July 14, 2008
vol 19, no. 196

Three who dare challenge Church Teaching

Peter Abélard, Fr. Leonard Feeney and Peter Dimond against St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the Saints, Fathers, Doctors and Popes of the holy Catholic Church.

      "If St. Bernard had really entertained any doubts as to BOD he would not have bothered writing about it in the Tractatus de Baptismo to defend it in the first place (the contents of which, apart from the bit about being "in error or in knowledge," are not presented anywhere in the Treatise lest their contents be too persuasive). In a similar mode, if Peter or Michael Dimond were to be giving some sedevacantist presentation, and in the introductory remarks say something like, "Sedevacantism, be it true or not, is the claim that..." everyone would understand that such a remark does not mean that they are in doubt of whether they intend to present a case in favor of sedevacantism. For if not, then they would not have bothered to prepare it in the first place. This is the kind of statement that is meant merely to serve as a polite nod to any in the audience who, not as yet having had presented to them the material to follow, might be of a mind to have doubts regarding the topic, or even opinions to the contrary. One cannot construe from such phrases any actual doubt, any more than one would ever seriously claim that St. Augustine must have wondered if perhaps God really might have deceived him after all."

    There is but One God, One Church, One Baptism but within One God is Three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost; and within One Church the church Militant, Church Suffering and Church Triumphant; and, keeping in mind God's Communion of Saints there is within One Baptism the Baptism of Water alone for the Church Militant on earth, but there is also the Baptism of Blood and/or the Baptism of Desire for those who would, through their death, become members of the Church Suffering or Church Triumphant, Purgatory and Heaven respectively. The "Three in One" application preserves and strengthens the First Dogma of the Church that there is no salvation outside the Church (Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus) because those receiving BOB or BOD would be in the Church, not outside. This is something that such luminaries as Peter Abélard, Fr. Leonard Feeney, S.J. and radical Peter Dimond did not or do not honestly admit. Maybe that's why the idiom applies so aptly to such 'intellectuals' as these: A small amount of knowledge can cause people to think they are more expert than they really are. In other words, as has been proven by their condemnation by holy Mother the Church: a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing!

      "If the Scripture had allowed for more than one Faith or Lord or baptism then multiple different baptisms would have brought one into multiple different churches, with multiple different lords, and into multiple different faiths. So of course Scripture states that there is only one baptism, for there is only one faith to believe and one God to worship, though there should be three persons to that one God. No one would ever claim that there would be one Church and Faith of the Father, another Church and Faith of the Son, and yet a third Church and Faith of the Holy Ghost, would they? Neither would one say that Baptism of Water joins one to the Church of the Father (but not of the Son or the Holy Ghost), that Baptism of Blood joins one to the Church of the Son (but not of the Father or the Holy Ghost), and that Baptism of Desire joins one to the Church of the Holy Ghost (but not of the Father or the Son), or any other similar combinations. For there is only the one Church, reigned in glory over by the one God who is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and entered into by the one baptism which is by Water, Blood, or Desire."

    Part one of this series Word Twisting to Change the Meaning, discussed scholastic dishonesty in a general manner to show how selective and defective and out-of-context quotes can be used to make it seem as if the Bible, or popes and saints, or scholars, have stated unreasonable propositions which they themselves would never endorse, and indeed would have been shocked and offended to see their own words being so misapplied.

    Part two, Ellipses Can Eclipse Ecclesial Intent, introduced Peter Dimond's treatise, "Outside the Catholic Church There is Absolutely No Salvation," (hereinafter referred to as "the Treatise"), which is in my opinion the most exhaustive attempt to gather all the basic material regarding the various debates that have occurred regarding the question of Baptism of Blood (hereinafter referred to as "BOB") and Baptism of Desire (hereinafter referred to as "BOD") under one cover. In that installment I addressed the manner in which Peter Dimond misreads a great many standard dogmatic texts by failing to take into account a number of other dogmatic considerations, clearly known to the popes who enunciated the dogmatic texts themselves, selectively quoting them so as to make them seem to say something they do not in fact say.

    Another one of the 20 misreadings of Scripture discussed by James W. Sire in his book "Scripture Twisting," is "virtue by association." This particular misreading is not so much a misreading of any text itself as it is the use of Bible texts (or even Bible figures) merely to lend credibility to plainly non-biblical claims. For example it cites a book by Rick Chapman titled "How to Choose a Guru" which lists twenty-one gurus that "you can't go wrong with." Along with Jesus are listed Christian figures (St. Francis and St. Theresa) and such others as Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, Meher Baba, and Lao-tsu.

    Another example of such "virtue by association" mentioned in "Scripture Twisting" is the way that the Book of Mormon was written to sound so very much like the Bible, with all of its King's English, Behold!'s, And it came to pass...'s, and Lo!'s and a two-column format similar to most Bibles, and so forth. But as corollary to virtue by association there is also guilt by association, which the Scripture Twisting book also mentions in passing.

    A rather considerable amount of space in the Treatise is spent in refuting any number of anti-Catholic positions, ranging from those who see no necessity in being baptized, in being subject to the Supreme Pontiff, in belonging specifically to the Catholic Church, in reading the ancient magisterial documents only in the sense in which they were originally written, or even being a Catholic, in order to be "saved." One could argue that Peter Dimond was attempting to take on all positions other than his own, be they Catholic, Protestant, Modernist, Liberal, Agnostic, Deist, Atheist, or whatever.

    However, in each case the evidences adduced to prove many of the alternative positions false are merely those sorts of evidences that would have meaning only to conservative and traditional Catholics who take their faith seriously. Namely, he uses the declarations of Popes, Councils, Doctors, Canonists, Theologians, and Saints, with an occasional (and selective) borrowing from historical practices of the Church. To any Catholic these sorts of sources obviously must have weight, but these sources would mean nothing at all to Protestants, agnostics, deists, atheists, and for that matter the general run of liberals who think that Vatican II (and the declarations that have followed since) has rendered obsolete all previous Papal and Church teaching.

