When should I "admonish the sinner"? / Infant Baptism


#1

Let me briefly describe the background of my question:

I have been staying at the house of my cousin and her husband for a few months, and I will be leaving to return to school in a couple of weeks. My cousin is a "non-denominational" Evangelical from a Church of Christ background, and her husband is a cradle Catholic. However, since I have been here it is apparent that she has succeeded in pulling him away from the Church, or at least from attending Mass on Sundays, instead going to services at her non-denominational megachurch.

I love my cousin, and she has been very generous in allowing me to stay in her home for such a long period. She is also not anti-Catholic, and she is a very reasonable person. About a month ago I gave her "Rome Sweet Home" by the Hahns, and she has been reading it and discussing it with me on occasion. She seems open to Catholicism; however, I know she is reluctant to move in that direction for reasons that are not so much intellectual as having to do with emotions and her relationships. Basically, she is very attached to the youth group at her current church and fears losing those friendships. Also, she fears that her mother-- who was in many ways manipulated into leaving the Catholic Church and joining the Church of Christ in college-- would be "heartbroken".

My question is two parts:
1) They have a one-year-old daughter, whom they have not yet baptized, instead waiting for a "believer's baptism" when she reaches the age of reason. If there seems to be no chance of them baptizing her in the near future (dad has basically given up on that), should I take matters into my own hands and do it myself, secretly? I know that sounds kind of crazy, but I am concerned for my little niece's eternal salvation.

2) Is it at all advisable (or obligatory) for me to inform my cousin's husband that skipping Sunday Mass is a serious sin (or could be one)? I honestly don't think he is aware of this. He was poorly catechized, and seems to think that one church is just like any other. My concern here is that I don't want to alienate him from the Church, and I don't want to end our relationship. I am also in a bit of a precarious position as a guest in his house.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. God bless.


#2
  1. No, you should not secretly baptise your niece. This is her parent's responsibility and undermining their authority when they haven't yet fully cemented on a type of baptism would not be good. How would you feel if your future children were baptised in another faithe without your consent or knowledge? This is their choice and you must respect it by not doing a secret baptism.

  2. Yes, I would bring up the fact that missing mass is a sin. It could be that he knows this and doesn't care, but he may not and your mentioning something might start stirring thoughts to go back to church.


#3

[quote="Dave813, post:1, topic:207920"]
They have a one-year-old daughter, whom they have not yet baptized, instead waiting for a "believer's baptism" when she reaches the age of reason. If there seems to be no chance of them baptizing her in the near future (dad has basically given up on that), should I take matters into my own hands and do it myself, secretly? I know that sounds kind of crazy, but I am concerned for my little niece's eternal salvation.

[/quote]

I'm not often without something to say, but honestly, this has struck me speechless. This is way beyond crazy. You have absolutely no right to do something like this.

Is it at all advisable (or obligatory) for me to inform my cousin's husband that skipping Sunday Mass is a serious sin (or could be one)? I honestly don't think he is aware of this. He was poorly catechized, and seems to think that one church is just like any other. My concern here is that I don't want to alienate him from the Church, and I don't want to end our relationship. I am also in a bit of a precarious position as a guest in his house.

Although I'm not big religion guy, I usually see nothing wrong with discussing religion or even advocating for a particular religion that you might believe in. However, given what you are considering regarding baptizing your niece, I have to believe that you aren't really thinking straight about this. I suspect that your input would not be appreciated and you could, in fact, find yourself looking for somewhere else to hang your hat.

In other words, mind your own business.


#4

[quote="Dave813, post:1, topic:207920"]
Let me briefly describe the background of my question:

My question is two parts:
1) They have a one-year-old daughter, whom they have not yet baptized, instead waiting for a "believer's baptism" when she reaches the age of reason. If there seems to be no chance of them baptizing her in the near future (dad has basically given up on that), should I take matters into my own hands and do it myself, secretly? I know that sounds kind of crazy, but I am concerned for my little niece's eternal salvation.

2) Is it at all advisable (or obligatory) for me to inform my cousin's husband that skipping Sunday Mass is a serious sin (or could be one)? I honestly don't think he is aware of this. He was poorly catechized, and seems to think that one church is just like any other. My concern here is that I don't want to alienate him from the Church, and I don't want to end our relationship. I am also in a bit of a precarious position as a guest in his house.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. God bless.

[/quote]

Point one is "out there" agreeing with others in putting yourself in their shoes...Remember in the scriptures there was repentance then baptism..The Holy Spirit does a good job in drawing...My daughter was around seven/eight when she felt conviction from the Holy Spirit and water baptism just naturally follows as they understand what is happening reguarding a new life in Christ...Remember when whole households received the word and believed we just assume babies are in their without a confession in faith...Number two Remember they trusting in the same Lord Jesus as our way to salvation just as you...If you feel they must be catholic then pray and let the Holy Spirit do His work...Its your job to love them and ask God's blessing for them...As for assembly, we are not to forsake gathering..We are to learn and grow and to minister to one another with our gifting corporately....Our purpose is praise and adoration to the Lord..But sinning to miss gathering at our local ecclesia
Are they going to thier church?..I have missed church in the past to help someone in need...Rather than conviction I felt the peace and blessing from the Lord...Any way even if you :feel" you are right just love , respect and appreciate them that they love the Lord...Let God do His work in them..If you feel you have more "truth" then they do just live it..Let the fragrance of Christ just radiate from you.
Grace and peace to you....K


#5

Ok, before anyone else gives me a hostile reply like this to tell me how crazy I am, let me try to put this in perspective:

Just the other day, I was walking up the staircase to my room. At the top of the stairs is the family computer desk, where my cousin’s husband was on the internet while his daughter was playing around beneath the desk. When I got to the top of the stairs, she crawled over to meet me with a big smile (you would be amazed just how fast babies can crawl!), but instead of coming at me she made a beeline straight for the stairs! Her dad had gotten up and was standing a few steps behind her, but for a split second there was a moment where it wasn’t exactly clear which of us was going to grab her and keep her from falling down the stairs. The image that flashed through my mind in that instant was of two baseball players both going for a fly ball, not knowing who should be the one to catch it.

Her dad ended up snatching her up from behind, chiding her to stay away from the stairs. I tried to play it cool, but my heart was beating out of my chest!

All I could think was: my God, that baby is not baptized!

Now, if you think baptism is not a big deal and you are a believing Catholic, I have news for you-- you are wrong. The early Church fathers saw infant baptism as a very big deal, not something that was a mere formality or a nice little ceremony where we all feel good about ourselves. Baptism is the normal means of salvation, of redemption from original sin, and for infants it may be the only means. Some people have posited Limbo as an alternative, but the Church is not even sure about this-- from what I can tell, we aren’t really sure what happens to unbaptized infants, whether they go to heaven. Yes, we trust in the mercy and goodness of God, but that is not the same assurance as we get from baptism. And even if Limbo does exist, are we really that comfortable with babies going there, achieving a high degree of “natural happiness”, instead of going to heaven and being in the presence of God?

Maybe I am being a little provocative in bringing up the “secret” baptism thing, b/c there really is not a snowball’s chance in h-e-double-hockeysticks I would ever actually do something like that. My reasons are more instinctual than intellectual, though, so I guess I am looking for some good reasons from others on this forum. Or maybe someone actually thinks it is a good idea. Either way, I would ask kindly that you refrain from personal attacks.


#6

[quote="Dave813, post:5, topic:207920"]
Ok, before anyone else gives me a hostile reply like this to tell me how crazy I am, let me try to put this in perspective:

Just the other day, I was walking up the staircase to my room. At the top of the stairs is the family computer desk, where my cousin's husband was on the internet while his daughter was playing around beneath the desk. When I got to the top of the stairs, she crawled over to meet me with a big smile (you would be amazed just how fast babies can crawl!), but instead of coming at me she made a beeline straight for the stairs! Her dad had gotten up and was standing a few steps behind her, but for a split second there was a moment where it wasn't exactly clear which of us was going to grab her and keep her from falling down the stairs. The image that flashed through my mind in that instant was of two baseball players both going for a fly ball, not knowing who should be the one to catch it.

Her dad ended up snatching her up from behind, chiding her to stay away from the stairs. I tried to play it cool, but my heart was beating out of my chest!

All I could think was: my God, that baby is not baptized!

Now, if you think baptism is not a big deal and you are a believing Catholic, I have news for you-- you are wrong. The early Church fathers saw infant baptism as a very big deal, not something that was a mere formality or a nice little ceremony where we all feel good about ourselves. Baptism is the normal means of salvation, of redemption from original sin, and for infants it may be the only means. Some people have posited Limbo as an alternative, but the Church is not even sure about this-- from what I can tell, we aren't really sure what happens to unbaptized infants, whether they go to heaven. Yes, we trust in the mercy and goodness of God, but that is not the same assurance as we get from baptism. And even if Limbo does exist, are we really that comfortable with babies going there, achieving a high degree of "natural happiness", instead of going to heaven and being in the presence of God?

Maybe I am being a little provocative in bringing up the "secret" baptism thing, b/c there really is not a snowball's chance in h-e-double-hockeysticks I would ever actually do something like that. My reasons are more instinctual than intellectual, though, so I guess I am looking for some good reasons from others on this forum. Or maybe someone actually thinks it is a good idea. Either way, I would ask kindly that you refrain from personal attacks.

[/quote]

I think you do have an obligation to talk to him, regarding both the baptism and Mass attendance. I am glad you were feeling that instinct. Your concern over the wellbeing and eternal salvation of both the father and child is based not only in Christian charity but in familial love. Regarding the secret baptism, I don't think any parish priest worth his salt would perform a secret baptism anyway. In our parish, parents are required to attend a baptism class and fill out paperwork for each and every child they bring for baptism. But I think maybe you knew that already, right? ;)
So, no personal attacks from this new Catholic. I know enough from RCIA to realize the gravity of being a fallen away Catholic who does not baptize their children. It makes me have another question for you actually - did your relative actually marry within the Church? Is their marriage recognized by the Church? If so, the Catholic parent in the marriage has an obligation to raise the children Catholic. I think you gently and charitably reminding him, and offering to assist in whatever way he would like, would be the proper and loving thing to do.

