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September 19, 2005

Ch. XXVII. Q. 143. What is Baptism?

BAPTISM is the initiatory Christian Sacrament of regeneration, by which one is incorporated into the Body of Christ, made a member of the kingdom of grace, and given capacity to receive sacramental benefits.1

2. The matter of Baptism is water (Acts VIII. 36) applied by the Minister to the person to be baptized, wrth the use of the proper form of words. The water should not be so adulterated as to destroy its specific quality; and it should be applied to the head at least, says S. Thomas, by immersion or pouring.2

3. The form of Baptism consists of the words "N. I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen".3 In the East the words "the servant of God is baptized," take the place of "I baptize thee." When doubt exists as to whether the person be already baptized or no, a hypothetical form is employed, "If not already baptized, I baptize thee," etc.4

4. The proper Minister of Baptism is a Priest, although a Deacon is authorized to act in the case of infants when a Priest is not to be had, and any one may act in extremis. In the latter case, if recovery follows, the baptized person should be received publicly in the Church by a proper Minister. The validity of lay and schismatical Baptisms has been denied by reputable theologians, but is too widely accepted to be seriously doubted.5 The argument against Lay Baptism is given historically in Elwin's Minister of Baptism.

5. Infants are to be baptized, although sponsors should be provided to secure their subsequent training in the Catholic religion, and their due preparation to receive the other Sacraments worthily, when they come to the years of discretion. Infants need Baptism for the remission of original sin (Q. 91. 6). No barriers to the beneficial effects of Baptism exist in their case, for they are unable to disbelieve the promises of God made to them in that Sacrament; and, having committed no actual sins, they need no repentance. Moreover, there is no sure warrant for believing that persons dying unbaptized can enter the kingdom of heaven, whatever inferior blessedness they may receive.6

6. The objections to infant Baptism are insufficient. The requirement of faith and repentance before Baptism invariably refers in Holy Scripture to those converted to Christianity in mature years.7 The absence of explicit mention of such Baptisms signifies nothing, unless the New Testament was meant to be a complete directory of ecclesiastical discipline, which is untrue. The requirement of infant Circumcision8 creates a presumption in favor of infant Baptism, since Baptism occupies a position in the Christian dispensation analogous to that of Circumcision in the Old.9 Our Lord encouraged the little ones to come to Him, and Baptism is the means ordained to this end.10 "Whole households were baptized by the Apostles11, and, in view of the general necessity of Baptism for salvation 12 and the uncertainty of life, there is no warrant for thinking that infants were excepted. The Baptist position is historically a modern novelty.13

1 S. Matt. III. 13-15: XXVIII. 19: S. John III. 3-8: Acts II. 37, 38: Gal. III. 26-29: Col, II. 11-13: Tit III. 5: Heb. VI. 1, 2: I. Pet. III. 20, 21. Sadler's Second Adam and the New Birth: Sacrament of Responsibility: Church Doctrine, ch. Ill: S. Thos, Sum. Th., III. 66-70: Grueber's Sacrament of Regeneration: Schouppe, Tract XI: Moehler's Symbolism, § 32: Blunt's Theol. Dic., "Baptism"': Hooker's Eccles. Pol., V. 61-65: Cat. of Nic. Bulgaris, pp. 13-34: Dr. Pusey, in Tracts for the Times, No. 67: Percival's Digest,, 122-126: Elmendorf, Elem. Moral Theol., 567-572: Notes and Questions from Pusey, 109-113: Martene, De Antiq. Eccles. Ritibus lib. I, cap. I.

2 S. Thos. Sum, Th., III. 66. 1, 3, 4: 66. 7, 8, 12: Grueber, 15-29: Forbes' N. Creed, 298: Schouppe, Xl. 33-49: Cat. Nic. Bulgaris, 13: Martene, Art. 14.

3 S. Matt. XXVIII. 19

4 S. Thos., III. 66. 5, 6: Grueber, 12-31: Schouppe, XI. 50-58: Cat. of Nic. Bulgaris, 16, 17: Martene, Art. 14.

5 S. Thos. Sum. Th., III. 67: Grueber, 8-12: Forbes' N. Creed, 399, 300: Schouppe, XI. 59-63: Hooker's Eccles. Pol., V. 61, 62: Cat. Nic. Bulgaris, 17: Marfene, Art. 3, 4: Cath. Papers, pp. xxxviii-xlv.

6 S. John III. 5

7 cf. Acts II. 38: VIII. 37

8 Gen. XVII. 12

9 Col. II. 11, 12: Gal, III. 23-29: VI. 15

10 S. Mark II. 13-10

11 Acts XVI. 15: I. Cor. I. 16

12 S. John III. 5

13 Sadler's Second Adam, ch. IV: Church Doctrine, ch. III § 4: Grueber, 32-43: Forbes' N. Creed, 300-303: Mason's Faith of the Gosp., IX, 8: Schouppe XI. 70-82: Hooker's Eccles. Pol, V. 63, 64: Hall's Historical Position of the Epis. Church, 23-26.

Posted by Trevor at September 19, 2005 11:20 AM