Sunday, May 30, 2010

Council of Trent on desire for Baptism

A reader recently left a comment on my previous post concerning The council of Trent and St. Thomas on whether or not the council of Trent admits the possibility of Baptism by desire. I decided to make a particular post on this, both because it seems to be something that is misunderstood by some people, even intelligent ones, (I had a Theology professor once who held a similar position) and because blogger would not allow me to post my response in the comment box because it was too long. :)

Here is the comment left by an "anonymous" reader:
You can't get around the FACT that baptism of desire is NEVER once mentioned at Trent when discussing Baptism, which is where any logical person would expect it( just like a perfect act of contrition is clearly explained in the section on Penance). The Holy Ghost has never put His seal on your theory. You can argue ceaselessly, but the FACT remains that baptism of desire has no dogmatic infallible status, while the need for water baptism does (at Trent).

For one to believe your "take" on Trent, one would have to believe that from before the beginning of the world, that he was going to save people by baptism of desire (people who God's grace could not penetrate, or who God put out of His reach), and save some by baptism of water in his Church, and save others by no desire whatsoever (implicit faith), and save others by bringing them back from the dead. In your disbelief in EENS you have created for yourself one bumbling God.
In response to this, I would like to point out that the council of Trent quite clearly mentions baptism of desire; the comment by our reader seems to imply that he is aware of this as well, since he says, "Baptism of desire is never once mentioned at Trent when discussing Baptism, which is where any logical person would expect it."(emphasis added)

Despite this fact, I will go over the places where baptism by desire is clearly referred to. There are several places. The first is from the decree on Justification:
By which words, a description of the Justification of the impious is indicated,-as being a translation, from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace, and of the adoption of the sons of God, through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Saviour. And this translation, since the promulgation of the Gospel, cannot be effected, without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof, as it is written; unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.
What possible reason could the council of Trent have for saying that justification cannot take place without "the laver of regeneration", i.e., baptism by water, or the desire thereof, if not to say that in fact in some cases the desire itself for baptism is sufficient for justification? There does not seem to be another reasonable interpretation.

This is how St. Alphonsus Liguori interprets this text. I quoted this text earlier in discussing his position:
Baptism, therefore, coming from a Greek word that means washing or immersion in water, is distinguished into Baptism of water, of spirit, and of blood. ... But Baptism of spirit is perfect conversion to God by contrition or love of God above all things accompanied by an explicit or implicit desire for true Baptism of water, the place of which it takes as to the remission of guilt, but not as to the impression of the character or as to the removal of all debt of punishment. It is called 'of spirit' because it takes place by the impulse of the Holy Spirit. Now it is de fide that men are also saved by Baptism of spirit, by virtue of the Canon Apostolicam, 'de presbytero non baptizato' and of the Council of Trent, session 6, Chapter 4 where it is said that no one can be saved 'without the laver of regeneration or the desire.
This text, however, is not the only place where the council of Trent speaks concerning the desire for baptism. In the decree on the sacraments, which is introduced as being necessary "to complete the saving doctrine on justification," the fourth general canon on the sacraments says the following:
CANON IV.-If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification;-though all (the sacraments) are not indeed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema."
The council of Trent is clearly saying two things: that the sacraments are necessary for salvation, and that the grace of justification is given only through the sacrament or the desire thereof. The clearest example of this given in the council is that of the sacrament of penance, where it is explicitly stated that one may receive the grace of justification before actually receiving the sacrament itself, through the desire for the sacrament.

Our "anonymous" commenter seems to want to make a distinction between the necessity for Baptism, and the necessity for Penance in the council of Trent, such that it is possible to be justified by a perfect act of contrition before receiving the sacrament of penance, but not possible to be justified before receiving baptism by water. This however must be denied. The council says in considering the differences between the sacrament of penance and baptism that:
For, by baptism putting on Christ, we are made therein entirely a new creature, obtaining a full and entire remission of all sins: unto which newness and entireness, however, we are no ways able to arrive by the sacrament of Penance, without many tears and great labours on our parts, the divine justice demanding this; so that penance has justly been called by holy Fathers a laborious kind of baptism. And this sacrament of Penance is, for those who have fallen after baptism, necessary unto salvation; as baptism itself is for those who have not as yet been regenerated.
The council of Trent says here that the sacrament of penance is necessary for the salvation of those who have fallen after baptism, as baptism itself is for those who have not as yet been regenerated. However, as the commenter himself admitted, it is very clear that Trent admits that a man can receive the effect of the sacrament of penance by desire, before actually receiving the sacrament itself.

Thus, if one wishes to hold that baptism by water is necessary in such a way that the effect of baptism cannot be received before the sacrament itself, one must also hold that the same thing is true of penance, since otherwise it would not be true that the sacrament of penance is necessary after sinning just as the sacrament of baptism before being baptized.

However, this position is clearly contradictory to the decree on penance, which clearly asserts that one can receive the effect of the sacrament of penance, without actually receiving the sacrament itself. Hence we must conclude that Baptism and Penance are similar in that one can receive their effects through desire for the sacrament without actually receiving the sacrament itself.

It is further clear that this is the position of the council of Trent by examining the Catechism of the Council of Trent, which was published shortly after the conclusion of the council. St. Charles Borremeo, who had a profound influence on the Council of Trent, edited the text of the first publication of the Catechism, and would certainly have caught anything that was blatantly contradictory to the council's intention. Nor should it be supposed that the Church would have allowed a Catechism, ordered by the council and purporting to present the teaching of the Council, to foment error among the faithful.

In the Catechism of the Council of Trent, we read:
The faithful are earnestly to be exhorted to take care that their children be brought to the church, as soon as it can be done with safety, to receive solemn Baptism. Since infant children have no other means of salvation except Baptism, we may easily understand how grievously those persons sin who permit them to remain without the grace of the Sacrament longer than necessity may require, particularly at an age so tender as to be exposed to numberless dangers of death . . . On adults, however, the Church has not been accustomed to confer the Sacrament of Baptism at once, but has ordained that it be deferred for a certain time. The delay is not attended with the same danger as in the case of infants, which we have already mentioned; should any unforeseen accident make it impossible for adults to be washed in the salutary waters, their intention and determination to receive Baptism and their repentance for past sins, will avail them to grace and righteousness.
This is all very clear, and needs no explanation. This confirms our interpretation of the council of Trent's teaching on Baptism.

One last point that might be mentioned as well is the fact that the teaching of St. Thomas had a very strong influence on the Council of Trent; the Summa was the only other work besides the Bible that was placed upon the altar at the Council of Trent. St. Thomas quite clearly holds that baptism of desire is sufficient to justify an adult; it is again reasonable to bear in mind the background of St. Thomas, and to interpret the council of Trent in the light of his teaching.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

St. Alphonsus Liguori on implicit desire for Baptism

From the sixth book of St. Alphonsus's Moral Theology:

"Baptism, therefore, coming from a Greek word that means washing or
immersion in water, is distinguished into Baptism of water, of spirit, and
of blood. ... But Baptism of spirit is perfect conversion to God by
contrition or love of God above all things accompanied by an explicit or
implicit desire for true Baptism of water, the place of which it takes as to
the remission of guilt, but not as to the impression of the character or as
to the removal of all debt of punishment. It is called 'of spirit' because
it takes place by the impulse of the Holy Spirit. Now it is de fide that men
are also saved by Baptism of spirit, by virtue of the Canon Apostolicam, 'de
presbytero non baptizato' and of the Council of Trent, session 6, Chapter 4
where it is said that no one can be saved 'without the laver of regeneration
or the desire."

We see here that St. Alphonsus agrees with St. Thomas that baptism of desire need not come about through an explicit desire for baptism, but an implicit desire is also sufficient for this.

St. Alphonsus also asks the question whether one needs explicit faith in the incarnation in order to be saved, but does not come firmly down on a given side. He holds that the opinion which says that explicit faith is required is more probable, but that the other position which holds that one may believe implicitly is also quite probable.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cardinal Charles Journet on EENS

Cardinal Journet has a section on the dogma "no salvation outside the Church" in his work, "Church of the Word Incarnate" This can be found on EWTN:

I reproduce the relevant section here:

3. The Meaning Of The Maxim "Outside The Church No Salvation"

It is at the precise point at which God, by the two-fold power of the apostolic hierarchy, makes contact with men that we must look for the created soul of the Church, and then go on to study the body it animates. For the created soul and the body of the Church are, of themselves, coextensive—in other words, the created soul does not extend beyond its body, nor the body beyond its soul. "The faithful" wrote St. Augustine," must become the Body of Christ if they would live by the Spirit of Christ. Understand, my brothers, what I have said. You are a man, you have a spirit and you have a body. A spirit, I say, called the soul, by which it appears that you are man, because composed of soul and body. You have then an invisible spirit and a visible body. Tell me now, which of these two lives by the other—is it your spirit that lives by your body, or your body by your spirit? Every living man will know how to reply, and if anyone cannot reply I know not whether he lives. And what does every living man reply? That it is the body, of course, that lives by the spirit. Would you then, for your part, live by the Spirit of Christ? Then be in the Body of Christ. Does my body live by your spirit? Mine lives by my spirit, and yours by yours. The Body of Christ cannot live at all, if not by the Spirit of Christ." He adds a little further on: "It is the Spirit that quickens, for it is the spirit that makes the members live. It gives life to those members only whom it finds in the body it quickens. The spirit that is in you, O man, and by which you are a man—does it then quicken any member that has been separated from your flesh? Your spirit is what I call your soul, and your soul quickens only those members that are in your body; if you cut off any one of them it soon ceases to be quickened by your soul, since it has no longer any share in the unity of your body. I say these things that you should learn to love unity and fear separation. The Christian should fear nothing so much as separation from the Body of Christ. Once he is separated he is no longer a member of Christ; and if he is not a member of Christ he is no longer quickened by the Spirit of Christ. For, says the Apostle, he who has not the Spirit of Christ, is not of Christ."[80] The fundamental law of the coextension of the created soul and body of the Church is not contradicted by the fact that sanctifying grace may be found among the unbaptized or the non-Catholic baptized. There are two reasons for this. First of all, grace has to be sacramental and duly orientated before it contributes to the constitution of the perfect soul of the Church; and secondly, although the soul of the Church is only prefigured where the sacramental character, or sacramental grace, or orientated grace are lacking, yet the body of the Church begins to be prefigured there too. Nor is the fundamental law of the co-extension of the created soul and body of the Church contradicted by the fact that many sinners lacking grace continue to be members of the Church; for it can be said that to the extent to which they still adhere to the Church these sinners receive spiritual influences which emanate from the entire soul of the Church, which in this sense is in them by its efficiency and, as it were, dynamically.

