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Why do some Protestants wait until they are adults to get baptized?The difference in our practices stems from the difference in our understandings of Baptism. Since the beginning of the Church, we have understood that Baptism actually affects us. It is something that God does to us. Protestants (in one way or another) have rejected the idea that the Sacraments actually do stuff to us. Depending on the denomination, they may be closer or farther from the full truth of what Baptism does, namely:
- Allows us to go to Heaven (CCC 1257, John 3:3-7)
- Forgives all sins (CCC 1263)
- Original sin
- Actual sins (obviously none for babies)
- Punishment due to sin (if you died right then, you'd go straight to Heaven--nothing to be purified in Purgatory)
- Gives new life in the Holy Spirit (makes each person a new creature, CCC 1265-1266)
- Adopted by God as a son or daughter
- Given sanctifying grace (made a partaker in God’s life)
- Given Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Fortitude, Counsel, Piety, Fear of the Lord)
- Given Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope & Love)
- Given Moral Virtues (prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude)
- Made co-heir with Christ
- Made into a temple of the Holy Spirit
- Incorporates us into the Body of Christ (the Church)
- Unites us with each other (CCC 1267)
- Also unites us with non-Catholic Christians (CCC 1271)
- Share in Christ’s priestly, prophetic, and royal mission (1268-1270)
- Priestly - we offer sacrifices to God, uniting them to the Sacrifice of the Mass
- Prophetic - we must help spread the faith
- We have the dignity of God’s family
- We are at the service of others (servant leadership)
- We belong to the Church
- We respect the Church’s leaders
- We’re allowed to receive the other Sacraments
- Seals our souls with an unremovable mark (CCC 1272)
- We call this an “indelible character”
- Kind of like branding our souls as “belonging to Christ”
- No sin can erase this mark, but we must still be faithful to it in order to spend eternity w/God in Heaven (CCC 1274)
- This mark is given only once, and cannot be changed or given again
- Consecrates us for religious worship (CCC 1273)
Because we recognize how amazing Baptism is, we want that for our children as soon as possible.
Many protestants think Baptism is something they do for God (an outward sign of their acceptance of Jesus). Since they don't understand that Baptism does all the above-mentioned stuff for us, they have no reason to baptize until they're older (when they can make an adult decision to accept Jesus).
They also don't find any explicit mention of baptizing infants in Scripture (though multiple times Scripture mentions whole households being baptized at the same time, Baptism clearly is the New Testament fulfillment of circumcision (which happened to babies), and we have explicit 2nd century texts on infant Baptism as a tradition of the Church). Despite these glaring examples, they hold to a strict sola scriptura mentality and reject the idea that infants can be baptized.
What about "re-baptism"?
Since, to many Christians today, Baptism is something they do for God, there's nothing (in their minds) preventing them from doing it again whenever they have fallen away from God and want to re-commit themselves to Him.
If, after Baptism, I want to re-commit myself to God and show remorse for post-Baptismal sins, I would confess my sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and receive Jesus physically in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Since protestants lack both of these, it is easy to see why "re-baptism" was invented.
"Re-baptism" fails to understand the unremovable mark on our souls--something that can only be given once, and cannot be changed. That is why the Nicene Creed states "I believe in one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins." I can only receive the mark on my soul once. Any future "baptism" is really just me getting wet.
What about Confirmation?
Confirmation is fundamentally different from the Protestant understanding of Baptism.
It is NOT the public act of the person "confirming" (affirming) that he wants to be Catholic, nor as some say "confirming one's life to Christ."
Confirmation confirms (strengthens) the graces we received in Baptism (something God does to us). In our diocese we confirm as early as possible (age of reason: about 7) because we want our children to have the advantage of those strengthened graces in their souls from as early as possible.
The Sacraments affect us. They are not merely outward actions that we do.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Imagine being a Jew during the 500 years before Jesus. God had set up an amazing kingdom with David and Solomon, but because of Israel’s sins and the unfaithfulness of the people, God removed His protection from the kingdom. First, it split in two from internal division. Then the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom. In 586 BC the Babylonians conquered the Southern Kingdom, including Jerusalem, the palace, and, most-importantly, the Temple. They proceeded to exile the Jewish people, spreading them out across Babylon.
