Baltimore Catechism 3

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 * Q. 315. What is baptism?
A. Baptism is the sacrament that gives our souls the new life of sanctifying grace by which we become children of God and heirs of heaven.


 * Our adoption as sons of God through sanctifying grace is more perfect than human adoption whereby children are adopted by foster parents. In human adoption nothing is given to the foster son that makes him similar to the foster parent. Into the souls of the adopted sons of God, however, sanctifying grace is infused, which gives them supernaturally a likeness to God. In human adoption the foster son succeeds to his inheritance only after the death of the father; in God's adoption the eternally living Father lets us share in our inheritance at the time of the adoption, that is, when the sacrament of Baptism is administered. By means of sanctifying grace received in Baptism we are spiritually reborn; we become members of the family of God, who becomes our Father in the supernatural order.

 * The Baptism preached by Saint did not have the same power as the Baptism instituted by Christ. The Baptism instituted by Christ directly produces grace; the Baptism preached by Saint was intended to arouse in souls sorrow for sin. The Baptism of St. prepared the way for the Baptism of Christ. After His Resurrection, Christ commanded all to receive Baptism as a necessary condition for salvation.

 * > "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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; and behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world" (Matthew 28:18-20).

 * > "And he preached, saying, 'One mightier than I is coming after me, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit' " (Mark 1:6-8).

 * > "Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16).

 * > "But to as many as received him he gave the power of becoming sons of God" (John 1:12).

 * > "Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5).

 * > "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

 * > "For whoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Now you have not received a spirit of bondage so as to be again in fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons, by virtue of which we cry 'Abba Father!' The Spirit himself gives testimony to our spirit that we are sons of God. But if we are sons, we are heirs also: heirs indeed of God and joint heirs with Christ, provided, however, we suffer with him that we may also be glorified with him" (Romans 8:14-17).

 * > "But when the goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeared, then not by reason of good works that we did ourselves, but according to his mercy, he saved us through the bath of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit; whom he has abundantly poured out upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior, in order that, justified by his grace, we may be heirs in the hope of life everlasting" (Titus 3:4-7).


 * Baptism


 * The baptism of Jesus Christ, which is shown in the middle, demonstrates the effect that baptism produces in us. When Our Lord was baptized by St. the Baptist in the waters of the Jordan, the voice of God the Father was heard, saying:

 * > "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (St. Matthew 3:17)

 * The Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove, and the heavens were opened. When we are baptized, God adopts us as His children. The Holy Spirit descends upon us by His grace, and we become heirs of the kingdom of heaven.

 * At the bottom is a priest baptizing an infant. An angel is holding the white robe with which the baptized child is being clothed. This garment signifies that his soul is adorned with grace and innocence that makes him beautiful and pleasing in the eyes of God.

 * A child who dies as soon as he is baptized goes immediately to heaven. This is shown at the top right, where the soul of a child who died after baptism is carried to heaven by angels.

 * Baptism is so necessary for salvation that even children cannot enter heaven if they are unbaptized. This is why, at the top on the left, the soul of a dead unbaptized child heads for a place where it will be deprived of celestial happiness forever. The child will, however, enjoy a natural state of happiness since it was never guilty of actual sin.


 * Q. 316. What sins does Baptism take away?
A. Baptism takes away original sin; and also actual sins and all the punishment due to them, if the person baptized is guilty of any actual sins and truly sorry for them.


 * Baptism takes away both the eternal punishment of hell due to unforgiven mortal sin, and the temporal punishment on earth or in purgatory due to venial sin or to forgive mortal sin.

 * Though Baptism takes away original sin and restores sanctifying grace to the soul, it does not take away all the consequences of original sin. For example, it does not take away death, suffering, ignorance, and a strong inclination to sin.

 * > "Get up and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on his name" (Acts 22:16).

 * > "Do you not know that all we who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death? ... For he who is dead is acquitted of sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live together with Christ" (Romans 6:3, 7-8).

 * > "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

 * > See Scripture, question 315, John 3:5; Acts 2:38.


 * Q. 317. What are the effects of the character imprinted on the soul by Baptism?
A. The effects of the character imprinted on the soul by Baptism are that we become members of the Church, subject to its laws, and capable of receiving the other sacraments.


 * Baptized persons remain members of the Church as long as they are united to it by profession of the same faith and have not broken the bonds of communion with it.

 * All validly baptized persons are subjects of the Church, even if they are not members. Hence they are obliged to obey the laws of the Church unless exempted. If, however, they are invincibly ignorant of their obligation to obey the laws of the Church, they do not sin by not obeying them. An unbaptized person cannot validly receive the other sacraments.

 * A baptized person renounces Satan, his works, and his pomps, and has the obligation of leading a Christian life by following Christ and by obeying the legitimate pastors of the Church, especially the Roman Pontiff.

 * See Scripture, question 314, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; question 315, John 1:12, 3:5.


 * Q. 318. Who can administer Baptism?
A. The priest is the usual minister of Baptism, but if there is danger that someone will die without Baptism, anyone else may and should baptize.


 * In case of necessity even a heretic or an unbaptized person can validly and licitly baptize. He must, however, perform the ceremony correctly and have the intention of "doing what the Church does," namely, of performing the ceremony that is usual among Catholics.


 * Q. 319. How would you give Baptism?
A. I would give Baptism by pouring ordinary water on the forehead of the person to be baptized, saying while pouring it: "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."


 * By the command of Christ, real water must be used in Baptism. Thus, anything that is not water in the usual sense of the word cannot be used. In solemn Baptism, baptismal water, blessed for the purpose, must be used under penalty of grave sin.

 * In Baptism conferred at home by necessity, it is best to use ordinary water. Holy water, however, may be used. If for any reason the ceremonies of Baptism are omitted, these ceremonies are to be later supplied in church.

 * The sacrament of Baptism may be validly administered: first, by immersion; second, by pouring; third, by sprinkling. Christ commanded Baptism by water; He did not prescribe the manner of applying water. According to Church law, however, it is not now licit to confer Baptism by the method of sprinkling.

 * In conferring Baptism by pouring, care must be taken that the water flows over the skin of the person's head, and that the words are clearly and exactly spoken while the water is being poured, not before or after the water is poured. In Baptism, the pouring of the water and the saying of the words must be done by the same person.

 * If in case of necessity a person's head cannot be baptized, the water may be poured on another part of the body, preferably the chest or shoulders, since this Baptism is probably valid. If a person baptized in one of these ways can later be baptized on the forehead, this should be done, with the condition, "If you are not baptized, I baptize," etc.

 * > "Now they who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41).

 * > "These in times past had been disobedient when the patience of God waited in the days of Noah while the ark was building. In that ark a few, that is, eight souls were saved through water. Its counterpart, Baptism, now saves you also" (1 Peter 3:20-21).

 * See Scripture, question 315, Matthew 28:18-20; John 3:5.


 * Q. 320. Why is Baptism necessary for the salvation of all men?
A. Baptism is necessary for the salvation of all men because Christ has said: "Unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."


 * Today, many of the sects, renewing the ancient heresy of the Pelagians, reject Christ's words concerning the necessity of Baptism and seek to establish their own norms of salvation

 * See Scripture, question 315, John 3:5; Mark 16:15-16.


 * Q. 321. How can those be saved who through no fault of their own have not received the sacrament of Baptism?
A. Those who through no fault of their own have not received the sacrament of Baptism can be saved through what is called baptism of blood or baptism of desire.


 * Q. 322. How does an unbaptized person receive the baptism of blood?
A. An unbaptized person receives the baptism of blood when he suffers martyrdom for the faith of Christ.


 * Baptism of blood does not imprint a character on the soul, nor does it give one the right to receive the other sacraments. It does, however, confer grace and take away sin, original and actual, and the punishment due to sin.

 * Martyrdom is the suffering, from a supernatural motive, of death or a mortal wound inflicted out of hatred for Christ, His religion, or a Christian virtue. In sinners guilty of mortal sin, at least attrition is also required in order to secure the effects of baptism of blood.

 * > "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake, will find it" (Matthew 10:39).

 * > "For he who would save his life will lose it; but he who loses his life for my sake and for the gospel's sake will save it" (Mark 8:35).

 * > "And I say to you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, him will the Son of Man also acknowledge before the angels of God" (Luke 12:8).

 * > "Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13).


 * Q. 323. How does an unbaptized person receive the baptism of desire?
A. An unbaptized person receives the baptism of desire when he loves God above all things and desires to do all that is necessary for his salvation.


 * Baptism of desire takes away all sin, original and actual, and the eternal punishment due to sin. It does not, however, imprint a character on the soul, nor does it necessarily take away all the temporal punishment due to actual sins. In baptism of desire there need not always be an explicit desire to receive baptism of water.

 * > "And behold, a certain lawyer got up to test him, saying, 'Master, what must I do to gain eternal life?' But he said to him, 'What is written in the Law? How dost thou read?' He answered and said,

 * > 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart,

 * > And with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength, and with thy whole mind;

 * > And thy neighbor as thyself.'

