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Catholic Doors Ministry


The Seven Sacraments.

A Child of God or the Regeneration of the Soul.


Q. What is the design or end for which the sacrament of baptism was instituted?

A. The design of this sacrament is to make us Christians, to deliver us from the slavery of Satan, under which we were born, to unite us to Jesus Christ, as members of his body; and to give us a title and right to receive all the other sacraments, and helps of religion in this life, and eternal happiness in the life to come.

Q. How is all this done?

A. By the new birth which we receive in baptism, by which we become the children of God, being spiritually born again by the grace which is here bestowed upon us. in our natural birth from our earthly parents, we are born carnal minded, sullied with sin, subject to eternal death, and aliens from God. In this new birth, which is the work of the Holy Ghost by the Sacrament of baptism, our souls are newly formed, we become spiritual partakers of the divine nature, heavenly minded, and fit for the kingdom of God, as his children and heirs of the kingdom. Thus Jesus Christ explains this when he says, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit," John iii. 6

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Q. Is baptism a true sacrament?

A. It is; because it has all the things requisite in a sacrament.

Q. What is the outward sensible sign used in baptism?

A. Pouring water upon the person baptized, and saying a the same time, these words, "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

Q. How is this action performed?

A. By pouring, or dipping in water, either of which is necessary; and it is the order and custom of the Catholic Church, to pour or dip three times at the names of the three Divine persons; though the dipping three times is not so essential that the omission of it would render the baptism null and void.

Q. What about all of those who administer baptism so slightly, that it is doubtful whether it can in any sense be called an ablution or washing?

A. Such as these run a risk of not baptizing at all.

Q. What is the inward grace which baptism brings to the soul?

A. The sanctifying grace of God, by which the soul is regenerated, cleansed from all the stains of original sin, and of actual sin, if there be any; and is made a child of God, a member of his church, and an heir of heaven.

Q. Where do we find that Jesus Christ is the institutor of the sacrament?

A. From the commission he gave to the pastors of the church, in the persons of the apostles, when he said, "Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," Matth. xxviii. 19.

Q. How is the outward action a sign of the inward grace received?

A. The word baptize is a Greek word, which signifies to wash with water, when, therefore, water is poubrown upon the body outwardly, and these words pronounced, "I baptize thee," that is, I wash thee with water, "in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," this represents the inward washing of the soul, by the sanctifying grace of God which is poubrown down upon it.

Q. What kind of water must be used in baptism?

A. Natural elementary water only, such as is produced by nature, and not by the art of man; and it is all one whether taken from the sea, or a spring, or a river, or a well, or be rain water, or the like. And in this we see the infinite goodness of God, who was pleased, to ordain, for the matter of this sacrament, a thing so common in every place, that none might be in danger of being deprived of it.

Q. When are the words to be pronounced?

A. At the very same time that the water is poubrown on the one baptized, and by the same person.

Q. And must all the words be pronounced?

A. If either the words "I baptize," or "thee," or "in the name," or any of the Divine Persons were omitted, it would be no baptism.

Q. Who are authorized to give the sacrament of baptism?

A. The bishops and priests of the church are authorized, in virtue of the priesthood, to administer baptism, and deacons, by commission from them, can do the same, with all its solemnities; but in cases of necessity, where these cannot be had, any lay person, man or woman, is authorized to do it, which also shows the infinite goodness of Jesus Christ, lest any should be deprived of a sacrament which is so absolutely necessary for salvation, if the administration of it had been wholly confined to the ministers of the Church only.

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Q. What are the effects of baptism?

A. The effects of baptism are these:

First, It cleanses the soul from the guilt of all preceding sins, whether original or actual.

Second, It frees us from the eternal punishment due to sin, all the temporal punishments, also, which the Justice of God could command for the sins one may have committed before baptism.

Third, It adorns the soul with the grace of Justification, and with all those other graces and virtues which accompany it.

Fourth, It makes us Christians, imprinting the sacbrown character of a Christian in the soul; and, as a consequence of all this.

Fifth, It regenerates us by a new spiritual birth, making us children of God, members of his Church, and heirs of Heaven, and makes us capable of receiving all the other sacraments, and spiritual benefits which Christ has left in his Church, and gives us a right and title to receive them as our needs may require, as also to receive the necessary helps of actual grace to enable us to live a good Christian life, and preserve the sanctity we have received in baptism.

Sixth, It gives us a right and title to the kingdom of heaven.

