Friday, February 25, 2011

The Church's Sacraments Today

Please also read:

The sacrament of Holy Baptism, is necessary for salvation.  The overabundance of water on earth and the fact that it is even lawful, in the case of grave necessity, to procure baptism from heretics, schismatics, even Jews or pagans, shows forth the testimony of God's solicitude for the human race. 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, the aforementioned Holy Baptism, and the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, neither of which requires a priest, if one cannot be found.


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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