CCC 1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.60 He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them.61 Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.62 The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are “reborn of water and the Spirit.” God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.
CCC 1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,”64 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.
I have had many conversations of late about what happens to the soul of the aborted child (or the miscarried child). The catechism teaches us that baptism is necessary for Salvation, and that we can hope in God’s mercy for these children, but it does not speak of how. I do believe God’s mercy is unfathomable. But I wrestled with the question in speaking with others. I myself lost a child to miscarriage. I have had people assure me these children are in heaven. I have had others assure me they are not. There used to be the teaching of limbo, but that is not really taught anymore. Everyone has a differing opinion. I am sure this post will get a lot of comments, but it is my understanding that this question has never really been settled by the church. Individuals have opinions, and it is debated, but depending on who you speak with you get different answers.
In my own struggle, if you say that they’re in heaven, then one could also conclude that baptism isn’t necessary for Salvation. If you say that they’re not, God seems cruel and far away. In my heart, I felt that both statements are true, that baptism is necessary, and that these innocent children are in heaven. So I took my thoughts and conversation and turned to my own Blessed Mother about it. The following is what I wrote in my journal as her response to me. If the church came out tomorrow and said this is not true, then the church is correct and I am wrong. I write what pops in my head when I have a conversation with God or the Blessed Mother. My intent is never to lead anyone astray, so please know that as you discern what I have written. I am only posting part of it, as some of it was personal to me;
April 8, 2019
You have asked what happens to the unborn child who dies or is aborted before birth. They are with me. Womb means Mercy. I was Immaculately conceived and my womb carried Mercy. I am the Mother of Mercy. When human beings turn towards wickedness or a child is lost to miscarriage because death was brought into the world, I am the Mediatrix of Grace for these personally innocent babies. I intercede with my own consecrated womb, as the Mother of Mercy, the blood and water in my womb, the same DNA as the blood and water from the side of my Son, baptizes them in my Immaculate Conception, freeing them from Original Sin. In God’s Divine Providence, my Assumption allows this. My physical and spiritual womb of mercy extended to them because Baptism is necessary for Salvation.
Pray for an end to the evil of abortion.
- The Immaculate Conception
This brought me great comfort. That God is amazing and true. That both statements of heavenly reward for these innocents and the necessity of baptism could be true. We must fight the evil of abortion with all we have, because the Mother of Mercy is also the Mother of Sorrows because of this wickedness we have allowed.
I have always thought that they would be baptized either through desire or blood. The church teaches the three modes – water, blood or desire.
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but blood requires being sacrificed for faith, these children are not sacrificed for faith, and their desires haven’t even been cultivated yet.
Great post, but there is really no need for the question as the Catechism answers it.
Don’t skip over CCC1260 which answers your question!
“Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery.” Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.”
You state that unborn children’s desires haven’t been cultivated yet it states, “Holy Spirit offers to ALL the possibility of being made partakers” and “but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his UNDERSTANDING of it” The last sentence is the key: “It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.”
The church has only ever taught hell, purgatory, and heaven. Limbo was never an official teaching. The Catechism also teaches that hell is from SELF-EXCLUSION only (CCC1033). Babies are free from sin and thus would not choose hell.
so you’re saying the unborn seek truth and the will of God? Perhaps that is so, as their free will is there, but again wouldn’t they need to have that seeking of truth and the will of God cultivated in them to have even any understanding at all, vs. no understanding. It seems to me that requires a higher understanding than what the unborn actually have, which is why there is a separate category in the catechism for the unborn. But at any rate, we both agree, they can be in heaven.
I often think about the feast of the slaughter of the Innocents. Those children died because of Christ, without knowing who Jesus is. My daughter lost a baby at 12 weeks gestation, and it was on that very feastday 2017. I know, that young babe is resting in God’s nursery, with another babe who died 2017 Christmas day, my daughter in law’s. My youngest daughter lost a new born, 1hr. 53 mins. old, ( 2018, on the Feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe), after receiving the sacramental baptism from the hand of her daddy, she is resting in God’s arms.
So much sorrow, but the Love of God knows no bounds, and He saves. The aborted babes have died, and they too are with God, Baptized in a martyrdom, the blood and water from their own bodies. The people who pray for them desire with their whole heart that they will be united lovingly with their Heavenly Father, how can Our Father refuse us when He is Merciful and Loving? It doesn’t matter if their desires haven’t been cultivated, if they understood, they would want baptism, and we who pray desire on their behalf as intercessors just as Our Lady and all the Saints in heaven( although they pray with a purity of intention which are trying to achieve in this life).
Thank you for writing about this. I have started crying again since last evening, my daughter and her husband are suffering terribly, only with time can healing come from such a sorrowful loss. The monthly anniversary is hard as you can understand.Peace of Christ be with you, Tanya
I am sorry for your suffering. I will keep you in prayer. The Holy Innocents were already in a circumcision covenant with God…who died as proto-martyrs because of their faith. Though they didn’t know it was for Christ, they were marked in God’s covenant. Aborted babies are not, so it isn’t the same analogy. They are not dying because of faith. That’s why I had this conversation with the Blessed Mother. I do totally agree with you about the boundless mercy of God. I know the sorrow and tears and I will definitely keep you all in prayer.
My prayers are with you, your daughter and son-in-law.