The preachers and apologists of the nineteenth century rather lost sight of St. Augustine's great doctrine. How were they to reconcile the axiom "Outside the Church, no salvation"[81] with the doctrine, everywhere received, that those who remain ignorant of the Church in good faith may nevertheless be in a state of grace and in the way to save their souls? Protestantism, prompt to dissociate invisible realities from visible, answered that there exists an "invisible Church" to which the just of all times belong, and a "visible Church" (or many visible Churches) which nobody is bound to enter. A certain number of Catholic writers, without wishing to dislocate the Church in this manner, imagined that her soul, i. e. sanctifying grace as they said, extended far beyond the limits of her body. They added that the just who in good faith remain ignorant of the Church, belong to the soul of the Church, and are therefore not outside her.

In the first place, however, such a mode of distinguishing the soul and body of the Church is without foundation in the authentic documents of the magisterium.[82] It would seem to have been influenced by the Protestant conception of a "spiritual Church", distinct from the "visible Church"[83], and its use appears to be dangerous.[84] On the other hand we can easily see that the soul of the Church is not sanctifying grace pure and simple, as found in those who remain ignorant of the Church in good faith, but sanctifying grace as transmitted by the sacramental power and ruled by the jurisdictional power.

To reconcile the axiom "Outside the Church, no salvation", with the doctrine of the possible salvation of those who remain ignorant of the Church in all good faith, there is no need to manufacture any new theory. All we have to do is to apply to the Church the traditional distinction made in connection with the necessity of Baptism, the door by which the Church is entered. To the question: Can anybody be saved without Baptism? St. Thomas, who here draws on the thought of St. Ambrose, replies that those who lack Baptism re et voto, that is to say who neither are nor want to be baptized, cannot come to salvation, "since they are neither sacramentally nor mentally incorporated into Christ, by whom alone is salvation". But those who lack Baptism re, sed non voto, that is to say "who desire Baptism, but are accidentally overtaken by death before receiving it, can be saved without actual Baptism, in virtue of their desire for Baptism, coming from a faith that works by charity, by which God, whose power is not circumscribed by visible sacraments, sanctifies man interiorly".[85] Conformably with this distinction we shall say that the axiom "No salvation outside the Church" is true of those who do not belong to the Church, which in herself is visible, either visibly (corporaliter) or even invisibly, either by the sacraments (sacramentaliter) or even in spirit (mentaliter); either fully (re) or even by desire (voto); either in accomplished act or even in virtual act.[86] The axiom does not concern the just who, without yet belonging to the Church visibly, in accomplished act (re), do so invisibly, in virtual act, in spirit, by desire (mentaliter, voto), that is to say in virtue of the supernatural righteousness of their lives, even while, through insurmountable ignorance, they know nothing of the sanctity, or even of the existence, of the Church.[87]

4. The Just "Without" Belong To The Church By Desire, Not In Accomplished Act

I do not say that there is no supernatural life at all outside the Church, but simply that there is none that does not look towards her.[88] As preliminary to a deeper study of the soul of the Church, let us examine more closely the position of the just "outside".

