Friday, February 25, 2011

The Church's Sacraments Today

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The sacrament of Holy Baptism, administered in water, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, is absolutely necessary for salvation, as has been discussed in numerous articles.  We have approched this from many angles.

First of all, we believe the above by the words of the Solemn Magisterium, that is to say the ex cathedra  decrees and definitions of Holy Mother Church, which we believe by faith to be infallible and irrefromable truths revealed by God Himself.  Even the dogmatic definition used by heretics to try to deny the truth of the absolute necessity of Baptism in water for salvation is against them.


Finally, we see that the many objections proposed by men who would subtly deny this necessity are theologically incorrect arguments and do not make it reasonable or right to hold the heretical position they do.  These objections are not at all synonymous with God's doctrinal revelations to man.

The absolute necessity of this sacrament, the overabundance of water on earth and the fact that it is even lawful to procure baptism from heretics, schismatics, even Jews and pagans, shows forth the testimony of God's solicitude for the human race.  From all this, it follows that even should the entire hierarchy of the clergy fall into heresy, and not a single lawful priest of the Most High remain, we still have access to the two sacraments necessary for the Church to continue on earth.



SACRAMENTS WITHOUT A PRIEST!?

That is correct. The Council of Florence attest to the validity of baptism performed by those who are not Catholic:


Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Session 8, ex cathedra: "The minister of this sacrament is a priest, who is empowered to baptize in virtue of his office. But in case of necessity not only a priest or a deacon, but even a lay man or a woman, even a pagan and a heretic, can baptize provided he or she uses the form of the church and intends to do what the Church does."

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Tertia Pars, Q. 82, Art. 7, Reply to Obj 2: "Baptism alone is allowed to be conferred by heretics, and schismatics, because they can lawfully baptize in case of necessity; but in no case can they lawfully consecrate the Eucharist, or confer the other sacraments."

So we have seen above that Catholic sacramental theology does indeed allow for new members to the body of Christ, which is the Church, even in times of mass apostasy, when there will be heretical and invalid priests as far as the eye can see.



All this means two things:

Men may be lawfully generated in marital unions, even in a land with no priests or other Catholics.
Men may be lawfully regenerated in Baptism, even in a land with no priests or other Catholics.

God foresaw the abominable state of mankind and so mercifully constituted His sacraments in such a way that we could nonetheless be saved amidst so many calamities, and even amidst a chastisement so great that the Papacy itself is taken from us.  How great is our God!  This is true indefectibility.  As long as there is water and there are men who believe aright (or even baptized infants), it is IMPOSSIBLE for the Church on earth to be destroyed, and She can continue to grow in number, no matter how many priests separate themselves from her by heresy or schism.

Finally, though it would be enough for God to have given us this much alone, He has given so much more. He grants the remission of sins to those who truly accept His graces, leave their sins behind and desire nothing more than to confess them for the love of God, that they may live a life that is pleasing to Him, though they never once sit in the confessional.



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