BAPTISM: Excerpts from various sources.
Fr. John Hardon THE QUESTION AND ANSWER CATECHISM
IS BAPTISM OF WATER NECESSARY FOR SALVATION? It is commonly taught by the Church that baptism of water is necessary for salvation for those who have not reached the use of reason.
WHAT IS BAPTISM OF DESIRE? Baptism of desire is the implicit desire for baptism of water by a person who makes an act of perfect love of God, based on faith and with a sincere sorrow for one's sins. Such was the case in the Acts of the Apostles, when Peter encountered pagans who, moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit, proclaimed the greatness of God. "Peter himself then said, 'Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these people, now they have received the Holy Spirit....?'" (Acts 10:46-47).
IS BAPTISM OF DESIRE A SACRAMENT? Baptism of desire is not a sacrament; it does not imprint the baptismal character or enable a person to receive the other sacraments. Nevertheless, it does confer sanctifying grace.
WHAT IS THE FATE OF UNBAPTIZED INFANTS? The fate of the unbaptized infants is left to the mercy of God. It is generally taught that the souls of those who depart this life with original sin on their souls, but without actual sin, go to limbo.
WHAT IS LIMBO? According to St. Thomas, limbo is a place of perfect natural happiness but without the supernatural vision jof God to which we have no natural right.
------------ St. Thomas Aquinas WHETHER ALL ARE BOUND TO RECEIVE BAPTISM? Question 68, First Article
It is written: "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Again it is stated in "De Eccl. Dogmat." xli, that we believe the way of salvation to be open to those only who are baptized.
I answer that, Men are bound to that without which they cannot obtain salvation but through Christ: wherefore the Apostle says (Rom. v. 18): "As by the offense of one unto all men unto condemnation; so also by the justice of one, unto all men unto justification of life." But for this end is Baptism conferred on a man, that being regenerated thereby, he may be incorporated in Christ, by becoming His member: wherefore it is written (Gal. iii. 27): "As many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ." Consequently it is manifest that all are bound to be baptized: and that without Baptism there is no salvation for men.
----------- Rev. Francis Spirago THE CATECHISM EXPLAINED
If baptism by water is impossible, it may be replaced by the baptism of desire, or by the baptism of blood, as in the case of those who suffer martyrdom for the faith of Christ.
The Emperor Valentinian II was on the way to Milan to be baptized when he was assassinated; St. Ambrose said of him that his desire had been the means of his cleansing. The patriarchs, prophets and holy men of the Old Testament had the baptism of desire; their love of God was ardent, and they wished to do all that He commands. God accepts the will for the deed; in this He manifests His super-abundant loving kindness. But all the temporal penalties of sin are not remitted by the baptism of desire. Martyrdom for Christ's sake is the baptism of blodd. This the holy innocents received, and the Church commemorates them as saints. All unbaptized persons who suffer martyrdom for the Christian faith, for some act of Christian virtue, or the fulfilment of a Christian duty, also received the baptism of blood. Witness St. John Baptist; or St. Emerentiana, who while yet a catechumen, was found by the pagans praying at St. Agnes' tomb, and was put ton death by them. The Church does not pray for the unbaptized who suffer death for Christ; for He Himself says, "He that shall lose his life for Me, shall find it." (Matt. x. 39).
------------ Fr. John Hardon's MODERN CATHOLIC DICTIONARY
INFANT BAPTISM. The Catholic Church's constant teaching is that children should be baptized soon after birth. The reason being that a child is born with original sin, which, in God's ordinary providence, cannot be removed before the age of reason except by baptism with water. Through baptism an infant receives sanctifying grace, the infused virtures of faith, hope, and charity, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
INFANTS, UNBAPTIZED. The common teaching of the Catholic Church is that unbaptized infants who die do not enjoy the beatific vision but enter into a state of perfect natural happiness, commonly called limbo.
----------- CATECHISM OF THE COUNSEL OF TRENT
BAPTISM OF INFANTS SHOULD NOT BE DELAYED
The faithful are earnestly to be exhorted to take care that their children be brought to the church, as soon as it can be done with safety, to receive solemn Baptism. Since infant children have no other means of salvation except Baptism, we may easily understand how grievously those persons sin who permit them to remain without the grace of the Sacrament longer than necessity may require, particularly at an age so tender as to be exposed to numberless dangers of death.
------------ Dr. Ludwig Ott FUNDAMENTALS OF CATHOLIC DOGMA
4. The Necessity of Baptism
1. Necessity of Baptism for Salvation
Baptism by water (Baptismus fluminis) is, Since the promulgation of the Gospel, necessary for all men without exception, for salvation. (De fide.)
The Council of Trent declared against the Reformers, whose idea of justification led them to deny it, the necessity of Baptism for salvation: Si quis dixerit, baptismum liberum esse, hoc est non necessarium ad salutem, A.S. D 861 Cf. D 791. As to the moment of the beginning of the baptismal obligation, the Council of Trent declared that after the promulgation of the Gospel B (post Evangelium promulgatum) there could be no justification without Baptism or the desire for the same. D 796. The necessity of Baptism for salvation is, according to John 3, 5 and Mk. 16, 16, a necessity of means (necessitas medii), and, according to Mt. 28, 19, also a necessity or precept (necessitas praecepti). The necessity of means does not derive from the | intrinsic nature of the Sacrament itself, but from the designation of Baptism as an indispensable means of salvation by a positive ordinance of God. In J special circumstances the actual use of the prescribed means can be dispensed with (hypothetical necessity).
Tradition, in view of John 3, 5, strongly stresses the necessity of Baptism for salvation. Tertullian, invoking these words, observes: " It is determined by law that nobody can be saved without baptism " (De bapt. 12, I). Cf. Pastor Hermae, Sim. IX 16.
2. Substitutes for Sacramental Baptism
In case of emergency Baptism by water can be replaced by Baptism of desire or Baptism by blood. (Sent. fidei prox.)
a) Baptism of desire (Baptismus flaminis sive Spiritus Sancti) Baptism of desire is the explicit or implicit desire for sacramental baptism (votum baptismi) associated with perfect contrition (contrition based on charity). The Council of Trent teaches that justification from original sin is not possible " without the washing unto regeneration or the desire for the same."
According to the teaching of Holy Writ, perfect love possesses justifying power. Luke 7, 47: "Many sins are forgiven her because she hath loved much." John 14, 21: " He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father: l and I will love him and will manifest myself to him." Luke 23, 43 " This , day thou shalt be with me in Paradise."
The chief witnesses from Tradition are St. Ambrose and St. Augustine. In the funeral oration on the Emperor Valentine II, who died without Baptism, St. Ambrose says: " Should he not acquire the grace for which he longed? Certainly: As he desired it, he has attained it . . . His pious desire has absolved him " (De obitu Valent. 51, 53). St. Augustine declared: " I find that not only suffering for the sake of Christ can replace that which is lacking in Baptism, but also faith and conversion of the heart (fidem conversionemque cordis), if perhaps the shortness of the time does not permit the celebration of the mystery , of Baptism " (De bapt. IV 22, 29). In the period of early Scholasticism St. ! Bernard of Clairvaux (Ep. 77 c. 2 n. 6-9), Hugo of St. Victor (De sacr. 116, 7) and the Summa Sententiarum (V 5) defended the possibility of Baptism of desire against Peter Abelard. Cf. S. th. III 68, 2. Baptism of desire works ex opere operantis. It bestows Sanctifying Grace, which remits original sin, all actual sins, and the eternal punishments for sin. Venial sins and temporal punishments for sin are remitted according to the intensity of the subjective disposition. The baptismal character is not imprinted nor is it the gateway to the other sacraments.
b) Baptism of blood (baptismus sanguinis)
Baptism of blood signifies martyrdom of an umbaptised person, that is, the patient bearing of a violent death or of an assault which of its nature leads to death, by reason of one's confession of the Christian faith, or one's practice of Christian virtue.