Unbaptized baby died in womb

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Question from laura on 5/16/2008:

HI-I don't claim to have all the answers but I know that precious child is in heaven-call it what you will. Many years ago, when I was 4, my poor mom miscarried my baby sister, who also was unable to be baptized. She took the death very hard. I am not sure if it was the Holy Spirit or what yet somehow, at the tender age of 7, when thinking about my little sister, I somehow knew that she was with Jesus. Later on, after joining the air force, I left the church and attended baptist church. They teach that children who die before the age of accountability or reason goes straight to heaven. I still believe that. I have since returned to the catholic church three years ago yet still hold dearly that concept that was taught in my ex-husband's faith. I really don't believe that a just yet merciful God would send a helpless baby to be condemned forever over something that was completely out of their control. A military member I once had the pleasure of working with shared with me about her near-death experience when she was very little and seeing Jesus. I am convinced that she did saw the Lord. I also heard an old saying that it really isn't God that sends you to hell but you send yourself to hell by the choices you made in this life. I also believe that. True, the path to heaven is very narrow and difficult to reach yet Jesus did taught that one must become like a child to enter God's kingdom. I think that in itself says it all. These little babies, although they were born with the original sin, they didn't have a chance to grow enough to make the choices and are probably not held accountable at all. I hope this mother who lost her precious son will find peace at last with the thought of seeing her son again in heaven. I know that if I make it to heaven, I sure can't wait to meet my little sister. Peace-sincerely, laura
Answer by David Gregson on 6/2/2008:

Let me say I share your conviction that God wouldn't condemn an unbaptized child who died before the age of accountability. That is, He wouldn't send the child to a place of punishment for sins he/she never committed. But it doesn't necessarily follow that He would receive the child into heaven. For Catholics, heaven is much more than that happy place pictured by Baptists, which is probably not much different from limbo as it was more optimistically conceived. Heaven is the Beatific Vision, in which a person is so absorbed in God as to be deified, even while remaining a creature. For this only sanctifying grace can prepare us. Original sin is the lack of this grace, which is normally restored only in Baptism.

As I said in my answer to the previous question, God can act outside His sacraments and give grace where He pleases, but it’s not something we can demand of Him, as if He owed it to us, even the most innocent among us. All we can do is pray that He may give it to those children who were never given the opportunity for Baptism, and make sure we get those children baptized who have been given the opportunity.

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