Tribute to a Valiant Priest

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The letter of the Holy Office condemning Fr. Feeney’s teaching:
That one may obtain eternal salvation, it is not always required that he be incorporated into the Church actually as a member, but it is necessary that at least he be united to her by desire and longing. However, this desire need not always be explicit, as it is in catechumens; but when a person is involved in invincible ignorance, God accepts also an implicit desire, so called because it is included in that good disposition of soul whereby a person wants his will to be conformed to the Will of God. These things are clearly taught in the dogmatic letter which was issued by the Sovereign Pontiff, Pope Pius XII, on June 29, 1943 (Mystici Corporis)... he mentions those who are related to the Mystical Body of the Redeemer "by a certain unconscious yearning and desire," and these he by no means excludes from eternal salvation; but on the other hand, he states that they are in a condition "in which they cannot be sure of their salvation" since "they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church!" With these wise words he reproves both those who exclude from salvation all united to the Church only by implicit desire, and those who falsely assert that men can be saved equally as well in every religion. (Letter to the Archbishop of Boston, August 8, 1949).​


The Facts
Father Feeney’s attempts to defend himself and the Center were not successful. In his appeal to the General of the Society of Jesus, John Baptist Janssens, S.J., in May 1949, he reminded his superior of the scandal caused; what harm was being done by not protecting one of his priests who is defending the faith. He asked for an investigation of the orthodoxy of the Jesuits directing the New England Province.​
A response came four months later, a summons for Father Feeney to appear before a tribunal, for his dismissal from the Society. The judge was to be a noted Jesuit canonist from the Gregorian University in Rome. Father Feeney protested this because he was clearly being judged for disobedience. The doctrinal issue was again being scuttled.​
He wrote another letter to the General of the Society – a long detailed account of the dispute.​
He again revealed what the Superior surely already knew because it was part of his policy of expediency:​
“I cannot stop repeating that it is totally impossible to understand and judge the dispute between my Provincial and myself if the prime factor, the doctrine of the necessity of the Church and of submission to the Roman Pontiff for salvation, is constantly neglected and voluntarily ignored,” wrote Father Feeney.​
As a professed Father in the Society, Father Feeney asserted his right to refuse to be judged by a tribunal that had already reached its verdict. Even concerning the purely disciplinary issue of obedience, due process demanded that Father Feeney’s accusation that his superior was guilty of tyrannical and unjust government be likewise heard.​
Father concluded his letter,​
“I am perfectly willing to appear before an impartial court in order to defend myself against the false accusations of my adversaries, if my judges do not persistently try to ignore the doctrinal controversy, for it is the basis of my so-called “disobedience” and the cause of everything that has taken place since last September...”​
He reminded the General that the controversy had taken place because his Provincial and the archdiocesan authorities oppose his orthodox doctrines and wish to destroy them. He also reasserted his position that this is a matter of conscience as a priest and a Jesuit whose first duty is to preserve intact the Catholic Faith against every innovation and every heresy.​
Due process, it was evident, was not going to be followed. Father was dismissed from the Jesuits in October 1949 for “serious and permanent disobedience.”​
Nearly a year later, in August 1950, there appeared Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Generis in which, without naming the culprits, he addressed the many false opinions entering the Church and undermining Catholic doctrine. Catholic theologians had been hard at work “demythologizing” the very foundations of the Catholic faith. In the process, the doctrine of original sin, and all related​
dogmatic teaching about man, sin and redemption were consequently being “reinterpreted.”​
Of great importance are these statements in the encyclical: “Some think that they are not bound by the doctrine... (in Mystici Corporis) which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Church are one and the same... Some reduce to a empty (meaningless) formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to attain eternal salvation.”​
This is the exact wording Father Feeney had used in a statement to the press when he was silenced –​
“theologians today are making the doctrines of the Church absolutely meaningless.” Reporters from UPI and the New York Times picked it up right away. The Pope was saying the same thing as Father Feeney. The Holy Father had confirmed the Church’s solemn doctrine, to the great joy and relief of Father Feeney and Saint Benedict Center. Their elation came to a sudden end, however, when American theologians began to analyze the Pope’s statements. These self appointed interpreters of the Pope’s encyclical were soon informing the readers of the American Ecclesiastical Review that the ones who “reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church” are Father Feeney and Saint Benedict Center! Sister Catherine in Gate of Heaven answers this absurdity with, “And what is Father Feeney and Saint Benedict Center saying about the doctrine which makes it meaningless? They are saying it means exactly what it says.” p. 24​
While the encyclical was soon forgotten, the 1949 letter to the Archbishop of Boston was not. Cushing demanded the impossible - compliance with the letter from Rome even though it had never been communicated in its entirety to Father Feeney or anyone at Saint Benedict Center.​
Shortly after the death of Cardinal Marchetti-Salvagianni and the publication of his entire letter, Father Feeney received an official communication from Rome in October 1952. Cardinal Joseph Pizzardo of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office summoned him to a hearing.​
Church law, of course, provides reasonable measures of due process to assure a just resolution of any judicial case.​
Father Feeney responded:
“A hearing or trial presupposes some formal complaint or accusation which serves as a legal basis for the proceedings and which also informs the accused of the charge against him so that he can prepare to defend himself. Before I can participate in a trial I would like to know with more adequate particularity what I am to be tried for.”​
Cardinal Pizzardo, ignoring this legitimate request, answered by accusing Father of “evading the issue” and by demanding his immediate presence in Rome and threatening canonical penalties for failing to do so.​

