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<<  The Catechism of the Catholic Church Today!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church Today on the Sacrament of Baptism and Infant Baptism.


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This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states on this issue:


1213 Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), (cf. Council Of Florence) and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word." (Roman Catechism II,2,5; cf. Council Of Florence: DS 1314; Code of Canon Law, cann. 204 § 1; 849)


I. What Is This Sacrament Called?


1214 This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to "plunge" or "immerse"; the "plunge" into the water symbolizes the catechumen's burial into Christ's death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as "a new creature." (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; cf. Romans 6:34; Colossians 2:12)


1215 This sacrament is also called "the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit," for it signifies and actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one "can enter the kingdom of God." (Titus 3:5; John 3:5)


1216 "This bath is called enlightenment, because those who receive this [catechetical] instruction are enlightened in their understanding . . . ." (St. Justin, Apol. 1,61,12:PG 6,421) Having received in Baptism the Word, "the true light that enlightens every man," the person baptized has been "enlightened," he becomes a "son of light," indeed, he becomes "light" himself: (John 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; Hebrews 10:32; Ephesians 5:8)


Baptism is God's most beautiful and magnificent gift. . . .We call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious gift. It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own; grace since it is given even to the guilty; Baptism because sin is buried in the water; anointing for it is priestly and royal as are those who are anointed; enlightenment because it radiates light; clothing since it veils our shame; bath because it washes; and seal as it is our guard and the sign of God's Lordship.

St. Gregory Of Nazianzus, Oratio 40,3-4:PG 36,361C

II. Baptism In The Economy Of Salvation


Prefigurations of Baptism in the Old Covenant


1217 In the liturgy of the Easter Vigil, during the blessing of the baptismal water, the Church solemnly commemorates the great events in salvation history that already prefigured the mystery of Baptism:

Father, you give us grace through sacramental signs,
which tell us of the wonders of your unseen power.
In Baptism we use your gift of water,
which you have made a rich symbol
of the grace you give us in this sacrament.


(Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 42: Blessing of Water)

1218 Since the beginning of the world, water, so humble and wonderful a creature, has been the source of life and fruitfulness. Sacred Scripture sees it as "overshadowed" by the Spirit of God: (cf. Genesis 1:2)

At the very dawn of creation
your Spirit breathed on the waters,
making them the wellspring of all holiness.


(Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 42, ... continued)

1219 The Church has seen in Noah's ark a prefiguring of salvation by Baptism, for by it "a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water": (1 Peter 3:20)


The waters of the great flood
you made a sign of the waters of Baptism,
that make an end of sin and a new beginning of goodness.


(Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 42, ... continued)

1220 If water springing up from the earth symbolizes life, the water of the sea is a symbol of death and so can represent the mystery of the cross. By this symbolism Baptism signifies communion with Christ's death.


1221 But above all, the crossing of the Red Sea, literally the liberation of Israel from the slavery of Egypt, announces the liberation wrought by Baptism:

You freed the children of Abraham from the slavery of Pharaoh,
bringing them dry-shod through the waters of the Red Sea,
to be an image of the people set free in Baptism.


(Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 42, ... continued)

1222 Finally, Baptism is prefigured in the crossing of the Jordan River by which the People of God received the gift of the land promised to Abraham's descendants, an image of eternal life. The promise of this blessed inheritance is fulfilled in the New Covenant.


Christ's Baptism


1223 All the Old Covenant prefigurations find their fulfillment in Christ Jesus. He begins his public life after having himself baptized by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan. (cf. Matthew 3:13) After his resurrection Christ gives this mission to his apostles: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20; cf. Mark 16:15-16)


1224 Our Lord voluntarily submitted himself to the baptism of St. John, intended for sinners, in order to "fulfill all righteousness." (Matthew 3:15) Jesus' gesture is a manifestation of his self-emptying. (cf. Philippians 2:7) The Spirit who had hovered over the waters of the first creation descended then on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as his "beloved Son." (Matthew 3:16-17)


1225 In his Passover Christ opened to all men the fountain of Baptism. He had already spoken of his Passion, which he was about to suffer in Jerusalem, as a "Baptism" with which he had to be baptized. (Mark 10:38; cf. Luke 12:50) The blood and water that flowed from the pierced side of the crucified Jesus are types of Baptism and the Eucharist, the sacraments of new life. (cf. John 19:34; 1 John 5:6-8) From then on, it is possible "to be born of water and the Spirit" (cf. John 3:5) in order to enter the Kingdom of God.


See where you are baptized, see where Baptism comes from, if not from the cross of Christ, from his death. There is the whole mystery: he died for you. In him you are redeemed, in him you are saved. (St. Ambrose, De sacr. 2,2,6:PL 16,444; cf. John 3:5)


Baptism in the Church


1226 From the very day of Pentecost the Church has celebrated and administered holy Baptism. Indeed St. Peter declares to the crowd astounded by his preaching: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38) The apostles and their collaborators offer Baptism to anyone who believed in Jesus: Jews, the God-fearing, pagans. (cf. Acts 2:41; 8:12-13; 10:48; 16:15) Always, Baptism is seen as connected with faith: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household," St. Paul declared to his jailer in Philippi. And the narrative continues, the jailer "was baptized at once, with all his family." (Acts 16:31-33)


1227 According to the Apostle Paul, the believer enters through Baptism into communion with Christ's death, is buried with him, and rises with him:


Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4; cf. Colossians 2:12)


The baptized have "put on Christ." (Galatians 3:27) Through the Holy Spirit, Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies. (1 Corinthians 6:11; 12:13)


1228 Hence Baptism is a bath of water in which the "imperishable seed" of the Word of God produces its life-giving effect. (1 Peter 1:23; cf. Ephesians 5:26.) St. Augustine says of Baptism:

"The word is brought to the material element, and it becomes a sacrament."


St. Augustine, In Jo. ev. 80,3:PL 35,1840

III. How Is The Sacrament Of Baptism Celebrated?


Christian Initiation


1229 From the time of the apostles, becoming a Christian has been accomplished by a journey and initiation in several stages. This journey can be covered rapidly or slowly, but certain essential elements will always have to be present: proclamation of the Word, acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion, profession of faith, Baptism itself, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and admission to Eucharistic communion.


1230 This initiation has varied greatly through the centuries according to circumstances. In the first centuries of the Church, Christian initiation saw considerable development. A long period of catechumenate included a series of preparatory rites, which were liturgical landmarks along the path of catechumenal preparation and culminated in the celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation.


1231 Where infant Baptism has become the form in which this sacrament is usually celebrated, it has become a single act encapsulating the preparatory stages of Christian initiation in a very abridged way. By its very nature infant Baptism requires a post-baptismal catechumenate. Not only is there a need for instruction after Baptism, but also for the necessary flowering of baptismal grace in personal growth. The catechism has its proper place here.


