Tuesday, February 16, 2010

St. Augustine - 'have not heard the gospel of Christ'

St. Leonard de Port-Maurice in his 'Few are Saved' sermon says that if an infidel who has not heard the Gospel lives according to his conscience, God would send him someone to teach him the faith or give him some inspiration, so that they have no excuse of not hearing the gospel:

"Now if these infidels have no excuse, will there be any for a Catholic who had so many sacraments, so many sermons, so many aids at his disposal?"

St. Augustine expresses the same idea here:

"For if, according to the word of truth, no one is delivered from the condemnation which was incurred through Adam except through the faith of Jesus Christ, and yet from this condemnation they shall not deliver themselves who shall be able to say they have not heard the gospel of Christ, on the ground that 'faith cometh by hearing,' how much less shall they deliver themselves who shall say 'We have not received perseverance!' For the excuse of those who say 'We have not received hearing' seems more equitable than that of those who say 'We have not received perseverance;' since it may be said, O man, in that which thou hadst heard and kept, in that thou mightest persevere if thou wouldest; but in no wise can it be said, That which thou hadst not heard thou mightest believe if thou wouldest."

St. Augustine, On Rebuke and Grace, Chapter 11 (Google Book)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

lest they, like their forefathers, should be condemned to everlasting punishment

Coleridge, Henry. The Life and Letters of St. Francis Xavier. (1872) pp. 338-9, 347

Letter of St. Francis Xavier written in 29th of January, 1552 (table of contents p. xv )
...
Before their baptism the converts of Amanguchi were greatly troubled and pained by a hateful and annoying scruple—that God did not appear to them merciful and good, because He had never made Himself known to the Japanese before our arrival, especially if it were true that those who had not worshipped God as we preached were doomed to suffer everlasting punishment in hell. It seemed to them that He had forgotten and as it were neglected the salvation of all their ancestors, in permitting them to be deprived of the knowledge of saving truths, and thus to rush headlong on eternal death. It was this painful thought which, more than anything else, kept them back from the religion of the true God.

But by the divine mercy all their error and scruple was taken away. We began by proving to them that the divine law is the most ancient of all. Before receiving their institutions from the Chinese, the Japanese knew by the teaching of nature that it was wicked to kill, to steal, to swear falsely, and to commit the other sins enumerated in the ten commandments, a proof of this being the remorse of conscience to which any one guilty of one of these crimes was certain to be a prey. We showed them that reason itself teaches us to avoid evil and to do good, and that this is so deeply implanted in the hearts of men, that all have the knowledge of the divine law from nature, and from God the Author of nature, before they receive any external instruction on the subject .

If any doubts were entertained on the matter, an experiment might be made in the person of a man without any instruction, living in absolute solitude, and in entire ignorance of the laws of his country. Such a man, ignorant of and a stranger to all human teaching, if he were asked whether it were or were not criminal to kill, to steal, or to commit the other actions forbidden by the law of God, and whether it were right to abstain from such actions, then, I say, this man, so fundamentally without all human education, would most certainly reply in such a manner as to show that he was by no means without knowledge of the divine law. Whence then must he be supposed to have received this knowledge, but from God Himself, the Author of nature ? And if this knowledge is seen among barbarians, what must be the case with civilized and polished nations? This being so, it necessarily follow that before any laws were made by men the divine law existed innate in the hearts of all men. The converts were so satisfied with this reasoning, as to see no further difficulty; so that this net having been broken, they received from us with a glad heart the sweet yoke of our Lord.
...
One of the things that most of all pains and torments these Japanese is, that we teach them that the prison of hell is irrevocably shut, so that there is no egress therefrom. For they grieve over the fate of their departed children, of their parents and relatives, and they often show their grief by their tears. So they ask us if there is any hope, any way to free them by prayer from that eternal misery, and I am obliged to answer that there is absolutely none. Their grief at this affects and torments them wonderfully ; they almost pine away with sorrow. But there is this good thing about their trouble—it makes one hope that they will all be the more laborious for their own salvation, lest they, like their forefathers, should be condemned to everlasting punishment. They often ask if God cannot take their fathers out of hell, and why their punishment must never have an end. We gave them a satisfactory answer, but they did not cease to grieve over the misfortune of their relatives; and I can hardly restrain my tears sometimes at seeing men so dear to my heart suffer such intense pain about a thing which is already done with and can never be undone.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

all these [infidels and heretics] are certainly in the way to be lost

Oh, what a miserable state were all men in before the  coming of the Messias; the true God was hardly known  even in Judea, and in every other part of the world  idolatry reigned, so that our forefathers worshipped  stones, and wood, and devils; they worshipped innumerable false gods, but the true God was neither loved nor  known by them. Even now, how many countries are there  in which there are scarcely any Catholics, and all the  rest of the inhabitants are either infidels or heretics ! and  all these are certainly in the way to be lost. What obligation do we not owe to God for causing us to be born,  not only after the coming of Jesus Christ, but also in  countries where the true faith reigns !  
 - St. Alphonsus The Incarnation, Birth, and Infancy of Jesus Christ pp. 291-2