They are to be found either in those groups which lack the sacraments of the New Law (paganism, Islam, Judaism, and Protestant sects such as the Quakers), or in those groups which, while separating themselves from the Church, have kept, among other good things, various genuine sacraments. (We may call them dissidents: Graeco-Russians, and traditionalist Protestants.) [89]

1. The just of the first category enjoy supernatural life—i. e. sanctifying grace issuing in the infused virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The whole tendency of this life is to grow towards completion, to enrich itself with those modalities which grace possesses in the sacred humanity of Christ, to open out, in a word, into that sacramental grace which, as we have seen, is a primary and fundamental element of the soul of the Church. It thus creates in those who have it a kind of living aspiration to that soul, a real and ontological desire for the Church. Men of this sort are of the Church, say the theologians, not yet re but already voto, mentaliter, by desire. Membership re and membership voto are here opposed, not as real membership to unreal, but as actual, consummated ontological membership to virtual, prefigured ontological membership, as membership in achieved act to membership in virtual act. Membership re, visible, corporeal, terminal, achieved, may be compared with membership voto, invisible, spiritual, prefigured, of desire; as the plant in flower is compared with the plant in bud; or, to take Bellarmine's comparison, as the man with the child still hidden in his mother's womb.[90]

However reduced may be the activities of grace in such souls, they will still be in need of speculative and practical directives. They must know, for example—if they are to believe in them supernaturally—of the existence and providence of God, of the principles of morality and so on. Data of this sort are doubtless woven into the religious and cultural web within which they live, but are bound to be vitiated by endless errors. Each will have to do what he can on his own account, under the inner influence of the Holy Spirit who fails no one—though we may all too easily mistake our own voice for His—to sift the true from the false, the good from the bad. There will be omissions and inaccuracies, more or less serious according to the religious group concerned—Judaism for example or Islam being more helpful than paganism, itself a thing of many degrees. In so far as these religions shut out the truth they are instruments of darkness; but by such truths as they have retained (or perhaps regained), they may, however accidentally and imperfectly, be sources of light for millions of souls inwardly sustained by the Holy Spirit.

2. The just of the second category, the dissident groups, are in a better position. Like the rest, they belong to the Church not completely—not re—but in a way that is initial, virtual, beginning, voto. Note however that membership by desire is realized in an analogous or proportional manner; more feebly in the first category, and to a greater degree of perfection in the second, where certain genuine sacraments of the New Law have been retained, along with numerous traditional data in the speculative and practical orders.

The Graeco-Russian dissidents have kept the power of order with its three degrees: bishops, priests, and deacons. It has been perpetuated among them in virtue of the validly transmitted consecration of those who first made the schism. Thanks to the power of order the redemptive sacrifice is offered and the sacraments preserved: Baptism undoubtedly, and Confirmation, enabling the laity to partake to a certain extent of the sacerdotal power of Christ; the Eucharist too, the end of all the other sacraments, which of itself, whenever it is received with the right dispositions, tends to bestow spiritual life—not, like Baptism, in an inchoate state, but in a consummated state [91]—and to form the Church, the Body of Christ, the "sacrament of piety, the sign of unity, the bond of charity."[92] The just who belong to these Graeco-Russian groups truly possess, besides the triple sacramental character that enables them validly to continue the celebration of the Christian rite, that sacramental grace which though not, in isolation, the soul of the Church, is nevertheless a primary and fundamental constituent of the soul of the Church.

Those dissident groups of the Reformed in which Baptism is still validly administered—whose marriages are therefore held by the Roman Church to be authentically sacramental [93]—can still participate, but in an attenuated way, in the sacramental benefits: the sacerdotal power of Christ is imparted to them only in Baptism, sacramental grace only in Baptism and the sacrament of Matrimony.

As to the supernatural directives needed to give sacramental grace its collective orientation and the final perfection which will make it the soul of the Church, an immanent form uniting, ruling, and vivifying the whole Mystical Body of Christ, they exist outside the Catholic Church as doctrinal patterns—much more important and closely organized in Graeco-Russian Christianity, where the process of separation has not gone so far, than in the Protestant variety, and much more important in Protestantism, where the two Testaments are respected, than in the religions of the non-baptized. That the number of the sacraments should diminish with the value of these doctrinal patterns is easy to understand. When the Protestants of England ceased to believe in the Eucharist their ordinations ceased to be valid, and the power of order lost its divine significance.[94] Today, the Protestant modernists, who do not believe in original sin, no longer attach any great importance to the reception of Baptism. The denial of any divine power of jurisdiction, and the consequent denial of any infallible truth in dogmatic pronouncements, tends of itself to the suppression of the sacramental power.

3. In the unbaptized just, and in those of the Protestant and Graeco-Russian groups, the soul of the Church is, as it were, in formation, yet can nowhere come to fulfilment. For even where sacramental grace attains the fullness of its being and of its modalities, as among the Graeco-Russians, it lacks light, encountering directives which are not always sufficient and not always certain, neither infallibly guaranteed as a whole nor protected from the corrosive influence of modern errors; and it cannot possibly achieve that plenitude which would issue in the created soul of the Church, the immanent ruling form of the Mystical Body of Christ.

