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Infant Baptism





"Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the
Holy Ghost, he can not enter into the kingdom of God" (John iii 5).

WHILE most Christians admit the necessity of Baptism for adults, the
Catholic Church is alone in insisting upon the practice of infant
Baptism. This practice is in accordance with the teaching of St. John,
quoted above. It is also in accordance with apostolic teaching and
practice.

We read in the 16th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles that St. Paul
baptized Lydia "and her household," and that the keeper of the prison
was converted and "was baptized and presently all his family." Among
these families it is but reasonable to suppose that there were some
infants.

Infant Baptism was the practice of the apostles; it was the practice of
the Christians of the early Church, as Origen tells us. The Church
received the tradition from the apostles to give Baptism to infants, and
it has been the practice of the Church from the time of Christ until the
present.

St. Paul tells us that Adam's sin was transmitted to all his posterity.
"Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death,
and so death passed unto all men in whom all have sinned" (Rom. v.
12). Every infant, according to St. Paul, is born to sin--original sin.
But as Baptism takes away original sin, and as nothing defiled can enter
heaven (Apoc. xxi.), Baptism of infants is necessary to open for them
the gates of heaven.

Baptism may be validly administered by dipping, sprinkling, or pouring.
The method practised in this part of Christendom is pouring the water on
the head of the person to be baptized, saying at the same time: "I
baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Ghost."

The reasonableness of the practice of baptizing infants will be evident
if we remember that Christ taught the necessity of baptism for all when
He said: "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he can
not enter into the kingdom of God"; and that He declared little children
capable of entering into the kingdom of God when He said: "Suffer little
children to come unto Me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom
of heaven."

Now, if infants are capable of entering heaven (and Christ so declares),
they must be capable of receiving Baptism, without which Christ says no
one can enter the kingdom of God.

While in adults faith and sorrow for sin are required before receiving
Baptism, no disposition is required in infants.

They contracted original sin without their knowledge; without their
knowledge they are freed from it.

By Baptism they are made heirs of the kingdom of heaven.

They can be made heirs of property, of a kingdom on earth without their
consent; why not also of the kingdom of heaven?

Baptism is the first of the seven sacraments which the Church confers
upon man. It cleanses us from original sin (actual sin also if the
recipient be guilty of any), makes us Christians, children of God, and
heirs of heaven. It prepares us for the reception of the other
sacraments. By Baptism we all contracted the obligation of believing and
practising the doctrines of Jesus Christ as taught us by the true
Church. We fulfil this obligation by leading a truly Christian life.



XV. The Marriage Tie--One and Indissoluble

"But I say to you that whosoever shall put away his wife, excepting for
the cause of fornication, maketh her to commit adultery; and he that
shall marry her that is put away committeth adultery" (Matt. v. 33).

"What, therefore, God hath joined together, let no man put asunder"
(Matt. xix. 5, 6).

FEW practices of the Church have been productive of more good to society
than that concerning Christian marriage. The Christian family is the
foundation of Christian society, and Christian marriage is the basis of
the Christian family. Without marriage neither the family nor society
could exist. Marriage was instituted by God before society existed, and,
as a natural consequence, it is subject not to the laws of society, but
to the laws of God and His Church. The principal law and necessary
condition of Christian marriage is its unity and indissolubility. It is
the union of one man with one woman for the purposes intended by the
Creator, which union is to last as long as both survive. Such was
marriage in the beginning; to such it was restored by our Saviour when
He made it a sacrament of His law and a type of His union with His
Church.

The practice of the Catholic Church in not permitting a divorce that
will allow either party to marry during the life of the other, is
clearly taught by Jesus Christ in the 5th chapter of Matthew: "He who
puts away his wife maketh her to commit adultery, and he that marrieth
her committeth adultery."

No human power can break the bond of marriage. "What God hath joined
together, let no man put asunder." It is the work of God. Let no man
dare meddle with it. St. Paul teaches the same when he says in the 39th
verse of the 7th chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians: "A
woman is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her
husband die, she is at liberty, let her marry whom she will." The
practice of the Catholic Church is conformable to this teaching of
Christ, St. Paul, the apostles, and their successors.

In defence of this practice of forbidding divorce, since marriage is one
and indissoluble, the Catholic Church has had many a severe conflict.
And had she not fought this battle bravely for the sanctity, the unity,
and the indissolubility of the marriage tie, Europe and America would
today be in as degraded a condition as are the Mahometan and other
nations where the laws of marriage are disregarded. For divorces are not
only contrary to Christ's teaching concerning the sanctity, unity, and
indissolubility of the marriage tie, but are also subversive of society.
They sever the marriage tie inasmuch as the law of man can do it. If the
marriage tie is loosened, the family is dissolved; and if the family is
dissolved, society, the state, falls to ruin. Divorce destroys conjugal
love, causes unhappiness, renders the proper education of children
impossible, and often leads to terrible crimes. Is it not reasonable as
well as scriptural to forbid it?

The Christian husband and wife, knowing the sanctity, the unity, and the
indissolubility of the marriage tie, live in love and peace and honor
together; together they rear the issue of their union, teaching them to
be good children, good citizens, and good Christians; together, after a
long, a prosperous, and a happy union, they return to dust; and together
they will meet again beyond the confines of the tomb--yes, they will
meet to part no more.





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Previous: The Celebration Of Feasts



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