Maybe the “apple” was covered with chocolate?

chocolate_dipped_apples

Monsignor Charles Pope takes a closer look at the events leading up to The Fall of Man.

On Infant Baptism and the Complete Gratuity of Salvation

It is a simple historical fact that the Church has always baptized infants. Even our earliest documents speak of the practice. For example the Apostolic Tradition written about 215 A.D. has this to say:

The children shall be baptized first. All of the children who can answer for themselves, let them answer. If there are any children who cannot answer for themselves, let their parents answer for them, or someone else from their family. (Apostolic Tradition # 21)

Scripture too confirms that infants should be baptized if you do the math. For example

People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (Luke 18:15-17 NIV)

So the Kingdom of God belongs to the little Children (in Greek brephe indicating little Children still held in the arms, babes). And yet elsewhere Jesus also reminds that it is necessary to be baptized in order to enter the Kingdom of God:

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:5 NIV)

If the Kingdom of God belongs to little children and we are taught that we cannot inherit it without baptism then it follows that Baptizing infants is necessary and that to fail to do so is a hindering of the little children which Jesus forbade his apostles to do.

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This Week’s Ask Alice: Newborn Babies and Original Sin



Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer your Catholic questions
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

T.S. writes: Why do some Christians claim that a newborn baby has sinned while other Christians claim that a newborn baby is without sin?

Alice responds: Neither Catholics nor any other Christians claim that a newborn baby has sinned through his own fault. Catholics and many Christians believe that babies are born into the world with the original sin of Adam and Eve, our first parents.

The Old Testament states, “Behold I was shapen in sin,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
(Psalm 51:5)

In the New Testament, St. Paul explains the situation this way: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world and with sin death, death thus coming to all men, inasmuch as all sinned_before the law there was sin in the world, even though sin is not imputed when there is no law_ I say, from Adam to Moses death reigned, even over those who had not sinned by breaking a precept as did Adam, that type of the man to come.” (Romans 5:12-14)

Scripture and tradition teach us that Baptism is necessary for salvation. Jesus set an example for humanity by asking his cousin, John the Baptist, to baptize him (even though John’s was merely a baptism of repentance … not the actual sacrament of Christian baptism.)

“Later Jesus, coming from Galilee, appeared before John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to refuse him with the protest, ‘I should be baptized by you, yet you come to me!’ Jesus answered, ‘Give in for now. We must do this if we would fulfill all of God’s demands.’ “ (Matthew 3:13-15)

Also, Jesus told Nicodemus, “I solemnly assure you, no one can enter into God’s kingdom without being begotten of water and Spirit. Flesh begets flesh, Spirit begets spirit.” (John 3:5-6)

The Catholic Church considers age 7 to be “the age of reason.”

A 7-year-old child is (generally) considered morally responsible, able to know right from wrong. This is typically the age that children make their first Confessions, since they can understand the 10 commandments and precepts of the Church.

From birth until age 7, a child is considered morally to be an infant, according to most Christians religions, thus incapable of committing a serious sin.

It can be argued some very intelligent children can be morally responsible before age 7. However, all Christians agree that a newborn baby definitely cannot commit a sin.

In Christ’s love,

Alice

Doug Lawrence adds: From the scriptures, we know for certain that death is the universal penalty for sin.

The reverse is also true:
One who has no sin is certainly NOT liable to die.

While the theological implications of this essential concept are truly awesome, one thing can easily be determined, beyond a shadow of a doubt:

The fact that even a newly conceived infant is subject to death provides absolute proof that even innocents such as these are profoundly affected by the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, our first parents.

The scriptures also state clearly that nothing sinful can enter heaven. Hence, the traditional Catholic practice of baptizing newborn infants, with as little delay as possible.

Since the sacrament of baptism, according to the faith of the universal church, washes away all sins (including Original Sin), infuses supernatural grace into the soul, makes the baptized a living temple of the Holy Spirit, an adopted child of God, a member of the church, a citizen of heaven, and co-heir with Jesus Christ, there is absolutely no reason to wait.

Those who believe otherwise have fallen victim to destructive old heresies which may leave their souls, and the souls of all their offspring, in jeopardy.

Better to be safe … than eternally sorry!

St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas on Original Sin


The celebration of the conception of the Blessed Virgin without original sin is the national feast day of the United States.


Bishop John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in the United States consecrated the United States to the Immaculate Conception in 1792. This might come as a surprise to those who remember that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was not proclaimed officially until Pope Pius IX issued Ineffabilis Deus (Ineffable God) on December 8, 1854.

The dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception refers to the fact that by a special grace of God when Mary was conceived in the womb of her mother, whom tradition calls St. Anne, she was conceived without original sin, as would be appropriate for the one chosen to be the mother of Jesus. Although the dogma was not proclaimed officially until 1854, the feast has a long history in the church.

Read more from Bishop Kevin Farrell

Can Catholics (Licitly and/or Faithfully) Accept the Theory of Evolution?


