Father Morelli’s First Visit to Genet’s Place

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Father Morelli and Genet were at her place. After leaving St. Paul`s Within The Walls Church, he took her home. She invited him in to spend a while. They had been to see the Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Meets Bach’s Masterpieces concert after having dinner at Cotto Restaurant. The concert lasted for 90 minutes. It was a very enjoyable evening.

When he pulled up outside of her apartment building, he would have said goodnight but she invited him to go up for a little while. “You’ve never been in my apartment,” she told him.

“No.”

“Are you afraid that you’d get into trouble?”

“No. Why would I get into trouble?”

“I don’t think Sister Caterina approves of me. After you left, she asked me why I was there and after I told her that I wanted to know about the church’s teaching on infant baptism, she informed me that if I wanted to know any more of the church teachings, I should visit the website, Catholic Answers. I don’t think she wants me to stop by the church anymore.”

“Don’t mind Sister Caterina. She didn’t approve of my mother either when she visited me. I think it had to do with her dyed hair.”

“I wonder what Sister Caterina would say if she knew that you and I went for dinner and then to a concert.”

“What I do with my personal time shouldn’t concern her.”

“I thought maybe she was the reason why you seem hesitant to come up to my place now.”

“All right, if you insist, I will come up but I won’t stay for long. You have work tomorrow and I have a busy day tomorrow.” He parked the car and they went upstairs.

Her apartment was a bright one bedroom with a small hallway, living area, kitchen, double bedroom, bathroom and terrace. It was on the fourth floor and located in the Torrevecchia area. “What would you like to drink” she asked when they were in the living-room. “I have Shakerato, Hot Chocolate and Ginger, honey and lemon herbal tea.”

“I’ll have the Shakerato.”

She left and returned a few minutes later with two glasses of Shakerato. He had been standing at the window, looking out but now he joined her on the sofa. She handed him his glass. “Saluti,” she said, raising hers.

“Saluti.”

“After our conversation about infant baptism, I went online and found out that during the Roman Empire, Christians, like other people, were usually baptized as adults. That way they were old enough to understand what they were doing.”

“Yes, baptism was originally just for adults but the Catholic Church and some protestant churches baptize infants because the earlier a person comes to baptism, the better. Parents bring their babies to the waters of baptism by professing a belief in Christ on behalf of the child and promising to raise him or her in the faith.”

“Don’t you think that an infant is too young to be baptized? A person must have faith before he or she can be baptized.”

“That’s true but, although the child is too young to have faith, the parents extend their faith on the child’s behalf. The Church believes that the faith of one person may be effective on behalf of someone else because there are many such examples in the Bible, of Jesus extending healing grace to people based on the faith of others. For example, Jesus forgave the sins of the paralytic based on his friends’ faith. Jesus healed the servant based on his master, the centurion’s faith. And the same thing with the father who went to Jesus in Cana to ask for his son to be healed. Jairus’ daughter was healed because of his faith, the same for the father whose son had the unclean spirit and the woman with the demon possessed daughter.”

“None of those examples support infant baptism. In the case of the father, he wanted Jesus to go to his house with him. When Jairus was told not to trouble the Teacher any further because his daughter was dead, Jesus said to him, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe.’ I believe the early Christians didn’t baptize infants.  In the second and third centuries, the early church seems to have preferred full immersion instead of the sprinkling of water or the baptism of infants. There were two exceptions. The first is that the Didache allowed the pouring of water three times instead of full immersion. This was in cases when there wasn’t sufficient water for immersion. And the second exception is that in the third century, St. Cyprian defended both sprinkling and pouring instead of full immersion in cases where a person was expected to die soon.”

“What’s the Didache?”

“The Didache is ‘the first known Christian catechesis’ and it provides a brief guide to Christian practice, sacraments and morality from the first century.”

“And who was St. Cyprian?”

“He was an early Christian theologian and bishop of Carthage who led the Christians of North Africa during a period of persecution from Rome.”

“So, what about infant baptism?”

“A century after Tertullian, St. Cyprian advocated for infant baptism, although for many years this remained the exception to the rule of full immersion. Infant baptism did not become routine until the fifth and sixth centuries.”

“Who was Tertullian again?”

“He was the father of Latin Christianity and the founder of Western theology”. It was he who came up with new theological concepts and advanced the development of early Church doctrine. He’s most famous for being the first writer in Latin to use the term trinity. He was from Carthage too.”

“What was his opinion of infant baptism?”

“He advised against it.”

“You mean he was against it?”

“No. Tertullian wasn’t against the practice of infant baptism. He merely questioned the wisdom in baptizing the children of pagans joining the church. However, in the cases of the children of Christians, he argued for infant baptism. 1 Corinthians 7:14 states, ‘For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.’ Tertullian believed that these children are holy and for him one cannot be holy, for unless born of water and the Spirit. Baptism cleanses the infant’s soul. So, to say that Tertullian was totally against infant baptism is inaccurate.”

“Well, I still don’t believe that the practice is biblical. Baptism is a choice. Children should have the right to choose whether or not they want to be baptized and they could only do so when they are at the age when they can make their own decisions.”

“Let’s just agree to disagree on infant baptism.”

“All right. Let’s drop it.”

“Thanks for a very enjoyable evening. The dinner was excellent and the concert was beyond my expectations.”

She smiled. “You’re welcome.”

“You have a very nice place. From the window, you can see Monte Mario in the distance and Torrevecchia is a nice neighborhood. I knew someone who used to live here but he moved to Torino after he got married. His wife is from there.”

“My office is about twenty minutes from here by train. Have you ever visited Monte Mario? It’s the highest hill in Rome.”

“No, what about you?”

“I’ve been there a couple of times. It’s the perfect place if you want to get away from the busyness of the city and the tourists. There are several stories about the hill’s name. Some sources say that it was named after cardinal Mario Mellini, who was the owner of a villa on the hill and surrounding suburbs. While others say that the hill got its name from its Middle Ages name which was Monte Malo, Bad Mountain. And that was because of the violent murder of patrician Giovanni Crescenzio in 998 which happened in the woods of Monte Mario.”

“I’d heard about that.”

“Monte Mario has a park too. Maybe we can go there one Saturday or Sunday afternoon when you’re free.”

“That would be nice.”

“There are churches there too. Santa Croce a Monte Mario, San Lazzaro dei Lebbrosi and Santa Maria del Rosario. I’ve been meaning to visit them but haven’t gotten around to it.”

“We can visit them together.”

“I’d like that.”

He stood up. “I’d better be going now. Thanks for the Shakerato.”

“You’re welcome.” She followed him into the foyer. “I hope that you will stay longer the next time you’re here.”

“I will,” he promised with a smile. “Goodnight, Genet.”

“Goodnight, Roberto.”

Sources: Quatr; Simply Catholic; Catholic Faith; What Christians Want to Know; Britannica; Wikipedia; EduBirdie; Catholic Fidelity; Silo Tips; Zondervan Academic; Housing Anywhere; Rome.us

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