Thursday, May 26, 2016

Extra Ecclesiam

One of the Catholic doctrines most alien to a convert, but also the most urgent spur for conversion, is the long-disused extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. It is a cause for wonder, a mystery almost as deep as that of predestination. Fear of dying outside the Church, a society seemingly necessary for salvation, is one of the greatest motivators for leaving one’s non-Catholic life behind. The Church is the pearl of great price, the barque of Peter, the city of God, all worth more than any measly treasures that can be found outside its confines. Without the terrible suspicion that extra Ecclesiam nulla salus is true, many would never convert at all.

So what a shock it is to the convert who has sold all he has in order to obtain this pearl, to realize that few within Peter’s barque actually care about this doctrine. Even those who believe it are strangely apathetic in defending or promulgating it. The fewer who both believe and insist upon this doctrine are considered mad if not schismatic—Fr. Feeney’s disciples, sedevacantists, and a few others—which is greatly ironic if not humorous.

I am not here making any historical arguments for or against this doctrine, nor any argument concerning a particular method of interpretation. Rather, I am noting the existential crisis this necessarily causes in the soul of the convert. He has been told that he must do A (convert) in order to achieve positive consequence B (Heaven) and avoid the negative consequence C (Hell). While C is still possible after doing A, it is not avoidable without A. However, once A is complete, he is suddenly told that he might have achieved B without A, but now that A is done he can no longer achieve B if he repudiates A.

There’s a lie in here, somewhere, and the convert knows it. He knows he’s been lied to, but unsure at what point the lie occurs. Is it a lie that nobody outside the Church is saved? Is it a lie that the Catholic Church is the “Church” referred to in this doctrine? Is the lie that he could have remained blissfully ignorant of all things Catholic and floated into Heaven on his mere good intentions?

The answer, if one is given at all, is usually that “outside,” “Church,” and “no” are fuzzy concepts that admit to multiple interpretations. After listening to this half-baked sophistry for an hour or two, the convert inevitably asks the question: Did I need to convert to be saved? Heaven help him if he asks a Balthasarian. At least the Feeneyite will try to keep him Catholic.

The exclusivity of the Catholic doctrine is nearly unknown among Protestant denominations. Most of them will acknowledge the basic acceptability of other broadly Christian creedal communities, in spite of doctrinal and practical disagreements. Islam is one of the few world religions to also profess exclusivism, which is probably one of the reasons why they have opposed Catholicism so vociferously for centuries.

I am not suggesting that the proper interpretation of extra Ecclesiam is a simple or easy one, but it has to mean something, and the apologists drop the ball explaining the doctrine even while practically acting as though the interpretation ought to be strict. After all, they insist that everyone who is capable of understanding the teachings of the Church must investigate them and then strive to become her members. Their salvation, supposedly, depends on it. Which is why the apologists scurry into the cracks once they are queried about John Paul’s praise of other religions, Mother Theresa’s indifferentism towards the pagans under her care, and Cdl. Ratzinger’s assurance to a Lutheran that she could safely remain non-Catholic.

The terrifying attrition rate of Catholic converts should give us pause. Many converts feel that they have been lied to on their way in, and that the extra Ecclesiam doctrine is used as a bully stick to keep them from leaving. Nobody likes to feel trapped, and those who apostatize often do so out of a sense of desperation rather than boredom or malice.

As I’ve said before, a healthy dose of realism is necessary for those shepherding new converts into the One Fold. They need to be realistic about the failings of the Church today, and brutally honest towards those they are godfathering or sponsoring. The Church on Earth is the Church Militant, but militant not only towards the non-Catholic world and the Devil; the Catholic must also be on his guard against the many threats within the Church. It has always been this way, and if 1950s-triumphalism is responsible for any great evil it was the dulling of the wit towards internal threats.

(José Benlliure y Gil)


  1. Waiting for Lionel Andrades to strafe this combox in 5, 4, 3, 2...

  2. Within the past year, has heard two Catholic Priests sermonise about the Pearl of Great Price in Matthew 13 (one of the four most popular Gospels) and is so doing mislearn poor Pat and Pam Pew Dweller that the Pearl of Great Price is them.


    OK, Catholic Church. What sayeth ye in the Traditional explication of this memorable Parable. Are we the Pearl of Great Price or is it someone else - like, perhaps, a Divine Person?

    Take it away Douai:

    Again the kingdom of heaven is like to a merchant seeking good pearls. 
46. Who when he had found one pearl of great price, went his way, and sold all that he had, and bought it.

