Tuesday, December 23, 2008

St. Alphonsus and EENS

10. They [Semipelagians] object, fourthly, and say: If even for the beginning of Faith preventing grace is necessary, then the infidels, who do not believe, are excusable, because the Gospel was never preached to them, and they, therefore, never refused to hear it. Jansenius (9) says that these are not excused, but are condemned, without having had any sufficient grace, either proximate or remote, to become converted to the faith, and that is, he says, in punishment of original sin, which has deprived them of all help. And those theologians, he says, who in general teach that these infidels have sufficient grace for salvation, some way or other have adopted this opinion from the Semipelagians. This sentiment of Jansenius, however, is not in accordance with the Scripture, which says that God " will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. ii. 4); " He was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world" (John, i. 9); " Who is the Saviour of all men, especially the faithful" (1 Tim. iv. 10); " And he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world''(1 John, ii. 2); "Who gave himself a redemption for all" (1 Tim. ii. 6). From these texts Bellarmin (10) remarks, that St. Chrysostom, St. Augustin, and St. Prosper conclude that God never fails to give to all men sufficient assistance to work out their salvation, if they desire it. And St. Augustin (11), especially, and St. Prosper (12), express this doctrine in several parts of their works. Besides, this sentiment of Jansenius is in direct opposition to the condemnation pronounced by Alexander VIII., in 1690, on that proposition, that Pagans, Jews, &c., have no sufficient grace: " Pagani, Judxi, Haeretici, aliique hujus generis nulluru omnino accipiunt a Jesu Christo influxum: adeoque hinc recte inferes, in illis esse voluntatem nudam et inermem sine omni gratia sufficiente." Neither does it agree with the condemnation pronounced by Clement XI. on two propositions of Quesnel (26, 29): " That there are no graces unless by Faith," and that "no grace is granted outside the Church."

Still we answer the Semipelagians, and say, that infidels who arrive at the use of reason, and are not converted to the Faith, cannot be excused, because though they do not receive sufficient proximate grace, still they are not deprived of remote grace, as a means of becoming converted. But what is this remote grace?
St. Thomas explains it, when he says, that if anyone was brought up in the wilds, or even among brute beasts, and if he followed the law of natural reason, to desire what is good, and to avoid what is wicked, we should certainly believe either that God, by an internal inspiration, would reveal to him what he should believe, or would send someone to preach the Faith to him, as he sent Peter to Cornelius. Thus, then, according to the Angelic Doctor [St. Thomas], God, at least remotely, gives to infidels, who have the use of reason, sufficient grace to obtain salvation, and this grace consists in a certain instruction of the mind, and in a movement of the will, to observe the natural law; and if the infidel cooperates with this movement, observing the precepts of the law of nature, and abstaining from grievous sins, he will certainly receive, through the merits of Jesus Christ, the grace proximately sufficient to embrace the Faith, and save his soul.”

Pg. 634 - 635 The History of Heresies, and Their Refutation:

The devil always strives to deceive heretics, by suggesting to them that they can be saved in their belief. This was what Theodore Beza said to St. Francis de Sales, when hard pressed by him on the importance of salvation:
"I hope to be saved in my own religion." Unhappy hope! which only keeps them in error here, and exposes them to eternal perdition hereafter, when the error cannot be remedied. I think the danger of eternal perdition, by dying separated from the Church, should be a sufficient motive to convert every heretic. It was this that made Henry IV. forsake Calvinism, and become a Catholic. He assembled a conference of Catholics and Calvinists, and after listening for a time to their arguments, he asked the Calvinistic doctors if it was possible a person could be saved in the Catholic faith; they answered that it was; "Then," said the King, " if the faith of the Roman Church secures salvation, and the Reformed faith is at least doubtful, I will take the safe side and become a Catholic."

All the misfortunes of unbelievers spring from too great an attachment to the things of this life. This sickness of heart weakens and darkens the understanding, and leads many to eternal ruin. If they would try to heal their hearts by purging them of their vices, they would soon receive light, which would show them the necessity of joining the Catholic Church, where alone is salvation. My dear Catholics, let us thank the Divine goodness, who, among so many infidels and heretics, has given us the grace to be born and live in the bosom of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, and let us take heed and not be ungrateful for so great a benefit. Let us take care and correspond to the Divine grace, for if we should be lost (which God forbid), this very benefit of grace conferred on us would be one of our greatest torments in hell.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe