Infant baptism, besides being efficacious in its own right (or rite, tee hee) is a powerful instrument against self-righteousness. What purer way is there to say that it is not we who chose God but God who chose us, through the flawed instrument of our parents? One of my favorite images from the Byzantine Catholic liturgy is when the priest prays,
"We thank You also for this ministry, which You have willed to accept from our hands, even though there stand before You thousands of archangels, myriads of angels, Cherubim and Seraphim, six winged, many-eyed, soaring aloft on their wings."And so God desires to use human instruments in the sacraments, including Baptism.
But it seems as though we forget that. John Meehan in Two Towers: The De-Christianization of America and a Plan for Renewal plainly states those who think they are better than de-Christianized cafeteria Catholics are missing something:
Too many Catholics...fail to understand that the gift of Faith is a permanent, indelible mark imprinted on the soul; it cannot be taken away from them. That gift comes from God. They also do not comprehend that growth in knowledge and love of the Deposit of Faith requires systematic instruction, including disciplined training that culminates in a knowledge and love of Christian liturgy.So there's a bit of amnesia going both ways: the de-Christianized who have forgotten who they are and what they've been given, and the orthodox believers who have forgotten who the de-Christianized are and what they've been given.
As a supernatural gift, baptismal Fatih cannot be lost. But growth in, and development of, that gift can be misdirected or undernourished. In fact, reinforced by the rational choices of one's free will, the kind of catechical instruction that one receives usually determines how he or she lives in particular historical circumstances and cultural conditions.
This is directed at me of course: I still recoil when I hear John Kerry's name.