FOREWORD In a September 1998 article in The Angelus, house organ for the Lefebvre Society of St. Pius X, Fr. Franšois Laisney attacked Fr. Leonard Feeney (R.I.P.) and the dogmas of the Catholic religion for which he was so famous for championing in this, an age of heresy run wild. My refutations of Fr. Laisney's positions are delivered consecutively, as in a debate.
Feast of All Saints, 1998
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mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Three Errors of the Feeneyites By Rev. Fr. Franšois Laisney
Error I. Misrepresentation of the Dogma, "Outside the Church There Is No Salvation." The first error of those who take their doctrine from Rev. Fr. Leonard Feeney, commonly known as "Feeneyites," is that they misrepresent the dogma, "Outside the [Catholic] Church there is no salvation."
It is scarcely a misrepresentation to take the Popes literally when they define a dogma of the Church which must be taken literally if it is to be taken at all. On the contrary, it is a misrepresentation of a defined dogma to say that it does not really means what it literally says. And to lump all such who take the Popes at their word "Feeneyites" is to categorize all faithful and orthodox Catholics, indeed including even little recently-baptized infants, as followers of Fr. Feeney. Catholics do not "take their doctrine" from Fr. Feeney, nor, in fact, do all those who believe literally what the Church teaches. Even if Leonard Feeney had never existed, we would have to believe what the Popes have defined for us. Logically, we might then be called "Eugene-the-Fourthites" or "Innocent-Thirdites" or "Boniface-Eighthites," and so on. Besides, why denigrate the good name of a priest personally exonerated by a reigning Pontiff by calling his close associates "Feeneyites"? In English, such unsolicited slurs go back at least to the days of Shakespeare, when the members of the Company of Jesus were named by those who detested the truths taught by them "Jesuites." But, for the sake of concision - and since even the name "Jesuit" came into such unequalled glory even in the days of Shakespeare - we will allow Fr. Laisney's appellation, although both uncharitable and inaccurate, to stand.
The Feeneyites misrepresent this as, "Without baptism of water there is no salvation."
This is absolutely untrue, since no Catholic is permitted to hold any particular interpretation of dogma but they must indeed believe, as Trent defined infallibly, that without baptism of water there is no salvation whatsoever possible (Canon V, On The Sacrament of Baptism). Moreover, to misrepresent the Feeneyite crusade as one solely for water, thus reducing the over-all "package," does not follow at all, nor is it a true representation of the totality and impact of Fr. Leonard Feeney's crusade for the conversion of America. Nevertheless, the element and innocence of water is genuinely required for the salvation of souls; as the Catechism of Trent declares: "Water, which is always at hand and within the reach of everyone, was the most fitting matter of a sacrament which is necessary to everyone for salvation" (Frs. McHugh and Callan edition, p.166).
In order to make such a claim, Fr. Laisney would logically have been compelled to read each and every thing written by any "Catholic saint" who ever lived and wrote anything at all, up to and including the days of St. Cyprian. Do you really think he did? Here is a pertinent observation - the Acts of the Apostles was written by St. Luke scarcely thirty years after the Ascension according to Fr. Laisney's famous "common theological opinion." In 67 A.D., then, St. Luke wrote these inspired and infallible words: "The Lord added daily to the Church those being saved" (2:47), thus logically excluding from salvation those not "added." What makes this observation important to our refutation of Fr. Laisney position is that anything henceforward, which serves to contradict these infallible words, serves at the same time necessarily to posit that we do not have to take the Word of God specifically as handed down to us in its literal and obvious meaning.
In the very passage in which he uses this phrase, St. Cyprian also expresses that baptism of water is inferior to baptism of blood. Since baptism of blood, he says, is not fruitful outside the Church, because "outside the Church there is no salvation," baptism of water also cannot be fruitful outside the Church. The reason for this is that it would imprint the character of baptism but would not give sanctifying grace, i.e., justification, which opens the gates of heaven.
We must agree completely with St. Cyprian here. As far as sanctifying grace is concerned, the martyrdom of a Catholic is greater in efficacy than his original baptism in water. For "Greater love than this, no man has, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Even though the martyr does not recapture the sacramental grace (an actual grace peculiar to each individual sacrament when administered), nevertheless the influx of the sanctity of justification (Sanctifying Grace) is greater, since he who loves more receives more of it, "whereas to whom less is forgiven, he loveth less" (Luke 7:47). And since as St. Cyprian is admitted to have said, "outside the Church there is no salvation," therefore neither baptism of blood nor baptism of desire are fruitful unto salvation, since neither of them "would imprint the character of baptism." This comes only in the Sacrament of Baptism, which necessarily requires the matter of the sacrament - water. But note here that Fr. Laisney begs the question concerning justification itself. There is no word of the Magisterium declaring infallibly that "justification opens the gates of Heaven." Justification was defined by Trent in Session VI to account for a couple things, none of which involved "opening the gates of Heaven." Moreover, there is only one gate to Heaven, Jesus Christ, "I am the door; if any man enter in by Me, he shall be saved " (John 10:9). Jesus is "the way" (John 14:6) and He is the solitary entrance. " We must become, therefore, an Alter Christus - another Christ - to go where He has gone (John 3:13); and the only way this can be done is by means of reception of sacramental baptism.
In the very next paragraph, St. Cyprian teaches, with all the fathers, doctors, popes and unanimously all theologians, that baptism of blood, that is, dying for the Catholic Faith, is the most glorious and perfect baptism of all, explicitly stating "even without the water."
In order to make such a rash statement as this, Fr. Laisney would logically and necessarily have had to have studied the writings of "all the fathers, doctors, popes and unanimously all theologians" who have lived from the year 33 to our own day. In fact, Fr. Laisney emphasizes this list of authorities by putting it in bold italics. The fact is, it is a bold falsehood on its italic face. Besides, to add that St. Cyprian appears to make an exception here in behalf of those "dying for the Catholic Faith" does not mean that "all" the others did. In fact, several did not. But more on this later. Meanwhile, here is St. Robert Bellarmine, a Doctor of the Church with a far different opinion (On the Sacrament of Baptism, Book I, Chapter 4) -
Those who imagine that there is another remedy besides Baptism openly contradict the Gospels, the Councils, the Fathers, and the consensus of the universal Church.
But let us look more closely at this quote of Fr. Laisney and the position he claims we should hold from it. He merely states that many authorities have deemed martyrdom a more "glorious and perfect baptism" than sacramental baptism - and, as far as the gift of Sanctifying Grace bestowed for it - what Catholic can possibly disagree?
In the paragraph following this one, St. Cyprian teaches that Catholic faithful who, through no fault of their own, were received into the Catholic Church without a valid baptism, 2 would still go to heaven. This is to say that they would die with the requisite Catholic faith and charity, necessary to go to heaven, though without the waters of baptism. These requisites are exactly the conditions of "baptism of desire."
How can anyone at all be "received into the Catholic Church without a valid baptism"? Is this what St. Cyprian writes, or is a construction on his words by Fr. Laisney? Can any human being exist outside the Church because of an invalid baptism and still be termed a member of the "Catholic faithful"? Remember: St. Cyprian held that the Sacrament of Baptism administered outside the pale of the Church by heretics was no sacrament at all. In his reference no.2 (below), Fr. Laisney himself admits that St. Cyprian was mistaken in his baptismal theology. This furore over the rebaptism of already-validly-baptized heretics was what caused the falling out between Cyprian and Pope St. Stephen I (d.257); for Pope St. Stephen was considered a liberal by the great St. Cyprian precisely because the Holy Father refused to rebaptize converted apostates. Cyprian came very close to schism himself on this point, publicly calling Pope St. Stephen "depraved, inept, blind, obstinate, and universally sinful." He refused to recant and died in disobedience to the Holy Father, demonstrating how even the most eminent Doctors of the Church can err. In fact, every famous Father of the Church published errors which later had to be corrected in Council, just as the opinions even of the Great St. Gregory I about the End of Time were condemned at the Ecumenical Council of Lateran V. The eminent St. Augustine wrote a Book of Corrections to his own mistakes, and was in the process of writing yet another Book of Corrections when he went to his reward. Saint Cyprian was therefore in no position to "teach" anything to the Church universal as literally postulated by Fr. Laisney. The prerogative of personal Infallibility was granted solely to the Pope, and then only under the very strict conditions defined at the Council of Vatican I. The private speculations of various Fathers or Doctors in no way binds the faithful, and not a single one of their propositions is magisterial. Saint Cyprian here was witnessing not to that which has come down to us De Fide, but to his own private speculations. As is taught in Patristic Theology, every Father of the Church (such as St. Cyprian) produced mistakes and material heresies which had to be corrected later by the Church herself, in fact most of them in council.
Why not then believe the dogma "outside the Church there is no salvation" "...with the same sense and the same understanding (in eodem sensu eademque sententia)" 3 as the whole Catholic Church has taught it from the beginning, that is, including the "three baptisms"? Fr. Leonard Feeney and his followers give a new meaning, a new interpretation, to this dogma.
"Why not believe in three baptism for salvation"? Precisely because it would entail tacking onto that which has been given us as infallible that which is fallible. Vatican Council I defined that dogmas proclaimed by the Magisterim are to be believed precisely as they are declared, and that the Church "understands her dogmas by the very words She has once declared, and there must never be a withdrawal from this meaning..." (Dei Filius, Chapter 3 & Canon 3). Moreover, the Church has solemnly condemned as heresy the notion that dogmas have a meaning which goes beyond the words as literally declared in any dogmatic formula (cf. Lamentabili, #22,26,54,64 and Pascendi: Dz 2079-2081, 2087 promulgated by Pope St. Pius X, 1907). Even in its native ambiguity, Vatican II declared that magisterial definitions are "irreformable by their very nature" (Lumen Gentium, 25). Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre personally signed this decree! But notice how Fr. Laisney Begs The Question again, when he declares (without proof) that "the whole Church" has taught three baptisms from the beginning. Now, anything taught by the Church is, by definition, infallible. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not arrange the teachings of His Church according to the Extraordinary Magisterium, the Ordinary Magisterium, the Supreme Magisterium, the Authentic Magisterium, or any Ex Cathedra arrangement. He said, quite simply, "He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16); and, since Jesus is infallibly true in every utterance of his doctrinal demands, so therefore is His Church. Consequently, inasmuch as the Church (to say nothing of it "whole" or otherwise) has never taught infallibly more than a single baptism for the attainment of eternal bliss, Father's insinuations and statements are both illogical and false on their face. Moreover, it is not Father Feeney who gave a new meaning to the De Fide teaching of the Church that all men must, in the New Testament, receive the Sacrament of Baptism to be saved. This has always been the understanding of the Church, even including those Fathers and Doctors who speculated against it privately. Father Feeney's meaning to the Dogma that you have to be a Catholic to go to Heaven is simply a literal reiteration of what has been defined and come down to us since the year 99, when all Divine Revelation came to an end with the death of the last Apostle. If, therefore, it can be shown that the Church at any time since then held the Faith the way Father Feeney taught it, then ineluctably anyone who teaches any other way is the one who is guilty of misinterpreting the meaning and sense of Holy Mother Church in her infallible declarations. Here, then, is the admission of one of our country's most eminent Patristic Theologians, having researched in their original languages virtually all the existing writings of the Fathers of the Church. His name is Fr. William Jurgens, Professor of Patristic Theology at St. Mary's Seminary in Cleveland a quarter-century ago, and he can scarcely be deemed a "Feeneyite." His book (in three volumes) is called The Faith of the Early Fathers (emphasis is my own, for obvious reasons) -
If there were not a constant tradition in the Fathers that the Gospel message of 'Unless a man be born again of water," etc., is to be taken absolutely, it would be easy to say that Our Savior simply did not see fit to mention the obvious exceptions of Invincible Ignorance and physical impossibility. But the tradition is in fact there, and it is likely enough to be found so constant as to constitute Revelation. Father Jurgens is by no stretch of the imagination a traditionalist in the matter of sacramental baptism; thus, he goes on to provide his own brand of private speculations against what he has already declared as the "absolute" necessity of water baptism being found so "constantly" in the Fathers as to "constitute Revelation," but his private speculations, like those of Fr. Laisney, are arrantly beside the point. The point being that, if Fr. Jurgens is correct, in his area of expertise as a Patristic theologian, then Fr. Laisney is incorrect in his presumptions that Father Feeney misunderstood the true sense of the Mind of the Church. And, since Father Laisney cannot produce a single statement from the Church which is pronounced infallibly saying that a sacramentally-unbaptized soul can enter Heaven, it is he, not Jurgens, who is in error on the issue of what the Church really teaches and genuinely demands that we hold by Faith.
This traditional interpretation of this dogma, including the "three baptisms," is that of St. Cyprian, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Fulgentius, St. Bernard, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Peter Canisius, St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Pope Innocent II, Pope Innocent III, the Council of Trent, Pope Pius IX, Pope St. Pius X, etc., and unanimously all theologians (prior to the modernists). St. Alphonsus says: "It is de fide [that is, it belongs to the Catholic Faith Ed.] that there are some men saved also by the baptism of the Spirit."4
A few Doctors of the Church, such as Bernard and Thomas, can be argued to have held the salvational benefit of baptism of desire; however, to the list of Fathers alone, Fr. Laisney could also have added the names of Tertullian, St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Bede the Venerable, and St. Prosper of Aquitaine - at least tentatively - for they also admittedly brought up the subject. It must be pointed out, however, that Ss. Ambrose and Augustine, as well as the eventual apostate Tertullian, all literally and diametrically contradict themselves regarding "baptism of desire" and "blood" as a means of salvation in several other places in which they insisted upon the absoluteness of the need for water. Moreover, their putative exemption of "non-aquatic" baptisms for salvation was explicitly contradicted by other contemporary writers who, accurately or otherwise, claimed that these Fathers have been misunderstood and misinterpreted.
Saint Augustine concurs with St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Gregory Nazianzen, and others in specifically denying that the State of Sanctifying Grace is sufficient to save anyone without the actual reception of the Sacrament of Water Baptism. He makes this statement explicitly in his essay On Baptism, Against the Donatists, in Book IV, Chapter 21, number 28. We must also modify the alleged support of St. Ambrose (if any) for salvific baptism of desire by pointing out that it is based solely by certain interpreters on his Eulogy to Emperor Valentinian. This conjecture on their part is expressly contested by one of our greatest patristic historians, Father Jacques-Paul Migne (PL, vol.16, p.412, no.19) and the Eulogy itself is invariably mistranslated by modern heretics and their willing editors.
In fact, St. Ambrose declares explicitly that the royal twenty-year-old emperor actually did receive the sacrament he so earnestly desired, and in no place declared otherwise. His speech on the occasion of the Emperor's death acknowledged the congregation's lament that Valentinian had not received the sacramenta of Baptism, not the Sacrament thereof. "Sacramenta" is the plural form of a Latin word which means the formal oaths (or "forms" of the sacrament as explained by Fr. William Jurgens in his conscientious translation of this eulogy), that is: the formal and external rituals provided for in a Catholic liturgy in church, for which, of course, no one had time. This was the most prudently logical conclusion Ambrose could reach, considering that the he was also aware of the virtual certainty that the emperor had long since already been baptized validly, although as an Arian, having been raised by his mother Justina in this sect for many years - thus rendering altogether moot the entire contention of modern quibblers such as Fr. Laisney and his followers.
It is also very questionable whether Ss. John Chrysostom, Gregory Nazianzen, Prosper, and others who brought up what today is called "Baptism of Blood" can be held literally from their statements to have meant salvation by martyrdom short of the font, for several were manifestly and expressly speaking of the martyrdom of those already baptized with water. In various places, St. Prosper of Aquitaine as well as St. John Chrysostom equate the term "baptism of blood" explicitly and specifically with justification, not salvation. Nevertheless, it is not altogether uncharacteristic - although self-negating as viable witness on behalf of Liberal heretics - that several of these Fathers waffled diametrically back and forth, sometimes within the very same document under discussion.
