First, what is a sacrament? 

  • A sacrament is:
    • a sacred sign – a sign always signifies something, points to something real beyond itself. Sacraments are sacred signs because they teach sacredness, holiness, sanctity.
    • instituted by Christ – Christ instituted each sacrament during his earthly ministry.
    • to give grace – sacraments “really work,” they give the grace they signify, they are efficacious because Christ himself is at work (CCC 1127). Sacraments give grace “ex opere operato” (from the work worked) = sacraments derive power from Christ’s work rather than human’s work (cf. John 15:5). It’s objective, not subjective. Grace is “an undeserved gift of God” Himself to us for the purpose of greater intimacy. We must receive this free gift by freely cooperating with God (ex opere operantis).

Second, what is required for a sacrament to be valid?

  1. Valid matter = the “right stuff” – water for Baptism.
  2. Valid form = essential words cannot be changed – “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
  3. Valid intention = the intention to do what the Church does.
  4. Valid mind = faith & understanding on the recipients part. In the case of infant Baptism, it is the parents’ faith and understanding that stand in for the infant’s.

Who can administer the sacrament of Baptism? 

  • Baptism can be validly administered by anyone in case of necessity, as long as there is the intention to baptize according tot he will of the Church; but a bishop, priest, or deacon is usually the minister.

What is Baptism? 

  • Holy Baptism is the gateway to life in the Spirit and the door which gives access to the other sacraments (CCC 1213). A new birth into the supernatural life.

The effects of Baptism:

  • “Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God” (CCC 1213).
    • 1st, negative effect = a death –> total cleansing from original and personal sin, yet certain temporal consequences of sin & concupiscence remain.
    • 2nd, positive effect = a resurrection –> a real spiritual transformation being given an indelible spiritual mark, incorporated into the very life of God and you become an adopted son of God.

Reasons for Infant Baptism:

  1. “Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism” (CCC 1250).
  2. Infant Baptism shows our faith in God’s initiative. “The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism” (CCC 1250). Infant Baptism fits the nature of God’s love: God loves us before we love him. Even our desire for him is his gift.
  3. Infant Baptism shows the wideness of God’s grace. God withholds his love from no one. Intelligence is not a qualification, only openness. And who is more open than an infant? There is no actual sin, no guilt, no refusal.
  4. Loving parents want to give their children the very best of everything, and nothing is better than God’s grace, nothing is more necessary for a good life. “The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth” (CCC 1250).
  5. Christ told His apostles to let the children come to him (Mk 10:14-16).
  6. God deals with us not only as individuals but also as families. Throughout Scripture, covenant (marriage) and kinship (family) are central.
  7. Infant Baptism is scriptural (see Acts 16:15).
  8. Finally, since we cannot understand how God’s grace works, we cannot limit it.

Other Apologetic Questions:

Q. Doesn’t Christ’s death save us instead of Baptism?

  • Yes, Christ’s death does save us, but this is communicated to us through Baptism:

    Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).

Q. Is Baptism necessary for salvation? 

  • Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament… God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments. (CCC 1257)

  • Other situations: Baptism of blood, desire, implicit desire, unbaptized infants (CCC 1261 great hope for them), limbo (an option some theologians give).


Favourite Quotes:

  • “Whether Peter or Judas do the baptizing, it is Christ who baptizes” ~ St. Augustine.
%d bloggers like this: