« Prev Baptism and Confirmation Next »

§ 114. Baptism and Confirmation.

Baptism is the door to the other sacraments and to the kingdom of heaven.16401640    Janua omnium aliorum sacramentorum. Bonavent., Brevil. VII., Peltier’s ed., p. 318; Th. Aq., Summa, III. 62. 6, Migne, IV. 569; Supplem. XXXV. 1, Migne, IV. 1047.t is certain evidence that the heart is already regenerated. For the necessity of baptism, Thomas Aquinas and the other Schoolmen rely upon John 3:3, "Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Of all the sacraments the most necessary, baptism effects regeneration, nay, it is regeneration itself.16411641    Baptismus qui est regeneratio hominis in vitam spiritualem. Th. Aq., III. 66. 9; 67. 3; 68. 9; 72. 1, Migne, IV. 617, 626, 646, 678.16421642    Omne peccatum per baptismum tollitur. Th. Aq., 69. 1, Migne, p. 652. Baptismus institutus est contra vulnus originalis peccati. Alanus ab Insulis cont. haer., I. 39, 43, Migne, 210. 345, 347. ablution from guilt, and the freezing of water, to use the strange figure of Thomas Aquinas, the subtraction of all punishment. Baptism also has the positive effect of conferring grace, an effect which is symbolized by the clearness of water.

The validity of the sacrament requires the full use of the threefold name of the Trinity. Hugo of St. Victor differs from the later Schoolmen on this point, although in doubt whether the use of the name of Christ alone or the name of God alone be not sufficient. Bernard had allowed the use of the formula "I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the true and holy cross." These men wrote before the Fourth Lateran Council. Bonaventura and Thomas acknowledged that, in early times, the Church had often been satisfied with baptism into the name of Christ, the Trinity being, in such cases, understood. But since the deliverance of the Fourth Lateran, the omission of a single syllable from the trine formula invalidated baptism.16431643    Brevil. VI., Peltier’s ed., p. 318; Th. Aq., III. 66. 6, Migne, p. 611, quicquid desit ad plenam invocationem trinitatis tollit integritatem of salt were prescribed to be used in the solemnization of the rite. Exorcism expelled demons and prevented them from impeding the recipient’s salvation. Salt, put into the ears, signified the reception of the new doctrine, into the nostrils, its approbation, and into the mouth, confession. Oil signified the fitting of the recipient to fight demons.

The proper administrator of baptism is the priest, but, in cases of necessity, laymen may baptize, male or female, and parents may baptize their own children.16441644    They were allowed to use the vernacular in the ceremony. Synods of Treves, 1227, Mainz, 1233. And priests were instructed to teach laymen the baptismal ceremony in the vulgar tongue that they might use it if the exigency arose. Fritzlar, 1243, Hefele, V. 1099. A child taken from its mother after her death, and itself dead, was to be buried unbaptized in unconsecrated ground Treves, 1310. lawfully administer baptism, for Christ is free to use the agent he pleases, and it is he who baptizes inwardly, John 1:33. The main reason for allowing such baptism is to extend the limits of salvation as far as possible.16451645    Th. Aq., III. 67. 4 sq., Migne, IV. 628 sq.

Children are proper subjects of baptism because they are under the curse of Adam. As the mother nourishes her offspring in the womb before it can nourish itself, so in the bosom of mother Church infants are nourished, and they receive salvation through the act of the Church.16461646    Pueri non se ipsos sed per actum eccl. salutem suscipiunt. Th. Aq., III. 68. 9, Migne, 646; Bonavent., Brevil. VII. Peltier’s ed., VII. 320; Duns Scotus, see Seeberg, p. 360.ld cannot be baptized before it is born; it is of the essence of baptism that water be applied to the body.16471647    P. Lomb., IV. 6. 2, Migne, II. 853. Th. Aq., Migne, IV. 649, and Duns Scotus (Seeberg, p. 360) agree that if the head of the infant protrude from the womb, it may be baptized, for the head is the seat of the immortal agent.f the parents. Duns Scotus was an exception and permitted the forcible baptism of the children of Jews, yea of adult Jews.16481648    Th. Aq., Migne, IV. 648. One reason Duns gives is that the children of such Jews, if they are well educated, turn out to be good Christians (vere fideles) in the third and fourth generations. Seeberg, p. 364.

The definition of baptism excludes all unbaptized children, dying in infancy, from heaven. The question is discussed by that mystic and lovable divine, Hugo of St. Victor, whether the children of Christian parents may be saved who happen to be put to death in a city besieged by pagans and die unbaptized. He leaves it unanswered, remarking that there is "no authority for saying what will become of them."16491649    Summa, V. 6, Migne, 176. 132. infants whose mothers suffer martyrdom or blood baptism.16501650    In Sent., IV. 4, 3. 3, Paris ed., XVI. 406, 410.logians, as a relief from the agonizing thought that the children of non-Christian parents dying in infancy are lost and suffer conscious torment, elaborated the view that they are annihilated. It remained for a still later Protestant period to pronounce in favor of the salvation of all such children in view of the superabounding fullness of the atonement and our Lord’s words, "for of such is the kingdom of heaven."

Water is essential to baptism. The Schoolmen agreed that wine, oil, or other liquid will not do. Duns Scotus said in regard to baptism in beer that its validity would depend upon a scientific test whether the beer continued to be a species of water or not.16511651    Seeberg p. 359, Summa, III. 66. 7, Migne, IV. 613 sq.; P. Lomb., IV. 3, 8, Migne, II. 845; Bonav., Brevil. VII., Peltier’s ed., p. 319, Duns Scotus. In IV. Sent., vol. XVI. 272. Gregory IX., on being asked by the archbishop of Drontheim whether a certain baptism administered with beer was valid, water not being at hand, replied in the negative. Potthast, 11,048. The synod of Aurillac, 1278, pronouced sweet, salt, or melted snow water proper material.inas refers to it as the more general practice of his day and prefers it as the safer mode, as did also Bonaventura and Duns Scotus.16521652    Quamvis tutius sit baptizare per modum immersionis, potest tamen fieri baptismus per modum aspersionis vel etiam per modum effusionis. the immortal agent. Both trine immersion, the custom of the Greek Church, and single immersion are valid. Trine immersion symbolizes the three persons of the Trinity and the three days of the Lord’s burial; single immersion the unity of the Deity and the uniqueness of Christ’s death. Synods, as late as the synod of Tarragona, 1391, spoke of the submersion of children in baptism.

The sacrament of confirmation corresponds to the adult period as baptism does to the child period (1 Cor. 13:11). It completes, as it were, the earlier ordinance and confers the graces of strength and hardihood. The baptized thus become full Christians.16531653    Confirmatio est quasi ultima consummatio baptismi. Th. Aq., III. 72. 11, Migne, IV. 693 Christ or by the Apostles or by the councils of the Church. Thomas Aquinas took the view that it was founded by Christ, being implied in the promise of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7).

The rite is performed by the bishop, who is the successor of the Apostles, who uses the words, "I sign thee with the sign of the cross, I confirm thee with the chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Chrism, or sacred oil, which is the symbol of the Spirit, is applied, and the cross is signed upon the forehead, the most prominent part of the body.16541654    Th. Aq., III. 73. 9, quotes Ezek. 3:8, "I have made thy forehead hard against their foreheads." He commends the custom whereby the candidate for confirmation is supported by another, for "though he be an adult in body he is not yet an adult spiritually."

« Prev Baptism and Confirmation Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection