Vol 9 Issue 50a ~Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
November 26, 2016 ~ Saint Sylvester, opn!
1. Baptism: Means of Salvation (95)
2. First Sunday in Advent
3. Saint James Intercisus
4. Family and Marriage
5. Articles and notices
Tomorrow is the first Sunday in Advent which, for Catholics, is the beginning of the New Year for the Church as she begins the Liturgical Year again. Catholics begin preparation for the Coming of Christ. That preparation is palpable in the preparations made for the anniversary of Christ’s Birth: The Advent wreath, the Advent prayers, the hymns, the greens and then the immediate preparations of Christmas tree and midnight Holy Mass. There is the interior spiritual preparation that comes in the twofold preparation of the action of grace within the soul and the preparation for the reception of Christ in Holy Communion. All of this, the exterior and interior preparation, has that of preparation for the Coming of Christ both when we come to Him at death and when He comes again to judge the living and the dead. The preparation for the latter continues through the liturgical year as the Catholic is to live the life of Christ as a member of the Mystical Body of Christ: His public life, His Passion. Death to self allows the rising into a more perfect life in Christ. [Of course, in one’s own death, one will find life and resurrection.] This cycle continues yearly but is a continuous call to Catholics to their vocation which is to live the life of Christ, the life of Christ. It demands a renunciation of the prince of this world (Satan) and his spirit—a life without God. It demands a renunciation of the concupiscence of the flesh that makes one a slave to vice. It demands a renunciation of serving the world that is here to help man serve God and not be served by man. In this understanding, may we use this next four weeks using the material things of this world to serve God by preparing ourselves for His coming in Grace, in Communion, in Judgement as well as in the memory of His Birth on Earth.
As always, enjoy the readings and commentaries provided for your benefit. —The Editor
Means of Salvation
Sacrament of Baptism
Baptism by Desire and Baptism in Blood
In returning to the reason why this summation of Catholic teaching on Baptism was compiled is to address both the Church teaching so there would be clarity—both by those who would reject baptism done by Conciliarists and those who would claim the Church never taught baptism by desire and baptism through blood. It is presumed that the last chapter properly addressed the fact that if anyone baptizes, by pouring water while saying the words I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost, that person is baptized unless specifically the person baptizing did not intend to baptize or the person being baptized did not intend to receive baptism. According to Church teaching, therefore, those ministers in the Conciliar Church intend to baptize and those being baptized intend to receive baptism—despite their distortion of what is baptism. In this chapter the question of Baptism by desire and Baptism in blood will be addressed to those who would reject this teaching of the Church.
Again, as was said in the introduction, the Modernists used a teaching of the Church to transform it into a basis of substantiating their error of universal salvation. This can be testified by the following passage from Karl Rahner’s Encyclopedia of Theology:
Vatican II speaks of the universal salvific will of God in connection with membership of the Church: “Finally, those who have not yet received the gospel are related in various ways to the People of God. In the first place there is the people to whom the covenants and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh (cf. Rom 9:4-5) . . . But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place among these there are the Moslems, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God himself far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is he who gives to all men life and breath and every other gift (cf Acts 17 :25-28), and who as Saviour wills that all men be saved (cf. 1 Tim 2:4). For those also can attain to everlasting salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the gospel of Christ or his Church, yet sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, strive by their deeds to do his will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, art. 16; see also art. 9.) For those, however, who have recognized the necessity of the Church for salvation, baptism is indispensable as the “door” to the Church and hence to salvation (ibid., art. 14; Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, art. 7).
Theology. In our own day when we realize more than ever before that the biblical people of the Old and New Testaments is a small minority in the totality of the human family, the need to reflect on the destiny of the majority of mankind is still more urgent than in the age of the great discoveries. Does the gratuitous election of God’s own people imply that his saving action outside of this people is rare or exceptional? May we not suppose that the God who has revealed his universal will to save in Christ, is working for the salvation of men within the Church where his action is acknowledged, as well as outside the Church where his action is not as such acknowledged? Many contemporary Catholic theologians believe that God’s irrevocable election of mankind in the Incarnation, the once-for-allness of Christ’s sacrifice and the completeness of his victory imply that, with Jesus, mankind as a whole has entered a new situation, that is, has acquired an objective orientation, based not on its own nature but on the free divine choice, to be reconciled with God.
Under the notion of “baptism of desire”, then, we may include the vast action of God to save and sanctify men outside the visible boundaries of the Church. While this baptism, as distinct from the baptism of water, does not introduce men into a believing community in which they are fed by an intimate communion with their God (and hence remains a weak initiation into a reality which is fully present only in the Church), one may seriously wonder whether baptism of desire is not the way of salvation for the great majority of men in this world, chosen to be saved.
If baptism of desire is the way of salvation for the vast majority of men chosen by God, we must attempt to describe the necessary predisposition of the mind for this with some psychological plausibility. What happens in the hearts of men beyond the reach of the gospel who submit to God’s saving action? Since Christ is the only mediator, we believe that the mystery of salvation in non-Christians must be in basic continuity with the salvation of Christians through faith, hope and charity.
We believe that holiness is always the work of Christ. Because we are by nature divided, torn between two opposing tendencies in us, the decision making the selfless triumph over the selfish tendency in us is God’s merciful doing in us. Wherever a man finds in himself the freedom to renounce his self-centredness and give way to a selfless concern for another, what happens to him may be described as a dying unto himself and a rising to a new life, liberated—at least on one level—from the connatural ambiguity of his own striving. Since such a victory is the work of grace, we may justly describe what happens to such a person as a share in the death and resurrection of Jesus, in other words as a kind of baptism. In some way, however tentative and faint, the image of Jesus has been imprinted on that person.
Yet the victory over the death of self-centredness is not in any way experienced as a moral achievement of which one may be proud. It is not a work on account of which such a person feels justified before God (if he believes in him) or entitled to the gratitude of men. On the contrary, the person capable of being engaged in selfless action regards himself as the recipient of gifts, of gifts which do not really belong to him, which transcend him, which he wants to share with others, and for which he wants no credit or reward. This person has accepted himself, in an act of faith, as one who has been enriched, undeservedly endowed with seeing and loving, as one who no longer belongs to himself but is turned to others in a gesture of sharing. It is from such an act of faith and not from an ambitious will to be virtuous that selfless action proceeds. In this faith the 1person finds the freedom to forget himself, to abandon the fear of others, and to transcend the insecurity of his lone existence.
Such a person—and who will say that he has never met one?—knows that this consciousness of being undeservedly rich will only last if he is willing to turn away again and again from the self-centredness still existing in him and its symptoms of which he becomes ever more sensitive. At the same time he will experience himself as one who is loved: forgiven, secure, ready for action. He will feel at one and the same time unworthy and reconciled. If you ask him how this transformation has come to him, he will say, “I did not do it myself.”
If this is a valid description of baptism and faith as they are available to men to whom the gospel is either inaccessible or meaningless, then it must also express an experiential dimension of the Christian faith as lived in the Church. This is the theological context of studies, such as the controversial Honest to God by the Anglican bishop Robinson, which try to express the Good News of salvation in terms taken from contemporary thought and experience. It is a great mystery that the divine truth revealed to the Church, which is altogether unique, shows itself to the Christian reflecting on it in faith as truly universal. (Gregory Baum, 76-78)
As one can summarize the above Conciliar teaching, Christ wills all men to be saved and therefore all men are saved because they would want (desire) to be saved if they knew what salvation meant. Now, of course, this would completely eradicate all traditional understanding of the Church as the means Christ established to bring about the justification, i.e., sanctification, of man which is bringing man into union with Christ and wherein, possessing such a union, is co-heir of eternal life with Christ Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Ghost. Why? Because there is no necessity of a Church since salvation is already accomplished.
One may ask isn’t this what baptism by desire or baptism in blood is or implies? A synopsis of the teaching on Baptism by desire and Baptism in Blood is in order to demonstrate that one cannot arrive at the same conclusion.
The Catholic Church unequivocally teaches that through the Fall of Adam and Eve mankind was condemned to death (Gen.2:17) (both physical and eternal, where eternal death means separation from the love of God); but God promised redemption (ibid. 3:15) to as many as received Him, He gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that 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). As the greater portion of mankind departed from the true knowledge of God, God chose Abraham, for Abram believed God, and it was reputed to him unto justice (Gen. 15:6), to be a father of a nation from which God promised would come the Redeemer: And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice(ibid.22:18). As a sign of the faith in the Promise, all the males had to be circumcised: This is my covenant which you shall observe, between me and you, and thy seed after thee: All the male kind of you shall be circumcised (ibid.17:10).
As Sacred Scripture shows, salvation was not confined only to those of the household of Abraham or his descendants.
Melchisedech the king of Salem, bringing forth bread and wine, for he was the priest of the most high God (Gen. 14:18; cf. Ps. 109:4, The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech, and Hebrews chapter 5).
