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I am writing about a matter that worries me because it concerns the most important of the sacraments that my child will receive in a few days. The problem is at that time I will most likely be on my fifth day and therefore the seven prescribed  days   to purify the body will not have passed. Can I still hold my baby during the celebration of Baptism or could the fact that I will be touching him make him unclean for the Sacrament? I have in mind  the words of Leviticus 15,19-31 where it says that any bed on which the woman will lie will remain unclean until evening and whatever  or whoever she touches will remain unclean until evening.  If that is the case, I do not want to compromise the sacrament with my touch at the very moment of the celebration. I am a strong believer and I want to be sure that the sacrament is received without stains of impurity that might somehow invalidate it.

I await your response. Yours truly.


The Priest’s answer

Dear friend

1. First of all, accept my sincere congratulations for the child that the Lord has given you.

2.Then, in regard  to your problem ,bear in mind  the precept of Leviticus has been abrogated by Jesus Christ.

According to the ancient law, every secretion, including the inevitable loss of the puerpera’s blood, was a source of impurity.

It should be noted, however, that it was not a matter of moral impurity which is the contamination of the soul (in other words, of sin) but simply a ritual impurity. That is to say, a person could not participate in the worship until he/she had purified him/herself with the scheduled rites, which generally consisted of ablutions.

3. You will remember well what the Lord said about what makes you unclean:

“Hear and understand. It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one” (…)

Do you not realize that everything that enters the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled into the latrine? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy.These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile” (Mt 15 10-11.17-20).

Not even blood loss makes a person impure.

4. This is why Saint Paul says: “Let no one, then, pass judgment on you in matters of food and drink or with regard to a festival or new moon or sabbath. These are shadows of things to come; the reality belongs to Christ” (Col 2,16-17).

And that is why in the Letter to the Jews you read: ”When he speaks of a “new” covenant, he declares the first one obsolete. And what has become obsolete and has grown old is close to disappearing” (Eb 8,13).

5. On this subject the most beautiful witness comes to us from the Lord who, through the pouring of His Blood, has purified, redeemed and sanctified us.

6. With respect to the precepts found in the Old Testament, it must be remembered that they are of three types.

Above all, there are the moral precepts, namely the 10 commandments. These belong to the natural law. Jesus Christ did not repeal them, but brought them to completion. In this sense He said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill” (Mt 5,17).

He is the fulfillment. This means that the commandments are the indispensable path that one must take to be able to encounter Christ and be enlivened by Him.

7. Then, there are the civil precepts. These precepts would  regulate the social life of the people, such as the payment of taxes, the penalties that were to be imposed for various crimes or defaults.

In this regard it should be remembered that Israel was a theocratic society, that is to say that civil and social legislation were also determined by God.

Regarding these precepts, Jesus Christ said: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Mt 22,21).

Therefore, it is not for a  religious society to determine social legislation. This is a matter for the  civil authority.

Thus the civil precepts in ancient Israel were also abrogated by Jesus Christ.

8. Finally, there were the religious precepts that would regulate the worship, the festivals, the rites that had to be observed on various celebrations.

Nonetheless, the worship of the Old Testament, which was a shadow and prefiguration of the worship of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice, ceased to be valid in the presence of Christ.

This is why the precepts relating to the observance of the Sabbath no longer apply, because the Sabbath, which recalled the first creation, was replaced by Sunday, by the day of the Lord, the day on which we remember the new creation that began with the resurrection of Christ.

9. Saint Thomas says that observing these precepts is as if we wanted to worship the image of the king, when the king is present.

At that moment the image no longer matters. The attention must be all for the person, for His presence, for what He does. Even the religious precepts were all repealed by Jesus Christ.

So it  is for the precept concerning the uncleanness of which the book of Leviticus speaks.

Saint Thomas adds that the observance of ancient rites today constitutes sin.

Here are his precise words: “Now, though our faith in Christ is the same as that of the fathers of old; yet, since they came before Christ, whereas we come after Him, the same faith is expressed in different words, by us and by them. For by them was it said: “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son,” where the verbs are in the future tense: whereas we express the same by means of verbs in the past tense, and say that she “conceived and bore.” 

In like manner the ceremonies of the Old Law betokened Christ as having yet to be born and to suffer: whereas our sacraments signify Him as already born and having suffered. Consequently, just as it would be a mortal sin now for anyone, in making a profession of faith, to say that Christ is yet to be born, which the fathers of old said devoutly and truthfully; so too it would be a mortal sin now to observe those ceremonies which the fathers of old fulfilled with devotion and fidelity”  (Summa Theologiae, I-II, 103, 4).

10. Therefore be with your child, embrace him, nurse him, make on his forehead the sign of Christ the redeemer, the cross, which drives away demons and evil spirits.

This is how you can  prepare to celebrate in a pure and holy way the sacrament of Baptism.

I sincerely bless you and your dearest child and I remember you in my prayer.

Father Angelo