 * > And he said to him, 'Thou hast answered rightly; do this and thou shalt live' " (Luke 10:25-28).

 * > "He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. But he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him" (John 14:21).

 * > "If anyone love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him" (John 14:23).


 * Q. 324. When should children be baptized?
A. Children should be baptized as soon as possible after birth.


 * Children should be baptized as soon as possible because Baptism is necessary for salvation. Infants who die without baptism of any kind do not suffer the punishments of those who die in mortal sin. They may enjoy a certain natural happiness, but they will not enjoy the supernatural happiness of heaven. Except in danger of death, Baptism may not be administered to a child who has not attained the use of reason and whose non-Catholic parents are unwilling to have it baptized.


 * Q. 325. What sin do Catholic parents commit who put off for a long time, or entirely neglect, the Baptism of their children?
A. Catholic parents who put off for a long time, or entirely neglect, the Baptism of their children, commit a mortal sin.


 * Q. 326. What do we promise through our godparents in Baptism?
A. We promise through our godparents in Baptism to renounce the devil and to live according to the teachings of Christ and of His Church.


 * Q. 327. Why is the name of a saint given in Baptism?
A. The name of a saint is given in Baptism in order that the person baptized may imitate his virtues and have him for a protector.


 * Q. 328. What is the duty of a godparent after Baptism?
A. The duty of a godparent after Baptism is to see that the child is brought up a good Catholic, if this is not done by the parents.


 * Godparents develop a spiritual relationship, not with each other, but with their godchildren. Godparents cannot marry their godchildren without a dispensation.


 * Q. 329. Who should be chosen as godparents for Baptism?
A. Only Catholics who know their faith and live up to the duties of their religion should be chosen as godparents for Baptism.


 * Godparents should be at least thirteen years of age. Non-Catholics cannot be godparents, nor can the father, the mother, the husband, or the wife of the person to be baptized.




 * The beginning of man's earthly life takes place at birth; the beginning of his spiritual life takes place at Baptism. It was under the figure of a spiritual birth that Our Lord spoke of Baptism, when He said: "Unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (, 5). Through Baptism one begins to live the divine life of a child of God.

 * Our Lord Himself received a baptism from St. the Baptist, but this ceremony was not a sacrament. It was only a foreshadowing of the sacrament. However, it was probably about this time that Our Saviour instituted the sacrament; and perhaps administered it to the apostles with His own hands. At any rate, they must have been baptized before the Last Supper, for they then became priests, and the character of the priesthood can be given only to one who possesses the character of Baptism. Before His Ascension into heaven Christ deputed the apostles to go and baptize all men; and on Pentecost Sunday the apostles began the task, telling those who heard the Gospel and were converted: "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts, 2, 38). As the apostles went to various lands and made converts, they announced the reception of Baptism as the chief condition of becoming a follower of Christ and a member of His Church. In the words of St. Paul: "All you who have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ" (Gal. 3, 27) ... "We were all baptized into one body" (I Cor. 12, 13).

 * The Catholic Church has always emphasized the importance of Baptism, and has always taken the greatest care that no child departs from this world without receiving this sacrament. The children of non-Catholics can lawfully be baptized even against the wishes of their parents, if they are in danger of death, for this sacrament is necessary for salvation, and in such a case the right of the child to eternal salvation takes precedence over parental rights.

 * The child of Catholic parents should be baptized soon after birth-if possible, within two weeks. In the event that the child is in danger of death, it should be baptized immediately, in the way described in this lesson. A lay person who baptizes a child in such circumstances should not make the validity of the sacrament depend on a future condition-for example, he should not intend to give the sacrament only on condition that the priest does not come in time but should have the intention of baptizing absolutely and unconditionally. When a child has been baptized privately, it should afterward be brought to the church in order that the various ceremonies of solemn Baptism may be supplied.

 * The essential ceremony of Baptism is the washing of the recipient with water. Our Saviour prescribed this washing in a general way, but He did not designate the particular mode in which it is to be performed. Hence at different times the Church has used different modes. In the beginning complete immersion was practiced, and this is still used in the Oriental rites. The Latin Church commonly employs the method of pouring, or infusion; and even sprinkling the baptismal water is a valid way of baptizing, provided the water touches the skin of the recipient's head and flows over it. The words required for Baptism, pronounced by the minister, explain what is being done- "I baptize thee"-then the words assert that the power of the sacrament comes from the three divine Persons- "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost". To these divinely established elements of the sacrament the Church has added many beautiful ceremonies for the solemn administration of Baptism, which can be performed only by a priest or (as an extraordinary minister) a deacon, such as the anointing of the breast and shoulders with oil and the giving of a lighted candle. Catholics should study the meaning of these ceremonies, particularly if they are invited to serve as godparents at Baptism.