1232 The second Vatican Council restored for the Latin Church "the catechumenate for adults, comprising several distinct steps." (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium 64) The rites for these stages are to be found in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA, 1972). The Council also gives permission that: "In mission countries, in addition to what is furnished by the Christian tradition, those elements of initiation rites may be admitted which are already in use among some peoples insofar as they can be adapted to the Christian ritual." (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium 65 and cf. 37-40)


1233 Today in all the rites, Latin and Eastern, the Christian initiation of adults begins with their entry into the catechumenate and reaches its culmination in a single celebration of the three sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. (cf. Vatican II, Ad Gentes 14; Code of Canon Law, canons 851; 865; 866) In the Eastern rites the Christian initiation of infants also begins with Baptism followed immediately by Confirmation and the Eucharist, while in the Roman rite it is followed by years of catechesis before being completed later by Confirmation and the Eucharist, the summit of their Christian initiation. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canons 851, 868)


The mystagogy of the celebration


1234 The meaning and grace of the sacrament of Baptism are clearly seen in the rites of its celebration. By following the gestures and words of this celebration with attentive participation, the faithful are initiated into the riches this sacrament signifies and actually brings about in each newly baptized person.


1235 The sign of the cross, on the threshold of the celebration, marks with the imprint of Christ the one who is going to belong to him and signifies the grace of the redemption Christ won for us by his cross.


1236 The proclamation of the Word of God enlightens the candidates and the assembly with the revealed truth and elicits the response of faith, which is inseparable from Baptism. Indeed Baptism is "the sacrament of faith" in a particular way, since it is the sacramental entry into the life of faith.


1237 Since Baptism signifies liberation from sin and from its instigator the devil, one or more exorcisms are pronounced over the candidate. The celebrant then anoints him with the oil of catechumens, or lays his hands on him, and he explicitly renounces Satan. Thus prepared, he is able to confess the faith of the Church, to which he will be "entrusted" by Baptism. (cf. Romans 6:17)


1238 The baptismal water is consecrated by a prayer of epiclesis (either at this moment or at the Easter Vigil). The Church asks God that through his Son the power of the Holy Spirit may be sent upon the water, so that those who will be baptized in it may be "born of water and the Spirit." (John 3:5)


1239 The essential rite of the sacrament follows: Baptism properly speaking. It signifies and actually brings about death to sin and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity through configuration to the Paschal mystery of Christ. Baptism is performed in the most expressive way by triple immersion in the baptismal water. However, from ancient times it has also been able to be conferred by pouring the water three times over the candidate's head.


1240 In the Latin Church this triple infusion is accompanied by the minister's words:

"[Name], I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

In the Eastern liturgies the catechumen turns toward the East and the priest says:

"The servant of God, [Name], is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

At the invocation of each person of the Most Holy Trinity, the priest immerses the candidate in the water and raises him up again.


1241 The anointing with sacred chrism, perfumed oil consecrated by the bishop, signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit to the newly baptized, who has become a Christian, that is, one "anointed" by the Holy Spirit, incorporated into Christ who is anointed priest, prophet, and king. (cf. Rite of Baptism of Children, 62)


1242 In the liturgy of the Eastern Churches, the post-baptismal anointing is the sacrament of Chrismation (Confirmation). In the Roman liturgy the post- baptismal anointing announces a second anointing with sacred chrism to be conferred later by the bishop Confirmation, which will as it were "confirm" and complete the baptismal anointing.


1243 The white garment symbolizes that the person baptized has "put on Christ," (Galatians 3:27) has risen with Christ. The candle, lit from the Easter candle, signifies that Christ has enlightened the neophyte. In him the baptized are "the light of the world." (Matthew 5:14; cf. Philippians 2:15)


The newly baptized is now, in the only Son, a child of God entitled to say the prayer of the children of God: "Our Father."


1244 First Holy Communion. Having become a child of God clothed with the wedding garment, the neophyte is admitted "to the marriage supper of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:9) and receives the food of the new life, the body and blood of Christ. The Eastern Churches maintain a lively awareness of the unity of Christian initiation by giving Holy Communion to all the newly baptized and confirmed, even little children, recalling the Lord's words: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them." (Mark 10:14) The Latin Church, which reserves admission to Holy Communion to those who have attained the age of reason, expresses the orientation of Baptism to the Eucharist by having the newly baptized child brought to the altar for the praying of the Our Father.


1245 The solemn blessing concludes the celebration of Baptism. At the Baptism of newborns the blessing of the mother occupies a special place.


IV. Who Can Receive Baptism?


1246 "Every person not yet baptized and only such a person is able to be baptized." (Code of Canon Law, canon 864; cf. Corpus Canonum Ecclisarum Orientalium, canon 679)


The Baptism of adults


1247 Since the beginning of the Church, adult Baptism is the common practice where the proclamation of the Gospel is still new. The catechumenate (preparation for Baptism) therefore occupies an important place. This initiation into Christian faith and life should dispose the catechumen to receive the gift of God in Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist.


1248 The catechumenate, or formation of catechumens, aims at bringing their conversion and faith to maturity, in response to the divine initiative and in union with an ecclesial community. The catechumenate is to be "a formation in the whole Christian life . . . during which the disciples will be joined to Christ their teacher. The catechumens should be properly initiated into the mystery of salvation and the practice of the evangelical virtues, and they should be introduced into the life of faith, liturgy, and charity of the People of God by successive sacred rites." (Vatican II, Ad Gentes 14; cf. Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults 19; 98)


1249 Catechumens "are already joined to the Church, they are already of the household of Christ, and are quite frequently already living a life of faith, hope, and charity." (Vatican II, Ad Gentes 14 § 5) "With love and solicitude mother Church already embraces them as her own." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 14 § 3; cf. Code of Canon Law, canons 206; 788 § 3)


The Baptism of infants


1250 Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. (cf. Council of Trent (1546): DS 1514; cf. Colossians 1:12-14) The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. 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. (Code of Canon Law, canon 867; Corpus Canonum Ecclisarum Orientalium, canons 681; 686,1)


1251 Christian parents will recognize that this practice also accords with their role as nurturers of the life that God has entrusted to them. (cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 11; 41; Gaudium et spes 48; Code of Canon Law, canon 868)


1252 The practice of infant Baptism is an immemorial tradition of the Church. There is explicit testimony to this practice from the second century on, and it is quite possible that, from the beginning of the apostolic preaching, when whole "households" received baptism, infants may also have been baptized. (cf. Acts 16:15,33; 18:8; 1 Corinthians 1:16; Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith, instruction, Pastoralis actio: Acta Apostolicae Sedis 72 (1980) 1137-1156)


Faith and Baptism


1253 Baptism is the sacrament of faith. (cf. Mark 16:16) But faith needs the community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe. The faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop. The catechumen or the godparent is asked: "What do you ask of God's Church?" The response is: "Faith!"


1254 For all the baptized, children or adults, faith must grow after Baptism. For this reason the Church celebrates each year at the Easter Vigil the renewal of baptismal promises. Preparation for Baptism leads only to the threshold of new life. Baptism is the source of that new life in Christ from which the entire Christian life springs forth.


1255 For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents' help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptized - child or adult on the road of Christian life. (Code of Canon Law, canons 872-874) Their task is a truly ecclesial function (officium). (cf. Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium 67) The whole ecclesial community bears some responsibility for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at Baptism.


