explain the catholic faith
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Unity of Christians
"In the beginning God created the heavens
and the earth. The earth was without form
and void, and darkness was upon the face of
the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving
over the face of the waters." [Genesis 1:1-2]
I just thought we should start at the beginning!
The Apostles and the Fathers, saw the hovering of the Spirit of God over the primitive waters
as the (baptismal consecration of water). (TR) Feb. 14.
In Genesis 1:1-2 and Matthew 3:16 the Spirit of God descends on water - the seas of the
formless earth in the first case and the water's of the Jordan River at Christ's baptism in the
second. At first glance, that is the only correspondence between the two passages. However,
further reading and reflection reveal that these are the only two places in Scripture that
describe the Spirit of God moving over water. Because the Old Testament points to the New,
and we have found a unique correspondence between these two passages, it seems
reasonable to conclude that the Genesis passage is meant to help us interpret the passage
in Matthew.
. . . The description of the original creation of the world foreshadows the new creation we
become through the sacrament of baptism. . . . Just as creation was "baptized" into existence,
so we must be baptized in order to become a new creation in Christ Jesus. . . . In this
baptismal re-generation, God adopts us as His child, a beloved son or daughter in whom He
is well pleased, and brings us into union with Him. Thus the story of creation in Genesis tells
us that, from the very beginning, even before God formed man, God always intended created
man to be in unity with Him, and that He accomplishes this unity through baptism.


There are so many aspects of Baptism, and also, so many interrelated questions, such as
Justification, that it is hard to know where to begin. Fr. George already covered an overview
of the sacraments. So, I think for now, I will go over the definition of Baptism, and some
related concepts and then just go right into my talk.
Becoming a child of God.
A sacrament of the New Covenant instituted by
Jesus Christ, in which, as a result of washing with
water accompanied by the words "I baptize thee, in
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the
Holy Spirit," a human being is spiritually
regenerated, and made capable of receiving the
other sacraments. It imprints a "character" [or
"seal"] on the soul and admits the recipient to
membership in the Catholic Church of Christ [the
New Israel].
The matter of Baptism is natural water and its application so as to flow on the head; the form is
the above or similar words. The ordinary minister is the priest but baptism by a lay person is
valid. [Baptism is so vital - that God allows anyone to baptize... even one not baptized himself,
provided he intends to do what the Church does. By it a child or adult is united to the visible
body of the Church and so remains until he performs any act, which involves his exclusion
therefrom. Baptism by water, blood or desire is necessary for salvation. (1 Samuel 16:7; 1
Chronicles 29:17; Romans 2:29, 10:9; Heb. 5:12; Rev. 2:23)
The freeing of the soul from the bonds of sin and its consequences and the attainment of the
everlasting vision of God in Heaven...
In the active sense, Justification is the act of God declaring and making a person just; in its
passive sense, it is the change in a soul which passes from the state of sin to that of
sanctifying grace or justice.
Baptism confers the grace of justification. (De fide.)
Justification consists, negatively, in the remission of sin, positively, in the sanctification and
renewal of the inner man.
So, Baptism, provided that the proper dispositions (Faith and sorrow for sin) are present,
effects the eradication of sin, both original sin and, in the case of adults, also personal,
mortal or venial sins.
Inner sanctification by the infusion of sanctifying grace, with which the infused theological
and moral virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are joined.
According to Scripture, Baptism has the power of both eradicating sin and of effecting inner
sanctification. Acts 2:38: "And Peter said to them: "Repent, and be baptized everyone of you
in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of
the Holy Spirit."
1 Cor. 6:11: "But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the
Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God."
Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3 ff; Titus 3:5: "he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in
righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in
the Holy Spirit,".
John 3:5; "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot
enter the kingdom of God." 1 John 3:9, 5:18.
Baptism was prefigured in the Old Covenant, according to the teaching of the Apostles and
the Fathers: The Flood (1 Peter 3:20 ff.) Circumcision (Col. 2:11 ff) The march through the
Red Sea
(1 Cor. 10:2)
A formal prophecy of Baptism is found in Ezekiel 36:25, "I will sprinkle clean water upon you,
and you shall be made clean from all your uncleanesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse
you.'' See also, Is. 1:16 ff., 4:4; Zach. 13:1.
Christ had himself baptized by John in the Jordan (Mt. 3:13ff.) Notice that here we have the
Jesus being baptized, the Holy Spirit descending "like a dove" and the Heavenly Father
speaking: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."  

Jesus gave His disciples the mandate to administer Baptism (Jn. 4:2). He explained to
Nicodemus the nature and the necessity of Baptism (Jn. 3:3-5), and before His Ascension
gave His Apostles a universal mandate to baptize (Mt. 28:19).
John 3:5: "unless one is born anew, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."

Matthew 28:18-19: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore
and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit".
Mark 16:15-16: "Go into the world and preach the gospel to the whole of creation. He who
believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."

From the Scriptures of John 3:5 & Matthew 28:19 all the elements of the New
Testament concept of the Sacrament can be derived.
Baptism appears as an
outward sign of grace, consisting of ablution with water and the invocation of the Three
Divine Persons; it effects inward grace, namely re-birth, and is ordained for all time by Christ.

The Apostles fulfilled the mandate to baptize:
Acts 2:38, 41, 8:12 ff., 8:36 ff., 9:18, 10:47 ff., 16:15, 33, 18:8, 19:5; 1 Cor. 1:14 ff.

"Sanctifying Grace is what we need to become holy. Sanctifying Grace, and that
alone will get us into heaven,".
Scripture says, we need to be Holy to get into heaven:
Hebrews 12:14: "Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will
see the Lord."
Revelation 21:27: "Nothing unclean shall enter it," [Heaven].

"The Reformers saw justification as a mere legal act by which God declares the sinner
to be meriting heaven even though he remains in fact unjust and sinful. It is not a real
eradication of sin, but a covering or nonimputation. It is not an inner renewal and a real
sanctification, only an external application of Christ's justice." We can see from the above
study that this idea is not Scriptural.
Furthermore, I would like to point out Matthew 23:27-28, "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within
they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear
righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity." Jesus is clearly saying:
"that if you are only clean on the outside and not on the inside, you are in trouble!"
[To the Reformers way of thinking:] "The soul remains the same." Whether one has led a
good life or a clearly wicked one, the soul is depraved, worthless, unable to stand on its own
before God; it is a bottomless pit of sin, and a few more sins thrown in will not change its
nature, just as taking a cleaning compound to it will not make it shine in the least. For [some],
sanctifying grace is a figment of Catholic's imaginations. Accepting Christ accomplishes one
thing and one thing only. It makes God cover one's sinfulness. It makes him turn a blind eye
to it. It is as though he hides a soul under a cloak. Any soul under this cloak is admitted to
heaven, no matter how putrescent the reality beneath; no one without the cloak, no matter
how pristine, can enter the pearly gates."

{The Biblical way of thinking) When God "declares" something, such as "declaring the
sinner to be righteous" and so meriting heaven. It is not merely a "covering", but in
"declaring" something to be so,
For example: "And God said: "Let there be light"; and there was light." [Genesis 1:3] If God
said to Greg: "You are a woman", it would happen instantly! "So shall my word be that goes
forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I
purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it." [Isaiah 55:11]

Luke 1:59, "And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child;" Circumcision was a rite
established by God under the Old Covenant to mark out those who belonged to his chosen
people: he commanded Abraham to institute circumcision as a sign of the Covenant he had
made with him and all his descendants (cf. Gen 17:10-14), prescribing that it should be done
on the eighth day after birth. The rite was performed either at home or in the synagogue,
and, in addition to the actual circumcision, the ceremony included prayers naming the child.
With the institution of Christian Baptism the commandment to circumcise ceased to apply!
(me) We have the Old Covenant giving way to the New Covenant! Jesus and His Church
carrying on where His Father left off!
At the Council of Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15) "But some men came down from Judea and were
teaching the bretheren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you
can not be saved." The Apostles (Peter in particular, Acts 10, 11, 15), definitively declared
that those entering the Church had no need to be circumcised.
St. Paul's explicit teaching on the irrelevance of circumcision in the context of the New
Alliance (New Covenant) established by Christ is to be found in:
Galatians 5:2; "Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no
advantage to you."
Gal 6:12; "It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that would compel you to
be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ."
Colossians 2:11; "In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands,
by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ;".
READ: Col 2:8-13; (me) notice in v. 8 Paul mentions "human tradition", we know that
"circumcision" is a "good tradition" given by God to the Jews in Genesis, but now "in Christ"
we find the fulfillment of that command! Some would accuse the Catholic Church of making a
big deal out of Baptism, they say that although it is good to do, it is not necessary for
salvation, [see Mk 16:16] "He who believes and is baptized will be saved".
If as St. Paul is pointing out; Baptism is the replacement of circumcision, and Baptism is the
fulfillment of the Old Covenant rite of circumcision as he says above, then it would seem that
according to Scripture; Baptism is necessary!
Another objection is, that since a child, especially an infant, has not arrived at the age of
reason it can not and should not be Baptized. Again, if Baptism is fulfilling the rite of
circumcision done on the eighth day then according to Scripture, we can see that the
Catholic Church is the "True Bible Church"! One other point needs to be made before we
move on: There are some who say that the Catholic Church follows the "traditions of men" or
"human traditions" as St. Paul puts it. Are we? Are there only "human traditions" or are there
both "good" meaning "Godly" and "bad" meaning "Human" traditions?
It would seem according to Mk 16:16, that Christ was instituting a "good" or "Godly tradition".
We see a further explanation of that institution by St. Paul in his letter to the Colossians. St.
Paul continues with this line of thought in his 2nd Letter to the Thessalonians 2:15;
"Therefore, stand firm, hold fast, to the "traditions" which you were taught by us either by
word of mouth or by letter."        

Again, we see, according to the Scriptures that the teachings of the Catholic Church
are never refuted by Sacred Scripture!

"It is not often admitted by [some] that nowhere does the Bible actually say baptism is to be
restricted to adults. They just conclude that is what it should be taken as meaning."
[Their] position on infant baptism is a consequence not of the bible's strictures, but of the
logic of fundamentalism's notion of salvation. Although the Bible is not as clear on the issue
as we might wish, certainly what it says leans toward the Catholic position, which is seconded
by early Christian writings and practice. [They] ignore all that because they must preserve
their concept of how salvation is obtained. They see salvation as coming not through an
infusion of grace, which is the Catholic/Biblical position, but through an acceptance of Jesus
as one's personal Lord and Savior. Since only an adult can be saved this way, they conclude
that baptism is wasted on infants and young children - thus their opposition to the Catholic


Q. If Justification is by Baptism, why didn't Jesus baptize anyone (John 4:2)?
A. Perhaps, when you are in charge, you just let other people take care of some duties. For
example: Acts 10:48 where we see Peter: "commanded them to be baptized in the name of
Jesus Christ."

Q. Why did Jesus tell the repentant thief on the cross, who was never baptized, "Truly, I say
to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise" (Lk. 23:43)?
A. By Baptism, grace enters the soul. One who, through no fault of his own, is not baptized,
may still receive it [Sanctifying Grace]; for the Church teaches that everyone who reaches
the use of reason is given by God sufficient actual grace to enable him, if he will, to lift his
soul in a movement of love to God and so receive from God sanctifying grace. In St.
Augustine's words, We are bound by the sacraments, God is not."
But Baptism is God's plan for us.

Q. Why did Cornelius and those who were with him receive the Holy Spirit before they were
baptized (Acts 10:44-48)?
A. Peter was the one in the early Church to make the decision to accept gentile converts into
the Church without being circumcised, he was following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. In
order for God to bring this about (allowing gentiles into the Church without circumcision) God
had to give His Spirit to Cornelius and his family in order for Peter to put two and two
together. The vision Acts 10:9-16; and the Holy Spirit falling v. 44, "on all who heard the
word". Peter didn't let God down, he announced in v. 47: "Can anyone forbid water for
baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" In chapter 11,
back at Jerusalem v. 2, "the circumcision party criticized him" he answered v. 17, "If then God
gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who
was I that I could withstand God?"
God was making a point!

Q. Why did Paul say: "For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel,"
A. In v. 10, Paul is begging the believers to "agree and [let] there be no dissension among
you, but be ...united in the same mind and the same judgment". There are still those who
would cause disunity in the Body of Christ, in the Church established by Jesus, which is the
"pillar and bulwark of truth" (1 Timothy 2:15). Paul is addressing a pastoral concern among
the Corinthians. He mentions that they need to be united in mind and judgment. He mentions
that every one of them has been baptized v. 13. He also mentions that he has baptized some
of them, but since they are being so childish about their new found faith he is glad that he
only baptized "Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say they were baptized in my name."
(Vv. 14-15) Paul also mentions here that he baptized a "household" v. 16, which infers that
he baptized children and even infants!
Paul is not addressing the need for baptism here, he is addressing the need for unity!

Q. Why is baptism left out of so many verses explaining salvation, such as "For I am not
ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith."
(Romans 1:16)
A. We know that there are many verses in Scripture that have only part of a teaching, that is
why it is necessary to teach the whole Bible and the Oral Tradition of the Church, just as
Jesus and the Apostles did.
(1 Cor. 10 {the "rock" in the dessert following the Jews, is not found in the Old Testament};
Jude 8-9; Mt. 23:2 {"Moses' Seat not in Old Testament}; 2 Thess. 2:15) For example Romans
2:6-11: "For he will render to every man according to his works:" There is no mention of the
need for faith here, by the same reasoning faith would not be necessary for salvation!

Q. If the person receiving baptism normally needs to repent and acknowledge Jesus as Lord,
living a new life, how can an infant be baptized?
A. The Catholic Church teaches, "The faith of the priest, parents, and godparents justifies
the infant in baptism." In the Acts of the Apostles 2:38-39: "And Peter said to them: "Repent,
and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and your children..."
1 Cor. 1:16; Acts 16:15, 33, 18:8, 11:14 - "household"
God's general wish for salvation 1 Timothy 2:4, Matthew 19:14 (infants included), the
necessity of Baptism for salvation John 3:5.

Q. How can a baby be a Christian merely because someone has baptized it?
A. Consider the parallel relationship between a baby and its parents. This is very definitely a
personal relationship, and one which the child has with the parents even before being able to
conceptualize what parents are.
The parents love and care for the child, providing for its needs, protecting it from danger,
and comforting it when it is distressed, even before the child is able to reciprocate in the
relationship or understand the nature of its parents.
The child has a very definite relationship with them - it is their child- even though it cannot
conceptualize them the way it will when it is a little older.
It is the same with a baby who is a child of God. The baby has a personal relationship with
God, one stronger then with its natural parents. Even though the baby cannot yet
conceptualize God, God loves the baby, caring for it, protecting it, and sending his blessings
upon it.
The baby, because it is God's child, has a personal relationship with God - it is his child. The
mistake made by many non-Catholics is assuming that a personal relationship always
involves the conscious interaction of both parties. It doesn't, as family situations at the
beginning of life (and often at the end of life) reveal.
All who have become Christians and thus children of God have a personal relationship with
him, even if they are not aware of it because of youth, mental of physical incapacity, or their
own neglect or forgetfulness of the relationship. They remain God's children just the same.
One objection to "Infant Baptism" is that the infant cannot acknowledge Jesus as their Lord
and Savior and so, they should not be baptized.
Modern research has shown that babies are "aware" in the womb. For example: They can tell
if their parents love them and want them. The Catholic teaching on Luke 1:44; "For behold,
when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy."
Although he was conceived in sin -original sin- like other men, St. John the Baptist was born
sinless because he was sanctified in his mother's womb by the presence of Jesus Christ
(then in Mary's womb) and of the Blessed Virgin. On receiving this grace of God St. John
rejoices by leaping with joy in his mother's womb - thereby fulfilling the archangel's prophecy
(cf. Lk 1:15)."he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb". It is unfair for
us to judge babies unacceptable for baptism simply because they react to God differently
than an adult!
Baptism is a grace from God; not something we do for God. Grace does not depend on our
intellectual achievements any more than it depends on any other achievement. To refuse
baptism to a baby on the grounds that "the child isn't able to understand what is happening"
is to presume that God gives grace only to those who are smart enough to figure out how to
get it. This is an implicit assumption of salvation by intellectual works specifically condemned
by Scripture and Catholic teaching.