This is a great, two-part series by Monsignor Charles Pope, of the Archdiocese of Washington, who is a constant teacher of the authentic faith of the one, holy, apostolic, and Catholic church.

The reader comments tend to be almost as interesting and informative as the article’s content.

Read part one here

Read part two here

Martin Luther believed in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Here are some surprising words. It seems that Martin Luther, that once Augustinian priest turned Revolutionary, upheld belief in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception (even before it was declared a dogmatic doctrine in 1854 by Pope Pius IX). The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception holds that Mary was preserved from original sin at her conception and from all sin during her life – that she was conceived, lived, and died without any taint of sin.

The eminent Lutheran scholar Arthur Carl Piepkorn (1907-73) has also confirmed that Luther believed in the Immaculate Conception even as a Protestant. Here is Martin Luther in his own words:

“It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary’s soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God’s gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin”

– Martin Luther’s Sermon “On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God,” 1527.

“She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin—something exceedingly great. For God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil.

– Martin Luther’s Little Prayer Book, 1522.

Both quotations derive from Luther’s writings after his break from Rome.

Link

Do you go to hell if you don’t believe in God?

Q: Do you go to hell if you don’t believe in God?

I find it hard to believe that God is so touchy that he sends a perfectly good person to hell for all eternity if they don’t believe in him when they are alive.

A: It’s important to understand exactly how these things work.

Due to the first man’s original sin, all of his (Adam’s) descendants (us) are born in a pre-exisiting state of sin, already “pledged” to Satan, the devil.

The only one with the power to break that domination and save someone from eternal slavery to Satan, sin, and death is Jesus Christ.

The work of salvation is typically accomplished through the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic church that Jesus personally founded, for that express purpose.

The sacrament of Baptism provides an authentic and extremely powerful opportunity for an individual to reject Satan and all his works, in favor of Jesus Christ, God and savior.

Once a person has sworn faithful allegiance to Jesus Christ in this way, he is no longer a slave to Satan, but a child of God, a citizen of Heaven, a temple of the Holy Spirit, a member of the church and a co-heir with Jesus Christ. Also necessarily included in this divinely mandated system of things is a provision for the forgiveness of sins.

So far as God being “touchy” … God’s perfect justice demands a certain amount of specificity and fidelity … balanced by a certain quality of divine mercy … something which is not at all unreasonable.

The bottom line is this:

Without faith in Jesus Christ and his church … something that’s typically declared through baptism … a person remains subject to Satan, sin, and eternal death. The only reasonably certain future for one such as this is an eternity in Hell, to which Satan and all his subjects will most certainly be consigned. It’s really that simple.

Since God is sovereign, all powerful, merciful and loving, there’s a chance that he might take pity on someone who has chosen to repeatedly reject him over the course of a lifetime, and choose to save that person’s soul and admit him to heaven, anyway. But that wouldn’t be the norm,  it wouldn’t be exactly fair to all of the other faithful, and it would be very problematic, in many other ways.

So … “good person” … knowing what you now know … why would you want to take that kind of a chance with your eternal destiny?

Discovering, Accepting and Appreciating that Men and Women are Different

It is true, Original sin has intensified our pain at the experience of these given differences. The Catechism links the tension surrounding these difference to the Fall of Adam and Eve:

[The] union [of husband and wife] has always been threatened by discord, a spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy, and conflicts that can escalate into hatred and separation. This disorder can manifest itself more or less acutely, and can be more or less overcome according to the circumstances of cultures, eras, and individuals, but it does seem to have a universal character. According to faith the disorder we notice so painfully does not stem from the nature of man and woman, nor from the nature of their relations, but from sin. As a break with God, the first sin had for its first consequence the rupture of the original communion between man and woman. Their relations were distorted by mutual recriminations;their mutual attraction, the Creator’s own gift, changed into a relationship of domination and lust; and the beautiful vocation of man and woman to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the earth was burdened by the pain of childbirth and the toil of work. Nevertheless, the order of creation persists, though seriously disturbed. To heal the wounds of sin, man and woman need the help of the grace that God in his infinite mercy never refuses them. Without his help man and woman cannot achieve the union of their lives for which God created them “in the beginning.” (CCC #s 1606-1608)

Read the article

Hopeful prayer Mother Angelica wrote for parents of miscarried/stillborn children

mother_angelicaMy Lord, the baby is dead!

Why, my Lord—dare I ask why? It will not hear the whisper of the wind or see the beauty of its parents’ face—it will not see the beauty of Your creation or a flame of a sunrise. Why, my Lord?

“Why, My child—do you ask ‘why’?” Well, I will tell you why.

You see, the child lives. Instead of the wind he hears the sound of angels singing before My throne. Instead of the beauty that passes he sees everlasting Beauty—he sees My face. He was created and lived a short time so the image of his parents imprinted on his face may stand before Me as their personal intercessor. He knows secrets of heaven unknown to men on earth. He laughs with a special joy that only the innocent possess. My ways are not the ways of man. I create for My Kingdom and each creature fills a place in that Kingdom that could not be filled by another. He was created for My joy and his parents’ merits. He has never seen pain or sin. He has never felt hunger or pain. I breathed a soul into a seed, made it grow and called it forth.”

