September 29, 2008
vol 19, no. 273
We've all seen the hilarious exercise of bobbing for apples, ironically in water. However, what Griff has decided to do is not funny, but very necessary in order to refute the heresy of Feeneyism that Baptism by water is the only way to salvation. Thus he goes bobbing for verified examples of Baptism of Blood by first splashing around the depths of the Treatise to uncover the disguised examples that the Dimonds have omitted or fabricated what might have occurred without their ever being there. Then Griff gets to the core by producing the shining precedent the Church has sunk her teeth into from earliest times in providing example after example of canonized saints who never had the chance to be baptized by water, yet they are official saints in Heaven. If the good fruit of what the Church says doesn't sink the Feeneyite heresy, then we can only hope the latter will dry up, so dehydrated by the arid audacity of stubborness and pride to dare deny Catholic truth.
"Though the number of these unbaptized martyr-saints of the Church is obviously small, the bare existence of even so much as one of them would be enough to show the denial of Baptism of Blood to be categorically false. The unbaptized martyrs have been one of the biggest thorns in the side of the Dimond brothers, Fr. Feeney and his followers, and in fact all of those attempting to deny this particular Catholic teaching. For if what the Church says of these saints is true (that they were never sacramentally baptized), then if what these people say were also true then these "saints" would burning in Hell, or at the very least, eternally deprived of the Beatific Vision. Yet the Church calls them saints, even if rather minor and poorly known saints."
Hiding the obvious truth is not always that easy for it takes great skill to be deceptive and throw bones where faux skeletons pile up, so that no one looks in the closet where the real skeletons are kept. It's a tactic used by those who fear being exposed for the fraud those who practice the art of scholastic dishonesty are guilty of. Such are the author/s of the Treatise who have become infamous for their misdirection and assumptions of "what might have happened" instead of what is chronicled by the Church. We have the Roman Martyrology, Tertullian's historical accounts, and the Lives of the Saints, not to mention numerous Fathers, Saints and Church documents that assure there is salvation through the Baptism of Blood.
"When there is a wealth of adverse information against one's position, it is always a difficult and delicate affair to decide just how all of this will be handled. Those who would want to deny BOB and BOD have a great deal to conceal, and it is interesting to see the methods used to minimize the sheer bulk of just how many, many objections there really are to be made their denials of BOB and BOD throughout the Treatise. By far the easiest path might have been to simply ignore any and all such objections. Back in the 1940's when the Jesuit Fr.Leonard Feeney himself and his associates at his St. Benedict Center were first positing their denials of BOB and BOD, this path could be and was reasonably taken, since the Church had never heard of any such idea before (not since Peter Abélard anyway, and that's pretty obscure and a long time ago to boot) and as such had no specific objections to such an error/heresy to respond to it with."
Part 1 of this series discussed scholastic dishonesty in a general manner to show how quotes from the authoritative sources can be made to sound as if they have stated unreasonable propositions which they themselves obviously wouldn't. Parts 2 through 4 of this series introduced Peter Dimond's treatise, "Outside the Catholic Church There is Absolutely No Salvation," (hereinafter referred to as "the Treatise"), an attempt which gathers a great deal of material about the question of Baptism of Blood (hereinafter referred to as "BOB") and Baptism of Desire (hereinafter referred to as "BOD"), and there, the standard dogmatic and doctrinal texts, Sacred Scripture, and the Church Fathers were explored to see if their declarations and statements really showed any reason to doubt the Catholic doctrines of BOB and BOD, and to expose some significant instances of scholastic dishonesty employed to make it seem as if they did. Parts 5 through 8 began a consideration of the objections raised and acknowledged as such within the scope of the Treatise, showing that these objections do comprise significant reasons to believe in BOB and BOD despite the wretched attempts in the Treatise to minimize their impact.
When I was a child, I remember being a rather fussy eater, and I recall there being many things set before me on dinner plates that I would not, could not, bring myself to eat. The problem of course was that, since it was there on my plate, I couldn't very well just leave it alone and not eat it. Often I was told to "try it," which I knew to be futile since I needed no further reason to be repelled by it. So at least some of it simply HAD to disappear, somehow.
A little bit might actually be eaten (for I had to be seen eating it at least once), but as for the rest, the game was to find ways to minimize what was left, to find ways of rearranging the remaining unwanted food to make it look like as little as possible was left in proportion to how much actually remained. For example, you find that you can't make it too tall, for that would stick out and be too conspicuous. And if you make it too wide it covers too much of the plate and that is also not good. So one had to find just the right width and height as a balance between the two to make it seem like there was as little as possible. And making it kind of rounded in shape also kept the height and width small while concealing as much as possible. One could also distribute small portions of it here and there to further reduce the size of any particular pile and make it harder to see at a glance just how little was actually eaten.
Also, there were sometimes other things on the plate that could be legitimately present, and thus used as hiding places, for example by hiding some unwanted lima beans (anyone but me remember those?) under the bone from a steak, or inside the hollow shell of a baked and now consumed potato. Sometimes, if the unwanted food is particularly sticky, some of it could be hid under the raised rim of the plate (always on the side of the plate away from everyone else). The only extreme I never recall resorting to was the removal from the plate to some pocket in my clothing (though I remember reading of such a thing being used in tricking the Welsh Giant in the fairy tale of Jack the Giant Killer), since I didn't want to have to deal with what would be said when the stains and mess are located at laundry time.
Of course, now I can only look back on such childish shenanigans with regret, conscious of the fact that I probably thus wasted more food in a week than some kids in other parts of the world can ever get in a month. And the only mitigation to that I can offer is that if there had been any way to teleport the unwanted food from my plate to theirs I would have gladly done it. Nevertheless, the practical upshot of such events of my life is that the skill is one I know well, and therefore one I can easily recognize when used by others.
When there is a wealth of adverse information against one's position, it is always a difficult and delicate affair to decide just how all of this will be handled. Those who would want to deny BOB and BOD have a great deal to conceal, and it is interesting to see the methods used to minimize the sheer bulk of just how many, many objections there really are to be made their denials of BOB and BOD throughout the Treatise. By far the easiest path might have been to simply ignore any and all such objections. Back in the 1940's when the Jesuit Fr.Leonard Feeney himself and his associates at his St. Benedict Center were first positing their denials of BOB and BOD, this path could be and was reasonably taken, since the Church had never heard of any such idea before (not since Peter Abélard anyway, and that's pretty obscure and a long time ago to boot) and as such had no specific objections to such an error/heresy to respond to it with.
