In other words, what is my responsibility towards adults I know who are not baptized? And a related question, what is my responsibility towards children I know who are not baptized and who are being raised "unchurched"? I realize that your answer may not be quick in coming. That's OK. I would appreciate your thoughts whenever you have the time.
Thank you for your question. Let me say first of all that the situation of your friend's elderly father is most poignant and I will pray for her and for him. The decision to be baptized would have to come from him and even that would depend on the free gift of faith. So, pray he will receive that gift. You are quite correct in saying we can never judge the state of someones soul, especially that final struggle before death.
You did your homework on what Jesus' teaching (the Catechism) says regarding the necessity of baptism. The paragraph you quoted from does contain a couple of sentences which are more emphatic: "The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation." And "The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude..."
About children who are being raised "unchurched" you have a marvelous oportunity to evangelize. One possible starting point is to tell them about holy water and some of the different blessings of objects (homes, cars, statues, palm branches, etc.) and people. They will have a thousand questions because they have seen it in movies. Then explain that holy water gets its power because it is a reminder of baptism.
Especially with children we should not soft-pedal the mysticism of our faith and that it involves a real struggle with demonic powers. They might later be exposed to a rationalism which pooh-poohs all that. But they might also see that naturalism does not account for the density of their experience. That's when your "stories" of faith may come back to them. Does that make sense? I have seen it happen in young people whom I knew from their early childhood.
God bless, Mary. You are in my prayers.
Fr. Phil Bloom
P.S. If your friend's father were to slip into a coma, she should certainly call her priest and ask what could be done for him. We do not know what his last thoughts and desires might be, especially considering that he is surround by such people of faith and prayer.
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Wedding in Arandas
(Plus pictures of Blessed Luis Magana's Granddaughters)