    Cornelius a Lapide Commentary on Scripture

    The kingdom of Heaven is like, &c. For he who knows that a treasure is lying hid in any place, and buys the place, becomes the master of the treasure, and is not bound to point it out to the former owner, but may use his knowledge for his own advantage by buying the field for as much as it is worth by common estimation; with which the hid treasure has nothing to do.

    Which when a man has found. The Greek has the Aorist, εύρὼν.

    Observe: Christ, in the preceding four parables (namely, of the Sower, of the Seed, of the Grain of Mustard, and of Leaven) has declared the nature, power, and efficacy of the Gospel; now, in the two following parables, of the Treasure, and of the Pearl, He declares its price, how great it is, that all things are deservedly counted as loss in comparison of it. So SS. Chrysostom, Hilary, and others. In a similar way, Wisdom is spoken of by Solomon in the Proverbs (viii. 11, 19): “For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it . . . My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.”

    1. Literally. By this treasure S. Jerome understands Christ Himself; and S. Augustine, Holy Scripture. (Quest. in Matt. q. 13). “For when anyone has attained partly to the understanding of it, he feels great mysteries lie hid in it, and he sells all he has, and buys it; that is, by despising things temporal, he procures rest for himself, that he may be rich in the knowledge of God.”

      Tropologically. S. Gregory, by the treasure, understands heavenly desire. He says: “The treasure being found is hid that it may be preserved, because it is not enough for a man to guard the zeal of his heavenly desire from the wicked spirits, who does not hide the same from the praise of men. In this present life we are, as it were, in a road, by which we are going to our country. Wicked spirits, like robbers, beset our path. He, therefore, who openly carries his treasure in the way desires to be robbed of it.”

      Again the kingdom of Heaven, &c.—goodly; Syriac, the best; Arabic, a good gem. He means the faithful ought with as great zeal to provide themselves with the doctrine and life of the Gospel (which is the way and the price of the kingdom of Heaven) as a merchant seeks for pearls, and buys the one of them which is most precious: for otherwise the kingdom, or the Gospel itself, is properly compared to a pearl rather than to a merchant man.

      And when he had found, &c. For as this pearl was beyond allprice, so is the Gospel. See Pliny on the price of pearls (l. 9, 35), where he says, among other things, that pearls have greater affinity with the sky than with the sea. See what I have said on the Apocalypse xxi. 21, where I have enumerated thirteen properties of pearls.

    2. Symbolically. The precious pearl is Christ, also the Blessed Virgin, also the religious state, also charity: “for charity is a precious pearl, without which nothing can profit thee, whatsoever thou mayst have,” says S. Augustine. For charity is the necklace of Christ. Also a precious pearl is the contemplative life, concerning which Christ said of the Magdalene, “Mary hath chosen the good part.” A pearl is, also, the soul of every man. It is also eternal felicity, as our Salmeron appositely shows (tom. vii. tract. 11); for all these are principal parts of the kingdom of Heaven, i.e., of the doctrine of the Gospel. Such, likewise, is humility, even as our Thomas teaches, being taught of God himself (Imitat. Christi. l. 1, c. 2): “If thou wishest profitably to know and to learn anything, love to be unknown, and to be counted as nothing. This is the loftiest and most useful knowledge—truly to know and despise thy self.” This is the most precious Gospel pearl, but its worth is unknown to the proud children of Adam. Such also is the Cross of Christ, and to suffer for Christ. See Hab. chap. iii. 4: “There were horns in His hands; there was His strength hid.” (Vulg.)

      The chief and most precious pearl of all, from which all virtues and all the Saints, like pearls are sprung, and from which they derive their beauty and their value, is Christ Himself. For His Deity in His Humanity is as a pearl hid in a shell. It issued forth of the substance of the Virgin, and the dew of the Spirit, most white, through innocence of life. It was exceeding bright through wisdom; round through the possession of all perfection; having the weight of conscience, the smoothness of meekness, the price of blessedness. For says Pliny, “The value of pearls consists in whiteness, size, rotundity, smoothness and weight.” Hear what S. Augustine says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God: for the Word of the Lord shines with the brightness of truth, and is solid with the firmness of eternity, and is every where alike with the beauty of Divinity: when the shell of the flesh is pierced through, God may be perceived.” This pearl of Christ, says our Salmeron, is small by humility, but precious in value. Let us bear it on the head of our mind by way of ornament; on our forehead by confessing the faith; in our ears by obedience to the Law, obedience rendered to God in Himself, and our Superiors; on our necks and breasts by love; on our arms by the exercise of good works; in rings on our hands by the gift of discerning spirits; in our girdles by chastity; on our garments by modesty and holy devotion to eternal life; but we ourselves also may become precious pearls, and by this means may induce others to imitate the most holy life of our Lord Jesus Christ.
      Finally Christ is not only a very precious pearl, but He is also the gem of gems. He is a carbuncle, because He is the light of the world. He is an emerald because He delights the angels by the verdure of His grace. He is strong and invincible as a diamond. He produces joy as a sardius. He heals the leprosy of sin as a chrysoprasus. He assists the bringing forth of good works as a spiritual jasper; He sharpens the intellect as a beryl; He has celestial colour and life, as a sapphire; He resists sleep and drunkenness, as an amethyst; and all the infirmities of the mind, as a hyacinth; He sustained the worry of the passions, as a topaz: He is a sardonyx in brightness and splendour; He is a chrysolite in His golden charity. Whence the foundations of the heavenly Jerusalem are laid with these twelve precious stones, which signify the twelve Apostles of Christ.

      ++++++++++ end of quotes ++++++++++++

      It is not surprising that we are being taught that we are the Pearl rather than Jesus because anthropocentrism.

    3. I am baffled that anyone could think that the Pearl of Great Price would refer to the man who went and sold all that he had. Did these priests offer any kind of argument for this absurdity, or did they just state it in a sentimental tone of voice?

  3. It was worse than that. The priests said the pearl of great price was all of us sitting in the pews at that moment.

    That is prolly just the public expression of what they were learnt in the seminary.

  4. Matching what ABS was told (in the LIl' Licit Liturgy) with the Scofield Reference Bible, one could say we are all protestants now:

    The true Church, "one body" formed by the Holy Spirit 1 Corinthians 12:12 1 Corinthians 12:13 . As Israel is the hid treasure, so the Church is the pearl of great cost. Covering the same period of time as the mysteries of the kingdom, is the mystery of the Church ; Romans 16:25 Romans 16:26 ; Ephesians 3:3-10 ; Ephesians 5:32 . Of the true Church a pearl is a perfect symbol:

    (1) A pearl is one, a perfect symbol of unity 1 Corinthians 10:17 ; 1 Corinthians 12:12 1 Corinthians 12:13 ; Ephesians 4:4-6 .

    (2) a pearl is formed by the accretion, and that not mechanically, but vitally, through a living one, as Christ adds to the Church Acts 2:41 Acts 2:47 ; 5:14 ; 11:24 ; Ephesians 2:21 ; Colossians 2:19 .

    (3) Christ, having given Himself for the pearl, is now preparing it for presentation to Himself Ephesians 5:25-27 . The kingdom is not the Church, but the true children of the kingdom during the fulfilment of these mysteries, baptized by one Spirit into one body 1 Corinthians 12:121 Corinthians 12:13 compose the true Church, the pearl.

  5. A utilitarian interpretation of the "extra Ecclesiam" (if it is of any consolation to you): Invincible ignorance of the true Church does not mean sinlessness, for the law is given even to pagans in their hearts. If then you being 'outside' commit a mortal sin of which you are culpable even as a non-catholic you have nobody to forgive it to you. 'Inside', there is a priest sitting in confessional.

  6. Chapter five, part two is apt here:

  7. I am very interested in this dogma myself. I understand that it's the central dogma for understanding the nature and identity of the Church. The concept of implicit faith needs to be cleared up, as soon as possible; can one who denies the faith explicitly possibly have the faith implicitly? If a Protestant denies the Catholic Church and rejects the pope explicitly, can he possible by joined to the Catholic Church and submitted to the Roman pontiff implicitly, the necessary conditions for salvation? St. Thomas says that those who deny a single article of faith obstinately do not have the faith at all, because by obstinately denying one article of faith he manifests his disobedience to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church, which is only and infallible rule of faith. Does this mean that an Orthodox who obstinately denies the Immaculate Conception or the filioque, does not have the faith?

    I am prepared to accept that only those who deny united to the Catholic Church in union with the pope can be saved. So many fathers and doctors of the Church seemed to hold to this strict interpretation. St. Alphonsus, a fairly recent doctor, unequivocally puts all heretics and schismatics outside of salvation. The idea of implicit faith and the "anonymous Christian" is very recent and seems to have little to no magisterial support.

    Let me propose a couple of hypotheticals:

    An illiterate Mohammaden brainwashed by jihadis blows himself up killing dozens, believing that he is doing God's will. He believes in "God as a Rewarder", believes that God will reward him for his deed, is sorry for every sin he has committed against God. Is this man a Catholic by desire who goes to heaven after killing dozens of innocents? Is he a martyr of the implicit Catholic faith? If not, why not?

    A Protestant Reformer is sincerely convinced that the pope is the antichrist and that every man has the right to interpret the scriptures as he pleases. He reads scripture and comes to the conclusion that the Blessed Virgin Mary was not a perpetual virgin, and that the Blessed Sacrament is bread and not the flesh of Christ. He therefore commits sacrilege against the Blessed Sacrament, feeding our Lord to animals. He smashes statues of Our Lady. He puts Catholic "heretics" to death whenever and wherever he can. Eventually, Catholics get hold of him, ask him to repent and convert to the Catholic faith; he refuses, and they put him to death. He is sincerely sorry for all his sins, and prays to God to put an to popish superstition. Is he a martyr? Is he a Catholic by implicit desire? Does he unconsciously belong to the Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation? Will he go to heaven and meet the Catholics he put to death? If not, why not?

    1. 1. THe Mohammedan supposedly murdered innocents and - if he committed even a fraction of the sins ISIS members commits - many other egregious sins besides. He died committing sins in service of a diabolical "God". The enlightened pagan in Lewis' "The Last Battle" abhored the killing of innocents and was a virtuous young man serving the wrong God. These two are incomparable.

      2. The Protestant burned heretics at the stake. He committed the sin of murder. Besides not converting when he had the clear opportunity, he has committed murder and sacrilege.

    2. I agree with you on both counts, Vigilante.

      It's that men say that one can be Catholic and Christian by an implicit and unconscious desire, be joined to the Catholic Church by having a sincere heart, by following your conscience, or by serving "God" in whatever way you understand that term. The Mohammaden and Protestant in my hypotheticals are both sincere, both following their conscience, both serving "God" as they understand it. So how are they not Catholics by implicit desire? If they are NOT Catholics by implicit desire -- which you and I both agree they are indeed not -- then we must ask who in the world DOES qualify as "Catholic by implicit desire", if anyone.

    3. An example:

      A Native American before the arrival of the Europeans lives his life following the natural law as best he knows (without Christianity, he would still have a conscience). He takes a wife and treats her well, raises his children to follow the virtues he knows, he does not commit atrocities and fights honorably in wars against other tribes, and he tries to undo any transgressions he committed against his fellow men. Now, this does not make him "justified", but I do believe God would provide such a man the ability to make a choice. I believe every human being who has lived and will ever live is given a chance, no matter how fleeting or eleventh hour, to achieve salvation.

      I didn't use the example of a Chinese because it is possible a pre-15th Century Chinese could have come into contact with the Assyrian Church of the East and had the chance to at least be baptized, if not receive the other sacraments.

    4. Add to these ideas the fact that every single protestant Baptised with the Trinitarian formula is axiomatically a Catholic and remains a Catholic until he reaches the age of reason and refuses to submit to the authority of the church

  8. Let me add one more hypothetical.

    Consider an Orthodox monk who practice a life of asceticism and prayer. He has a great devotion to the Holy Theotokos and the ancient liturgies of the east. He is convinced that the pope is an arrogant usurper who has no right to claim universal jurisdiction over the eastern patriarchs, and that the episcopacy has a more democratic and less monarchical structure. He daily says a prayer that God put an end to papal pride. He writes tracts detracting the western saints for their false, diabolical spirituality. He accuses all western fathers since St. Augustine for being perverse rationalists. He does whatever he can to convert Catholics to his Orthodox church.
    Is this man a Catholic by implicit desire? Is he implicitly submitted to the Roman pontiff? Is he a member of the Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation? If so, how so? If not, how not?

    1. Alphonsus de Ligouri once said, “If ever a pope, as a private person,
      should fall into heresy, he would at once fall from the pontificate.”

      Is he condemmmned to eternal damnation for his error?

    2. I don't know if that statement is an error, and even if were an error, I do not think St. Alphonsus ever set up his mind against the Church obstinately in holding it. Did the Church ever sanction him for having this opinion? Did he willingly defy the Church and cling to his "automatic papal excommunication" heresy?

      The Orthodox willingly, knowingly, and obstinately deny the teaching and jurisdiction of the papacy. I do not think that is something St. Alphonsus de Liguori was ever guilty of.

    3. Of course it is an error. If it was true, I'm pretty sure there wouldn't be a pope who hasn't fallen from the papacy. I wonder if Ligouri was simply unaware of Papal history in the 9th and 15h centuries.

      In my experience, most cradle Orthodox (I do not include former protestant Convertodox) reject Catholic doctrines as they are commonly presented. Frame the actual beliefs as "hypotheticals" in a "What if Catholics believed this..." and they actually agree with you most of the time.

      Even I reject many Vatican I doctrines in the way they are commonly represented. I don't believe the pope's "universal jurisdiction" gives him the ability to unilaterally depose the Melkite or Coptic Catholic Patriarch as that would violate Florence. I don't believe "infallibility" means that the moment the tiara was placed on Giuseppe Sarto's head his mouth became an organ of the Holy Spirit.

    4. Not necessarily, we would have to look into what would classify as "falling into heresy". Having a nagging doubt in your mind about Our Lady's virginity may not constitute heresy; but if one obstinately denies it after being told that what cannot do so, one might well be a heretic. If a pope were to behave in such a manner, I suspect, with St. Alphonsus, that the pope might have automatically deposed himself. I don't think that St. Alphonsus was ignorant of history. His "History of Heresies" is quite comprehensive.

      You're being a bit tart when you say that Pope St. Pius X, or any other pope, is not "an organ of the Holy Spirit." The truth is that is precisely what the pope is. All the bishops and the clergy are organs of the Holy Spirit, when they act in obedience to that Holy Spirit, but especially the pope, because it is through the pope that the Holy Spirit can speak to us with his full divine and infallible authority.

    5. When St. Alphonsus says, “If ever a pope, as a private person . . .", he does not mean the pope in the seclusion of his private chambers. He means the pope as a man, rather than the pope as an office. The pope as a public office can never fall into heresy, and that's why a pope that did publicly and obstinately profess heresy, would immediately show himself to have lost his office, especially if he tries to use his office to enforce his heresy.

    6. Pope Leo XIII, Exima Nos Laetitia, 1903:

      “The Sacraments, which some people keep and use outside the unity of Christ, can preserve the appearance of piety; but the invisible and spiritual virtue of true piety cannot abide there any more than feeling can remain in an amputated part of your body. … They no longer have the Sacraments, with the exception of Baptism, which they confer, so it is said, without ceremonies on children; a fruitful baptism for the children provided that, once the age of reason is reached, they do not embrace the schism.”

    7. "The pope as a public office can never fall into heresy, and that's why a pope that did publicly and obstinately profess heresy, would immediately show himself to have lost his office, especially if he tries to use his office to enforce his heresy."

      Neither Honorious or John XXII ceased to be pope when they tried to push through error. Bellarmine even provides for such a scenario by stating that in such circumstances it is the duty of the rest of the Church to rise up and depose the pope. The pope loses the privileges of obedience, he does not cease to be pope until he is no longer Bishop of Rome.

      This is why "Honorious the Heretic" is emphatically anathemized in both the 6th Ecumenical Council and the Sunday that commemorates it in the Greek Rite.

    8. Honorious was condemned for heresy in the Roman rite too until the first quarter of the sixteenth century. The old Mattins lessons for the feast of St. Leo include Honorious in the list of heretics. Suddenly his name, as if by magic, was excised from the list.

    9. Vigilante, I think St. Alphonsus still has a point. It's a technical question of the law whether or not the bishops strip a heretical pope of his office, or whether they merely depose someone who has automatically stripped himself of his office.

      ABS, I am willing to hold to that statement of Pope Leo XIII, but how do we reconcile it with modern ecumenism and with the idea of salvation by implicit faith / invincible ignorance. Are all those who lived and died in a Protestant or Orthodox sect damned? Many saints said so, but the modern opinion is against it. What do you think?

    10. Why do people keep saying that Honorius is a heretic? From what I have read, he wasn't teaching heretical stuff.

    11. No, but he encouraged the Monothelite heresy by forcing the Catholic side to keep quiet (both sides, but neither kept quiet) and agreeing with Sophronius. Encouraging heresy is equivalent to be heretical.

      As for that opinion of St. Alphonsus, is there precedent for that? Vigilius was a heretical pope when he was elected, but he later defended orthodoxy against the Emperor Justinian.