But as Fr. Feeney and his associates became more harsh and strident in their peculiar "interpretation" of "No salvation outside the Church," and their position better known (and also hardening more into its final form), objections began to surface quite rapidly, and soon could no longer be ignored. So now, instead of merely stating their position and expecting it to stand as though it were self evident, they now had to begin defending their position against various objections that were being presented. Between then and now, only all the more objections have been made by the Church to respond to such denials of Catholic doctrines. Furthermore, most of these responses have become quite well-known to the general Catholic public. To ignore them all is simply no longer strategic. To someone completely new to the question such a complete omission of any mention of any objections might initially seem persuasive, but such "new converts" to the erroneous theory would rapidly melt away as objections are brought to their attention by friends and loved ones and practically anyone to whom they convey their exciting new teachings.
The Dimond brothers, cognizant of how much common knowledge all these objections have become, obviously realized from the outset that such an approach would not work. Perhaps one or two small things could be passed over in complete silence, but as many as their readership may likely encounter all had to be seemingly "addressed." This of course leaves them with quite a pile of objections, which together with whatever "responses" they could make to them, would have to have made up something like better than 90% of their Treatise. That's an awful lot of unwanted food to hide on the plate.
What I have addressed thus far is only that which they have openly had to admit as objections by placing them within their "Objections" Sections, 16 and 17. But obviously there are a great many more objections to make to the denials of BOB and BOD than those listed in Sections 16 and 17. Not that they could ignore all these other objections, but like hiding the lima beans under the steak bones many of them are brought up and "addressed" in various other parts of the Treatise. Having responded to their feeble attempts to "address" the various objections cataloged in Sections 16 and 17 of the Treatise, I now turn my attention to those further objections indirectly addressed only in other portions of the Treatise.
The other day, I had occasion to pause in front of a memorial to the Missing In Action and/or Prisoners of War (MIA-POW) of our various armed forces on our nearby military base. There were some 78,000 such military men (and possibly some women as well) unaccounted for during World War Two, 8,100 unaccounted for from the Korean Conflict, and 2,300 such unaccounted from the Vietnam War. Some 20 who were all drawn from the immediate area around our base, and who served in the United States Army, the United States Air Force, the United States Navy, and the United States Marine Corps, were also specifically commemorated in this particular memorial by name, "Lest We Forget" that some few of them might still be alive out there somewhere, perhaps wasting away in unofficial and undocumented prison camps, if not actually dead.
Given all the many soldiers who have given their lives in all the battles throughout all the ages, some in just wars and others in unjust, the wonder is that Baptism of Blood never seems to have been abused in anywhere near like the manner that Baptism of Desire was being abused in mid-twentieth Century Boston to which Fr. Feeney and his compatriots so virulently reacted. Those who died in battle sacrificed their lives for their families, their friends, and their loved ones, for their country, for the cause of Freedom, Liberty, Justice, Democracy, the King, or whatever, for their friends and fellow soldiers in the regiment. They died in the line of duty.
One can hope and pray for as many of them as possible to have been saved, but of course God alone knows who among them died worthily and who did not, and who (from among these POW-MIAs in particular) would still be alive somewhere. And just as many have given their lives in the defense of the various secular nations and kingdoms of the earth down throughout the ages, there are those who have given their lives in the cause of Christ.
In discussions (or arguments, often quite heated) between those who deny BOB and BOD, and those who believe the Catholic doctrines of BOB and BOD, it is Baptism of Desire that gets the brunt of attention. There are two reasons for this, one which is legitimate and one which is manipulative. The legitimate reason is that Baptism of Blood, unlike the other, does not seem to be getting abused much at all. It is after all restricted to those who have been martyred and of course after the ancient times the actual martyrs have been significantly a minority among us. Not even the feasible abuse of ascribing BOB to those who gave their lives unselfishly for some worldly or national cause, for example in wars as soldiers of any secular army, appears to have occurred to any detectible degree. In Fr. Feeney's time however, BOD was already being extended into further and further scenarios as to "save" all sorts of persons whose relation to the Church is quite tenuous at best, and altogether nonexistent at worst.
We have a somewhat similar comparison with the case of dissolving matrimony. There are two basic ways a married couple can break up, free to marry in the Church. One is the well-known annulment in which some defect of form, matter, intent, or minister of the sacrament is discovered (e. g. a former spouse of one of the partners thought to be dead in fact turning out to be alive after all). The other is the bona fide divorce which only applies to those coming from outside the Church and non-sacramentally married there, then one converts and the other either persecutes or leaves the one on account of reasons of faith, otherwise known as the Pauline Privilege (in the case of those coming from the unbaptized, such as Buddhists), and its partner the Petrine Privilege (in the case of those coming from other churches with a valid baptism, such as Methodists). You always hear about annulments for they are the instrument that is being abused to such a great degree these past several decades. But meanwhile the miniscule trickle of divorces remains as small as ever. BOD, like annulments today, was totally out of control whereas BOB, like lawful divorces, remains true to its truly exceptional and rare category. Therefore it is annulments that have become the scandal today, not lawful divorces. Likewise, the grave abuses of BOD were a scandal whereas the small category of BOB scandalized no one. And perhaps if only BOD had not been so abused as it had come to be in the mid-twentieth Century, there would be no one going around denying both.
The illegitimate and manipulative reason is this: The case for BOB is undeniably so much stronger, especially among the Ancient Fathers, and with the unbaptized saint-martyrs, than the case for BOD as to make it something those who deny both will gladly shift attention away from as quickly as possible. So weak indeed is any possible case against BOB that Peter Abélard, in choosing to oppose BOD, didn't even think of also denying BOB. And Michel Baius, despite being the only one to concoct in detail a "theology" compatible to a pseudo-Christian system of belief that would exclude BOB and BOD, never thought of opposing either of these doctrines. For that reason I here have elected to focus on precisely that weakest part of Fr. Feeney's and Peter Dimond's teachings.
The teaching regarding the outcome of those who give their lives for Christ as they ought when so persecuted has not been challenged, or at least not until the mid-twentieth Century. It has always been a case of their being directly introduced to the glories of Heaven, an automatic cleansing of any purgatorial sentence they might otherwise have endured at their time of death. And to whatever extent their sufferings in the course of their martyrdom exceeded that necessary to cleanse away all temporal suffering due them in Purgatory, these additional amounts added to the Treasury of merit from which the Church draws Indulgences.
