Question: I’m wondering if a child can be baptized into the Catholic faith if neither of the parents are Catholic. In fact the mother is a mostly non-practising Hindu and the father has never been baptized into any religion. I am the father’s step-mother and I am a practicing Catholic. The parents would like the child to be baptized Catholic but have no intention of becoming Catholics themselves so their hope is that I would help with the child’s religious life.
Please watch video below for answer:
If you prefer to read, below is Fr. Mark’s Answer:
At the heart of this question is our understanding of baptism. As Catholics, baptism is not a private, individual act between Jesus and a person. It is a communal act. When we are baptized we are united to Jesus and become his disciple. But we also enter into a community, we are embraced into the communion of the Church, the body of Christ. We are united to Jesus and to the body of Christ, the Church. Therefore, the whole Church embraces the newly baptized as a loving mother embracing a new born child.
The Church considers the parents as the first teachers of the faith. They take on a special responsibility for the raising of their children in the faith. When parents bring their child for baptism, the Church requires hope that this child will be raised in the faith. At the Baptism Celebration, the priest or deacon begins by asking the parents, “What name have you given your child?” Then, speaks to the parents with these words. “In asking for Baptism for your child, you are undertaking the responsibility of raising him/her in the faith, so that, keeping God’s commandments, they may love the Lord and their neighbour as Christ has taught us. Do you understand this responsibility?” Parents are required to say yes to taking on this responsibility.
Though the parents take on the prime responsibility for raising their children in the faith, the whole community shares in supporting them. This is symbolized in the Godparents who promise to help the parents in their duty. Parents will hopefully also be supported by their local parish and sometimes by a Catholic school.
So, normally it would be expected that one of the parents is Catholic and able to take on this responsibility in a good way. In this particular case, the step-mother of the child’s father is a practising Catholic, involved in the child’s life, and willing to support the child being raised in the Catholic faith. So, if the parents agree and support their child being raised in the faith, it does seem that there is well founded hope that the child will be raised in the Catholic faith.
In this case, if parents agree to this and there is someone able to take on that support then it is very possible that a parish would agree to this. It would not be a usual practice, but perhaps an exceptional case. I remember a family from a previous parish. They were from another country. The parents were not Catholic but all of their children went to a Catholic school. All of them were baptized. Many years later here in Canada they were all still practising the Catholic faith. In fact, near the death of the father, at the age of 100, he was baptized. The Spirit of God works in mysterious ways.
Ultimately, the Church wants to have hope that the child will be raised in the faith.
Question: How do biblical texts apply to modern society?
Please watch video below for answer:
If you prefer to read, below is Deacon Tom’s Answer:
Thank you for this great question! If I could rephrase it…what does this 2000 year old book have to do with life in the 21st century anyway?
First of all, I would have to say you have to think about what the Bible is not…
It is not – a history textbook; (show history book) it is not a single book that someone sat down and wrote 2000 years ago. It is not a super-secret book that only a few really, really, smart people can read and understand. (show old Bible)
So, what is it?
- It is a collection of 73 books written by different authors, over several centuries in three different languages. (show picture of the 73 books?)
- It is the story of God’s interaction with people over history told with a key focus in mind…the God created us, God loves us, and God wants to share our journey with us
Knowing that key fundamental, we can now look at what the question I think is asking – how does one find and use key bible texts to help us live the life that God wants us to?
3 key things:
- Read it!! It is not meant to be a coffee table book! I remember as a child, we had a family bible and we were told not to touch or open it because it is sacred. This is not the purpose. How are we to find out about God’s love if we don’t read what he has told us through the writers that He has sent His message to?
- Study it. By that I mean that when we read a verse, or a paragraph or a chapter, we need to think about 2 key things
- When was this written, in what context, with what culture, with what focus in mind – this helps us to understand the message that God is trying to convey and not the literal word by word.
- How does this fit in with the rest of the Bible – one line in one book may contradict something written somewhere else. Example? Harshness, mercy, sin??
- You may want to get a Study Bible to learn more (show Bible)
- Use it! When read with prayer, great insights can help us on how to live our lives, for example:
- Frustrated with God and things always going wrong – read Job
- You want to learn how to live a virtuous life – read Proverbs
- You want to know how to deal with the ups and downs of emotions through life – read Psalms
- You want to know how God interacts with us personally – read the gospels
In summary, biblical texts mean as much today as they have over the past 2000 years and a daily scripture verse or reading is a great way to learn about God, ourselves and the journey of faith.
God has given us the collection of books, letters, poems and writings in order to show us how much He loves us, and that is the context with which we need to read and pray with them.
Feast of the Ascension
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: May 24, 2020
Baptism is not something that we receive, it is about who we become and who we are called to be.
Who are we called to be in the light of our baptism?
In baptism, we are reborn by water and the Spirit, therefore we can truly say we are children of God.
In baptism, we are united to Jesus, so we can say that we are brothers and sisters of Jesus.
Baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we are the people of God who dwell within the heart of God, who is a communion of love.
In baptism, the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon us, so that we are to be witnesses of Jesus to the ends of the earth.
In baptism, we entered the church, to be the body of Christ.
Look into the waters of your baptism, see who you are. Child of God, brother or sister of Jesus, lover living in the Holy Trinity, witness of Jesus, member of the body of Christ. What dignity, what beauty, the incredible mystery of who you are. See who you are, not with pride, but with humble gratitude.
The Feast of the Ascension is also about the followers of Jesus coming to see and live who they were called to be. Jesus sends the Apostles out saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations …”
We are disciples of Jesus. We are responsible for continuing the mission of Jesus. To preach the Gos-pel, to bring healing and peace. We are to be instruments of reconciliation, helping each other to be rec-onciled to God and reconciled to one another. Our challenge is to live as disciples of Jesus, sharing in the mission of Jesus.
Someone tells a legend about Jesus’ arrival in heaven. There a vast host of angels greeted him. After the formalities, they asked him whom he had left behind on earth to finish the work he had begun. Jesus replied, “Just a small group of men and women who love me.” “That’s all?” asked the angels, aston-ished. “What if this tiny group should fail?” Jesus replied, “I have no other plans.”
Jesus has no other plans but us. In our baptism, we are called to be disciples of Jesus, to continue the work of Jesus. We are those left to continue the mission of Jesus. We are to preach the Gospel, to bring healing and forgiveness, to be instruments of reconciliation with God and one another. Look deeply into the mystery of Christ, feel yourself within the Holy Trinity, see who you are called to be.
St. Teresa of Avila captures this mystery of who we are in her famous prayer:
Christ has No body on earth but yours; No hands but yours; No feet but yours; Yours are the eyes through which he is to look out Christ’s compassion to the world; Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; Yours the hands with which he is to bless now.