As promised, here are the notes from Saturday’s Younf Professionals’ Fellowship, written by our friend Universal. “CCC” refers to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, followed by the paragraph number of the excerpts:
|The Holy Sacrament of Baptism
“Baptism is the source of that new life in Christ from which the entire Christian life springs forth.” Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 1254
Baptism? Oh I got that done…
To a lot of Catholics in New Zealand baptism is “what you do” after your baby is born and it’s a nice quaint ceremony. My own understanding had evolved from there to understanding something about the importance of baptism for salvation and entrance into the Church, yet lacking a deep understanding beyond those simple understandings.
Something to discover about the Church is that when you think you know everything, suddenly before you is wonder and amazement. I hope in reading this you might share in a small way my own journey to wonder and amazement regarding baptism!
What is Baptism?
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins…
When we’re baptised all sins are forgiven and all punishment for that sin is washed away. (CCC 1263) Baptism doesn’t wash away our tendency towards sin, although it does give us the strength to resist that tendency. (CCC 1264)
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes…they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” Revelations 7:9,14
A new creation…
Baptism is not a mere forgiveness of sins. Baptism makes us an adopted son or daughter of God and we share in the divine nature (divine life, eternal heavenly family)! We are made an heir to kingdom of God alongside Christ (inherit heaven)! We are made a temple of the Holy Spirit (sanctifying grace)!
“Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Incorporated into the Church, the Body of Christ.
Through baptism we become members of the Body of Christ. This is a very mystical reality, but an apt analogy would be the sexual union of wife and husband. (CCC 1267) Through baptism we share in the priesthood of Christ, in the Mass Christ sacrifices Himself to the Father and we sacrifice ourselves with Him! (1268 ) We belong to Christ and we have duties and rights. (1269) We must be servants of all, be obedient to the Church and witness our faith to the world. (1270)
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
An indelible spiritual mark…
In baptism the character of our soul alters in a way that can’t be reversed nor repeated. (1272) This change is what allows us to sacrifice ourselves with Christ, without it we cannot do so. In the Mass the priest says, “Pray brethren that your sacrifice and mine may be acceptable to God the Almighty Father.” (1273) In baptism we are “marked with the sign of faith” and in expectation for the blessed vision of God and the hope of resurrection. (1274)
“But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has commissioned us; He has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
The Necessity of Baptism
Christ affirms the necessity of baptism for salvation.
“Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” John 3:5
The Church knows no way other than baptism where one might be saved. This is why there is such an impetus to evangelise. (1257)
The Plight of the Non-baptised
There are special cases, as the Church has always held that unbaptised martyrs are baptised by their death for Christ. Also catechumens who die before receiving baptism and those ignorant of the gospel altogether but who seek God with all their heart and live the moral life according to their conscience are baptised by their desire. Infants who die without being baptised we simply entrust to the mercy of God. (1258 – 1261) So essentially baptism is absolutely necessary we simply don’t know all the ways it’s applied.