Author Topic: The Catechumen  (Read 1221 times)

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Offline Augustinus

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The Catechumen
« on: November 22, 2017, 12:03:35 AM »
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  • "If any one saith, that baptism is free, that is, not necessary unto salvation; let him be anathema."

    There are few arguments that could become more bitter than the arguments either for or against baptism of desire.


    However, it seems to me that many of the arguments both for and against have been exaggerated and made with a surprising lack of caution.

    In many cases, those who have argued for baptism of desire seem ignorant of the fact that it was a virtually untouched topic in the first thousand years of the Church's life.

    And those who argue against it often seem to ignore the fact that Catholics are not bound only to ex cathedra statements, but also to the unanimous consensus of theologians that a teaching is to be believed as certain.


    So, what to do? What can a 35 year old white American male, lower middle class add to these interminable discussions?

    Well, if I could add one single thing, it would be this- That although I love and respect Fr. Feeney and detest liberal Catholics, I would say he was wrong to consider Baptism of Desire, as understood by the Theologians and strictly, as a loophole.


    Please allow me to explain. 

    When we consider Baptism of Desire, what is the traditional understanding of it, unanimously espoused by the theologians? That a catechumen, who explicitly intends to receive baptism with a firm and steady resolve, should he meet an untimely death, would be saved- all other conditions presumed as present (faith, hope and charity being present, a life of following the commandments, etc.).

    But consider, this resolve in itself is an admission by the catechumen that he has no other means of salvation. This is no seeking of an option other than baptism. This is the admission of every dogma, every father, every decree declaring that without baptism, we cannot be saved. For the catechumen, to grasp to the exception is to be damned. To hang onto the hope of salvation apart from the sacrament is already wicked presumption. To consciously defer day to day the possibility of rebirth and gamble with uncertainty is to despise the gracious hand of God offering us a way out of Hell. 

    There is absolutely nothing optional about baptism. And the one who is saved by baptism of desire is proof of that. For it is only in the acknowledgment of his utter dependence upon God and the necessary means of salvation he established that the possibility of any exception at all is opened to him.


    Which is precisely why it can never be actively taught. It can never be used as a tool of evangelization. It can never be a motive to come to Christ.

    It can only be known post-facto, that God would have had mercy on the one who set out from the City of Man and died on the porch of the City of God. Acknowledging his want, confessing his sinfulness, following the path of Christ and yet perishing while rapping on the gate- Will we not confess that such a one sought and found the visible body of the Church of Christ? Will he not be brought into the gates and buried within the city?

    And if not, why not?

    Here, I see no loophole. I see only the affirmation of the truth- that all men are obligated to receive sacramental water baptism to be saved. And the only exception is granted to those who die in search of those waters.

    BUT do such people exist? Are there people who die frustrated by their repeated attempts to be baptized, in good faith, who never make it in? Would he who began a good work fail to bring it to completion?

    I cannot say that much. But I suspect not.
    The saints are few, but we must live with the few if we would be saved with the few. O God, too few indeed they are; yet among those few I wish to be!
    -St. Alphonsus Liguori. (The Holy Eucharist, 494)

    Offline An even Seven

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    Re: The Catechumen
    « Reply #1 on: November 22, 2017, 08:37:16 AM »
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    AUG: When we consider Baptism of Desire, what is the traditional understanding of it, unanimously espoused by the theologians?
    There is anything but a “traditional understanding of” BOD. There could not be more divergent opinions on the workings of a BOD. They constantly contradict each other.

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    AUG: That a catechumen, who explicitly intends to receive baptism with a firm and steady resolve, should he meet an untimely death, would be saved- all other conditions presumed as present (faith, hope and charity being present, a life of following the commandments, etc.).
    St. Alphonsus said that even an implicit desire for Baptism would be sufficient. Also, I would like to say that your statement contains errors contrary to Catholic Teaching i.e. there are no untimely deaths, to say so shows no faith in the omnipotence of God; also, supernatural charity cannot be present in a Catechumen.

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    AUG: It can only be known post-facto, that God would have had mercy on the one who set out from the City of Man and died on the porch of the City of God. Acknowledging his want, confessing his sinfulness, following the path of Christ and yet perishing while rapping on the gate- Will we not confess that such a one sought and found the visible body of the Church of Christ? Will he not be brought into the gates and buried within the city?
    No

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    AUG: And if not, why not?
    Because he died outside the Church. Baptism is the gateway to the Church. Without it, there is no remission of sin (original or actual), there is no membership in the Church (one would be outside), there is no true justice in the person, and there is no faith as Baptism is the Sacrament of faith.

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    AUG: Are there people who die frustrated by their repeated attempts to be baptized, in good faith, who never make it in?
    IF SO, it is a sign that they were not part of the elect because God did not allow them to be Baptized.

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    AUG: Would he who began a good work fail to bring it to completion?
    Yes, it’s called a lack of perseverance.
    "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."


    Offline Ladislaus

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    Re: The Catechumen
    « Reply #2 on: November 22, 2017, 08:37:54 AM »
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  • In many cases, those who have argued for baptism of desire seem ignorant of the fact that it was a virtually untouched topic in the first thousand years of the Church's life.

    Oh, on the contrary, most proponents of BoD falsely claim that there was unanimous consensus among the Church Fathers in favor of BoD.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  St. Augustine floated the idea as a speculation ... and then forcefully retracted it.  Towards the beginning of the scholastic era, there was an Augustinian revival and so the scholastics picked up on Augustine's original speculation ... but evidently didn't have knowledge of his later retraction.  Once St. Thomas picked it up, it went viral.

    At the end of the day, there's ZERO evidence that Baptism of Desire has been divinely revealed ... whereas the necessity of Baptism is in fact divinely revealed.  And I have NEVER SEEN an argument made by anyone that proves that Baptism of Desire derives necessarily from other revealed truth.  Theologians mere state, gratuitously, that it exists ... almost invariably tying it back to the "authority" of St. Augustine.  Consequently BoD can never be defined as dogma.

    Offline Ladislaus

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    Re: The Catechumen
    « Reply #3 on: November 22, 2017, 08:42:40 AM »
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  • Indeed, there's no such thing as an untimely death in the providence of God.  If Baptism is necessary and BoD impossible, then God will simply make sure that His elect receive Baptism.  Simple.  There's no such thing as "impossibility" with God.  But the speculation on BoD derives from this false man-made notion that it would be unfair if a catechumen died without Baptism.  Only God knows why He would allow that ... just as only God knows why He allows some infants to die before receiving Baptism.  But nothing that God does is unfair or unmerciful.  

    St. Augustine came to this realization himself when he retracted his speculation about BoD.
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    Perish the thought that a person predestined to eternal life could be allowed to end this life without the sacrament of the mediator. (Saint Augustine)

    Offline Ladislaus

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    Re: The Catechumen
    « Reply #4 on: November 22, 2017, 08:56:28 AM »
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  • But, yes, the necessity of Baptism can be preserved even in Baptism of Desire so long as one properly articulates it; Baptism remains necessary as the object of one's desire and remains the instrumental cause of justification.  Note that, in order to avoid Pelagianism, you have to state that it is not the desire itself that's salvific but the Sacrament of Baptism operating through the desire that is the cause of justification.  People saved by Baptism of Desire would receive the Sacrament in voto rather than be saved without it as some "exception" to the rule, for exceptions destroy the notion that Baptism is necessary by necessity of means.  Proponents of BoD invariably fall into one or another grave error or heresy when articulating the concept.


    Offline GJC

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    Re: The Catechumen
    « Reply #5 on: November 22, 2017, 09:05:07 AM »
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  • Oh, on the contrary, most proponents of BoD falsely claim that there was unanimous consensus among the Church Fathers in favor of BoD.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  St. Augustine floated the idea as a speculation ... and then forcefully retracted it.  Towards the beginning of the scholastic era, there was an Augustinian revival and so the scholastics picked up on Augustine's original speculation ... but evidently didn't have knowledge of his later retraction.  Once St. Thomas picked it up, it went viral.

    At the end of the day, there's ZERO evidence that Baptism of Desire has been divinely revealed ... whereas the necessity of Baptism is in fact divinely revealed.  And I have NEVER SEEN an argument made by anyone that proves that Baptism of Desire derives necessarily from other revealed truth.  Theologians mere state, gratuitously, that it exists ... almost invariably tying it back to the "authority" of St. Augustine.  Consequently BoD can never be defined as dogma.
    Yes, the same could be said of implicit faith. Speculation begins in the 16th century as a minority opinion, and fast forward to this moment, and it is now the majority opinion.

    And passed off like Church teaching.



    Offline Ladislaus

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    Re: The Catechumen
    « Reply #6 on: November 22, 2017, 09:17:19 AM »
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  • Yes, the same could be said of implicit faith. Speculation begins in the 16th century as a minority opinion, and fast forward to this moment, and it is now the majority opinion.

    And passed off like Church teaching.

    Implicit faith is even worse because the Church Fathers UNANIMOUSLY taught that knowledge of and faith in Jesus Christ was necessary for salvation.  And the Athanasian Creed appears to teach the same thing.  And for 1600 years explicit faith was taught by everyone everywhere.  If anything can be said to be an infallible teaching of the Ordinary Unviersal Magisterium, this is it.  When St. Alphonsus simply called implicit faith a less probable opinion, he opened the floodgates to tolerance for it.  Unfortunately, at the time, the notion of Ordinary Universal Magisterium had not been defined and was not really taken into consideration by the theologians.  It should have been rejected right out of the gate and recognized for the Jesuitical heresy that it was.

    Offline Clemens Maria

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    Re: The Catechumen
    « Reply #7 on: November 22, 2017, 09:31:37 AM »
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  • Why did the Church insist on catechumens receiving instruction before the sacrament?  Why not baptize as soon as they have expressed a desire to submit to the Church’s doctrine?  It seems to me to be a tacit admission that a catechumen is already under the Church’s protection.  If I were a catechumen wouldn’t I have a good case to argue that it is an injustice to risk my eternal salvation in order to prove my good faith?  What percentage of catechumens fall away before baptism and what percentage fall after?  My guess is that the greater number fall after.  So why not baptize after a simple profession of faith?  That certainly would have resulted in more souls being saved during times of persecution.  How would we condemn a catechumen for having a friend baptize him before the instruction?  There seems to be a conflict between the good of the individual and the good of the society as a whole there and I don’t see how that could be.


    Offline Mithrandylan

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    Re: The Catechumen
    « Reply #8 on: November 22, 2017, 09:40:39 AM »
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    What can a 35 year old white American male, lower middle class add to these interminable discussions?

    .
    His demography, apparently. 
    More Catholic Discussion: http://thetradforum.com

    Offline Ladislaus

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    Re: The Catechumen
    « Reply #9 on: November 22, 2017, 10:03:43 AM »
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  • Why did the Church insist on catechumens receiving instruction before the sacrament?  Why not baptize as soon as they have expressed a desire to submit to the Church’s doctrine?  It seems to me to be a tacit admission that a catechumen is already under the Church’s protection.  If I were a catechumen wouldn’t I have a good case to argue that it is an injustice to risk my eternal salvation in order to prove my good faith?

    Uhm, it was because the Church never administered the Sacrament of Baptism lightly but only after a period of testing to make sure the person was sincere and convinced.  And, also, unlike yourself, the Church believes that God will preserve a Catechumen who's in good faith and destined to receive Baptism ... until such a time as he actually receives Baptism.