Father Feeney answered with canon law:
#1715 - requires a formal statement of charges against a defendant.​
#1723 - states that a non-canonical summons is void.​
#1959 - forbids penalties without a trial.​
#1842/1843 - require the defendant be informed both of the charges against him and the nature of the proceedings...​
Not only did the Holy Office totally disregard Father Feeney’s rights in this matter, but Cardinal​
Pizzardo responded with the threat of automatic excommunication for failing to comply.​
At this same time some unknown source either at the Holy Office or in the Archdiocese was informing the press in the United States about the proceedings – matters strictly confidential in nature. By way of ironic twist, Father Feeney pointed out in one of his letters to Cardinal Pizzardo that he or whoever was responsible for the breach of confidentiality could be ipso facto excommunicated... according to canon law.​
Under these circumstances Father Feeney chose not to go to Rome and participate in this obvious charade. In February 1953, he was declared, “excommunicated” for “grave disobedience” to the Church.​
An appeal, an official “complaint of nullity” was sent to Rome in the summer of 1953 to the Secretariat for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs headed by Msgr. Giovanni Battista Montini, who later became Pope Paul VI. The “excommunication” – the complaint argued – was uncanonical and consequently null and void. The “decree” was defective for these important reasons:​
- A sentence that is unsupported by a legal proceeding, in which the accused has been notified of the charges against him, so that he would have an opportunity to defend himself, is void on its face.​
- For validity, the judgment of a court must be over the signature of one of its judges, one of the cardinals on the tribunal, whereas a notary alone signed it.​
- The decree lacked the seal of the Holy Office.​
- Neither the sentence itself nor a copy was ever transmitted to the accused. Father Feeney heard about it through representatives of the secular press.​
Again, Rome never responded to these objections.​
Both his doctrinal position and the authority of canon law undoubtedly protected Father Feeney. No injustice by those who abuse the authority of the Church could change this. Many of the saints, it should be noted, were vilified, interdicted, excommunicated, even martyred by those of their own faith.​
The press, both Catholic and secular, took up the story and spread the deliberate misrepresentation, the big lie that has been repeated ever since: “Father Feeney was excommunicated for teaching ‘extra ecclesiam nulla salus’- and let that be a lesson to anyone else who tries.”​
To this day the myth continues. Father Peter Stravinskas, as editor of Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia, allowed this to be published: “From these authoritative teachings, it would seem clear that there is only one conclusion: anyone who dies without Baptism in the Roman Catholic Church is condemned to hell. For maintaining exactly this conclusion, however, an American Jesuit, Father Leonard Feeney, S.J., was first expelled from the Society of Jesus and then excommunicated in the 1940s.”​
The story may well have ended with the Center closed and its director apparently excommunicated. But with rare foresight and courage, Father Feeney, Catherine Clark and their associates, in the midst of the controversy, formed the religious congregation, The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.​
Sister Catherine in the Epilogue of her book, Gate of Heaven (1951) states that the congregation was founded in “...January, 1949, three months before we were disciplined by our Archbishop for continuing to profess the defined doctrines of the Church on salvation... We were beginning to realize the character of the battle before us, not only for the preservation of the sacred dogmas of the Church, but actually for their restoration. It was to prepare ourselves by prayer and discipline, and to secure graces enough to enable us to face such a battle, that we became a religious order."​
Father Feeney and the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary continued to fearlessly teach the faith “in season and out of season”. For seven years they preached to crowds on Boston Common every Sunday. Through their publishing apostolate they distributed hundreds of thousands of doctrinal and devotional books nation-wide.​
In 1958 the community moved from Cambridge to Still River. Ten years later, in 1968, Sister Catherine Clarke died.​
In 1972 all the apparent censures were lifted from Father Feeney, without his having to retract any of his teachings. Had he been, as some say, “condemned for his doctrine” he would have been required to repudiate his error. The reason for this is clearly stated by Pope Innocent I who taught that “Communion once broken off cannot be renewed until the persons concerned give proof that the reasons for which communion was broken off are no longer operative.” (Emphasis added)
On January 30, 1978, Father Feeney died, a Catholic and a priest in good standing, united to the Church from which, he rightfully claimed, he never had been separated.​
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I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple, alleluia; and all to whom that
water came were saved, and they shall say: alleluia, alleluia.
(The Asperges)


