Perhaps you have a family member in heaven and you can ask them about things. Do you know the options for celebrating his birthday?
The risen Jesus, before ascending to heaven, said to his apostles:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” .
(Mt 28, 19-20)
This is why the apostles and other Christians of the early Church were aware of the absolute necessity of administering Baptism.
They saw it as the fulfillment of a mandate from the risen Lord. For this reason, when they began to preach the Gospel, they baptized all those who believed in Jesus.
Why did Jesus ask to baptize all peoples? Because salvation is received in Baptism. In fact, Jesus said: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk 16:16).
And what is salvation? The entrance to heaven.
A new life
Believing and receiving Baptism implies a total renewal of life, it is like being born again.
For this reason, Baptism is considered a rebirth, the beginning of a new life in direct relationship with God.
Jesus said: “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn 3:5).
“The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. For this he commanded his disciples to proclaim the Gospel and to baptize all nations. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been announced and who have had the opportunity to ask for this sacrament. The Church knows no other means other than Baptism to ensure entry into eternal beatitude; therefore she takes care not to neglect the mission received from the Lord to make all those who can be baptized be reborn «by water and by the Spirit».
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1257
Baptism, door to heaven
By communicating to us the life of grace, which is nothing other than the divine life within us, Baptism makes us children of God the Father, brothers of Jesus, temple of the Holy Spirit and members of the Church. But there’s more:
“By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all the punishments of sin. Indeed, in those who have been regenerated, nothing remains to prevent them from entering the kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the most serious of which is separation from God.
Yes. Baptism makes us holy because it takes away our sin and gives us back the fullness of sanctifying grace.
Baptism, by guaranteeing us entry into heaven, makes us holy, because holiness consists precisely in living in God’s grace, in leading the divine life.
“The remission of sins in the Church occurs first of all when the soul professes the faith for the first time. With the baptismal water, in fact, such ample forgiveness is granted that no more guilt remains – neither original nor any other subsequently contracted – and any penalty to be served is forgiven”.
Starting from the precious gift of grace conferred in Baptism, which not only purifies our soul from all sin, but communicates divine life to us, making us holy, we have the possibility, if we die after Baptism, to immediately enjoy the joy of God himself.
And so we understand why the most important day of our lives was that of our second birth into a supernatural life.
After these considerations, it is easy to understand the importance and necessity of Baptism.
A day when the Church venerates all innocents
Since the fourth century, the Church has celebrated every December 28 the memory of the children murdered by Herod because of Jesus (Mt 2, 16-17). The liturgical tradition calls them Holy Innocents and considers them martyrs.
And those innocent people who died by Herod’s order ascended to heaven receiving the prize of souls that have no guilt.
Without a doubt, from there they interceded with God for their afflicted parents asking for blessings for them.
For centuries the feelings of tenderness of the whole Church have surrounded their memory. These sentiments were joined by constant indignation at the violence with which these little martyrs were torn from their parents and put to death.
The whole Church therefore venerates those children of Bethlehem and its surroundings who, without having the Christian faith or having received Baptism in the traditional way, died for Christ.
The Church considers these innocent martyrs saints who preached God’s glory not in words, but by giving their lives for Jesus, and asks for their intercession. We recall the collect prayer of the Mass of that day:
“O God, who today in the Holy Innocents you were glorified not in words but with martyrdom, grant us too to express in our lives the faith we profess with our lips”.
We too ask them to intercede for us, who are certainly not innocent, but in need of God’s forgiveness.
And if the Church venerates them it is because they are truly saints, they are blessed in heaven, and as such they intercede for us.
Ask for their intercession
After having understood the excellence of the sacrament of Baptism and its necessity and having considered the baptismal holiness received as little ones, and after having verified the sanctity of the innocent little martyrs, it is easy to understand that infants and children who died after Baptism have already saved, have entered the kingdom of heaven, are holy and therefore worthy of our veneration.
The Church, even if not in a magisterial and explicit way, by common sense considers infants and children who die in Baptism to be saints, and therefore their intercession can be asked.
A baptized infant or child immediately enjoys God in heaven when it dies because it has nothing to purify.
And if he has the beatific vision of God he is totally holy. And if he is holy, by entering celestial glory, he is part of the triumphant Church, and he will be, like all the other saints, an intercessor for us members of the militant Church.
These children are saints because they see God face to face as He is (Mt 5, 8; 1 Jn 3, 2; Rev 22, 4), and without a doubt they love Him perfectly, because it is impossible to know God and not love Him.
Saints, not angels
A clarification is needed: these babies and children are saints, not angels, as is usually said.
Angels differ from human beings, regardless of their age at the time of death, in that they have no body. An infant or child has a body, and it also has a soul. Angels have neither body nor soul.
These little saints will be revered by all who knew them, especially parents, godparents and other family members.
The Church remembers them with equal veneration on the solemnity of All Saints.
I am definitely in heaven
These little saints do not need a canonization process, and therefore will not be proposed by the Church as a model of holiness, even if they are, because, among other things, the Church does not know them.
A canonization process seeks to ascertain the extraordinary, not the ordinary, holiness that is received in Baptism.
In a process of canonization two miracles must generally occur to prove that a person is in heaven, certify the fact and consequently propose that person as a model for following Jesus.
It is not necessary to follow this process with infants and children who have died after Baptism.
Because? Because no canonical process is supposed to be necessary, even if they perform miracles with their intercession, simply because one already has the absolute certainty that they are in heaven.
Celebrate the day of their bodily death
When to celebrate the sanctity of these children in the family? As in the case of the other saints, the dies natalisthe day of their physical or bodily death.
In church tradition, the moment of death was considered the dies natalisthe day in which the Christian is born into true life.