Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Body and Soul of the Church

The Catholic Dogma by Fr. Mueller:

"Unquestionably, all must enter into the Church," some will say; "but not necessarily into the visible Church. We must distinguish between the Body or exterior communion of the Church, and the soul, or interior communion. The dogma of faith simply says: out of the Church there is no salvation, and you have no right to add the word visible or exterior."

"We add the word exterior or visible," says Dr. O. A. Brownson, "to distinguish the Church out of which there is no salvation from the invisible Church contended for by Protestants, and which no Catholic does or can admit. Without it, the dogma of faith contains no meaning. Unquestionably, as our Lord in his humanity had two parts, his body and his soul, so we may regard the Church, his Spouse, as having two parts, the one exterior and visible, the other interior and invisible, or visible only by the exterior, as the soul of man is visible by his face; but to contend that the two parts are separable, or that the interior exists disconnected from the exterior and is sufficient independently of it, is to assert, in so many words, the prevailing doctrine of Protestants, and so far as relates to the indispensable conditions of salvation, to yield them, at least in their understanding, the whole question. In the present state of controversy with Protestants, we cannot save the integrity of the faith, unless we add the epithet, visible or external. But it is not true that by so doing we add to the dogma of faith. The sense of the epithet is necessarily contained in the simple word Church itself, and the only necessity there is of adding it at all is in the fact that heretics have mutilated the meaning of the word Church, so that to them it no longer has its full and proper meaning. Whenever the word Church is used generally, without any specific qualification, expressed or necessarily implied, it means, by its own force, the visible as well as the invisible Church, the Body no less than the Soul; for the Body, the visible or external communion, is not a mere accident, but is essential to the Church.. The Church, by her very definition, is the congregation of men called by God through the evangelical doctrine, and professing the true Christian faith under their infallible Pastor and Head - the Pope. This definition takes in nothing not essential to the very idea of the Church. The Church, then, is always essentially visible as well as invisible, exterior as well as interior; and to exclude from our conception of it the conception of visibility would be as objectionable as to exclude the conception of body from the conception of man. Man is essentially body and soul; and whosoever speaks of him - as living man - must, by all the laws of language, logic and morals, be understood to speak of him in that sense in which he includes both. So, in speaking of the Church, if the analogy is admissible at all. Consequently, when faith teaches us that out of the Church there is no salvation, and adds herself no qualification, we are bound to understand the Church in her integrity, as Body no less than as Soul, visible no less than invisible, external no less than internal. Indeed, if either were to be included rather than the other, it would be the Body; for the Body, the congregation or society, is what the word primarily and properly designates; and it designates the soul only for the reason that the living Body necessarily connotes the soul by which it is a living Body, not a corpse. We have then, the right, nay, are bound by the force of the word itself, to understand by the Church, out of which there is no salvation, the visible or external as well as the invisible or internal communion.

"What Bellarmine, Billuart, Perrone, and others say of persons pertaining to the soul and yet not to the Body of the Church makes nothing against this conclusion. They, indeed, teach that there is a class of persons that may be saved, who cannot be said to be actually and properly in the Church. Bellarmine and Billuart instance catechumens and excommunicated persons, in case they have faith, hope, and charity; Perrone, so far as we have seen, instances catechumens only; and it is evident from the whole scope of their reasoning that all they say on this point must be restricted to catechumens, and such as are substantially in the same category with them; for they instance no others, and we are bound to construe every exception to the rule strictly, so as to make it as little of an exception as possible. If, then, our conclusion holds true, notwithstanding the apparent exception in the case of catechumens and those substantially in the same category, nothing these authors say can prevent it from holding true universally.

"Catechumens are persons who have not yet received the visible sacrament of baptism in re (in reality), and therefore are not actually and properly in the Church, since it is only by baptism that we are made members of Christ and incorporated into his Body. 'With regard to these there is no difficulty,' says Bellarmine, 'because they are of the Faithful, and if they die in that state may be saved; and yet no one can be saved out of the Church, as no one was saved out of the ark, according to the decision of the fourth Council of Lateran, C. 1: "Una est fidelium Universalis Ecclesia, extra quam nullus omnino salvatur." Still, it is no less certain that catechumens are in the Church, not actually and properly, but only potentially, as a man conceived, but not yet formed and born, is called man only potentially. For we read (Acts, ii. 41.) "they therefore that received his word were baptized; and there were added to them that day about three thousand souls." Thus the Council of Florence, in its instructions for the Armenians, teaches that men are made members of Christ and of the Body of the Church when they are baptized; and so all the Fathers teach . . . Catechumens are not actually and properly in the Church. How can you say they are saved, if they are out of the Church?"

"It is clear that this difficulty, which Bellarmine states, arises from understanding that to be in the Church means to be in the visible Church, and that, when faith declares, out of the Church no one can be saved, it means out of the visible communion. Otherwise it might be answered, since they are assumed to have faith, hope, and charity, they belong to the soul of the Church, and that is all that faith requires. But, Bellarmine does not so answer, and since he does not, but proceeds to show that they do in a certain sense belong to the body, it is certain that he understands the article of faith as we do, and holds that men are not in the Church unless they, in some sense, belong to the body. "But," Bellarmine continues, "The author of the book 'De Ecclesiasticis Dogmatibus,' replies, that they are not saved. But this appears too severe; certain it is that St. Ambrose, in his oration on the death of Valentinian, expressly affirms that catechumens can be saved, of which number was Valentinian when he departed this life. Another solution is therefore to be sought. Melchior Cano says that catechumens may be saved, because, if not in the Church properly called Christian, they are yet in the Church which comprehends all the faithful, from Abel to the consummation of the world. But this is not satisfactory; for, since the coming of Christ there is no true Church but that which is properly called Christian, and therefore, if catechumens are not members of this, they are members of none. I reply therefore, that the assertion, 'out of the Church no one can be saved,' is to be understood of those who are of the Church neither actually nor in desire, as theologians generally say when treating of baptism." (De. Eccl. Milit. lib. 3, cap. 3)

"I have said," says Billuart, "that catechumens are not actually and properly in the Church, because, when they request admission into the Church, and when they already have faith and charity, they may be said to be in the Church proximately and in desire, as one may be said to be in the house because he is in the vestibule for the purpose of immediately entering. And in this sense must be taken what I have elsewhere said of their pertaining to the Church, that is, that they pertain to her inchoately, as aspirants who voluntarily subject themselves to her laws; and they may be saved, notwithstanding there is no salvation out of the Church; for this is to be understood of one who is in the Church neither actually nor virtually—nec re nec in voto. In the same sense St. Augustine, (Tract. 4 in Joan. n. 13.) is to be understood when he says, 'Futuri erant aliqui in Ecclesia excelsioris gratiae catechumeni,' that is, in will and proximate disposition, 'in voto et proxima dispositione.' (Theolog. de Reg. Fid. Dissert. 3, art. 3.)

"It is evident, both from Bellarmine and Billuart, that no one can be saved unless he belongs to the visible Communion of the Church, either actually or virtually, and also that the salvation of catechumens can be asserted only because they do so belong; that is, because they are in the vestibule, for the purpose of entering, have already entered in their will and proximate disposition. St. Thomas teaches with regard to these, in case they have faith working by charity, that all they lack is the reception of the visible sacrament in reality; but, if they are prevented by death from receiving it in reality before the Church is ready to administer it, that God supplies the defect, accepts the will for the deed, and reputes them to be baptized. If the defect is supplied, and God reputes them to be baptized, they are so in effect, have in effect received the visible sacrament, are truly members of the external communion of the Church, and therefore are saved in it, not out of it. (Summa, 3, q. 68, a. 2, corp. ad 2. et ad 3.

"The case of the catechumens disposes of all who are substantially in the same category. The only persons, not catechumens, who can be in the same category, are persons who have been validly baptized, and stand in the same relation to the sacrament of Reconciliation that catechumens do to the sacrament of Faith. Infants, validly baptized, by whomsoever baptized, are made members of the Body of our Lord, and, if dying before coming to the age of reason go immediately to heaven. But persons having come to the age of reason, baptized in an heretical society, or persons baptized in such society in infancy, and adhering to it after having come to the years of understanding - for there can be no difference between the two classes - whether through ignorance or not, are, as we have seen, out of unity, and therefore out of charity, without which they are nothing. Their faith, if they have any, does not avail them; their sacraments are sacrilegious. The wound of sacrilege is mortal, and the only possible way of being healed is through the sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance. But for these to stand in the same relation to this sacrament that catechumens do to the sacrament of Faith, they must cease to adhere to their heretical societies, must come out from among them, seek and find the Church, recognize her as the Church, believe what she teaches, voluntarily subject themselves to her laws, knock at the door, will to enter, standing waiting to enter as soon as she opens and says, Come in. If they do all this, they are substantially in the same category with catechumens; and if, prevented by death from receiving the visible sacrament in reality, they may be saved, yet not as simply joined to the soul of the Church, but as in effect joined or restored to her external Communion. By their voluntary renunciation of their heretical or schismatic society, by their explicit recognition of the Church, by their actual return to her door, by their dispositions and will to enter, they are effectually, if not in form, members of the Body as well as the soul. Persons excommunicated stand on the same footing as these. They are excluded from the Church, unless they repent. If they repent and receive the visible sacrament of Reconciliation, either in reality or in desire, they may be saved because the Church, in excommunicating them, has willed their amendment, not their exclusion from the people of God; but we have no authority to affirm their salvation on any other condition.

St. Thomas Aquinas on the necessity of explicit Faith in the Incarnation and Trinity for salvation

The Catholic Dogma by Fr. Mueller:

Hence it has always been, from the beginning, absolutely necessary for salvation to know, by divine faith, God as the Creator of heaven and earth and the eternal Rewarder of the good and the wicked, and the Incarnation of the Son of God, and consequently the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity; "For he that cometh to God," says St. Paul, "must believe that he is, and is a rewarder of those who seek him." (Heb. xi. 6.) Upon these words of the great Apostle, Cornelius a Lapide comments as follows:

"The knowledge of God acquired from the contemplation of the world teaches only that God is the Author of the world and of all natural blessings, and that only these natural goods can be obtained and asked of him. But God wishes to be honored and loved by men, not only as the Author of natural goods, but also as the Author of the supernatural and everlasting goods in the world to come; and no one can in any other way come to him and to his friendship, please him, and be acceptable to him. Hence true, divine faith is necessary, because it is only by the light of divine faith that we know God, not only as the Author of nature, but also as the Author of grace and eternal glory; and therefore the Apostle says that to know that there is a God, who rewards the good and punishes the wicked, is to know him as such, not only from natural knowledge, and belief, but also from supernatural knowledge and divine faith.

