Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 1:
Yes. Baptism was instituted by Christ for the destruction of original sin, and to restore that grace forfeited by our first parents which is absolutely necessary for the attaining of our eternal destiny. Christ Himself insisted that one must be born again of water and the Holy Ghost.
Just as the soul is the life of the body, so grace is the life of the soul in the supernatural order. Now life is attained by birth. We are born into this earthly existence from our earthly parents. But we are born without the principle of God's grace which carries with it a right to a life of eternal happiness with God. Thus a man must be born into the life of grace by water and the Holy Spirit, if he wishes to possess the birth-right to eternal supernatural happiness.
Yes. Christ came to save men, and He has the right to dictate the conditions of salvation. If you offered me a fortune provided I would go to London via Suez, particularly insisting that I should go via Suez, it would be little use my saying, "Oh, I'll go via Panama—it's a much more sensible route." You would reply, "But I want you to go via Suez, or there will be no fortune." Now Christ distinctly commanded Baptism as a condition of salvation, and no arguments of men, who cannot save us, are of any avail against the authority of Christ. It is necessary to be baptized, or we shall never see God and rejoice in the happiness of Heaven.167
No one will ever be lost save through his own fault. Christ is God, and, as God, can work with secondary causes or without them. The ordinary means of salvation is by Baptism, and one who is convinced of the necessity of Baptism yet deliberately refuses to receive it cannot be saved. But God can supply the grace usually given by Baptism, and does so without the actual sacramental rite in two cases. If an unbaptized person dies a martyr for Christ he is credited with Baptism of blood. Baptism of desire counts for the man who repents of his sins and dies with the sincere will to do God's will, yet who, through no fault of his own, does not realize the necessity of actual Baptism by water, or is unable to receive it.
Every human being has a conscience which dictates a natural law of moral obligation at least when he comes to the age of reason. If a pagan knows nothing of Christianity, and is ignorant of it through no fault of his own, he can at least repent of his personal sins against his conscience, and desire to do the right thing. God gives every man the grace to do this much. Now we know that a man should receive Baptism. If the pagan knew this he would receive Baptism. This sincere desire to do all that God would require implicitly includes the desire of Baptism, and God takes the will for the deed, granting sanctifying grace. Thus such a pagan would be saved. As is clear, anyone who has attained to the use of reason would be capable of this Baptism of desire.
An unbaptized infant cannot attain Heaven. Christ has said very definitely, "Unless one be born again ... he cannot enter the Kingdom of God." Jn. III., 3. I am not more severe than Christ in my denial. He declares that the ordinary principle of life received by human generation is insufficient. We must receive an additional life of grace by baptismal rebirth. An unbaptized infant has received natural life only and had one birth only. If it dies without Baptism it has no claim to the supernatural happiness of Heaven.
Injustice is not involved in this question. When treating of original sin I explained how such a child lacks that supernatural grace which is not due to human nature, and without which no one can enter Heaven. Christ offers that supernatural grace to such of Adam's children as receive Baptism. It is His sheer goodness that He does so, and those who have been baptized have but to congratulate themselves. Unbaptized infants, who have never committed any personal sins, will never endure any actual and positive suffering. But they will be content with natural happiness only, and will not be able to complain that they do not possess the supernatural happiness of seeing God face to face, and being happy with His own supreme happiness. If I bestow a gift upon a beggar in the presence of another, that other cannot tell me that I am obliged in justice to give him a gift also. Since the fall of the human race, we are all beggars before God as regards supernatural happiness. I admit that it would be unjust if a child innocent of any personal sin had to suffer the miseries of Hell. But such is not Catholic doctrine, as I have explained.
Yes. We call it the Limbo of unbaptized children. The word Limbo is derived from the Latin word Limbus, which means a bordering place. Limbo is an intermediate state of purely natural happiness. In that state unbaptized children will receive all the happiness proportionate to their natural capacity.
Such a method of Baptism, though valid, is not necessary. From the very beginning Baptism was administered both by immersion and by infusion or pouring water upon the forehead.