Along with the mass of the early Fathers of the Church who held explicitly to baptism of water for salvation must necessarily be added the overwhelming preponderance of those Fathers, Doctors, and Ecclesiastical Writers of the first centuries of the Church catalogued by Father Tixeront in his masterful Handbook of Patrology, which lists over five hundred authentic witnesses to the true Faith, and whose cumulative testimony compelled the discerning Father William A. Jurgens to corroborate the witness of Tradition that "Unless a man be born again of water, etc., is to be taken absolutely."
The Fathers of the Church, therefore, taken as a whole, can only be said to have verified definitively the official and authentic teaching of the one true Church that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be baptized in the water of the actual sacrament instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ. On the other hand, it is intellectually dishonest to suggest otherwise. And to exalt the personal theological opinions of a handful - even an impressive and well-known handful - to the rank of ecclesiastical Tradition or even magisterial infallibility is not only an exercise in sophomoric legerdemain, but also a specious brand of facile shortsightedness unconscionable in a serious study of Patristic Theology.
To repeat - this dogma of salvation by means of baptism alone is not something that has been dreamed up by radical, reactionary recalcitrants, nor by some lone Bostonian priest stumping a soap-box half-a-century ago, nor by any other ordained minister of Almighty God who has committed himself to preserve both his vows and his Faith in serving those over whom God has placed him. This De Fide proposition is constituted and established by the current, authentic and official Magisterium of the Church of Jesus Christ as part and parcel of the only true religion to grace the face of God's green earth. Therefore, Pope Paul , in his Apostolic Exhortation On the Fifth Anniversary of the Closing of Vatican II, proclaimed in 1970 -
Look at the Laisney citation once more. That "it belongs to the Catholic Faith," as St. Maria's Editor explains, can only mean that St. Alphonsus Maria did not consider it De Fide Definita. Hence, "that some men are saved by the baptism of the Spirit" is not to be found in any pronouncement of the Solemn Magisterium but only, if it exists at all, in the Ordinary Magisterium which must always be taken in the light of Tradition and not on the say-so of any individual Father or Doctor of the Church. Moreover, note well - nowhere in this very statement provided us by Fr. Laisney does St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori actually state that the men saved by baptism of the Spirit are not previously baptized with water! In fact, The washing free of sin produced by baptism of the Spirit and its accompanying acts of repentance, etc., can readily be admitted by all Catholics to fulfill all requirements necessary for entrance into Heaven, but only if a man has first received the Character of the Sacrament. The reference given for this Footnote No. 4 is, simply, "On Baptism," Ch.1. Granted that Father Laisney may have access to a book by St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori by this name, but it does not appear in the "The Complete Works of Saint Alponsus de Liguori" published in twenty-two volumes by his own Order, the Redemptorist Fathers, in 1926, nor is it mentioned among his works by the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1903. In those Complete Works, St. Alphonsus Maria explicitly contradicts the contentions of the Laisneyites by saying: "The Catechism of Trent teaches that the Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for everyone without exception." Does this sound like a man who truly considers Fr. Laisney's exception of desire "De Fide"? My own shelves are blessed by the presence of fifteen of the books written by this last of the Doctors of the Church to die (1787), and it is true that in one of them, "Instructions on the Commandments and Sacraments," St. Alphonsus Maria posits the notion that "ardent desire for baptism" can get a person to Heaven without the sacrament, so long as the person has the Catholic Faith (On The Sacrament Of Baptism, Chapter II:2); however, as Blessed Henro Suso points out in his Spiritual Discourses, "God never leaves unrewarded the ardent desires of holy souls.". Nevertheless, in this very work St. Alphonsus Maria does not say what Fr. Laisney says he said, namely, that such a speculation is De Fide - and nowhere does he declare that this is in any way at all a teaching of the Magisterium, Solemn or Ordinary. In fact, St. Alphonsus Maria attests, in so many words, that this is merely his own private opinion when he declares: "I say" that an the unbaptized can be saved. He does not in this book claim that "the Church says" so. Besides - and this is of greatest import - no Father or Doctor of the Church as such is any more infallible than the next man in the pew. Not even all the Fathers of the Church put together can come up with an infallible proclamation of the Catholic Faith. As Fr. Jurgens points out -
The Fathers and early Christian Writers do not agree with each other with a precise mathematical unanimity, nor could it be expected that they would. And in any case, we must stress that a particular patristic text is in no instance to be regarded as 'proof' of a particular doctrine. Dogmas are not "proved" by patristic statements, but by the infallible teaching instruments of the Church. The value of the Fathers and Writers is this: that in the aggregate they demonstrate what the Church believes and teaches; and, again in the aggregate, they provide a witness to Tradition, that Tradition which is itself a vehicle of Revelation. And remember, this is the Father Jurgens who admitted that the teaching of the Fathers on the "absolute" necessity of water baptism was so "constant" as to constitute that "Revelation" of which he speaks. Note, however, that Father Laisney is once again Begging the Question by citing among all his authorities the Council of Trent, as though it corroborated his brand of the "traditional interpretation of this dogma." Trent nowhere interpreted the possibility of salvation for any single unbaptized person in the New Testament. In fact, they clearly defined that if anyone held that the Sacrament of Baptism (and this ineluctably necessitates the administration of it in water) is not necessary for salvation, they were accursed (Canon V, On the Sacrament of Baptism). True, Trent defined that with the proper dispositions (which they defined elsewhere fourteen times) an individual could achieve the State of Justification prior to the actual reception of the Sacrament, and it is this and this alone which has come down to us De Fide from the year 99, and which no "follower of Father Feeney" ever contested. Yes, Catholics hold that a man can get into a state of grace prior to water baptism (after all, weren't all the Old Testament saints in the state of grace?), but no Catholic is permitted to argue that it is Church teaching a man in the New Testament can save his soul without it, as does Fr. Laisney.
The traditional interpretation of "Outside the Church there is no salvation," was approved by the Council of Florence (1438-1445). The Council Fathers present made theirs the doctrine of St. Thomas on baptism of desire, saying that for children one ought not to wait 40 or 80 days for their instruction, because for them there was "no other remedy."5 This expression is taken directly from St. Thomas (Summa Theologica, IIIa, Q.68, A.3) and it refers explicitly to baptism of desire (Summa Theologica, IIIa, Q.68, A.2). Despite the fact that the Council of Florence espoused the doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas, it is astonishing to see Feeneyites opposing this council to St. Thomas!
Here we go again, with Fr. Laisney Begging the Question. First, he expects his readers to believe that the traditional interpretation of "Outside the Church no salvation" should be interpreted that there is salvation outside the Church (by way of baptism of desire), then declares that the Council of Florence adopted St. Thomas' doctrine on baptism of desire for salvation as their own infallibly-stated position. As to the former presumption, we have only his conclusion (not only unsupported by, but also explicitly contradicted by Tradition, no matter how "traditional" he deems his opinion); and, as for the latter presumption, he can cite no single declaration from the Council of Florence that "the Council Fathers present made theirs the doctrine of St. Thomas on baptism of desire." We are left solely with his own presumptions, conclusions, hypotheses, and opinions. Besides all of which, neither St. Thomas, Florence, nor Trent ever used the expression "baptism of desire." So how could Florence or anyone else adopt and promulgate the doctrine of St. Thomas on "baptism of desire"? That infants indeed "have no remedy" other than the Sacrament of Baptism to attain Heaven has no bearing at all on the fact that they also have no other remedy but the sacrament to achieve Sanctifying Grace. As St. Thomas says in the reference cited by Fr. Laisney, "children should be baptized without delay - because in them we do not look for better instruction or fuller conversion." Now, ask yourselves. Would "better instruction" or "fuller conversion" be an immediate remedy for the loss of Heaven or for the loss of Grace? It would serve only to increase Grace; therefore, delaying baptism would not in itself be as dangerous to adults as to children. Why? Because, and even Feeneyites admit this, adults can indeed attain Sanctifying Grace prior to the actual reception of the Sacrament of Baptism when properly disposed. What the Council of Florence was talking about in the precise reference cited by Fr. Laisney is - precisely as the Council itself declared - simply that the baptism of infants should not be delayed, as it often was in those days, "for forty or eighty days" and not, as Fr. Laisney would mislead us into believing, because the Council fathers were trying to sneak baptism of desire for salvation into their decrees by a back door. The fact that St. Thomas refers "explicitly to baptism of desire" is in no way tantamount to the Council explicitly endorsing baptism of desire for salvation, because it obviously did not (or we would not be having this discussion at all!). Neither is there any clear proof that "the Council of Florence espoused the doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas" in the matter at all. We have only Father Laisney's speculation on that, and here he is really stretching. The Laisneyites, therefore, are manifestly attempting to get their followers to believe that Florence said something which it clearly did not say, just as those who add the exceptions of baptism of desire and blood to John 3:5 intend to make Jesus say something which He clearly did not say. We must logically respond to Father Laisney: You are "making void the Word of God by your own tradition" (Mark 7:13); in fact, Fr. Laisney, you are hinging your entire thesis on an undefined "exception." Or, to use your own words: It is astonishing to see you opposing this Council to Fr. Feeney!
None of the arguments of the Feeneyites have value against the rock of Tradition. But, to be consistent, let us refute two more of their major errors.
Let us stop right here first, and examine the word of Fr. Laisney. He holds out Tradition as though (a) his arguments rest upon it, which we have proven fallacious, and (b) as though it were alone the Rock of Truth against which good Catholics are able to hold no other "value." But this is erroneous. Catholics do not believe simply in Tradition any more than they simply believe even a solitary word of Holy Scripture! Good Catholics are allowed by the Church to believe only one single thing: what the Church teaches. And the authentic teaching of the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church can never vary, in either its substance or in its interpretation, from that which has been held universally by the faithful the world over since the death of the last Apostle. As a dogmatic theologian, Fr. Laisney should know (and long since have pointed out) that Scripture and Tradition are the two remote sources of our Faith, and that the immediate source is exclusively the voice of the Magisterium. Jesus said: "He who hears you, hears Me" (Luke 10:16) - He did not tell us to go back and double-check Scripture or Tradition after the Popes have defined infallibly a doctrine of Faith to be held by all Catholics universally. But this is precisely what Fr. Laisney is doing. He is reading the words of Innocent III, Boniface VIII, and Eugene IV on the absolute necessity of actual membership in the Roman Catholic Church for eternal salvation, and then furiously researching Scripture and Tradition looking for loopholes to their plain and simple (and infallible) proclamations. Father Laisney is not holding the Faith, he is holding a bag of loopholes! Our Divine Savior did not give to private judgment that which is contained from Scripture and Tradition in the Deposit of Faith, but to the ecclesiastical Magisterium of the one, true Church. "It is clear, therefore," Vatican Council II correctly and aptly informs us, "that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, Sacred Tradition, Holy Scripture, and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that not one of them can stand without the others" (Dei Verbum, no.10). The Magisterium cites the two remote sources of Scripture and Tradition in giving support to its pronouncements; but, even in cases in which these sources may even seem silent, is enabled by Jesus Christ to define truths of Faith and Morals on its own, in the sense that the Magisterium alone is now the Voice of God on this earth. In fact, as St. Augustine wrote, "I myself would not believe in the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church did not influence me to do so" (Against the Letter of Mani, V:6). This authority is precisely the power of the Magisterium to be forever excercised by the official teachers of the Church, to whom Our Lord's last words were: "All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me; go therefore you teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:18). In closing this section, we should remind ourselves of the danger of hanging our hats on the theological speculations of private Doctors of the Church, even one as eminent as St. Thomas. "The Angel of the Schools" was in error on many points and in many ways, as his editors and biographers point out. Saint Thomas wrote one hundred books, and as a wise man once pointed out so trenchantly: "The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never works." Thus, St. Thomas suffered from his share of mistakes. For example, the book he was writing when he died in 1274 is called The Compendium of Theology. In it are found nine explicit errors and several others which must be called questionably so. He believed that "animals and plants are generated by the sun (no's. 43, 101, 127) and even that "the sun has some part in the generation of man" (no. 170) - virtually a tenet of modern Astrology! - but held that the sun itself was "incorruptible" (no's. 170, 74) - even though we know conclusively now that stars do burn out. He wrote that "semen is the product of surplus food" (no. 161), which all but reduces the generation of mankind to the eating of too many leftovers! Moreover, in what must have pleased the Manichean heretics even of his own day, St. Thomas wrote that every act of sexual intercourse "involves unclean infection" and that "the uncleanness of sexual intercourse signifies the uncleanness of Original Sin" (Summa Theologica I-II, q.102, art.5, ad 3). Doctor AndrÚ Daignes, Professor of Philosophy in Buenos Aires, pointed out twenty-four formal errors in the Summa Theologica of Saint Thomas alone. For instance, in his Sum-ma, St. Thomas states that, in man's conception, he first receives an imperfect soul, and later a more perfect one (Summa Theologica, III, Q.33, art.3, ad.3); that a fetus receives first a "nutritive soul, then a sensitive soul, and lastly an intellectual soul"; and that the earlier souls are then destroyed or "corrupted" (Part 1, Q.118, Art.2, ad.2) - all of which would obviously serve to support the sinful errors of those who in our day promote evolution and abortion. And of course we are all painfully familiar with his errors against the Immaculate Conception, in which he patently denied its possibility. Saint Thomas explicitly stated that "The Blessed Virgin was conceived in Original Sin" (Summa Theologica, III, q.31, art.8, ad 2) and that "she did indeed contract Original Sin" (III, q.27, art.2 ad 2 and art.3 ad 4); perhaps even more explicitly he twice denies the Immaculate Conception in his famed Commentary on the Hail Mary (cf. The Three Greatest Prayers, Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 1990, p.166). He even states that "indeed, she had to be conceived with Original Sin" (The Compendium of Theology, no. 224). Yet it is Saint Thomas himself who affirms: "The custom of the Church has very great authority, and ought to be jealously observed in all things, since the very doctrine of Catholic doctors derives its authority from the Church. Hence, we ought to abide by the authority of the Church rather than by that of an Augustine or a Jerome or of any doctor whatsoever" (Summa Theologica, II-II, q.10, art.12). And it's a good thing, too, since he was joined by six other eminent authorities in denying the Immaculate Conception - St. John Damascene, St. Anselm, St. Bonaventure, St. Bernard, St. Peter Damian, and St. Albert the Great - almost a fourth of the Doctors of the Church!
For, in the words of Pope John Paul II, "It would be a serious abuse to replace the Word of God with the word of man, no matter who the author might be" (DominicŠ CenŠ, Feb. 24, 1980). Therefore, a theological speculation, based on the presumptions of a St. Thomas or a St. Augustine or a Frank Laisney or anyone else, possesses for its authority just that: a speculative presumption - or, as Protestants would call it, Private Judgment.
Neither (a) Baptism of Desire for Salvation nor (b) Baptism of Desire for Justification are optional, since the Church has defined against (a) and for (b). Neither of them, therefore, is any longer permissible for free discussion as opinions or options.
This is indeed false, but not for the reasons Fr. Laisney will go on to suggest. It cannot be claimed that baptism of desire for salvation is merely a difference of opinion, as you will see. But first, however, let us admit the truth that it is both anachronistic and self-contradictory for any member of Saint Benedict Center to consider salvation by baptism of desire little more than "an academic difference" between schools of thinkers with "rights" to opposing positions.
If Baptism of Desire were not a fundamental ingredient in the original Center crusade, why in the world did the Founder of SBC, Catherine Clarke, take such pains to complain about it way back in 1949, almost half-a-century ago? On page 74 of her book, Loyolas & Cabots, you will see very clearly that baptism of desire was one of the first and primary excuses cast in the face of those who held out for the Dogma of Salvation. Like Sr. Catherine, we continue to be "shocked to a realization of what is happening to the Faith" by virtue of the heresy of Baptism of Desire For The Salvation of Non-Catholics. Dare the true faithful deem discussion on Desire little more than opinions, theories, or "private speculations meriting individual consideration?"
Brother Robert Mary of SBC wrote a wonderful book called "Father Feeney and the Truth about Salvation" as recently as 1995. It was published by the very religious order specifically under attack by Father Laisney. "For the record," writes Brother (on p.19), "Father Feeney's position on baptism of desire and baptism of blood was first published in his book, Bread of Life, in October, 1952. In this book, Fr. Feeney condemns baptism of desire as a substitute for the Sacrament of Baptism in getting souls into Heaven without water as "heresy" (twice). Father Feeney calls desire "a splendid diabolical word" and termed it explicitly "sinful." Diabolical sinfulness is never the result of worthy opinion or a right to private speculation, but can only fall under the realm of formal heresy, not merely material error.
We are compelled to hold therefore that, ever since the Canon of Trent on the Sacrament of Baptism was infallible promulgated - which declares that whoever says Baptism is optional, and therefore not necessary for salvation, is to be accursed - no Catholic dare conjecture any opposing opinion, including pre-eminent Catholic doctors like St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori. We might also contrast his error on baptism of desire in his book On the Commandments and Sacraments to his other book, Dogmatic Works, also called "An Exposition and Defense of All the Points of Faith Discussed and Defined by the Sacred Council of Trent" - in which you will find nary a word about baptism of desire or blood!
What we do know for sure is that even the greatest of saints have fallen into the error of material heresies. This is demonstrable proof that the Vicar of Christ alone can provide definitions of Catholic dogma infallibly. And he has done so, both in his decrees and in his Canons broadcast to the entire world of Catholics. Inasmuch as each individual Canon thus promulgated condemns those who hold the opposite, and since a man can be damned for denying just one Canon - even if he affirmed every other point of the Catholic Faith - this ineluctably means that each Canon can stand on its own with no further reference to any other Canon, decree, infallible declaration, or magisterial pronouncement.
If this were not the case, then each Canon would not have its own anathema attached to it, and one could not be condemned for denying it (all by itself), because it would need to have reference to some other statement. But Canons with their own anathemas attached to them do not have such references. Therefore, the conclusion of Canon 5 of the Council of Trent's decree On the Sacrament of Baptism in regard to the subject of whether sacramental water is necessary for salvation, remains perfectly valid and infallibly determinate on its own without further reference to any other declaration of Trent. Canons are by nature infallible pronouncements of the Church inasmuch as no one can formally be anathematized for denying that which might be true as private speculation.
Canons, therefore, are to be understood in their literal sense and precisely as they are declared, as are all dogmatic pronouncements of the Church. There is no other conceivable conclusion. This constitutes the most fundamental error of Father Laisney and his followers.
A sly and misleading concept! Neither Fr. Feeney nor any of his followers ever made such a claim. There are many doctrines traditionally held as belonging De Fide to the corpus of the Catholic Faith prior to becoming De Fide Definita. The Immaculate Conception was not defined until 1854 and the Assumption until 1950, yet were held De Fide by the universal Church (though debated even by Doctors thereof). There are many, many mysteries of the Faith held De Fide, yet still undefined in formal proclamation by the Church.
But can any theologian honestly argue that salvation by baptism of desire or blood is "open to free discussion" when Trent has closed the door on the subject precisely by defining it as dogma and then attaching infallible Canons condemning those who refuse to believe it? If, in fact, St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori or any other ecclesiastical authority contended that it was still open to free debate since they continued to consider desire or blood salvific, then these authorities were simply as mistaken as is Fr. Laisney.
Leonard Feeney never taught any doctrine as being that of the Church which was not contained in the body of Divine Revelation and thus held De Fide even prior to any formal definition. Was not the Divinity of Jesus Christ De Fide before it was officially defined by the Council of Nicea in 325? Shouldn't Father Laisney or any other dogmatic theologian worth his salt be aware that there have always been doctrines of the Church infallibly held De Fide from the five or six magisterial sources other than definitive proclamation?
Saint Alphonsus Maria avows in his Exposition of Trent that "we must believe with the certainty of the Faith not only what has been defined by the Church, but also what appears to be clearly contained in Scripture; otherwise, everyone might doubt of any truth expressed in the Sacred Writings prior to the definition of the Church." It follows, then, that we are not allowed to doubt any truth clearly contained in Holy Writ, and that we are allowed to hold to the literal word of any doctrinal and moral truth found explicitly in Holy Scripture, even before they are defined by the Magisterium. Now, the faithful professed De Fide the belief in the absolute necessity of receiving sacramental baptism in order to attain eternal salvation during the centuries prior to its formal definition by the various Councils of the Church; and they did so precisely because of the manifestly literal declaration of Jesus Christ as recorded in St. John's Gospel: "Unless one be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
Consequently, on the absolute necessity of sacramental water baptism for salvation, we not only hold that which has come down to us as De Fide from the very beginning, but now also that which has been defined. Rome has spoken, and the case is therefore closed.
All Catholics agree to this statement; but not all Catholics, the world over, and at all times have "unanimously" considered non-aquatic "baptisms" salvific. For the Laisneyites to do so is to fall into grievous error by denying that which is De Fide, even though he does so before the formal magisterial condemnation of their specific heresies. For, no Catholics is required nor expected to wait until "baptism of desire or blood for salvation" is censured in a future Syllabus of Errors in order to abhor it as heretical.
Since when has the "common teaching of theologians" become the "unanimous" teaching of the Roman Catholic Church binding on all her members? And even if this theological opinion has been common only since "the early part of this millenium," it patently is not part of the Deposit of Faith delivered once and for all to the saints. Father Laisney has shot himself in the foot again. What is undeniably De Fide is that which was defined infallibly by Trent - that baptism of desire can get a properly prepared person into the state of Sanctifying Grace.
The Council went no farther, but Fr. Laisney insists on doing so, adding his own pretensions to the definition of Trent in the process. Such "theology" is both devious and duplicitous. Bear in mind that "it was the common teaching of theologians" - especially those called "Scholastics," such as St. Thomas - that Our Lady was not immaculately conceived, even though the man-in-the-pew held out for a papal definition that was long in coming and was, in fact, produced only in this last century.
We can only behold in utter awe both the clarity and virtue of infallibility, which is denied to Doctors and lavished on Popes, as well as the power with which that grace makes itself heard unerringly and unequivocally throughout the universal realm of Christendom. However, the Laisneyites worship the common teaching of theologians even when it serves to contradict that which has been infallibly defined by the Magisterium.
Father is at it again, begging the question. Some does not equal All. And although it is to be admitted that some writers argued for salvation without the actual reception of the Sacrament of Baptism, not a single one of them has done so infallibly. If even one of them had, I would be the first to renounce my position and put down my pen. Since not a one of has, then in all honesty Father Laisney ought to do the same.
And - not one "single dissenting voice" in all those years? Apparently, Father Laisney has not fully read the words of St. Gregory Nazianzen, The Divine Theologian, who was a Father of the Church of the very early fourth century, and who is today a Doctor of the Universal Church called, by those in the Oriental Rites, "The Great Greek Doctor." Here is what this Doctor of the Church has to say, from his famous Oration on the Holy Lights, precisely and specifically on the issue of baptism of desire:
Or examine closely the words of the great St. Augustine in his study of the thirteenth Chapter of St. John's Gospel (tract 7) on this very issue: "Of what use would repentance be, even before Baptism, if Baptism did not follow?"
All Catholics are required believe in the doctrine of the three baptisms, true, but only "as it belongs to the Catholic Faith," and not as Fr. Laisney misinterprets it. Baptism of Desire for remission of sins must certainly be held De Fide (and, since Trent, De Fide Definita), but nowhere can salvation by baptism of desire be found as taught infallibly by any organ of the Catholic Church. In point of theological fact, such a definition would constitute just as much a literal contradiction to what has already been defined infallibly by the Magisterium as is the "common opinion of theologians" held by the Laisneyites.
It is this precise concession, of course, which excuses those seven Doctors of the Church from being formal heretics in denying the Immaculate Conception. However, it is an insidious denial of defined dogma for Fr. Laisney to imply, as he does here, that the Catholic Faith is not explicitly required for the remission of sins in desire for baptism. Trent has taught definitively that there are several very purposeful and explicit Acts required for the bestowal of sanctifying grace prior to the actual reception of water baptism - an Act of Catholic Faith (which can only be made by one who has reached the use of reason, and necessitates an express and conscious submission to the Pope of Rome), an Act of Perfect Contrition or Charity, etc., including an express intention, purpose, and avowed plan to receive sacramental water baptism. The awareness for such acts leaves no wriggle room for the haziness of an "Implicit" Act.
Neither is any Catholic, Fr. Laisney included, ever allowed to reject the doctrine of the necessity of water baptism for salvation as taught infallibly by more than one Ecumenical Council, by holding to baptism of desire as in itself sufficient for salvation. And it is, of course, impossible for one infallible source to contradict literally another infallible source. It is possible only for theologians such as Fr. Laisney to do this, and then only by adding non-infallible innuendoes, emendations, and additions to the Word of God as heard throughout His Church since 99 A.D.
But does, in fact, "rigorism always tend to destroy truth"? No, but it often tends to destroy falsehood! Witness the killing of 850 heathen priests by St. Elias in the Third Book of Kings (18:40). I reckon those heathens deemed this a bit rigoristic. Elias sure wasn't very ecumenical! Or take the destruction of all mankind on the face of this earth with the exception of those mere "eight souls" (I Peter 3:20) during the Flood of Noah. It seems certain that these survivors must have considered God a Deity of supreme rigor. Bear in mind that Jesus Himself said: "I came not to send peace, but the sword" (Matthew10:34); " Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? I tell you no, but rather division" (Luke 12:51). "If any man hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters ... he cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:26). Do you suppose any thinking man deems this anything other that arrant "rigorism"?
Pope Paul IV declared: "Even if my own father were a heretic, I would gather the wood to burn him at the stake!" (James Laynez, Jesuit, Fr. Joseph Fichter, SJ, St. Louis: B. Herder, 1944, p.179). Mercy me! Is it a dishonorable species of rigor to punish heresy and uphold the Catholic Faith? The saints have always detested heresy with every ounce of rigor they could muster! Saint Francis de Sales, a 17th Century Doctor of the one, true Church, noted for his sweet docility, did not begin his career as anything but a swordswinging crusader for the Faith. He lopped off the heads of Protestants verbally, and without any show of what today's liberals might call politically-correct mercy, particularly in his famous Catholic Controversies (TAN, 1989). The following excerpts which bear on Baptism of Desire, are copied verbatim from that book.
Does this sound like a Catholic overcome by "rigorism," one who might consider Fr. Laisney worthy of death? You make the call!
Please bear in mind that Dz 799 is a citation from Trent on Justification, and pertains only to the above remarks in quotation marks. The introductory thinking is solely that of Fr. Laisney. But even in this, Feeneyites readily concur. However, it is Fr. Laisney and his ilk who are denying the doctrine of the Church as taught De Fide in Tradition. And it has been defined that the Sacrament (not the "desire" for it) is necessary for the attainment of the Beatific Vision. We can scarcely see how anyone who now denies this in any fashion can ever be justified, ever be considered anything but a sinner against the virtue of Faith, and much less saved in eternity.
How can Fr.Laisney class this as an "error" when it is demonstrably true? Read the Canons for yourself!
No Catholic has any problem whatsoever with this, but only with Fr. Laisney's lamentable oversight in equating Justification with Salvation, and in his incorrect translation of the Latin from Trent when he erroneously the Council of Trent teach desire, when that is not what Trent said at all (more on this below). Meanwhile (and again), Fr. Laisney is putting his own words into the mouth of the Magisterium.
Go back and re-read Fr. Laisney's citation above. Trent defined that the justice of God is the single formal cause of our own justification, but the Council in no way suggested that Sanctifying Grace is the solitary cause of our eternal salvation, for there is an ontological difference between Sanctification and Salvation which has escaped the likes of Fr. Lais-ney. As a matter of Canonical fact, the Council of Trent itself differentiates between getting into Grace and getting into Heaven:
In other words: (a) the Sacraments are necessary for salvation, and (b) the Sacraments or the vowed intention to receive them are necessary for justification. The Sacraments of the Church can produce salvation; the votum for certain of them can produce justification. These productions cannot be theologically equalized.
This being the self-admitted case, why is it that Fr. Laisney does not respect supremely the accurate correct translation of Trent? It is not (as he renders it) "without the sacraments or the desire of them" (Canon IV, On the Sacraments) or "this translation [into Justice] cannot be effected except through the laver of regeneration or the desire for it" (Chapter Four of the Decree on Justification). In every instance, Trent uses the word votum not desire.
The Council of Trent declares that in the New Testament, to get out of the state of sin and into the State of Grace, one must receive the Sacrament of Baptism or its votum. In the four places the Council of Trent speaks of this, the council fathers invariably use the word votum which comes from the Latin for "vow," and not "desire" which derives from the Latin "cupere." What is this votum? - according to the definition of Trent, it is a conscious avowal to receive the Sacrament of Baptism. And in another dozen places Trent defined infallibly the various conscious and constituent acts which are required for the making of this vow: Acts of Catholic Faith, Hope, and Charity, Perfect Contrition, and True Repentance for our sins. Furthermore, since this Vow and these Acts can only be offered formally, purposefully, and intentionally, no amount of vague "desire" or unconscious "longing" can possibly serve to introduce man to the sanctification of God's grace. But even allowing for the mistranslation of "desire" for votum, we can only agree that Trent defined Justice attainable by way of desire-for-baptism, not baptism-of-desire!
Amazing how Father Laisney condescends to correct the poor illiterate Feeneyites on their mistranslation of feminine nouns and pronouns, their "simplistic and sophomoric" Sine Qua's and Sine Quo's, but cannot seem to get his own votum down correctly. But (at least on this point) he is absolutely correct. The Faith, without which no one is ever justified, is the same Faith without which no one is saved (Mark 16:16) and without which it is impossible to please God at all (Hebrews 11:6). Therefore - thank God! - Father is correct in his translation here at last, even though he lacks the Faith.
Every heretic holds to heresy, and every heresy contains at least a smidgen of truth - or one wouldn't buy into it at all. Heretics, therefore, are "forever learning, and never coming to the knowledge of the truth" (II Timothy 3:7). Bear in mind that Lucifer is a brilliant linguist, but of eminently bad will. Now, God "wills all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (I Timothy 2:4). If the Laisneyites do not come to the knowledge of truth, it cannot be God's fault. For there is only one thing in all human creation which can frustrate the universal will of God that all men come to the knowledge of the truth, and that is man's own bad will. And, as St. Augustine points out (Dz 804), "God does not abandon the just unless they first abandon Him."
I suppose he means to say "refute the Feeneyite translation," but Fr. Laisney is adept at Begging the Question by now. If only he would refute his own mistranslation along with his genuine theological errors to boot!
Father Laisney has taken care to leave out the preceding sentence of Trent in this definition. Let me provide it for you: Our Lord "continually infuses His virtue into the Justified, a virtue which always precedes their good works, which accompanies and follows them, and without which they could in no way be pleasing and meritorious before God." What is the first of all good works? Baptism into the Church, of course. As a matter of fact, this entire Chapter of Trent is entitled: "The Fruit of Justification, that is, the Merit of Good Works..."
So now go back and "read carefully" Fr. Laisney's selection from this Chapter, and you will see that "the justified have everything necessary for them to be regarded as having completely satisfied the divine law for this life by their works" - and ask yourself this: How can a man "be regarded as having completely satisfied the Divine Law" prior to receiving baptism into the Church established by God for our eternal salvation? Didn't Jesus Christ make the Sacrament of Baptism a Law to be fulfilled by all men on this earth?
Dare any devout Catholic, who trusts in God to keep His promises, suggest with Fr. Laisney that, in exceptional cases, He might not? Do we honestly believe that God would give a man the grace to desire the Sacrament of Baptism with all his heart, and then not see to it that the man does not in eventual fact receive it? "Delight in the Lord and He will give thee the requests of thy heart; commit thy way to the Lord and trust in Him, and He will do it" (Psalm 36:4-5).
Thus, Trent declares infallibly that "Christ our Savior says: He who drinks of the water I shall give him," obviously meaning that Jesus will indeed give the water of baptism to all those desiring to drink it. It can only be said, therefore, that Trent is speaking here of souls justified in the waters of the Sacrament, and not of some mere "desire" for the Sacrament. Moreover, left unfulfilled and incomplete, even the votum for the Sacrament will not get you anything but damned to Hell, and all the "eternal life" which you might have "merited" will be lost forever.
You have to have Sanctifying Grace in order to "work out your salvation in fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12) - and this "working out," denotes "satisfying completely the Divine Law." Can any one who might be justified prior to satisfying completely the Divine Law be claimed as having in fact satisfied completely the Divine Law? "When you have done all these things commanded you, say: We are unprofitable servants, we have done that which we ought to do "(Luke 17:10). If we "ought" to be baptized because it has admittedly been "commanded," and we do not perform this work, then we have truly become "the unprofitable servant cast out into the exterior darkness where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 25:30)!
There is another fundamental error with the Laisneyites. For these heretics, God has become a cosmic exercise in eternally hopeless self-frustration, a petulant deity who delights in chimerical whimsy by denying men of good-will precisely that which He dangles before them - indeed, that which has been infallibly defined by His ecclesial Voice on earth as being specifically requisite for their eternal salvation. They consequently conjecture that God permits such souls never to be brought to the perfection of grace found only in water baptism and, moreover, that God even appears to have second thoughts as to how such souls are to be saved short of eventual reception of the Faith and sacraments which He alone has inspired in them, and which alone can satisfy man's supernal vocation.
For such heretics, the "due time" of which Trent speaks does not mean the ultimate eventuality of reaching the font of Baptism, but rather that God dispenses with the Sacrament altogether just in case He cannot stop a Greyhound bus from running over a catechumen on his way to the font. The Due Time of Trent has become for them the entrance into bliss, not the entrance into the Church by obedience to her Commandments. Saint John Chrysostom refutes the Laisneyites by professing that "it is perfectly clear that you will achieve what you earnestly strive for, as long as you will it. Let us only apply ourselves to the task at hand, let us only be serious about it, and everything else will follow" (On Hebrews, 16:4). As St. John Eudes writes:
Is it indeed even possible that God would give us the grace to make that votum for the first of all His sacraments, and not see to it that we live to receive Baptism in actuality (presuming our genuine worth)? Saint Cyprian exclaims in his Exhortation to Martyrdom that "Almighty God cannot withold aid" to a man who trusts in His providence. For, "God does not forsake those who have once been justified by His grace, unless He first be forsaken by them," adds St. Augustine (On Nature and Grace, 26).
Thus, "God's gifts and His call can never be withdrawn; He will never go back on His promises" (Romans 11:29). "So far as relates to spiritual goods for eternal salvation," declares St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori, "God's promise to hear us is not conditional, but absolute." And this truly is De Fide. For, "God, Who has begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto the Day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6). Only the Almighty can begin this "good work" of conversion in the souls of His Elect, and He has guaranteed that "He will perfect it." This is God's literal, verbatim, word-for-word pledge to any member of humankind who will listen. "Therefore, I say unto you: all things whatsoever you ask for, when you pray, believe that you shall receive, and they shall come to you" (Mark 11:24).
Since, as Trent has declared, "the justified have everything necessary" for salvation but, as the Laisneyites argue, with Grace alone prior to Baptism, then why did the Council define infallibly (Canon 20 On Justification), that: "If anyone shall say that a man who is justified and ever-so-perfect is not bound to observe the Commandments of God and of the Church ... let him be anathema!"? How can one obey the Commandments of the Church unless he is first made a member of the Church, which membership comes only by way of actual reception of the Sacrament of Baptism.? If Justification alone is all you need to go to Heaven, why bring up the Commandments of the Church at all - the first of which is, by definition, to get baptized with water?
Ignoring the fact that Baptism has been defined infallibly requisite for salvation, ask yourself - how long can any man expect to "persevere in the state of grace received at justification" without the Sacraments? Our Lord instituted the sacramental system precisely so that we could maintain the life of grace in us! It is written that St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Therese the Little Flower, and various other saints, managed to preserve their baptismal innocence, but they received the Sacraments very often. Saint Joan of Arc is recorded to have gone to Confession three times a day!
Our Immaculate Mother Mary was defined by Trent never even to have committed the least venial sin, and she received Holy Communion every single day for the twenty-five years of life which remained for her - which, of course, means that the Blessed Mother had to have been baptized first. Did she receive her Divine Son in Holy Communion simply because it was "a nice thing to do in His memory" or because she felt it necessary? And if Our Lady needed the Eucharist, then she needed Baptism; and, if the Mother of God needed Baptism, who doesn't?
And how can Fr. Laisney proclaim so self-assuredly that "justification is the beginning of the Christian life on earth"? For, it does not seem that such has ever been defined or taught De Fide by the Catholic Church. In short, how can one live the life of Christ without becoming Christ first, and thus having necessarily been baptized? In his Sermon to Catechumens On the Creed, St. Augustine makes it clear that "in the Church there are three ways in which sins are forgiven: in baptism, in prayer, and in the greater humility of penance. Nevertheless, God does not forgive sins except to the baptized."
In St. Augustine's thinking, it appears almost as though there is something left unforgiven to those who have not yet undergone actual baptism, regardless of whether they have attained some species of Justification by virtue of votum or not. Saint Augustine even dares to say that, "without the sacraments, access cannot be had to true Life" (On the Gospel of John, tract 120). For this reason, Trent defined that "all true Justification either begins through the sacraments or, once begun, increases through them, or when lost is regained through them" (Prologue, Session VII; DZ, no.843a). "For," as its Catechism explains: "Sins can be forgiven only through the Sacraments when duly administered." (Catechism of Trent, Frs. McHugh-Callan ed., p.115).
Is there something about sin held in abeyance until actual reception of the Sacrament of Baptism, even for those reaching justification prior to its reception? Were all those souls ultimately saved out of the Old Testament, even though having died justified, held in abeyance in the Limbo of the Fathers for the same reason? Is there, consequently, something about sin which can only be rectified only by being plunged into the Body of Jesus Christ which, in the New Testament takes place exclusively in the actual reception of His Sacrament of water Baptism? "For," asks St. Gregory of Nyssa in his Oration on the Word Made Flesh, "how can you put on Christ unless you receive the Mark of Christ? - unless you receive His baptism?" ().
Christian life, therefore, cannot be said to exist prior to the actual reception of Baptism, which immerses us in Christ and makes us in fact Another Christ - an Alter Christus. A species of justifying grace commences with votum, it is true, but no grace is essentially and specifically "Christian" until the Character of Christ is imprinted on the soul in Holy Baptism. This Character is not to be found in mere desire for Baptism, nor even in its formal votum, and not even in those sainted souls in the Limbo of the Old Testament who certainly were not living the "life of Christ" ahead of Christ Himself. Saint Ambrose declared that "the mystery of regeneration does not exist at all without water. Even the catechumen believes ... but, unless he be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, he cannot receive remission of his sins nor the gift of spiritual grace." Saint Pacian, an early Father therefore asks: "Does Christ call the unbaptized The Church? Is an unregenerated man The Body of Christ?" (Epistle III, 9:12). In his famous Catena Aurea, St. Thomas writes that "he who believes and is not yet baptized, but is only a catechumen, has not yet fully acquired salvation." The third Council of Valence consequently declares that "All the multitude of the faithful are regenerated from water and the Holy Spirit, and through this truly incorporated into the Church" (Dz 324).
Perhaps this is all purely speculative. And perhaps my authorities cited on this particular issue are all terribly mistaken. But then, is it not more likely that it is Fr. Laisney and his gullible followers who are mistaken? Trent says that salvation lies in store solely for those who have begun to live the life of Christ in the Baptism of Christ. Or, let us put it this way -
1) It is infallible that there is no salvation outside the Church.
2) It is infallible that you cannot be a member of the Church till Baptism.
3) It is infallible, therefore, that there is no salvation prior to Baptism in water.
a) It is infallible that all those saved must be subject to the Pope.
b) t is infallible that none of the unbaptized are subject to the Pope.
c) It is infallible, therefore, that only the baptized can be saved.
There? It's as simple as 1, 2, 3 or A, B, C. And we didn't even need a Latin dictionary!
Ss. Augustine and Alphonsus Maria Liguori deemed the Character, received exclusively in the actual reception of sacramental baptism, the greatest effect of the Sacrament - not Sanctifying Grace. Saint Alphonsus Maria Liguori says: "Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders have for their chief effect the impression of Character, that is to say, a sort of spiritual Mark which becomes identified with the soul, and is forever indelible" (Commandments and Sacraments, Part II:2). In agreement with St. Alphonsus Maria, St. Augustine speaks as though there were scarcely any result other than living incorporation into Jesus as His very Self which is achieved when we are Marked as such: "The effect of baptism is to make those who are baptized incorporated into Christ as His members" (De Peccatorum Meritis et Remissione, I; cf. also St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica III, Q.68, art.5).
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (On Baptism, Lecture III:4) and St. John Chrysostom (Homily III on Philippians), Fathers and Doctors of the Church, write that no man can possibly enter into the kingdom of Heaven without the Character of Christ which even Fr. Laisney admits is bestowed exclusively in sacramental baptism. It is for this reason that Fr. Matthias Scheeben, one of the greatest theologians of last century, declared in his masterpiece, The Mysteries of Christianity: "We must realize that, in the Sacraments by which the Character is produced, it is the center of their entire causality and significance, and that in the other Sacraments it is the basis and point-of-departure of their entire activity."
If we are to follow the heresy of the Laisneyites, we would be compelled to argue that unbaptized non-members of the Body of Jesus Christ can go to Heaven. Since the contrary has been defined infallibly by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church many times over, anything which serves to contradict it can only be considered formally heretical, regardless of whether its propagators are material or formal heretics in the subjective forum. It is, therefore, central to their position for the Laisneyites to claim that all that is needed for salvation is the State of Grace, but this notion has already been sufficiently refuted to go over the groundwork again. However, such Grace is all that is necessary - for those who die and go to Judgment baptized with water.
Jesus Christ never instituted "Res Sacramenti" or any other ingredient of a Sacrament. He gave us seven full Sacraments, and we either make use of them or be damned. Besides, how can one possess the "reality of a sacrament" without having in really received the sacrament itself? This appears to be a theological distinction tantamount to gobbledeegook. Are there such things as the Unreality of Sacraments? Do we receive Jesus in the Holy Communion in reality, or not? In this, it seems, Fr. Laisney is following the error of St. Thomas, who is classed philosophically as a "Moderate Realist." Now. Go into your local McDonald's and see if you can buy a moderately real cup of coffee.
Now, this is interesting. The Lord goes to the trouble to give us commandments which are "necessary," but not "in reality" necessary. This way lies not only Moderate Reality but a replay of Original Sin as well! God said to Adam & Eve: "If you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall die the death." No ifs, ands, or buts. Then Lucifer slides in and suggests, "No, you shall not die the death!" You can almost hear him pleading for a lack of clarity on the part of God - that He had not made His commands plainly absolute, but left their necessity in a status of being merely moderately real.
A true-life adventure - once I was on a bus crossing the country. At one stop, a woman climbed aboard, seated herself right behind the driver, and commenced to light up a cigarette. "Lady!" he shouted, "Don't you see that sign right there? No Smoking!" "Aha," she retorted; "but it doesn't say absolutely no smoking!"
The beauty of God's Providence in making His regulations necessary by law is that otherwise we might not obey, and thus fail to obtain those things by which alone we can be saved. Is this not the way with any good Father or Mother to their children? It is absolutely necessary that we make our way home to Heaven; therefore, God ordains that we look both ways when crossing the street. Father Laisney is arguing that we do not absolutely have to look both ways. No wonder his catechumens get run over!
In this scenario, a man and woman can have "Matrimony be Desire" (but don't worry; the poor wife's resulting pregnancy would only be Moderately Real). Note well - the Laisneyites are saying that there are some commandments of God which are impossible for us to obey. They do this by insinuating that it is possible that some men can not, in fact, obey them. And this is a formally condemned heresy. Trent defined infallibly: "If anyone shall say that the commandments of God are, even for one who is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to observe, let him be anathema" (Canon 18, On Justification).
Ask yourself - Who put the grace into a man's heart to arrive at the intention to receive the Sacrament of Baptism in the first place? All such graces come exclusively from God, never from our own wills. It is the Lord alone Who gives men "the power to be made the sons of God, to those who believe in His name, who are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13).
Now, (1) since the grace to desire Baptism can come only from God, and (2) since He cannot go back on his promises, nor see His Graces made void (except by our bad will), and (3) inasmuch as we are not allowed to say that even a person who is already in the State of Sanctifying Grace cannot obey the will of God to be baptized with water, then it follows ineluctable that (4) all men of good will shall receive Sacramental Baptism; furthermore (5) that only those who place an impediment of their own wills against such reception of the Sacrament will never come to receive it.
"My Word will not return to Me void, saith the Lord God" (Isaias 55:11). The only one who can make void the word of God is man himself. Let us therefore never place ourselves in the camp of the Laisneyites who busy themselves "making void the word of God" (Mark 7:13) by calling His commands "impossible to obey."
On the contrary, it is patently false on Fr. Laisney's part to pretend that Canon 4 of Session VII of the Council of Trent "On The Sacraments in General" does not distinguish justification as opposed to salvation. It is erroneous to presume that there is no distinction between justification and salvation in either the teaching or the mind of the Church. In point of fact, the Church functions upon just such a distinction. Read Canon 4 "On the Sacraments" again:
According to this literal statement, "desire of them" can refer solely to the condition of justification, not to salvation. By the demands of Catholic theology, rationality, and even good grammar, the words concerning votum modify only the condition necessary for the attainment of justification. It cannot relate logically back to what has been defined as necessary for salvation, namely "the sacraments of the New Law." To pretend it does is to attack the very expression employed by the Church in this infallible declaration. Consequently, the phrase concerning desire is concerned exclusively in reference to justification alone. The attainment of justification, therefore, cannot be considered as good as having received a sacrament, and certainly not as good as being in Heaven.
Additional proclamations of the Magisterium denote a clear and traditional distinction between the attainment of Justice and the attainment of Heaven. In the their Decree on Justification (Dz 796) Trent infallibly declared that, after specific conditions are met, the votum for Baptism can suffice for justification, and ony justification alone is mentioned. Nowhere has the Church ever decreed that this vowed intention can suffice for salvation. Whereas elsewhere, in regards to salvation, Trent decrees the necessity of water Baptism precisely by condemning those who would deny its necessity, and does so in language which allows for no exceptions whatsoever (Dz 858, 861). We have already cited the declaration of Pope Lox XIII, that Catholics "can make no exception where no distinction is made" (Satis Cognitum, June 29, 1896). Thus, St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori concludes that "the law of baptism admits of no exceptions" (Explanation of Trent, p.128, no.13).
The First Vatican Council proclaimed in 1870: "Since without faith it is impossible to please God, no one is justified without it, nor will anyone attain eternal life unless he perseveres to the end in it." (On Faith, chap.3, Dz 1792). Such infallible documents manifestly demonstrate that the Church has all along understood justification and salvation to be distinct, and that the former is simply one of the prerequisites for the attainment of the latter. Though a catechumen can achieve the state of justification with the resolve to receive the sacraments, the Magisterium makes it clear that not one of them could enter Heaven without their reception.
In all finality, the ability to grasp distinctions is, as St. Thomas observes in his Psychology (the study of creatures which have animate souls), the first mark of wisdom. In fact, many of our most fundamental Catholic dogmas rest on their employment. We conclude, for example, that the Persons in the Godhead are distinct, but not separate. We distinguish between the human nature and the Divine Nature of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Saint Vincent Ferrer remarked that the angels of God could tell those who are baptized from those who are not, merely by the distinguishing Mark bestowed exclusively in the Sacrament of Baptism. In one of their humorous sophisms, the Jesuits once taught me: "If you cannot solve an issue, make distinctions!" But this only points out the historical fact that distinctions produced in dogmatic theology are sometimes genuinely necessary to a proper comprehension of our Catholic Faith.
Persistence in the mistranslation of "voto" (votum) as "cupido" (desire) is equally a false pretense on the part of the Laisneyites. Voto is from a neuter noun in Latin, cupido is a feminine noun. Father cites the "explicitly mentioned" phrase in this Canon as "aut eorum voto" - and any first-semester Latin student knows that this is to be translated "or its vow" and never "or its desire," as Fr. Laisney and his followers in the SSPX persist in mistranslating it. Can "the grace of justification can be obtained by desire of the sacraments"? Not always and, in the case of mere "desire" never. Can justification be obtained by the avowed intention to receive certain Sacraments? Yes, but generally only those Sacraments which are called Sacraments of the Dead (Baptism and Penance), not those which are Sacraments of the Living. For, Sacraments of the Living are, by definition, received by those already in the state of justification.
To refresh your memory: Canon 5 On the Sacrament of Baptism declares infallibly that: "If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema." Are Feeneyites the only ones who fail to see any reference whatsoever to justification in this infallible statement? In fact, doesn't everyone notice that the word "anyone" necessarily includes Fr. Laisney and his followers?
First of all, Session VII of Trent decreed two Canons numbered "4" - one on The Sacraments in General, and one on The Sacrament of Baptism. Even though Fr. Laisney may have lost his concentration by this time, and thus fails to specify which one he is talking about, it seems obvious enough with a little study that he can only be referring to Canon 4 of the Decree on the Sacraments in General. So here it is again:
Now. Father temerariously (and hilariously) proclaims: "In that context, the expression 'grace of justification' appears manifestly as being precisely the only essential requisite for salvation. Incredible (literally)! Trent anathematizes anyone who dares to say that the Sacraments are not necessary for salvation, and Fr. Laisney concludes that this "manifests precisely" that the only essential requisite for salvation is the grace of justification! Hello! Are you getting this?
Then Father goes right on, willy-nilly, to add that this "is taught explicitly in Session VI Chapter 16." Here then, for your perusal, is the pertinent "explicit teaching" from Session VI, Chapter 16 of the Council of Trent (again, there is no Chapter 16 from Session VI On Reform; you must look this up in a totally separate section of Session VI) -
It must be asked - can any man be considered to have done sufficient works towards the "satisfaction of the Divine Law" (which Father Laisney has already admitted to require Baptism) without having actually been baptized? Saint Augustine, in his On Christian Doctrine (II) declares that "the grace of God towards men may occasionally be such that they have justification prior to the outward reception of the sacraments. However, such persons must necessarily receive the sacraments." Can it reasonably be expected that any man might be able to perform all other good works "done in Jesus Christ," but find no time for Baptism - or that God would even accept his other good works and still make it impossible for him to be baptized? What sort of facile and sophomoric reasoning is this?
Certainly, nothing is lacking to those who "fully satisfy" the divine law of baptism, precisely as canonized by the Council of Trent. However, to use the Council against itself in this context is arrantly fraudulent. Can anyone in his right mind believe that here, or anywhere else in its infallible decrees, Trent "manifests precisely that the only essential requisite for salvation is the grace of justification"? Or has mere "desire" now been equated with actual "works"? What work is so indispensable for salvation that "no one" can contradict its necessity, except Baptism of Water and the other Sacraments which follow it (and none can follow unless one is first baptized)?
As George Orwell declared in his book 1984, this is Newspeak and Doublethink par excellence! Or as Alice said in Wonderland, "It's becoming weirder and weirder."
If this is true, can you have "Confirmation By Desire," or do you really have to take a slap in the face? Do feminists in the Church today enjoy "Ordination By Desire?" What Father should be saying is that, yes, under the properly-defined conditions Sanctifying Grace can indeed be had prior to the actual reception of the sacraments. However, this in no way implies that the sacramental graces peculiar to each sacrament can be had prior to the actual reception thereof, nor can the Character impressed by Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders be had prior to the actual reception of those sacraments.
We are explicitly commanded to become like little children if we are ever to reach salvation (Mark 10:15). God has not required anyone to graduate from a School of Theology with advanced degrees in order to enter into His kingdom. Pope John Paul II declared that "faithful ignorance is better than temerarious knowledge" (General Audience, "Augustine of Hippo," August 28, 1986). Temerarious means foolishly rash boldness. The truths of the Faith, therefore, are necessary for salvation, and they are consequently and irrefutably eminently comprehensible to the least little child of God. Now, how many children do you know who enjoy anything but "simplistic reasoning"?
There is a deep truth underlying the words of G. K. Chesterton when he stated that "God gave us the Church to save us from theologians." The fact is, it is the Roman Catholic Church alone which can speak infallibly, whereas theologians fall on their academic faces every day. Consequently, as Pope Pius XII decreed in Humani Generis (no. 21),
For this reason, even the littlest of children with the use of reason can claim a perfect and literal understanding of the infallible Canons and Decrees given us by the Magisterium, "that understanding which Holy Mother Church has once declared"(Dz 1800). Our greatest theologian is perhaps St. Thomas Aquinas, and he professed that "a thing may be so necessary that, without it, the end cannot be attained ... In this way the Sacrament of Baptism is necessary to the individual, simply and absolutely." (Summa Theologica, III, Q. 65, Art.4). Perhaps the "Dumb Ox" was more simplistically childlike than Fr. Laisney gives him credit!
Besides, the Catholic Church has no "explicit teaching on baptism of desire"; She has only an infallible definition that explicitly defines the possibility of attaining justification prior to baptism, and denies expressly that anyone without the sacrament can go to Heaven. See? That should be simple enough for anyone, even without Advanced Degrees.
It surely must be presumed by Fr. Laisney and his ilk that every little Catholic schoolboy carries around a Latin dictionary and a set of theological text books, all the better to follow his arguments. But yes - baptism of desire (if we must call it that) is indeed an exception to the normal rule of how one can get justified in the sight of God, not an exception of how one gets into the Beatific sight of God!
In his Treatise on Baptism of a century-and-a-half ago, Arch-bishop Patrick Kenrick of Baltimore explained the necessary condition of salvation demanded by Our Lord in John 3:5 by writing: "When a condition of salvation is proclaimed on divine authority, it is rash to indulge in speculation; it is impious to arraign the decree at the tribunal of our erring reason." Therefore, if we desire to see anyone excused from the universal requirement of baptism, we must necessarily presume on the infallible Magisterium of the true Church to corroborate our expectations and, in the event of a lack of such substantiation, we must irrefutably fall back on the absolute "condition of salvation as proclaimed on divine authority" detailed by Archbishop Kenrick.
Were any exception allowed to the eventual, actual, and absolute necessity of baptism, and it were not genuinely true that all men in the New Testament must be baptized or be damned, Our Lord Jesus Christ would have had to have made it clarion clear in Revelation for us. "If not, I would have told you!" (John 14:2), Our Redeemer assures us. And, in point of fact, it would not have been the first instance of Our Lord making an exception to His own Word. In Matthew 5:32, He declares: "Whoever puts away his wife, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery." Jesus Christ alone established the Sacramental System for our salvation, and Jesus Christ alone can make an exception in the matter of His Sacramental Theology.
Therefore no individual dare add an exception, not even the barest shadow of an exception, to the necessity of the Sacrament of Water Baptism for eternal salvation - not even to favor those who may actually manage to have reached justification before he reaches the water of the sacrament. Never - repeat: never - has the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church ever taught in any way whatsoever that a person has no need to obey the command of Almighty God to receive the Sacrament of Holy Baptism in order to be saved. Pius XI declared -
This is Dogma set in poetry!
As we have already seen, the Council of Trent defined infallibly that "No one, however much justified, should consider himself exempt from the observance of the commandments." If, then, anyone is presumptuous enough to hold that any human is exempt from the observance of baptism, and that the Sacrament therefore is, for him, merely an option, they are necessarily arguing against an explicit definition of the Church as well as holding that which the Church has never decreed.
When it comes to submission to the laws laid down by Christ and His Church, Pope Leo XIII renders our note of obedience quite simply: "We can make no exception where no distinction is made" (Satis Cognitum, June 29, 1896).
Now, experts in the field, such as Fr. Laisney presumes to be, distinguish two levels, or kinds, of necessity: that of Precept and that of Means. Laws of precept are sometimes dispensable when they lead readily to harm (Luke 6:1) or scandal (Matthew 17:26); however, according to Msgr. Joseph Pohle, theologians have traditionally considered baptism necessary for salvation both by precept and by means (The Sacraments, London: B. Herder, vol.1, p. 238).
This signalizes the fact that the good achieved by this sacrament is necessary for salvation under any and all conceivable circumstances whatsoever. The notion of "precept" necessarily denotes a law given us by a Lawgiver who has the ultimate authority to tell us what to do. For this reason, the Council of Trent cursed anyone who "says that Jesus Christ was given by God to men as a Redeemer to trust, but not also as a Legislator to obey" (Decree On Justification, Canon 21). If we wish to be saved, we must submit, and that is all that need be kept in mind concerning the Requirement of Necessity. And the simplest child of God can comprehend this even on his day off.
Our Redeemer has commanded us to love Him, and His Church has demanded by Precept that we receive Him in Holy Communion at least once a year to remain in this love. By thus subjecting us to a code of laws, Our Lord is sweetly providing us with the very means to salvation, as already explained. "If you love Me, keep My commandments," our Blessed Savior told us the solemn evening before His Passion (John 14:15). One of those commandments is that we all be baptized with water sacramentally, and this command is absolutely universal in scope: "Be baptized, every one of you" (Acts 2:38).
Then why did the Church feel the need even to mention the privileged exceptions enjoyed specifically the Blessed Mother of God? Thus, we have consequently come to acknowledge three, and only three, explicitly-defined exceptions in regard to our Blessed Lady Mary in her unique privileges:
1) No Original Sin:
Definition of the Immaculate Conception, 1854;
2) No Personal Sin:
Definition of Trent: Canon 23, Justifi cation, 1547;
3) No Bodily Corruption:
Definition of the Assumption, November, 1950.
It is interesting to note that not even Our Lady herself has been mentioned by Fr. Laisney as not needing to undergo the Sacrament of Baptism in order to join her Divine Son in the bliss of the Beatific Vision of Heaven. Following Fr. Laisney's own logic here, we must hold that she was, in fact, baptized with water, even though her baptism is never explicitly mentioned anywhere in the bible.
That all men who go to Judgment out of the New Testament (and Our Lady died under its regulations) must receive water baptism to be saved has been infallibly defined. And that the Mother of God was, in fact, baptized with water is the explicit teaching of St. Ephrem, a Father and Doctor of the Church. Another early Father, the abbot Euthymius, flourished in Palestine in the 4th Century and, according to him, "the belief of the most ancient Fathers was that Christ Himself baptized the Blessed Virgin and St. Peter" (Saint Ephrem the Syrian: Hymns and Sermons, Lamys, Mechlin: 1902). Question - Why would Our Lady, hailed "full of grace" by God Himself, need baptism of water? As St. Thomas Aquinas writes in his Summa Theologica (III, Q.68, art.1, Obj.3):
"For," as St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori adds (half a millenium later) in his comprehensive Preaching of God's Word, "Even those freed from Original Sin are subjects for this Sacrament of Baptism because it was instituted by Our Divine Lord not only for the remission of Original Sin, but also in order that we might be incorporated with the Church"
Now let us ask Fr. Laisney and his follower - If Our Lady Mary was not herself exempted from the law of baptism in order to receive the Bread of Life here on earth, and to get to Heaven afterward, who doesn't need to obey the law? What possible exemption can be made for the slaves and subjects of this royal Queen of Heaven when the Queen herself required the sacrament of initiation?
If absolutely nobody born of woman escaped the guilt of Original Sin, then Jesus didn't either. The fact is, God Himself uses the very same sort of language in spelling out our sinfulness:
The Laisneyites are claiming very illogically that, (1) because our Faith teaches that all men have sinned, and we know that Our Lord and Lady never sinned, (2) therefore, the exception of Our Lord and Lady is not explicitly demanded and that, (3) consequently, the salvation of the unbaptized need not be mentioned explicitly either, even though (4) the Faith teaches that all men must be baptized to go to Heaven.
Even if (2) above were true, The "therefore" in it does not logically follow from what is stated in (1); thus, their "consequently" in (3) entails no consequence at all. The argument is formally invalid. The Laisneyites draw a principle from (2) with (3) when actually no principle whatsoever can logically be drawn from (2). The Laisneyites' supposed principle of applying exceptions to other dogmas is based simply on the presumed lack of action on the part of the Church in failing to promulgate an explicit exception to a specific dogma.
What we have here is a type of inductive argument, the conclusion to which does not at all follow from its particular example - which example is itself in error anyway, for the Church has explicitly pronounced on the matter of the exceptions of Our Lord and Lady to the guilt of Original Sin. Father Laisney's speculation of applying exceptions to other dogmas is based simply on the alleged silence of the Church in failing to provide expressly for an exception to a separate dogma. But no principle has been, nor can positively be, legitimately and logically established by such a method, even if it were true (which it is not)..
The notion, therefore - that the exception of Our Lord and Lady is not explicitly demanded - is erroneous both in fact and in the very principle which the Laisneyites attempt draw from it. In each and every case, whenever the Church has infallibly pronounced on a point of doctrine which is universal in scope and in consequence (for example sin, the necessity for Baptism, Church membership, the true Faith, contrition, etc.), She has never failed to name or allow for exceptions should one possibly exist. Consider the defined dogma that sin is universal and that all men are sinners.
Witness the Councils of Carthage XVI (Dz 102) and of Trent (Dz 791): "Since what the Apostles says: 'Through one man sin entered into the world (and through sin death), and so passed into all men, in whom all have sinned' (Romans 5: 12), must not be understood otherwise than the Catholic Church spread everywhere has always understood it." The Church has here solemnly and infallibly given us a condition with which to understand the word "all" in Romans. And of course, in the very decree on Original Sin (Dz 792), the Catholic Church declared that the "Immaculate Virgin Mary was not included in this decree" of universal sinfulness. Therefore, the exception of Our Lady is infallibly and explicitly decreed.
Here is the Council of Ephesus (Dz 130): "In the transgression of Adam, all men lost their natural power and innocence, and no one can rise from the depth of that ruin by way of free will unless the grace of God raise him up." Again, the Church provides for us a qualitative clause which modifies a universal example and is in perfect accord with what She has defined concerning Our Lady - that it was by God's special grace she was conceived immaculately and lived sinlessly.
The Council of Orange II (Dz 175) also quotes Romans 5:12, but the Church declared both previously (at Carthage) and afterwards (at Trent) that this worldwide sinfulness must not be understood otherwise than the Church "has always understood it" - which understanding is explicitly that Mother of God is totally exempt from sin. Also, no such conditions or qualifications, let alone exceptions, have ever been provided in any of the following points of doctrine:
There is no salvation outside actual membership in the Roman Catholic Church (Dz 430, 468-469, 714);
Sacramental (water) Baptism is a necessary requirement for genuine membership in the Church (Dz 696, 895);
The Sacramental of Baptism is therefore necessary for eternal salvation (Dz 858, 861).
In point of fact, any exception to the dogma of "No Salvation Outside the Church" has been infallibly denied by Ven. Pope Pius XI in his Syllabus of Errors (Dz 1717), when he condemned the following as heresy - that "we must at least have good hope concerning the eternal salvation of all those who in nowise are in the true Church of Christ." This very Pope declared to all the bishops of the world on December 9, 1854: "Endeavor as much as you can to drive from the mind of men that impious and equally fatal opinion that the way of eternal salvation can be found in any religion whatsoever" (Dz 1646). On August 10, 1863, he wrote every living member of the hierachy in Italy:
Note that Ven. Pope Pius IX describes this heresy as "an impious opinion." In the same vein, it is the Laisneyites who are holding to a wicked conjecture on the issue of sacramental baptism, and traditional Catholics who are holding to the explicit definitions of Trent. Technically speaking, according to their structure, content, and literal exposition, Canons 2 and 5 On the Sacrament of Baptism from the Council of Trent are sufficiently clear and explicit condemnations of those who would allow for any such exceptions. This alone destroys the facetious arguments of any Laisneyite.
We know by Faith that Our Lord and Lady's sinlessness have been explicitly and infallibly declared; hence, the argument cannot be extended for the benefit of the unbaptized. Jesus declared that one one could convict Him "of sin" (John 8: 46), and God tells us expressly that He was "without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). Pope Pius IX defined that Our Lady Mary was conceived without Original Sin, and Trent decreed infallibly that she never even committed a venial sin throughout the entirety of her earthly life (Canon 23, On Justification).
Therefore, if there is any exception to the universal requirement that all men need baptism to get to Heaven, there should have been a correspondingly explicit and infallible statement of the Magisterium, in order for Fr. Laisney's presumptions to hold any water - forgive the pun, but there is no such statement. My endeavor in "belaboring" this point is to demonstrate the clever insidiousness of Theology Lite. Beware!
When "such a definition" is produced, and along comes a later one granting an exception to the universality of the original statement as we have seen expressly in the case of Our Lady (above), the Mind of the Church is clear and needs no further "definition." It is as disingenuous for the Laisneyites to persist in seeking undefined "exceptions" as it is misleading for them to argue that any definition of the Church must be "understood as the Church understands" them when, in actuality (a) it is the Laisneyites themselves who insist on providing the faithful such "understandings" and (b) the literal meaning of a definition is (by definition!) to make things sufficiently clear in the first place - indeed, so clear that a simplistic child can comprehend its meaning without recourse to a single Latin lexicon.
Is there really any pressing need for a reigning Pontiff to produce a contemporary Syllabus of Errors, spelling out each and every modernist error employed by the Laisneyites or other heretics? Absolutely speaking, no. The Faith which has come to us from the Apostles is all we need, ultimately, to correct their thinking, to know definitively what the Church teaches, and thus to save our own souls. However, in the Pro-vidence of God, there are often urgent reasons for the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church to compile and compose such an updated Syllabus. The Devil and his henchmen, the heretics who (whether knowingly or not) serve him, have no imagination whatsoever. They continue throughout the pages of history to raise hoary heads of heresies long since refutable by the most child-like reading of the articles of Faith.
For this reason, the Vicars of Christ for the past half-millenium have decreed explicit lists of such errors precisely because, although the same heresies continue to be broached and broadcast, the terminology in which they are cast is deceptively snake-like in its insidious insinuations. Thus, once more, we shall surely see the Vicar of Jesus Christ declare infallibly the errors to be found all around us today, not only in the likes of Laisney, but also in the decrees of Vatican Council II and in the new "Catholic Catechism" as well. It will take a little sifting on his part because, admittedly, there are some genuinely beautiful expressions in the Council and Catechism. So, what are the children of the Church to do? "Examine all things, and hold fast to that which is good!" (I Thessalonians 5:21).
To think with the Mind of the Church, and thus to understand everything She declares to us with her own understanding, can in no way be left to the domain of heretical theologians and their followers. For it is certain that their own hazy subtleties are more difficult to fathom (and eminently more impossible to prove) than the clear and literal Articles of Faith which refute them!
And yet, in no place can baptism of desire as sufficient in itself for salvation be found as "explicitly taught" in any declaration of the official and infallible Magisterium of the Catholic Church - before, during, or after Trent! If there were, we would have no further need for this discussion, since I would be in the forefront of promoting as a substitute for the Sacrament established by God and demanded even of His own Mother.
Neither is silence an acceptable proof of positive affirmation! (Recall the Fifth Amendment). But this is precisely the affirmation Fr. Laisney has made of baptism of desire for salvation, and which he is trying to make you believe - that it is a definitive and infallible teaching of the Church, when the infallible fact is that the Canons of Trent on the Sacrament of Baptism are explicit condemnations on those very persons who would make exceptions! Still, Fr. Laisney finds a way to make exceptions to the infallibly-defined dogma that you have to be baptized to get to Heaven and, until the Magisterium finally gets around to censuring it as heresy explicitly, he claims it as a viable option, right? Wrong!
Is it even possible that the Church remain forever "silent on an exception" to the Faith? If so, She would have failed in the divine mission entrusted her by Jesus Christ, and thus turned Our Lord into either a liar or one who was impotent. For, one of the fundamental reasons for the Church's existence is that of proclaiming aloud the Truth, and "from the housetops" (Luke 12:3) - which can only mean "all things whatsoever" Christ taught and commanded (Matthew 28:20). Therefore, if there were ultimate silence on this "exception" of the Laisneyites, then the Church has been silent for almost 2000 years on a matter of Divine Revelation which concerns our eternal life and death. Consequently, the Laisneyite position can only appear to be that the Church has failed in her mission. The Laisneyite position as stipulated here is precisely this -
Since the definition of the dogma that "absolutely nobody" is exempt of the guilt of Original Sin; and since this dogma lacks an explicit exception for Our Lord and Lady (even though it is obvious that one must exist); therefore, the defined dogma that all men must be baptized sacramentally, though lacking an explicit exception, must, in fact, have one. But this is a Non-Sequitur, and does not necessarily follow. Lack of positive statement (i.e. the unbaptized can be saved) does not of necessity negate its opposite (i.e. no one unbaptized can be saved). In egregious error, they mistakenly posit that it does.
Put it another way: Though silence on an exception is not a negation of it, neither is such silence an acceptable or even logical proof of its positive existence. When an attorney goes to court, he always brings evidence to support his case, but in this topsy-turvy Wonderland World of the Modernist heresy, preachers of error expect to win their case on the basis of lack of such evidence. If the Laisneyites were truly honest in their theological presentation, they would be compelled to admit that scarcity of manifest proof can hardly be accepted conclusively either as lack of fact or existence of a contradictory fact in the real world.
Truth is independent of evidence, even the total lack or positive demonstration thereof. For example, a man may be charged with murder in a shooting spree, but the inability of the police to locate the gun, equally as well as the fact that the murderer was actually caught with the smoking weapon in his hand, is not always enough to convince us of the truth of his guilt. But the positive discovery of the smoking gun in the man's hand is far-and-away more persuasive to a jury than the negative situation in which the police were simply unable to locate the murder weapon. The Laisneyites are making a lack of evidence into a demonstrably positive proof that their heresy is authentic Church doctrine, and this is a significant error in Right Reason.
It is true that we likewise have no visual proof whatever that Jesus abides in the Blessed Sacrament; nonetheless, we profess what we are taught by the explicit definitions of the one true Faith, not by our senses, our science, or any conceivable forensic testimony - nor by any lack thereof. To say that silence from the Tabernacle is "not a negation" of the Real Presence cannot, by any stretch of the imagination mean that such a lack is therefore a positive proof that Jesus is there. We believe that He is present because we have infallible definitions to substantiate the Scripture which tells us that this is so, and not for any theological failure on our part to locate such a positive proof.
The argument that alleged reticence on the part of the Magisterium in condemning baptism-of-desire-for-salvation thus serves to prove that it is true must demand, in all justice, that it face off against its contradictory counterpart - that Canon of Trent which demands water baptism for all who are to be saved. And, in the face of magisterial silence, theological dispute, and/or documentary inadequacy, must we not as children of the Church hold what has always been taught factually and definitively by Divine Revelation concerning the necessity of the Sacrament of Baptism - that it is indispensably requisite for the salvation of all souls? Must not the Catholic Faith which has come down to us in immutable Tradition play its part in what we believe, even if it "only" an explicitly positive witness as compared to "the silence of a negative"? In brief, are Catholics required to believe what has been clearly and infallibly taught or what has not yet been expressly and infallibly condemned?
Are not the real speculators - those who theorize that persons who left this earth unbaptized can nonetheless be be admitted to the Beatific Vision - defying in fact what Catholics of all ages have traditionally held concerning the universal requirement of the sacrament for the achievement of its divine effects? Are we realistically expected to hold and preach what has failed to have been handed down infallibly and never defined explicitly, or rather what has genuinely been revealed once and for all time as Catholic truth in the matter?
The necessity of water baptism for eternal happiness is absolute and universal from the aspect of being both De Fide and of being the constant Tradition, scriptural and patristic, of the Catholic Faith. Anyone who begins to expostulate against the actual reception of the sacrament by way of allowing undefined exceptions has clearly departed from Divine Revelation and commenced to speculate theologically on that which has come down to us as being part and parcel of the true Faith by holding up to the faithful his own private additions or subtractions as equal to the Word of God professed by the Magisterium.
And, since we have no infallible decree of such an exception but do possess more than one infallible declaration to the contrary, we are consequently obliged to profess as salvific the Sacrament of Water alone - precisely as we do liturgically each Sunday in the Creed, when we "confess one baptism for the remission of sins." For there is but "One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism," as St. Paul insisted to his Ephesians (4:5) and, as we have seen, we acclaim this precise Profession at Holy Mass each and every Sunday and Holy Day in the Nicene Creed. Indeed, it is proclaimed even more explicitly in the Spanish vernacular Novus Ordo Mass: "I confess only one baptism." Because of this precision in matters of Faith, the Ecumenical Council of Vienne defined infallibly for us in the 14th Century (Dz 482) that ~
Had St. Thomas Aquinas lived only another thirty-seven years (he would have been eighty-six years old), he would have been compelled to relinquish his error that Sanctifying Grace alone is sufficient for salvation. For, inasmuch as Vienne defined infallibly that every one of the faithful must profess only that baptism which is bestowed as a sacrament in the medium of water, there simply can exist no other "baptism" worthy of the name by which a man can be brought to eternal salvation.
Thus, "the Sacrament of Baptism can be said to exist," declares the Catechism of the Council of Trent, "only when we actually apply the water to someone by way of ablution while using the words appointed by Our Lord." That this profession refers solely to the sacrament, and not to sentimental speculations which parade as sacraments, can readily be seen in Christ's own dictum: "Have the Faith of God!" (Mark 11:22) which Faith patently teaches us that there can be only "One Baptism" (Ephesians 4:5), not the "three baptisms" of which Fr. Laisney speaks. This is the sacrament which Jesus Christ preached in water, for He preached no other - and those who do, regardless of their protestations, their theological acumen, or their disdain for simplistic little children, are inescapably guilty of "private interpretation" (II Peter 1:20) of a Scripture (John 3:5) sufficiently clear to the man in the pew.
Therefore, to suggest that the unbaptized constitute an unspoken "exception to the rule" because we allegedly possess no paper trail to prove otherwise, is not only shoddy scholarship, poor research, and illogic in action, but also a downright caricature of all human rationality. Recall the time the cartoon character Calvin declared to his pet tiger, Hobbes, "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." This is the perfect non-sequitur! It simply does not follow that, just because we possess no facts to prove something, it can be deemed necessarily conclusive nor even conjecturable.
In precisely the same way, Fr. Laisney holds up to us the authority of St. Cyprian, whose testimony on the Sacrament of Baptism he himself then repudiates as official witness to the Catholic Faith (just check out his End Note no.2). Likewise, Fr. Laisney frequently produces quotations taken from a book called The Church Teaches (TCT), which contains not only the genuine article when it comes to infallible decrees, but also heretical errors purposely slipped in here and there by its Jesuit compilers, including the hateful and heretical Protocol Letter of Cardinal Marchetti-Selvaggiani considered by the Laisneyites as a definitive argument against the Faith of Fr. Feeney. This utterly assinine and heretical "Letter of the Supreme Congregation of the Holy Office" was even included in Fr. Heinrich Josef Dominicus Denzinger's Enchiridion Symbolorum in 1963.
Father Laisney and I both cite copiously from this Handbook of the Creed compiled originally by Fr. Heinrich Josef Dominicus Denzinger (Dz), the thirtieth edition of which was revised and edited by none of than Fr. Karl Rahner, SJ, certainly one of the most notorious and diabolical arch-heretics who ever disgraced our day, and who took great care to insert several non-infallible private presumptions and speculations into his own version of Denzinger. However, although Satan is "a liar and the father thereof" (John 8:44), even "the devils believe and tremble" (James 2:19) and can therefore be forced, during exorcism for instance, to profess the truth. Not even heretics are wrong all the time! And, when they speak the truth, we can use their own words against them in other areas.
But can any Church official, Father, Doctor, or theologian presuming to speak for the Church ever contradict himself? Popes or Councils defining infallibly cannot, of course, but a Pontiff and his Council preaching privately and without calling on the virtue of infallible definition can - and has, rather often. Church History demonstrates that Ecumenical Councils have condemned Popes as heretical (Constantinople III, 681), and that Popes have in turn condemned Ecumenical Councils as heretical (Chalcedon, 451).
Pope Honorius I was condemned by Pope St. Martin I in the Lateran Council of 649, and by the Council of Constantinople III in 681, for refusing to define true Catholic dogma against a satanic controversy over the Monothelite heresy, a form of Monophysitism. Pope St. Agatho "The Miracle-Worker" (elected Pontiff at the age of 103), presiding over this latter Ecumenical Council, specifically censured Honorius as a "profane, treacherous, impious heretic" for his ambiguity and hesitance in defending the proper notion of the Incarnation. Two years later, Pope St. Leo II publicly confirmed this condemnation of poor Honorius, as did Pope St. Benedict II in another two years. Thus, Honorius came to be anathematized by the Council of Trullo, the Council of Toledo, the Second Council of Nice in plenary session, an Ecumenical Council, four canonized Pontiffs, by the Divine Office (read by all priests) until the eighteenth century, as well as falling under the publicly-vowed anathema taken by all Popes at their coronation for the next three hundred years!
In the year 451, the Ecumenical Council Chalcedon drafted thirty "Dogmatic Canons," and all except one were formally approved St. Leo the Great, and ultimately proclaimed to the waiting world of Catholics. The solitary item which St. Leo refused to ratify was the notorious Canon 28, which would have made the Patriarch of Constantinople a secondary Pope! Incredibly, the bishops of Constantinople attempted this identical ploy on three subsequent Pontiffs, but to no avail. Providentially, Pope St. Leo had unmasked their specious duplicity, and thus only twenty-nine of the Canons of Chalcedon can actually be considered part of the Faith.
Again, in 1445, Pope Eugene IV was careful to approve only those portions of the Ecumenical Council Constance which preserved the rights of the papacy, for in the Fifth Session it had ruled that a Council could depose a Pope. It was later reconvened at Basle but disbanded by order of the Pope within five months, then re-authenticated as "Ecumenical" two years later. Four years of sessions intervened before the Holy Father transferred the Council to Ferrara, whereupon the bishops remaining at Basle went publicly into schism and elected the last of the anti-Popes in the history of the Church, Felix V. It was the periti, presiding as theological experts for these bishops at Basle, who had only that very year condemned St. Joan of Arc to the stake. Meanwhile, Pope Eugene transferred the sitting members of this Council once more to Florence, and ultimately removed it to Rome for its final two years, where it was successfully. This Ecumenical Council, which had commenced at Constance in 1414 and gone through five separate venues, finally adjourned in the year 1445.
This damning and counter-damning could never have taken place had the ecclesial authorities in question made strict use of the Virtue of Infallibility granted by God to His Church. All of which serves to demonstrate positively that proclamations of a doctrinal nature by councils are never binding on the Church unless they specifically define dogmas of Faith or Morals, and are confirmed and universally promulgated as such by our Holy Father the Pope. In the event that the decree of a Pope or a Council lacks this status, it consequently lacks the necessary note of magisterial authenticity which alone can be considered infallible and binding on all members of the faithful.
Therefore, with these precedents as our guides, why may not any Catholic employ infallible citations and ignore non-in-fallible statements to the contrary, no matter if expressed by the most prestigious luminaries on Vatican hill? We are soldiers of Christ in a Church militant, and we therefore have the right and the God-given duty to choose only the strongest of our weapons when going into battle, even if they come out of an arsenal that has otherwise produced a mixed bag.
For instance, the same can be said for the vagaries of the New Catholic Catechism and even the deplorable ambiguities of Vatican Council II. As Fr. Richard O'Connor explains in The Homiletic and Pastoral Review in its July, 1981 issue ("How Binding is Vatican II?"): "What is more important is to make clear the kind of assent demanded of the faithful. What this means, as Pope John Paul II never tires of emphasizing when referred to Vatican II, is that it is to be interpreted in the light of Tradition, of other Councils, and papal Encyclicals; and, where found to be in conflict with these, disregarded."
Catholics therefore dismiss and disregard as inadmissible the testimony of any authority whose words contradict that which has always been held by the faithful the world over. Clement XIII concludes that none of the faithful should have "extraordinary opinions proposed to them, not even from Catholic doctors; instead, they should listen to those opinions which have the most certain criteria of Catholic truth: universality, antiquity, and unanimity" (In Dominico Agro), and Pope John Paul II has only recently reiterated this truth. The position of the Laisneyites fall flat on each and every count: It is neither world-wide, apostolic, nor held by all Catholics from the very beginning. Worse, it literally contravenes Divine Revelation as found in Holy Scripture.
Saint Thomas Aquinas assures us that "argument from authority, based on Divine Revelation, is the strongest" (Summa Theologica I, Q1, art.8, ad 2), and Divine Revelation has never let us down. It does not, however, support the Laisneyites in their contention that any conceivable non-water "baptisms" can get you to Heaven. Hence, if "the very persons we quote hold explicitly the common teaching on baptism of desire," this in no way connotes that they are, in this instance, repeating what has infallibly come down to us in Divine Revelation, but are giving us merely their own private opinions. And there exists no such thing as a "common teaching" in the corpus of Catholic Faith at all! If there were, it would be Catholic, not common. Theologians can get together and concoct anything they like but, until it is taught explicitly by the Church, it remains mere speculation on their part. And the Church has never taught that a man can get to Heaven on baptism of desire or blood without the actual and personal reception of baptism of water.
Father Laisney wishes to impose on you his pretention that the Catholic Church has "always understood" water baptism to mean non-water baptism, and consequently no salvation outside the Church to mean some salvation outside the Church. If this were truly the sense in which the Church had genuinely understood the doctrines of baptism and salvation, She would have let us know it with egregious clarity by this late stage in the game.
This mistaken notion (of what the Church really means when She teaches) is a trademark technique of the Laisneyites. It is also a frequent gambit for heretics to accuse traditionalists of precisely the very strategies they themselves profess, and by means of which they deviously hope to make proselytites of the faithful. On the contrary, "we have the mind of Christ" (I Corinthians 2:16), when we simply preach His literal Word, not words from the minds of Modernists. And it was Jesus Christ Himself who solemnly declared: "Amen, amen, I say unto thee: Unless one be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). "What further need have we of witnesses? We have heard it ourselves from His own mouth!" (Luke 22:71).
This solemn expression of a double Amen by Our Lord is prologue to a formal stipulation of an infallible prerequisite for salvation, veritably reminiscent of future and forthcoming decrees from Popes and Councils of the Church, who so often initiate their infallible proclamations with expressions such as "We define, declare, and pronounce," or "The Holy Catholic Church believes, preaches, and teaches," and so forth. Such sworn pronouncements likewise bespeak the "mind of Christ" (I Corinthians 2:16) on the subject of the incontrovertible necessity of the Sacrament of Baptism for eternal salvation. Furthermore, as Father James O'Kane assures us:
It is very interesting to note at this point that the Canon of Trent which stipulates the necessity of sacramental baptism for salvation begins with these very same words - Nisi Quis. Permit a brief consideration of the language of Holy Scripture here. The baptismal requirement for salvation as usually given us here from St. John's Gospel is "Unless a man is born again ..." Technically, this is a somewhat poor production from the Douay-Rheims. Saint John wrote in Greek, of course, and in that ancient idiom the expression is rendered Tis, which is translated in any reputable Greek lexicon as:
Any man at all
Any person whatsoever
Every man whomsoever
"Tis," then, is in the Greek of St. John an indiscriminate pronoun, not restricting itself in any way to any specific individual, but denoting any and all men without distinction. This expression was produced by St. Jerome in the only translation of Holy Scripture ever authorized by the Roman Catholic Church, the old Latin Vulgate, as "quis" - which is rendered in all reputable Latin dictionaries as "anything, anything at all."
The Tis and Quis of the matter, therefore, mean simply "anyone at all" or "everyone" without distinction or restriction to any determinate person, age, class, or gender. To emphasize the transparent literalness of these dramatic words, St. Augustine translates them: "Whoever is not born again" (in his famous Forgiveness And Just Deserts of Sins). Even The New American Bible has it "No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit" (notice that the editors leave out the word "again" - maybe the official translator was out to lunch that day). Nevertheless, that God allows no solitary exception to the Rule of Water is therefore the declared testimony of witnesses both ancient and modern. Patrick Kenrick, who sat as Archbishop of Baltimore before the advent of that city's dreadful catechism, assures us in his Treatise on Baptism that:
So why does Fr. Laisney?
Is this the same St. Thomas who argued that the Mother of God was conceived in sin?
Pardon me, but since when is it "very dangerous" to oppose St. Thomas Aquinas, the scholar whom his fellow-classmate, St. Bonaventure (also a Doctor of the Church), complained of being "the father of all heresies"? (The Final Conclave, Fr. Malachi Martin, NY: Pocket Books, 1978, p.393). Is St. Thomas, then, to be followed religiously (as though infallible) or studiously (for what he has to offer that squares with what is infallible)?
Well, now. Father Laisney has jumped from the approval of St. Thomas in matters of Metaphysics (which is a branch of Philosophy), to giving carte blanche to his Sacramental Theology! And is this papal approval "in metaphysical questions" universal? Does it apply to all the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas? Isn't Thomas the scholar whose philosophy led him to deny the Immaculate Conception itself?
Please re-examine the many errors of St. Thomas as catalogued earlier, and tell me why we should not be opposed to swallowing his thinking whole! In "prescribing the scholastic philosophy" of St. Thomas, did our Canonized Pontiff (1) thereby assure us that Thomas was infallible in all matters of Sacramental Theology? (2) that he never made a mistake at all, even in his Metaphysical Philosophy? This is precisely what the Laisneyites would have you believe!
Eighteen Pontiffs in thirty-eight Bulls praised the teaching of St. Thomas; and, when Pope Leo XIII introduced into Canon Law the stipulation that the theology taught in the Church was to follow that of Thomas, he specified (twice therein) that in general it was his methodology, doctrine, and principles, not his every argumentation, speculation, nor conclusion which were so vital and sound. In fact, if St. Thomas had more carefully followed his own principles, he could scarcely have made as many mistakes in his Sacramental Theology as he did. As Nobel Laureate Franšois Mauriac explains in his magnificent mediation called Holy Thursday -
1) the exterior sign, called sacramentum tantum - sacrament itself signifying and producing the other two elements. This exterior sign is composed of matter such as water, and form such as the words of the sacrament.
2) An intermediate reality, called sacramentum et res - sacrament and reality, which, in the case of baptism, is the character. This intermediate reality is both signified and produced by the exterior sign and further signifies and produces the third element.
3) The ultimate reality, res sacramenti the (ultimate) reality of the sacrament, which is the sacramental grace, i.e., sanctifying grace, as source of further actual graces to live as a child of God, as soldier of Christ, etc.
Surely, all Catholics can appreciate the writings of St. Thomas (if such Catholics are not too "simplistic" and have enough advanced degrees); for he is not really easy to understand. Saint Paul was another such theologian, and our very first Canonized Pontiff said of him: "in all his epistles ... are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrestle with, as they also do with the other Scriptures, to their own destruction" (II Peter 3:15). I am not sure that St. Peter would have considered St. Thomas Aquinas any easier to understand than St. Paul, just as I am not certain how unstable Fr. Laisney's argument here might sound to you - but the above schema on the Sacrament of Baptism seems far removed from the patently simple command of John 3:5, doesn't it?
Besides, we must remember that we are listening here to what Fr. Franšois Laisney says that Thomas means, and if Thomas is in error, why believe either him or his interpreter? It has been clearly demonstrated that St. Thomas cannot be considered perfectly Catholic in some of his utterances; therefore, how can we take Fr. Laisney's position on St. Thomas's utterances as Gospel Truth? As the old Indian saying has it: "Ali Baba will go bail for Abou Rah, but who will go bail for Ali Baba?"
Moreover, we should always bear in mind that St. Thomas, like all saints, was canonized not for his theological acumen nor philosophical expertise, nor indeed for any single one of his writings (which he quit in disgust, calling them nothing but "chaff"), but for his Heroic Virtue. I pray that, somehow, the Laisneyites will likewise discard their worthless chaff and become likewise Canonizable for such virtue.
Who, then, is left? Ah yes, the catechumen runover by a Greyhound bus. Now, what makes you think this catechumen merited the ultimate effect of salvation which can come only by way of the Character and the Grace in tandem? If a man dies on his way to the baptismal font, wouldn't it look suspiciously as though God had already judged him as reprobate? It is much more likely that God didn't want him to receive the Character - which can be bestowed solely in sacramental Baptism - and thus go deeper into the fires of Hell. Remember, too, the words of St. Augustine (Sermon 27:6):
No wonder St. John Chrysostom lamented those who died unbaptized. As Patriarch of Constantinople, he declared: "It is obvious that we must grieve for our catechumens should they depart this life without the saving grace of Baptism." Obvious, that is, to all but the Laisneyites who believe the Almighty cannot handle a runaway bus.
How does anyone know this for sure? How can Fr. Laisney proclaim that the saints of the Old Testament lacked the Character unless it has been Divinely Revealed? And if Divinely Revealed, where in any Church document is it proclaimed? The logical truth is that it is just as certain to say that all the saints who died sanctified in the Old Law did, in fact, receive the Character of Christ, not by receiving the Sacrament of Baptism (although certain Fathers of the Church actually argued that they did), but in a manner proportionate to their spiritual and unembodied state at the time Our Lord descended to their place of containment in the Limbo of the Fathers on Good Friday afternoon. Perhaps they were awaiting not only his sacrificial death on the cross (which opened the gates of Heaven for them and for all men who would cooperate with His grace), but also to be Marked by Him (in a non-sacramental manner befitting their spiritual state at that time) as members of His Mystical Body. After all, it seems sufficiently clear from Holy Scripture itself that this Body is the only means of getting back to Heaven. Jesus declared: "No one has gone up into Heaven except Him Who came down from there, the Son of Man" (John 3:13).
We must all become Jesus Christ to be saved; we must all "be made partakers of the Divine Nature" of God Himself (II Peter 1:4) in Grace, but we must also become Marked and "made partakers of Christ" (Hebrews 3:14) by becoming actual members of His Body. It is for this reason St. Augustine assures us that, in Heaven, "there shall be only one Christ, loving Himself" (Epistle to Parthos., PL 35:2055). How can any soul become the one and only Christ unless he is marked and Characterized as such? And now, in the New Covenant, we know definitively that the Character of Christ is bestowed exclusively in the actual reception of sacramental water baptism.
It would be proper for Fr. Laisney to cite us the precise source from Trent upon which he makes this assertion. The fact is, all the saints of the Old Covenant (a) died in Grace, yet (b) went to Hell. Saint Joseph died and went straight to Hell! They all went to a place designated, both in Scripture, Tradition, and The Apostles' Creed as "Hell."
And as for his final statement, it is not true either. Several Saints in the New Law have raised souls from the dead who died in mortal sin. Saint John Bosco raised did so twice, in the case of two of his Oratory students, to hear their confessions of mortal sins. Many of those who died as pagans were raised for Baptism; in fact, many who died in Sanctifying Grace but without Baptism were raised to receive the Sacrament, such as King Echu O'Neill of Ireland by St. Patrick, and the slave-girl, Augustina, by St. Peter Claver in Colombia, here in our own hemisphere.
Astoundingly, Saint Athanasius, Father and Doctor of the Church, writes that St. James the Greater, Apostle to Spain, "recalled to life Peter, the son of the prophet Urias (Jeremias 26:20), and ordained him the first Bishop of Braga, six hundred years after his death." Again, as Church law (currently, Canon 1024) demands: "no one but a baptized male can be raised to Holy Orders." Therefore, it must be said that this man was brought alive out of the Old Testament specifically for sacramental baptism. As we know, there is no problem of "time" with God, for our notion of time is meaningless to One Who is eternally Pure Act. Time keeps things from happening all-at-once for us creatures; but for God everything is all-at-once. Thus, we behold saints justified in His grace who were:
Conceived in grace, such as Our
So what point is Father trying to make with the above statements, except to insist on his speculation that a man can die justified, but without Baptism, and still go to Heaven? - despite the clear and infallible definitions of the Church contrariwise!
This is perfect self-contradiction. Note that Father Laisney here states in literal effect that "for ... the infusion of sacramental grace, the necessity of baptism ... is absolute." Yet, he has already defined sacramental grace as Sanctifying Grace (see no.3 above). Therefore, he is inescapably saying that you absolutely have to be baptized for grace and salvation. However, his fundamental error is that he says you can "be baptized" without actual reception of the Sacrament of Baptism in order thus to be saved. If this were true, a man could consequently become a Catholic without actually becoming a Catholic; he could have steak and potatoes by desire without having them in fact. You could receive Matrimony by Desire and Holy Orders of Blood and ... but why go on?
The young St. Stanislaus Kostka is a case in point. When he lay dying in his Jesuit noviate, he openly lamented the fact that he had never been confirmed. The rector reassured him that the desire for the Sacrament of Confirmation was sufficient! For what? Certainly neither for the Character nor the special Sacramental Grace received only in actual reception of the sacrament! Stanislaus was noted for a love of God so overpowering that his breast literally burned with fevered palpitations, so much so that even today there still stand statues showing him with damp cloths at his breast. Nevertheless, Holy-Communion-by-Desire was never sufficient for this teenaged Polish nobleman; twice angels came and administered the Eucharist to him - once even in an abandoned Lutheran church! Ask yourself - which is preferable, that a man receive Jesus actually in Holy Communion, or that he merely be granted the Sanctifying Grace of that Sacrament? That he eat the Body and Blood of God in reality or only in moderate reality? Maybe the angels sent by God to communicate St. Stanislaus knew more about what was necessary than his rector - or even Fr. Franšois Laisney!
Our Lord Jesus said: "Amen, amen, I say to you: Unless you eat My flesh and drink My blood, there is no life in you" (John 6:54). If this Life is not Sanctifying Grace, and if maintaining it for any length of time does not normally require the actual reception of His Body and Blood in Holy Communion, then why in the world did He immediately add: "My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed" (John 6:56)? Jesus never said: "Amen, and in all formality, I assure you that unless you earnestly desire to receive Me you cannot stay in the State of Grace," for this would necessitate a continuous non-stop bestowal by God Himself of a grace which He intends from all eternity never to fulfill in you!
And when was Our Lord ever heard to say: "My flesh is truly meat, but only by desire; and My blood is genuine blood, but only if you decide to desire it"? By selecting only a single effect of a sacrament and making it stand for the entirety of the sacrament, the Laisneyites not only offended Logic, but have also effectually doubled the number of sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ. The Church has never taught this! On the contrary, Trent defined that there are only seven sacraments. You either receive them, or you do not. You have either been baptized (and the sacrament absolutely necessitates the application of water), or you remain unbaptized.
There is absolutely no salvation outside the Body of Christ, even for those who would like to become Catholics by desire. If you can "receive baptism" without actually receiving it, then you could "become Catholic" without actually becoming Catholic, or "become married" without bothering to post the bans. Trent declared infallibly that the "Church exercises judgment on no one who has not first entered it through the gateway of baptism" (Session 14, ch.2) and that "by the laver of baptism we are made members of Christ's own body. (Dz 895).
To argue that a man can be "within" the Church by mental desire and yet "outside" the Church in physical fact is a denial in Logic of the Principle of Identity (or Non-Contra-diction), in which a thing cannot be true and false at the same time. Were the "eight souls saved by water" (I Peter 3:20) in the days of Noah inside or outside the Ark? Were all the rest of humanity saved by their earnest desire and fervent wish that they could be "within" the Ark of Noah? Every single thing that subsisted upon the earth perished! Genesis (7: 21-23) clearly states:
Consequently, Fathers of the Church such as St. Gregory of Nyssa declared: "You are outside Paradise, O Catechumen! You share the exile of Adam!" (PatrologiŠ GrŠcŠ 417c). The position of the Laisneyites therefore follows the self-contradiction of utter insanity. If words have any meaning left at all, and if the doctrine of infallibility means what it must to the Roman Catholics, then the clear definition of the infallible dogma of salvation by Pope Eugene IV in the Bull "Cantata Domino" issued at the Seventeenth Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church must end their sophomoric silliness:
So. Whom shall we believe? Eugene IV or Frank Laisney?
A) Pope Eugene IV defines infallibly that a man cannot be saved outside the Church "even if he pour out his blood for the name of Christ." Father Laisney says he can.
B) Pope Eugene IV declares infallibly that no soul on earth "can profit by the Sacraments of the Church unto salvation" outside the Church. Father Laisney claims they can and, indeed, this is the most fundamental aspect of his teaching.
C) Pope Eugene IV proclaims infallibly that what he says is what "the most holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes, and preaches," and Fr. Laisney offers us "the common teaching of theologians."
Surely, this is as simple as ABC. Doesn't it strike you as the least bit ironic that Fr. Laisney is presented as the theological representative of a Society founded by an Archbishop who publicly renounced and repudiated the Decree on Ecumenism of the recent Vatican Council? The Laisneyites are filled with the spirit of ecumenism, for it is based on the "common teaching" that non-Catholics can go to Heaven simply by virtue of their "good will."
If Marcel Lefebvre is now in Heaven (as we are all permitted to hope), do you believe that he would agree with Pope Eugene IV or with his modernist spokesman, Fr. Franšois Laisney?
Again, self-contradiction in action. Father Laisney has already admitted (in #1 above) that "This exterior sign is composed of matter such as water, and form such as the words of the sacrament." He now declares that this "exterior element of baptism, i.e., the sacrament itself, is ... the only means at our disposal to receive the third element," an element he has defined as Sanctifying Grace, which alone and in turn produces a living Faith. If "water and words" constitute our "only means" to receive this Grace, and thus bring our Faith to life, why does he feel constrained to add that these are the only means "at our disposal"? Precisely because he is attempting to demonstrate that God has other ways not at "our disposal.". It must be asked, therefore - What sort of God bleeds to death on a cross in order to give us sacraments as our only means of salvation if He has a "back-up" remedy, just in case His Scenario No.1 doesn't pan out? Last I heard, God cannot make a mistake.
The Laisneyites are saying, in effect, "the sacraments are nice to have around, but who really needs them when the chips are down?" This is not good theology; in point of fact it results in calling God an impotent liar.
No. No, we do not, Father. We see you making this assertion, but not Trent. The Council "clearly sets the absolute necessity"of the Faith for Justification, and not the other way around! Trent is defining infallibly (and not as a mere "common teaching of theologians") that one cannot get into the State of Sanctifying Grace without the Catholic Faith. Possession of the true Faith, then, is one of the requirements for the votum necessary for justification in advance of actual reception of water baptism, precisely as defined by Trent in several places. It is not Grace, then, which brings about "living faith, faith working through charity." It is Faith which makes that charity work!
In fact, Our Lord speaks in John Chapter 3 of being "born" eight times, but who's counting? The fact is, Father has gone completely overboard here in Begging the Question. It is he (not Our Lord) who defines the new birth produced in sacramental baptism as "the infusion of new life, sanctifying grace, the life of God in us." To be born again is not to come into Grace, but into Jesus. The rebirth of Baptism (which takes place solely in the actual reception of the Sacrament itself) makes and marks us as an Alter Christus - Another Christ - and, if we have Grace, a living Christ. If, for example, a Protestant receives a valid Baptism, he is still-born. He comes into possession of the Character of Christ rather like the dead body of Jesus in the tomb. He is eternally branded with the "appearance" of Jesus, whether or not he ever lives the life of Grace, just as a Catholic once in Grace might now be in Hell. To be reborn into new life in the Sacrament of Baptism, then, can only mean to have both the Mark of Jesus and the Life of Jesus. And these two - the Character of Baptism and Sanctifying Grace - are the only absolute requirements necessary for admission to bliss.
Since water is admitted by Fr. Laisney to be "the only means at our disposal," once should be enough! But shall we belittle and disparage the innocence of water as our solitary means of being inserted into the Body of Christ, and thus saved, merely because Sanctifying Grace appears to be mentioned more often? Gluttony is not mentioned in the Ten Commandments nor the Assumption of Our Lady in the Apostles' Creed at all. Shall we argue, then, that they are frivolous and optional considerations simply because they seem to lack the "importance" of other doctrines in the corpus of the Catholic religion?
The history of Cornelius, his followers and family, demonstrates the obligation of receiving water baptism, even for those on whom God the Holy Ghost has already lavished His most grace-filled manifestations. "Can anyone forbid water," demands our first Pope, "so that these who have received the Holy Ghost as well as we should not be baptized?" (Acts 10:47). Can anyone - even Fr. Laisney and his followers? Indeed, can even God Himself? Does it limit God's power by binding Himself to His own sacraments? Yes, and He enjoys and infinite delight in doing so. Must we not say that God has limited Himself in the Holy Sacrament of the altar exclusively to bread and wine? Can Father Laisney consecrate coke and cornbread?
But let us ask ourselves - is it indeed possible that Almighty God can be tied, hand and foot, like some mighty Samson (whose story, by the way, is the classic type and symbol of this very truth!). So much is God bound to the wishes of His Church that the Church on earth rules over Heaven itself. Our Lord declared to His ministers: "What you bind on
earth is bound also in Heaven!" (Matthew 16:19). Therefore, God is truly bound. What! Can it be? "The Lord obeying the voice of a man!" (Joshua 10:14).
Yes. God is pre-eminently bound by His own arrangements and promises and sacramental system; and we know by Faith that "He cannot deny Himself" (II Tim.2:13). "God cannot do that which is against the Faith! He cannot do what is against Truth!" cries St. Ambrose (Commentary on Luke). Saint Alphonsus Maria Liguori adds: "God 'will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of truth' (II Timothy 2:4); therefore, God has bound Himself to provide for all the means necessary to reach that truth and that salvation on His terms" (The Great Means of Salvation, p.124). And His terms have been spelled out definitively and infallibly by His Church. The Laisneyites cannot claim as much for their "common opinion of theologians."
These elements are described by Fr. Laisney himself as the Character of the Sacrament of Baptism and Sanctifying Grace (see above, no's. 2 & 3). These two ingredients constitute absolutely the most fundamental requirements for our eternal salvation, as has been demonstrated. For anyone to "confuse" them can only mean that they have equated them as being identical; yet, both Fr. Laisney and I have been careful to point out that they are not only separate, but distinct. A Protestant can be validly baptized into the Character of Christ, but never into the Grace of Christ, just as a validly-baptized Catholic will go to Hell for being Marked yet mortally sinful. The two requirements are neither confusable nor mutually identical; but both must be possessed in order to go to Heaven.
What Fr. Laisney refers to as "fulfilled/unfulfilled justice" must refer incipiently to those words of Our Lord Jesus Christ to St. John the Baptist, when He said of water baptism: "Thus it becomes us to fulfill all justice" (Matthew 3:15); for, all the sacraments and washings of the Old Dispensation brought nothing to "fulfillment." The Sanctifying Grace of the Old Law itself did not bring man to the fulfillment of his eternal destiny of being saved. As Jeremias lamented, "the harvest is over, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!" (8: 20). All the souls to be saved out of the Old Covenant had been harvested, the summer of their days had come to an end, and yet not a single one of them came into the Vision of God at their deaths, neither Jeremias nor any of the other patriarchs and prophets canonized by Jesus Christ Himself (Luke 13:28). No, not even St. Joseph, the Patron of the Universal Church!
Likewise, over four centuries after God "spoke to Moses face-to-face, as to a friend" (Genesis 33:11) "Abraham believed God, and it was reputed to him unto justice; and he was called the friend of God" as well (James 2:23). Here, then, we behold the extent of Old Law justice - it rendered men friends of God. Nonetheless, it remained inherently handicapped - unfulfilled, imperfect - since "the Law brought nothing to perfection" (Hebrews 7:19). In fact, under the New Dispensation, "there is indeed a setting aside of the former commandment, because of the weakness and unprofitableness thereof" (Hebrews 7:18).
Friendship with God in the Old Law, even the most sublime therefore, did not accomplish the ultimate design of the Almighty, but represented only a vague and distant way-station, a preparation for "the better gifts" (I Corinthians 12:31) - those awesome "things to come" (Hebrews 10:1) through the incarnate mediation of Jesus Christ. Like Moses before him, who was permitted "to see the land with his eyes, but not to pass over to it" (Deuteronomy 34:4), Abraham, although justified and graced as an adopted son and heir of Heaven, had as yet no inheritance in the Promised Land of salvation - "No, not the pace of a foot; however, God promised to give it to him in possession" (Acts 7:5).
God thus promises salvation to all "who persevere unto the end" in justice (Mark 13:13); for, "the just man, if he be prevented by death, shall be at rest" (Wisdom 4:7). Does this mean, as the Laisneyites contend, that the only thing required for salvation is to die in the justice of Sanctifying Grace? By no means! It merely signifies that God will get His absolutely necessary sacrament of water baptism to those who die in Justice in the New Covenant of Grace, even if He has to provide for it by miracle. Thus, as St. Bernard writes, "the remedy of Baptism has been made accessible to everyone, everywhere" (Epistle to Hugh of St. Victor; II:6). Consequently, St. Robert Bellarmine, like Ss. Bernard and Thomas a Doctor of the Church, writes (On Baptism, Book 1, Chapter 4):
Thus, St. Teresa of Avila wrote in her glorious Way of Perfection (No.19): "I feel sure that no one will fail to receive this living water, unless they cannot keep to the path." Consequently, Pope Paul VI declared: "If we, for whatever reason, deny the absoluteness of God's law concerning the necessity of water baptism for salvation, or any other defined dogma, then we too excommunicate ourselves by our heresy from Paradise, the Church" (Allocution On the Fifth Anniversary of the Closure of Vatican Council II).
Have I been overly-strict or "rigoristic" in assessing the Laisneyite position as heretical? Dare we deem it anything less? Their argumentation is downright sinful! Venerable Pope Pius declared that we must "hold firmly to our Catholic doctrine - one baptism. To try and inquire further is sinful" (Dz 1647).
It has been proven that the absolute necessity for the actual reception of sacramental water baptism for the attainment of the kingdom of God in Heaven is the "age-old teaching of the popes, fathers, doctors, and saints." Bear in mind that the word "prove" in English means to demonstrate the validity of a position. It can only be argued that such demonstration has been sufficiently provided - at least, for those of good will, and for those who are truly humble.
But ask yourself at this juncture. Is the doctrine of the absolute necessity of water baptism to be called "the age-old teaching of the Popes, Fathers, Doctors, and saints" - or is it, as Fr. Laisney & Co. pretend, merely a "novelty"?
In this, Fr. Laisney and I agree wholeheartedly. In fact, this is my daily prayer that they "they might embrace the whole of the Catholic Faith." Otherwise, they simply cannot have it at all. The word "Catholic" derives from the Greek kata-holos, "completely whole." And no one realizes how incomplete they are more than the Laisneyites.
True Catholics at all times submit themselves to the justice of God. It's simply that we must also hold that justice alone is only one of the requirements with which we must go to Judgment, and is therefore in itself and all by itself insufficient for eternal salvation.
That the Sanctifying Grace bestowed in the sacraments can indeed be had by what Fr. Laisney here erroneously terms "desire" is no valid argument that the other important effects of certain Sacraments can be had by it. Again, Begging the Question.
What a wonderful profession of Catholic Faith! If only it applied to the Laisneyites!
And thus, we go to our eternal reward hoping the same for Father Franšois Laisney and all his followers! Amen.
... There follow Fr. Laisney's references from his original article.
1 Letter no. 73 (21) to Jubaianus in 256.
2 Having received an invalid baptism outside the Church, and being received into the Church without being at least re-baptized under condition. It was a hypothetical case at the time of St. Cyprian (in this was he in error) but it probably happens in some cases today, due to the laxity when receiving converts.
3 Denzinger, The Sources of Catholic Dogma, 1800, Vatican I, de fide.
4 "Baptism of the Spirit" is another name for baptism of desire, by the grace of the Holy Ghost; De Baptismo, cap. 1.
5 In the very decree Cantate Domino to the Armenians so often quoted by the Feeneyites (Dz 712).
My brother went to New York in 1985 and made a million dollars in the garment district. Actually, it was't New York, it was in Chicago. And it wasn't my brother, it was my uncle. Also, it wasn't in 1985, but 1975. And he didn't make a million dollars, he lost a million. And it wasn't in garments, it was in a delicatessen. Other than that, you had it right!
The Decree Cantata Domino is spelled with an a, not an e; it is found not in Dz 712, but in Dz 714; and it was not to the Armenians, but to the Jacobites (in fact, the two decrees were promulgated at the Council of Florence two-and-a-half months apart). Other than this, Father Laisney is correct.
And, in saying that it is "often quoted by the Feeneyites" goes without saying, for the simple reason that, like all good Catholics, the Feeneyites hold to every iota, jot, and tittle of every infallible declaration ever promulgated by the Magisterium. In fact, this decree is just as De Fide as that mentioned by Fr. Laisney in No.3 above. In further fact, this decree of Pope Eugene IV is an Ex Cathedra definition of the Supreme and Extraordinary Magisterium of the Catholic Church, whereas the proclamation of Vatican Council I in note 3, although infallible, is not.
Other than that, Fr. Laisney had it right.
6 Mancipia, July 1998, p.3.
7 Mancipia, July 1998, p.2.
8 Session VI, Chapter 16, Dz 809.
9 For instance, in regards of a sick person in the hospital who cannot accomplish the precept of assisting at Mass on Sundays and feast days, his will to fulfil the third commandment is sufficient (Summa Theologica IIIa, Q.68, A.2, ad 3).
Sufficient for what, it must be asked? It doesn't get him to Mass; however, his will to fulfill his obligation when sick in bed certainly nullifies any sin on his part. Father Laisney argues that, in this, "God takes the will as the fact. This means that God accepts the intention as equivalent to the actual" attendance at Mass! (see above). Is the negative aspect of nullifying sin genuinely as profitable as positively going to Mass and actually receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion? Is a negative as good as a positive?
Taking the will for the fact can get one into a lot of hot water, theologically. Try getting married "by will" and not "in fact" and see what both God and the local police think when they find you committing adultery with your "wife." Remember - God Himself tells us that the baptism in the New Testament denotes being "born, not of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man" (John 1:13).
All truth is of the Holy Ghost, while all errors (even if made "through ignorance") derive either from the Devil or from man himself. Why should a Pontiff, defining infallibly and Ex Cathedra as in Cantata Domino, not avail himself of the truths found in writings of the Fathers, Doctors, and Saints of the Church? We are guaranteed that the infallible de-clarations of the Pope are absolutely true and consequently from God; we have no such guarantee of every word of even the most brilliant and holy Father, Doctor, or Saint of the Church.
In this, the Popes perform their God-given duties as the very fishers of men the Redeemer called them to be (Mark 1:17). They thus rule over "the kingdom of heaven [which] is like to a net cast into the sea, and gathering together of all kinds of fishes; which, when it was filled, they drew out, and sitting by the shore, they chose out the good into vessels, but the bad they cast forth" (Matthew 13:47-48).
Father Laisney here has his metaphors mixed, inasmuch as there is no error in logic involved at all. Canon 2 of Trent is from their decree on the Sacrament of Baptism, not in the least on any such theological configurations cluttering up the mind of the Laisneyites as res sacramenti or sacramentum tantum, which never entered into any word of any Tridentine proclamation. Therefore, the syllogism not only holds true, but is perfect in its presentation -
The Sacrament of
Baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation.
To make such a "certain" statement, Father would have had in truth to have read every single book, prayer, hymn, and sermon published by every single Redemptorist since the late 18th Century. Does anyone in his right mind believe that he has? Nevertheless, the dogmas which constitute that which is De Fide Catholica are not subject to majority vote.
Bear in mind that, during the Arian heresy of the 4th Century (during which all but five heroic Catholic bishops in the entire world fell to this diabolical perversion), it was Saint Athanasius who, virtually alone among all the hierarchy of the Church championed the true Faith, wrote: "Even if Catholics faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ." Venerable Anna Katherine Emmerich declared that: "If there were left upon earth but one Catholic, he would be the one, universal Church, the Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ against which the gates of Hell shall never prevail."
In these days of rampant heresy, conceived in the mind of Satan to deceive, if possible, even the Elect, let us hold fast to the doctrines which can conclusively been demonstrated to have been held always by Catholics the world over. As St. Vincent of Lerins warns us from over fifteen hundred years ago -
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