One of the joyful features of Paschaltide is the substitution of singing the Asperges antiphon during the rite of sprinkling holy water (just before the Sunday High Mass) with the Paschal antiphon of Vidi aquam: "I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple, alleluia ; and all to whom that water came were saved, and they shall say : alleluia, allleluia.

Dom Prosper Gueranger explains in The Liturgical Year the sentiments we should have during this significant "rite of purification" that replaces the act of taking holy water from the fonts in the narthex (a custom derived from the Aspergesrite):

During the Asperges [Vidi aquam], let us recall to our minds the Baptism received on Easter Eve by the Neophytes. Let us also think of our own, whereby we were made members of Christ. The water that thus regenerated us was made fruitful by the Blood of the Lamb and by the power of the Holy Ghost." (Emphasis added)
These holy aspirations have an even greater application during Eastertide as seen by the words of the Vidi aquam antiphon, which have a double allusion: the first to Ezekiel's vision (see verse 47 in the book of the same name) and the second to the water and blood that flowed from Christ's body when His side was pierced by a lance.

This symbolism is even furthered by the first ceremonial action of the celebrant when he sprinkles the foot of the altar, which mystically represents the body of Christ and from whose Passion, Death and Resurrection our salvation has been obtained—which the sacrificial stone continues through the supernatural life it gives to souls.

Below we offer the text of the Vidi aquam as well as two musical versions of this beautiful antiphon, the first the usual plainchant sung before Sunday High Mass, and the other a polyphonic adaptation.

Vidi aquam egredientem de templo, a latere dextro, alleluia: et omnes, ad quos pervenit aqua ista, salvi facti sunt, et dicent, alleluia, alleluia.
(Ps. 117) Confitemini Domino quoniam bonus: Quoniam in saeculum misericordia eius.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto: Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula sæculorum. Amen.
The antiphon Vidi aquam is repeated.
I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple, alleluia; and all they to whom that water came were saved, and they shall say, alleluia, alleluia.
(Psalm 117) Praise the Lord, for He is good; For His mercy endureth forever.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.


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Witness the downfall of the Jesuit Order over the following
years culminating in our Jesuit Pope Francis

Fr. Malachi Martin re-visited: Prophetic to a the last tittle


Comment: It is wrong for any catholic to hold any theologian up as infallible, whether one worships +Bellarmine (on the papal question) or +Alphonsus (all moral questions) or St. Thomas (on theological questions). The problem is due to both the chaos in the church and a lack of humility. We’re all tempted to err in this area; post-V2 is like a post-apocalyptic movie where catholic society no longer exists.

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Admin

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The Loyolas and the Cabots pdf attached below is a day by day account of the letters, exchanges, history of the treatment meted out to this courageous priest and those who stood by him.
 

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ambrose

Well-Known Member
wow..informative and thorough piece of work there Admin. Just shows the modernist and enemies of the Church were well and truly active well before 1965.
 

Admin

Administrator
The Church allows theologians to speculate on topics until She speaks definitively on them. So, up until 1441, the Church allowed discussions, theories and debate on areas of BOD. However, in 1441, the Church's ex cathedra, infallible, doctrinal statement at the Council of Florence (see below) is THE END to many of the BOD discussions (Note, I did not say it is the end to "all" BOD discussions. There are still some questions that need to be explained more thoroughly, like what happens to a non-baptised, but justified catholic-studying-catechumen. We do not know this answer, doctrinally. That's why we are free to debate it).

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Cantate Domino,” 1441, ex cathedra:

“The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Church before the end of their lives;...and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”

Any theologian's opinion before 1441 which contradicts the Council of Florence is to be ignored. It's wrong. The Church has spoken! And any theologian, especially the saint, who wants to be in good standing with the Church, always say that their opinions are subject to Rome's authority, and they will recant such opinions if Rome ever declares a doctrine which is in disagreement with theirs. Remember, saints and theologians are not infallible.

As debated here

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Admin

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The Matter of “Baptism of Desire”, -- by Fr James Wathen

...In order to think of the subject of baptism of desire, the following truths are worthy of our reflection:

1. Why angels and men prefer Hell to Heaven is called the Mystery of Iniquity; how angels were and men are saved is called the Salvific Will of God.
2. God's having granted the grace of salvation to the saints from all eternity is called Divine Predestination.
3. The reason for the creation of the material universe is the repopulation of the heavenly court, after the fall of the angels.
4. Almighty God therefore creates men in order to save them.
5. God is absolute goodness and Love Itself; but His ways are inscrutable.
6. God wants the salvation of every man and the damnation of none.
7. God does everything in His power to save every man.
8. If any man is saved, it is because God saved him.
9, If any man is not saved, it is because he chose not to be saved.
10. God cannot bestow Heaven on a man who has no merits, who is not sanctified, even if, in the eyes of humans, he is "a good man."
11. A man cannot be saved outside the Catholic Church, because only the Church can sanctify him.
12. No man goes to Heaven unless he freely chooses it.
13. Even though a man must cooperate with God, he cannot save himself; his salvation is due to God, not himself, because anything in the supernatural order requires divine power.
14. No man goes to Hell unless he freely chooses it.
15. A man does not choose Hell instead of Heaven; he chooses his will instead of God's.
16. A man chooses to go to Hell in this life; he freely chooses to remain in Hell forever.
17. In Hell, no man blames anyone but himself for his damnation.
18. In Hell, they do not hate God, they resist Him; they hate themselves.
19. That in the Providence of God which a man does for his salvation is termed Divine Predestination. This means that God provides all the graces a man needs to be saved because He knew from eternity that the man would accept them.
20. It is the teaching of the Church that God gives to all men sufficient grace for salvation; to those who are saved, He gives efficacious grace.
21, The reason God does not give efficacious grace to those who will be lost is that they would not accept it; this is the same reason God does not give grace to those in Hell.
22. The reason the punishment of Hell is eternal is that neither the demons nor damned humans cease to resist God.
23, God grants the Faith to those who will accept it; those who He knows will not accept it He leaves in ignorance of it; this ignorance is not "invincible;" it is culpable.
24. It is impossible for us to know or to understand God's dealings with all others; we understand poorly God's dealing with ourselves.
25. Even though we can judge that our neighbors are failing to fulfill the requirements for salvation, once they have departed this life, it is impossible to know whether they have been saved or lost.
26. Hell is the necessity of divine justice, which is worthy of all praise.
27. In His passion and death, God revealed with forceful clarity how much He wishes to save every man. He gave expression to this consuming desire when He exclaimed: "I thirst" (Jn. 19:28). He ordained that His legs should not be broken, but that His Heart should be opened that the Church of salvation could be born.
28. The millions who will abide in Limbo forever teach us that no one has the right to the grace of salvation.

