RBC 1-3: The Importance of Baptizing Children

There will be more posts on the Rite of Penance. I promise. I have yet to bother scanning some pages so I can pull out some things and comment.

Meanwhile, let’s get a start on the Baptism of Children. The observe of the Theophany includes a liturgical recollection of Jesus’ Baptism. For Eastern Christians, today is a major baptismal feast. So it’s appropriate to kick off a discussion on Baptism today. (What, did you think I was going to wait till next Sunday?)

The first subheading in the Rite of Baptism for Children (henceforth RBC) centers on the Catholic view of the “Importance of Baptizing Children.” First, a definition:

1. The term “children” or “infants” refers to those who have not yet reached the age of discernment and therefore cannot profess personal faith.

Then the historical case for baptizing children:

2. From the earliest times, the Church, to which the mission of preaching the Gospel and of baptizing was entrusted, has baptized not only adults but children as well. Our Lord said: “Unless a man is reborn in water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” [John 3:5] The Church has always understood these words to mean that children should not be deprived of baptism, because they are baptized in the faith of the Church, a faith proclaimed for them by their parents and godparents, who represent both the local Church and the whole society of saints and believers: “The whole Church is the mother of all and the mother of each.” [Saint Augustine, Epistle 98, 5: PL 33, 362]

Careful language from the Church:

3. To fulfill the true meaning of the sacrament, children must later be formed in the faith in which they have been baptized. The foundation of this formation will be the sacrament itself that they have already received. Christian formation, which is their due, seeks to lead them gradually to learn God’s plan in Christ, so that they may ultimately accept for themselves the faith in which they have been baptized.

The baptism of an infant is certainly valid. However, without formation in the faith the true meaning of the sacrament will remain unfulfilled. Too often Catholics focus on only two aspects of a sacrament: validity and liceity. From a strictly legal view, maybe that’s enough. But when considering the spiritual possibilities, confining our thought to just those two can land us in an approach of insufferable poverty.

Formation in the faith is considered “due” a baptized child. This formation is also described as “gradual,” as is the case with adults. The ultimate goal is for them to accept the faith in which they have been baptized. No mention of a comprehensive catechesis as such.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Liturgy, Rite of Baptism, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to RBC 1-3: The Importance of Baptizing Children

  1. veronica says:

    my child is not baptised. my gran thinks she will go to limbo if she does not receive the sacrement. is this true?

    kind regards,

    caring mom.

  2. veronica says:

    i would like some advice about the above!

  3. Todd says:

    Hi Veronica.

    Good question. At the core, we don’t know exactly what happens to unbaptized infants after their death. The Church has struggled to arrive at a conclusion over the early centuries, using Scripture, theology, and spirituality as a guide..

    Is heaven a natural place for union with God for those who have not committed a conscious sin? Or is there some neutral state, neither purification (purgatory), punishment (hell), nor reward (heaven).

    You may have heard that over the past decades there is a de-emphasis on limbo.

    What it boils down to for me is the sense of God caring for the innocent. If we have faith in God, would we be confident that the deceased innocents are cared for? And by the way, if we have faith, would we not want to see that our children are baptized, as a positive expression of faith in Christ, rather than as an insurance policy for their eternal life?

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