God had promised the Jews that land, and David his kingdom to last forever, yet now the kingdom is destroyed and the people are far from their land. The following years included more wars and changes of power: Persians in 539, Greeks in 336, a brief Jewish revival in 142, only to be reconquered by the Romans in 63 BC. This whole time, God’s people are yearning for the promised Messiah (Christ, “Anointed One”). Where is the Son of David who is to come and rule over all nations? When will God free us from the oppression of these foreign nations?
Now, imagine that you are a shepherd, pasturing his sheep on a late night in Bethlehem. You’re among those Jews, awaiting the Messiah. How shocked and amazed would you be if an angel appeared and told you that the Messiah was born in your town, and that you can go see him right now? Finally! God’s promise has been fulfilled! The Messiah is here, and I can see him!
We live in a similar tension as those Jews today. Who knows what’s going to happen in Iraq? Who knows what the next US election will bring? Even in myself, there is unrest between good and evil. There are prophecies of peace, but we witness war and upheaval. The Church recognizes all this, and still proposes to us this idea to rejoice (gaudete) in the Lord always. Rejoicing isn't merely an emotional giddiness, but an optimism because of our confidence in what God has done, is doing, and will do. Even if times are difficult now, God's justice will triumph in the end. We will see the good that was able to come from our difficulties, and how useless worry and gloominess are.
|Image credit: te-deum.smugmug.com|
We rejoice because not only was the Messiah born, He sacrificed Himself for us. From that Sacrifice are poured forth the Church, the Sacraments, and our very salvation--means for us to overcome our inclination to sin, and live in a relationship with God now and forever, means to draw every man and woman into that relationship. He also promised to come back to us someday and put an end to all evil on earth. This will be the ultimate fulfillment of all prophecies: healing the brokenhearted, freeing captives, making justice and praise spring up before all the nations . . . the kingdom restored and everlasting. No matter how bad things get, in our lives and in the world, we can rejoice because this life is fleeting, but Heaven is eternal, and Jesus invites each of us to have the perfect joy of that eternity with Him.
Today we light the rose candle and don the rose vestments to mark the joy of getting closer to celebrating Christmas. We have passed the half-way point of Advent, our anticipation for the Christmas season is building.
Rejoicing with anticipation,
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
|photo credit travelsort.com|
Jesus ascended into Heaven almost 2,000 years ago, promising to return. Why is He taking so long to come back? Why doesn’t He just return today and end all the world’s suffering? Is He dawdling? Does He enjoy watching us struggle through life? St. Peter tackled that question in Sunday's second reading: “The Lord does not delay His promise, as some regard ‘delay,’ but He is patient with you.” So God is not dawdling, but He is being patient in His return.
Why the patience? . . . because there are many people who are not in a good relationship with Him. His patience in returning allows those people more time to come back to Him. God does not wish “that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” He is giving us all the more time to develop the best relationship with Him possible. That relationship is determined by the way we live our lives. The choices we make to do what is good and true are choices to draw closer to the source of Goodness and Truth: God Himself. That is why Peter continued: “Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be?”
When Jesus returns, St. Peter stated, “everything done on [earth] will be found out.” That is, we will all experience the “General Judgement” where all of everyone’s actions, thoughts, words, and omissions from all time will be known by all. God already knows all of this, but now so too will everyone else. We will see all the good and bad effects of everything we’ve ever done. That’s why St. Peter is so emphatic in encouraging us to be “conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion . . . eager to be found without spot or blemish before Him.”
|Hans Memling's The Last Judgment, 1471|
This is also why all the other readings on Sunday were about “preparing the way of the Lord.” He is going to come back. How is my relationship with Him? Does it need some improvement? If I have “mountains” or “valleys” of sin that need to be “made low” or “filled in,” how do I do that? The answer is surprisingly simple: tell Him. One good Confession will fill in every valley and make low every mountain, standing as an obstacle to a deeper relationship with Him: “Comfort, give comfort to my people . . . speak tenderly to Jerusalem . . . her guilt is expiated!”
Trying to be the sort of person I ought to be,Casey Truelove