Of all the many canonized martyred saints of the Church, it is generally understood or accepted that there were approximately just under two dozen such who are believed to have been baptized "in their own blood" by having died under persecution without having been baptized in water. I do not purport to list all of them, but at least a representative sampling. One would think that the bare presence of such saints on the calendar, in the Roman Martyrology, and given in various volumes of the Lives of the Saints (such as that of Venerable Bede, or Fr. Alban Butler's), would be the ultimate nail in the coffin for anyone who would seek to deny the Catholic doctrine of Baptism of Blood. Before getting to how the Treatise (and other similar works) responds to these holy saints, allow me to recount here such examples as I have encountered:
There seem to be several categories of such saints here. The first category would be those who are stated in the accounts as being catechumens. Of this category we have the example of Saint Emerentiana. The Catholic Encyclopedia gives this account of her life:
Virgin and martyr, d. at Rome in the third century. The old Itineraries to the graves of the Roman martyrs, after giving the place of burial on the Via Nomentana of St. Agnes, speak of St. Emerentiana. Over the grave of St. Emerentiana a church was built which, according to the Itineraries, was near the church erected over the place of burial of St. Agnes, and somewhat farther from the city wall. In reality Emerentiana was interred in the coemeterium majus located in this vicinity not far from the coemeterium Agnetis. Armellini believed that he had found the original burial chamber of St. Emerentiana in the former coemeterium. According to the legend of St. Agnes Emerentiana was her foster-sister. Some days after the burial of St. Agnes Emerentiana, who was still a catechumen, went to the grave to pray, and while praying she was suddenly attacked by the pagans and killed with stones. Her feast is kept on 23 January. In the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" she is mentioned under 16 September, with the statement: In coemeterio maiore. She is represented with stones in her lap, also with a palm or lily.
So, she was a catechumen, who went to pray at the tomb of St. Agnes, and who was then stoned on the spot. Then we have Saint Victor of Braga, of whom the Roman Martyrology and Vasaeus record:
Saint Victor: At Braga in Portugal, of Saint Victor, Martyr, who while still a catechumen refused to worship an idol, and confessed Christ Jesus with great constancy; wherefore after many torments, he merited to be baptized in his own blood, his head being cut off.
Victor of Braga Martyr (Red Martyr): Died c. 300. In his chronicle, Vasaeus records that Saint Victor was baptized by blood. The catechumen was beheaded at Braga, Portugal, under Diocletian for refusing to sacrifice to idols (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Then we have Saint Plutarch and his Seven Companions including two who were also catechumens, of whom the Martyrology states:
At Alexandria, in the persecution of Severus, the holy martyrs Plutarch, Serenus, Heraclides a catechumen, Heron a neophyte, another Serenus, Rhais a catechumen, Potamioena, and Marcella her mother. Among them the virgin Potamioena is particularly distinguished. She first endured many very painful trials for the preservation of her virginity, and then cruel and unheard of torments for the faith, after which she and her mother were consumed with fire.
In the next category we have those who decided on the spot that they would rather die with these Christians than live in a society so decadent and unworthy as to put to death these evidently innocent, yet brave and noble people (the Christians) for no reason other than their own sadistic pleasure. These are often people who had very little idea what it even meant to be a Christian (Catholic) but who saw in them reason to make this supreme sacrifice as a spur of the moment decision. Of this category we have the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, among whom was one generally accepted as having not had an opportunity to be baptized. The Catholic Encyclopedia gives this account of their martyrdom:
A party of soldiers who suffered a cruel death for their faith, near Sebaste, in Lesser Armenia, victims of the persecutions of Licinius, who, after the year 316, persecuted the Christians of the East. The earliest account of their martyrdom is given by St. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea (370-379), in a homily delivered on the feast of the Forty Martyrs (Hom. xix in P.G., XXXI, 507 sqq.). The feast is consequently more ancient than the episcopate of Basil, whose eulogy on them was pronounced only fifty or sixty years after martyrdom, which is thus historic beyond a doubt. According to St. Basil, forty soldiers who had openly confessed themselves Christians were condemned by the prefect to be exposed naked upon a frozen pond near Sebaste on a bitterly cold night, that they might freeze to death. Among the confessors, one yielded and, leaving his companions, sought the warm baths near the lake which had been prepared for any who might prove inconstant. One of the guards set to keep watch over the martyrs beheld at this moment a supernatural brilliancy overshadowing them and at once proclaimed himself a Christian, threw off his garments, and placed himself beside the thirty-nine soldiers of Christ. Thus the number of forty remained complete. At daybreak, the stiffened bodies of the confessors, which still showed signs of life, were burned and the ashes cast into a river. The Christians, however, collected the precious remains, and the relics were distributed throughout many cities; in this way the veneration paid to the Forty Martyrs became widespread, and numerous churches were erected in their honor.
According to Fr. Butler in his Lives of the Saints:
There lived an Nantes an illustrious young nobleman, called Donatian, who, having received the sacrament of regeneration, led a most edifying life, and laid himself out with much zeal to converting others to faith in Christ. His elder brother, Rogatian, was not able to resist the moving example of his piety … and desired to be baptized. But the bishop having withdrawn and concealed himself for fear of persecution, he was not able to receive that sacrament, but was shortly after baptized in his blood.
The Catholic Encyclopedia and Venerable Bede have the following to say of Saint Alban, and more notably to all this here, of his would-be executioner:
Catholic Encyclopedia, regarding St. Alban: First martyr of Britain, suffered c. 304. The commonly received account of the martyrdom of St. Alban meets us as early as the pages of Bede's "Ecclesiastical History" (Bk. I, chs. vii and xviii). According to this, St. Alban was a pagan living at Verulamium (now the town of St. Albans in Hertfordshire), when a persecution of the Christians broke out, and a certain cleric flying for his life took refuge in Alban's house. Alban sheltered him, and after some days, moved by his example, himself received baptism. Later on, when the governor's emissaries came to search the house, Alban disguised himself in the cloak of his guest and gave himself up in his place. He was dragged before the judge, scourged, and, when he would not deny his faith, condemned to death. On the way to the place of execution Alban arrested the waters of a river so that they crossed dry-shod, and he further caused a fountain of water to flow on the summit of the hill on which he was beheaded. His executioner was converted, and the man who replaced him, after striking the fatal blow, was punished with blindness.