Q. I've read that being "born again" or "born of water and the Spirit" (Jn. 3"3-5) refers to
baptism. My problem is 1 Peter 1:23: "You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but
of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God." What is responsible for the new
birth: the water of baptism or the word of God?
A. That is like asking which of your parents is responsible for your natural birth. Notice that
John 3 mentions the new birth in the context of feminine or maternal imagery (the mother's
womb), whereas 1 Peter gives a masculine or paternal image (the "seed" of the word of
God). The new birth is not water alone, nor the word alone, but the "washing of the water with
the word" (Eph. 5:26). They should be united, not pitted against one another. In fact, Peter's
readers had been led by hearing the word to embrace new birth in baptism. Their new birth
in baptism was the result of the word being implanted earlier - a spiritual "conception" in more
than one sense. Even if the images did conflict, this would not invalidate one or the other.
After all, Scripture sometimes uses the same image for different aspects of divine truth. The
Church is said to be built on the foundation of Christ (1 Cor. 3:11), the apostles and
prophets (Eph. 2:20; Rev. 21:14), and Peter in particular (Mt. 16:18). the image of the lion is
applied to both the devil and the Lord. There is no reason why birth imagery should not be
applied to both the water and the word. As it is, though, the happy complimentary of the two
images (paternal and maternal) powerfully brings out both aspects of the new birth.

Q. Being baptized is a useless work of man, it is not necessary for our salvation. How can
you say that it is necessary?
A. In the Gospel of Matthew, John the Baptist tries to stop Jesus from being baptized by him.
[Mt. 3:13-17] "Jesus said to him in reply, 'Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all


From the Scriptures of John 3:5 & Matthew 28:19 all the elements of the New Testament
concept of the Sacrament can be derived. Baptism appears as an outward sign of grace,
consisting of ablution with water and the invocation of the Three Divine Persons; it effects
inward grace, namely re-birth, and is ordained for all time by Christ.

(Romans 4:2-3] (ME) If we read down to v. 9, we will see the real reason that St. Paul brings
up this section of Genesis. Paul was arguing against the Jewish idea that because they were
"sons of Abraham" they were saved. They believed, and rightly so, that they came into the
"Covenant" through "circumcision" [Genesis 17:11]. This is another reason why St. Paul's
Letter to Colossians, where he talks about BAPTISM replacing circumcision is so important!
In v. 9 of Romans 4 we see that Paul is showing the Jews that their "father Abraham" was
actually "saved" before he was circumcised"! This would have rocked the very foundations of
the Hebrew community! He is speaking against the "work" of circumcision here! If we read v.
11, we see that circumcision was a "seal" or a "sign" of the righteousness he had - and the
Church teaches that the water & the Holy Oil used at Baptism is an outward "sign" of the
righteousness given to us as a free gift by God, and that we are "sealed" to God! In v. 12 we
see that Christians are to follow the "example of faith".

Sanctifying Grace: (CE) According to Scripture, Baptism makes a person a new creation,
through a rebirth and communication of the Holy Spirit [2 Peter 1:4]. [...] It is lost through
mortal sin [Romans 8:12] (but restored in the sacrament of Penance [John 20:21]) and can
be increased by good works [James 2:24] and the reception of the sacraments [John 6:53].

THEOLOGICAL VIRTUES: Faith, hope and love. Supernatural gifts enabling man to attain
his final destiny.
MORAL VIRTUES: Prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. The moral virtues enable us
to easily perform good actions inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Theology for Beginners, Frank J. Sheed
2) Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Dr. Ludwig Ott
3) The Gospel According to Rome, by James G. McCarthy
4) Catholic Dictionary, general editor Donald Attwater
Scott Hahn, tape series;
Philip Turgati, (ME)
7) Catholicism and Fundamentalism, Karl Keating
This Rock, apologetics magazine
9) The Navarre commentary on St. Luke
*Unless noted, all Scripture quotes are from the Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition,
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