Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Sacrament of Baptism vs Penance: Precept and Means

       A point of  distinction  must be made between the necessity of Baptism and the necessity of the Sacrament of Penance, for our salvation. Baptism is wholly necessary, and the Sacrament of Penance is only provisionally necessary. Confession of one's sins is necessary but not a necessity of means, for salvation. It is necessary by the necessity of precept BUT  Baptism is necessary by the necessity of means and precept, together.

If you do not receive Baptism of Water, you cannot be saved, whether you were "guilty" or not "guilty"
for not having received it. If it was not your "fault" that you did not receive it, then you can't go to Heaven. You are lacking something required for Heaven. You did not add your own positive rejection of the requirement so as to give you a positive deficiency. Yours is a permanent lack of something required for eternal salvation. This may seem cruel but one's way of life of sin formed barrier to receiving the grace to seek your salvation, so indirectly one has rejected it.. For Jesus says all that seek find and all that knock it is opened to them.

With regard to the Sacrament of Penance, a man in the state of mortal sin is required to confess that mortal sin. If he should make a perfect act of love in the meantime, that mortal sin is forgiven, but the confessing of it is still required.

If a man should commit a mortal sin, and then elicit a perfect act of love of God, which included the intention to confess his sin, and then later went to Confession and refused to confess the sin he had been forgiven because of the act of perfect love, he would never get that sin back again. But he would get a new sin for failing to confess the old one, and that would be a new mortal sin. And that mortal sin would send him to Hell, if he died in that state.

If a man in the state of mortal sin made a perfect act of love of God, and intended to confess his mortal sin, but died before the priest reached him, he would have died before he received a sacrament which was necessary by precept, but not a sacrament which was necessary by the necessity of both precept and means. Penance is not of its essence a salvational sacrament. It is a sacrament of justification, or rather, of re-justification for those who are baptized. Baptism is the sacrament of justification and salvation in one sheer act where both these needs exist, and of salvation alone, if justification has preceded it.

What is necessity of means in a sacramental requirement? Necessity of means means, if you have not got the requirement, whether you are to blame or whether you are not to blame, you are missing something necessary. If you are not to blame, it is just sad. And if you are to blame, so much the worse!

Necessity of precept means, that if you have not fulfilled a requirement, and you are not to blame for not fulfilling it, then it is all right, provided you have taken care of it in another way and provided there is another way to take care of it.

If you have fulfilled a Divine precept in another way, you are still required to fulfill it literally in the way Christ prescribed, when you can. In case you cannot, there is no need to worry.

Baptism is necessary for salvation by a necessity of means. This necessity is imposed on all men, including infants.

Baptism is necessary for salvation by a necessity of both means and precept for adults, who are not yet baptized.

Unbaptized infants who die go to Limbo, which is a sort of Hell because they lose the possibility of the Beatific Vision. Notice, they do not go to  the Hell of torment, they only  lose of the Beatific Vision, but live in a natural paradise. Also notice, they do not go to Heaven.

Unbaptized adults who die go to Hell. Notice they do not go either to Limbo or to Heaven. Those who live without the sacraments, morally can't live without mortal sin.

And, just as the necessity of Baptism for salvation is insisted on by the Church, so is the necessity of explicit Faith on the part of any adult who is going to be baptized. Under Pope Clement XI in 1703, when the missionary movement to "ignorant natives" was at its height, all missionaries were explicitly forbidden by the Holy Office to baptize even a barbarian, even if he was dying, unless they elicited from him an explicit act of belief in Jesus Christ. Nor was it enough, declared the Holy Office, for this barbarian to know that God exists and is a remunerator. He must be told all the central mysteries of the Faith that derive from the Blessed Trinity and the Incarnation. The Holy Office also declared that a knowledge of these mysteries was necessary for salvation by a necessity of means:

Response of the Sacred Office to the Bishop of Quebec, Jan. 25, 1703:
“Q. Whether a minister is bound, before baptism is conferred on an adult, to explain to him all the mysteries of our faith, especially if he is at the point of death, because this might disturb his mind.  Or, whether it is sufficient, if the one at the point of death will promise that when he recovers from the illness, he will take care to be instructed, so that he might put into practice what has been commanded him.
    “A.  A promise is not sufficient, but a missionary is bound to explain to an adult, even a dying one who is not entirely incapacitated, the mysteries of faith which are necessary by a necessity of means, as are especially the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation.”[Denzinger 1349a]

     Another question was posed at the same time and answered the same way.