It is important to note here that when we say that the Church is in formation outside the Church, we are looking at things in a way which, from an ecclesiological standpoint, is accidental and secondary. We mean that those who broke with the Church took with them certain good things which by their very nature belong to her. In themselves, in virtue of their own internal exigencies, these scattered fragments demand to be reintegrated in the Church, and we know that the universal saving virtue of the God of mercy works mysteriously and incessantly for their reintegration. But clearly this reintegrating movement works in precisely the opposite direction to the original movement by which the dissident Churches cut themselves off from the true Church, and it can gain ground only by sapping the specific principle by which these Churches willed, and still will, to differ from the true Church. Outside the Church the Church is in formation, but this comes about accidentally, by violence done to the course things have taken. Outside the Church, the Church, of itself, is in decomposition. Any fragments of life broken off from her are no sooner detached from their native whole and subjected to the influence of the principle of dissidence, than they begin to disintegrate and decay.

Thus it is entirely right to hold that the struggle of light against darkness is the struggle of the Church against the world; but we must add that even in this world the Church has One who works for her in secret, the hidden God who mysteriously enlightens every man, whose wisdom reaches from end to end of the universe, and who does not reap where He has not sown.

Other things being equal—that is to say, supposing an equal intensity of charity everywhere—membership of the Church by desire possesses a greater and greater degree of perfection as we pass from the non-baptized just to those of the traditionalist Protestant Churches, and then to those of the Graeco-Russian Churches. But by a very disconcerting paradox, the movement of conversion to the Church is not necessarily in direct, but rather in inverse, ratio to the religious perfection of these various groups. It may be that there is some mystery here like that of the Gentiles, whose conversion en masse is to precede the entry of Israel into the Church.

5. The Different A Attitudes That May Co-Exist With Membership By Desire

Turning now from groups of believers to individual persons, we note that membership by desire—that is to say the authentic movement of charity which effectively unites a soul to the Church—may co-exist with very diverse attitudes of mind, some of which may strike the faithful as rather strange. But it is not for the faithful, or for the theologians or even for the jurisdictional authority, to be the final judge of the salvation of each particular soul. That is for God alone. There are three typical attitudes, around which we may easily group the others.

First there is that of the catechumens. They have expressly asked for Baptism and the gates of the Church, which they know to be the Body of Christ, stand open before them. Their desire for her is fully conscious and explicit.

The second attitude is that of the unbaptized child who awakes at one and the same time to the life of reason and to the life of faith, and turns to his last end with a profound aspiration which will count as Baptism by desire and will bring him to the heart of the Kingdom of God.[95] One grown to manhood in the forests, away from the company of men, and suddenly illumined by an inner inspiration showing him what to believe, would be in a similar position.[96] In these two cases, and others like them, the desire that saves these men, though it springs from a faith vitalized by charity, is not always accompanied by explicit knowledge of Baptism or of the Church, nor even perhaps of the Incarnation and the Trinity: the explicit content of faith then amounting to two points which, in the supereminent mystery of their riches, contain all the articles of the creed: namely that "God is, and rewards those who seek after Him" (Heb. xi. 6).

The third attitude is that of men who are aware of the existence and activity of the Church, but who, far from seeming to move towards her, show themselves ill-disposed, perhaps oppose her with all their conscious powers, even persecute her; and yet do this because of insurmountable errors for which God does not hold them responsible, sincerely convinced as they are that they work for justice and truth. Their hostility to the Church can coexist with an authentic movement of faith working by charity, which attaches them closely to the very Church that they detest, but whose sons they already are. Newman had long given up "choosing his way" and was content to be led by the divine light; yet still the Church of Rome seemed to him to be allied with Antichrist. There are more things in a man's heart than are dreamt of in his philosophy; or even, often enough, in his theology.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Albert the Great on Implicit Faith

Article 4
Whether an article [of faith] binds one to believe explicitly or implicitly?

To the fourth is sought, when it is said that an article binds one to believe, whether it binds one to believe explicitly or implicitly?

Now it seems that it binds one to believe implicitly.

1. By authorities: for man is not bound to believe those things said which in no way are made clear to the understanding, from which proceeds everything believable, as was established above. But what even the angels do not know, in no way are clear to man. “Who is this who comes from Edom?”(Isaiah 63:1) A gloss of Jerome says on this: “It is declared openly, that certain angels did not fully know the mystery of the incarnation, until it was accomplished.”

2. The same [is shown] from the letter to the Ephesians: “That the manifold wisdom of God may be made known to the princes and powers in the heavens, etc.” (Ephesians 3:10) Therefore it seems that neither is man bound to know this explicitly.

3. The same [is shown] from Chrysostom in his third homily upon John: “We are greatly honored, because the angels learned together with us by the voice of John.”

4. The same [is shown] by the verse “Collect the fragments which abound lest they be wasted,” (John 6:12) the Gloss says: “The fragments are the sacred mysteries, which the common people cannot grasp.” Therefore it seems that one is not bound to believe the articles [of faith] explicitly.

5. The same [is shown] from the letter to the Ephesians “What is the dispensation of the mystery hidden from eternity in God,” (Ephesians 3:9) the Gloss says “I.e, kept secret from every age of creatures, and existing only in the knowledge of God.”