Edited to Add: Okay, I really misread your original post. I thought you were related to the Catholic parent. In the case of being related to the non-Catholic parent (the Evangelical mother), I think sitting down with them together, and expressing your concerns in a loving fashion would be best. They will still need to decide as a couple, of course, but at least you offered the Catholic perspective. Try to not sound aggressive, and then just step back and let them think about things.


#7

Here is a relevant quote from canon law:

Can. 868 §1. For an infant to be baptized licitly:
1/ the parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place must consent;
2/ there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason.
§2. An infant of Catholic parents or even of non-Catholic parents is baptized licitly in danger of death even against the will of the parents.


#8

[quote="lifeisbeautiful, post:7, topic:207920"]
Here is a relevant quote from canon law:

Can. 868 §1. For an infant to be baptized licitly:
1/ the parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place must consent;
2/ there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason.
§2. An infant of Catholic parents or even of non-Catholic parents is baptized licitly in danger of death even against the will of the parents.

[/quote]

Ah, the canon lawyer ex machina! :p Thank you so much-- that is very helpful.

Also, thanks Mommamaree for the good advice. We are lucky to have new Catholics like you!


#9

Hi Dave - My husband grew up in the Churches of Christ and he regards them as a cult. There is a TON of pressure and emotional blackmail in that denomination. Anyone who leaves is shunned and harassed.

Two quick resouces:
I cannot suggest this book enough: "We're Just Searching for the Truth"
amazon.com/Were-Just-Searching-Truth-Journeys/dp/1413758592/ref=sr_1_1?amazon.com/Were-Just-Searching-Truth-Journeys/dp/1413758592/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1281040796&sr=8-1

Also, A message board for former members that is VERY enlightening. ex-churchofchrist.com/


#10

According to Canon Law, PP is right, you should not take it upon yourself to baptize the child.

I think, however, this was much more common in days gone by. My grandmother baptized two of my cousins whose mother was married to a man who belonged to another denomination that, similarly to your relatives, does not baptize children until they are much older. She baptized them both under the same pretense as an emergency baptism, in which a person on their death bed asks to be baptized.

I have no idea if what she did was licit or binding, but I know it was much more common 20, 40, 60 years ago than it is now.


#11

[quote="Dave813, post:1, topic:207920"]
I know that sounds kind of crazy...

[/quote]

Ok, before anyone else gives me a hostile reply like this to tell me how crazy I am...

I did not call you crazy. I was merely pointing out that the idea of having your niece secretly baptized sounds crazy is because it IS crazy. You have absolutely no right to do this. That you would even consider doing this suggests that you might have some boundary issues. It simply isn't your place to do such a thing.

Either way, I would ask kindly that you refrain from personal attacks.

Personal attack??? Oh please. :rolleyes:


#12

If it were my child and you did something like you are discussing here you would never set foot in my house or be near my child again.


#13

[quote="rick43235, post:11, topic:207920"]
I did not call you crazy. I was merely pointing out that the idea of having your niece secretly baptized sounds crazy is because it IS crazy. You have absolutely no right to do this. That you would even consider doing this suggests that you might have some boundary issues. It simply isn't your place to do such a thing.

Personal attack??? Oh please. :rolleyes:

[/quote]

Yes, personal attacks. And if you will please read what I just highlighted, you will see what I am talking about.


#14

Thank you, MercyMia, for those resources.

Also, the Reverend Lovejoy quote is hilarious!


#15

[quote="Lutheranteach, post:12, topic:207920"]
If it were my child and you did something like you are discussing here you would never set foot in my house or be near my child again.

[/quote]

You must have missed Dave saying he wouldn't but was bringing it up as in intellectual question. Not only that Dave sees that Canon Law says "nope need one parent or guardian's approval" so I don't think he's going to go through with it anyhow.

Besides even if HE DID doesn't mean he's some horrible person either he genuinely cares about the child's spiritual well being-eternal. It's not like he can confirm the kid Catholic either, baptism from whomever done in proper form is valid-it merely makes them a child of God not necessarily Catholic. So the bolded above is really unnecessary it's not like he's a child molester or something.


#16

[quote="Dave813, post:13, topic:207920"]
Yes, personal attacks. And if you will please read what I just highlighted, you will see what I am talking about.

[/quote]

Here's the thing...Not to choose sides, but your bringing up personal issues..Taking someones child without their and doing anything that the parent wouldn't approve is crossing a boundary...God is able to do anything He desires with His children at His timing...Let Him work His will in the situation...You are their guest just be a blessing to them reflecting the fragrance of Christ in loving them..I know it was just a thought and you were just running it past,, it still is "out there"


#17

Dave, these sound like good people who have done you a great favor, and who don't share your religious beliefs. I think you should just leave it be. You can be a good example to them, maybe they will want to investigate Catholicism on their own.

Baptising someone else's baby without their approval would be a very bad idea, IMHO.


#18

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