    12. Honorious apparently wrote many letters (which were destroyed by the Romans and Leo II who anathemized him) which gave full support to false doctrines that other bishops and patriarchs were teaching. It may not be "teaching" in a direct sense, but...

      Vigilius is a case of a pope who was on the wrong side, and then relented. John XXII did the same thing (preaching public heresy in a sermon) but renounced it on his deathbed. Urban II "incautiously" (to quote 'Lives of the Saints') canonized the murderer Herlembald. Of course, many traditionalists will give anyone who will listen an earful about Paul VI, JP2, and Frankie (and they're not entirely wrong).

      I think Alphonsus' quote is a symptom of Counter-Reformation Catholicism and the tolerated "useful error" of extreme ultramontanism. Many Catholics, faced with Protestants outright denying the papacy, proceeded to defend everything about it.

  9. I don't think it is as complicated as people make it. The Catholics, Orthodox, Miaphysites and Assyrians have the Sacraments and it is through these Sacraments that we belong to the Church. The idiotic and tragic things that separate us from our brothers need to be resolved as they result in great sins against Charity.

    "Should I never have converted?" the convert asks.

    My answer is this: The moment you knew you found the Church of God, you had a clear choice. God clearly meant you to find it and, had you never converted, you would have rejected the path he meant for you. There may be those who are called to salvation through virtue who never had the chance to join in the "normal" way, but you are/were not one of them. You are called to something greater.

    Maybe it's just me, but it does not seem that hard to understand.

    1. Vigilante, the Donatists and Arians had the Sacraments, and do you know what the Church fathers thought of these schismatics and heretics?
      What makes the Orthodox brothers in the Church, but not the earlier schismatics? I'm interested to know what makes their schism less blameworthy, or how their schism can have a mystical and invisible union with the Catholic Church which no other schismatics have ever enjoyed. I don't ask this sarcastically, I sincerely seek an answer.

    2. The Orthodox only deny papal infallibility and universal jurisdiction, whereas the Arians had a heretical Christology and the Donatists a heretical view of grace.


    3. The heretics of the east deny Original Sin, Sinlessness of Mary, they permit Adultery and solemnise it in sacred rituals -there are other heresies they promote but ABS doesn't have them on the tip of his fingers now...

    4. It is truly right to bless you, O Theotokos, immaculate and most pure, as the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, ever a virgin you gave birth to God the Word. You truly the Theotokos we magnify!

  10. Every man needs to be spiritually reborn to get into heaven. Why?
    Adam was made into image and likeness of God, but he lost the likeness for himself and all of us. But the likeness of God is necessary for enterance into heaven. One cannot be in company, embrace and permeation of what he is not like.
    Christ, the new Adam, is the image and likeness of God. Now, in baptism, laver of regeneration, we are made unto likeness to him, made sons of God, sons in Son, gods in God, i.e. the likeness is restored and we can once more get into heaven.

    Sapienti sat.

  11. You can interpret the three dogmatic definitions more as warnings for those who are obstinate in departing from the Church after having being raised in it, or those, at any rate, who remain wilfully and maliciously blind to the truth of the Catholic faith and the holiness of the Catholic religion. You can say that it is possible to be united to the Church invisibly through charity.

    OK, let's grant this interpretation. Now we ask, what is the sense in being a visible Catholic (with all those damn rules!) if it is possible to be an invisible Catholic (without all them damn rules!). The truth is that the invisible Catholic DOES have the same rules as the visible Catholic, it's just that he finds them written in his conscience or by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He has to obey divine and natural law just as much as the Catholic does in order to have charity, which is why he has no advantage whatsoever over the Catholic, and is at a disadvantage because he lacks a doctrinal explication of these laws which make them clearer to him.

    In order to inherit eternal life one MUST have sanctifying grace, one MUST have supernatural charity. Without God, we can do nothing. Nobody can do any act worthy of eternal life, without God's infused grace.

    The reason why we still have to evangelise, even if there are invisible Catholics, is that there are so few of them, or, that they are at enormous peril in being swept up by the doctrines of the world and losing their sanctifying grace, without the holy harbour of the Catholic Church. They could grow so much more in charity if they had the sacraments.

    Evangelisation is an act of love, bringing the good news to our fellow man. It's not a law to beat people over the head with. This is why the gospel is a relief, not a burden. We should evangelise because we want to, moved by charity, to call sinners to repentance, and to call the just to further sanctification.

    1. When I say that there are few outside of the Church living in sanctifying grace, I mean it. A lot of people are nice exteriorly but wicked within. I do not see much evidence of supernatural grace in men. The reflection on the FEWNESS of the saved, will move us to evangelise, if anything.

    2. What is important is: "ita, nisi in Christo renascerentur, nunquam justificarentur" from chap 3 on justification. Spiritual rebirth by which man renasceretur has effects of removing guilt of original and actual sin and temporal punishment for sin. This is the effect of sacrament baptism, and we know that because Trent teaches us in sess. 5, chap 5.:

      „If any one denies, that, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted; or even asserts that the whole of that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away; but says that it is only erased, or not imputed; let him be anathema. For, in those who are born again, there is nothing that God hates; because, There is no condemnation to those who are truly buried together with Christ by baptism into death; who walk not according to the flesh, but, putting off the old man, and putting on the new who is created according to God, are made innocent, immaculate, pure, harmless, and beloved of God, heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ; so that there is nothing whatever to retard their entrance into heaven.“, and also Florence:
      „The effect of this sacrament is the remission of all original and actual guilt, also of all penalty that is owed for that guilt. Hence no satisfaction for past sins is to be imposed on the baptized, but those who die before they incur any guilt go straight to the kingdom of heaven and the vision of God.“.

      So, effect of baptism is spiritual rebirth, i.e. being born again. But, ita, nisi in Christo renascerentur, nunquam justificarentur, i.e.
      if they aren't born again in Christ, they would never be justified, i.e.,
      if they don't have both guilt of sin and temporal punishment which is due to sin remitted, they would not be justified, i.e.
      if they didn't receive the grace of spiritual rebirht they would never be justified.

      there are those who teach baptism of desire(bod), among whom st. Thomas Aquinas and st. Alphonsus Liguori are most prominent, say that bod remits only guilt of sin and not the temporal punishment and that such person would have to endure purgatory upon death. that means that bod doesn't provide the grace of spiritual rebirth, which means that it cannot even justify it's recipients. It doesn't render them born again in Christ, and therefore it doesn't justify them.

    3. If we start talking about what one knows or doesn't know, as if faith alone is capable of making a man reborn, or worse, lack thereof then we open the door to invincible ignorance which saves a man. Then it is better not to preach the Gospel for by ignorance everybody shall be saved.

      We do know what Acts of the Apostles say in 13, 48: "And the Gentiles hearing it, were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to life everlasting, believed.".

      It is putting on Christ which saves us, and that happens when we are reborn of water and Spirit, i.e. in baptism of water.

      Trent teaches in session 6. chapter 7.
      "the instrumental cause [of justification] is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which (faith) no man was ever justified" (...)
      "whence, man, through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives, in the said justification, together with the remission of sins, all these (gifts) infused at once, faith, hope, and charity. For faith, unless hope and charity be added thereto, neither unites man perfectly with Christ, nor makes him a living member of His body. For which reason it is most truly said, that Faith without works is dead and profitless; and, In Christ Jesus neither circumcision, availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by charity. This faith, Catechumens beg of the Church (agreeably to a tradition of the apostles) previously to the sacrament of Baptism; when they beg for the faith which bestows life everlasting, which, without hope and charity, faith cannot bestow:"

      So basically, having supernatural faith, hope and charity is the fruit of justification in baptism, whence it follows that none can have supernatural infused virtues if he is not baptized. By those fruits we keep justification and are said to be justified, since we need to keep them to be justified. None of these can merit the grace of justification, not even faith, without which one cannot please God though, as Trent again teaches in chapter 8. of the same session:
      "..we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation, and the root of all Justification; without which it is impossible to please God, and to come unto the fellowship of His sons: but we are therefore said to be justified freely, because that none of those things which precede justification-whether faith or works-merit the grace itself of justification. For, if it be a grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the same Apostle says, grace is no more grace.".

      Faith which precedes justification is not the supernatural faith, since that one is infused in justification, but one which we get ex auditu, and is only natural consent of mind to truths of the Gospel.

  12. Jesus established His Church for two purposes:


    neither of which can be attained unto outside the One True Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church

    1. One True Holy ROMAN Catholic and Apostolic Church

      I guess there was no Church until Paul went to Rome? I would also assume the Church would cease to exist if a nuke dropped on Vatican City?


    2. ...Osius the bishop said: However it has been agreed, that, if a bishop has been accused, and the assembled bishops of the same province have judged and deprived him of his office, and he appears to have appealed, and has taken refuge with the blessed bishop of the Roman Church...

      St Athanasius 1 398-401 The Orthodoxy of Pope Liberius

      ....Liberius of the Roman Church...

