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And people were bringing children to Jesus that He might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this He became indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God as a little child shall not enter it.” Then He embraced them and blessed them, placing His hands on them (Mark 10:13-16)
In the Catholic Church, each of the seven Sacraments is linked with at least one passage from the Gospels. The above citation from Mark 10 is often associated with the Sacraments of Baptism. In the passage we see that parents who obviously have already encountered our Lord want their children to meet Him as well. Much to the chagrin of the disciples, Jesus graciously receives the children and both embraces and blesses them.
Through the Sacraments of Baptism the same dynamic unfolds in the Church today. Parents who themselves have encountered Christ through the Catholic Church and the Sacraments desire the same for their children. Baptism is the foundational sacrament that provides the sacred context whereby our Lord receives a child with great joy, embraces that child and offers him every love and grace He has to give.
Regarding Baptism, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches the following:
- Baptism is the birth into the new life in Christ. In accordance with the Lord’s will, it is necessary for salvation, as is the Church herself, which we enter in Baptism (#1277).
- The fruit of Baptism, or baptismal grace, is a rich reality that includes forgiveness of original sin and all personal sins, birth into the new life by which man becomes an adoptive son of the Father, a member of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit (#1278).
- Since the earliest times, Baptism has been administered to children, for it is a grace and a gift of God that does not presuppose any human merit (#1282).