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Archive for the ‘St. Alphonsus Liguori’ Category

After my podcast on Feeneyism, the Feeneyites have come out of the cracks to attack Baptism of Desire.

One of their fundamental errors is failing to make the distinction between making an error over an opinion and actually teaching heresy.

Popes, saints, and theologians most certainly can err over theological opinions, but they can’t err against a dogma and remain Catholic. Feeneyites will say St. Alphonsus was a material heretic and/or erred innocently. They won’t apply that same courtesy to the Vatican 2 popes (if sedes.) When the Vatican 2 popes error against the faith, it’s malicious, but when great popes and saints do the exact same thing, it’s not malicious. 

St. Alphonsus Liguori taught two things that Feeneyites call heresy. I dealt with one of those issues over 4 years ago here.

The second issue concerns the faith and what is needed to be saved. Feeneyites profess that it’s dogmatic that those who are of the age of reason absolutely must have explicit faith in the essential mysteries of faith to be saved. 

However, Catholicism is clear that it’s not dogmatic. It’s a theological opinion. This opinion is broken down into different classes of necessity.  

The Catholic Encyclopedia explains: In relation to the means necessary to salvation theologians divide necessity into necessity of means and necessity of precept. In the first case the means is so necessary to salvation that without it (absolute necessity) or its substitute (relative necessity), even if the omission is guiltless, the end cannot be reached. Thus faith and baptism of water are necessary by a necessity of means, the former absolutely, the latter relatively, for salvation. In the second case, necessity is based on a positive precept, commanding something the omission of which, unless culpable, does not absolutely prevent the reaching of the end.

According to Feeneyites, the above teaching from the Catholic Encyclopedia is heretical for denying that the Sacrament of Baptism is a necessity of means for salvation.

The faith that’s a necessity of means can be broken down even further. St. Alphonsus taught that it’s “sufficiently probable – that by necessity of precept all are bound to believe these Mysteries explicitly; but by necessity of means, it suffices if they be believed implicitly.” 

Those same Feeneyites must call St. Alphonsus a formal heretic, since he’s contradicting their believed “dogma” that explicit faith is a necessity of means. 

St. Alphonsus Liguori taught in Theologia Moralis, Lib. II, tract. 1, cap. 1 

1.  Which mysteries must be believed by a necessity of means?

Of those things which the faithful are bound to believe explicitly, some must be believed by a necessity of means, or end; without which, even if inculpably unknown, no one can obtain the ultimate end; others, by a necessity of precept, without which, if they be inculpably omitted, the ultimate end may be obtained. — Sanchez, Azor, Valentia. By a necessity of means these two things are necessary: (1) To believe explicitly that God is, and is a rewarder of the good; according to that of the Apostle to the Hebrews, xi. 6: One must believe. Council of Trent. (2) After the sufficient promulgation of the Gospel, to believe explicitly, as says Molina; or at least implicitly, as some teach as probable with Coninck and Laymann, in Christ and the Most Holy Trinity.  See Escobar, where from Vasquez he teaches that culpable ignorance of these mysteries, or negligence in learning them, is a grave sin, distinct from that which is its cause.  See Diana. It is a theological virtue, infused by God, inclining us to firmly assent, on account of the divine veracity, to all that God has revealed, and by the Church has proposed to our belief.  It is said (1) A theological virtue, that is, which has God for its object; for faith, as also hope and charity, is aimed directly at God, and thus differs from the moral virtues, which refer to Him indirectly.  (2) Infused by God; because faith is a supernatural gift of God.  (3) Inclining us to firmly believe; for the assent of faith cannot be joined with fear, as was wrongly said in proposition 21 proscribed by Innocent XI, but must be absolutely firm.  (4) On account of the divine veracity.  For the infallible truth (which is God Himself) is the formal object of faith. (5) To all that God has revealed; for everything revealed by God is the material object of faith.  (6) And by the Church has proposed to our belief; for the divine revelation would not be made known to us, except by the Church, which proposes the things revealed; as it is otherwise evident, on account of the signs of credibility (among which are prophecies, miracles, the constancy of the Martyrs, and such like), that the Church can neither deceive nor be deceived.  Apart from which St. Augustine famously uttered the saying: I would not believe the Gospel, unless the authority of the Catholic Church so moved me.

2.  Whether the mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation must be believed explicitly?

It is asked: whether the Mysteries of the Most Holy Trinity and the Incarnation, after the promulgation of the Gospel, must be believed with an explicit faith by necessity of means or of precept?

The first opinion, which is more common and seems more probable, teaches that they are to be believed by a necessity of means. Thus hold Sanchez, Valentia, Molina, Continuator Tournely, Juenin, Antoine, Wigandt, Concina with Ledesma, Serra, Prado, etc.; also Salmant., Cuniliati and Roncaglia. But these last three say, that accidentally and in a rare case one may be justified with a faith that is only implicit. — This they prove from the Scriptures, from which they say is clearly proved the necessity of means.  They prove it also from reason: for, granting that before the promulgation of the Gospel an implicit faith in Christ was sufficient, yet after the promulgation, because the state of grace is more perfect, a more perfect knowledge is required, indeed an explicit faith in Christ and the Trinity.

The second opinion, which is also sufficiently probable, says, that by necessity of precept all are bound to believe these Mysteries explicitly; but by necessity of means, it suffices if they be believed implicitly. — Thus Dominicus Soto, where he says: Although the precept of explicit faith (that is, in the Trinity and the Incarnation) is absolutely obligatory upon the whole world, nevertheless many may be excused from this obligation on account of invincible ignorance.  Franciscus Sylvius writes: After the sufficient promulgation of the Gospel, explicit faith in the Incarnation is necessary for all for salvation by a necessity of precept, and indeed also (as is probable) by a necessity of means.  And in the conclusion that follows, he says the same about the mystery of the Trinity.  Cardinal Gotti says: I say (1The opinion which denies that explicit faith in Christ and the Trinity is so necessary, that without it no one can be justified, or be able to be saved, is very probable.  And he asserts that Scotus holds this opinion.  Eusebius Amort, the recent and most learned writer, defends absolutely the same opinion.  Elbel writes, that today this opinion is held by the illustrious Doctors Castropalao, Viva, Sporer, Laymann, who says this (second opinion) is not less probable than the first, with Richardo, Medina, Vega, Sa, and Turriano. — Cardinal de Lugo calls the first opinion speculatively probable [footnote: Or more correctly: Lugo n. 90, calls the first opinion fairly common], but defends absolutely and in great detail this second one as more probable, with Javello, Zumel, and Suarez; and de Lugo writes, that this same opinion appears to be that of St. Thomas, where the Holy Doctor says: Before Baptism, Cornelius and others like him receive grace and virtues, through their faith in Christ and their desire for Baptism, implicit or explicit.  From which Lugo argues: as Cornelius obtained grace through implicit faith, because the Gospel was not yet perfectly promulgated in that region, likewise he can obtain it who is invincibly ignorant of these mysteries; for likewise to these the Gospel is not sufficiently promulgated.

But they say it is repugnant to the divine goodness and providence, to damn adults who are invincibly ignorant, who live honestly according to the light of nature, against which there is: In every nation, he who fears Him, and works justice, is acceptable to Him? (Acts x. 35) — Indeed they respond that all Scriptures, and testimonies of the Holy Fathers that are opposed to this view, can easily be explained as of necessity of precept: either because ordinarily almost no one can be saved without explicit faith in these Mysteries, because after the promulgation of the Gospel almost no one labors under invincible ignorance of them; or because, says Lugo, they may be explained as referring to implicit faith, or explicit in desire. — Furthermore, says Laymann, an adult, if mute and deaf from birth, though he be baptized, could not receive the other Sacraments, although he so desired; indeed he could not be saved, because it is unbelievable that such a man could rightly apprehend and explicitly believe the mystery of the Incarnation, and especially of the Trinity.

It is noted by Tannerus, Silvius, Azor and Valentia, with Gulielmo Parisiensi according to Sanchez, that if one were so very untaught, that he could not grasp these mysteries, then he would be excused on account of inability, and compared to infants, and dunces. — But Sanchez says, that it is one thing to believe, another to know the mysteries, and to give an explanation of them.  Thus he thinks that all adults are bound by a necessity of means, to eventually believe such mysteries, but by a necessity of precept to know them; from which precept to know the slow of mind are excused; and he says that the authors cited are to be understood in this way.  And he concludes with Gabriele, who says: It is sufficient … for them (that is, the untaught), that … they explicitly believe individual [articles] when proposed to them.

However, propositions 64 and 65 condemned by Innocent XI, say: A man is capable of being absolved, however ignorant he may be of the mysteries of faith, and even if through negligence, even culpable, he does not know the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity and the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ — It suffices that he should have believed them once; but Viva says with Marchant, that it is probably not necessary to repeat Confessions made in ignorance of the aforesaid Mysteries; since by the aforementioned opinion it is quite probable that they were valid, if the ignorance was inculpable.  For it is certain, that such ignorance, if it be vincible, is a mortal sin.  But the aforesaid proposition was justly condemned, because it said that even he is capable of being absolved, who at the time of confession suffers from ignorance of the aforesaid mysteries. — But the opinion of Father Viva is not sufficiently probable in my view.  For although the penitent probably made a valid confession, so that afterwards he appears exempt from repeating his confession, because he confessed in good faith before; yet out of respect for him who certainly sinned gravely, it should always be urged that above all one is obliged to make a confession, not only probably, but certainly valid.  On which account, when one becomes aware that his confession was possibly valid, but also possibly null, because of ignorance of the mysteries of the Most Holy Trinity or the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, he is obliged, after he has been instructed in these Mysteries, to repeat his confession.