Susan, I understand that the church teaches the baptism of blood (martyrdom), Fire (strenuous exertion) and desire are all forms of effective when water baptism is not available or feasible. My daughter’s chaplain instructed her that the baptism of desire applies when parents lose a child through miscarriage.
Of course Our Lady is at work as well.
Colleen from AZ
That is beautiful…I do think the desire of parents extends to the child because the parent would have baptized the child. That has to do with our role as parents to pass on the faith, and I do believe that to be true.God bless you.
“…the baptism of desire applies when parents lose a child through miscarriage.”
Thank you for this. My husband and I lost a child around 6-7 years ago and it was very, very early in the pregnancy so the baby just “passed through” and we never “saw” the baby. It is comforting to know that the soul is in heaven, though I truly feel bad that her physical remains were “flushed away”….
I am sorry for your loss. God is loving and merciful.
I very much like what you wrote. There are essentially two (2) sides to this. The predominant opinion in Latin Christianity is that unbaptized infants, stillborns, victims of abortion, etc., are damned because they are not baptized. This was first articulated by St. Augustine in A TREATISE ON THE MERITS AND FORGIVENESS OF SINS, AND ON THE BAPTISM OF INFANTS, Book 1, Chapter 2: Unbaptized Infants Damned, But Most Lightly. This position is held by St. Prosper of Aquitaine in THE CALL OF ALL NATIONS, Book 1, Chapter 16: Before the use of reason, all children are alike, yet some pass to eternal life , others to eternal death; this is a proof of God’s inscrutable judgments. It is later reiterated by
St. Thomas Aquinas in SUMMA THEOLOGIAE, 3a, q. 68, a. 9: “Whether Children Should Be Baptized?”
The opinion boils down to this: The unbaptized child is damned by not having the grace of baptism and therefore, they are not part of the elect and that this is part of God’s mysterious, unknowable justice. The argument for the damnation of infants does acknowledge that God desire all men to be saved, but then its argument turns on God’s inscrutable justice as the ultimate reason for the damnation.
Keep in mind that we need to understand two other things in context – that Augustine was articulating the doctrine of original sin AND was refuting the heresy of Pelagianism.
Now, my grandmother lost three children who were not baptized as miscarriages, and my mother lost three of my siblings, too. My wife and I lost one. I have always thought the Augustinian/Thomist position failed to take into account God’s inscrutable love and mercy. What a dreadful idea that God would make a child to damn it, and then claim it is God’s justice! Also, keep in mind that by holding to the Augustinian position, Thomas could not intellectually grasp/understand/accept the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Sue, the other position is that unbaptized infants, stillborns, victims of abortion, etc., are not damned, and this is actually an older position in the Church AND the Eastern Catholic/Orthodox position. WE find this is St. Gregory of Nyssa’s wonderful work, CONCERNING INFANTS WHO HAVE DIED PREMATURELY. Here is the cite for those who need it: https://view.officeapps.live.com/op/view.aspx?src=http%3A%2F%2Fdocumentacatholicaomnia.eu%2F03d%2F0330-0395%2C_Gregorius_Nyssenus%2C_Concerning_Infants_Who_Have_Died_Prematurely%2C_EN.doc
I am sending you Gregory’s work as a word document, Sue, by email. It has a good introduction. Feel free to share it. Gregory’s argument boils down to God’s inscrutable love and mercy and that such who have not sinned cannot be damned. While Gregory does not take into account original sin, Gregory points out that God can only damn those who willfully commit sin, and the unbaptized infant cannot willfully commit sin. NOTE how Gregory’s argument ties into the CCC 1033
Keep in mind that before Latin Christianity articulated the Immaculate Conception, Eastern Christianity had our Lady as “all holy, all pure, without stain, and pre-purified.” The Eastern argument never depended on original sin, which was the roadblock for Thomas Aquinas.
Augustine/Prosper/Thomas – Unbaptized infant damned, God’s justice for original sin
Gregory – Unbaptized infant not damned, God’s loving mercy for not having committed actual/personal sin.
I stand with Gregory on this issue.
James I just love having you here. You’re a fountain of knowledge. Thank you. I will look for your email.
My poor grandmother, after each of the still births in a Catholic hospital, the boys were taken away and she was not told where they were buried. My mother spoke of how, a situation of one dead baby after another (it was due to the RH negative issue) my grandmother was, understandably, depressed. My brother found their burial sites years later – two were buried on top of my great-great grandmother’s coffin. Even though at that point she had dementia, it brought happiness to know where they were buried. After she died, I had a dream that when she went to heaven, she was greeted by ALL of her children who had predeceased her. O the joy she had at that happy homecoming!
I didn’t feel a need to deeply analyze what you said. For me, it was a profound message from the Blessed Mother and made perfect sense to me. My daughter had 2 miscarriages and I truly believe they are in Heaven, just as I truly believe that we need a Sacramental Baptism for salvation. And I also believe that God provides mysterious ways to accomplish this in some other cases where generations of families have grown up without baptism or delayed baptism. These 3 examples are not contradictory for me, as I know that Gods ways are far above our ways. The important takeaway for me is that those who know of the importance of Baptism should never wait on it or minimize it. It is essential. On the other hand, for those who die unbaptized, there may be a way to Heaven that is unseen to our eyes, depending on the circumstances, which is for God alone to decide. It was a beautiful posting and I love the simplicity- and yet at the same time -depth, of the message. Thank you.
Thank you and God Bless you.