198 • Part II. The Sacraments: The Faith Celebrated
• Baptism seals the person’s soul with a permanent spiritual mark
or character identifying one as belonging to Christ. Because of this
character, Baptism cannot be repeated.
• People who die for the faith, catechumens who died before being
baptized, and those who do not know Christ or the Church through
no fault of their own but who, by the action of grace, seek God sin-
cerely and do his will can be saved even without being baptized.
• Infants have been baptized since apostolic times, for this is a gift
from God and does not presuppose human merit. Children are bap-
tized in the faith of the Church.
• Trusting in God’s mercy, we confidently hope for the salvation of
children who die without Baptism.
• In time of necessity such as the danger of death, all persons can bap-
tize. The person baptizing must intend to do what the Church does,
by pouring water three times on the candidate’s head while saying,
“I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the
By three immersions and as many invocations, the great mystery
of Baptism is performed. So the appearance of death is con-
veyed, and through the handing over of divine knowledge the
baptized are enlightened. Therefore, if there is any grace in the
water, it is not because of any power the water may possess, but
because it derives from the power of the Spirit. . . . The Lord,
to prepare us for the risen life, lays before us all the gospel pre-
cepts. We must avoid anger, endure evil, be free from the love of
pleasure and the love of money. So by our own choice we shall
achieve those things which are the natural endowments of the
world to come.
—St. Basil the Great,
On the Holy Spirit
, XV, nos. 35-36