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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