    Is he trying thereby to lump Catholics who simply believe in the Catholic doctrines of BOB and BOD in with all the various heretics who deny the necessity of subjection to the Supreme Pontiff or belief in all that the Church teaches, and all the rest, for salvation? This is nothing but guilt by association. Or perhaps he also intends to so associate his wicked pseudo-arguments denying BOB/BOD with the perfectly valid arguments against claims that other churches and religions can save or that water baptism need not be sought or that ignorance of itself can save and so forth. That would be nothing but virtue by association.

    The result of this is that a number of the chapters of the Treatise can basically be ignored here since their basic contentions are in no way challenged by any Catholic of the sort who would be persuaded by what the Pre-Vatican II Popes and Councils etc. have infallibly taught. This applies to sections 2 (The Keys of St. Peter and His Unfailing Faith), 3 (Believe Dogma as it was once declared), 7 (Subjection to the Church/Roman Pontiff), 9 (partially, namely the requirement that the water used for water baptism be literal water, Water is Necessary for Baptism and John 3:5 is literal), 10 (Infants Cannot Be Saved Without Baptism), 11 (Those who Die in Original Sin or Mortal Sin Descend into Hell), 13 (The Athanasian Creed and There is No Salvation for members of Islam, Judaism or other heretical or schismatic non-Catholics sects), 24 (Catholics Must Believe and Profess that the Sacramental System as a whole is Necessary for Salvation), and the three Appendices (The Form of Baptism, The Profession of Faith for converts to the Catholic Faith, and The Apostle's Creed). Though some of these sections may contain certain flaws, what few such flaws as are in them are simply borrowed from other sections and it would be redundant to address them here. I have therefore nothing further to say about the above listed sections.

    So where did denials of BOB and BOD get their start? In the opening couple centuries of the Church this question seems to have never come up. And in the next several centuries several ancient Church Fathers mentioned both BOB and BOD, though there were some few who listed only the martyrs (BOB) as being any exception to the requirement to be baptized in water. And yet, through selective quotation many of them are made to seem as if they entertained a variety of different opinions about BOB and BOD among themselves. However, no useful quotes have been found (even out of context) to suggest that any of the most ancient Fathers were in any way aware of any such difference of opinion among themselves

    One salient point that necessarily has to emerge from these facts is that there is little evidence that many of the ancients ever gave these questions much thought. By the time of Saint Augustine however, there had already been established a clear moral unanimity regarding the BOB, which was clearly in favor. Of the very most ancients, even what few could be quoted (or even misquoted) as being against either one of BOB or BOD never once invoked any of the official pronouncements (of the sort listed in my previous installment, or what equivalents to them must have existed in their own day) in defense of any such opinion, assuming any ever entertained such an opinion at all.

    If such official teachings as those cited in the previous installment were meant to be applicable to these particular cases, this kind of discussion would not have been permissible. One finds no further discussions on the question of BOB or BOD until the late 1120's when Peter Abélard, who had just recently put forth (but then had already withdrawn) some rather irregular ideas regarding the Holy Trinity, first began to deny that those ancient Church Fathers and Doctors, such as Augustine and Ambrose, could have been right about allowing for BOD.

    There is much about the whole situation regarding St. Bernard of Clairvaux and Peter Abélard which the Treatise quite dishonestly passes over in silence. The Catholic Encyclopedia brings out a number of salient historical points about these two men and how they related to each other with regards to the doctrinal differences between the two men, including the discussion about BOD. It states (as extracted from its articles about St. Bernard of Clairvaux and Peter Abélard):

    Abélard's treatise on the Trinity had been condemned in 1121, and he himself had thrown his book into the fire. But in 1139 he advocated new errors. Bernard, informed of this by William of St. Thierry, wrote to Abélard who answered in an insulting manner. Bernard then denounced him to the pope who caused a general council to be held at Sens. Abélard asked for a public discussion with Bernard; the latter showed his opponent's errors with such clearness and force of logic that he was unable to make any reply, and was obliged, after being condemned, to retire. The pope confirmed the judgment of the council, Abélard submitted without resistance, and retired to Cluny to live under Peter the Venerable, where he died two years later.

    There were admonitions on the one side and defiances on the other; St. Bernard, having first warned Abélard in private, proceeded to denounce him to the bishops of France; Abélard, underestimating the ability and influence of his adversary, requested a meeting, or council, of bishops, before whom Bernard and he should discuss the points in dispute.

    Accordingly, a council was held at Sens (the metropolitan see to which Paris was then suffragan) in 1141. On the eve of the council a meeting of bishops was held, at which Bernard was present, but not Abélard, and in that meeting a number of propositions were selected from Abélard's writings, and condemned. When, on the following morning, these propositions were read in solemn council, Abélard, informed, so it seems, of the proceedings of the evening before, refused to defend himself, declaring that he appealed to Rome. Accordingly, the propositions were condemned, but Abélard was allowed his freedom. St. Bernard now wrote to the members of the Roman Curia, with the result that Abélard had proceeded only as far as Cluny on his way to Rome when the decree of Innocent II confirming the sentence of the Council of Sens reached him.

    The Council of Sens condemned some 19 errors of Peter Abélard (Denzinger 368-387), of which the condemned proposition number 15 reads "That even chaste fear is excluded from future life." (Denzinger 382) This peculiar phrasing would be taken from Peter Abélard's own writings in which he had argued to the effect that even someone who dies with a chaste and holy fear of God, (but without being baptized in water) would still be excluded from Heaven. So, in review, Peter Abélard's unusual teachings, including his denial of BOD, were condemned in council (Sens) and then also by the Pope (Innocent II). Even Peter Abélard himself appears to have subsequently withdrawn his propositions.

    The denial of BOD would never arise again for just over 800 years, when Fr. Leonard Feeney,S.J. would begin championing Peter Abélard's unique opinion. But why is all of this history omitted? Pope Innocent II does get mentioned (page 144 of the Treatise), but only with regard to a rather strange document pertaining to the situation of an unbaptized priest. Why is the council of Sens not mentioned? Even more germane to the question, why is Pope Innocent II's endorsement of the decision of the Council of Sens not mentioned? From the way this whole episode is written up in the Treatise, one gets the picture that it all went much like controversies go in the Church today (in view of the lack of anyone of sufficient authority willing to arbitrate between differing doctrinal opinions) - someone writes up some claim, another writes against the claim, each side gets its followers, no authority steps in to resolve the question so people just continue lining up with whatever side they individually choose to agree with. Occasionally one side or the other may convert some adherants to their side through some particularly brilliant preaching, but no permanent gains are made and no resolutions emerge, and thus it remains indefinitely. Ignoring the council of Sens and the Pope's endorsement of said council, one gets the idea that Peter Abélard just writes up one claim, Bernard of Clairvaux writes against that claim, and then it's up to you, the reader, to decide which side you agree with.

    At least, Saint Bernard IS mentioned, and even with regard to this episode (page 82), but only in that he had written a treatise (Tractatus de Baptismo) in which he affirmed his stand with Saints (and Doctors) Ambrose and Augustine, as two pillars, in BOD. St. Bernard's own treatise had been written in response to a number of comments of Peter Abélard's and was written in direct response to a letter from Hugh of Saint Victor who desired to prepare a response to Abélard (or any of his disciples) who had spread pernicious ideas including the notion that the law of baptism became law the moment Jesus spoke of it secretly to Nicodemus, and that the ancient Fathers had known as fully as could be known today the full details of God's plan of redemption including the Virgin Birth and Jesus' death on the Cross. And important also to note is that Peter Abélard was only critical of BOD. He plainly did not reject the all-too widely held belief in BOB.

    It is instructive to take a good look at how St. Bernard responded to these errors, for he did far more than merely state that he disagreed with them. He reasoned from Scripture and the Fathers and the love of God in a manner exactly consistent with how all the ancient Fathers defended the doctrines. The full text of his response is available in the book Bernard of Clairvaux: "On Baptism and the Office of Bishops" Translated by Pauline Matarasso, available as Cistercian Fathers Series #67 from Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, web address, and also available from Cistercian Publications. The relevant portion reads thus (from pages 157-162):

    Once the remedy of baptism was common knowledge, any adult still refusing to be baptized added to the general and original stain - and this time on his own account - the crime of pride, carrying with him a double cause of just damnation should he happen to leave the body in that state. If, however, he should have second thoughts before the end, and want and ask to be baptized, but, forestalled by death, fail in the obtaining, so long as true faith, devout hope, and unfeigned love are present and only water is lacking - may God forgive me - I am quite unable to despair of this man's salvation, nor will I believe his faith empty, crush his hope or prune away his charity: this on condition that he does not spurn the water, but is prevented by the impossibility I have just mentioned. If anyone takes a different view, I suggest he look at the grounds on which he bases what he advances, for I confess that I would grudge my assent unless a more powerful argument swayed my reason or a greater authority compelled my belief.

    But my amazement would pass all bounds if this new inventor of novel assertions and assertor of new inventions was able to find a supportive argument which escaped the notice of the holy Fathers Ambrose and Augustine, or indeed an authority weightier than theirs. For, in the case he does not know, each held exactly the same opinion - the very one I admit to sharing. He should make a point of reading - if he has not already done so - Ambrose's book On the Death of Valentinian. If he has read it, he should recall it to mind and, recalling it, not fail to register but positively note, that the saint confidently assumes the salvation of one who met death unbaptized, and has no hesitation in allowing good will to substitute for capacity. He should also read Augustine's On the One Baptism, Book IV, and either admit that he has let himself be led astray or prove himself brazenly stubborn. 'Blessed Cyprian', says Augustine, 'to show that suffering can sometimes stand in for baptism, adduces the weighty example of that unbaptized thief to whom Christ said: Today you shall be with me in paradise.' Augustine goes on: 'I found, on turning this over and over in my mind, that it is not only suffering for the name of Christ, but also faith and conversion of heart which can make good the loss borne by those who want of time robs of the benefits of the baptismal mystery'. 'That thief', he continues, 'exemplifies the Apostle's words on the value of the inner disposition in the absence of the visible sacrament, It is by believing with the heart that we are justified, by confessing with the lips that we are saved. But', adds Augustine, 'it is only when baptism is prevented, not by contempt for religion but by outward constraints, that the mystery is invisibly implemented.' And I am not unaware that [that Father] himself withdrew the example of the thief, which he had put forward, and acknowledged its inadmissibility as proof of his opinion, in that it cannot be known for certain whether or not the thief had been baptized. That does not stop him from pressing his view strongly and confirming it in various ways; nor, unless I am mistaken, will you find any instance of his having retracted it. Elsewhere Augustine, after bringing forward other figures whom Scripture records as having been invisibly rather than visibly sanctified, writes in conclusion: 'We may gather from these examples that some have experienced and profited from an invisible sanctification unaccompanied by visible sacraments, which latter have changed with changing times and differed then from now.' A little further on we read: 'Not, however, that the visible sacrament is to be contemned, for it is not possible for anyone acting thus to be invisibly sanctified.' In these passages he demonstrates clearly that the faithful person who turns to God in his heart is deprived of the fruit of baptism not by failing to be baptized, but by holding baptism in contempt.

    It would be hard, believe me, to tear me away from these two pillars - I mean Augustine and Ambrose. I own to going along with them in wisdom or in error, for I too believe that a person can be saved by faith alone, through the desire to receive the sacrament, but only if such a one is forestalled by death or prevented by some other insuperable force from implementing this devout desire. Perhaps this was why the Savior, when he said: Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, took care not to repeat 'whoever is not baptized', but only, whoever does not believe will be condemned, intimating strongly that faith is sometimes sufficient for salvation and that without it nothing suffices. And while it is conceded that martyrdom can stand in for baptism, it is clearly not the torment but the faith which is operative. For without faith what is martyrdom but torment? If faith, then, which gives to martyrdom an eminence that sets it on par with baptism, is so impotent and feeble of itself, how can it confer on something else what it is not potent enough to win on its own? To shed one's blood for Christ is without doubt a proof of great faith, but one given not to God, but to human beings. Supposing God, who has no need of tangible proofs, sees in the heart of someone dying in peace an equally great faith, a faith not put to the test of martyrdom but nonetheless meet for it; if that person, recalling that he has not yet received the mystery of salvation, longs for it with the fullness of a disconsolate and contrite heart, and if sudden death prevents him attaining it, will God condemn his faithful servant? Will he condemn, I ask you, someone who is ready to die for him? Paul says: No one is able to say 'Lord Jesus' save in the Holy Spirit. So what then of the person who at the hour of death not only invokes the Lord Jesus, but also longs for his sacrament with all the fullness of his heart, shall we say that he does not speak in the Holy Spirit, thus making a liar of the Apostle, or, alternatively, that even with the Spirit he will be condemned? He has the Savior dwelling in his heart through faith and in his mouth through avowal; with his Savior present will he be condemned? Since martyrdom earns from faith alone the exceptional privilege of being received in all security in place of baptism, I do not see why faith should not have the same sway with God, who does not need the proof of martyrdom to recognize it. I should certainly say that it is as efficacious for salvation, though not for the amassing of merit, where martyrdom undoubtedly takes precedence. We read that Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and again that If a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. What is plainer than that the will is taken for the deed, when force of circumstance prevents the doing? Unless perhaps it is thought that ill will carries a greater weight than good with the God who is love, and that the merciful and magnanimous Lord is quicker to avenge himself than to reward. Just as someone who calls to mind - it may be at the point of death - that he is pledged to a creditor and lacks the wherewithal to discharge his debt, is believed nonetheless to win remission and be let off any judgment by simple dint of repentance and genuine sorrow, even so will faith alone and the conversion of the mind to God, without the shedding of blood and pouring of water, assuredly win salvation for whomsoever wishes to be baptized but, waylaid by death, is unable to put that wish into effect. And just as no repentance can remit the sin of the debtor who, when he can, does not restore what he has taken, even so no faith will avail the other who fails to receive the sacrament when he is able. Indeed, neglecting to do so proves that his faith is not perfect. A true and full faith embraces all commands; and this is the very chief of commands. Anyone therefore who refuses to obey it will rightly be deemed, not faithful, but frankly rebellious and contemptuous. For how can one be faithful and hold God's sacrament in contempt?

    There are several things to observe from this rather lengthy discourse of the saint. For one thing he has called the BOD-denying opponent he refutes a "new inventor of novel assertions and assertor of new inventions," and openly challenges this opponent to produce any weightier authorities in this matter than Saints Ambrose and Augustine, who also each spoke at quite some length to defend BOD. If all of these "no salvation outside the Church" papal declarations were supposedly so authoritatively meant to imply that BOD (or even BOB) were teachings to be denied, why is it that Peter Abélard in no way has had recourse to any of these? Why, for example, had Abélard not quoted Pope Saint Leo the Great as is quoted in the Treatise, thus:

Pope St. Leo the Great, dogmatic letter to Flavian, Council of Chalcedon, 451: "Let him heed what the blessed apostle Peter preaches, that sanctification by the Spirit is effected by the sprinkling of Christ's blood (1 Pet. 1:2); and let him not skip over the same apostle's words, knowing that you have been redeemed from the empty way of life you inherited from your fathers, not with corruptible gold and silver but by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, as of a lamb without stain or spot (1 Pet. 1:18). Nor should he withstand the testimony of blessed John the apostle: and the blood of Jesus, the Son of God, purifies us from every sin (1 Jn. 1:7); and again, This is the victory which conquers the world, our faith. Who is there who conquers the world save one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? It is He, Jesus Christ, who has come through water and blood, not in water only, but in water and blood. And because the Spirit is truth, it is the Spirit who testifies. For there are three who give testimony - Spirit and water and blood. And the three are one. (1 Jn. 5:4-8) in other words, the Spirit of sanctification and the Blood of redemption and the water of Baptism. These three are one and remain indivisible. None of them is separable from its link with the others."

    This quote was clearly extant, and indeed it might even have come up in the course of the discussions in connection with the Holy Trinity as this comes from that most famous document (it is "the Tome"). It had to have been known to both Abélard and Bernard, and certainly both would have recognized the Sainted and Great Pope to be one of the very few authorities who would have qualified as being even more weighty than Saints Ambrose and Augustine. Yet it goes unmentioned. Or else if Abélard had mentioned it, then why would Bernard so risk seriously disappointing his correspondent Hugh of Saint Victor by neglecting to respond to such a great argument?

    Of course, Abélard simply never thought of it. And neither did anyone else in the Church until in the twenty-first century two laymen named Peter and Michael Dimond at last discovered what the Pope had really said way back then! The reason that Abélard would not have thought of it is that, unlike the Dimonds, he had been raised and steeped in the instruction of the Church and thereby understood in what sense these sorts of declarations were being made, what the Popes really and truly meant. Such quotes as those cited in the previous installment or even here above might look intimidating to us lay amateurs who might not have been instructed in how the Church has always understood such declarations, but to those so instructed the argument loses all value and interest.

    In a manner strikingly similar to the Watchtower book's attempt to claim that Catholic scholars "admit that the doctrine [of the Holy Trinity] must be dated as from about three hundred and fifty years after the death of Jesus Christ" (when the Catholic scholars in fact admit no such thing), Dimond's Treatise claims that

"Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau (of the SSPX) is forced to admit in his book Baptism of Desire (p. 37) that during St. Bernard's period, when the idea of baptism of desire really began to gain momentum based on the passages of Augustine and Ambrose's funeral speech for Valentinian, the well-known Peter Abelard (whose orthodoxy nevertheless was suspect on other points) stated that any idea of baptism of desire based on St. Ambrose 'contradicts tradition in this matter.'"

    Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau's book says no such thing on page 37 or anywhere else. Instead, what it reads on page 37 (having just given quite a compelling quote from Hugh of Saint Victor) is that "Only one dissident voice is heard, that of Abelard (1079-1142), who claims that St. Ambrose contradicts tradition in this matter. But this writer, whose orthodoxy is, at the very least, suspect, is refuted by St. Bernard (1090-1153)." And then a few very short but relevant passages of Tractatus de Baptismo are given in both the original Latin and in an English translation.

    So, what has Dimond's Treatise to say of this episode? Well it so happened that in the course of the Tractatus de Baptismo St. Bernard had, in confessing his union with the two great pillars Augustine and Ambrose, stated that "I confess that, whether in error or knowledge, I am with them." The Treatise attempts to make much mileage from the phrase "whether in error or knowledge" ("in wisdom or in error," in the translation provided above), as though St. Bernard had his own doubts about what he was about to expound upon. St. Augustine had once remarked that "If I am in error, then it is God Himself who has deceived me," and this is a clear reference to that remark. With this phrase St. Bernard is saying that "if I am wrong, then so are Saints Augustine and Ambrose, and for that matter the Church which has endorsed their teaching thereafter by recognizing them as doctors."

    If St. Bernard had really entertained any doubts as to BOD he would not have bothered writing about it in the Tractatus de Baptismo to defend it in the first place (the contents of which, apart from the bit about being "in error or in knowledge," are not presented anywhere in the Treatise lest their contents be too persuasive). In a similar mode, if Peter or Michael Dimond were to be giving some sedevacantist presentation, and in the introductory remarks say something like, "Sedevacantism, be it true or not, is the claim that..." everyone would understand that such a remark does not mean that they are in doubt of whether they intend to present a case in favor of sedevacantism. For if not, then they would not have bothered to prepare it in the first place. This is the kind of statement that is meant merely to serve as a polite nod to any in the audience who, not as yet having had presented to them the material to follow, might be of a mind to have doubts regarding the topic, or even opinions to the contrary. One cannot construe from such phrases any actual doubt, any more than one would ever seriously claim that St. Augustine must have wondered if perhaps God really might have deceived him after all.

    So why should it even matter if St. Bernard says, "whether in error or knowledge" in such a context as this? Well it so happens that when Fr. François Laisney quoted from St. Bernard, he omitted the phrase with ellipses, and Peter Dimond, finding no reprieve in any other part of the work and wanting to make as much of this as possible, treated the omission as being deliberately deceptive, saying "the words 'whether in error or knowledge' are removed by Fr. Laisney". Now, of course, it is perfectly justifiable to use ellipses (…) when quoting texts, in order to pass over parts of the quotation that are not crucial or necessary in the discussion. But, in this case, the readers of Fr. Laisney's book would have been well served to see this short, crucial admission by St. Bernard that he could have been right or wrong about baptism of desire. Fr. Laisney deliberately removed it because he knows that it is devastating to his contention that baptism of desire is a teaching of the Church based on the opinions of saints."

    While one may wonder if it might have been more advisable for Fr. Laisney to have simply included the phrase (as Fr. Rulleau does in his book), or even pointed out what I am saying about it above, one has to realize that the omission changes nothing and that Fr. Laisney's ellipses were perfectly legitimate. And indeed, in view of what the saint wrote, the inclusion of such a phrase is not the least bit "devastating" at all.

    But still continuing this theme of "it's up to me the writer and you the reader to decide for ourselves whether we believe Peter Abélard or Bernard of Clairvaux," the Treatise immediately goes on to mention the concept of salvation by Faith alone. Now as we Catholics know (and as the Treatise itself amply cites from the Council of Trent), the Protestant teaching of salvation by faith alone is a heresy, but Bernard's use of the phrase "faith alone" has nothing in common with the heretical Protestant teaching that the Council of Trent rightly condemned. For the Protestants were teaching that baptism has no role in salvation, like it is merely some unnecessary "thing" you can do if you happen to feel like doing it, but if you don't that's also okay, since your faith alone is all you need. Their "faith" demands nothing but this "faith" alone, a distorted faith which admits no other obligation and needs no excuse for failing to do anything else than believe it.

    The saving faith that St. Bernard speaks of is that directed towards the fullness of the Catholic Church, a faith that understands and accepts the duty to join the Church Militant (which can only be done by water baptism), and obey the Church's laws and precepts in due submission to the Successor of Peter, and which proceeds to lead one promptly and directly in that direction. To delay needlessly would only demonstrate a lack of that particular kind of saving faith, but to have death intercept one during that narrow window of opportunity circumstances necessarily provide between the interior decision and the exterior action, is quite another thing.

    To illustrate it another way: Suppose you want a job with a certain employer. You apply for the job, interview, get accepted, and so the employer tells you to "report here for work this coming Monday morning." But Monday comes along and you don't show. Well, that previous Sunday night your heart stopped beating, or that previous Sunday night you lost your life saving the life of a fellow employee. Even the phrase "fellow employee" gives it away. Even though you have not as yet reported for work on the very first day, you are, from the moment he told you to report here for work, an employee already (as much as you remain an employee during the weekends you have off), though you have as yet done absolutely nothing for your employer. And as such you (or in this case, since you are dead, your heirs) would be entitled to at least some limited fiscal compensatory package, as though you had been working for some time and then died.

    Your intention was to come and do work, hence this payment is justly due. But if you simply don't bother to show up on Monday (or any other day), and not for such a clear reason as death (or at least a debilitating sickness, which might legitimately excuse a reasonable delay in reporting for work), what is it you want? Just to get paid for doing no work? What employer would tolerate that? What employer would give you the time of day, let alone provide you any fiscal compensation if you came to him saying "Put me on your payroll please, but I figure on being dead before ever getting a chance to report for work"?

    Fr. Feeney himself once wrote (in his book, Bread of Life), that "It is sinful to call men to salvation by offering them 'Baptism of desire'." That is what the Protestants did with their "faith alone" heresy, and certainly if any Catholic priest were to be so silly and foolish as to do the same, his guilt would also be at least as great as that of the Protestants. But might not Fr. Feeney have been exaggerating a bit to suggest that Catholic priests (or any appreciable number thereof anyway) were actually offering anyone baptism of desire? For that is not anyone's to offer and only God's to give. A baptism of desire or of blood would usher the soul receiving it directly into either the Church Suffering or the Church Triumphant, either way into being saved. That's like the new hire's heirs receiving fiscal compensation from the employer though the new hire died before showing up for work. But to seek the reward with no intention to work, that is what seeking a baptism of desire would mean and why seeking it is so reprehensible.

    This is what St. Augustine was referring to when he wrote "Look for rewards, and you will find nothing but punishments!" Why should God have the least intention of saving anyone who has no desire to enter into and serve in His Church Militant here on earth? What employer would feel the least obligation to provide any compensation to someone who never even intended to do any work, or even to show up? "He that findeth his life, shall lose it; and he that shall lose his life for Me, shall find it" (Matthew 10:39). We have no right over our own life, which is why murder and suicide are both such serious sins. To be justified before God, our own will can only be for the Church Militant, to join it (by water baptism) if we are not as yet in it, and to remain in it (by all means, sacramental and otherwise) once we are inside. BOB and BOD can only apply where this will towards the Church Militant (as seen by Him who sees into the hearts of all) is present.

    As another example, when St. Justin Martyr wrote "...hasten to learn in what way forgiveness of sins and a hope of the inheritance ... may be yours. There is no other way than this: acknowledge Christ, be washed in the washing announced by Isaias [Baptism]," the point is that YOU have no power to procure a baptism of blood or of desire, only that of water. To pursue a baptism of blood or desire directly, you would have to seek death, and that would be suicide, a mortal sin. The others are given by God alone, and only in the circumstance that death intercepts your direct and unhesitating journey to the baptismal font. And His willingness to do this will be keyed directly on your pursuit of "the washing announced by Isaias."

    So when St. Bernard writes of anyone being saved by "faith alone" he means quite specifically he that intends and plans (before God) to enter the Church Militant (which would be done only by water baptism) so as to do the works that God has for him. This has nothing in common with the Protestant "faith alone" which has no such intentions or plans but rests on its own laurels as if salvation has already been attained. Even Peter Dimond is constrained to admit in his Treatise that "I'm sure that St. Bernard did not really believe that faith alone justifies and saves (Luther's heretical doctrine)."

    When one considers what it takes to be recognized as a Doctor of the Church one would have to realize that St. Bernard's statements and even his wordings cannot even be injudicious, let alone wrong about something as basic as who can be saved or how salvation works or what means God has provided for salvation! Yet the Treatise faults St. Bernard for using the unfortunate phrase "faith alone" ("unfortunate" only in retrospect, in view of how the Protestants would use a similar phrase for something quite different and quite heretical, indeed some may have been similarly quoting Saint Bernard out of context to try and turn this rather limited instance of salvation by "faith alone" in order to help push their own peculiar "faith alone" doctrine) three times as if to imply that in doing so he was fallible.

    All of which foregoing now enables us to view yet one other category of dogmatic or doctrinal papal teaching, and that is that which speaks of the necessity of water baptism:

    Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, Canon 5 on the Sacrament of Baptism, ex cathedra: "If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation (John. 3:5): let him be anathema."

    Pope Pius IV, "Iniunctum nobis," Nov. 13, 1565, ex cathedra: "I also profess that there are truly and properly seven sacraments of the New Law instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, and necessary for the salvation of mankind, although all are not necessary for each individual…"

    Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council I, Sess. 2, Profession of Faith, ex cathedra: "I profess also that there are seven sacraments of the new law, truly and properly so called, instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ and necessary for salvation, though each person need not receive them all."

    The denial of the necessity of water baptism is a Protestant (and Modernist) heresy quite different and alien from the Church's perpetual teaching that some few souls might be admitted to Heaven despite their own inability to obtain a water baptism. Even they had to desire it, seek it, and be oriented towards joining and serving in the Church Militant. They can't just say, "Please send me to Heaven, God." They would have to be able to say truthfully, "What would you have me do, Lord; Here I am, send me!" Water Baptism is a necessary duty on our part. There is no means open to us by which we may will ourselves into a Baptism of Blood or of Desire.

    The above passages are speaking of water Baptism as being necessary in that sense, not in any sense that would seem to suggest that God is powerless to admit into Heaven any soul into Heaven who was not baptized in water. One cannot construe these declarations or those in the previous installment to mean that every saved soul had to have been baptized in water (even in the New Testament era), and the Church has never so taken them.

    Next question: Is there one baptism or three? Sacred Scripture clearly refers to there being "one baptism," and several magisterial documents cited in the Treatise state the same, albeit merely reiterating the scriptural text and not commenting on it in any way. Does there being only one baptism exclude there being three modes of baptism? One can easily quote any number of scriptures and magisterial sources to the effect that there is only one God. Does there being only one God exclude there being three Divine Persons who are the Holy Trinity?

    If the Scripture had allowed for more than one Faith or Lord or baptism then multiple different baptisms would have brought one into multiple different churches, with multiple different lords, and into multiple different faiths. So of course Scripture states that there is only one baptism, for there is only one faith to believe and one God to worship, though there should be three persons to that one God. No one would ever claim that there would be one Church and Faith of the Father, another Church and Faith of the Son, and yet a third Church and Faith of the Holy Ghost, would they? Neither would one say that Baptism of Water joins one to the Church of the Father (but not of the Son or the Holy Ghost), that Baptism of Blood joins one to the Church of the Son (but not of the Father or the Holy Ghost), and that Baptism of Desire joins one to the Church of the Holy Ghost (but not of the Father or the Son), or any other similar combinations. For there is only the one Church, reigned in glory over by the one God who is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and entered into by the one baptism which is by Water, Blood, or Desire. So looking at the following:

    Pope Clement V, Council of Vienne, 1311-1312, ex cathedra: "Besides, one baptism which regenerates all who are baptized in Christ must be faithfully confessed by all just as 'one God and one faith,' which celebrated in water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit we believe to be commonly the perfect remedy for salvation for adults as for children."

    It should be obvious in looking at the preceding that baptism can only be celebrated (performed by the Church) "in water." Baptisms of Blood and Desire by their very nature cannot be performed ("celebrated") by the Church but only be performed by God Himself personally. And this statement is again just yet another instance of the broad sweeping generalization which cannot be taken as referring to each and every individual case, even to the most unusual and extraordinary. The attempt in the Treatise to make it out that there would be "three baptisms" is therefore fully as disingenuous as the Watchtower's claim that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity teaches that there are "three gods."

    One other claim adduced by the Treatise to try to deny the Church teaching regarding three modes of baptism would be the following quote:

    St. Jerome (+386): "The Lord is one and God is one… Moreover the faith is said to be one… And there is one baptism, for it is in one and the same way that we are baptized in the Father and in the Son and in the Holy Spirit."

        Who is the "we" who are (presumably all) baptized "one and the same way" (never mind some of the variations that occurred in some of the earliest days of the Church, such as immersion, or doing it three times (be it immersion or another more contemporary practice), and so forth)? Is he speaking of the whole Church, Militant, Suffering, and Triumphant taken together? Or might he be speaking of only the Church Militant, for which such a statement would be obviously true but similarly obviously in no way implying that everyone in the Church Suffering or Triumphant might have been baptized in a different mode?

        Another small group of quotes misused in the Treatise pertain to justification, namely the contention that justification can only be applied to a soul in water baptism. But even on the face of them the quotes plainly say no such thing. Let us begin by looking at them:

      St. Ambrose (+ 390): "… when the Lord Jesus Christ was about to give us the form of baptism, He came to John, and John said to Him: I ought to be baptized by thee, and comest Thou to me? And Jesus answering said: Suffer it to be so for now. For so it becometh us to fulfill all justice (Mt. 3:14-15). See how all justice rests on baptism."

      Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 6, Chap. 7, ex cathedra: "…the instrumental cause [of Justification] is the Sacrament of Baptism, which is 'the Sacrament of Faith,' without faith no one is ever justified…"

      Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 6, Chap. 7, ex cathedra: "… the efficient cause [of Justification] is a truly merciful God who gratuitously 'washes and sanctifies', 'signing and anointing with the Holy Spirit…"

      Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Sess. 7, Foreword, ex cathedra: "For the completion of the salutary doctrine of Justification… it has seemed fitting to treat of the most holy sacraments of the Church, through which all true justice either begins, or being begun is increased or being lost is restored."

        The first quote from Saint Ambrose comments on the Scripture regarding the baptism of Jesus, and specifically His remark that His being baptized by John would "fulfill all justice," for "all justice rests on baptism." This shows that baptism is the basis that there exists justification, not that each and every soul must be baptized in water in order to obtain the fruit of this justification that baptism has provided to all Mankind, if only they but choose to avail themselves of it.

        In the second quote, the principle spoken of in the Saint Ambrose quote seems to be getting enlarged upon in that "the instrumental cause is the Sacrament of Baptism, which is the Sacrament of Faith, without FAITH no one is ever justified." The Treatise would try to persuade us (though at least it didn't actually reprint it this way) that it reads "the instrumental cause is the Sacrament of Baptism, which is the Sacrament of Faith, without WHICH no one is ever justified." But of course that is not what it says. It says that "without FAITH no one is ever justified." But this harks straight back to the point made by Saint Bernard to the effect that "he that does not believe [but nothing is said about whether "he" gets baptized or not] shall be condemned, for indeed WITH FAITH, a person can be justified, either as a baptized member of the Church Militant, or (at least in a provisional sense) as someone who is legitimately and genuinely seeking the sacrament. But WITHOUT FAITH, even be he baptized, he is not justified.

        In the third quote it is God, and not baptism, Who is identified as the efficient cause of justification, that it is He Who washes, sanctifies, signs, and anoints with the Holy Spirit. Water Baptism is the first and most ordinary means by which God has elected to perform this, but clearly nothing in this quote precludes God from performing these functions upon him that dies as a martyr or else on the way to the baptismal font upon that person's final death.