6. The same [is shown] by reason thus: In the demonstration of knowable things, something happens to be known implicitly in the universal, which nevertheless can be doubted in the particular; just as we know universally that every triangle has three angles equal to two rights, and nevertheless I am able to doubt of this wooden triangle whether it has three angles equal to two rights. Therefore much more can this happen in faith, which is wholly above reason.

7. The same [is shown thus]: if it should be said that the articles [of faith] bind to explicit belief, already many would have been damned, and would be damned even today, who do not know the distinction of the articles [of faith].

8. Furthermore, according to this even other things than the articles [of faith] would bind to belief: because it is said “By faith we understand the world to have been framed by the word of God, that from invisible things visible should be made.”

9. The same [is shown thus]: By faith Moses, having been born was hidden for three months, etc. Also by faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with the unbelievers, and there are many of these sort of thing which do not belong to the articles [of faith], and nevertheless they are received under faith as following faith. Therefore it seems that someone is not bound to believe explicitly.

10. Furthermore, this is said in the letter in the second part of the distinction.

Sed Contra:

1. Boethius says that evil is not avoided unless known: but one is bound to avoid infidelity against any article [of faith]. Therefore one is bound to know something explicitly.

2. The same [is shown from the verse] “But I testify to every man circumcising himself, that he is a debtor to perform the whole law.” Therefore likewise, to the one receiving faith it is necessary to believe all the articles [of faith] explicitly.

3. The same [is shown thus]: if it sufficed one to believe implicitly omnipotence and redemption in any manner one wishes, then all the philosophers and many heretics had implicit faith: but this is false. Therefore explicit faith is required.

4. The same [is shown from Leviticus]. it is said of the cleansing of the leper, “He shall offer for his own cleansing a sextarium of oil” and the Gloss says, that the sextarium of oil is the measure of faith, which if it is more, overflows, but if less, it is deficient. Therefore one is bound to offer the whole measure of the articles [of faith].

5. The same [is shown from Deuteronomy]. Moses is commanded that clearly and openly he should write upon the rocks, and the Gloss says that the rocks are the common people. Therefore one is bound to believe the articles [of faith] clearly and distinctly.

6. Likewise, faith is from hearing, but hearing through the word of Christ, as it is said in Romans X, 17. But hearing explains all things, and similarly the word of God proposes nothing implicitly: therefore it seems that the faithful also ought to believe something explicitly.

7. Likewise, we see that common people are held and examined about the most hidden articles of Faith: and if they are found to fall away and to be ignorant, they are considered as heretics: therefore it seems that they are bound to know and believe explicitly.

8. Likewise, let us suppose that a certain simple old and pious person, who has reverence for his pastor, of whom he knows no evil, hears heresy from his own pastor and believes it, because he thinks whatever he says ought to be believed. Surely we would not say that he is damned if he dies in such a state? Or if it becomes known, surely he would not be burned as a heretic? It seems not, because ignorance excuses from the whole. But if you should say that he should be burned, it follows that he will be bound to know the articles [of faith] explicitly, even if not taught by another: because if he should be taught, it will be necessary for him to be taught by his own pastor.

9. Likewise, Charity concerns loving God and neighbor, and it is necessary to know both distinctly. Therefore since Faith is related in a similar way to the articles [of Faith], it seems that faith ought to know distinctly the articles [of Faith].

Solution. Without precedent, I say that neither before the coming [of Christ], nor after, is one bound to explicitly know the articles [of Faith] without divine revelation and teaching, but implicitly; but with this supposition [held] most certainly without doubt: that revelation belongs to the Church, and is always made by the Church. And whoever are greater, are called such because by them others are instructed: And this is done in one way now, in another way formerly. For formerly revelation was made for the manifestion of the articles[of Faith], but now it is made for their exposition, because everything has been declared which is necessary to be believed. Therefore simple people before and after the coming, are not bound to believe explicitly, but implicitly only, except inasmuch they are taught by greater people, and are able through teaching to perceive with understanding. Those who preceded [the coming] were less bound on account of the teaching which was then in shadow, but those who came after are more bound on account of the open teaching of the truth.

It should be said therefore to the first against what is objected, that Boethius speaks the truth. But there is a twofold knowledge, namely, explicit and implicit. For it is not necessary for me to know every evil in particular, but only under the counsel of the wise, so that if something should happen which is uncertain whether it is evil, I may go to the wise, and I will avoid [making] this judgment. Likewise, if a new doctrine is proposed in the Faith, I may go to a priest, and I may believe his judgment, or not.

To the next it should be said that he is a debtor to the whole of Faith implicitly, so that he may disbelieve nothing of the whole.

To the next it should be said that philosophers and heretics do not believe implicitly, because they disbelieve. But the man who believes implicitly does not disbelieve any article, although he does not know them explicitly.

To the next it should be said that the measure is filled by not disbelieving anything, as was said.