Among the many divisions which divide Traditionalist Catholics is that which deals with the Doctrine of Exclusive Salvation ("Outside the Church there is no salvation," Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus). I treated of this Doctrine at great length in my book, Who Shall Ascend?, Part I. Though the effort is far from perfect, I think it is worth reading. What follows is an effort to compress some of the ideas expressed there into a few paragraphs.

The controversy centers on what is required for salvation, particularly, the issue of Baptism. There is a liberal group and a "conservative" group. The liberal group maintains what the Baltimore Catechism teaches, that there are three forms of Baptism: Baptism of water, of blood, and of desire. Those of this persuasion maintain that it is possible for one to be saved without the Sacrament of Baptism (Baptism of water), that what are termed "baptism of blood," the martyrdom of an unbaptized believer, and "baptism of desire," a desire for Baptism. Obviously, the unbaptized martyr has the desire for Baptism (presuming there have been such).

"Baptism of desire" is variously defined. Some think that there has to be a belief in some or all the doctrines of the Catholic religion, implicit or explicit, and a specific desire and/or an intention or resolve to receive Catholic Baptism. Most Catholics nowadays, however, (who give any thought to the matter at all) think that an unbaptized person can and will be saved without any real desire or intention to receive the Sacrament, or enter the Church, provided he is willing to do whatever God requires him to do. The reason he does not do it is that he is ignorant of what God wants him to do. As to what God requires men to do for salvation, from something to nothing, that also is a matter that is open for endless discussion.

Opposed to this position (or these positions) are those who contend that, after faith, the very essential act which God requires for salvation is entrance into the Catholic Church through the reception of the Sacrament of Baptism. This is their understanding of the formula, "Outside the Church, there is no salvation," and of Our Lord's words to Nicodemus: "Amen, Amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom" (Jn. 3:5).

It cannot be denied that the two positions are poles apart. The liberal position boils down to this: God will not deny Heaven to any man who does "the best that he knows how." This means that countless millions of men from every generation and place and race and religion, even atheists, can and will be saved. It includes practically everybody.

Those of the liberal view vehemently deny that their position "boils down" to the foregoing, but, the truth of the matter is, unless one adopts the strict interpretation of Our Lord's words, allowing no exceptions whatsoever, such is the bent of human beings that they will always widen loopholes to allow themselves and others (especially their relatives) the utmost latitude, and they will regard the "strict position" as intolerable and abhorrent.

The purpose of this writing is to deal seriously with the idea of "baptism of desire," which, in the mind of many "conservative-minded" Catholics, means that non-Catholics will be saved who, for want of a priest:

1. Make a perfect act of contrition at the time of their death; and/or:
2. Make an act of faith, wherein they profess belief in the Catholic religion and express to almighty God, implicitly or explicitly, the desire for Baptism.

