Author Topic: Valid or invalid baptism?  (Read 1336 times)

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Offline Clemens Maria

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Re: Valid or invalid baptism?
« Reply #45 on: November 20, 2017, 02:56:42 PM »
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    That's an interesting way of looking at it, although I don't think sacramentalists look at it that way.  They always admit the possibility of sacrament simulation (something most moralists at least touch on).  Theoretically it is certainly possible, and grievously sinful, of course.  Maybe a decent way to think about how it can be possible is to think about the Church's marriage laws.  One cause for nullity of marriage is when consent is lacking-- not the Novus Ordo "they didn't know what they were getting into" type way, but in the real and substantial way: someone who says "I do" while very explicitly, at the same time, saying "I don't" internally.  
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    Now, marriage is a sacrament, the validity of which is the responsibility of the marrying couple.  Withholding intent to marry is synonymous with withholding intent to baptize or any other sacrament.  And the Church recognizes, indeed even builds into her law, the possibility for intent to be explicitly withheld despite the outward appearance.  So I think we can't get very far contending that it is theoretically impossible to withhold intent.
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    Of course, in the moral order of things, one shouldn't be scrupulous about such "possibilities."  The reason these "possibilities" even cause problems to begin with is that modern man, including modern Catholic man, is accustomed to thinking materialistically-- he thinks that there are things which are 100% certain (like the laws of nature or the laws of God) and then there are varying degrees of "not 100% certain."  But that's not how Catholic theologians have ever viewed certainty, as though it were a composite on a quantitative scale.  That's a modern corruption, and it might be suitable for empirical sciences, but it is not suitable for anything else, including daily-decisions of even the mundane variety.  Moral certainty is true certainty.  It's not 99%, 100%, 45%, etc. "type" certainty.   We should try our best to disavow ourselves of thinking of certainties in this way.
    #38 and #39 was me.  I intended to check the box but I didn't.  Get it?  Actually, if truth be told, I never did intend to check the box.  I may have desired to check the box but I didn't intend to.  If I had intended to check the box, I would have at least made an attempt to click the box.  But I didn't even make an attempt.  My bad.  Could a murder suspect claim that he never intended to murder the guy?  Yes, he could but if the murder was accomplished by some elaborate scheme then the judge/jury will come to the conclusion that he actually did intend to murder the guy.  So while I agree that a sacrament can be simulated, I disagree that it could be simulated merely by having/entertaining a thought about simulating it.  In order to actually simulate a sacrament, you have to take some steps to achieve a simulation.  If you don't take any steps to achieve a simulation then you never actually intended to simulate it (even if at some point you desired to simulate it).  Performing a sacramental ceremony cannot be a simulation by default.  Rather, if all the external requirements for validity are met then it is valid by default.  The intention must have been there or it would not have happened as it did.  I think intention is a pretty low bar to meet.  On the other hand the form and matter have to be correct.  Have you ever heard a priest repeat the words of consecration?  I have.  It is disconcerting to think that a mispronunciation of Latin could invalidate the sacrament but it could happen if the mispronunciation is bad enough to change the meaning.  When I am serving I listen to the words but I don't worry about it because I also would not go to a Mass by a priest who was obviously incompetent or untrustworthy.  I think I would be very scrupulous about a baptism performed by a non-Catholic.  I would want to be absolutely certain that they used the correct form and matter.  But I would trust a good priest even if I was not a witness of the form and matter.

    Offline Mithrandylan

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    Re: Valid or invalid baptism?
    « Reply #46 on: November 20, 2017, 07:52:16 PM »
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  • I agree that the bar is incredibly low.  I didn't mean to imply that I think sacramental simulation is at all common, or that it could occur inadvertently. Theologians say that even a virtual intention suffices.  I just meant to say that it is possible (to simulate a sacrament, i.e., to withhold intent purposefully, and willfully, despite the outward appearance of proper confection due to requisite form and matter).
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    There's a (somewhat humorous) story about St. Athanasius.  When he was a boy he was playing on the land near the Patriarch of Alexandria's property (I believe that Patriarch was named Alexander).  Alexander looked out his window and saw a curious thing; a young man was officiating what looked like Easter baptisms.  He went down to see what was going on and asked the boy who was doing the officiating (this boy was St. Athanasius) if he was a Christian.  He said yes.  And he asked about the others, and Athanasius said they were Pagans, and that they were playing "Bishop" or some such thing.  Alexander asked Athanasius how he baptized them and Athanasius described the baptisms.  Alexander told him that he had really baptized them.  Athanasius was embarrassed and also shocked, since he thought only a bishop could baptize. 
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    So there's an instance where someone intended to baptize, but didn't think they could (efficaciously).  Still valid.  Illustrative of the point (the low bar for intention).
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    Offline Clemens Maria

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    Re: Valid or invalid baptism?
    « Reply #47 on: November 20, 2017, 08:56:49 PM »
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  • I agree that the bar is incredibly low.  I didn't mean to imply that I think sacramental simulation is at all common, or that it could occur inadvertently. Theologians say that even a virtual intention suffices.  I just meant to say that it is possible (to simulate a sacrament, i.e., to withhold intent purposefully, and willfully, despite the outward appearance of proper confection due to requisite form and matter).
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    There's a (somewhat humorous) story about St. Athanasius.  When he was a boy he was playing on the land near the Patriarch of Alexandria's property (I believe that Patriarch was named Alexander).  Alexander looked out his window and saw a curious thing; a young man was officiating what looked like Easter baptisms.  He went down to see what was going on and asked the boy who was doing the officiating (this boy was St. Athanasius) if he was a Christian.  He said yes.  And he asked about the others, and Athanasius said they were Pagans, and that they were playing "Bishop" or some such thing.  Alexander asked Athanasius how he baptized them and Athanasius described the baptisms.  Alexander told him that he had really baptized them.  Athanasius was embarrassed and also shocked, since he thought only a bishop could baptize.  
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    So there's an instance where someone intended to baptize, but didn't think they could (efficaciously).  Still valid.  Illustrative of the point (the low bar for intention).
    Right, I agree mostly with what you say here.  But maybe I am misunderstanding you on the specific point of withholding intent despite the outward appearance of proper confection.  I think the St. Athanasius story is an illustration of how the outward appearance is the key to knowing the proper intent.  If the form and matter are correct and the minister is valid, and there is no outward sign that the intention is contrary then the sacrament is valid.  There can be no possibility of it being invalid.  The outward appearance is a manifestation of the intent.  To say otherwise is to say that the minister could form 2 contrary intentions for the same act.  That is impossible.  So priests have to be responsible about saying the words of consecration.  He can't go into a chapel and say a Mass and then afterwards say, oh, I didn't mean it, it was just practice.  He would have to give some indication beforehand that it was not intended to be a Mass.

    Offline Ladislaus

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    Re: Valid or invalid baptism?
    « Reply #48 on: November 21, 2017, 08:18:19 AM »
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  • I agree that the bar is incredibly low.  I didn't mean to imply that I think sacramental simulation is at all common, or that it could occur inadvertently. Theologians say that even a virtual intention suffices.  I just meant to say that it is possible (to simulate a sacrament, i.e., to withhold intent purposefully, and willfully, despite the outward appearance of proper confection due to requisite form and matter).
    .
    There's a (somewhat humorous) story about St. Athanasius.  When he was a boy he was playing on the land near the Patriarch of Alexandria's property (I believe that Patriarch was named Alexander).  Alexander looked out his window and saw a curious thing; a young man was officiating what looked like Easter baptisms.  He went down to see what was going on and asked the boy who was doing the officiating (this boy was St. Athanasius) if he was a Christian.  He said yes.  And he asked about the others, and Athanasius said they were Pagans, and that they were playing "Bishop" or some such thing.  Alexander asked Athanasius how he baptized them and Athanasius described the baptisms.  Alexander told him that he had really baptized them.  Athanasius was embarrassed and also shocked, since he thought only a bishop could baptize.  
    .
    So there's an instance where someone intended to baptize, but didn't think they could (efficaciously).  Still valid.  Illustrative of the point (the low bar for intention).

    That's an interesting example.  Athanasius was not intending to do BAPTISM ... was just simulating it or playing.  But he intended to perform the Church's ritual, to DO what the Church does when conferring Baptism.  Now, this was just Alexander's opinion of course, and he could have been mistaken.

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    Re: Valid or invalid baptism?
    « Reply #49 on: November 21, 2017, 10:39:13 AM »
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  • That's an interesting example.  Athanasius was not intending to do BAPTISM ... was just simulating it or playing.  But he intended to perform the Church's ritual, to DO what the Church does when conferring Baptism. 
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    Bingo.  Very interesting, isn't it?  Cuts right to the heart of the thing to illustrate in more operational terms what exactly intention is.
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    Now, this was just Alexander's opinion of course, and he could have been mistaken.
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    Yes, granted.


    Offline Mithrandylan

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    Re: Valid or invalid baptism?
    « Reply #50 on: November 21, 2017, 10:39:24 AM »
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    Bingo.  Very interesting, isn't it?  Cuts right to the heart of the thing to illustrate in more operational terms what exactly intention is.
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    Yes, granted.
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    Sorry, this was me.
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