To the next it should be said that this is a caution to explain often and clearly to the laity. But this can be done now in the time of grace, and nevertheless because they have a dull sense, they are not bound to understand explicitly just as it is explained to them. For they receive the explanation according to the power of their own understanding, and not according to the will of the one explaining. But before the coming this could not happen except as the time then permitted, namely in shadows and types. And these were bound less than those.

To the next it should be said that although faith is received distinctly in hearing, nevertheless by the simple that which is heard is not understood, except under a covering, and not distinctly, just as was said before.

To the next it should be said that the laity should not be considered heretics because they do not know to distinguish some articles. But they should be considered heretics when they pertinaciously contradict them when they are explained to them. For they cannot be considered heretics unless they have already received something from heretics contrary to the articles of faith; for if they should be burned because they do not know to distinguish or explicate the articles, the inquisitors themselves ought to be burned, since neither do they know many things well.

To the next it should be said that, in this case the Doctors answer in doubt; but nevertheless all are in agreement that it is a mortal sin to disbelieve an article pertinaciously. But if someone doubts an article while being prepared to change, they say that it is a human temptation. Whence certain persons said that if such a one should persevere in pius works, insofar as he is able, God would illumine her to not believe the priest in such a teaching. But if she does not do whatever she can, then it would be imputed to her own blindness. But this response is uncertain, and cannot be supported by any reason. Therefore others said differently, that if it is about a clear articles which is solemnized in the Church, then she ought to speak to other people, to see whether it is commonly said. For faith is not of an individual, but held in common. And thus she could be instructed. However, if it concerns some more hidden teaching, as for example that fornication is not a sin, or that the body of Christ is not on the altar, but is signified, she ought not to receive this because it is above her own powers, [to understand whether or not it is true] except under the condition that the universal church believes this. And thus she would remain in implicit faith, especially in the case concerning the body of Christ, since in the case of fornication, even the very baseness of its act shows that it is a mortal sin. Nevertheless, this latter case happens often in confession, on account of the lust of the priest who tries to persuade women of this.

To the last it should be said that the case is not similar with charity. For charity is not concerned with the account [of God and neighbor], but only with the object, and it does not distinguish [between God and neighbor], since it loves neighbor only materially; but faith is mixed with a certain knowledge and understanding, and not all are capable of this understanding.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Upcoming text from Albert the Great

I am currently in the process of translating a passage from St. Albert the Great, on whether or not implicit faith is sufficient for salvation. It should be done in the next couple days.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cardinal Newman on Salvation Outside the Church, Part III

I am speaking of the mass of the population; and, at first sight, it is a very serious question, whether the population can be said to be simply gifted with divine faith, any more than our own Protestant people; yet I would as little dare to deny or to limit exceptions to this remark, as I would deny them or limit them among ourselves. Let there be as many exceptions, as there can be found tokens of their being; and the more they are, to God the greater praise! [As Pius IX says, "Now, then, who could presume in himself an ability to set the boundaries of such ignorance, taking into consideration the natural differences of peoples, lands, native talents, and so many other factors?"] In this point of view it is, that we are able to take comfort even from the contemplation of a country which is given up whether to heresy or schism. Such a country is far from being in the miserable state of a heathen population: it has {353} portions of the truth remaining in it, it has some supernatural channels of grace; and the results are such as can never be known till we have all passed out of this visible scene of things, and the accounts of the world are finally made up for the last tremendous day.[Cardinal Newman's language here is very close to that of Lumen Gentium] While, then, I think it plain that the existence of large Anti-Catholic bodies professing Christianity are as inevitable, from the nature of the case, as infidel races or states, except under some extraordinary dispensation of divine grace, while there must ever be in the world false prophets and Antichrists, standing over against the Catholic Church, yet it is consolatory to reflect how the schism or heresy, which the self-will of a monarch or of a generation has caused, does not suffice altogether to destroy the work for which in some distant age Evangelists have left their homes, and Martyrs have shed their blood. Thus, the blessing is inestimable to England, so far as among us the Sacrament of Baptism is validly administered to any portion of the population. In Greece, where a far greater attention is paid to ritual exactness, the whole population may be considered regenerate; half the children born into the world pass through baptism from a schismatical Church to heaven, and in many of the rest the same Sacrament may be the foundation of a supernatural life, which is gifted with perseverance in the hour of death. There may be many too, who, being in invincible ignorance on those particular points of religion on which their {354} Communion is wrong, may still have the divine and unclouded illumination of faith on those numerous points on which it is right. And further, if we consider that there is a true priesthood in certain countries, and a true sacrifice, the benefits of Mass to those who never had the means of knowing better, may be almost the same as they are in the Catholic Church. Humble souls who come in faith and love to the heavenly rite, under whatever disadvantages they lie, from the faulty discipline of their Communion, may obtain, as well as we, remission of such sins as the Sacrifice directly effects, and that supernatural charity which wipes out greater ones. Moreover, when the Blessed Sacrament is lifted up, they adore, as well as we, the true Immaculate Lamb of God; and when they communicate, it is the True Bread of Life, and nothing short of it, which they receive for the eternal health of their souls.