V. Who Can Baptize?


1256 The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and priest and, in the Latin Church, also the deacon. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 861 § 1; Corpus Canonum Ecclisarum Orientalium, canon 677 § 1) In case of necessity, anyone, even a non-baptized person, with the required intention, can baptize (Code of Canon Law, canon 861.2), by using the Trinitarian baptismal formula. The intention required is to will to do what the Church does when she baptizes. The Church finds the reason for this possibility in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of Baptism for salvation. (cf. 1 Timothy 2:4)


VI. The Necessity Of Baptism


1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. (cf. John 3:5) He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. (cf. Matthew 28:19-20; cf. Council of Trent (1547) DS 1618; Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 14, Ad Gentes 5) 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. (cf. Mark 16:16) The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.


1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.


1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.


1260 "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery." (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 22 § 5; cf. Lumen Gentium 16; Ad Gentes 7) Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.


1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them," (Mark 10 14; cf. 1 Timothy 2:4) allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.


VII. The Grace Of Baptism


1262 The different effects of Baptism are signified by the perceptible elements of the sacramental rite. Immersion in water symbolizes not only death and purification, but also regeneration and renewal. Thus the two principal effects are purification from sins and new birth in the Holy Spirit. (cf. Acts 2:38; John 3:5)


For the forgiveness of sins . . .


1263 By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. (cf. Council of Florence (1439): DS 1316) In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam's sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.


1264 Yet certain temporal consequences of sin remain in the baptized, such as suffering, illness, death, and such frailties inherent in life as weaknesses of character, and so on, as well as an inclination to sin that Tradition calls concupiscence, or metaphorically, "the tinder for sin" (fomes peccati); since concupiscence "is left for us to wrestle with, it cannot harm those who do not consent but manfully resist it by the grace of Jesus Christ." (Council of Trent (1546): DS 1515) Indeed, "an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules." (2 Timothy 2:5)


"A new creature"


1265 Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte "a new creature," an adopted son of God, who has become a "partaker of the divine nature," (2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Peter 1:4; cf. Galatians 4:5-7) member of Christ and co-heir with him, (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:15; 12:27; Romans 8:17) and a temple of the Holy Spirit. (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19)


1266 The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification:

      • enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues;
      • giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit;
      • allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues.

Thus the whole organism of the Christian's supernatural life has its roots in Baptism.

Incorporated into the Church, the Body of Christ


1267 Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: "Therefore . . . we are members one of another." (Ephesians 4:25) Baptism incorporates us into the Church. From the baptismal fonts is born the one People of God of the New Covenant, which transcends all the natural or human limits of nations, cultures, races, and sexes: "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body." (1 Corinthians 12:13)


1268 The baptized have become "living stones" to be "built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood." (1 Peter 2:5) By Baptism they share in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission. They are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that [they] may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called [them] out of darkness into his marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:9) Baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers.


1269 Having become a member of the Church, the person baptized belongs no longer to himself, but to him who died and rose for us. (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 5:15) From now on, he is called to be subject to others, to serve them in the communion of the Church, and to "obey and submit" to the Church's leaders, (Hebrews 13:17) holding them in respect and affection. (cf. Ephesians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 16:15-16; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; John 13:12-15) Just as Baptism is the source of responsibilities and duties, the baptized person also enjoys rights within the Church: to receive the sacraments, to be nourished with the Word of God and to be sustained by the other spiritual helps of the Church. (cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 37; Code of Canon Law, canons 208-223; Corpus Canonum Ecclisarum Orientalium, canon 675:2)


1270 "Reborn as sons of God, [the baptized] must profess before men the faith they have received from God through the Church" and participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the People of God. (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 11; cf. 17; Ad Gentes 7; 23)


The sacramental bond of the unity of Christians


1271 Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among all Christians, including those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church: For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.


Justified by faith in Baptism, [they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church. (Vatican II, Unitatis Redintegratio 3) Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn. (Vatican II, Unitatis Redintegratio 22 § 2)


An indelible spiritual mark . . .


1272 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation. (cf. Romans 8:29; Council of Trent (1547): DS 1609-1619)


Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated.


1273 Incorporated into the Church by Baptism, the faithful have received the sacramental character that consecrates them for Christian religious worship. (cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 11) The baptismal seal enables and commits Christians to serve God by a vital participation in the holy liturgy of the Church and to exercise their baptismal priesthood by the witness of holy lives and practical charity. (cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 10)


1274 The Holy Spirit has marked us with the seal of the Lord ("Dominicus character") "for the day of redemption." (St. Augustine, Ep. 98,5:PL 33,362; Ephesians 4:30; cf. 1:13-14; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22) "Baptism indeed is the seal of eternal life." (St. Irenæus, Dem ap. 3:SCh 62,32) The faithful Christian who has "kept the seal" until the end, remaining faithful to the demands of his Baptism, will be able to depart this life "marked with the sign of faith," (Roman Missal, Eucharistic Prayer I [Roman Canon] 97) with his baptismal faith, in expectation of the blessed vision of God - the consummation of faith - and in the hope of resurrection.


In Brief


1275 Christian initiation is accomplished by three sacraments together: Baptism which is the beginning of new life; Confirmation which is its strengthening; and the Eucharist which nourishes the disciple with Christ's Body and Blood for his transformation in Christ.


1276 "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20)


1277 Baptism is birth into the new life in Christ. In accordance with the Lord's will, it is necessary for salvation, as is the Church herself, which we enter by Baptism.


1278 The essential rite of Baptism consists in immersing the candidate in water or pouring water on his head, while pronouncing the invocation of the Most Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


1279 The fruit of Baptism, or baptismal grace, is a rich reality that includes forgiveness of original sin and all personal sins, birth into the new life by which man becomes an adoptive son of the Father, a member of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. By this very fact the person baptized is incorporated into the Church, the Body of Christ, and made a sharer in the priesthood of Christ.


1280 Baptism imprints on the soul an indelible spiritual sign, the character, which consecrates the baptized person for Christian worship. Because of the character Baptism cannot be repeated. (cf. Denzinger-Schonmetzer 1609 and Denzinger-Schonmetzer 1624)


1281 Those who die for the faith, those who are catechumens, and all those who, without knowing of the Church but acting under the inspiration of grace, seek God sincerely and strive to fulfill his will, can be saved even if they have not been baptized. (cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 16)


1282 Since the earliest times, Baptism has been administered to children, for it is a grace and a gift of God that does not presuppose any human merit; children are baptized in the faith of the Church. Entry into Christian life gives access to true freedom.


1283 With respect to children who have died without Baptism, the liturgy of the Church invites us to trust in God's mercy and to pray for their salvation.


1284 In case of necessity, any person can baptize provided that he have the intention of doing that which the Church does and provided that he pours water on the candidate's head while saying: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."