 * Resolve to find out the date of your Baptism and to celebrate it each year as your spiritual birthday, especially by receiving Holy Communion in thanksgiving to God for the grace of Baptism, and by renewing the promises made in your name at Baptism, to be faithful to Christ and to His Church.

 * Complete Exercises For Lesson 24





 * (Check each of the following statements as either true or false. The correct answers can be found in previous portions of this lesson).


 * Baptism by St. the Baptist was a sacrament.

 * Baptism takes away all the temporal punishment due to actual sins.

 * A person who bears the character of Baptism on his soul is subject to the laws of the Church, whether he is a Catholic or not.

 * A person who is not himself baptized cannot confer the sacrament of Baptism.

 * Baptism cannot be given validly by sprinkling.

 * Baptism of blood does not imprint a character on the soul.

 * Baptism of desire takes away all the temporal punishment due to actual sins.

 * Godparents at the same baptism cannot marry each other without a special dispensation.

 * A person should be at least thirteen years old to be a godparent.

 * An infant in danger of death may be baptized even against the will of its parents.



 * (Answer the questions orally or write them as your teacher may direct):


 * What are the words of Our Lord commanding the reception of the sacrament of Baptism? Did He give this command before Holy Week, during it, or afterwards?

 * Terence, an infant, has just been baptized by Father Tracy. What has Baptism given his soul?

 * Who baptized Our Lord? Was that baptism a sacrament or a mere ceremony? Did that baptism give grace of itself?

 * Spenser unfortunately commits a sacrilege by receiving Holy Communion unworthily. Is that a mortal sin? Spenser now repents and makes a good confession. Do any penalties still remain? Explain.

 * Warren and Sigismund are eighteen years old and have about an equal amount of guilt on their souls as the result of many mortal and venial sins. Both receive a sacrament of the dead, -Warren, Baptism; Sigismund, Penance. Warren died immediately after his Baptism this morning. In another city, almost at the same hour, Sigismund died of a heart attack in the confessional just as the priest completed the words of absolution. Did Warren and Sigismund both enter heaven immediately? Did one or both of them go to purgatory? Explain your answer.

 * This morning, at the request of the child's Anglican parents, Dr. Saul, a Jewish doctor, baptized a frail, new-born infant boy. Doctor Saul does not believe in Christian baptism, but he does what the parents ask him to do, pours the water correctly, and says the words of Baptism accurately. The child is baptized David, the Jewish doctor's first name. Now is the infant David subject to the laws of the Catholic Church, or to the laws of the Anglican Church, or to the laws of the synagogue? Why?

 * Why do the Sisters, Brothers, Priests and Bishops demand a baptismal certificate before the reception of First Holy Communion, Confirmation, marriage, and Holy Orders?

 * It is a cold wintry Sunday afternoon. The parish priest is about to baptize Cornelia, a baby ten days old. Why does he ask the godmother to remove Cornelia's cap, and to loosen its little dress at the neck?

 * The Holy Innocents martyred by cruel Herod shortly after Jesus was born are honored by the Church as saints. Did some priest baptize them before they died? How was original sin removed from their souls?

 * Giles is murdered by a Communist just as he leaves the church after his confession. Giles had been away from the church for 28 years. He just about satisfied the requirements for a good confession, having only imperfect contrition, aroused during this week's mission. The Communist demanded to know if Giles was a Catholic, threatening to kill him if he was. Fearlessly, Giles said: "Yes, thank God!" Did Giles go immediately to heaven, or did he go to purgatory for a while? Give a reason for your answer.

 * Where now are the countless millions of infants who have died without Baptism? Are they happy or unhappy?

 * Estelle, in the eighth grade of St. Venantius' school, has a very healthy new baby sister now six weeks old. She is to be baptized Joan. Her parents are waiting for the godparents to come up from South America three months from now. Estelle wants to know if the delay in Joan's Baptism is justified. Tell her, and add a reason to your reply.

 * When does the priest consecrate baptismal water?

 * Leonard, an infant, is baptized by the doctor an hour after his birth. The Baptism is true, that is, valid. A month later, Leonard is completely out of danger. To what must Leonard's parents now attend?


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