      The Primacy and the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff (extract from Quamvis Patrum traditio to the African bishops March 21, 418

      ..since therefore Peter the head is of such great authority and that he has confirmed the subsequent endeavors of all our ancestors, so that the Roman Church is fortified..

      Council of Ephesus 431 : to what rulers of the Roman Church judged...

      Here is Denzinger's entry #460:

      Gregory X 1271-1276 Council of Lyons II 1274

      ...The most holy Roman Church

      We believe that the true Church is holy, Catholic, apostolic, and one in which is given holy baptism...This is the true Catholic Faith, and this in the above mentioned articles the most holy Roman Church holds and teaches.

      #465 The same holy Roman Church...

      The same Roman Church...

      # 466  Also this same holy Roman Church holds the highest and complete primacy and spiritual power of the universal Catholic Church...

      ...she receives the other churches to a share of her solicitude, of which many patriarchal churches the same Roman Church has honored in a special way...

      It is always a good idea for we Catholics to remember the infallible teaching of Vatican 1 -  that it is to the Holy See of Peter alone that the promises of Jesus applies vis a vis the gates of Hell not prevailing; that is, literally, every single Church on earth can fail and fall into heresy and even apostasy save the See of Peter

    3. That still doesn't make sense. Yes, one must be in communion with the Roman See, but that still doesn't make the other Churches Roman. You can't call the Coptic Church Roman, nor the Greek Catholics Roman either. The Eastern and Oriental Catholics aren't of the Roman tradition. The Roman Church is an important part of Christ's Church, but still only a part with which all other Churches must hold communion with.

  13. There is no salvation out side the Church. But Christ provides other ways of entering that we do not understand. God imprited on all men's souls the ability to find the truth. This has always been believed:

    "To these, however [who have not yet heard of Christ] that general measure of help, which is always given from above to all men, is not denied." St. Prosper of Aquitaine

    "The books of the prophets and the apostles say that the Church is not only now, but from the beginning. She was spiritual, like also our Jesus. She was manifested in the last days to save us." St Justin Martyr

    "Her whole life was a purification for her, and a perfecting. She had indeed the regeneration of the Spirit, and the assurance of this from her previous life. And, to speak boldly, the mystery was for her practically only the seal, not the grace." St. Gregory Nazianzus

    "When we speak of within and without in relation to the Church, it is the position of the heart that we must consider, not that of the body . . . All who are within in heart are saved in the unity of the ark"
    "Nor do I think the Jews would dare to argue that no one pertained to God except the Israelites, from the time that Israel came to be... they cannot deny that there were certain men even in other nations who pertained to the true Israelites, the citizens of the fatherland above, not by earthly but by heavenly association."
    "This very thing which is now called the Christian religion existed among the ancients, nor was it lacking from the beginning of the human race until Christ Himself came in the flesh, when the true religion, that already existed, began to be called Christian." St.Augustine

    "Why, then, the gentiles accuse us saying: What was Christ doing in former times, not taking care...? We will reply: Even before He was in the world, He took thought for His works, and was known to all who were worthy." St. John Chrysostom

    Are we to behave like the laborers in the vinyard, and be jealous because God is generous?

  14. A gospel passage I read recently may be used in supporting implicit faith:

    "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come."

    I suppose by "a word against the Son of Man" you could interpret as any explicit denial of Jesus Christ or His Church, and "speaks against the Holy Spirit" you could interpret as those who deny charity, in word or in deed. So, it is possible to have charity while still speaking against Jesus Christ out of ignorance of the procession of the Holy Spirit from Him.

    Does this interpretation have any merit?

    1. Perhaps. A clearer passage can be found in the second chapter of Romans:

      "All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all."

  15. Again, Mr. J. Grump offers no particular solution to the mystery of the "Extra Ecclesiam" doctrine, and intends this reflection to be more of a spur for apologists to offer a more robustly realistic presentation of the Church to potential converts, than as a precise examination of the doctrine's points. When the "Church" of the "outside the Church" is an idealized church of doctrinal and liturgical purity, it is simpler to fool (yes, fool) people into believing that salvation can only be found within. The messiness of historical reality is a more difficult pill to swallow, even if it is in fact correct that only those churches in communion with Rome can offer salvation.

    "So I took the book from the angel’s hand and ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but my belly turned sour once I had eaten it." (Apoc. 10)

    The truth can be bitter, but it does no one good to pretend it is sweet.