  1. St. Hermas, (A.D. c.40-100)
    The Didache, (A.D. 80-90)
    St. Justin Martyr, (A.D. 100-163)
    St. Theophilus of Antioch, (unknown - A.D. c.186)
    St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202)
    Recognitions of Clement I of Rome, (A.D. c.150-170)
    St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220)
    Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218)
    St. Hippolytus of Rome, (A.D. 170-236)
    Origen of Alexandria, (A.D. 184-253)
    Pope St. Cornelius I, (unknown - A.D. c.253)
    St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200-258)
    Eusebius of Cæsarea, (A.D. c.263-338)
    The Apostolic Constitutions (or Constitutions of the Holy Apostles), dated A.D.c 270
    St. James of Nisibis, (unknown-361)
    St. Athanasius of Alexandria, (A.D. 296-372)
    St. Ephrem the Syrian, (of Edessa), (A.D. 306-378)
    St. Pacian of Barcelona, (A.D. c.310-375)
    St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367)
    St. Zeno of Verona, (unknown- A.D. c.383)
    St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386)
    St. Gregory of Nazianzen, (A.D. 318-389)
    St. Basil the Great, (A.D. 328-379)
    St. Epiphanius of Salamis, (A.D. 332-403)
    Pope St. Siricius, (A.D. c.334-398)
    St. Gregory of Nyssa, (A.D. c.335 - c.394)
    St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396)
    St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420)
    St. John Chrysostom, (A.D. 344 - 407)
    Blessed Isaias, (lived in the 4th century)
    St. Chromatius of Aquileia, (unknown- A.D. c.407)
    St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428)
    St. Isidore of Pelusium, (unknown - A.D. 440)
    St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444)
    Fastidius, (A.D. c.376-c.444)
    St. Prosper of Aquitain, (A.D.c.390- c.463)
    Pope St. Leo I, ( A.D. c.391-461)
    Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus, (A.D. 393-458)
  2. Gelasius of Cyzicus, (unknown- A.D. c.492)
St. Hermas, (A.D. c.40-100), author of the book called "The Shepherd" (A.D. c.90-c.150): a work which had great authority in ancient times, considered a valuable book by many Christians.

"I have even now heard from certain teachers that there is no other penitence besides that, when we go down into the water, and receive the remission of our sins."

Lib. ii. Mand. iv. n. 3, Galland. T. i.
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"Before a man receives the name of the Son of God, he is destined unto death; but when he receives that seal, he is liberated from death, and delivered unto life. Now that seal is the water into which men go down bound unto death, but come up assigned unto life."

L. iii. Simil. ix. c 16.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 109

The Didache, (A.D. 80-90) the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (Didache means "Teaching") is a brief early Christian treatise, dated by most scholars to the late first or early 2nd century.

After the foregoing instructions, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living [running] water. If you have no living water, then baptize in other water, and if you are not able in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Before baptism, let the one baptizing and the one to be baptized fast, as also any others who are able. Command the one who is to be baptized to fast beforehand for one or two days.

Didache 7:1 [ca. A.D. 70]

St. Justin Martyr, (A.D. 100-163), Samaritan; born in Sichem (Naplousia) in Palestine; a platonic philosopher, apologist, and martyr for the faith; he was a convert to Catholic Christianity in A.D. 133. He wrote two Apologies for the Christian religion, one addressed to Antoninus, the other to Marcus Aurelius. He was martyred at Rome in the year 163.

As many as are persuaded and believe that what we [Christians] teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, and instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we pray and fast with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father... and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit [Matt. 28:19], they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, "Unless you are born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven".

First Apology 61 [A.D. 151]

St. Theophilus of Antioch, (unknown - A.D. c.186), Patriarch of Antioch, born pagan but embraced Christianity by studying the Holy Scriptures, especially the prophetical books. Wrote against idols, made contributions to Christian literature, polemics, exegetics, and apologetics.

"Moreover God blessed the creatures formed of the waters; that this might foreshow that, hereafter, all who come to the truth, and are regenerated, and receive a blessing from God, should obtain repentance and remission of sins, through water and the laver of regeneration."

Ad Autolych. L. ii. n. 16, p. 361, Ed. Ben. S. Justini, Paris. 1742.
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St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202), Asia Minor; bishop, missionary, theologian, defender of orthodoxy. Though by birth a Greek, he was Bishop of Lyons in the second century. He tells us that, in his early youth, he learned the rudiments of religion from St. Polycarp, the disciple of St. John the Apostle. He wrote several works, of which only a few fragments are now known, with the exception of his Treatise against Heretics which we have in five books.

He [Jesus] came to save all through himself - all, I say, who through him are reborn in God; infants, and children, and youths, and old men. Therefore he passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age . . . [so that] he might be the perfect teacher in all things, perfect not only in respect to the setting forth of truth, perfect also in respect to relative age.

Against Heresies 2:22:4 [A.D. 189]

Recognitions of Clement I of Rome, (A.D. c.150-170), though its authorship is spurious; could be another Clement.

But you will perhaps say, 'What does the baptism of water contribute toward the worship of God?' In the first place, because that which has pleased God is fulfilled. In the second place, because when you are regenerated and born again of water and of God, the frailty of your former birth, which you have through men, is cut off, and so . . . you shall be able to attain salvation; but otherwise it is impossible. For thus has the true prophet [Jesus] testified to us with an oath: "Verily, I say to you, that unless a man is born again of water . . . he shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven".

Recognitions of Clement 6:9 [A.D. 221]

St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220), Greek; theologian, a scholar of Pantaenus, to whom he succeeded as head of the Catechetical School at Alexandria, Egypt. His writings display great acquaintance with the Gentile philosophy. He wrote with the express design of hiding the mysteries of the Christian religion from the Pagans, and the uninitiated, while at the same time, laboring to show the immense practical superiority of the Christian code of morals over that of every Pagan sect and system of philosophy.

Having stated that Christ was baptized, "and by lavation alone was perfected and sanctified by the descent of the Spirit, "he says: "The very same thing happens in our regard, to whom Christ was an example. Being baptized, we are enlightened; being enlightened, we receive the adoption of sons; receiving the adoption, we are perfected; being perfected, we are rendered immortal. "I saith he, have said ye are gods, and all of you sons of the Most High." (Psalm 81)

But this act has various titles, — grace, illumination, that which is perfect, and the washing (laver). The washing, because through it we cast away our sins: grace, because by it the punishments due to our sins are remitted: illumination, because through it we behold that holy saving light; that is, by it the eye is sharpened to behold the divine: that which is perfect, because so we designate that to which nothing is wanting, — for what is wanting to him who knows God? For it is really absurd for that which is not perfect to be called God's grace. But He who is perfect will assuredly vouchsafe perfect (gifts.)"

Paedag. L. i. c. 6, p. 113.
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Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218), North African; ecclesiastical writer, Christian apologist and lawyer, son of a centurion and contemporary of St. Irenæus, a native and citizen of Carthage. The zeal and ability with which he defended the Christian cause, and vindicated its faith and discipline, have immortalized his name, though it has suffered by his adoption, around the year A.D. 200, of some of the Montanist's errors, whose cause he is thought to have supported until his death. His works are numerous, and are written with great ability and erudition, but in an harsh style.