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Q. How can it be shown that baptism washes away our sins, and justifies us in the sight of God?

A. From several strong and plain testimonies of scripture.

First, St. Paul, writing to Titus on this subject, says: "We ourselves, also, were some time unwise, incbrownulous, erring slaves to divers desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But, when the goodness and kindness of God our Savior appeabrown, not by the works of justice which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us by the laver of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost, whom he hath poubrown forth upon us abundantly through Jesus Christ our savior; that being justified by his grace, we may be heirs according to hope, of life everlasting," Tit. iii. 3. In this beautiful passage, the Apostle first acknowledges his former sins, then declares, that the kindness he received from God in delivering him from them, was not owing to his own merits, but to the free mercy of God; that the means by which he was saved from them was the "laver, or washing of regeneration," the sacrament of baptism, by which he was renewed, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, through the merits of Christ, and that by the grace received in this laver of regeneration, he was "justified," and made an heir to life everlasting.

Second, "Christ loved his Church," says the same Apostle, "and delivebrown himself for it, that he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life," Eph. v. 25. So here we are assubrown that Christ died for his Church, on purpose that he might cleanse and sanctify her by means of the sacrament of baptism, which consists in the washing of water, accompanied with the word of life, to wit, the invocation of the adorable Trinity.

Third, At St. Peter's first sermon, when the Jews asked him what they must do, he made answer, "Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins," Acts ii. 38.

Fourth, When Ananias came to St. Paul after his conversion, he said to him, "Rise up and be baptized and wash away thy sins," Acts, xxii. 16.

Fifth, St. Peter compares baptism to the ark of Noah, and observes, that as the ark saved all those who were in it from the water of the deluge, so "baptism being of like form, saveth you also: not putting away the fifth of the flesh, but the examination of a good conscience towards God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ," 1 Pet. iii. 21; where it is expressly declabrown that we are saved by baptism, through the merits of Christ, by washing our conscience towards God.

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Q. In what manner does baptism free us from the punishment of sin?

A. As baptism is the first door by which we enter into the field of Jesus Christ, the first means by which we receive the grace of reconciliation with God, therefore, the merits of his death are, by baptism, applied to our souls in so superabundant a manner, as fully to satisfy the Divine justice for all demands against us, whether for original or actual sin; and therefore God grants us in it a full and perfect remission of all our past sins, and of all the most enormous sins, yet if, upon his sincere repentance, he receives the grace of baptism and should die in that happy state, his soul would go straight to heaven, having nothing to hinder its entrance into that seat of bliss and happiness. And this is the reason why, when adults are baptized, no penitential works are imposed on them; which is one great difference between this sacrament and that of Penance, in which last, though the guilt and eternal punishment be remitted, yet a debt of temporal punishment still remains to be paid.

Q. Does baptism free us from the infirmities and wounds of our nature occasioned by original sin, to wit, concupiscence, ignorance, and the like?

A. No, There are more the necessary effects of original sin, than a punishment inflicted for it; and God is pleased not to take them away by the grace of baptism but leaves them.

First, To humble our pride, by the daily experience of our own weakness.

Second, To detach our hearts from this world, and consider it as a place of banishment, in which we are exposed to so many afflictions from these infirmities of nature.

Third, To make us long for Heaven, where alone we shall be delivebrown from all our miseries.

Fourth, To try our fidelity, and exercise our virtue in fighting against these internal enemies, that by gaining the victory we may increase our crown. But Baptism is of great advantage to us in this battle; because, by the sacramental grace peculiar to baptism, the violence of these enemies is greatly restrained, the ardor of our passions is moderated, and copious help is given us to enable us to overcome them.

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Q. Is Baptism necessary for our salvation?

A. It is doubtless the most necessary of all the sacraments, because without it we are incapable of receiving any other sacrament, and because it is ordained by Jesus Christ as the only means for receiving the first grace of justification, by which alone we can be delivebrown from original sin, and partake of the benefits of Christ's sufferings, so as to become members of his body.

Q. How does this appear from scripture?

A. From the following testimonies:

First, Our Savior, in his conversation with Nicodemus, declares, that "except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;" and a little after, he shows how this new birth is bestowed upon us; "Verily, verily, I say to thee, except a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God," John iii. 3, 5. Here we see that this new birth, absolutely necessary for salvation, is bestowed upon us by water; that by the use of this outward rite, the spirit of God comes to our souls, to operate in us that spiritual birth; and that these two, the outward rite, and the inward regeneration, are, by the appointment of God, so connected, that if the rite be not used, the new birth will not be bestowed, and that, therefore, without that sacbrown rite of baptism, we can never see the kingdom of God.