"But if St. Paul speaks here only of these two great truths, it does by no means follow, that he wishes to teach that the supernatural knowledge of these two truths only and divine faith in them are sufficient to obtain justification, that is, to obtain the grace to become the children of God; but they are necessary in order to be greatly animated with hope in undergoing hard labors and struggles for the sake of virtue. However, to obtain the grace of justification, we must also believe other supernatural truths, especially the mystery of the Incarnation of Christ and that of the Most Holy Trinity." (Comm. in Ep. ad Heb., ix. 6.)

"Some theologians," says St. Alphonsus, "hold that the belief of the two other articles - the Incarnation of the Son of God, and the Trinity of Persons - is strictly commanded but not necessary, as a means without which salvation is impossible; so that a person inculpably ignorant of them may be saved. But according to the more common and truer opinion, the explicit belief of these articles is necessary as a means without which no adult can be saved." (First Command. No. 8.) According to St. Augustine (De Praedest. Sanctorum C. 15.) and other Theologians, the predestination, election, and Incarnation of Christ alone were owing, not to the foreseen merit of any one, not even to that of Christ himself, but only to the good pleasure of God. However, the predestination of all men in general, or the election of some in preference to others, is all owing to the merit of Christ, on account of which God has called all men to life everlasting and gives them sufficient grace to obtain it, if they make a proper use of his grace, especially that of prayer.

"That faith," says the same great Doctor of the Church , "is sound, by which we believe that neither any adult nor infant could be delivered from sin and the death of the soul, except by Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and man." ( Ep. 190, olim 157, parum a principio.) Hence St Thomas says: Almighty God decreed from all eternity the mystery of the Incarnation, in order that men might obtain salvation through Christ. It was therefore necessary at all times, that this mystery of the Incarnation should, in some manner, be explicitly believed. Undoubtedly, that means is necessarily a truth of faith, by which man obtains salvation. Now men obtain salvation by the mystery of the Incarnation and Passion of Christ; for it is said in the Holy Scripture: "There is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved." (Acts, iv. 10.) Hence it was necessary at all times that the mystery of the Incarnation of Christ should be believed by all men in some manner (aliqualiter, either implicitly or explicitly), however, in a different way, according to the circumstances, of times and persons.

Before the fall, man believed explicitly the Incarnation of Christ. Ante statum peccati homo habuit explicitam fidem de Christi incarnatione, secundum quod ordinabatur ad consummationem gloriae, non autem secundum quod ordinabatur ad liberationem a peccato per passionem et resurrectionem, quia homo non fuit praescius peccati futuri. But that he had the knowledge of Christ's Incarnation seems to follow from his words: "Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife." (Gen. 11. 24) And St. Paul calls this a great sacrament in Christ and in the Church; (Eph. v. 32.) and therefore it cannot be believed that the first man was ignorant of this sacrament.

After the fall of man, the mystery of the Incarnation of Christ was explicitly believed, that is, not only, the Incarnation itself, but also the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, by which mankind is delivered from sin and death; for otherwise they could not have prefigured Christ's Passion by certain sacrifices offered as well before as also after the Written Law, the meaning of which sacrifices was well known to those whose duty it was to teach the religion of God; but as to the rest of the people, who believed that those sacrifices were ordained by God to foreshadow Christ to come, they had thus implicit faith in Christ.

[St. Thomas said:] As the mystery of the Incarnation was believed from the beginning, so, also, was it necessary to believe the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity; for the mystery of the Incarnation cannot be explicitly believed without faith in the Most Holy Trinity, because the mystery of the Incarnation teaches that the Son of God took to himself a human body and soul by the power of the Holy Ghost. Hence, as the mystery of the Incarnation was explicitly believed by the teachers of religion, and implicitly by the rest of the people, so, also, was the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity explicitly believed by the teachers of religion and implicitly by the rest of the people. But in the New Law it must be explicitly believed by all." (De Fide, Q ii., art. vii. et viii.)

God revealed these great truths of salvation to our first parents immediately after the fall. He preserved the knowledge of them through the holy patriarchs and prophets who, in clear language, foretold that the Redeemer would come, and "be a priest upon his throne" (Zach. vi. 13.), "a priest according to the order of Melchisedech," (Ps. cix. 4.), and that he himself would be the victim offered up for the sins of mankind.

[The same text of St. Thomas in slightly different wording: pg 289 of Catechism of Perseverance ]

Correcting misinterpretation of St. Augustine

St. Augustine wrote:
There are some also who as yet live wickedly, or even lie in heresies or the superstitions of the Gentiles, and yet even then "the Lord knoweth them that are His." For, in that unspeakable foreknowledge of God, many who seem to be without are in reality within, and many who seem to be within yet really are without. Of all those, therefore, who, if I may so say, are inwardly and secretly within, is that "enclosed garden" composed, "the fountain sealed, a well of living water, the orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits." The divinely imparted gifts of these are partly peculiar to themselves, as in this world the charity that never faileth, and in the world to come eternal life; partly they are common with evil and perverse men, as all the other things in which consist the holy mysteries.

In this context St. Augustine is not talking about being within the Church or outside the Church; he is talking about being within the predestinate or being out of it.

He says that there are some who "seem to be without," viz., outside the predestinate; headed for hell). The first category is bad Catholics
- those "who as yet live wickedly." The second category is non-Catholics - those who "lie in heresies or the superstitions of the Gentiles. St. Augustine continues on to say that God, by his "foreknowledge" knows that some of the bad Catholics and the non-Catholics will convert to being good Catholics and hence be saved, and therefore are actually "within" the predestinate.