        In the case of the fourth quote, this is why I have spoken of the justification of a person who is WITH FAITH as being possibly "in a provisional sense," for the person so progressing towards the Church (as opposed to the person who prefers to remain simply "in orbit" around the Church without ever actually joining), though he lacks the graces conveyed by the sacraments (since he can as yet have not sacraments), and though he cannot obtain a juridical forgiveness for his sins (since Penance is also not as yet open to him), he can nevertheless be "justified" in the eyes of God Who sees the heart, such that if he dies then all the graces of the sacrament of water baptism would be applied to him exactly as if he had been baptized, with the one exception that in the case of a BOD it may be the case that not all temporal punishment for sin has been atoned for and the merits of martyrdom would not apply.

        For water baptism itself is a death. In it we die to sin and are buried in the water (an immersion baptism would bring out this symbolism much better than the more common, though perfectly acceptable, alternative practiced in most places and at most times) as if into and under the soil, and then we are brought back to life in the Spirit as our resurrected body must one day emerge from the grave, the water having also washed our sins. How much more can a real death, freely endured in perfect faith and love of God, suffice to achieve the same welcome into the Church, if God so wills, though in this case it be directly into the Church Suffering or the Church Triumphant.

        On page 208 of the Treatise, the extraordinary claim is made that faith equals baptism (presumably, in water). If that were the case then why even bother with desiring water baptism at all, since faith itself would already be the exact selfsame identical thing by that line of "reasoning"! There is however quite an intimate relation between faith and baptism, for (as the quotes it provides show), "… for in the Christian what comes first is faith. And at Rome for this reason those who have been baptized are called the faithful (fideles)… it was because you believed that you received Baptism." Faith came first, and because of faith those with faith were then baptized. For true faith seeks water baptism, where it has not as yet obtained it. Only regarding infants does water baptism impart a kind of "faith" (albeit by proxy) though the infant is incapable of faith (or of sin) by virtue of his childish nature.

        With each sacrament there is both an exterior aspect and an interior aspect. Faith is a part of the interior aspect of baptism, and water baptism an exterior aspect of faith. But one is internal and as such invisible, but the other external and as such visible. And this manner of relationship pertains to all sacraments. Fr. Feeney, in The Bread of Life once made fun of Baptism of Desire by asking about "Eucharist of Desire" or "Matrimony of Desire" or "Holy Orders of Desire." As a priest he should have known better.

        There most certainly is a "Eucharist of Desire," for many of us Catholics do this every time we cannot make it to a Mass and so we make a spiritual communion in the course of pray-reading the Missal in lieu of attendance at Mass.

        The love between a man and a woman that motivates them to jump through all the hoops it takes to get married would certainly qualify as a desire for Matrimony, though of course only the Sacrament itself would confer to them the rights and responsibilities of Matrimony, even as water baptism alone can confer the right (and the power) to receive all the other sacraments, and to any offices in the Church.

        And The Catechism of the Council of Trent has much to say about the difference between the exterior priesthood, which belongs to those duly ordained into the Sacrament of Holy Orders on the one hand, and the interior priesthood, which belongs to all faithful Catholics (and of which Sacred Scripture speaks of in 1 Peter 2: 5 when it mentions a "priesthood" of all believers), so that interior priesthood would be that interior aspect, the "Holy Orders of Desire," if you will (to put it crudely), and so on through all the Sacraments.

        When the Jailor asked the Apostle what he must do to be saved, he was told first to "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house," so it was upon their faith that their ability to be saved began, and yes, as it promptly led to their being baptized the Desire was promptly fulfilled. But their faith was already of a saving nature from that very moment that they believed, for their duty to be baptized was implicit in that faith.

        Finally, the point is made that the Sacrament of water Baptism places an indelible mark upon the soul of him who receives it, something that can never be removed or replaced but becomes a part of him forevermore. And in the writings of the Ancient Fathers this "mark" is often spoken of as being a "seal" or a "sign." The Treatise refers to this fact on pages 78 and 219 where it says "The 'SEAL' is the fathers' term for the mark of the Sacrament of Baptism, as we saw already," and again, "Notice the term SIGNING. This term (SIGNING) is a clear reference to the character or mark of the Sacrament of Baptism; for the "SIGN" of Baptism only comes with the Sacrament of Baptism, as everyone admits." Everyone? Notice what Saint Ambrose said on his quote given on page 47 of the Treatise: "Even a catechumen believes in the cross of the Lord Jesus, by which also he is SIGNED; but, unless he be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he cannot receive the remission of sins nor be recipient of the gift of spiritual grace."

        True, the unbaptized catechumen cannot have his sins forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance, and must also function without the sanctifying and other graces of the remaining sacraments as well (though actual graces are often provided), Saint Ambrose here plainly regarded the catechumen as being SIGNED by his belief in the Cross of Christ. Whatever the Church may have come to say later on about where and how and if the indelible mark of the Sacrament of Baptism is conferred, Saint Ambrose here plainly regarded his unbaptized catechumens as being already connected to Jesus Christ by some bond of love and faith that desires Baptism and which would plainly mature into a valid Baptism of Desire should death overtake them too soon.

    Griff L. Ruby

        Next Week: Part 4

          For the first installment of this series, see Part 1

          For the second installment of this series, see Part 2

        Griff's book is available from Books for $26.95 or can be read on-line at We at The Daily Catholic strongly urge you to share it with all you can for that could be the gentle shove that moves your friends back to where the True Faith resides forever, rooted in the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church as Christ intended and promised.

      Griff Ruby's STRAIGHT STUFF
      July 14, 2008
      Volume 19, no. 196