Moreover, he is said to believe implicitly, who believes something explicitly, in which another thing is implicit; for example, if you believe what the Church believes.  See the Scholastics and Laymann. [1]

 

Footnote

[1] https://archive.org/details/theologiamoralis01ligu_0/page/212/mode/2up

 

 

 

 

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One of my favorite books is The Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liquori.

 

By law, there are no excuses for clergy not knowing the dogmas on the sacrament of water baptism and outside the Church there is no salvation. Therefore, clerics who deny these dogmas could only be called formal heretics. Yet, we have many popes and saints who rightly taught the doctrine of Baptisms of Desire and Blood. One of those great saints is St. Alphonsus Liquori, (1696-1775 Doctor of the Church) who taught in his Moral Theology, Bk. 6, n. 95-7. Concerning Baptism:

Baptism, therefore, coming from a Greek word that means ablution or immersion in water, is distinguished into Baptism of water [“fluminis”], of desire [“flaminis” = wind] and of blood.

We shall speak below of Baptism of water, which was very probably instituted before the passion of Christ the Lord, when Christ was baptised by John. But Baptism of desire is perfect conversion to God by contrition or love of God above all things accompanied by an explicit or implicit desire for true Baptism of water, the place of which it takes as to the remission of guilt, but not as to the impression of the [baptismal] character or as to the removal of all debt of punishment. It is called “of wind” [“flaminis”] because it takes place by the impulse of the Holy Ghost who is called a wind [“flamen”]. Now it is de fide that men are also saved by Baptism of desire, by virtue of the Canon Apostolicam, “de presbytero non baptizato” and of the Council of Trent, session 6, Chapter 4 where it is said that no one can be saved “without the laver of regeneration or the desire for it”.

Baptism of blood is the shedding of one’s blood, i.e. death, suffered for the Faith or for some other Christian virtue. Now this Baptism is comparable to true Baptism because, like true Baptism, it remits both guilt and punishment as it were ex opere operato. I say as it were because martyrdom does not act by as strict a causality [“non ita stricte”] as the sacraments, but by a certain privilege on account of its resemblance to the passion of Christ. Hence martyrdom avails also for infants seeing that the Church venerates the Holy Innocents as true martyrs. That is why Suarez rightly teaches that the opposing view [i.e. the view that infants are not able to benefit from Baptism of blood – translator] is at least temerarious. In adults, however, acceptance of martyrdom is required, at least habitually from a supernatural motive.

It is clear that martyrdom is not a sacrament, because it is not an action instituted by Christ, and for the same reason neither was the Baptism of John.

Again, St. Alphonsus Liquori

Truly Baptism of Blood is the pouring forth of blood, or undergone for the sake of the faith, or for some other Christian virtue; as teaches St. Thomas, Viva; Croix along with Aversa and Gobet, etc. This is equivalent to real baptism because [it acts] as if it were ex operato and like Baptism remits both sin and punishment. It is said to be quasi – as if, because martyrdom is not strictly speaking like a sacrament, but because those privileged in this way imitate the Passion of Christ as says Bellarmin, Suarez, Sotus, Cajetane, etc., along with Croix; and in a firm manner, Petrocorensis.

Therefore martyrdom is efficacious, even in infants, as is shown by the Holy Innocents which are indeed considered true martyrs. This is clearly taught by Suarez along with Croix and to oppose such an opinion is indeed temerarious. In adults it is necessary that martyrdom be at least habitually accepted from supernatural motives as Coninck, Cajetan, Suarez, Bonacina and Croix etc. teach. ….

Not in passing that such was also the teaching of Coninck, Cajetan, Suarez Bonacina and Croix.

 

CONCLUSION

1. Baptism of Desire must be accepted by Catholics because it’s taught by Trent according to the interpretation of the Latin documents by St. Alphonsus Liquori.

2. Arguing that St. Alphonsus Liguori was materially heretical or in theological error is erroneous because: a.) Not only was he not corrected or condemned, his position was promulgated by law and catechism, b.) even if he was wrong, he couldn’t be considered materially heretical or in theological error for contradicting a dogma especially since he said baptism of desire is de fide, and the Church would necessarily be condemned for affirming the teaching of St. Alphonsus Liquori.

I don’t argue very long with those who think they know better than St. Alphonsus Liguori because if they won’t accept his teaching, they won’t care at all what I have to say.

 

 

 

 

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