Choose a topic from Part 3a:

38. The Baptism of St. John the Baptist

1. St. John, called the Baptist because heperformed the ceremony of baptizing with water, was not following,in this matter of baptizing, any prescription of the Old Law. Hewas introducing something new. And this baptism of penanceconferred by St. John (son of Zachary and Elizabeth) was apt andsuitable because: (a) St. John was to baptize our Lord and thus tosanctify the ceremony of baptism; (b) he was to make manifest thedivinity of Christ when our Lord came to him to be baptized; (c) hewas to prepare men for the true baptism, that is, the sacrament ofbaptism, by making them familiar with the ceremonial part of it;(d) he was persuading men to do penance publicly and ceremoniouslyso that they might thus prepare for the worthy receiving of thebaptism of Christ.

2. The rite of St. John's baptism was from God. ForJohn was divinely sent to baptize, as we know from the Gospel (John1:33). But the effect of John's baptism was not supernatural.It had not the power to confer grace.

3. For grace comes to man only through Christ. Scripture(John 1:17) says: "Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."The baptism of St. John the Baptist was a preparation for grace,but did not give grace.

4. The baptism of St. John the Baptist was properly givento others besides our Lord, for this ceremony existed not only tomanifest Christ on the occasion of his being baptized by John; itexisted also to prepare men by penance for the receiving ofChristian baptism.

5. Therefore, even after St. John had baptized Christ andhad professed his own faith in him, he continued to baptize. And hemade his ceremonial baptism of penance a means of sending people toChrist. For, as St. Bede the Venerable says, the forerunner ofChrist (that is, St. John the Baptist) could not properly ceasefrom his work until Christ was made fully manifest.

6. Of course, those who were baptized by John needed to bebaptized again with Christian baptism. John's baptism was not asacrament; it did not confer grace nor imprint a character. Johnthe Baptist said, "I baptize with water" (John 1:26); hedeclared himself, and implicitly his baptism, much less than Christand His works. Our Lord instituted the sacrament of baptism"of water and the Holy Ghost," and laid upon all thenecessity of receiving it. Scripturetells us that theapostles (Acts 19:1-5) administered the sacrament of baptism tothose who had already received the baptism of John.

"The supreme perfection of man in this life is to be so united to God that all his soul with all its faculties and powers are so gathered into the Lord God that he becomes one spirit with him, and remembers nothing except God, is aware of and recognises nothing but God, but with all his desires unified by the joy of love, he rests contentedly in the enjoyment of his Maker alone."
St Albert the Great

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"Obedience is the true holocaust which we sacrifice to God on the altar of our hearts."
St Philip Neri

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"If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while, then love to be unknown and considered as nothing. Truly to know and despise self is the best and most perfect counsel."
Thomas á Kempis

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