Pop Trends Columnist
Wednesday, March 2, marked the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent, a time for Catholics to unite in prayer, almsgiving and fasting in preparation for the Lord’s resurrection. Lent is a season of repentance, a time for us to establish new, healthier habits and clean out some of our go-to vices.
In order to truly repent, one must perform a kind of deep dive into what they believe and why. So, why not begin with investigating where it all began: the meaning of your own Baptism.
Over this past weekend, I stumbled upon a question posed to me surrounding the idea of Baptism, specifically pertaining to the Catholic Church.
“Why baptize your children when they’re infants? Don’t parents want their kids to choose to follow Jesus for themselves? Why not wait until they are old enough to understand Baptism and all it has to offer? That way, they could more expertly cultivate a relationship with our Lord.”
I’ll be honest, the question stumped me. I am no catechetics major, and I’m sure there is someone out there outside of the five people who pick up the school newspaper every week who is frantically raising his hand in class right at this moment in attempt to answer this question. But let’s take Franciscan cultural context completely out of the picture for a second and review this.
The question posed above is how many evangelical churches, starting in the 16th century, started to view Baptism. According to this Christian ideal of believers’ Baptism, Baptism is a personal proclamation of faith. It is one’s way to say to God, “I am yours. I’ve come to believe in your gospel, I’ve repented of my sins, and now I am getting baptized to show the world that I belong to you.”
Through this paradigm of thought, of course Baptism could not be done to an infant. Infants cannot give their personal decree of belief in Jesus Christ. This is the perspective of most non-Catholics.
Now, could we really consider ourselves either Catholic apologists or people who understand the truth of the importance of infant baptism for ourselves without reflecting on how we view Baptism? Does this not involve our personal call to evangelization this Lent?
According to those who support infant baptism, the Catholic church included, Baptism is God’s way of saying “you are mine.” In other words, baptism is a sign of God’s covenant with us. All throughout the Bible, when God makes a covenant with a parent, he is also making that covenant with the children.
The logical follow-up question here is, “On what basis does the Church believe that the faith of one person, meaning the parent, may be effective on behalf of someone else, meaning the child?”
To that, the Scriptures are filled with examples in which Jesus extends healing grace to people based on the faith of others. Baptism is a perfect example of Catholic doctrine built off of a Scriptural basis, reflecting sacred tradition at work.
Now that we’ve explored and explained this one aspect of Catholicism, we all are one step closer to being able to answer the questions of those non-Catholics in our lives. Who knows? Maybe this slight shift in perspective will turn some heads.