By: Danilo Acquisto

It was a regular Sunday evening at youth and we were guiding our teenagers through a very basic understanding of Jesus and the poor. All of a sudden, in our small group time, I was asked a side-winder that at first seemed really simple, but once unpacked left me a bit bamboozled. Luckily for me (and for you) I hit the internet, my catechism and a few priest friends and I was put at ease that what I had been taught was in fact true and I could go back to the teenager and the group at large and settle the matter with love and confidence.

The question that opened up the can of worms was whether all baptisms were the same (i.e. did the Catholic Church recognise all other baptisms?) And why it was that we are baptised as infants when we don’t really have a choice – seems like a bit of freedom being taken away from us, right?!… Wrong!

I am not going to bore you with a whole long article because I think that in fact, it’s actually quite simple… God loves us and wants us to be part of the kingdom and Baptism is therefore such a blessing.

The Catholic Church recognises “… One baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” So does that mean that if I was baptised in another church that I am not, in fact, baptised? No! The Church recognises that anyone baptised with water and ‘in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’ is baptised. This is important to realise because, through baptism, every denomination (who perform baptism in the way recognised above) is united in Christ and welcomed into God’s family. How beautiful is that? Just look at what the Catechism describes as baptism:

“Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as children of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.” Catechism of the Catholic Church (1213)

And to the question of WHO can be baptised: “Every person not yet baptized and only such a person is able to be baptized.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church (1246)

Let’s unpack this briefly… This paragraph in the Catechism makes it clear that only if you have not yet been baptised, may you be baptised – which negates the need for a second baptism. Baptism is a ‘once-and-for-all’ kind of an event – leaving an indelible mark on your soul. If your baptism was perhaps not valid as a child, I would have no doubt that being baptised properly is a must, but only if that has been properly investigated. Otherwise are we not saying to God “Thanks for the incredible gift I was given, but I don’t quite trust You and don’t think it worked so I’m going to try again”.

Hopefully by now you would have realised how beautiful the gift of baptism is, so let’s turn our attention to why we baptise kids as infants… To say that because you are not conscious of what is going on as an infant, you cannot possibly be properly baptised (it wasn’t your choice) is like saying that being born isn’t actually real because the baby wasn’t conscious of what was going on while they were being birthed. Being born is valid whether you’re conscious of it or not. Aren’t we glad that our parents gave life to us? Even though we were so vulnerable and unaware of what was going on, we received it gratefully and as just that – the gift of life? This is similar to baptism – we cannot ignore what is happening on a supernatural level when we are baptised into communion with Christ. We should see it as a precious gift that our parents and godparents made possible for us.

As Catholics, in some way, our baptism is completed in confirmation where we do get to make our choice and reaffirm our baptismal promises. Baptism opens the door to the other sacraments and a life as a Child of the Father. Wouldn’t we want this gift as soon as possible for ourselves and those we love?

If any of this is still a bit fuzzy for you, take a look at Bishop Robert Barron’s thoughts on the sacrament:

11430097_1640475269500809_6428364713345833448_n-e1447690503946-289x300About the Author:

Danilo Acquisto

I am a 24-year-old  busy-body to put it simply. I work on national TV as a television presenter and have 2 radio shows and I love exploring various forms of ministry. Food is definitely my weak point. I live in beautiful Cape Town and have a BA in Law and Sociology. I have a passion for people and digital media (a bit of a contrast, I know). I am ADD and I LOVE it. Look there goes a bunny. Oh and being Catholic was the best gift my parents could have given me. I dont know how I would have made it through the world (never mind the world of media) without a strong Church Community.