I am humbled before you, my Lord, for questioning Your wisdom, goodness, and love. I speak as a fool—forgive me. I acknowledge Your sovereign rights over life and death. I thank You for the life that began for so short a time to enjoy so long an Eternity.

Mother M. Angelica, courtesy of EWTN.com

Editor’s note:

The Church explains that (except for the Blessed Virgin Mary) all babies are conceived lacking grace and separated from God, in a state of spiritual deprivation, due to the inherited remains of the sin of Adam and Eve … Original Sin.

The whole matter is (typically) remedied shortly after birth, by the holy Sacrament of Baptism.

This presents a theological problem for the miscarried or the stillborn, since Baptism is available only to those who have been born alive, and since one who has not been baptized is (normally) considered unsuitable for Heaven.

Since we have no definitive, divinely revealed information as to exactly how God deals with this particular type of occurrence, all we can do is rely on God to do what is best … and in faith … consecrate the spirit of our infant child to God’s infinite mercy and tender love.

The routine practice of our Catholic faith seems to hold out even more genuine hope for us, in these cases.

Parents (particularly the mother) who remain in a state of grace, who regularly attend Mass, and who worthily and regularly partake of Holy Communion and other appropriate sacraments, have every reason to trust that God will take special charge of any child who might (for whatever reason) fail to survive the entire process of conception, gestation and live birth … since through our sacramental life of grace, the child in the womb is no stranger to God, who not only indwells our soul, but also nourishes and sanctifies our physical body (including the baby in the womb).

There is “precedent” for God acting in this way, since that is essentially what happened to John the Baptist (while still in-utero) the moment the Virgin Mary (already carrying Jesus in her blessed womb) first approached her cousin Elizabeth (John’s mother).

Here’s the biblical account:

Luke 1:39-44  And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda.  And she entered into the house of Zachary and saluted Elizabeth.  And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost.  And she cried out with a loud voice and said: Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.  And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.

The Church has always considered this to be the moment that John the Baptist, still inside his mother, was himself first baptized.

What Jesus did for his cousin John he will more than likely also do for his faithful Catholic brothers and sisters.

So … even absent the Sacrament of Baptism, under extraordinary circumstances, we have great reason to believe that the same Christ who we receive bodily in Holy Communion … who knows us and loves us … is not likely to ignore or reject the little child dwelling inside the womb of a faithful, grace-filled, Catholic mother.

Our faith informs us, in light of all this, that God, because he is good,  just, and merciful, will accomplish whatever might be necessary, through his abundant grace … to grant the baby eternal salvation and peace … lovingly taking the infant to himself.

Matthew 19:13-14  Then were little children presented to him, that he should impose hands upon them and pray. And the disciples rebuked them.  But Jesus said to them: Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of Heaven is for such.

Mother Angelica obviously knows and loves God, and in her prayer for these special babies, she faithfully takes Jesus at his word. For a number of very good reasons, faced with the profound tragedy of a miscarriage or still birth, we should too. 

More on this very sensitive matter here

Catholic dogma on creation

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The Church teaches that God created, that there was a primal human pair, Adam and Eve, and that they fell, and the human race fell in and with them. If that is denied, original sin would go with it. Theological liberals believe that, but not the Catholic Church. We teach that the fall was real and literal. We are also required to believe that God creates a human soul at conception: an act of special creation that cannot be measured by science, since it is not dealing with matter.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church treats the question of creation extensively (#279-314).

Anyone is perfectly free to believe in creationism and be a Catholic. No one is required to believe in evolution. All of that involves scientific questions beyond the purview of the Church (dogmas have to do with faith and morals).

Read the article

What is the Church’s stance on how one is born sinful?

Q: What is the Church’s stance on how one is born sinful?

A: Death entered the world as a result of Adam’s sin … “Original Sin”.

The fact that ALL (even newly conceived infants) are subject to death proves beyond a doubt that ALL are affected by Adam’s original sin.

The flip side of this “Law of Sin and Death” is that one without sin is NOT liable to die.

Jesus was totally without sin, and no one … not even the devil … had the right to take his life from him.

This is why Jesus’ death on the cross served to destroy Satan’s evil dominion over mankind.

Satan overstepped his authority by having his Jewish and Roman minions crucify the sinless and innocent Christ … once again incurring God’s wrath and his judgment … and (among other things) forfeiting all that he had earlier gained from Adam’s fall.

Jesus was raised from the dead, given all power over Heaven, Earth, death and Hell, and appointed as the new and sinless head of all mankind.

It is only because of this new and perfect human leadership that God is willing to offer peace and consolation to those who are willing to swear faithful allegiance to Jesus, our savior … typically via Baptism … and our subsequent faithful, active, and charitable participation … in all of the work, worship, sacraments, and devotions of his universal (Catholic) Church.