    Offline Ladislaus

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    Re: The Catechumen
    « Reply #10 on: November 22, 2017, 10:05:38 AM »
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  • Why did the Church insist on catechumens receiving instruction before the sacrament?  Why not baptize as soon as they have expressed a desire to submit to the Church’s doctrine?  It seems to me to be a tacit admission that a catechumen is already under the Church’s protection.  If I were a catechumen wouldn’t I have a good case to argue that it is an injustice to risk my eternal salvation in order to prove my good faith?  What percentage of catechumens fall away before baptism and what percentage fall after?  My guess is that the greater number fall after.  So why not baptize after a simple profession of faith?  That certainly would have resulted in more souls being saved during times of persecution.  How would we condemn a catechumen for having a friend baptize him before the instruction?  There seems to be a conflict between the good of the individual and the good of the society as a whole there and I don’t see how that could be.

    And, just as with the origins of BoD itself, this is nothing but speculation on your part and based on a number of assumptions ... that it would be "an injustice".  Cries of "unfair" and "unmerciful" -- presumptions all against the goodness of God -- are what's behind BoD.  There's NO ACTUAL THEOLOGY BEHIND IT ... just emotional "reasoning" such as in your post here.


    Offline Last Tradhican

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    Re: The Catechumen
    « Reply #11 on: November 22, 2017, 10:07:49 AM »
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  • But, yes, the necessity of Baptism can be preserved even in Baptism of Desire so long as one properly articulates it; Baptism remains necessary as the object of one's desire and remains the instrumental cause of justification.  People saved by Baptism of Desire would receive the Sacrament in voto rather than be saved without it as some "exception" to the rule,
    If that it correct, then it would have been defined by the Church as such by now and would have been called the sacrament of baptism by desire.

    Besides, I have only met one person in my life that truly limited BOD to the catechumen. The chances of finding one who believes BOD of the catechumen exactly as you detail are slim and none. This is like debating over how many angels fit on top of a pin head.
    The Vatican II church - Assisting Souls to Hell Since 1962

    For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Mat 24:24

    Offline An even Seven

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    Re: The Catechumen
    « Reply #12 on: November 22, 2017, 10:13:21 AM »
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  • But, yes, the necessity of Baptism can be preserved even in Baptism of Desire so long as one properly articulates it; Baptism remains necessary as the object of one's desire and remains the instrumental cause of justification.  Note that, in order to avoid Pelagianism, you have to state that it is not the desire itself that's salvific but the Sacrament of Baptism operating through the desire that is the cause of justification.  People saved by Baptism of Desire would receive the Sacrament in voto rather than be saved without it as some "exception" to the rule, for exceptions destroy the notion that Baptism is necessary by necessity of means.  Proponents of BoD invariably fall into one or another grave error or heresy when articulating the concept.
    Who actually articulates it the way you have described?
    "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

    Offline Ladislaus

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    Re: The Catechumen
    « Reply #13 on: November 22, 2017, 10:14:46 AM »
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  • Who actually articulates it the way you have described?

    Those theologians like St. Robert Bellarmine who speak of an in voto reception of the Sacrament.

    Offline GJC

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    Re: The Catechumen
    « Reply #14 on: November 22, 2017, 10:17:52 AM »
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  • Uhm, it was because the Church never administered the Sacrament of Baptism lightly but only after a period of testing to make sure the person was sincere and convinced.  And, also, unlike yourself, the Church believes that God will preserve a Catechumen who's in good faith and destined to receive Baptism ... until such a time as he actually receives Baptism.
    The proposition of untimely deaths, unforeseen accidents are by products of the school of Molinism. In the school of Molinism, God is a spectator in the universe basically waiting to see if His graces are made efficacious or not by the individuals free will, therefore the untimely death, unforeseen accidents... I understand this position has not been condemned, however the natural trajectory ends up in Pelagianism, where we are today. 



     

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