“Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Jn 3:5).
As Catholic Christians we are gravely aware of the necessity of the sacraments for Eternal Salvation. The first, and therefore, most important early sacrament is Baptism - the washing away of the Original Sin handed down by our First Parents. As Catholic parents, we are admonished by Holy Mother Church, to avail our children of this cleansing Sacrament as early in a child's life as possible. Yet, we've all heard of the tragedies of early infant loss or abortion and can't help but wonder what happens to these unsanctified souls. What becomes of the child who is aborted or miscarried before Baptism? Surely there is some consoling answer for these innocents, whose parents had no opportunity to have them Baptized?
Three Types of Baptism
We are taught that there are three types of Baptism. 1). Baptism by water – using the formulaic prayer, ‘I baptize you, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit'. 2). Baptism by blood - as in the case of someone martyred for the Faith, and 3). Baptism of desire - the cleansing received by a soul who, although planning to be baptized, dies before that act can be completed. We also find a caveat to Baptism of desire: if an individual is innocently unaware of God and is provided the grace to make an act of Faith in a provident God, that person’s soul will be cleansed of Original Sin.
With God All Things are Possible
As the grandmother of five babies who were lost by miscarriage, I have faith that our righteous God provides a just outcome for these babies. By extension, I have faith of the same for babies who die from abortion. He, Himself has said that He 'knows us each by name' before we are born. If we subscribe to the belief that each human soul is given an opportunity to accept or reject God, then I firmly believe our answer lies in such a conviction. After all, these innocents have committed no Actual Sin. For a God who is Eternal, timeless, why would it be a stretch to conceive Him meeting these children at the hour of their death and giving them a choice? According to our poor human terms, they are ill equipped to make such an eternal decision, at so tender an age – but in meeting with their Maker, who are we to say that a mature choice can’t be made?
While no firm, detailed Dogma has been pronounced for our consolation, a certain amount of comfort can be found in this simple faith. God wants what is good for all of His Children. My heart rests easy, in a childlike faith and hope, that He has made just accommodations for these little ones. After all, they found themselves at the mercy of a loving God.
NOTE:A more in-depth treatment of this topic can be found in "The Fate of Unbaptized Infants: Christian Hope and Christian Realism" - which was the inspiration for my post.