Venerable Bede (based on the previous source of Gildas) adds regarding the would-be executioner: But the executioner, who was so wicked as to imbrue his sacrilegious hands in the martyr's sacred blood, was not permitted to rejoice at his death; for his eyes dropped to the ground at the same moment as the blessed martyr's head. At the same time was also beheaded there, the soldier, who before, through a divine inspiration, had refused to execute the sentence on the martyr: - concerning whom it is evident, that, though he was not baptized at the baptismal font, yet he was cleansed with the laver of his own blood, and made worthy to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Yet another such saint is Saint Genesius of Arles, of whom the Catholic Encyclopedia states:
A notary martyred under Maximianus in 303 or 308. Feast, 25 Aug. He is honoured as patron of notaries, and invoked against chilblains and scurf. The Acts (Acta SS., Aug., V, 123, and Ruinart, 559), attributed to St. Paulinus of Nola, state: Genesius, native of Arles, at first a soldier became known for his proficiency in writing, and was made secretary to the magistrate of Arles. While performing the duties of his office the decree of persecution against the Christians was read in his presence. Outraged in his ideas of justice, the young catechumen cast his tablets at the feet of the magistrate and fled. He was captured and executed, and thus received baptism in his own blood. His veneration must be very old, as his name is found in the ancient martyrology ascribed to St. Jerome. A church and altar dedicated to him at Arles were known in the fourth century.
There is also the case of the Prefect Maximus, who like the above examples chose to die with Saint Cecilia's husband and his brother rather than live in a world capable of putting such to death. The Catholic Encyclopedia gives this account of the life of Saint Celilia within which mention is made of this Maximus:
Cecilia, a virgin of a senatorial family and a Christian from her infancy, was given in marriage by her parents to a noble pagan youth Valerianus. When, after the celebration of the marriage, the couple had retired to the wedding-chamber, Cecilia told Valerianus that she was betrothed to an angel who jealously guarded her body; therefore Valerianus must take care not to violate her virginity. Valerianus wished to see the angel, whereupon Cecilia sent him to the third milestone on the Via Appia where he should meet Bishop (Pope) Urbanus. Valerianus obeyed, was baptized by the pope, and returned a Christian to Cecilia. An angel then appeared to the two and crowned them with roses and lilies. When Tiburtius, the brother of Valerianus, came to them, he too was won over to Christianity. As zealous children of the Faith both brothers distributed rich alms and buried the bodies of the confessors who had died for Christ. The prefect, Turcius Almachius, condemned them to death; an officer of the prefect, Maximus, appointed to execute this sentence, was himself converted and suffered martyrdom with the two brothers. Their remains were buried in one tomb by Cecilia. And now Cecilia herself was sought by the officers of the prefect. Before she was taken prisoner, she arranged that her house should be preserved as a place of worship for the Roman Church. After a glorious profession of faith, she was condemned to be suffocated in the bath of her own house. But as she remained unhurt in the overheated room, the prefect had her decapitated in that place. The executioner let his sword fall three times without separating the head from the trunk, and fled, leaving the virgin bathed in her own blood. She lived three days, made dispositions in favour of the poor, and provided that after her death her house should be dedicated as a church. Urbanus buried her among the bishops and the confessors, i.e. in the Catacomb of Callistus.
Finally, in this category we have Saint Evilasius who died together with Saint Fausta whom he had persecuted. The Martyrology has this to say of their martyrdom:
At Cyzicum, on the sea of Marmora , the birthday of the holy martyrs Evilasius and the virgin Fausta, in the time of Emperor Maximian. Fausta's head was shaved to shame her, and she was hung up and tortured by Evilasius, then a pagan priest. But when he wished to have her body cut in two, the executioners could not inflict any injury upon her. Amazed at this prodigy, Evilasius believed in Christ and was cruelly tortured by order of the emperor; at the same time Fausta had her head bored through and her whole body pierced with nails. She was then laid on a heated gridiron, and being called by a celestial voice, went in company with Evilasius to enjoy the blessedness of heaven.
This last case is an actual example of exactly the scenario discussed by Pope Innocent II when he wrote about the situation of the unbaptized priest, with the one exception that the unbaptized priest being written about by the Pope here was not the holy martyr Saint Evilasius, but some other who simply died of natural causes before getting a legitimate opportunity to be baptized: when he wrote about the situation of the unbaptized priest:
Pope Innocent II, Baptism of Desire (an unbaptized priest) [From the letter "Apostolicam Sedem" to the Bishop of Cremona, of uncertain time]: "To your inquiry we respond thus: We assert without hesitation (on the authority of the holy fathers Augustine and Ambrose) that the priest whom you indicated (in your letter) had died without the water of baptism, because he persevered in the faith of holy mother Church and in the confession of the name of Christ, was freed from original sin and attained the joy of the heavenly fatherland. Read (brother) in the eighth book of Augustine's City of God where, among other things it is written, 'Baptism is ministered invisibly to one whom not contempt of religion but death excludes.' Read again in the book of the blessed Ambrose concerning the death of Valentinian where he says the same thing. Therefore, to questions concerning the dead, you should hold the opinions of the learned Fathers, and in your church you should join in prayers and you should have sacrifices offered to God for the priest mentioned (Apostolicam Sedem)."
The next category is that of those who receive spurious "baptisms," which are not counted as valid by the Church. The most common situation of this category was those of actors who, in various farcical roles poking fun of Christianity, pretended baptism as part of the play, but with clearly no valid intent on the part of either the minister or recipient of this pretended "sacrament," but then convicted of sin and desiring Heaven they repented on the spot and are otherwise much like those above who decided on the spot to die with the Christians rather than live with those who kill Christians for pleasure. Among this category of saints is Saint Ardalion, of whom it is said:
The Holy Martyr Ardalion accepted death for Christ under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311). Saint Ardalion was a talented mimic actor.
One time at the circus he played the role of a Christian. The actor, on the intent of the play-author, was to at first refuse to offer sacrifice to idols, but later to consent to renounce Christ. Along the course of the action they suspended him upon a wooden torture device and tore at him with iron hooks. He so naturally depicted the suffering, that the spectators were delighted and loudly declared their praise of his artistry. Suddenly the saint ordered all to be quiet and declared, that he actually was a Christian and did not renounce the Lord. The governor of the city tried to explain the matter thus, that Saint Ardalion was continuing to play the role, and at the end of the show he would renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the gods. But Saint Ardalion continued to confess his faith in Christ. Then the governor gave orders to throw the martyr onto a red-hot iron-pan. Thus did Saint Ardalion merit a martyr's crown.
After that comes the matter of Saint Genesius of Rome, of whom the Catholic Encyclopedia states:
A comedian at Rome, martyred under Diocletian in 286 or 303. Feast, 25 August. He is invoked against epilepsy, and is honored as patron of theatrical performers and of musicians. The legend (Acta SS., Aug., V, 119) relates: Genesius, the leader of a theatrical troupe in Rome, performing one day before the Emperor Diocletian, and wishing to expose Christian rites to the ridicule of his audience, pretended to receive the Sacrament of Baptism. When the water had been poured upon him he proclaimed himself a Christian. Diocletian at first enjoyed the realistic play, but, finding Genesius to be in earnest, ordered him to be tortured and then beheaded. He was buried on the Via Tiburtina. His relics are said to be partly in San Giovanni della Pigna, partly in S. Susanna di Termini and in the chapel of St. Lawrence. The legend was dramatized in the fifteenth century; embodied in later years in the oratorio "Polus Atella" of Löwe (d. 1869), and still more recently in a work by Weingartner (Berlinn 1892). The historic value of the Acts, dating from the seventh century, is very doubtful, though defended by Tillemont (Mémoires, IV s. v. Genesius). The very existence of Genesius is called into question, and he is held to be a Roman counterpart of St. Gelasius (or Gelasinus) of Hierapolis (d. 297). He was venerated, however, at Rome in the fourth century: a church was built in his honor very early, and was repaired and beautified by Gregory III in 741.
In this exact same category is also Saint Porphyry, of whom the Martyrology recounts:
Also, Saint Porphyry, a comedian, who was baptized in jest in the presence of Julian the Apostate, but suddenly converted by the power of God and declared himself a Christian. By order of the emperor he was thereupon struck with an axe, and thus crowned with martyrdom.
Though the number of these unbaptized martyr-saints of the Church is obviously small, the bare existence of even so much as one of them would be enough to show the denial of Baptism of Blood to be categorically false. The unbaptized martyrs have been one of the biggest thorns in the side of the Dimond brothers, Fr. Feeney and his followers, and in fact all of those attempting to deny this particular Catholic teaching. For if what the Church says of these saints is true (that they were never sacramentally baptized), then if what these people say were also true then these "saints" would burning in Hell, or at the very least, eternally deprived of the Beatific Vision. Yet the Church calls them saints, even if rather minor and poorly known saints.
The only "out" possible has been to claim that this small handful of saints did somehow, no doubt secretly, get sacramentally baptized in water at some point. The only other recourse is to ignore them, or at least speak of as few of them as possible. After all, one or two are much easier to explain away than a dozen, and your typical concerned Catholic who encounters this error, while often unable to think of the name of any such unbaptized martyr-saint, is nevertheless aware that there are some few such known to the Church. Since none of then are terribly well-known, it is easy for those who deny BOB to limit their list of examples to some very few, and furthermore to those that might admit some plausible scenario for having somehow gotten water-baptized somewhere along the way.
In the Treatise, this strategy is employed by restricting the actual saints thus used for illustration to only three, namely Saint Emerentiana, the forty martyrs of Sebaste (of which only the fortieth is of significance to this account), and Saint Alban and his guard. Of these, Saint Emerentiana is best known (and so could not be left out), though she alone does not get a subheading as the other two do.
So, besides limiting such examples to the paltry three it actually names, what does the Treatise do to explain these away? He starts with the easiest two. The story of St. Alban is the easiest for him to explain away since St. Alban reportedly performed a number of miracles with water, such making a river dry up, or causing water to well up out of the earth. It is quite clear from the accounts (such as they are) that these prodigies were performed to show the crowd that St. Alban, due to his sainthood in Christ, had the power of God behind him, and it is due to these miracles that certain ones converted, including most notably the guard appointed to keep him in custody and then slaughter him when the command is given. The speculation is offered that with all this ability to create water out of thin air, what was to stop St. Alban from using some of it to baptize the converted guard? Of all the unbaptized saints of the Church, this is plainly the one for whom such a plausible scenario could be most easily conjured up. Never mind the explicit statement from the account to the effect that he had not been baptized, presence of water and saint notwithstanding. We see this claim plainly in the Treatise when we see it saying:
We have two (fallible) accounts of the martyrdom of St. Alban and his guard, from St. Bede and Butler's Lives of the Saints. They both record that just before the martyrdom of St. Alban and his guard, St. Alban prayed for "water" which he miraculously received! St. Bede then goes on to say that the guard died unbaptized! Butler's says that the water was merely to "refresh" Alban's thirst! With all due respect to St. Bede and the good things in Butler's, how obvious does it have to be? A saint, who had a few minutes to live and who had a convert wanting to enter the Church of Christ, would not call for miraculous water in order to "refresh his thirst"! My goodness, he obviously called for the miraculous water to baptize the converted guard...
But contrast that with the bold and specific statement of Venerable Bede:
Venerable Bede: At the same time was also beheaded there, the soldier, who before, through a divine inspiration, had refused to execute the sentence on the martyr: - concerning whom it is evident, that, though he was not baptized at the baptismal font, yet he was cleansed with the laver of his own blood, and made worthy to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
It is one thing to claim that an account merely omits mention of how or when the saint got baptized, but quite another when it is explicit in denying that he was ever baptized in water. Needless to say, the only actual quote from Venerable Bede given in the Treatise comes from a different part of his account:
St. Bede: As he reached the summit, holy Alban asked God to give him (Alban) water, and at once a perennial spring bubbled up at his feet…
The other account easily used in the Treatise is that of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. In this case, the speculation is offered, based on a proclamation of the fortieth that he was a Christian, that he must have been already baptized:
They say that he was unbaptized, but that he joined himself with the other thirty-nine martyrs and froze to death for Christ on the lake. The fact is that there is no proof that the fortieth martyr of Sebaste was unbaptized, whose identity is unknown. The accounts of the story reveal that he "cried out with a loud voice that he was a Christian," probably because he was already a baptized Catholic who was spurred on to martyrdom by the example of the other thirty-nine.
Dimond then speculates that this fortieth might have been among those visiting the forty (which then included a previous fortieth who abandoned the rest to escape martyrdom) in prison while awaiting this execution, and perhaps somehow being baptized. Far more reasonable would be to speculate that this new fortieth got baptized somewhere else, or for that matter that one of the remaining thirty-nine could have baptized him, for they WERE on a lake after all. Oh but wait a minute, the lake was frozen. But even so couldn’t some disciple have punched a hole in the lake and used that water to baptize? One can only wonder why the Treatise had recourse to the scenario given, unless as an excuse to bring in another "quote."
But really, nothing real can be made of any such declaration, made on the spur of the moment, of one's being a Christian, when plainly they made that declaration merely so as to be counted worthy to die with the rest. It's kind of like the humorous situation in which a man (whose son is in the Boy Scouts) gets a phone call from the Scoutmaster asking for some volunteer help from some of the parents of some of the boys in his group. "I'm getting really exasperated here. I have been calling almost every father of every boy in my troop to please volunteer some time, and none of them have been willing to come and help me. To hear these men talk you would think they work 25 hours a day, eight days a week! Can I count on your help?" to which the man replied to the Scoutmaster, "Sorry, I work for the same company those other guys do." No, obviously he doesn't work for the same literal employer as the others, who no doubt in fact have various employers, but what he is saying is that he can be counted as being in the same category as as those other guys. And back to the present case wherein harmless citizens were being put to death for no valid reason one sees a grave and hideous wrong being perpetrated, one that cannot be stopped, but one which they can give their life in making a significant point about. "Count me as one of these Whatever-they-are's as just another one of your innocent victims."
It really all just goes to show the extremes to which someone will go to explain away the counterexamples that falsify their thesis, as I have even come across such explanations as someone having been drowned, cried over, rained on, or spat at, etc. (though these last don't appear in the Treatise nor in any of the similar works I intend to further address when I have completed Peter Dimond's Treatise), at least in the words of private defenders of the denial of BOB and BOD, desperate to preserve their position at any cost. This is not the first appearance of such fanciful explanations by any means. In the ancient age of the Fathers, there was a somewhat different contention being made that either the original 12 Apostles were not baptized (since the Bible never mentions specifically that they were - but it doesn't deny it either), or else that if they were it would have to be in the Scripture. Others, in responding to such a contention, actually managed to "find" it in Scripture, and let's hear how Tertullian characterized such a contention, and what he had to say about it:
Tertullian, On Baptism, Chapter XII - Of the Necessity of Baptism to Salvation (123-124): Others make the suggestion (forced enough, clearly) "that the apostles then served the turn of baptism when in their little ship, were sprinkled and covered with the waves: that Peter himself also was immersed enough when he walked on the sea." It is, however, as I think, one thing to be sprinkled or intercepted by the violence of the sea; another thing to be baptized in obedience to the discipline of religion.
So, Tertullian describes such claims as "forced," which is to say, like jamming a square peg into a round hole (or at least a round peg into a square hole), and then goes on to explain the obvious distinction between such accidental and plainly non-sacramental encounters with moisture versus the use of valid water in the Sacrament of Baptism. Is that really any different from the claim that St. Alban used his newly-made water (as against all accounts)? And we can safely relegate all attempts to "explain" how the unbaptized martyr-saints might have secretly obtained a "water baptism" to the exact same category.
The most difficult, and therefore the least well-handled is that of Saint Emerentiana. In her case, there simply is no plausible explanation for her to have met the water under any circumstances. There was no jail interment during which some visitor or fellow prisoner could have baptized her, no carrying her off somewhere during which she could have encountered a puddle of water and some secret disciple, and her status at the time of her martyrdom is yea verily established as having been a catechumen.
It is in this one area of the unbaptized martyrs that the Treatise manages to compare unfavorably with other such anti-BOB and anti-BOD literature, and where its author Peter Dimond relies most heavily upon the work of others, by far most notably Brother Robert Mary, M. I. C. M., author of Father Feeney and the Truth About Salvation, which he quotes at length. Of that other work as a whole, more will be said in a later installment, but several paragraphs of it are quoted in full in the Treatise as the response to the Catholic doctrine of Baptism of Blood as applied to the life of Saint Emerentiana. The first relevant couple Robert Mary paragraphs quoted reads thus:
The present Roman Martyrology is a catalogue of saints honored by the Church, not only those martyred for the Faith. It first appeared in 1584, and was derived from ancient martyrologies that existed in the fourth century, plus official and non-official records taken from acts of the martyrs that date back to the second century. It has been revised several times since its first compilation. When he was assigned to revise the ancient accounts, Saint Robert Bellarmine himself had to be restrained from overly skeptical editorial deletions.
This is of course a plain attempt to undermine the reliability of the Martyrology of the Church, so as to provide an excuse for writing events (such as a fictitious "water baptism") into the lives of saints which the source document provides no basis for doing. The claim boils down to "Since the Martyrology is so unreliable we feel free to question or doubt any claim made therein which is not consistent with our peculiar beliefs." By that exact same token miraculous events in the lives get explained away by modernists and other secular materialists. The extended quote from Robert Mary's book continues in the Treatise as follows:
First, it was not the intent of those who first reported the circumstances of the deaths of the martyrs to provide information from which 'baptismal registers' could later be compiled. If the chronicler makes no mention of the martyr's Baptism, it does not necessarily mean that he was never baptized. A case in point is Saint Patrick. He was not a martyr, but his Baptism was never recorded. Yet, we know positively that he received the sacrament since he was a bishop.
Next, even if a chronicler states positively that a martyr had not been baptized, it should be understood to mean that he was 'not recorded' as having been baptized. In those times especially, no person could hope to know with certainty that another had not been baptized.
In the first of these "points," he claims that a mere lack of mention of some saint's baptism does not mean that the saint was unbaptized. This utterly fails to address the fact that the unbaptized martyrs are not merely those whose baptisms go unmentioned, but whose supposed baptisms are not believed to have occurred. Recall for example the above situation of St. Alban of whom Venerable Bede wrote of At. Alban's guard that "though he was not baptized at the baptismal font, yet he was cleansed with the laver of his own blood, and made worthy to enter into the kingdom of heaven." Clearly this is not a matter of this guard's baptism not having been recorded, but of being believed not to have occurred at all. So this case doesn't even apply to the unbaptized martyr-saints.
