Why is the norm of adult initiation so important?

"Born Out of Water by Виталий Смолыгин | Public domain

10 thoughts on “Why is the norm of adult initiation so important?”

  1. If the Sacrament was completely dependent on the recipient I would say that adult initiation process should be the norm. However, Church teaching is that the Sacraments are efficacious on their own independent of the person. To be sure the Grace given by the Spirit needs to be responded to by the person as he/she grows, but it is far better to have the aid of the Holy Spirit already within us to fight the spiritual battles that come long before adulthood.

    From and experiential standpoint, my son chose to be Baptized (divorce situation) at the age of nine. He always struggled mightily against a propensity to steal. After his Baptism he was far more successful in his battle against it. In addition, I have observed that young folks who have not been Baptized seem to embrace their sinful nature more readily.

    Peace
    Chip Awalt

  2. Sheryl b. Zabel

    I am strongly in favor of “adult” initiation being the norm for the entire church. (I have put “adult” in quotes since I believe that seven years old should be the minimum age for Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.).

    Sometimes infant Baptism is treated like a provisional sacrament with Confirmation giving teenagers the opportunity to say “yes” to Jesus themselves. But is not Baptism a serious commitment to following Jesus on the part of the person being baptized?

    I can’t imagine that our church would stop baptizing infants and young children. But I wonder how things would be if infants were accepted into the Order of Catechumens instead.*

    *One warning from a former colleague who had been a Baptist: she told me that in the church where she grew up there was a lot of pressure on young people to have a personal encounter with Jesus at the age of 12 so that they could be baptized. Can we not trust the Holy Spirit?

  3. When the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults process and journey is being done to its fullest not only the catechumenate but the entire community is enriched by the experience.

  4. Hi, even though I am involved in my parish RCIA program, I wholeheartedly believe in infant baptism. The main reason being is to have the Holy Spirit bless them early in life. I believe that Baptism gives the infants a “hedge of protection” from the evil ones.
    I also believe that in the Book of Acts, when Peter and Paul were converting and Baptizing whole households, there was no mention of excluding children or infants, to me, that kind of sums it up. That being said, it should be emphasized to be fully catechised as they enter into adulthood.
    God Bless
    Raymond

  5. Biblically, isn’t it true that when the head or heads of a household were baptized, the entire family was included, as salvation was never a strictly individual endeavor? Just as with the Jewish people, salvation was being a part of the covenant people, you were “saved” if you will within and as part of a community. Circumcision at 8 days was a sure sign of this. “As for me and my household…”–Joshua. It’s inferred in Acts 10 that Cornelius and his whole household were baptized after the Holy Spirit fell on them and they were praying in tongues. It’s ultimately God’s initiative to graft people in or adopt them into God’s family and therefore infant baptism makes sense. The grace received can also “stack the deck” against the forces in this life that would like to upturn what God wishes to do in each soul.

    Another interesting side note is if complete cognition were the sole factor in accepting a candidate for the sacraments, that could exclude those who are mentally disabled. In fact, if we waited for everyone to understand the mysteries we celebrate before they could participate, there would be no Church!

    This of course is not to say that all of us, no matter when we are baptized, do not have the obligation to live out our promises, but even the working out of those in our lives is developmental and should deepen with age and maturity. Since none of us ever “arrives” why not take hold of the grace of the sacrament and allow it to form us from the earliest time when it is available. God is anxious to save and draw us near to God’s heart.

  6. While I understand the desire to see adult initiation as the norm, I find that such arguments tend to be based on a bias held by adults for adults with infants viewed as lesser beings that are not worthy to be part of the Church, at least not full members of the Church.

    I am not saying that infant baptism should be the norm, but I believe that a strong and healthy Church is one that readily embraces Christ’s command to make disciples, be they infants or adults. If this is the desire, then the question changes from what is the norm of initiation to is the Church doing all that it can to effectively initiate all people at all stages of life, which will require a variety of responses for the variety of situations.

  7. I believe adult initiation should be the norm, in as much as a person, whether he’s an infant or adult or some age in between, is being formed in the faith by a gradual process that allows for conversion and becoming part of the community of believers. Unfortunately, many adults presenting their infants for baptism don’t hold up their end of the agreement by not educating their child in the faith either by failing to bring them to Mass regularly nor by religious education. The sacraments have become things to get, not a relationship with Jesus Christ to enter into. The adults themselves don’t understand their responsibility because their own faith formation is lacking and they haven’t had their own conversion experience.

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