[N]o one can attain salvation without baptism, especially in view of the declaration of the Lord, who says, "Unless a man shall be born of water, he shall not have life".

On Baptism 12:1 [A.D. 203]

When we are about to enter the water— no, just a little before— In the church and under the hand of the bishop, we solemnly profess that we renounce the devil and his pomps and his angels. Thereupon we are immersed three times.

The Crown 3:2 [A.D. 211]

St. Hippolytus of Rome, (A.D. 170-236), Roman; bishop and martyr, probably a scholar of St. Irenæus of Lyons.

Where there is no scarcity of water the stream shall flow through the baptismal font or pour into it from above; but if water is scarce, whether on a constant condition or on occasion, then use whatever water is available. Let them remove their clothing. Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them.

The Apostolic Tradition 21:16 [A.D.215]

Origen of Alexandria, (A.D. 184-253), Alexandrian; born in Egypt, philosopher, theologian, writer.

The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of divine sacraments, knew there is in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit.

Commentaries on Romans 5:9 [A.D. 248]

Pope St. Cornelius I, (unknown - A.D. c.253), Pope from A.D. 251 to 253 and Martyr, elected during a lull in the persecution under Emperor Decius, his pontificate was complicated by a schism, one cause of which was the self-appointment of the Roman priest Novatian as antipope and the second, the dispute over the Church's attitude toward Christian apostates and whether those who has repudiated the Christian faith during persecution needed to be re-baptized.

As [the heretic Novatian] seemed about to die, he received baptism in the bed where he lay, by pouring. . . .

Letter to Fabius of Antioch 6:43 [A.D. 251]

St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200-258), North African; bishop; biblical scholar, martyr.

[l]t behooves those to be baptized . . . so that they are prepared, in the lawful and true and only baptism of the holy Church, by divine regeneration, for the kingdom of God . . . because it is written "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God".

Epistles 72 [73]: 21 [A.D. 252]

As to what pertains to the case of infants: You [Fidus] said that they ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, that the old law of circumcision must be taken into consideration, and that you did not think that one should be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day after his birth. In our council it seemed to us far otherwise. No one agreed to the course which you thought should be taken. Rather, we all judge that the mercy and grace of God ought to be denied to no man born".

Letters 64:2 [A.D. 253]

In the saving sacraments, when necessity compels and when God bestows his pardon, divine benefits are bestowed fully upon believers, nor ought anyone be disturbed because the sick are poured upon or sprinkled when they receive the Lord's grace".

Letter to a Certain Magnus 69(76):12 [A.D. 254]

Eusebius of Cæsarea, (A.D. c.263-338), appointed Bishop of Cæsarea in A.D. 314, Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist, scholar of the Biblical canon who was deeply embroiled in the Arian controversy.

"When he (Constantine) was persuaded that the end of his life was near, he considered that it was now time for the cleansing away of whatsoever sins he had committed; being confident, that all whatsoever it had happened to him, as a mortal man, to transgress in, would be purged away from his soul by the power of the ineffable words, and the saving laver."

De Vita Constant. l. iv. c. 61.
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"He hath brought me up, on the water of rest. {Psalm 22) When the whole burden of sins has been laid aside by means of the laver of regeneration, and of the renewal of the Holy Ghost, one may say, "He hath brought me up on the water of rest." For that is truly the water of rest, by means of which one has cast aside the heavy and laborious load of iniquities which weighs upon the soul, and has purged away every spot of filth and stain, and undone the complicated fetters; and, filled with joy at all this, he exclaims, "Thou hast brought me up, on the water of refreshment" (Psalm 22:2)

Comm. in Ps. xxii. t. i. p. 87, Nov. Collect.
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The Apostolic Constitutions (or Constitutions of the Holy Apostles), dated A.D.c 270, is a Christian collection of eight treatises which belongs to genre of the Church Orders.

"He that says, when I am dying, I will be baptized, lest I may sin, and defile my baptism, such a one knows not God, and is forgetful of His nature.

Delay not to be converted to the Lord, for thou doesn't know what the next day will bring forth. But baptize your little children, and nourish them in the discipline and correction of God; for He says, "Let the little children come unto me, and forbid them not."

L. vi. c. xv.
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St. James of Nisibis, (unknown-361), bishop of Nisibis in Mesopotamia, was present at the council of Nicaea, and died about the year 361. We have his life by Theodoret of Cyrus. A. Antonelli published eighteen sermons by this saint at Rome in 1756.

Explaining Isaiah 1:16,18:

16 Wash yourselves, be clean, take away the evil of your devices from my eyes: cease to do perversely, . . . 18 And then come, and accuse me, saith the Lord: if your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow: and if they be red as crimson, they shall be white as wool.

"How shall they be cleansed, unless they be washed in the waters of the laver of baptism, and receive the body and blood of Christ? Blood is expiated with blood; the body is cleansed by the body; and sins are washed away by water."

Serm. iv. De Orat.; Galland. t. v. p. xxxii.
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"Grieve not the Holy Spirit, wherein ye were baptized in the day of expiation." (Ephesians 4); in that in baptism we receive the Holy Spirit; for at once, when the priests invoke the Spirit, He opens the heavens, and descends, and is borne upon the waters; and they who are baptized are clothed with the Spirit. For from human generation the Spirit is far aloof; but when men come to the generation by water, then do they receive the Spirit. In the first generation there is begotten and established within man a natural spirit, and hence mortality; but in the second generation of baptism, men receive the Holy Spirit from the divinity itself, and there is then no mortality: for when man dies, he is buried together with what he received from nature, and all feeling is taken from him, but the heavenly Spirit which he has received departs to its origin, even Christ."

Serm. vi. De Devotis, p. xlix. 1.
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St. James of Nisibis, (unknown-361), bishop of Nisibis in Mesopotamia, was present at the council of Nicaea, and died about the year 361. We have his life by Theodoret of Cyrus. A. Antonelli published eighteen sermons by this saint at Rome in 1756.

4 For it is impossible for those who were once illuminated, have tasted also the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost.

"The words of the Epistle to the Hebrews (6:4) do not exclude sinners from repentance, but demonstrate that there is but one, and no second, baptism in the Catholic Church. . . . Neither does he say, "It is impossible to repent", but, "It is impossible for us to be renewed by means of penitence," which is a very different thing. For he who repents ceases indeed from sinning, but he still has on him the scars of his wounds; whereas he who is baptized, puts off the old man, being born again by the grace of the Spirit."

Ep. iv. ad Serap. n. 13, t. i. part ii. p. 563.
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"He shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 3:2) This signifies that He will cleanse you; seeing that the baptism of John cannot do this; but this, the baptism of Christ can, who also [through His priesthood] has power to remit sins."

Comm. in Matthew t. ii. p. 27, Nova Collect. Patr. Graec.
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St. Ephrem the Syrian, (of Edessa), (A.D. 306-378), Syrian; born in Nisebis, deacon, hymnist, poet. His works were even during his own lifetime almost all translated into Greek, and were, as St. Jerome informs us, held in such high estimation, as to be read in some churches after the Holy Scriptures. We have his life by St. Gregory of Nyssa.