Friday, December 18, 2009

His aversion to heretics and infidels was so great

The faith of Camillus was likewise show in the aversion which he always had for infidels. So that when he had occasion to speak of the heresies that were then so widely spread in France, Germany, and England, especially against the obedience due to the Holy See and the Roman Church, he would lift up his eyes to heaven and cry out with tears: "Is it possible that men should be so blind and not see the truth of our faith?...."

His aversion to heretics and infidels was so great that he seemed to know them by their smell. Thus, when he was once traveling from Milan with a large company on horseback, he conversed freely with all but one, who he said smelt like a heretic; and so indeed the man turned out to be. He remembered the counsel of St. John, not even to salute or eat with infidels, and so would have nothing to do with them or with Jews, especially with those who showed no respect at all for our religion.

The Life of St. Camillus of Lellis by Father Sanzio Ciccatelli, trans. by Father Frederick Faber. p. 207

Monday, September 7, 2009

so many souls go to eternal perdition through want of priests

"...Where there are a great many Indians, who are still walking on the road to eternal perdition. Alas, is it not awfully said to see so many souls go to eternal perdition through want of priests!":





"...but...they...preferred living among civilized rather than with wild people, which, of course, is more comfortable; but the poor Pagans continue to be thereby the prey of that infernal 'lion, who goes about and seeks whom he may devour'; who never rests and does much more for the eternal ruin of souls than those priests do for their salvation! My heart bleeds when I think of this misery...."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Their life had only been preserved by God until they could receive baptism and hence be saved

St. Francis Xavier, May, 1546: "Here (Ambon Island of Indonesia) there are altogether seven towns of Christians, all of which I went through and baptized all the newborn infants and the children not yet baptized. A great many of them died soon after their baptism, so that it was clear enough that their life had only been preserved by God until the entrance to eternal life should be opened to them." Coleridge, Henry. The Life and Letters of St. Francis Xavier. (1872) p. 375

Fr. De Smet, Dec. 9, 1845: "I have often remarked that many of the children seem to await baptism before winging their flight to heaven, for they die almost immediately after receiving the sacrament." Laveille, Eugene. The Life of Father de Smet, S. J. (1915) p. 93 "… over a hundred children and eleven old people were baptized. Many of the latter [the old people], who were carried on buffalo hides, seemed only to await this grace before going to rest in the bosom of God." Laveille, Eugene. The Life of Father de Smet, S. J. (1915) p. 172

The Life of St. Isaac Jogues, p. 92: "The Huron sorcerers...claimed... the Blackrobes caused people to die by pouring water on their heads; practically everyone they baptized died soon after." Talbot, Francis. Saint Among Savages: The Life of Saint Isaac Jogues

" Among these people was a little child about one year old....It was happily baptized. God preserved its life only by a miracle, it would seem, so that it might be washed in the blood of Jesus Christ and might bless His mercies forever." The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, p. 51Fr. Lalemant wrote: "...it has happened very often, and has been remarked more than a hundred times, that where we were most welcome, where we baptized most people, there it was in fact where they died the most ; and, on the contrary, in the cabins to which we were denied entrance, although they were sometimes sick to extremity, at the end of a few days one saw every person prosperously cured. We shall see in heaven the secret, but ever adorable, judgments of God therein. Meanwhile, it is one of our most usual astonishments and one of our most solid pleasures, to consider, in the midst of all those things, the gracious bounties of God in the case of those whom he wishes for himself; and to see oftener than every day his sacred and efficacious acts of providence, which so arrange matters that it comes about that not one of the elect is lost, though hell and earth oppose." The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, p. 93


St. Columba said: "My sons, today you will see an ancient Pictish chief, who has kept faithfully all his life the precepts of the natural law, arrive in this island ; he comes to be baptised and to die." Immediately after, a boat was seen to approach the shore with a feeble old man seated in the prow, who was recognized as the chief of one of the neighboring tribes. Two of his companions took him up in their arms and brought him before the missionary, to whose words, as repeated by the interpreter, he listened attentively. When the discourse was ended the old man asked to be baptised ; and immediately after breathed his last breath, and was buried in the very spot where he had just been brought to shore.