In support of this position, those who adhere to it refer to the many catechisms which contain it, and to numerous saints who held it, and, the most forceful argument of all: to the fact that the consensus of theologians, living and dead, was that this view should be accepted as proxima fidei, which means that it is "nearly a doctrine."

The problem with this position is that:
1. Several de fide definitions of the Church condemn it.
2. Two canons of the Council of Trent contradict and censure it.
3. There is no foundation in the Scriptures for the idea of "baptism of desire."
4. None of those who promote the idea, which they want to call the "doctrine of baptism of desire," explain how it can have the same effect in the soul as the Sacrament has, that is, how it can dispose one for Heaven.
5. There is no solid evidence that anyone has been saved by "baptism of desire."
6. If one can baptize oneself by "desire," why can one not baptize oneself with water?

When all is said and done, the undeniable fact is that "baptism of desire," which has been spoken of and written about favorably for many centuries, is a product of human creation. It was created "for sentimental reasons" and nothing else. It is an escape from, and a circumvention of, the hard teaching of Christ. His teaching is that, in order to be saved:

1. A person must truly and firmly believe the teaching of the Catholic Church, which is the teaching of His Gospel;
2. He must enter the Church by receiving Baptism, and
3. Having entered the Church, he must keep the Commandments of God and the Precepts of the Church;
4. and attain a certain degree of the love of God, and persevere in this state till the end of his life.

The tradition which created and has maintained the fiction of "baptism of desire" arose from the realization of how few human beings would therefore be saved, a tiny percentage of mankind according to the de fide definitions of the Church. Divine Truth said:

Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!"
Matthew 7:13-14

Isaias counted the saved thus:
And the fruit thereof that shall be left upon it, shall be as one cluster of grapes, and as the shaking of the olive tree, two or three berries in the top of a bough, or four or five upon the top of the tree, saith the Lord the God of Israel. Isaias 17:6

If the generative idea of "baptism of desire" is the alarm at the recognition of the fewness of the saved, the major premise which supports it is "invincible ignorance." Where "desire" takes the place of the water of Baptism, "invincible ignorance" takes the place of faith, and "good will" or "sincerity" takes the place of supernatural charity – the love of the Triune God in Christ. The thesis goes like this: God is infinitely good and merciful. He desires the salvation of every man. He will, therefore, save everyone He can. Therefore, in all cases where men do not know what they must do for salvation, it is within His power to waive the requirements which He Himself laid down in the Gospel. It is within His power to supply whatever is wanting, so long as the man is sincerely ignorant and perfectly willing to do whatever is required for salvation. His problem is invincible: through no fault of his own, he simply does not know what God wants him to do.

Another form of the thesis is: God is infinitely good and merciful. He desires the salvation of every man. In the case where a man (like a catechumen) accepts the Faith, dies before he can receive Baptism, He waives the need thereof. Exponents of this thesis love to quote the Scripture which says: "Behold the hand of the Lord is not shortened that it cannot save, neither is his ear heavy that it cannot hear" (Isaias 59:1).

The problem with this thesis is that it is human reasoning, not supernatural mystery, which is why there is nothing in the Scriptures which bespeaks or validates it. It contradicts directly and completely the words of Christ, Who is the Savior of the world. Nor is there anything in the Scriptures or Sacred Tradition which explains how God can waive His own requisites for salvation. His requirements are not merely a list of items which have no significance, not purely arbitrary hurdles, which have somehow to be surmounted or put aside.

The liberal view conceives the prerequisites for salvation as a kind of ticket of admission into Heaven. If almighty God determines in a particular case that the ticket is not required, since Heaven is His, it is within His right and power simply to dispense with the need of a ticket. The result of this divine openhandedness (and contradictoriness) is, obviously, that the number of those conceivably admitted into Heaven without a ticket exceeds the number of those who have one so greatly as to make having a ticket pointless. (Some people from Mexico are going through the process of naturalization, while their fellow countrymen are swarming over the Rio Grande.) To abandon the simile, the result is to make all those who have had the Faith, and struggled with the greatest difficulty to practice it, history's biggest fools, supreme among these being the great saints and martyrs who suffered incalculable labors, trials, privations, and most painful tortures, with the absurd notion that God required these things of them for salvation.