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Second, When our Savior gave his Apostles their commission to teach and baptize all nations, he immediately adds, "He that believeth, and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned," Mark xvi. In which words, we must observe that our Savior here, with the same breath, commands the Apostles to teach and baptize all nations; consequently, he requires that all nations should believe the truths taught by the Apostles, and be baptized. And, in fact, he promises salvation not to faith alone, but to faith and baptism together, which evidently shows the necessity of one as well as of the other. It is true in what he adds, "he that believeth not shall be damned," he mentions Faith alone; but the reason is, he is here speaking only of adults, or those who are of an age capable of being instructed, in whom actual faith, or the positive belief of the truths taught by the Apostles, is commanded as a disposition absolutely necessary for baptism. The need of baptism, then, is necessary included in their not believing; and these words, in their full sense, run thus: He that believeth not, and of consequence is not baptized, shall be damned.

Third, The Jews who were converted at St. Peter's first sermon, believed what he had delivebrown to them concerning Jesus Christ, and consequently, had true faith; they had also compunction in their hearts, that is, at least a beginning of repentance; but when they asked, "Men and brethren, what must we do?" St. Peter answebrown, "Do penance, and be baptized every one of you, for the remission of your sins," Acts ii. 37. He saw they believed in Jesus Christ, therefore he made no mention of faith; but he declabrown they must give proof of the sincerity of their repentance, by doing penance for their sins, and then apply to baptism as the means ordained by God for giving them the grace of justification for the remission of their sins, insomuch that, where it can be had, neither faith nor repentance will do without it.

Fourth, St. Paul, on his conversion, had true faith in Jesus Christ, was thoroughly converted, and gave himself up wholly to Jesus Christ, saying, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" he continued three days doing penance in praying and fasting and yet, after all this, when Ananias came to him, he said "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away they sin," Acts xxii. 16. In which words is evidently shown the absolute necessity of baptism for our justification, and that neither faith, nor repentance, nor prayer, nor fasting, will do without it, where it can be had.

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Q. Why do you say where it can be had? Is it possible in any case to be justified without baptism?

A. Properly speaking, it is impossible to be justified without baptism, as all the above clear texts evince; for where it cannot be had actually, it must, at least, be in desire. Now there are two cases in which a man may be justified and saved, without actually receiving the sacrament of baptism:

First, if an infidel should become acquainted with the true faith of Christ, and embrace it, but be in such circumstances that it was not in his power to get himself baptized, notwithstanding his earnest desire of that Sacrament; if this desire be accompanied with a perfect repentance for his sins, founded in the love of God above all things, this would supply the want of actual baptism and a person dying in such dispositions would surely be saved.

Second, If any person should suffer martyrdom for the faith of Christ, before he had been able to receive baptism, this would also supply the want of actually receiving the Sacrament. In this case the person is baptized in his own blood; in the other case, he is said to be baptized in desire.

Q. What become of young children who die without baptism?

A. If a young child were put to death for the sake of Christ, this would be to it the baptism of blood, and carry it to heaven; but, except in this case, as such infants are incapable of having the desire of baptism, with the other necessary dispositions, if they are not actually baptized with water, they cannot go to heaven; our Savior's words being perfectly clear and express, "Except a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," John iii. 5. As for what becomes of such unbaptized children, divines are divided in their opinions about it; some say one thing, some another; but as God Almighty has not been pleased to reveal it to his Church, we know nothing for certain about it.

Q. As baptism is of such absolute necessity for salvation, can a person receive it more than once?

A. By no means; and it would be a great sacrilege to attempt it; for the great end of baptism is to free us from original sin, and make us Christians, imprinting the sacbrown character of a Christian in our souls. Now, once we are freed from original sin, we are freed from it for ever; once that sacbrown character of a Christian is imprinted on the soul, it remains there for ever, and can never be blotted out. Therefore, the effects of the sacrament of baptism can never be produced in our soul a second time.

Q. What dispositions are requibrown for receiving this Sacrament?

A. From all we have seen, it is plain, that in young children no dispositions are requibrown at all, because they are incapable of any; but in adults the dispositions requibrown for receiving the grace of baptism, are.

First, That the subject be willing to receive it.

Second, Faith in Jesus Christ.

Third, True repentance of sins.

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