At a later date, in one of his last missions, when, himself an old man, he travelled along the banks of Loch Ness...he said to the disciples who accompanied him, " Let us make haste and meet the angels who have come down from heaven, and who wait for us beside a Pict who has done well according to the natural law during his whole life to extreme old age : we must baptise him before he dies." Then hastening his steps and outstripping his disciples, as much as was possible at his great age, he reached a retired valley, now called Glen Urquhart, where he found the old man who awaited him. Here there was no longer any need of an interpreter, which makes it probable that Columba in his old age had learned the Pictish dialect. The old Pict heard him preach, was baptised, and with joyful serenity gave up to God the soul which was awaited by those angels whom Columba saw. Montalembert, Charles. Saint Columba: Apostle of Caledonia (1868) p.63-64

St. Columba preached and worked miracles among the Picts, and, though he spoke by an interpreter, he made converts. One day on the banks of Loch Ness he cried: Let us make haste to meet the angels, who are come down from heaven and await us beside the death-bed of a Pict, who has kept the natural law, that we may baptize him before he dies." He was then aged himself, but he outstripped his companions, and reached Glen Urquhart, where the old man expected him, heard him, was baptized, and died in peace. And once, preaching in Skye, he cried out, "You will see arrive an aged chief, a Pict, who has kept faithfully the natural law; he will come here to be baptized and to die;" and so it was. New Catholic World (1867) p. 668

Within four months fifty-six had been "regenerated of water and the Holy Ghost" and become children
of God and members of His holy church. He says: "Among them were some who soon after they had received
the grace of baptism entered eternity, clothed in the white garment of baptismal innocence, with which
they were immediately admitted to the nuptial-banquet of the Lamb." Life and Labours of Rt. Reverend Frederic Baraga (1900) p. 209

In October, 1847, F. Baraga went from Copper Harbor to Fond du Lac, most probably by boat . The good people of Fond du Lac felt exceedingly happy to again meet their missionary. During his stay there many received the grace of holy Baptism. It was a particular joy to him to have admitted an entire pagan family through the door of Baptism into the fold of the Good Shepherd.

He was especially consoled by the conversion of a very old pagan woman who was perhaps ninety years of age. When he arrived at Fond du Lac he heard that this poor old woman was very weak and sick. He went, therefore, to her wigwam in which she was lying quite alone. She had been abandoned by her pagan relatives, who went far into the woods to winter there. She was alone and helpless until at last a Christian family took pity on her, cared for her. nourished her, and kept her fire burning day and night.

It is thus pagan Indians at times acted toward their aged parents or grand parents when the latter became so old and feeble that they could no longer help themselves— they simply abandoned them. Should this happen in an Indian village, there was always some one to take them and care for them until they died. This was generally done by Christian families. Baraga says that it often happened that such poor old creatures were abandoned in the midst of the forest by their own children and grand-children, in which case they would perish miserably from starvation and cold.

So, also, this poor old woman had been forsaken, but had now been taken in and cared for by a Christian family: When Baraga learned that she had been long sick, he determined to go and visit her and try to save this poor soul;After having crawled with difficulty into her very small and miserable wigwam, he saluted her. The Christian Indian woman, who had the care of her and who had accompanied the Father, told the poor old creature that the Blackrobe had come to visit her. She could not see the priest, for she wasblind, but she stretched out her hands towards him and when he reached his hand she seized it with both her hands and exclaimed: "Nosse, nosse, jawenimishin!" "My father, my father, have pity on me!" Baraga compassionated her abandoned condition and then spoke to her about religion, trying to make her understand how happy she would be in the other world, if she would but receive and believe the word of the Great Spirit and receive holy Baptism. He explained to her the principal doctrines of our holy religion and asked her from time to time whether she understood and believed what he told her. As he was satisfied from her answers that she was well disposed he intended to baptize her immediately. But then again, believing there was no immediate danger he thought it might perhaps be better to come back the next day and instruct her a little more, before administering Baptism. On leaving the wigwam, however, his first thought came again, namely, to baptize her immediately, which he did. When he came home it was late. He felt very happy and satisfied that he had baptized the poor old creature. Early the next morning the head of the Christian family, that had taken care of her, came to tell Baraga that during the night the good old woman had quietly "fallen asleep in the Lord." Only a Christian heart can imagine the unspeakable joy, which the pious missionary felt at this news. He thanked God most fervently for having inspired him with the thought not to postpone holy Baptism till next day, as he had first intended. It was a mysterious disposition of eternal love, whose weak instrument he considered himself to be, which wanted to take directly this poor soul to the eternal joys of heaven. "Parcet pauperi et inopi et animas pauperum salvas faciet." "He shall spare the poor and needy and He shall save the souls of the poor." (Ps. 71, v. 13). He also had the great joy of admitting to their first Holy Communion thirteen poor Indians, whom he had diligently prepared for that holy Sacrament. Ibid, pp. 235-6

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe