3:5 says it clearly: UNLESS one is born of water and the Spirit, he can not enter the kingdom of God. Whether the baby sinned or not is irrelevant. If something were to happen to the baby tomorrow, God forbid, can she ensure the baby is eligible to enter the kingdom of God? If she repents and she is saved, but the baby is not baptized and something happened to both of them, one enters heaven and other we are frankly not sure. Why would any responsible parent neglect the spiritual well-being of their children’s soul, just to prove a personal point? And if the parent was wrong, how could one enjoy heaven while being the cause of their children non-heaven? May be for such cases, the destination is non-hell may be limbo, but parent and child would be permanently separated. Not even sure there are visitation rights. Whose fault?
Here is what the Catechism says on Baptism.
Do NOT tell your daughter that her child will go to Hell or Limbo (which might as well be Hell) without baptism - the Church does not teach that and it is an evil thing to say. It goes against the entire point of Christianity. If someone told me “your baby won’t go to Heaven if he dies without baptism” then I would assume that any faith that hates children this much has to be evil and false.
" … the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,“allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism”.
As for what you can tell her, try talking about how baptism adds extra protection to the child’s soul by ensuring the moral compass points true. Mention how it is the first step in welcoming the child into the loving and compassionate community that is the church. Describe how
We ought to stop troubling the Gentiles who turn to God.
Today’s meditation from the Word Among Us might be helpful.
In the early Church, the Apostles debated whether or not new converts needed to be circumcised and follow the whole Mosaic Law.
The answer comes down to “grace and faith.”
Grace and faith are at the heart of God’s covenant with his people.
It is enough to accept this grace by being Baptized in the name of Jesus.
Both grace and faith are gifts from God.
Baptizing a child is a gift of love that includes him or her within the Covenant of God’s people. This child belongs to God, is consecrated to God, is part of God’s family.
“I will be your God, and you will be my people.”
Since the parent is responsible for teaching the child about God, it can be a way for her to reconcile struggles she may be having. As others has stated, this is a time to focus more on God’s loving embrace than that the child might be lost in limbo.