Why Baptism? - Rita Byrne - 16 Nov 01

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Experience into Words : One Thread

Why do we have our children baptised?. Is it:(a) A ritual whereby we give names to our children?.. (b) A way of insuring that they belong to our faith system. (c) To remove the original sin from their souls,as we were taught; but then Jesus went to John at the Jordan and was baptised by him, and Jesus had no original sin. So why baptise our children, or why was Jesus baptised? Rita.

-- Anonymous, November 16, 2001


Rita: On Baptism... I think the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Veritas) is a good general outline of Catholic Theology and can be a good starting point for reflecting on some matters.

Jesus was baptised because he asked to be. And what was it?... "No sooner had he come up out of the water than he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit, like a dove, descending on him. And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.' " (Mark, 1: 10-11). I think all of us come up out of the waters of baptism in him, and the heavens are open above us. There is no more separation, no barrier any more between us and God. And the Spirit is upon us and the heavenly voice says to us 'You are my son (in the Son), you are my daughter (in the Son); my favour rests on you'. We invite one another into baptism so as to stand in that place, so as to be in that place of favour. And it is to bring our children into it that we get them baptised.

But then, as always, there is much else going on: we are passionate, entangled creatures with our individual history. We often get involved in the sacraments without being aware of their sweep and power; we separate the official sacraments of initiation and transition from any initiation and transition we feel... It is not easy anywhere to link our experience of initiation and transition with an actual ceremony celebrating initiation and transition. And then we undervalue the celebration and we look elsewhere for an experiential initiation and transition...

The challenge for celebrating Christians is to link their current, deepening experience with the sacramental celebrations of deepening. If it is in Christ that we go into the deepest depths and are raised to the greatest heights, then: how great the day on which I was baptised into him!--and what a journey now to come to see that, to come to know it and live it ongoingly in my heart-beat and in my bones!

-- Anonymous, November 26, 2001

As far as I can see, baptism is mainly about welcoming the child into the church community, making them a part of the Christian family. And bringing them into union with believers all over the world, and the nearest ones in their parents.

And there's the Paschal mystery in it too - death to new life, that original sin thing (ouch) where in baptism they are reborn into new life with Christ and the church. Triumph over death, redemption through Christ - hope for the child, family and church.

But original sin makes me question.... how can such an innocent beautiful being, created in image and likeness of God, have a deposit of sin? My god-daughter, when she was born, seemed like such a delicate girl, full of beauty and wonder and joy. It's hard to think of her as having evil within her. Especially if you tend to accept that we are fundamentally good, in the core of our being, which is probably the case with many theologians and pastoral people today (and me!). Otherwise, original sin fits in with an idea that there's something wrong with us right from the start, that needs fixing all our life... or does it? And that could possibly lead to fatalism, guilt, and I reckon there's been too much of that...

Or is there some in-between which allows for original sin but doesn't condemn people right from the start? Is it a cop-out solution?

There's much more to baptism, but they'd be my main thoughts on it for now.

-- Anonymous, November 23, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