The sacraments are “efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us” (CCC 1131). In other words, a sacrament is a sacred and visible sign that is instituted by Jesus to give us grace, an undeserved gift from God. (See also CCC 1084).
Christ was present at the inception of all of the sacraments, which He instituted 2,000 years ago. Christ is also present every time each sacrament in celebrated.
The Catholic Church has all of the seven sacraments instituted by Christ, which include Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that “the seven sacraments touch all the stages and all important moments of the Christian life” (CCC 1210).
The Church’s practice of infant baptism stems from her teachings regarding original sin (what we have) and baptism (what we do about it).
After the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden, all people are now born with original sin due to our fallen human nature. Through the gift of grace in Baptism, God washes away this stain of original sin and makes us a part of His family and offer us eternal life.
Children, who are born with the stain of original sin, are also in need of Baptism, in order to free them from the bondage of original sin and make them children of God. Our loving Father does not wish to withhold His love and grace from anyone, including children. Baptism simply requires openness.
“The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth” (CCC 1250).
Simple. By showing them what the Bible says. First, nowhere does the Bible say that Baptism is merely a "symbolic" act...that passage simply does not exist. Second, let's see what the Bible does say about Baptism: Ezek 36:25-27, it says, "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses...a new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you...and I will put My spirit within you..." Here, in the Old Testament, we have a foreshadowing of New Testament baptism.
Now, let's see if the New Testament corresponds to what we just read in Ezekiel. Acts 2:38, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Note that there is no symbolic language here...this is real! The Book of Acts says, "Be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins." Ezekiel says, "I will sprinkle clean water upon you and you shall be clean from your uncleanness." The Book of Acts says, "...and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Ezekiel says: "...and I will put My Spirit within you." Do you begin to see how God, in the Old Covenant, was preparing us for what He gives us in the New Covenant?
Acts 22:16 - "And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins...". 1 Cor 12:13 - "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body..." What body was that? The Body of Christ. 1 Ptr 3:21: "Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you..."
Scripture simply does not support the non-Catholic notion that Baptism is symbolic. Scripture does very directly and very clearly support the Catholic teaching that Baptism saves us; that Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ; that Baptism washes away sin; and that through Baptism we receive the Holy Spirit...just as the Catholic Church teaches!
Well, the quick answer is because that's the way God wants us to do it. In James 5:16, God, through Sacred Scripture, commands us to "confess our sins to one another." Notice, Scripture does not say confess your sins straight to God and only to God...it says confess your sins to one another.
In Matthew, chapter 9, verse 6, Jesus tells us that He was given authority on earth to forgive sins. And then Scripture proceeds to tell us, in verse 8, that this authority was given to "men"...plural.
In John 20, verses 21-23, what is the 1st thing Jesus says to the gathered disciples on the night of His resurrection? "Jesus said to them, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.'" How did the Father send Jesus? Well, we just saw in Mt 9 that the Father sent Jesus with the authority on earth to forgive sins. Now, Jesus sends out His disciples as the Father has sent Him...so, what authority must Jesus be sending His disciples out with? The authority on earth to forgive sins. And, just in case they didn't get it, verses 22-23 say this, "And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.'"
Why would Jesus give the Apostles the power to forgive or to retain sins if He wasn't expecting folks to confess their sins to them? And how could they forgive or retain sins if no one was confessing their sins to them?
The Bible tells us to confess our sins to one another. It also tells us that God gave men the authority on Earth to forgive sins. Jesus sends out His disciples with the authority on earth to forgive sins. When Catholics confess our sins to a priest, we are simply following the plan laid down by Jesus Christ. He forgives sins through the priest...it is God's power, but He exercises that power through the ministry of the priest.
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- Explore nuestro “links” y recursos para mas información sobre la unción de los enfermos, confirmación y los otros Sacramentos.