"I know that the multitude of His mercies surpasses the multitude of my transgressions. I know that He, when amongst us, showed mercy to all; and I confess that He has vouchsafed, in baptism, remission of sins; for I also have partaken of this grace; but I still stand in need of a cure for sins after baptism. But He that raised the dead is not without power to heal me. I have become blind, but He cured one that was born blind. ... I have been put out as a leper, but if He wish I shall be made clean. I know that I have sinned after knowledge, but I have holy David interceding for me."

T. i. Gr.-Lat. p. 137; Reprehensio sui ipsius.
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"Then, ye beloved of Christ, is examined each one's seal of Christianity, which he received in the holy and Catholic Church by means of baptism."

T. ii. Gr. De Char, et Eleemos. p. 254.
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St. Pacian of Barcelona, (A.D. c.310-375), bishop of Barcelona, Jerome praises his eloquence, learning, chastity, and holiness of life. He is also remembered from a phrase from one of his letters: "My name is Christian, my surname is Catholic.".

"But if He (Christ) alone conquered, what conferred He on others? Hear briefly. The sin of Adam had passed unto the whole race, "By one man, says the Apostle, sin entered, and by sin death, and so {death) passed upon all men." {Romans 5) Therefore, the justice of Christ also must needs pass unto the (human) race. . . . Christ begets in the Church by means of His priests, as says the same Apostle, "In Christ have I begotten you." (1 Corinthians 4) . . . These things cannot be otherwise fulfilled than by the sacrament of the laver, and of the chrism, and of the bishop. For by the laver sins are cleansed away; by the chrism the Holy Spirit is poured upon us; but both these we obtain at the hand and mouth of the bishop; and thus the whole man is born again and is renewed in Christ."

Serm. de Baptism, n. 5, 6, Galland, t. vii. pp. 274-275.
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St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367), French; husband, theologian, bishop of Poiters around A.D. 355, and Doctor of the Church. Referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" and the "Athanasius of the West.". He was obviously a firm supporter of St. Athanasius.

"When, therefore, we are renewed in the laver of baptism through the power of the word, we are freed from the sins of our origin . . . and putting off the old man with his sins and faithlessness, and renewed by the Spirit in soul and body, we must hate the habits of an inborn and long-formed conduct."

Comm. in Matt. c. x. n, 24, t. i. p. 719.
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St. Zeno of Verona, (unknown- A.D. c.383), Italian; African by birth, on coming to Italy was appointed bishop of Verona, in the year 362. He died about the year 383. His works were collected after his death, at the beginning of the fifth, or at the close of the fourth century. The brothers Ballerini gave an excellent edition, in 1739, Veronae.

"Haste ye, brethren, who are about to be washed. The living water, tempered by the Holy Spirit, and the pleasant fire, with soothing murmur, now invites you. Already does the girded bather await you. . . you will be plunged naked into the fountain, but soon rise thence clothed in an ethereal robe, and in your white garment — that which those who defile, shall not possess the heavenly kingdom.

L. ii. Trac. 35, Invit. 6, ad Font.; Galland, t. i. p. 149.
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St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386), Palestinian; ordained by Maximus, he was made bishop of Jerusalem in A.D. 345; scholar and Doctor of the Church. None of his writings have been preserved to us, except eighteen catechetical instructions addressed to catechumens, and five mystagogic discourses addressed to neophytes.

"Let no one then suppose that baptism is only the grace of the remission of sins, and also that of adoption, such as John's baptism, which produced the remission of sins only; but we know full well, that as it purges our sins, and conveys the grace of the Holy Spirit, so also it is an antitype (counterpart) of Christ's sufferings."

Catech. Mystag. 2, n. 6, p. 312; Alib. Catech. 20.
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St. Gregory of Nazianzen, (A.D. 318-389), Cappadocian; archbishop, theologian, Doctor of the Church.

"Baptism (illumination) is the soul's brightness; life's amendment; the questioning of the soul towards God. Baptism is our weakness' aid; the laying aside of the flesh; the attainment of the spirit; the participation of the word; the rectification of the creature; sin's deluge; the communication of light; the dispersion of darkness. Baptism is a chariot (to bear us) to God; a pilgrimage with Christ; faith's support; the mind's perfection; the key to Heaven's kingdom; life's change; freedom from bondage; the unloosing of chains; the transformation of our substance into a better [one]. Baptism, -- but what need of further enumeration? -- is of God's gifts the fairest and most excellent."

T. i. Or. xl. p. 638.
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"Hast thou a child? Let not evil have an opportunity. Let the child be sanctified from its infancy; let it be consecrated to the spirit from its earliest days. Thou fearest the seal on account of the weakness of nature; oh mother of mean spirit and of little faith. Ann, before Samuel was born, promised him to God, and, when born, instantly consecrated him
to Him."

T. i. Orat. xl. p. 648.
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St. Basil the Great, (A.D. 328-379), Cappadocian; bishop of Cæsarea in A.D. 369, theologian, monk. Studied in Palestine, Constantinople, and Athens. Many of the subsequent years of his life were spent in the deserts of Egypt and Libya. His character and works have gained for him the surname of "the great".

"Baptism is to the captive the price of his liberty; of debts the remission; the death of sin, the regeneration of the soul; a robe of light; a seal which cannot be broken; a chariot for Heaven ; the procurer of a kingdom; the gift of adoption as sons."

T. ii. P. i. Hom, in Sonet. Bapt. n. 5, p. 164.
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St. Epiphanius of Salamis, (A.D. 332-403), Palestinian; bishop, abbot, scholar.

"Under the old law was the circumcision of the flesh in use until that great circumcision, — baptism, which removes sins from us, and seals us in the name of God."

Adv. Hæres. t. i. Lib. i. (Hæres. 5), p. 19.
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Pope St. Siricius, (A.D. c.334-398), an active Pope, involved in the administration of the Church and the handling of various factions and viewpoints within it; author of two decrees concerning clerical celibacy. The decree of A.D. 385 stated that priests should stop cohabiting with their wives.

"And as we proclaim that the sacred reverence due to Easter (as the time for public baptism) is no way to be trenched upon, so is it our wish, that this help be granted, with all possible speed, in the case of infants, who are too young to speak, and also of those who are in some urgent need of the sacred waters of baptism: lest it tend to the ruin of our own souls, if from our refusing the saving font to those that seek it, any of them depart this life and lose the kingdom and (eternal) life. . . . Let it suffice that faults have been committed in this matter; and now let the above-named rule be observed by all priests, who wish not to be rent from that solid Apostolic rock, upon which Christ constituted the universal Church."

Galland. t. vii. Ep. i. ad Himer, n. 3, p. 534.
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St. Gregory of Nyssa, (A.D. c.335 - c.394), bishop of Nyssa in A.D. 371, an erudite theologian who made significant contributions to the doctrine of the Trinity and the Nicene creed. Gregory's philosophical writings were influenced by Origen. He was the brother of the great St. Basil.

"Baptism is the cleansing away of sins; the remission of transgressions; the cause of renovation and regeneration."

T. iii. In Baptism. Christi, p. 368.
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"And should any one, again doubting and debating, raise difficulties, immediately ask me, how water regenerates, and as to the mystic initiation effected by it, I shall say to him with just reason: Show me the way in which we are born according to the flesh, and I will explain to thee the power of that second birth which is according to the spirit."

T. iii. In Baptism. Christi, p. 371.
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St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396), German; reluctantly made bishop in the A.D. 374., Doctor of the Church. He closed a great and glorious career in A.D. 396. We have his life by Paulinus.

The Church was redeemed at the price of Christ's blood. Jew or Greek, it makes no difference; but if he has believed, he must circumcise himself from his sins [in baptism (Colossians 2:11-12)] so that he can be saved . . . for no one ascends into the kingdom of Heaven except through the sacrament of baptism.... "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God".

On Abraham 2:11:79-84 [A.D. 387]

"It is water in which the flesh is dipped, that every carnal sin may be washed away. Every crime is buried there.""

T. ii. De Mysteriis, c. iii. n. ii. p. 328.
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St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420), Dalmatian; born in Strido; priest, hermit, abbot, biblical scholar, translator and Doctor of the Church. In an age distinguished by men of the greatest eloquence and learning, St. Jerome, especially in all matters connected with the Sacred Scriptures, was then preeminent, and has probably never since been equalled.

"Tell me why infants are baptized? That their sins may be forgiven them in baptism."

T. ii. Contr. Pelag. n. 18, col. 789.
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St. John Chrysostom, (A.D. 344 - 407), Syrian; archbishop, Doctor of the Church. Born at Antioch in 344; he was ordained priest in A.D. 383, and raised to the see of Constantinople in the year A.D. 398. His eloquence gained him the title of Chrysostom, or the mouth of gold. His expositions of Scripture, especially the Epistles of St. Paul, are very valuable. This illustrious prelate died on his road to exile, in A.D. 407.

"Though one have all the wickedness to be found in men, he comes forth from being plunged into that pool of waters, from the divine stream, purer than the sun's rays. . . . Yea, our discourse has proved even more than this, viz., that such a one has become not merely pure, but holy and just; for the Apostle does not merely say: "Ye are washed", but also, "ye are sanctified,, and ye are justified". What more wonderful than this, that, without toil or effort, or good works, righteousness should be given birth to? . . . You will ask, "Wherefore is it that if the laver remit all our sins, it is not called the laver of purification, but the laver of regeneration?" For this reason, that it does not simply remit our sins, nor simply take away our transgressions, but this it does so as if we were born again,"

T. i. Catech. i. ad lUumin. n. 3, p. 270.
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Blessed Isaias, (lived in the 4th century), Abbot

"Whosoever receives baptism, receives it unto the destruction of sin. For we are buried with Him, as the Apostle says, unto death, that He may destroy the body of death."

Orat. xxv. n. 3, Galland. t. vii. p. 308.
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St. Chromatius of Aquileia, (unknown- A.D. c.407), Italian; bishop (and scholar) of Aquileia, in which see he succeeded Valerian in the year 387; he was the friend of St. Ambrose and of St. Jerome.

"As He was about to give a new kind of baptism for the salvation of the human race, and for the remission of sins, He vouchsafed to be baptized the first; not to put away sins, He who alone has not sinned, but in order to sanctify the waters of baptism, so as to wash away the sins of believers. For never would the waters of baptism have had power to cleanse away the sins of believers, had they not been sanctified by touching the Lord's body. He, therefore, was baptized, that we might be washed from sins. He received the laver of regeneration, that we might be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, as Himself says in another place, "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he shall not enter into the kingdom of God." The baptism of Christ is, therefore, the cleansing away of our transgressions, and the renewal of a saving life."

Galland. t. viii. Tract, xvii. in St Matthew n. 1, 2, p. 351.
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St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428), North African; born in Tagaste in A.D. 354, baptized in Milan in A.D. 387, ordained a priest in A.D. 391 and appointed bishop of Hippo in A.D. 395, Augustine is one of our greatest theologians. His numerous works display genius of the highest order, and have ever had great weight in the Christian churches. He is also a Doctor of the Church.

It is this one Spirit who makes it possible for an infant to be regenerated . . . when that infant is brought to baptism; and it is through this one Spirit that the infant so presented is reborn. For it is not written, "Unless a man be born again by the will of his parents" or "by the faith of those presenting him or ministering to him," but, "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit." The water, therefore, manifesting exteriorly the sacrament of grace, and the Spirit effecting interiorly the benefit of grace, both regenerate in one Christ that man who was generated in Adam.

Letters 98:2 [A.D. 408]

"What then, some one says, does an infant also need a redeemer? Yes, it needs one; of this the mother who runs faithfully with her little child to the Church to be baptized is a witness; of this is a witness our mother the Church herself, which receives the infant to be cleansed, and to be dismissed freed, or to be nourished in piety. Who will dare to utter a testimony in opposition to so great a mother? "

T. v. Sermo ccxciii. n. 10, p. 1735.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 80

"From the child just born even to the decrepit old man, none is to be prohibited from baptism, so none is there who does not die to sin in baptism: but infants to original sin only, but older persons die also to all those sins whatsoever, which by living ill they have added to that which they derived from their birth."

T. vi. Enchiridion de Fide, n.13 (al. 43), col. 368-9.
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St. Isidore of Pelusium, (unknown - A.D. 440), a disciple of St. John Chrysostom, he was born in Egypt to a prominent Alexandrian family. He became an ascetic, and moved to a mountain near the city of Pelusium, in the tradition of the Desert Fathers; known to us for his letters, written to Cyril of Alexandria, Theodosius II, and a host of others. His letters display great judgment, precision, and learning.

"As your magnanimity has written to me in order to learn for what cause infants, being sinless, are baptized, I have thought it necessary to write in reply. Some, then, there are, who, but trifling with the matter, say that they are cleansed from that uncleanness which has been communicated to our nature through the sin of Adam. I also am persuaded that this does take place, but not this alone (for that were nothing so considerable), but that many other good gifts, and those far exceeding our nature, are likewise bestowed. For that nature of ours has not only received what was required for the destruction of sin, but has also been adorned with divine gifts. For it has not merely been freed from punishment, and put off all wickedness, but has also been regenerated from above . . . and redeemed, and sanctified, and brought to the adoption of sons, and justified, and made co-heir with the only-begotten, and one body with Him, by means of the participation of the sacred mysteries, and is perfected into His flesh, and is united with Him, even as the body is to its head.

Do not therefore imagine that baptism is merely destructive of sins, but that it is effective also of the adoption of sons, and of a divine relationship, and of thousands of other blessings such as I have named,
and others that I have omitted."

L. iii. Ep. cxiv. p. 333.
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St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444), Egyptian; bishop, theologian and Doctor of the Church. He succeeded Theophilus in the patriarchal see of Alexandria, in A.D. 412, and was the great champion of orthodoxy against Nestorius, against whom the general council of Ephesus was called, in A.D. 431 and in which St. Cyril presided.

