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제목 Infant Baptism and Confirmation(2016-11-12)
작성자 관리자 작성일 2016-11-14





Infant Baptism and Confirmation(2016-11-12)


My dear brethren,
We continue our series on the catechism; we are currently studying the Sacraments.


One last point on Baptism: it is a grave duty of Catholic parents to care for the prompt baptism of their children. It was God’s original plan that parents would transmit both natural and supernatural life together. Adam by his sin lost the original justice that bonded together nature and grace: henceforth, grace is no longer “attached” to nature as it was intended. Therefore, children are born deprived of sanctifying grace: this privation of grace that should have been in them, had Adam not sinned, is original sin.


Since God’s intent was that the children have both natural and supernatural life, parents should not wait to give to their children that supernatural life, by the means of Baptism as the new birth. This is the life of the New Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ, whose member they become by Baptism. It is a grievous sin for parents to wait without reason for a long time before baptising their children.


Some people object: “but children don’t have a say in this. They should have the choice.” This is a wrong reasoning. Indeed children do not choose to receive the natural life either: nobody can choose to receive life! It is a gift, it is a good thing in itself, and therefore there is no room for complaint. If life becomes painful afterwards, it does not mean life in itself is bad: no, it remains good in itself and therefore parents should not be blamed for having given it to their children. There may be some fault in the lack of education, lack of care of the parents, but not in giving life. Similarly, the supernatural life is a marvellous gift, much more valuable and treasurable than natural life: parents are never to be blamed for giving such a gift. There also, there is need of the subsequent care of a good Catholic education: and there may be some failures there; but it was not wrong to give spiritual life when the children were babies.


Some Protestants reject children’s baptism because of their Protestant erroneous faith, that considers baptism only as a mere sign of an act of faith, without any efficacy in itself. So they think that a child being unable to make such an act of faith, baptism is useless for them. This is against the antique tradition of the Church, against the Apostolic tradition that practiced infant Baptism. It was precisely the very practice of infant Baptism that was for St Augustine the surest proof of original sin, since the children could not have any actual sin, and if they had no sin at all baptism would be useless for them, since Baptism is given “unto the remission of sin” (Act. 2:28).


Our Lord Jesus Christ said: “Suffer children to come to me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Lk. 18:16). To come to Christ requires Baptism, by which they are incorporated into His Body; therefore upon this command of our Lord, the Apostles and the whole Church through the centuries always baptised the children.


One can see a hint of the infant baptism in the passage of St Paul where he says that the children of a Catholic spouse “are holy”, if the unbelieving spouse “consent to live with him/her”, i.e. allows the believing spouse to practice peacefully the Catholic Faith: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife; and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband: otherwise your children should be unclean; but now they are holy” (1 Cor. 7:14). The children are holy because they are baptised; the unbelieving spouse is “sanctified” because it will lead them to conversion, as happened in many occasions.


Moreover, there are two types of Baptism in the Old Testament which manifestly prove Infant Baptism: circumcision was given to infants of 8 days! St Cyprian around the year 250 answers a bishop who asked: should we wait the 8th day to baptise as they waited the 8th day to circumcise? And the council of Carthage gathered around St Cyprian unanimously answers: we should not even wait until the 8th day! The second type was the crossing of the Red Sea, as St Paul says: “our fathers … were all in Moses baptized, in the cloud, and in the sea” (1 Cor. 10:1-2), clearly image of the Baptism in Christ “born again of water and the Holy Ghost” (Jn. 3:5). Now it is evident that the Hebrews did not leave their babies on the shore, but the babies too crossed the Red Sea, in the arms of their parents, and that was a “valid” crossing! So infant baptism, even if the answers are given by the God-parents, is a valid baptism.


To the Sadducees who objected the Scriptures against the true faith (in the Resurrection), our Lord answered: “Do ye not therefore err, because you know not the scriptures, nor the power of God?” (Mk. 12:24). As you can see, this also applies to these Protestants: you have an example here on the subject of Infant Baptism, but it would be similar on all their errors. But in order for them to understand the Scriptures, they need to listen to the Church, to whom our Lord Jesus Christ entrusted the care of the Scripture and the deposit of Faith: indeed St Paul says: “the house of God is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). And the Church that comes right back to the Apostles is the Catholic Church.


The second Sacrament is Confirmation. After being born, a child grows, and needs to grow! Confirmation is what its very name says: it confirms, it strengthens, it makes firm and solid the life received at Baptism. The Church teaches that it makes us a “soldier of Christ”. Indeed there is a battle to wage against sin, against the devil, the world and even against the evil inclinations within ourselves. At Baptism we renounced Satan, and all his works, and all its seductions: that announced us that there would be a battle coming. Hence the need for such strengthening. It is by a special outpouring of the Holy Ghost that one is confirmed.


Our Lord Jesus Christ instituted this Sacrament on the day of Pentecost, when He sent the Holy Ghost upon His apostles and the first 120 disciples as He had promised them. Pentecost was a very special event, and the Apostles were then confirmed in a superior manner, not with Chrism, but with actual flames of the fire of the Holy Ghost! But inspired by the Holy Ghost, they understood that they should confirm the others by the imposition of the hands together with the anointing of holy Chrism.