The second paragraph elucidates a patently false principle for which neither Peter Dimond nor Robert Mary nor can anyone else provide any basis for. This was quite specifically introduced to try to explain away such mentions (as that in Venerable Bede) as do frequently occur in these unbaptized martyr-saint accounts. It basically amounts to claiming, "Even though the account positively states that something didn't happen, all that means is that they didn't know for sure whether or not it happened and so therefore we are free to conclude yea verily that it did happen." It makes a big deal about someone's baptism being "not recorded," as though it really were the intention of the Martyrology to serve as a baptismal register, as though he hadn't stated the exact reverse in the first paragraph. The excuses continue, thus:
Third, if a chronicler says that a martyr was 'baptized in his own blood', this does not automatically preclude (rule out) prior reception of the sacrament with water. When Christ referred to His coming Passion as a 'Baptism', He had already been baptized by Saint John in the Jordan.
Fourth, 'baptism of blood' should be understood as the greatest act of love of God that a man can make. God rewards it with direct entrance into heaven for those who are already baptized and in the Church: no purgatory --- it is a perfect confession. If it were capable of substituting for any sacrament, it would be the sacrament of Penance, because Penance does not oblige with a necessity of means, but precept only.
In his book Church History, Father John Laux, M. A., writes:
If he [the Christian] was destined to lose his life, he had been taught that martyrdom was a second Baptism, which washed away every stain, and that the soul of the martyr was secure in immediate admission to the perfect happiness of heaven.
The point in the third paragraph can be partially conceded. Yes it is true that even the martyrdom of the water-baptized is also spoken of frequently in the Fathers as being a "baptism," albeit a second one, and this is in the sense that one's sins up to that point are utterly canceled, not only forgiven but even all punishment for them abolished as well. But this is only a partial concession, for when this happens it is most properly (and commonly) regarded and described as a "second" baptism, not a repeat of the Sacrament itself (for that would be sacrilege) but of its utter sin-cleansing quality and result.
When Tertullian wrote of Baptism, and specifically his chapter on the Baptism of Blood, he mentioned the possibility of such a martyrdom serving as both an original baptism (for such souls as have not had an opportunity to be water-baptized) and as a "second" baptism for those who are already baptized in water. Let's take a look at his full chapter as this has direct bearing on this question:
Tertullian, On Baptism, Chapter XVI - Of the Second Baptism - With Blood (157-164): We have indeed, likewise, a second font, (itself withal one with the former), of blood, to wit; concerning which the Lord said, "I have to be baptized with a baptism," when He had been baptized already. For He had come "by means of water and blood," just as John has written; that He might be baptized by the water, glorified by the blood; to make us, in like manner, called by water, chosen by blood. These two baptisms He sent out from the wound in His pierced side, in order that they who believed in His blood might be bathed with the water; they who had been bathed in the water might likewise drink the blood. This is the baptism which both stands in lieu of the fontal bathing when that has not been received, and restores it when lost.
So, while this does establish that martyrdom can serve as a "second baptism," such that indeed not every reference to a saint's being "baptized in his own blood" need refer to an instance of Baptism of Blood, it also equally establishes that in other instances (e. g. those saints described above) in which the phrase "baptized in his own blood" most certainly does refer to that saint's Baptism of Blood, which is plainly stated here as something taken for granted.
And while we are on this ancient quote from Tertullian (one of the very oldest that explicitly mentions Baptism of Blood, not including the Biblical teaching that "Whosever loses his life for My sake shall find it"), what did the Treatise do with this? It is pointed out that elsewhere in the same document on baptism, Tertullian managed to make a mistake. Let us see first how the Treatise addresses this mistake:
But guess what? In the same work in which Tertullian expresses his opinion in favor of baptism of blood, he also makes a different and significant error. He says that infants should not be baptized until they are grown up!
Tertullian, On Baptism, 203 A.D.: "According to circumstance and disposition and even age of the individual person, it may be better to delay baptism; and especially so in the case of little children…Let them come, then, while they grow up…"
This contradicts the universal Catholic Tradition, received from the Apostles, and the later infallible teaching of the popes, that infants should be baptized as soon as possible.
And yes it is true that in Chapter 18 he does advise (but does not teach as a doctrine, as he does Baptism of Blood) that the baptism of children ought to be deferred. The reasons he gives are both spiritual and practical. The spiritual reason given is that he did not want the Sacrament to be disgraced with the behavior of those who, for example were baptized as infants, but who then grow up into having an evil disposition. The practical reason he gives relates to increasing the probability of the infant living to be old enough to make his own decision for baptism (if he is willing to live it worthily). The short excerpt from Tertullian in the Treatise quote makes it sound like he is advocating that only adults be baptized ("Let them come … they grow up"), though if you look closely you will see that, even as given in the Treatise, the crucial phrase is not "when they grow up" but "while they grow up," that is to say, while still young, but old enough to decide things for themselves. The actual quote reads thus:
Tertullian, On Baptism, Chapter XVIII - Of the Persons to Whom, and the Time When, Baptism is to Be Administered (180-195): But they whose office it is, know that baptism is not rashly to be administered. "Give to every one who begs of thee,"? has a reference of its own, appertaining especially to almsgiving. On the contrary, this precept is rather to be looked at carefully: "Give not the holy thing to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine;" and, "Lay not hands easily on any; share not other men's sins." If Philip so "easily" baptized the chamberlain, let us reflect that a manifest and conspicuous evidence that the Lord deemed him worthy had been interposed. The Spirit had enjoined Philip to proceed to that road: the eunuch himself, too, was not found idle, nor as one who was suddenly seized with an eager desire to be baptized; but, after going up to the temple for prayer's sake, being intently engaged on the divine Scripture, was thus suitably discovered - to whom God had, unasked, sent an apostle, which one, again, the Spirit bade adjoin himself to the chamberlain's chariot.
The Scripture which he was reading falls in opportunely with his faith: Philip, being requested, is taken to sit beside him; the Lord is pointed out; faith lingers not; water needs no waiting for; the work is completed, and the apostle snatched away. "But Paul too was, in fact, 'speedily' baptized: "for Simon, his host, speedily recognized him to be "an appointed vessel of election." God's approbation sends sure premonitory tokens before it; every "petition" may both deceive and be deceived.
And so, according to the circumstances and disposition, and even age, of each individual, the delay of baptism is preferable; principally, however, in the case of little children. For why is it necessary - if (baptism itself) is not so necessary - that the sponsors likewise should be thrust into danger? Who both themselves, by reason of mortality, may fail to fulfill their promises, and may be disappointed by the development of an evil disposition, in those for whom they stood? The Lord does indeed say, "Forbid them not to come unto me." Let them "come," then, while they are growing up; let them "come" while they are learning, while they are learning whither to come; let them become Christians when they have become able to know Christ. Why does the innocent period of life hasten to the "remission of sins? "More caution will be exercised in worldly matters: so that one who is not trusted with earthly substance is trusted with divine! Let them know how to "ask" for salvation, that you may seem (at least) to have given "to him that asks." For no less cause must the unwedded also be deferred - in whom the ground of temptation is prepared, alike in such as never were wedded by means of their maturity, and in the widowed by means of their freedom - until they either marry, or else be more fully strengthened for continence. If any understand the weighty import of baptism, they will fear its reception more than its delay: sound faith is secure of salvation.
