Why I am catholic ……. baptism
Growing up in Wyoming I saw people being baptized in a variety of places; lakes, creeks, ponds, horse troughs as well as in a conventional church big baptismal bathtub (they are a virtual swimming pool!). Now was raised in, and this is how it is described, a non-denominational church which believes in a full immersion baptism only, hence baptisms in horse troughs (and I chose to believe it was always fresh water in them, probably not though). Now I do believe in baptism and do believe that if one is able to be baptized that it should be done. And as I was raised, I believed in a full immersion baptism only which included that you HAD to be baptized or else you were in big trouble mister (yes really Big Trouble!).
Baptism is the first sacrament that you receive whether you are catholic or not. What is a sacrament? An outward sign of God’s grace. God’s puts His grace out there like an all you can eat buffet and all we have to do is dig in! or if you need a more visual description think of those bubbles you blew as a kid ( grown-ups love them too!) and how you had to reach out, oh so carefully, to catch them in your hand and when you did you shouted OUT for JOY!! so all could hear and SEE that you did it!!! When you are baptised either as a baby, child, teenager or adult – you have the same feeling, you want to shout OUT for JOY! When we have a baptism in the church we all sing out “ALLELUIA!” and applaud! (this is true for a baby, child, teenager or adult!). All of us feel that joy and want to shout it out for all to hear!!
I find the explanation in Wikipedia very interesting for the description of baptism: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ****
In Christianity, baptism (from the Greek noun Βάπτισμα baptisma; itself derived from baptismos, washing) is for the majority the rite of admission (or adoption), almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition. Baptism has been called a sacrament and an ordinance of Jesus Christ.
The New Testament reports that Jesus himself was baptized. The usual form of baptism among the earliest Christians was for the candidate to be immersed totally (submersion) or partially (standing or kneeling in water while water was poured on him or her). While John the Baptist‘s use of a deep river for his baptism suggests immersion, pictorial and archaeological evidence of Christian baptism from the 3rd century onward indicates that a normal form was to have the candidate stand in water while water was poured over the upper body. Other common forms of baptism now in use include pouring water three times on the forehead.
Martyrdom was identified early in Church history as “baptism by blood”, enabling martyrs who had not been baptized by water to be saved. Later, the Catholic Church identified a baptism of desire, by which those preparing for baptism who die before actually receiving the sacrament are considered saved. As evidenced also in the common Christian practice of infant baptism, baptism was universally seen by Christians as in some sense necessary for salvation, until Huldrych Zwingli in the 16th century denied its necessity. **** (a little overkill, but editing seemed to time consuming)
The last entry is interesting that this priest may have inspired Martin Luther to defect as well. But back to baptism. Some do not believe that babies or children that are not at the “age of reason” should be baptized for it is not necessary as Huldrych Zwingli had indicated. But let us look upon sacred scripture then (for you bible only lovers); Acts 16:33: “and he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.” I Corinthians 1:16: “now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas.”
Now some of you may say that “households” did not include babies. Let me ask you this, when you decide to go to church do you take your babies with you? Yes? Well that is actually good news for one; I think it is illegal in 50 states to leave them home alone and did they tell you they wanted to go or did you decide for them and think that it was in their best interest to start learning the faith as early as possible? If we help our babies grow up by feeding them a healthy meal it also includes a healthy spritual meal as well. If we provide clothing for our children throughout their years should we not cover them with God’s gifts of grace throughout their years as well?
So I believe that I have finally developed a better answer to those who question the baptizing of infants: “Yeah – I know our baby would do better when we feed and cloth them but they will learn and choose on their own”