            Response of the Sacred Office to the Bishop of Quebec, Jan. 25, 1703:
“Q. Whether it is possible for a crude and uneducated adult, as it might be with a barbarian, to be baptized, if there were given him only an understanding of God and some of His attributes… although he does not believe explicitly in Jesus Christ.
    “A.  A missionary should not baptize one who does not believe explicitly in the Lord Jesus Christ, but is bound to instruct him about all those matters which are necessary, by a necessity of means, in accordance with the capacity of the one to be baptized.”[Denzinger 1349b]

If you were to say, "Does it not seem odd that unbaptized children should never see the face of God?" It does seem odd, according to human standards. We only know what covenants God has made. We must seek first the Kingdom of God and His justice as He revealed it, and let Him add His mercies, by Himself. We are servants of God, not His counselor. "Who hath been His counselor?" Isaias inquires in Holy Scripture, in scorn and indignation! (Isa. 40:13.)

It might even be that it were better for a particular child to die before Baptism, and go to Limbo. Perhaps that child, if baptized, might have grown up and committed heinous mortal sins, and be hurled into positive Hell. We do not know.

God knows, and God is more merciful than we are, and His mercies are not in the least clouded by fallen nature, we simply need  to try to fulfill His justices as He has revealed it, not demand  rights on His Mercies.

Another point which we must make in distinction between the necessity of Baptism and the necessity of the Sacrament of Penance, for our salvation. is this: Baptism is wholly necessary, and the Sacrament of Penance is only provisionally necessary.

    You never have to go to Confession unless you have committed a mortal sin. Were it to be that you never had committed a mortal sin in your whole life, you would never have needed to go to Confession in your whole life by virtue of any precept. It might be well for you to go to Confession, under this circumstance, by way of counsel, to confess your venial sins, and to help keep you from committing mortal sin, but there is no positive precept requiring anyone who has never committed a mortal sin to go to Confession at any time. With regard to the commandment of the Church by which we are required, under pain of mortal sin, to confess our sins at least once a year: we do not violate this commandment by failing to confess our sins if we have no mortal sins on our soul.

    Theoretically, therefore, we could get into Heaven without ever going to Confession—if we never committed a mortal sin. There have been some saints who never committed a mortal sin in their whole lives. If they went to Confession, it was because they wanted to go, not because they were required to go by virtue of precept.

    And so, with regard to the commandment to confess our sins once a year, and with regard to the general precept to confess our mortal sins, the proviso must always be added: in case you have committed a mortal sin.

    With regard to Baptism, the outlook is completely different, we are not told we must be baptized in case we are in original sin. It is of the Faith that everyone of us was born in the state of original sin. We come into this world guilty enough, because of our birth, to need the waters of Baptism.

    These waters of Baptism are so all-embracing in their necessity that we cannot even presume to go to Confession until this Baptism has been administered. And we are not allowed to tell in Confession any sin committed before we were baptized, because Baptism administered in the case of an adult washes away not only original sin—of which everyone is guilty—but also actual sins, in case there are any on the catechumen's soul.

    Let us suppose that a man has elicited an act of perfect love of God before he has received Baptism. It is only theoretical if such acts of love are even practically possible, or in any sense too likely, at least since the days of Pentecost.

    But, let us suppose an act of perfect love has occurred in a man's soul. Can this man be said to be freed from original sin by this perfect act of love of God? He cannot, in the true and full sense. There has not been imprinted on his soul, by reason of this perfect act of love of God, the character which Baptism imprints, to seal him as redeemed, and outfit him for the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

His perfect act of love of God, has freed him from the effects of original sin, namely, the absence of sanctifying grace, but was not freed from the obligation to go on and secure a title to the Beatific Vision. Is this possible? In the Council of Trent it is written that nothing is wanting in a soul that is justified, after the proclamation of the Gospel at Pentacost, but if nothing is wanting then how does he get the Baptismal Seal?

    Even Adam, in the state of original justice, was not entitled to the Beatific Vision. Adam, in the state of sanctifying grace, without original sin, fully sanctified as far as guiltlessness could go, was still required to observe God's command not to eat of the fruit from a forbidden tree—before he could be saved!

    It is not justice alone that saves us. It is justice, allied to the positive commands of God!

        Let us suppose a man receives Baptism for an evil purpose. Let us suppose he receives that Baptism sinfully. Let us suppose he receives that Baptism just to marry  for money, just to make money, just to have his name written in the Baptismal book so he could do more business.

    As long as that man intends to receive Baptism, he is freed from original sin!

    Does he go into a state of justification? He does not. The intention for which he received Baptism puts him immediately in the state of positive mortal sin. But the fact that he intended to receive Baptism rids him of original sin. Were he then to go to Confession, the only sin he would be required to confess would be the sin of sacrilegious reception of Baptism, not the sin of having simply received it, nor his sins before Baptism.

    With regard to his other sins, they would have been blotted out forever, without confessing them. He might need now to add the attrition required for the forgiveness of sins, but he would not need to add the confession. And even this malefactor were he later, by Confession, to get into the state of sanctifying grace, would now without further Baptism, be entitled to receive the Blessed Eucharist-- no unbaptized person has that right— no matter how " justified he is by acts of perfect love"—apart from the waters of Baptism. (see post on the Seal of Baptism, which has more documentation)

    It is an old saying of the Church, and a true one, given to us by our Holy Mother, that the law of praying is the law of believing. Or, as it is put in Latin, Lex orandi est lex credendi.

    Where better could we learn how the law of praying is the law of believing than in the central structural prayers of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? To show you how salvation-minded our Holy Mother the Church is, for those who have passed the catechumen stage and have been admitted through the doors of Baptism into the sanctuary of her love in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, here is the way our Holy Mother tells her priest to pray at the Offertory of every Mass in the Traditional Latin Mass, when he is offering the host to the Eternal Father as the bread which is soon to be transubstantiated into the Body of Jesus:

        "Receive, O holy Father, almighty and eternal God, this spotless host, which I, Thy unworthy servant, offer unto Thee, my living and true God, for mine own countless sins, offenses, and negligences, and for all here present; as also for all faithful Christians living and dead, that it may avail both for my own and their salvation unto life everlasting."

    Did you notice here the intense salvational purpose of the Mass? Did you notice here how the priest prays to be included in its election? And did you not also clearly notice those who are excluded?

    Here is how the priest, just before the Canon of the Mass, makes his prayer of oblation of the bread and wine, and of himself and of his washed hands:

        "Receive, O Holy Trinity, this oblation which we make to Thee in remembrance of the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in honor of Blessed Mary ever Virgin, of Blessed John the Baptist, the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints that it may avail to their honor and our salvation: and, that they may vouchsafe to intercede for us in heaven, whose memory we celebrate on earth. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen."

    Who are those who still need to be saved? Who are being congratulated for having been saved? And do you notice the Mother, the Precursor, and the key Apostles of Jesus, put in one little group as the pure fruits of the Saviour's life and death? Are we not asking those who have been saved to save us who are still waiting for it?

Even in the Novus Ordo Mass the priest says:
"we pray now for those marked by the sign of Faith" Baptism is the Sacrament of Faith, which gives the mark/seal of Faith.

    There is only one Name by which we are saved, and it is the Name of Jesus. It was the Name which the angel told Our Lady and her most chaste spouse, Saint Joseph, that they should give to Jesus, not when He was born, but when He was circumcised—in the "baptism" of the Old Testament.

       Our Lord said, "Unless a man be born of water and the Holy Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven." This water means literally water, poured on you, sprinkled on you, or into which you are immersed. Our Lord can speak metaphorically, as must everyone who speaks at all, at times. But with regard to this water, He is not so speaking. Nothing in His utterance indicates this; nothing in the practice of the Church vouchsafes it; and nothing in the teachings of the Doctors or the definitions of the Popes, the behavior of the Apostles, or the manner of dying of the martyrs, will allow the water Christ refers to, to be other than the water of the kind He was immersed in the River Jordan, when His Father's voice was saying, "This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." (Matt. 3:17.)

    When you hear a theologian saying, "I know that was what Christ said, but first we must understand what He means," you know you have a skeptic on your hands, who is trying to improve on the utterances of Jesus. He is implicitly telling you that Jesus gave us vague notions as to what Baptism meant, and that he (the theologian) is now going to clarify this matter.

    He will then say to you, "Well, how were the souls in the Old Testament saved, before Baptism was instituted?"

    You reply to him, "There were no souls saved in the Old Testament. They had to wait in Limbo for the coming of Christ."

    He will then say, indignantly, "Well, how were they justified? Was it not without Baptism?"

    And you will say, "Obviously, if Baptism had not yet been instituted!"

    He will then say, "Well, cannot you be justified in the New Testament without Baptism?"

    The answer to this is, "Suppose you can?"

    He will then say, "If you die in the state of justification, without yet being baptized, are you not saved?"

    You answer him, "No, he is not. That is your reasoning in the matter. That is not Christ's statement."

    And if he persists in saying, "Well, where does one go who dies in the state of justification which has been achieved without Baptism?"—

You say "He does not go to Heaven."

Your opponant will say "why not?"

    And if he goes on to yell at you angrily, "Where are you going to send him—to Hell?", say: "No, I am not going to send him to Hell because I am not the Judge of the living and the dead. I am going to say what Christ said, 'He cannot go into Heaven unless he is baptized by water.'  Why I don't know, but I know only what was revealed"

    It is important also to add, "I am making an act of Faith. You are not. I believe in Baptism because Christ revealed it, not because I have also figured it out by my own notion concerning the intrinsic requirements for justification."

The reasons for a thing being so, are not the true motives of Faith.  "Also  I believe that the reasons against a thing being so, are not the true defenses of Faith. There is only one true defense for the Catholic Faith, namely: That is not what Christ said."

    There is no one about to die in the state of justification whom God cannot secure Baptism for, and indeed, Baptism of Water. The schemes concerning salvation, we leave  this to the skeptics. The clear  truths  of salvation, we must preach.

    If the Liberal theologians are going to end up by handing us a group of justified people who have not yet been baptized, who have to go to Heaven because they cannot go to Hell, we must  hand them right back to the Liberal theologians to take care of it, because we have no evidence they even exist.


    Here is a brief catechism line-up, in case you would like to brush up on what has been said:

    Q. Can anyone now be saved without Baptism of Water?
    A. No one can be saved without Baptism of Water.

    Q. Are the souls of those who die in the state of justification saved, if they have not received Baptism of Water?
    A. No. They are not saved.

    Q. Where do these souls go if they die in the state of justification but have not received Baptism of Water?
    A. I do not know.

    Q. Do they go to Hell?
    A. No.

    Q. Do they go to Heaven?
    A. No.

    Q. Are there any such souls?
    A. I do not know! Neither do you.

    Q. What are we to say to those who believe there are such souls ?
    A. We must say to them that they are making reason prevail over Faith, and the laws of probability over the Providence of God.

     Liberal theologians, when it suits them, are making perfect acts of love of God altogether too easy for a fallen nature like ours.

    It isn't as difficult for a Catholic who has fallen into mortal sin, who, through his divine gift of Faith from Baptism, remembers his Holy Communions, his Blessed Mother, his past confessions, God's rich forgivenesses in the sacraments, to make an act of perfect love, as for a catechumen, who has not had yet the benefit of one of God's sanctifying sacraments. But the very fact that the Church requires every mortal sin committed to be confessed, whether one is perfectly sorry for it or not, shows the Church has a maternal suspicion of this perfect act of love of God obtaining forgiveness apart from the Sacrament of forgiveness instituted by Christ.

      That is all that can be said for our unaided love. It is only when God's own Love in Person comes down and inhabits us that our love can truly be called eternal. And the Holy Spirit is not interested in our love until the waters of regeneration have flowed on us. At the same Baptism where our Saviour was being washed with the waters of the Jordan by Saint John the Baptist, and where the Father's voice was audible, and was heard saying, "This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased," the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Love of God, became visible as a dove.

