It’s a common concern among grandparents: “What can I do about my grandchildren who are not Baptized?” This becomes especially poignant and troublesome when anyone, child or adult, dies without ever receiving this Sacrament. Here are a few thoughts on the subject.
Let’s begin with the Catechism, paragraph 1260, which tells us, “Since Christ died for all, and since all are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal Mystery.” I emphasized that one phrase in bold print to point out that we do not have all the answers, but God does. The Catechism also tells us that, God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but He Himself is not bound by His sacraments (par. 1257). The sacraments were given to us by God for our benefit, but He can work in ways outside the sacraments. Finally, as regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God… who desires that all should be saved (par. 1261). Our Faith gives us Hope for all, children and adults, who have not been Baptized, so we never cease Praying for them.
Now, let’s review a few of the famous men and women of the Bible who were not Baptized, beginning with the good thief hanging on the cross next to Jesus and to whom He promised, “This day you will be with me in paradise” (Lk. 23:43). As humans, can we deny Christ’s fulfillment of His promise without the sacrament of Baptism? No. What about Noah, Moses, Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, Esther, Judith, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Jesus’ own stepfather, Joseph, to name a few? Each was called by God to serve in a special way. Are they to be denied salvation due to lack of Baptism?
In the Apostles Creed, we state, He descended into hell, or in another version, He descended to the dead. What happened during that time between Jesus’ death and resurrection? In today’s second reading, St. Peter tells us, Put to death in the flesh, He was brought to life in the Spirit. In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison. Could this prison have been a kind of holding cell for those of all time (remember, God lives outside of time) who died without Baptism? Did Jesus offer them salvation by a spiritual Baptism? In Faith, we Hope so, and, in Faith, we Pray they all said, “Yes!”