"When we are baptized we obtain not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but of the defilements of the mind and of the heart, and we are cleansed from the stains of sins by the grace and loving kindness of Him who called us unto salvation."

T. i. l. ix. De Ador. in Sp. et Ver. p. 312.
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"The salutary and holy baptism suffices for the washing away of sins, and thoroughly cleanses away the stain of past sins."

T. ii. ib.p. 18.
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Fastidius (A.D. c.376-c.444) a British bishop, who flourished around A.D. 430, about the same times as St. Cyril of Alexandria, author of De Viduitate Servanda.

"But some one may cite that saying of the Apostle: "With the heart we believe unto justice; but, with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:10) Thou foolish man, this is accomplished at the time of baptism, when for a person to be baptized there only needs confession and faith. For what does the laver of baptism itself avail thee, if faith alone without justice be required? This is the faith of all men, that by baptism sins are cleansed away."

Lib. de vita Christiana, c. xiii. p. 487, t. ix. Galland.
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St. Prosper of Aquitain, (A.D.c.390- c.463), a Christian writer and disciple of St. Augustine, as well as the friend and secretary of Pope Leo I. He was the first continuator of Jerome's Universal Chronicle. Prosper was a layman, but he threw himself with ardour into the religious controversies of his day, defending Augustine and propagating orthodoxy.

"They who, without even having received the laver of regeneration, die for the confession of Christ, it avails them as much for the doing away of sins, as if they were washed in the font of baptism.'

Sentent. ex 8. Aug. n. cxlix. col. 564.
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Pope St. Leo I, ( A.D. c.391-461), also known as Leo the Great, bishop of Rome (A.D. 440 to 461); an Italian aristocrat, remembered theologically for issuing the Tome of Leo, a document which was foundational to the debates of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon.

"For our nature being fickle, and through the stain of sin mortal, although it be already redeemed, and already born again in sacred baptism, ... is prone to evil."

T. i. Serm. xviii. (De Jejun. Dec. Mens, vii.) c. i.p. 55.
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"By the sacrament of baptism thou hast been made the temple of the Holy Ghost."

T. i. Sermo xxi. In Nativ. D.N.J.C. i. n. 2, p. 66.
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"To every man that is born again, the water of baptism is as it were the womb of the Virgin, the same Holy Spirit filling the font, who also filled the Virgin; that sin which the sacred conception voided there, the mystic ablution may take away here."

T. i. Sermo xxiv. c. 3, (In Nativ. Dom. iv.) p. 80.
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Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus, (A.D. 393-458), Greek; an influential author, theologian, and Christian bishop of Cyrrhus, Syria (A.D. 423-457). He played a pivotal role in many early Byzantine church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms. His friendship for Nestorius embroiled him, for a time, with his great contemporary, St. Cyril of Alexandria.

"In place of those sprinklings, the gift of the most holy baptism is enough for those who believe. For not only does it bestow the remission of former sins, but it also places within them the hope of the promised blessings, and makes them partakers of the Lord's death and resurrection; and vouchsafes the participation of the gifts of the Spirit, and makes them sons of God, and not only sons, but heirs also of God, and co-heirs of Christ. For baptism does not merely, as the foolish Messalians think, resemble a knife, by removing the sins that have preceded it, — for this it bestows as a supererogatory matter,— for if these were the only operations of baptism, wherefore do we baptize infants, who have not as yet tasted of sin? But baptism has not only this promise, but others greater and more perfect than this. For it is a pledge of the good things to come; and a type of the resurrection that is to be; and a communication in the Lord's sufferings; and a participation of the Lord's resurrection; and a garment of salvation, and a robe of gladness, and a vesture of light, yea, light itself."

T. iv. lib. v. Haered. Fabul. c. 18, p. 441.
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Gelasius of Cyzicus, (unknown- A.D. c.492), son of a priest of Cyzicus, he was an ecclesiastical writer who wrote in the Roman province of Bithynia in Asia Minor about A.D. 475 to prove against the Eutychians, that the Nicene Fathers did not teach Monophysitism.

"Our baptism is to be considered, not with the eyes of the body, but of the mind. Thou seest water, reflect on the power of God hidden within the water; for the sacred oracles teach that we are baptized in the Holy Spirit and in fire. . . . Wherefore, he who is baptized goes down (into the water), subject to sin, and to the servitude of corruption, but he ascends thence freed from that servitude and sin, made a son and heir of God by His grace, and co-heir with Christ, having put on Christ Himself, as it is written. "As many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ." (Galatians 3)

Hist. Nic. Conc. L. ii. c. xxx. col. 233.
T. ii. Labb.
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Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among all Christians, including those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church: "For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. Justified by faith in Baptism, [they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church." "Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn.



The Church's Scriptures that support Baptism and Infant Baptism in the Church:

Jesus commissioning His Apostles.

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that
I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."

Matthew 28:19-20

Jesus tells us of the necessity of Baptism.

5 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

John 3:5

Peter continues Jesus' teaching that all be baptized by the Church.

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" 38 And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:37-38

Philip baptizes a eunuch

36 And as they went on their way, they came to a certain water; and the eunuch said: See, here is water: what doth hinder me from being baptized? 37 And Philip said: If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answering, said: I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still; and they went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch: and he baptized him. 39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more. And he went on his way rejoicing.


Acts 8:36-39

Paul is baptized by Ananias

17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house. And laying his hands upon him, he said: Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus hath sent me, he that appeared to thee in the way as thou camest; that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it were scales, and he received his sight; and rising up, he was baptized.


Acts 9:17-18

Peter commands his fellows disciples to baptize those in his company.

47 Then Peter answered: Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Ghost, as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then they desired him to tarry with them some days.


Act 10:47-48

St. Paul tells us all are born with Adam's sin and need baptism.

18 Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous. 20 Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:18-21

St. Paul gives us a Catechesis on baptism.

4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, 6 which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.

Titus 3:4-7

The Church's Scriptures on Infant Baptism and Jesus' love and concern for the smallest of children:


Daughter healed because of the Canaanite woman's faith.

22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon." 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, "Send her away, for she is crying after us." 24 He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." 26 And he answered, "It is not fair to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." 27 She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." 28 Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly.

Matthew 15:22-28

It is not the will of God that children be damned.

10 "See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in Heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in Heaven. 11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in Heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Matthew 18:10-14

Jesus says, "Let the children come to me."

13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people; 14 but Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of Heaven." 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.

Matthew 19:13-15

Our Lord tells His disciples to let the children come to Him

13 And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.

Mark 10:13-16

People were bringing even infants to him.

15 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."

Luke 18:15-17

Paul and Silas baptize Lydia and her whole household.

14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul. 15 And when she was baptized, with her household, she besought us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us.

Acts 16:14-15

Paul and Silas baptize a prison guard and his whole household.

29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and brought them out and said, "Men, what must I do to be saved?" 31 And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their wounds, and he was baptized at once, with all his family.

Acts 16:29-33

Crispus, his family, and other Corinthians are baptized.

8 Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with all his household; and many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.

Acts 18:8

St. Paul tells us: "I baptized the household of Stephanas".

16 I did baptize also the household of Stephanas.

1 Corinthians 1:16

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