In the Acts of the Apostles, we see the clear distinction between confirmation and baptism: the deacon Phillip went to Samaria and converted many there and baptised them; but then he sent to Jerusalem to ask the Apostles to come because he could not confirm them. Peter and John came and imposed their hands upon the newly baptised and then they received the same outpouring of the Holy Ghost as the Apostles received on Pentecost.


The matter of Confirmation is thus the unction of the Holy Chrism, in the sign of a cross on the forehead. Holy Chrism is a mixture of olive oil with balsam; St Alphonsus of Liguori said that if one did not use balsam, one needs to be conditionally reconfirmed; he does not even ask if one would use another oil: it was simply unthinkable for him that one would ever do that! So when the Novus Ordo uses “olive oil OR any other vegetable oil”, they open the door to invalid confirmations.


Olive oil signifies the fire of the Holy Ghost, like at Pentecost. Also the dove, symbol of the Holy Ghost, had brought a branch of olive tree after the flood, as a sign of reconciliation with God: peace is a fruit of the Holy Ghost (Gal. 5:22). Also athletes were anointed with oil (now they are still anointed with all kinds of ointments) to strengthen them. The anointing is done in the form of a cross and on the forehead, the most visible part of our skin, to signify that we must profess the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ crucified. We must not be “ashamed of the gospel. For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom. 1:16).


The traditional form of Confirmation consists in the words that the Bishop says while anointing the forehead: “I sign thee with the sign of the Cross and I confirm thee with the Chrism of salvation in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”


The minister of Confirmation is the bishop. He is the high priest, the one who can bring to perfection the newly-born faithful; he is a captain in the militant Church. The importance of this Sacrament is manifested by the fact that it requires a bishop to give it. In very special cases, with a special delegation, a priest can administer validly this Sacrament; this happens in some large diocese when the vicar general can be given such delegation; or it happens when the bishop becomes sick and then needs help to administer this Sacrament. Only the Pope can give such delegation. Priests of the Catholic Eastern rites often have that delegation to confirm right after Baptism, but that is not the custom in the Western rites.


Confirmation imprints a character on the soul, the character of a soldier of Christ, able to profess the faith even to the point of martyrdom! Indeed that special gift of the Holy Ghost, the gift of fortitude, is manifest in the martyrs, who did not fear death, nor frightful tortures, and who would rather die than sin, rather die than deny our Lord Jesus Christ. We should remember that we have received that character, and therefore ought to be strong against sin, always saying a strong NO to temptation, NO to sin, and YES to God. There must be no “buts”, no delays, no hesitation: under no circumstances one is ever allowed to sin. Our Lord Jesus Christ deserves an absolute fidelity, even unto death, because He crowns with eternal glory those good soldiers who are faithful unto death: “Be thou faithful until death: and I will give thee the crown of life” (Apoc. 2:10).


Even in more ordinary circumstances, the special sacramental grace of confirmation helps us to have the courage to extend the Kingdom of Christ, to be missionary by the simple profession of Faith, both with words and with deeds. The testimony of a holy life is a great means for the extension of the kingdom of our Lord.


The Sacrament of Confirmation is a sacrament of the living: one must be in the state of grace in order to receive it; it would be a sacrilege to receive it in the state of sin. It is good to give it to the children before twelve years old, so that they be ready and strong in the faith to overcome the spiritual challenges of the adolescence. It is an obligation for parents to provide it to their children.


The rite of confirmation is simple but important. It starts with the solemn invocation of the Holy Ghost by the singing of “Veni Sancte Spiritus”, the hymn of Vespers of Pentecost. Then all kneeling, the pontiff stands and extends his hands over all in general and calls for the sevenfold Spirit, according to the prophecy of Isaiah: “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord” (Is. 11:2-3).


Then the bishop sits and the confirmands come and kneel at his feet, one per one, having their god-father standing behind them with the right hand on their right shoulder. The bishop dips his thumb in holy chrism, and then put his hands on the head of the confirmand and with his thumb anoints the forehead in the form of a cross saying: “I sign thee with the sign of the Cross and I confirm thee with the Chrism of salvation in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” The confirmand answers: “amen”. This is the very moment of the sacrament itself. Then the pontiff gives the confirmand a slight hit on the cheek as a symbol of checking his strength, his ability to resist.


The last prayer reminds us that we are the temples of the Holy Ghost. Most importantly after, the newly confirmed profess publicly their faith by the recitation of the Creed, standing as a soldier prepared to defend that faith which they now profess until the end of their life. They also recite the Our Father, as the model of all prayers, by which they will obtain the grace of victory. They also recite the Hail Mary, as their most common prayer, inseparable from our Lord.


May our Lady, Queen of Martyrs, who had been filled with the Holy Ghost on the day of the Annunciation to become the Mother of Jesus and on Pentecost to become the Mother of the Church, take under her special protection all those who are confirmed, and help them to be true soldiers of Christ! It is a great help for all of us to be “Knights of the Immaculata”, as it reminds us of our Confirmation and helps us to live it truly until its eternal reward in Heaven. Amen.


Fr. F. Laisney (ssapxasia)