Catholics "who as yet live wickedly" are obviously in state of perdition; St. Augustine couldn't have meant that they were in the state of grace at the same time. If the phrase "as in this world the charity that never faileth" is interpreted as saying that non-Catholics were in state of grace by having charity, then it would also have to be interpreted as saying that Catholics "who as yet live wickedly" (that is, in the state of mortal sin) are in the state of grace as well, which is impossible, since Catholics in mortal sin cannot be in the state of grace. In the same context St. Augustin continues:

"Wherefore, if those appear to men to be baptized in Catholic unity who renounce the world in words only and not in deeds, how do they belong to the mystery of this ark in whom there is not the answer of a good conscience? Or how are they saved by water, who, making a bad use of holy baptism, though they seem to be within, yet persevere to the end of their days in a wicked and abandoned course of life?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Some important passages in The Catholic Dogma by Fr. Michael Müller C.Ss.R

The Catholic Dogma by Fr. Mueller

"Some theologians," says St. Alphonsus, "hold that the belief of the two other articles - the Incarnation of the Son of God, and the Trinity of Persons - is strictly commanded but not necessary, as a means without which salvation is impossible; so that a person inculpably ignorant of them may be saved. But according to the more common and truer opinion, the explicit belief of these articles is necessary as a means without which no adult can be saved." (First Command. No. 8.)
[St. Thomas said:] As the mystery of the Incarnation was believed from the beginning, so, also, was it necessary to believe the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity; for the mystery of the Incarnation cannot be explicitly believed without faith in the Most Holy Trinity, because the mystery of the Incarnation teaches that the Son of God took to himself a human body and soul by the power of the Holy Ghost. Hence, as the mystery of the Incarnation was explicitly believed by the teachers of religion, and implicitly by the rest of the people, so, also, was the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity explicitly believed by the teachers of religion and implicitly by the rest of the people. But in the New Law it must be explicitly believed by all." (De Fide, Q ii., art. vii. et viii.)
This doctrine is clearly expressed in the following words of the Athanasian Creed: "He, therefore, who wishes to be saved, must thus think of the Trinity," that is, he must believe the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as explained in this Creed. "Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hence St. Peter says: "Be it known to you, that there is no salvation in any other name than that of Jesus Christ; for there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved." (Acts, iv. 10, 10). "Thus," says St. Alphonsus, "there is no hope of salvation except in the merits of Jesus Christ. Hence St. Thomas and all theologians conclude that, since the promulgation of the Gospel, it is necessary, not only as a matter of precept, but also as a means of salvation (necessitate medii, without which no adult can be saved), to believe explicitly that we can be saved only through our Redeemer." (Reflections on the Passion of Jesus Christ, Chapt. I., No. 19). The explicit belief in the mysteries of the Holy Trinity and of the Incarnation of the Son of God is therefore of the greatest importance. This belief teaches the origin of the world, its creation by God the Father; it teaches us the supernatural end of man, his fall, and the redemption of mankind by God the Son; it teaches the sanctification of souls by the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

"The Lord added daily to the Church such as should be saved." (Acts, ii. 47.)

Therefore the Apostles believed and the holy Scriptures teach that there is no salvation out of the Church.

Hence the Fathers of the Church never hesitated to pronounce all those forever lost who die out of the Roman Catholic Church: "He who has not the Church for his mother," says St. Cyprian, "cannot have God for his Father;" and with him the Fathers in general say that, "as all who were not in the ark of Noe perished in the waters of the Deluge, so shall all perish who are out of the true Church." St. Augustine and the other bishops of Africa, at the Council of Zirta, A. D. 410, say: "Whosoever is separated from the Catholic Church, however commendable in his own opinion his life may be, he shall, for the very reason that he is separated from the union of Christ, not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." Therefore, says St. Augustine, "a Christian ought to fear nothing so much as to be separated from the body of Christ (the Church). For, if he be separated from the body of Christ, he is not a member of Christ; if not a member of Christ, he is not quickened by his Spirit." (Tract. xxvii. in Joan., n. 6, col. 1992, tom. iii.)


"How grateful then," says St. Alphonsus, "ought we to be to God for the gift of the true faith. How great is not the number of infidels, heretics, and schismatics. The world is full of them, and, if they die out of the Church, they will all be condemned, except infants who die after baptism." (Catech. first command. No. 10 and 19.) Because, as St.Augustine says, where there is no divine faith, there can be no divine charity, and where there is no divine charity, there can be no justifying or sanctifying grace, and to die without being in sanctifying grace, is to be lost forever. ( Lib. I. Serm. Dom. in monte, cap. V.)


"For whosoever have sinned without the law, shall perish without the law." (Rom. ii. 10.) If those Protestants who live in inculpable ignorance of the true religion are not guilty of the sin of heresy, does it follow that they are not guilty of sins against their conscience?


Socrates, Cicero, Seneca, are said to have been acquainted with the knowledge of one Supreme God; but they had not courage to profess his worship, and in their public conduct basely sacrificed to stocks and stones with the vulgar. When men have banished from their heart the sense of religion, and despise the rights of justice, (and is this not the case with numbers?) will many of them scruple to offer incense to a statue, if by so doing they serve their ambition, their interest, or whatever may be their favorite passion?


If the Church believed that men could be saved in any religion whatever, or without any at all, it would be uncharitable in her to announce to the world that out of her there is no salvation. But as she knows and maintains that there is but one faith, as there is but one God and Lord of all, and that she is in possession of that one faith, and that without that faith it is impossible to please God, and be saved, it would be very uncharitable in her and in all her children, to hide Christ's doctrine from the world. To warn our neighbor when he is in imminent danger of falling into a deep abyss, is considered an act of great charity. It is a greater act of charity to warn non-Catholics of the certain danger in which they are of falling into the abyss of hell, since Jesus Christ, and the Apostles themselves, and all their successors, have always most emphatically asserted that out of the church there is no salvation.