And in like manner, I suppose, as regards this country, as well as Greece and Russia, we may entertain most reasonable hopes, that vast multitudes are in a state of invincible ignorance; so that those among them who are living a life really religious and conscientious, may be looked upon with interest and even pleasure, though a mournful pleasure, in the midst of the pain which a Catholic feels at their ignorant prejudices against what he knows to be true. Amongst the most bitter railers against the Church in this country, may be found those who are influenced by divine grace, and {355} are at present travelling towards heaven, whatever be their ultimate destiny.[Cardinal Newman here states that even those who openly oppose the Church may nevertheless be influenced by Divine Grace, and be travelling towards heaven.] Among the most irritable disputants against the Sacrifice of the Mass or Transubstantiation, or the most impatient listeners to the glories of Mary, there may be those for whom she is saying to her Son, what He said on the cross to His Father, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." Nay, while such persons think as at present, they are bound to act accordingly, and only so far to connect themselves with us as their conscience allows. [As I mentioned in my posts contra Fr. Harrison, someone can indeed be bound to do something that is in itself immoral, if their conscience binds them to do it, and they are not guilty for the formation of their conscience.] "When persons who have been brought up in heresy," says a Catholic theologian, "are persuaded from their childhood that we are the enemies of God's word, are idolaters, pestilent deceivers, and therefore, as pests, to be avoided, they cannot, while this persuasion lasts, hear us with a safe conscience, and they labour under invincible ignorance, inasmuch as they doubt not that they are in a good way."

Nor does it suffice, in order to throw them out of this irresponsible state, and to make them guilty of their ignorance, that there are means actually in their power of getting rid of it. For instance, say they have no conscientious feeling against frequenting Catholic chapels, conversing with Catholics, or reading their books; and say they are thrown into the neighbourhood of the one or the company of the other, and do not avail themselves of their opportunities; still these {356} persons do not become responsible for their present ignorance till such time as they actually feel it, till a doubt crosses them upon the subject, and the thought comes upon them, that inquiry is a duty. And thus Protestants may be living in the midst of Catholic light, and labouring under the densest and most stupid prejudices; and yet we may be able to view them with hope, though with anxiety—with the hope that the question has never occurred to them, strange as it may seem, whether we are not right and they wrong. [Many people find this hard to grasp. It seems to them that since a Protestant has all the means available for him to find the truth, then if he does not seek the truth it is because of some fault on his part. As Cardinal Newman says, this is false. A Protestant child growing up in the faith of his parents, in a world with so many different religions, may very well not even think of the possibility of one religion having more validity than another, and perhaps in his circumstances this is quite reasonable.] Nay, I will say something further still; they may be so circumstanced that it is quite certain that, in course of time, this ignorance will be removed, and doubt will be suggested to them, and the necessity of inquiry consequently imposed; and according to our best judgment, fallible of course as it is, we may be quite certain too, that, when that time comes, they will refuse to inquire, and will quench the doubt; yet should it so happen that they are cut off by death before that time has arrived (I am putting an hypothetical case), we may have as much hope of their salvation as if we had had no such foreboding about them on our mind; for there is nothing to show that they were not taken away on purpose, in order that their ignorance might be their excuse.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cardinal Newman on Salvation Outside the Church, Part II

From Cardinal Newman's sermon notes:

January 31
1. I have now explained what is meant by the word of God, by revelation, and by faith, and why they are necessary.
2. There is great correspondence between things of the body and of the soul. We cannot see without light; and even with light we need eyes, and in the dark we grope our way. Now by nature our souls are in darkness, ignorance, etc. Thus you see how it is there is need of God's word, revelation, and faith.
3. And here you see the reason of a solemn declaration, 'Without which there is no one can be saved.' We are going a journey, etc.
4. Our Lord's words, John iii. 18 [Note 39].
5. And still more if they refuse light, John iii. 19 [Note 40].
6. This is one great reason why the light of faith is necessary, because we are so ignorant. {317}
7. Now you will say, 'Is ignorance the fault of men in general? if so, how? if not, why are they punished with the loss of salvation?'
8. No one is punished except for his own fault. No one is punished except for rejecting light. God gives light all over the earth—enough to make men advance forward.
9. Explain: from one grace to another, from one step to another—prayer.
10. And thus those who are in a great deal of ignorance may be saved if they are doing their best, and their ignorance invincible.
11. Heathen, heretics (material), may have divine faith.[Cardinal Newman repeats the doctrine of Augustine here. One may be a material heretic who is mistaken even on something as fundamental as the incarnation, and yet still have divine faith. Likewise he says that heathen may have divine faith.]
12. Who these are is secret. All we know is about ourselves. Application to ourselves.