Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 2:
Because Christ came to redeem us from the death of sin, and to give us a new life of grace derived from Him. So He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life"; and again, "I am the vine, ye are the branches." As surely as the branches derive their life from the vine, we must derive our life from Christ. Now every life supposes a birth, and as no human being gets the life of grace given by Christ merely by being born of his earthly parents, a new birth is required. And it is by the rebirth of Baptism that we secure the supernatural life of grace which is derived from Christ and incorporates us with Him.
That would be a most inadequate explanation. For a change of heart means conversion from unbelief to belief in Christ, and from morally evil ways to morally good conduct. It therefore means repentance. Now our Lord did insist on repentance or a change of heart in all who sought baptism, but He did not identify it with baptism. He said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Mk. XVI., 16. When speaking of the rite of baptism itself, He said, "Unless one is born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." Jn. III., 3. You will notice here that, whilst conversion or change of heart is an interior change in our own dispositions, the new principle of life comes from forces outside us. It is something put into us, and signified by an external rite. The good preparatory dispositions are from us; but the new life is not from us, but from God. The washing with baptismal water signifies the cleansing of the soul from the disease of sin belonging to children of a guilty race; and the Spirit of the Living God is mentioned as infusing into our souls a principle of new life altogether which is rightly said to regenerate us, and give us a new birth to a spiritual life of grace far beyond and above the merely natural life secured by natural birth.
The life He gives us is quite distinct from the life we secured at birth, and is derived from another source. Our very nature is changed and lifted to a higher plane, a plane therefore called supernatural. The starting point for Christians is the fact that the Eternal Son of God became man. But He descended to our level and shared our human nature by His human birth that He might lift us to His level and enable us to share His nature by a supernatural birth. In Him, God is given to us that we may become one with God. And as surely as His human life enabled the Son of God to live and experience our life in this world, so by our rebirth into the Christ—life we are to live and experience the life of God through grace in this world and through glory in heaven. It is obvious that such an experience is proper to God and not to man, just as an intellectual life in this world is proper to man and not to a tree. A tree would have to be elevated far above its natural life to be able to converse with man and share in man's activities. The human level would be supernatural in comparison with the level of mere vegetation. Far more is the God-level supernatural in comparison with man's level. For us to live the life of God, to know as He knows, love as He loves, and be happy with His happiness, we certainly will need a new principle of life, and new powers which are beyond those got by natural birth. And Christ communicates that new life to us by a baptismal rebirth which enables us to share in the Divine Nature, and gives a thought, love, action, and destiny in common with God. And we receive the principle of that life by the Sacrament of Baptism in which we are born again of water and the Holy Ghost. That life is in us by grace as the life of the oak tree is in the acorn; and it is that life of grace which will attain its full development and perfection in the glorious life of eternal association with God in heaven itself under conditions infinitely above the natural conditions of life in this world. That is what Christ meant when He said, "Ye must be born again."
Yes. But the word "believe" there, is not to be taken in the restrictive sense of a theoretical faith in Christ, but in the universal and practical sense of one accepting the full religion of Christ, which includes the necessity of receiving that Sacrament of Baptism instituted by Christ. Nowhere did St. Paul ever suggest a dispensation from the necessity of baptism.
No. The sacramental external rite does not merely testify to an inward regeneration. It causes that regeneration. The Sacraments, as instituted by Christ and deriving all their power from Christ, are the very actions of Christ. He uses the Sacraments as instruments in the effecting of His work of grace, just as He used His humanity on earth as a medium of His power. We know that a woman touched but the hem of Christ's garments, and was healed. And Jesus felt virtue go out from Him. That was but an image of the conferring of grace by visible and tangible Sacraments instituted by Christ, of which baptism is one.
Yes, in the inclusive sense as implying the fulfillment of all the conditions laid down in the Gospel; including, therefore, the reception of baptism.
Not in the case of unbaptized infants who die before coming to the use of reason and the stage of personal responsibility. The heathens who do come to the age of personal responsibility can attain to the supernatural order of grace and inherit that very heaven for which baptism is normally required on certain conditions. For example, a pagan may never have heard of the Gospel, or having heard of it, may have quite failed to grasp its significance. He remains a heathen, knowing no better, and dies without receiving the actual Sacrament of Baptism. In such a case God will not blame him for that for which he is really not responsible. At the same time, God wills all men to be saved, and will certainly give that heathen sufficient grace for his salvation according to the condition in which he is. If that heathen, under the influence of interior promptings of conscience and the actual inspirations of grace given by God, repents sincerely before death of such moral lapses as he has committed during life, he will secure forgiveness, and save his soul in view of the Baptism he would have been willing to receive had he known it to be necessary, and could he have done so. We Catholics say that such a heathen has been saved by Baptism of Desire. The desire, of course, is implicit only.
Not unless the doctor or nurse was able to baptize the child before the actual separation of its soul and body. Granted complete lack of baptism, or baptism administered too late, the soul of such a child will be given by God all the natural happiness of which it is capable; but it will lack that fullness of happiness possible only to those who have been made one with Christ by the divine grace He alone can give. Since such a little one, of course, has been guilty of no personal sin, it will never have to endure any positive suffering. It will have all the natural happiness it is able to enjoy, and will not miss an additional happiness which it knows to be beyond the realm of possibility for it. No one ever wastes time or tears hoping for the impossible. Baptism alone makes the very Vision of God as He is in Himself possible for infants, and that Vision of God is the heaven to be shared by Christ our Lord with all who have been incorporated with Him, and die united to Him by sanctifying grace.
Even though you regard the teaching as miserable, the infant at least will not be miserable, but as happy as it is possible for it to be. I admit that it will not attain to the full happiness of heaven itself. Now is that teaching unscriptural? Scripture teaches that only by regeneration or by being born again, one becomes a member of Christ. Now an infant who dies without being baptized has been born, but not born again; generated, but not regenerated. And Christ Himself has said, "Unless one is born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God." Jn. III., 3. It is the clear teaching of Scripture that compels the Catholic Church to say that unbaptized infants who die before attaining personal responsibility cannot enter heaven. God will render them happy with natural human happiness, but they cannot share in the supernatural happiness of heaven which is proper to God Himself, and not proper to a created human nature.
The Catholic doctrine is based on the Gospel of Christ, and would never have been dreamed of but for that Gospel. And it safeguards the character of God who, in His justice and love, gives such an infant all the happiness of which it is capable for all enternity. It merely lacks the supernatural happiness of which baptism would have rendered it capable, a baptism it failed to receive.
I have never used the word heaven in this connection, for the term heaven is reserved for the state of those who attain to the beatific Vision of God. I do maintain, however, that there is a state of endless natural happiness in store for the souls of infants who have never attained to personal responsibility, and who have died without baptism.
Limbo is a general term which can mean any intermediate state between heaven and hell. The word Limbo comes from the Latin word Limbus, which means border. The term, therefore, means a state bordering on some other state. In other words, it means an intermediate state between heaven and hell, being neither the one nor the other. We could speak, therefore, of the Limbo of the Fathers, when dealing with the souls of those who died before Christ and were awaiting the opening of heaven to mankind by the redemption. So, too, we could speak of the Limbo of Unbaptized Children, when referring to the souls of infants who have never committed personal sins yet have lacked Baptism. Purgatory is but a Limbo of Purification. By common usage, however, people intend by Limbo the state of natural happiness reserved for unbaptized children, and in this sense Limbo is not to be identified with Purgatory. In Catholic usage, where Purgatory means an intermediate state of painful purification, Limbo means an intermediate state without any positive suffering.
I can no more answer that question than you can say where is heaven, or where is hell. If you do not reject heaven because you cannot say where it is, you cannot reject Limbo for that reason. Geographical terms based on calculations of material locality cannot do justice to the mysterious realities of the next life. Yet if we are not to be silent about them altogether, we must speak of them in terms of what we know already from this world. All we have to realize is that our speech is inadequate to convey a full idea of such things, and that they give only some idea. But some idea is better than no idea.
It is a state of such happiness as is demanded by a human being who has been guilty of no personal sin, yet who has not received the supernatural destiny which comes only with incorporation in Christ by divine grace. In other words, it attains a happiness which is proportionate to a purely natural condition, not that which is proper to one who has been elevated to the loftier supernatural level given by Christ. And the deprivation of the higher happiness fills it with no more regret than a man experiences because he cannot have a week-end cottage on the moon. However nice a thing may be, if we know that it is beyond our capacity, was never due to us, and is quite impossible of attainment, we do not worry in the least about it. So will it be with the unbaptized child in its state of natural happiness.
The evidence that such souls did exist; that they are immortal; that, according to the Gospels they can't be in heaven; and that, according to God's justice they can't be in hell. Where will you declare them to be? In heaven? If so, have they attained heaven without the grace of Christ? If not, how did they get the grace of Christ? What authority have you from Scripture to endow them with this grace without baptismal rebirth by water and the Holy Ghost? If you dispute our reasons for believing them to be in Limbo, you have much less reason for believing them to be anywhere else.
Either way is correct. In both cases the significance of washing or cleansing is retained. There is nothing in the New Testament to show that baptism must be conferred exclusively by immersion. In fact the baptism in one day of the three thousand converts in Jerusalem on the occasion of St. Peter's first sermon would have been impossible had it been by immersion. Research has shown that there was no sufficient water supply available in the city at that time for the purpose. Again, when St. Paul baptized his jailor in prison it could only have been by pouring. Bedridden invalids, and the dying, who desired baptism could not be immersed; yet they could not be denied so important a Sacrament. Water poured on their foreheads retained the significance of grace washing their souls as the water washed their bodies. Ablution is possible without taking a plunge bath. From the very times of the Apostles, therefore, baptism has been administered either by immersion, or by pouring water on the person to be baptized. If I were away out in the center of Australia far from any stream of water, and a dying companion begged me to baptize him, a cup of water would certainly be sufficient for the purpose.
Yes, at least passively, insofar as they are quite capable of receiving baptism. Actively, they can fulfill the promises made in their name at baptism, when they come to the age of personal responsibility.
You correctly interpreted the mind of Christ. The significance of the Christian religion is much more profound than many non-Catholics think. For most Protestants baptism is merely an external act associating the subject with their Church, and implying a profession of the Christian faith. They do not think of it as actually giving a new principle of life interiorly and within the soul of the recipient. Yet that is the Catholic idea, and the real doctrine of Christ, and it is essential. Christ was God who descended to our level, shared our human nature, and did so in order to lift us to His level, give us a share in the Divine Nature, and render a heavenly destiny possible to us. As He took our life, He gives His life. He gives His by our baptismal regeneration. It means a new and spiritual vital principle within us which our natural birth could not give us. And children who have had no more than their merely natural birth are without it. They could never, therefore, experience the happiness of heaven should they die in their unbaptized state. Astronomers say that human beings as at present constituted could not possibly live on the planet Mars, They would have to be given altogether new capabilities adapted to Martian conditions before they could do so. Much more will man's soul have to be reconstituted in order to live the life of God in conditions which are infinitely above natural capabilities. The additional and new principle of life given by baptismal rebirth means just such a regeneration or reconstitution of the soul.
They are just as unaware of their acquisition of a merely natural life principle. But that does not prevent them getting it.
The belief of the parents is sufficient here just as it is sufficient for so much in the natural life. The parents believe on their child's behalf that food is necessary, and give it food. They believe that instruction is necessary, and give it. They believe that sound morals are necessary, and teach the good principles they know. They don't wait for the child to make up its own mind on all these things. Later the child will know and accept for itself the wisdom of these things. In the same way, parents who know that Christ is the way, the truth and the life, choose Christ on their child's behalf. They set their child, who is a continuation of their own life, and in whom they live over again, upon the right way; they teach their child the truth of Christ; and at the earliest possible moment secure the implantation of the life of Christ in the child's soul by baptism. Later on, the child gladly accepts and ratifies this gift of itself to Christ as it grows into an understanding of its faith and begins to live consciously according to its precepts. And it is a real tragedy that, owing to mistaken notions, the Baptists and others allow so many little children to die without baptismal regeneration, lacking the life Christ alone can give, and which no earthly birth can confer, with the result that such children are forever incapable of attaining the supernatural destiny reserved for those to whom a share in the divine nature has been communicated by water and the Holy Ghost. Professing Christian parents who neglect to have their children baptized do an injury both to Christ and to the children they deprive of the life He desires to give them.