We read in Holy Scripture that Almighty God, at different times, scattered the Jews among the heathen and performed great miracles in favor of his chosen people. He thus wished the Gentiles to come to the knowledge of the true God. In like manner, Almighty God has scattered the Roman Catholics, the children of his Church, among the heathens of our time and the Protestants. He has never failed to perform miracles in the Catholic Church. Who has not heard of the many great miracles performed in France, and elsewhere, by the use of the miraculous water of Lourdes? Who has not witnessed the wonderful protection of the Catholic Church? Who has not read the truths of the Catholic Church, even in Protestant newspapers? Who has not heard of the conversion of so many wealthy and learned Protestants to the Catholic Church? The Lord, who wishes that all should come to the knowledge of the true religion, makes use of these and other means to cause doubts to arise in the souls of those who are separated from his Church. Hence it is, as Bishop Hay says, next to the impossible for those Protestants who live among Catholics to be in a state of invincible ignorance.

Such doubts as to their salvation in Protestantism are, for our separated brethren, a great grace, as Almighty God, by these doubts, begins to lead them to the way of salvation, by obliging them to seek in all sincerity for light and instruction. But those who do not heed these doubts remain culpably erroneous in a matter of the greatest importance; and to die in this state is to die in the state of reprobation; it is to be lost forever through one's own fault, as we have seen above.

But let us remember here, that "it is a mistake," as Bishop Hay well says, "to suppose that a formal doubt is necessary to render one's ignorance of his duty voluntary and culpable; it is enough that there be sufficient reason for doubting, though from his unjust prejudices, obstinacy, pride, or other evil dispositions of the heart, he hinder these reasons from exciting a formal doubt in his mind. Saul had no doubt when he offered sacrifice before the prophet Samuel came; on the contrary, he was persuaded that he had the strongest reasons for doing so, yet he was condemned for that very action, and himself and his family rejected by Almighty God. The Jews believed that they were acting well when they put our Saviour to death; nay, their high priest declared in full council that it was expedient for the good and safety of the nation that they should do so. They were grossly mistaken, indeed, and sadly ignorant of their duty; but their ignorance was culpable, and they were severely condemned for what they did, though it was done in ignorance. And, indeed, all who act from a false and erroneous conscience are highly blamable for having such a conscience, though they have never entertained any formal doubt. Nay, their not having such a doubt when they have just and solid grounds for doubting, rather renders them the more guilty, because it shows greater corruption of the heart, greater depravity of disposition. A person brought up in a false faith, which the Scriptures calls sects of perdition, doctrines of devils, perverse things, lies, and hypocrisy—and who has heard of the true Church of Christ, which condemns all these sects, and sees their divisions and dissensions—has always before his eyes the strongest reason to doubt the safety of his own state. If he makes any examination with sincere dispositions of heart, he must be convinced that he is in the wrong; and the more he examines, the more clearly will he see it, —for this plain reason, that it is simply impossible that false doctrine, lies, and hypocrisy should ever be supported by solid arguments sufficient to satisfy a reasonable person, who sincerely seeks the truth and begs light from God to direct him in the search. Hence, if such a person never doubt, but go on, as is supposed, bona fide, in his own way, notwithstanding the strong grounds of doubt which he daily has before his eyes, this evidently shows either that he is supinely negligent in the concern of his soul, or that his heart is totally blinded by passion and prejudice. There were many such persons among the Jews and heathens in the time if the apostles, who, notwithstanding the splendid light of truth which these holy preachers everywhere displayed, and which was the most powerful reason for leading them to doubt of their superstitions, were so far from having such doubts, that they thought by killing the apostles they did God a service. Whence did this arise? St. Paul himself informs us. "We renounce," says he, "the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor adulterating the Word of God, but, by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." Here he describes the strange light of the truth which he preached; yet this light was hidden to great numbers, and he immediately gives the reason: "And if our Gospel be also hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine upon them." (II. Cor. iv. 2.) Behold the real cause of their incredulity: they are so enslaved to the things of this world by the depravity of their heart, and the devil so blinds them, that they cannot see the light; but ignorance arising from such depraved dispositions is a guilty, a voluntary ignorance, and therefore never can excuse them.

If this kind of material heretics, then, are lost, they are not lost on account of their heresy, which for them was no sin, but on account of the grievous sins that they committed against their conscience. "For whosoever have sinned without the law," says St. Paul, "shall perish without the law." (Rom. ii. 10.) The great Apostle wishes to say: Those of the heathens who do not know anything of the Christian Law, but sin against the natural Law, their conscience, will be lost, not on account of the sin of infidelity; which was no sin for those who were invincibly ignorant of the Christian Law, but on account of the great sin which they committed against the voice of' God speaking to them by their conscience. The same must be said of those Protestants who are inculpably ignorant of the Catholic religion, but sin grievously against their conscience.

"God," says St. Thomas, "enlightens every man who comes into the world, and produces in all mankind the light of nature and of grace, as the sun does the light which imparts color and animation to all objects. But if any obstacle prevented its rays from falling on a certain object, would you attribute that defect to the sun? Or if you closed up all your windows and made your room quite dark, could you say the sun is the cause of that darkness? It is the same with the man who, by grievous sins, closes the eyes of his understanding to the light of heaven; for he is then enveloped in profound obscurity and walks in moral darkness. A scholar, who wishes to learn a more sublime science or doctrine, must have a brighter and more comprehensive conception, in order to understand clearly his master. In like manner, man, in order to be more capable of receiving divine inspirations, must have a particular disposition for them. "The Lord God hath opened my ear, and I do not resist, neither do I withdraw from Him.' (Isai. i. 5.) Hence all vices are contrary to the gifts of the Holy Ghost, because they are in opposition to divine inspiration; and they are also contrary both to God and to reason, for reason receives its lights and inspirations from God. Therefore he who grievously offends God, and is, on this account, not enlightened to know and believe the truths of salvation, must blame himself for his spiritual misfortune and punishment. Of these St. Paul says: In whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine unto them. (Cor. iv. 4.) `Blind the heart of this people, and shut their ears and eyes.' (Isai. vi. 10.)"

Be it also remembered that the light of faith is withheld from those Protestants who resemble the Pharisees. "They form to themselves," says Bishop Hay, "a great idea of their good works, not observing the vast difference there is between natural good moral actions, and supernatural Christian good works, which alone will bring a man to heaven. However corrupted our nature is by sin, yet there are few or none of the seed of Adam, who have not certain good natural dispositions, some being more inclined to one virtue, some to another. Thus some are of a humane, benevolent disposition; some tender-hearted and compassionate towards others in distress; some just and upright in their dealings; some temperate and sober; some mild and patient; some also have natural feelings of devotion, and of reverence for the Supreme Being. Now, all such good natural dispositions of themselves are far from being Christian virtues, and are altogether incapable of bringing a man to heaven. They indeed make him who has them agreeable to men, and procure him esteem and regard from those with whom he lives; but they are of no avail before God with regard to eternity. To be convinced of this, we need only observe that good natural dispositions of this kind are found in Mahometans, Jews, and heathens, as well as among Christians; yet no Christian can suppose that a Mahometan, Jew, or heathen, who dies in that state, will obtain the kingdom of heaven by means of these virtues.

The Pharisees, among the people of God, were remarkable for many such virtues; they had a great veneration for the law of God; they made open profession of piety and devotion; gave large alms to the poor; fasted and prayed much; were assiduous in all the public observances of religion; were remarkable for their strict observance of the Sabbath, and had an abhorrence of all profanation of the holy name of God; yet Jesus Christ himself expressly declares: "Except your righteousness exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. v. 20.) We are told that one of their number went up to the temple to pray, who was, in the eyes of the world, a very good man, led an innocent life, free from those grosser crimes which are so common among men, fasted twice a week, and gave tithes of all he possessed; yet Christ himself assures us that he was condemned in the sight of God. All this proves that none of the above good dispositions of nature are capable in themselves of bringing any man to heaven. And the reason is, because "there is no other name given to men under heaven by which we can be saved, but the name of Jesus only," (Acts iv. 10); therefore, no good works whatsoever, performed through the good dispositions of nature only, can ever be crowned by God with eternal happiness. To obtain this glorious reward, our good works must be sanctified by the blood of Jesus, and become Christian virtues. Now, if we search the Holy Scriptures, we find two conditions absolutely required to make our good works agreeable to God, and conducive to our salvation. First, that we be united to Jesus Christ by true faith, which is the root and foundation of all Christian virtues; for St. Paul expressly says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Heb. xi. 6.). Observe the word impossible; he does not say it is difficult, but that it is impossible. Let, therefore, a man have ever so many good natural dispositions, and be as charitable, devout, and mortified as the Pharisees were, yet if he have not true faith in Jesus Christ, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. They refused to believe in him, and therefore all their works were good for nothing as to their salvation; and unless our righteousness exceed theirs in this point, as Christ himself assures us, we shall never enter into his heavenly kingdom. But even true faith itself, however necessary, is not sufficient alone to make our good works available to salvation; for it is necessary, in the second place, that we be in charity with God, in his friendship and grace, without which even true faith itself will never save us. To be convinced of this, let us only give ear to St. Paul, who says, "Though I should have all faith, so as to remove mountains, though I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, though I should give my body to be burnt, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." (I Cor. xiii. 2.) So that, let a man be ever so peaceable, regular, inoffensive, and religious in his way, charitable to the poor, and what else you please, yet if he have not the true faith of Jesus Christ, and be not in charity with God, all his apparent virtues go for nothing; it is impossible for him to please God by them; and if he live and die in that state, they will profit him nothing. Hence it is manifest that those who die in a false religion, however unexceptionable may be their moral conduct in the eyes of men, yet, as they have not the true faith in Christ, and are not in charity with him, they are not in the way of salvation; for nothing can avail us in Christ but "faith that works by charity." (Gal. v. 6.)


Not guilty of the sin of heresy are all those who, without any fault of theirs, were brought up in a sect of Protestantism, and who never had an opportunity of knowing better. This class of Protestants are called invincibly or inculpably ignorant of the true religion, or material heretics...

...material heretics may call them selves Christians, and their sects Christian Churches; but they are not the right sort of Christians and their sects are not the true Church of Christ. They are not Catholic Christians....

As long, then, as a material heretic, though through inculpable ignorance, adheres to an heretical sect, he is separated from Christ, because he is separated from his Body—the Catholic Church. In that state he cannot make any supernatural acts of divine faith, hope, and charity, which are necessary to obtain life everlasting, and therefore, if he dies in that state, he is pronounced infallibly lost by St. Augustine, St. Alphonsus and all the great Doctors of the Church.


One of the effects of Baptism is that, when children are validly baptized, they receive, together with the indelible character of a Christian, the habit of faith,—or a capacity, a power or faculty which enables them, when they come to the use of reason, and are instructed by the Catholic Church in revealed truths, to make acts of divine faith, this habit of faith enabling them to see clearly and believe firmly the truths of the Catholic religion. A baptized child is a child of God, and God lives in the soul of that child and is its Father. So, when God speaks through his Church to that child, it easily recognizes the voice that speaks to him as the voice of God, and firmly believes whatever that voice teaches him to believe. But this habitual divine faith is lost by the profession of heresy, material heresy not excepted. To a child that is brought up in heresy, God does not speak when it hears the voice of a heretical teacher; if it believes that teacher, it believes not God, but man, and its faith is human, which cannot lead it to God. (See St. Thomas, De Fide, Q. V., art. iii.; Cursus Compl. Theologae, vol. 21, Q. III., art. iii., de Suscipientibus Baptismum. Instruction in Christ, Doct. chapt. ii.)

This may be more clear from the following: If a person who has come to the use of reason and professes heresy at the time of his baptism, he is indeed indelibly marked as a Christian, but he is not sanctified—the other supernatural effects of baptism being suspended for want of the proper dispositions or preparations which are required to receive not only the sacrament, but also its supernatural effects. One of the most essential requisites to receive these effects is to have the true faith, i.e., to believe God, speaking through the Catholic Church. Now heresy, material heresy not excepted, is a want of this faith, on account of which the supernatural effects of baptism are suspended. God cannot unite himself with a soul that lives in heresy, even though it be only material heresy. As the supernatural sanctifying effects in this case are suspended, so they are for the same reason, destroyed in him who was baptized in his infancy and became a heretic, though only a material heretic, when he came to the use of reason. This person, to be again reconciled with God, must renounce heresy, believe the Catholic Church, and receive worthily the sacrament of penance; or if this cannot be had, he must have perfect contrition or charity with the desire (at least implicit) to receive the sacrament of penance. The other person, however, will be reconciled with God and truly sanctified, as soon as he renounces heresy, believes the Catholic Church, and has at least attrition (imperfect supernatural sorrow) for his sins, because it is then that the supernatural sanctifying effects of baptism take place. It is therefore evident that, if these persons and others like them were to die in heresy, they would be lost forever. (See Theolog. Curs. Compl. De Confirmatione, Part II., Q. II., art. vi.)


"But, suppose," some one will say, "a person, in his inculpable ignorance, believes that he is on the right road to heaven, though he is not a Catholic; he tries his best to live up to the dictates of his conscience. Now, should he die in that state of belief, he would, it seems, be condemned without his fault. We can understand that God is not bound to give heaven to anybody, but, as he is just, he certainly cannot condemn anybody without his fault."

Whatever question may be made still in regard to the great truth in question is sufficiently answered in the explanation already given of this great truth. For the sake of greater clearness, however, we will answer a few more questions. In the answers to these questions we shall be obliged to repeat what has already been said. Now, as to the question just proposed, we answer with St. Thomas and St. Augustine: "There are many things which a man is obliged to do, but which he cannot do without the help of divine grace: as, for instance, to love God and his neighbor, and to believe the articles of faith; but he can do all this with the help of grace; and to whomsoever God gives his grace he gives it out of divine mercy; and to whomsoever he does not give it, he refuses it out of divine justice, in punishment of sin committed, or at least in punishment of original sin, as St. Augustine says. (Lib. de correptione et gratia, c. 5 et 6; Sum. 22. q. ii. art. v.) "And the ignorance of those things of salvation, the knowledge of which men did not care to have is without doubt, a sin for them; but for those who were not able to acquire such knowledge, the want of it is a punishment for their sins," says St. Augustine; hence both are justly condemned, and neither the one nor the other has a just excuse for being lost." (Epist. ad Sixtum, Edit. Maur. 194, cap. vi., n. 27.)

Inculpable or invincible ignorance has never been and will never be a means of salvation. To be saved, it is necessary to be justified, or to be in the state of sanctifying grace. In order to obtain sanctifying grace, it is necessary to have the proper dispositions for justification; that is, true divine faith in at least the necessary truths of salvation, confident hope in the divine Saviour, sincere sorrow for sin, together with the firm purpose of doing all that God has commanded, etc. Now, these supernatural acts of faith, hope, charity, contrition, etc., which prepare the soul for receiving sanctifying grace, can never be supplied by invincible ignorance; and if invincible ignorance cannot supply the preparation for receiving sanctifying grace, much less can it bestow sanctifying grace itself. "Invincible ignorance," says St. Thomas Aquinas, "is a punishment for sin." (De Infid. q. x., art. 1.) It is, then, a curse, but not a blessing or a means of salvation.

But if we say that inculpable ignorance cannot save a man, we thereby do not say that invincible ignorance damns a man. Far from it. To say, invincible ignorance is no means of salvation, is one thing; and to say, invincible ignorance is the cause of damnation is another. To maintain the latter, would be wrong, for inculpable ignorance of the fundamental principles of faith excuses a heathen from the sin of infidelity, and a Protestant from the sin of heresy; because such invincible ignorance, being only a simple involuntary privation, is no sin. Hence Pius IX. said "that, were a man to be invincibly ignorant of the true religion, such invincible ignorance would not be sinful before God; that, if such a person should observe the precepts of the Natural Law and do the will of God to the best of his knowledge, God, in his infinite mercy, may enlighten him so as to obtain eternal life; for, the Lord, who knows the heart and thoughts of man will, in his infinite goodness, not suffer any one to be lost forever without his own fault."
St. Augustine, in the same age, says: "The Catholic Church alone is the body of Christ; the Holy Ghost gives life to no one who is out of this body." (Epist. 185, § 50, Edit. Bened.) And in another place, "Salvation no one can have but in the Catholic Church. Out of the Catholic Church he may have anything but salvation. He may have honor, he may have baptism, he may have the Gospel, he may both believe and preach in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; but he can find salvation nowhere but in the Catholic Church." (Serm. ad. Caesariens. de Emerit.) Again, "In the Catholic Church," says he, "there are both good and bad. But those that are separated from her, as long as their opinions are opposite to hers, cannot be good. For though the conversation of some of them appears commendable, yet their very separation from the Church makes them bad, according to that of our Saviour (Luke, xi. 23), 'He that is not with me is against is against me; and he that gathers not with me scattereth.'" --(Epist. 209, ad Feliciam.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

In the Old Testament, all the world was damned except few Israelites

Of the Great Scarcity of the Predestinate, by Fr. Drexelius, S.J.:

...Saint Vincent Ferrerius of Saint Dominic's order, that mirror of preachers and religious men, did once in a public Sermon discourse with great efficacy of the scarcity of the predestinate and confirmed it with a wonderful example; whose words in reverence of so great a person I will be as exact in reporting, as the difference of language will give me leave. [S. Vinc. Domin. Sepiuag serm. 6. post initium.] Before our Savior's coming into the world, says he, in human flesh, more than five thousand years were already past, and except some few of the Children of Israel who departed to Limbo, all the rest of the world was damned. Imagine with yourself besides, in the time of the law of Moyses how many Children have died without Circumcision; as also in the time of the law of Christ how many without Baptism; of all which number likewise not one is saved. Moreover how many Jews, Saracens, Pagans and Infidels, how many wicked Christians (for faith and Baptism cannot save a man unless they be accompanied with good life) and how many other Christians are there besides, who although they have faith, are yet proud, avaricious, of lewd life, and given to many other vices etc. And here note the example of the Archdeacon of Lyons, who having resigned his benefice, undertook a course of austere penance for forty years together in the wilderness. This holy man after his death appeared to the Bishop of Lyons, who desiring of him to discover [disclose] somewhat unto him of the other world, the Saint answered that thirty thousand in the world had died the same day with him, whereof only 5 were saved, himself and S. Bernard being two of them, who ascended immediately to heaven, the other three remaining in Purgatory, and all the rest irrecoverably damned. This is the reason why our Savior advises us with so much solicitude to enter by the narrow gate: Intrare per augustam portam. This narrow gate of Paradise is the will of God to which everyone must conform himself who desires to enter into Paradise. The broad gate is our own will, and the spacious way is worldly conversation; as to eat and drink our fill, to follow our lustful appetites, take our pleasure, revenge ourselves of those who have injured us, and the like. So as pauci sunt electi, but a few are saved. To which exhortation of Saint Vincent we will add another example recounted by an approved Author....

Whether Everyone may be Saved in His Own Religion by Fr. Lessius:

The fundamental reason whereupon this opinion especially relies, is of no moment. For first, if it be not incredible that God for the space of some thousands of years hath left the whole world in Idolatry, excepting only the Jewish nation being but a little portion or corner of the whole world, and to have permitted it to be utterly overthrown, albeit there were so many rare wits among them, so many diligent worshipers of God, and all human justice, and honesty; it should not also seem incredible, if we say that now, also he suffers the Turks and Jews to perish.

From PDF pg. 10 of Fr. William Smith's

Qui Non Credit Condemnatibur (PDF):

God (say they) is most merciful, and therefore it would be much repugnant to his infinite mercy, to damn for all eternity, any man that believes in him, and in Jesus Christ, as his Redeemer; so that withal he forbear doing of all wrong, but lead a virtuous (or at least, a moral) life, though in other articles of less importance he may err. To this I answer, with the Apostle, [Rom. cap. 11.) O altitudo dibitiarum sapientia & scientia Dei! God's judgments are inscrutable, and to be admired, not to be overcuriously pried into. If it was his divine pleasure, for many ages to make choice only of the Jewish Nation (a very handful to the whole earth) for his elected people, and suffer all the rest of the world (generally speaking) to lie drowned in Idolatry, and therefore to be damned. And if also after our Savior's Incarnation, he vouchsafed not, for the space of many ages, to enlighten whole Countries with the Gospel of Christ, but permitted them to continue (to their souls' eternal perdition) in their former Idolatry & Heathenism; yea suffering even to this very day (and how longer after, his divine Majesty only knows) divers vast Countries to persevere in their foresaid Infidelity, if (I say) this proceeding in God is best liking to himself, and that for the same he cannot be truly charged with Injustice or cruelty, seeing he gave the insufficient means of salvation by the law of Nature, and did not withdraw from them grace sufficient leaving them thereby without excuse. Then much less can any man expostulate God of injustice or want of mercy (for his divine goodness is nothing but justice and mercy itself) if he suffer men to perish eternally, and damn them for want of an entire, complete, and perfect faith an all the articles of Christianity; especially in these times, when no Christian can pretend for excuse any invincible ignorance in matters of faith, by reason that the true articles of Christian Religion, are sufficiently propounded and divulged by God's Church, to all Christians whatsoever; therefore touching God's secret judgments and disposals herein, we will conclude with [Cap 30) Esay: Deus judicii Dominus.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe