Catholics believe that when we are baptized:
- we are washed free of all sins, both original and actual, as well as all punishment for sin
- the baptized is made "a new creature" (1265 CCC) and given sanctifying grace
- we are made members of the Body of Christ, the Church
- we are given an indelible spiritual mark
The Church teaches that baptism is necessary for salvation to all those who have received the Gospel and who are able to ask for the sacrament based on Mark 16:16 (1257 CCC)
So we believe that as parents we have a responsibility to ensure that our children are baptized. If we think of original sin-that sin which is transferred to us from our original parents, Adam & Eve--as dirt and grime, would we not be remiss if we did not ensure that our children were washed clean through the sacrament of baptism?
I understand that when adults are baptized they are able to stand up for themselves and proclaim their faith. When Catholic parents have their children baptized, they are standing up for the child and promising that they will raise them and Christian and the child is given grace to help it grow spiritually.
There are several instances in the Bible where whole households are baptized including Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33 and 1 Corr 1:16. When this happened, it means more than husband and wife. It included children and probably any slaves that were included in the household.
The argument against infant baptism can be explain if it is understood what Catholics believe happens at baptism. It is also important to point out that the Church has been baptizing infants since the early church. This is shown not only in early writings but in Scripture.
There is a good article, if you are interested in further reading at the Catholic Answers website. This is just a short brief post, I realize. Is there anything that you catechists out there can add to help explain it better?? Anything I missed?