My parents baptized me three months after I was born. I don’t remember it. I wasn’t asked if I wanted to be baptized or not, nor would I have been able to understand or respond. And, I’m grateful that they did.
We decided to do the same for you. We carefully chose godparents and asked your grandfather, a deacon, to baptize you. It was a very special day with many friends and family, and you won’t remember any of it. It can’t be undone. You didn’t have a say.
If you’re ever jealous at Easter when you see others baptized with their own free will and old enough to remember it, please remember why we did what we did and heartily renew your baptismal promises.
Some might think that baptism is more for the parents than the child, but “as nurturers of the life that God has entrusted” to us, we chose this for you, believing that is was best (1251). Christians since the beginning of the Church have believed the same.
As soon as your life began, we had your baptism on our mind so that your life of faith could also begin (CCC 1236). As your parents, we want to share everything we treasure, love, and think worth dying for. Faith is so vitally important to us that we didn’t want you to know life without it.
Just as we would die for you, we know Jesus died on the cross for us all and in that faith, you were brought to the baptismal font.
Baptism is not merely a symbolic ceremony or an archaic ritual. Baptism is a sacred sacrament.
In baptism, you received sanctifying grace. “Sanctifying grace does not provide us with a new soul; it enters into the soul we already have,” Frank Sheed writes in Theology and Sanity (page 300). He continues that man is “reborn by Baptism, by which he gets a place in the Kingdom” which is what we know you were made for (301).
When people chose it, the apostles would baptize entire households, which would include infants, toddlers, adults, and teenagers alike (CCC 1257, 1252; Acts 16:27-33, Acts 16:15, 1 Corinthians 1:16; Church Tradition).
Patrick Madrid in Where is That in the Bible? writes:
In Matthew’s Gospel, the Greek word used for children is paidίa, a generic word that doesn’t denote any particular age. In Luke’s Gospel, however, we see, in addition to paidίa, another Greek word for children: bre’phe, which means “infants,” children who are too young to walk and therefore were unable to “come to Christ” under their own power. These infants, Luke tells us are being brought to Christ by adults, most likely their parents, so that Christ” might touch them.” In the sacrament of baptism, Christ touches the soul with his grace and life. (page 10; Matthew 19:13-15; Luke 18:15-17)
Baptism, which means to be washed or cleansed, is held in the highest honor by Christians; it is “the cleansing with water by the power of the living word” (Rite of Baptism for Children, page 10; CCC 1230, 1228; St. Augustine). From The Didache (an ancient Christian instruction) to the various modern day forms, baptism needs running water as in water that runs over the person’s head and the words “I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” This is as we were taught by Christ and asked to do (Matthew 28:19; John 3:5).
By baptism, you were united with all others baptized, even those who aren’t fully in communion with the Catholic Church but were validly baptized (Rite of Baptism for Children, page 10). You are a part of the Body of Christ.
When you were baptized, you were made a new creature in Christ, incorporated into the Body of Christ, a member of the Church, and given “an indelible mark,” which could not be taken away by sin, “even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation” (CCC 1272). We hope sin does not prevent such flourishing and pray that we raise you to choose Christ in everything in your life.
But, if you don’t, you are still baptized.
Why would you as an innocent little infant need this indelible mark? Well, as a human person we are all born with a fallen nature, and to be freed from original sin and the “power of darkness,” even an infant must be baptized (CCC 1250). “The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth” (CCC 1250)
As an infant, you were unable to profess faith yourself or discern it like an adult, but you were not to be deprived of the sacrament. You are expected to be raised in the faith so that you accept the faith into which you were baptized (Rite of Children Baptism, page 17; CCC 1231).
So, don’t be jealous that your friend who joined through RCIA remembers the incredible experience of receiving that sacramental grace from baptism. Celebrate with them because they, too, can now have a seat in Heaven as a part of the Body of Christ, a member of the Church. You are both on your paths to sainthood, both reborn at different times after your physical birth. You were blessed to be brought to the Church by your parents; he or she was blessed to join the Church after hearing the Gospel and converting.
Constantly convert turning towards Christ in your life of faith. Everyday give your life back to Jesus. Learn about the deep faith we love, the Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, the faith and reason intertwined, the nuns and the priests and the funny pope hat.
If you leave the Church, angry and bitter about your parent’s faith, know we will always love you, pray for you, and believe we gave you the best gift we could in asking the Church to baptize you.
Parents prepare for a child with bank accounts, painting rooms, learning sign language, researching the best schools, buying the best car seats, and all sorts of worldly efforts, but we would be at a loss if we didn’t set you off right on the right foot and protect you spiritually by giving you all to God. Baptism was the greatest gift we could offer you.
We hope that as you grow we raise you well enough that you choose to continue to grow in faith and flourish in a life with Christ. And, if you are blessed with children yourself, we pray you bring them to the baptismal font as well.
For more about Catholic Infant Baptism:
– Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) : CCC 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.”
– The Bible
– Where is That in the Bible? by Patrick Madrid
– Theology and Sanity, by Frank Sheed
– The Rite of Baptism for Children