In the prosaic image given above, the only relevant difference between those who have a ticket and those who do not is the ticket itself, as in the case of those entering an arena or a theater. In reality, the fulfillment of the requisites for salvation determines the nature of the person who is either to be admitted into Heaven and him who will not be. The person who has fulfilled the conditions laid down by Christ in the Scriptures is one who has been so transformed that he is worthy of Heaven and belongs there; whereas any person who has not fulfilled these requirements is not worthy of it and can make no claim to belong there, and the only way that he may become worthy is by their fulfillment. God Himself is no more able to waive the requirements for salvation than He can lie. To dispense with the requirements in the case of one person would not only be an act of deception, it would be a contradiction in terms.

This is why the Church, at the Council of Trent, says that the Sacrament of Baptism is necessary with "the necessity of means." Hereby the Church is saying that the Sacrament is as necessary as the soul is necessary for a living man. We say that infants and those who never reach the use of reason cannot go to Heaven without Baptism, even though nothing else but Baptism is required of them for salvation, because they are capable of nothing else. This means that the one and only thing required of such individuals is entrance into the Church.

The reason we say all this is that it is not a ticket which is essential for Heaven; it is a spiritual transformation, a quasi-divinization, and divine adoption.... The spiritual act whereby a man bestows "baptism of desire" upon himself can have one effect only: an act of contrition or an act of faith accompanied by the willingness to do whatever God requires of him for salvation can bring about the forgiveness of his sins, both original and actual; nothing more. This is called the state of justification. It means that the individual is "out of debt" toward almighty God. He is, so to speak, "out of the red and in the black," but he has no credits; no liabilities, no assets; fit for Limbo, but not for Heaven. More accurately, he is still nothing more than a natural man, instead of a fallen man. For salvation, one must be a "supernatural man," "another Christ," a partaker of the divine nature of Christ, the God-Man. He must be conformed to Christ, he must be able to claim the infinite merits of Christ as his own; he must be a sanctified man, endowed with the virtues of Christ, a man who "deserves" the ineffable reward of Heaven, the everlasting vision of God.

It is impossible for a sinful man to bestow these properties and rights upon himself. Those who believe that there is such a thing as "baptism of desire" do not realize how great a thing the granting of salvation is, or even the grace of the Sacrament of Baptism.
The Doctrine of Exclusive Salvation cannot be understood, because, like all of the sacred doctrines, it is a mystery. The mystery here is how it is just and loving on the part of God to establish such a dispensation whereby such a small number of human beings will be saved, even though anyone can be saved who wants to be.

The reason that, in this regard, we cannot speak of "invincible ignorance" is that God has all power to speak to every human being as directly as he speaks to himself, by the Holy Ghost. If God wants to tell him anything, He can do it by an internal voice; that He does speak to His beloved children in this way, everyone who has the Faith can testify. (He speaks to us all the time!) We must conclude that if anyone does not "get the message," it can only be because he chooses not to listen to it, or believe it.

The idea that an individual died before he was able to receive the Sacrament of Baptism is equally curious, because it is God who determines how long each of us shall live to the second. And it is God Who in His most benevolent Providence grants Baptism to everyone who receives it. Is He a monster (for Whom nothing is impossible or difficult) who instructs certain individuals in the absolute necessity of Baptism, grants them the grace of wishing it, then cuts off their life so that they can never receive it? And then casts them into Hell forever for not having received it? No, on the very contrary. He is an all-loving God, Who most certainly provides to the responsive all that is needful to them. If they are truly desirous of Baptism, if need be, He will provide it, even by a miracle. (It is a miracle to us, but not to Him.) This is what the Scripture means when it says, "The hand of the Lord is not shortened" (Isaias 59:1).

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