Immersion was never thought necessary in the Christian Church. After St. Peter's first sermon three thousand people were baptized, and it is most unlikely that it could have been by immersion, above all in the light of recent research into the water supply available in Jerusalem itself at that time. The Didache, or Teaching of the Twelve, written about the year 90, says, "Thus baptize ... If you have not fresh water, baptize in other water. If you cannot do it in cold, use warm. If you have neither, pour out on the head water three times in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Either form then is valid. If immersion were necessary, what would you do with bed-ridden invalids and the dying? Nor is the significance lost by pouring. The true significance is that grace washes the soul as water washes the body. The true sign of washing is retained by any true ablutions. Washing does not always imply the taking of a plunge-bath. Burial with Christ is signified by washing away the death of sin and the resurrection to the new life of grace. In any case Christ left the practical application of such matters to His Church, saying, "Whatsoever you shall bind upon earth shall be bound also in Heaven." Matt. XVIII., 18. And He promised to be with His Church, preserving her from any misuse of this power.
It is evidence of the instructions circulated amongst Christians whilst St. John the Apostle was still living.
It nowhere says that they were not, and implicitly demands that they should be.
No. We read of some adult baptisms, but they were not administered precisely because the subjects were adults, but because they happened to be converted as adults. Acts XV commemorates the reception of two complete households into the Church by St. Paul, and we are not told that the adults only in those households were received. Christ told the Apostles to teach and baptize all nations, and the term all nations certainly includes men, women, and children. Again St. Paul tells us that Baptism is the Circumcision of Christians, and we know that Circumcision was administered to children. Col. 2, II. Or is the New Law to be less perfect than the Old, containing no purifying rite for infants? Your ideas are opposed to the whole tenor of Christianity. Christ is the second Adam. If the children of Adam are born subject to original sin and its penalties, so they can be born again of Christ into the life of grace. Or is Adam to be able to ruin all, yet Christ be unable to save any except adults? "What is of the flesh is flesh; what is of the spirit is spirit." Children by virtue of their natural birth are of the flesh, and Our Lord insists that unless one be born again he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Do not be misled by the English translation, "Unless a man be born again." The original Greek does not use the word man in this text. It says, "Unless anyone be born again," and a child is someone.
Christ was baptized as an adult because only then did He institute this essential rite of the New Law. You could not expect Him to receive it before instituting it. Yet remember that He had received the rite of Circumcision which is figurative of the Baptism to be received by Christian children, and that rite He received in infancy.
He was speaking to adults, and undoubtedly adults must repent of their personal sins before they can come to God. Yet children who are incapable of personal sin and repentance are born in original sin, to destroy which is the primary purpose of Baptism.
The command to believe and be baptized was addressed to adult listeners only who, without faith, would not even see the necessity of Baptism. But children belong to their parents, and the parents may certainly give their children to God, professing faith on their behalf and promising to bring them up as Christians.
That text has no reference to Baptism. Christ's purpose there was to insist upon humility. He impressed the moral lesson that only such as cultivate the dispositions of a child before God will enter Heaven. But he never said that all children, even the unbaptized, will necessarily go to Heaven. He would contradict His own doctrine if He said that. And if the text had any reference to the Baptism of children at all, it would tell against your position. You have no right and no warrant to refuse baptismal regeneration to children who have had their natural birth, but not their supernatural rebirth.
The Catholic religion. Baptism, if valid, makes a Christian. Now Catholicity is the only true form of Christianity. Therefore everyone validly baptized is radically a Catholic, even though he be unaware of it.
Yes. All the Sacraments were instituted by Christ, and belong to Christ. Now Christ founded the Catholic Church and committed His religion to her keeping only. Therefore the Sacraments, without exception, belong to her. Not a valid Sacrament is proper to the Church of England or to any other Protestant Church. There is but one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism. If Baptism administered by an Anglican be valid, the subject is baptized in the Church of England but not into the Church of England. Christ instituted Baptism into the Catholic Church, not Baptism into the Church of England.
In virtue of their valid Baptism they are radically Catholics. But despite affiliation with the Catholic Church by valid Baptism, one can exclude himself from the true and visible Church by conscious heresy or schism. If a child is baptized validly in the Church of England, that child is a Catholic and remains a Catholic until it comes to the age of reason and adopts heretical and schismatical Anglicanism for itself. For example, if I receive an adult Anglican together with his infant son into the Catholic Church, and it is certain that both have been baptized validly, I have to ask the father to abjure heresy and to profess formally his submission to the Catholic Church. But nothing is done as regards the infant son. It is simply taught Catholic doctrine and brought up as a Catholic. Its Baptism, although performed in the Anglican Church, made it a member of the Catholic Church. In that sense every valid Sacrament, even marriage, belongs to the Catholic Church. Usually, however, converts to the Catholic Church are baptized again conditionally, lest there should be any radical defect in their first submission to that rite.