Now Moses fed the sheep of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Madian: and he drove the flock to the inner parts of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, Horeb. (Exod. 3:1)
So Jethro the kinsman of Moses offered holocausts and sacrifices to God: and Aaron and all the ancients of Israel came, to eat bread with them before God. (Exod.18:12)
And when they were come to Balaam, and had told him all the words of Balac: He answered: Tarry here this night, and I will answer whatsoever the Lord shall say to me. And while they stayed with Balaam, God came and said to him: What mean these men that are with thee? He answered: Balac the son of Sephor king of the Moabites hath sent to me,
Saying: Behold a people that is come out of Egypt, hath covered the face of the land: come and curse them, if by any means I may fight with them and drive them away. And God said to Balaam: Thou shalt not go with them, nor shalt thou curse the people: because it is blessed. And he rose in the morning and said to the princes: Go into your country, because the Lord hath forbid me to come with you. (Num. 22:7-13)
And Ballam gives this wonderful prophecy of Jesus Christ:
The hearer of the words of God hath said, who knoweth the doctrine of the Highest, and seeth the visions of the Almighty, who falling hath his eyes opened: I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not near. A STAR SHALL RISE out of Jacob and a sceptre shall spring up from Israel: and shall strike the chiefs of Moab, and shall waste all the children of Seth. And he shall possess Idumea: the inheritance of Seir shall come to their enemies, but Israel shall do manfully. Out of Jacob shall he come that shall rule, and shall destroy the remains of the city. And when he saw Amalec, he took up his parable, and said: Amalec the beginning of nations, whose latter ends shall be destroyed. (Num. 24:16-20)
There was a man in the land of Hus, whose name was Job, and that man was simple and upright, and fearing God, and avoiding evil. . . .And the Lord said to him [Satan]: Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a simple and upright man, and fearing God, and avoiding evil? (Job 1:1, 8)
And Jonas began to enter into the city one day’ s journey: and he cried, and said: Yet forty days, and Ninive shall be destroyed. And the men of Ninive believed in God: and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least. Of three days’ journey: By the computation of some ancient historians, Ninive was about fifty miles round: so that to go through all the chief streets and public places was three days’ journey. And the word came to the king of Ninive; and he rose up out of his throne, and cast away his robe from him, and was clothed with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published in Ninive from the mouth of the king and of his princes, saying: Let neither men nor beasts, oxen nor sheep, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water. And let men and beasts be covered with sackcloth, and cry to the Lord with all their strength, and let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the iniquity that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn, and forgive: and will turn away from his fierce anger, and we shall not perish? And God saw their works, that they were turned from their evil way: and God had mercy with regard to the evil which he had said that he would do to them, and he did it not.And Jonas was exceedingly troubled, and was angry: And he prayed to the Lord, and said: I beseech thee, O Lord, is not this what I said, when I was yet in my own country? therefore I went before to flee into Tharsis: for I know that thou art a gracious and merciful God, patient, and of much compassion, and easy to forgive evil. (Jonas 3:4-4:2)
(To be continued)
First Sunday in Advent
Fr. Leonard Goffine
The Church’s Year (1918)
FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT
The first Sunday in Advent is the first day of the Church Year, and the beginning of the holy season of Advent. The Church commences on this day to contemplate the coming of the Redeemer, and with the prophets to long for Him; during the entire season of Advent she unites her prayers with their sighs, in order to awaken in her children also the desire for the grace of the Redeemer; above all to move them to true penance for their sins, because these are the greatest obstacles in the path of that gracious Advent; therefore she prays at the Introit of the day’s Mass:
INTROIT To Thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul: in Thee, O my God, I put my trust; let me not be ashamed: neither let my enemies laugh at me: for none of them that wait on Thee shall be confounded. Show me, O Lord, Thy ways, and teach me Thy paths (Ps. 24). Glory be to the Father.
COLLECT Raise up, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy power, and come; that by Thy protection we may deserve to be rescued from the threatening dangers of our sins, and to be saved by Thy deliverance. Through our Lord.
EPISTLE (Rom. 13:11‑14). Brethren, knowing the time, that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep: for now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is past, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and strife; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.
What does St. Paul teach us in this epistle?
After fully explaining the duties of a Christian life to the Romans who were converted mainly by St. Peter, he exhorts them to hesitate no longer to fulfil these duties, and he seeks to move their hearts by this time of grace, presented them by the Christian dispensation, and by the shortness of the time of grace.
What is here meant by sleep?
The stupidity and blindness of the soul that, forgetting her God, is sunk in a lukewarm, effeminate, slothful and lustful life, which, when it is gone, leaves nothing more than a dream.
Why does St. Paul say, “salvation is nearer”?
He wishes to impress upon the Romans that they now have far greater hope of salvation than when they first became Christians, and that they should secure it by a pious life, because death, and the moment on which depended their salvation, or eternal reward, was drawing near. “What is our life,” says St. Chrysostom, “other than a course, a dangerous course to death, through death to immortality?”
What is the signification of day and night?
The night signifies the time before Christ, a night of darkness, of infidelity and of injustice; the day represents the present time, in which by the gospel Christ enlightens the whole world with the teachings of the true faith.
What are “the works of darkness”?
All sins, and especially those which are committed in the dark, to shun the eye of God and man.
What is the “armor of light”?
That faith, virtue and grace, the spiritual armor, with which we battle against our three enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil, and in which armor we should walk honestly before all men. A Christian who in baptism has renounced the devil and all his pomps, must not live in vice, but must put on Christ Jesus, that is, must by the imitation of Christ’s virtues adorn his soul, as it were, with a beautiful garment. This text (verse 13) moved St. Augustine to fly from all works of uncleanness in which he had been involved, and to lead a pure life which he had before thought difficult.
ASPIRATION Grant, O Lord, that we may rise by penance from the sleep of our sins, may walk in the light of Thy grace by the performance of good works, may put on Thee and adorn our souls with the imitation of Thy virtues. Amen.
GOSPEL (Lk. 21:25‑33). At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars: and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves, men withering away for fear and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world. For the powers of heaven shall be moved; and then they shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud with great power and majesty. But when these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand. And he spoke to them a similitude: See the fig tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth their fruit, you know that summer is nigh. So you also, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. Amen I say to you, this generation shall not pass away till all things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.