    Do not think, that the waters of the world which God took such great care in making and arranging in the initial days of creation, were not made for some supreme purpose. They were not made for mere reservoir reasons. They were made for redemptional reasons. They were meant to be the waters of salvation. And that is why, for all the monotonous simplicity that that water has in itself, God the Father has given it such variety and importance.

    There is not one place in the world where you could go and say, even to the most ignorant native, "You must be baptized by water and the Holy Spirit," and hear him reply, "What is water?"

    Water is the greatest physical need our nature has by way of refreshment. When men lie on the hot sands of the desert, parched and feverish, they do not cry out for money or gold or diamonds or any fantastic forms of food. They cry for water.

    Water is somehow the history of the world: in the Flood; in the passage of the Chosen People through the Red Sea; and in all journeys, discoveries and explorations. It is impossible to spoil water, for no matter how much filth you pour into it, you need only drop it on the earth and let it sink into the ground, and it will purify itself and return to you in the spring and fountain, as pure and virginal as it was originally created.

    Indescribable as this essentially colorless, odorless, tasteless, and unshaped substance is, God lets it roam through our world in all manners and varieties so as to give interest and color and light to our thoughts and prepare them for the initial overture of salvation. A dehydrated mind cannot function physically, cannot think imaginatively, and cannot be saved.

    "As the hart panteth after the fountains of water, so my soul panteth after Thee, O God!" (Ps. 41:2.)

    Water supplies us with a whole reservoir of thoughts and words so that Christianity shall have a vocabulary which the world could never improve on. Water is the brook and the well and the spring and the fountain and the pond and the lake and the river and the gulf and the strait and the bay and the sea and the ocean. Yes, and water is the whirlpool and the eddy and the falls and the torrent and the geyser. It is surf, foam, breaker, wave, roller, brine, mist, dew. It is hail, snow, frost, slush, and sleet. It is ice, icicle and iceberg; rainbow, cloud, and steam. The swimmer dives and splashes in it. The sailor travels on it. Water is what makes things damp, wet, and soggy; and it sprinkles the world, laves it, and rinses it, for there is never an end to what it can do.

    Water is one of the world's greatest natural mysteries. And when God's only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, entered our world to talk our language and take us on our own terms, He used as the first instrument of our sanctification that which was most natural for us to know and understand. He saw water all around us and did not despise it. He turned it into the child's Sacrament, the same Jesus who said, "Unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." (Matt. 18:3.) He took water and sanctified it with spiritual power. He transformed it into the Sacrament of Baptism, by the union of water and the Holy Ghost.

    When Christ died on the Cross, and the centurion pierced His side with a spear, there flowed out blood and water. (John 19:34.) All Christ's blood flowed out for our salvation. A little water followed, to indicate the simple requirement of Baptism. Imagine blood and water ever having any higher meaning in the whole of Holy Scripture than they have as they flow from the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

    Saint John, the beloved disciple, was the one who saw this blood and water flow from the heart of Our Saviour after He had died:

        John 19:35. And he that saw it, hath given testimony; and his testimony is true. And he knoweth that he saith true; that you also may believe.

    It is the same Beloved Disciple who concludes his beautiful revelation from God known as the Apocalypse, with these words and so ends the whole of Holy Scripture:

        Apoc 22:1. And he showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb....
        11. He that hurteth, let him hurt still: and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is just, let him be justified still: and he that is holy, let him be sanctified still....
        14. Blessed are they that wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb: that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city.
        15. Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and unchaste, and murderers, and servers of idols, and every one that loveth and maketh a lie.
        16. I Jesus have sent my angel, to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the root and stock of David, the bright and morning star.
        17. And the spirit and the bride say: Come. And he that heareth, let him say: Come. And he that thirsteth, let him come: and he that will, let him take the water of life, freely.
        18. For I testify to every one that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book.
        19. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from these things that are written in this book.
        20. He that giveth testimony of these things, saith, Surely I come quickly: Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
        21. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.