So while Tertullian's advice turns out to be wrong, one also sees how it is not any sort of a doctrinal stand but merely a pragmatic one, a "pastoral" one, so to speak, and with such a seeming validity to it as to make even a saint capable of believing it, before the Church had ruled on the question. It is important to note that the Church does not follow him in this, exactly in the way that the Church does not follow Cyprian in believing that all heretical baptisms are sacramentally invalid, and does not follow St. Augustine in believing that unbaptized infants suffer pain of sense in Hell, and does not follow St. Thomas Aquinas in believing that the flesh of our Lady was conceived in sin. What is undeniable is that the Church most certainly does follow Tertullian in its teaching of Baptism of Blood. For in the mistakes of the saintly writers, nearly every one of them is nearly all alone in making their particular mistake. As we will see below, Tertullian is in no way anywhere near alone in believing in Baptism of Blood, even among the ancients, let alone the Doctors, Popes, and Councils already quoted in previous installments of this series.
At this point however, one other thing comes up. The claim is made in the Treatise that all of those ancients (or Doctors, or whoever is proving "inconvenient" to their denials of BOB and BOD) make admitted mistakes in some other place (whether in the same document or elsewhere), as if that is supposed to discredit the clear consensus among all, including some who didn't make any mistakes. This little claim keeps coming up again and again in the Treatise like some sort of
every time some Father, Saint, Doctor, Theologian, or Pope says anything in favor of BOB and/or BOD. As if that is supposed to mean anything! There are two problems with trying to discredit all these crucial Church figures with this leitmotif.
The first is that while each (or most anyway) do actually make some other mistake elsewhere in all their writings, what such mistakes they made are not shared, whereas their belief in BOB and/or BOD is shared by all. If Tertullian and St. Cyprian and others of the Ancient Fathers were wrong to believe in Baptism of Blood (along with all the Saints, Doctors, and Popes), then amazingly they all managed to make the same exact mistake.
The other thing to consider is the fact that such saints making mistakes is by no means unique to those whose writings are a thorn in the spirit to those who deny BOB and BOD. In point of fact it is probably impossible (or at least extraordinarily difficult) to find even so much as one single saint who has absolutely never made so much as one mistake in all of their writings (assuming they left any significant body of writings in the first place). So the bare ability to find mistakes elsewhere in the writings of the Ancient Fathers, Doctors, Theologians, Popes, and so forth proves categorically nothing at all.
Most amazingly of all, Tertullian has even managed to weigh in on almost this exact issue of whether the Church or its saints could make mistakes, and what real mistakes would look like where actually made, versus what that consensus of the Ancient Fathers would look like where present and having doctrinal force:
Tertullian, The Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter XXVIII - The One Tradition of the Faith, Which is Substantially Alike in the Churches Everywhere, a Good Proof that the Transmission Has Been True and Honest in the Main (296-300): Grant, then, that all have erred; that the apostle was mistaken in giving his testimony; that the Holy Ghost had no such respect to any one (church) as to lead it into truth, although sent with this view by Christ, and for this asked of the Father that He might be the teacher of truth; grant, also, that He, the Steward of God, the Vicar of Christ, neglected His office, permitting the churches for a time to understand differently, (and) to believe differently, what He Himself was preaching by the apostles - is it likely that so many churches, and they so great, should have gone astray into one and the same faith? No casualty distributed among many men issues in one and the same result. Error of doctrine in the churches must necessarily have produced various issues. When, however, that which is deposited among many is found to be one and the same, it is not the result of error, but of tradition. Can any one, then, be reckless enough to say that they were in error who handed on the tradition?
What Tertullian has to say about how all the churches (particular congregations of the Church in particular districts) all going "astray into the one and the same faith" and so forth equally applies to the great Fathers, Doctors, Saints, Theologians, and Popes of the Church. If all were mistaken, then they would be claiming all different things. And as we see, where each does err as an individual, their error is not shared with many, or (in most cases) with any at all. But where they have all supposedly "erred" in the exact same direction, namely in all unanimously teaching Baptism of Blood and Desire, this has the character, not of error, but of Tradition.
It is even more serious than that. Does not Peter Dimond know that in claiming that all of these holy writers in the Church have erred in teaching BOB and BOD, even while admitting their orthodoxy in all (or most) other things, is this not like the accusation properly made of the Modernists? For on one page (many pages in fact), Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, Augustine, Bernard, Aquinas, Pope Innocent III, and so on, all write things which the Dimonds opine to be Catholic (and they are Catholic) while on the next they openly advocate belief in Baptism of Blood and/or Desire , which they deny being Catholic. Recall what the Pope (St. Pius X) wrote:
Pope Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, paragraph 18, The Methods of Modernists: In their writings and addresses they seem not infrequently to advocate doctrines which are contrary one to the other, so that one would be disposed to regard their attitude as double and doubtful. But this is done deliberately and advisedly, and the reason of it is to be found in their opinion as to the mutual separation of science and faith. Thus in their books one finds some things which might well be approved by a Catholic, but on turning over the page one is confronted by other things which might well have been dictated by a rationalist.
Are we to believe that all the saints of the Church have been Modernist heretics? I fail to see what other accusation could possibly be derived from their leitmotif. And in the spirit of such supposed "doublemindedness" the Treatise goes on to quote Tertullian in support of its denials of BOB and BOD as if the ancient Father couldn't make up his mind, and also as if he hadn't been discredited on account of his plain and quite explicit teaching of BOB. And once again the quote is out of context, as it appears thus in the Treatise:
Tertullian actually affirms the universal teaching of Tradition on the absolute necessity of water baptism, contrary to the idea of baptism of blood.
Tertullian, On Baptism, 203: "… it is in fact prescribed that no one can attain to salvation without Baptism, especially in view of that declaration of the Lord, who says: 'Unless a man shall be born of water, he shall not have life [John 3:5]…"
Now let's look at the actual quote:
Tertullian, On Baptism, Chapter XII - Of the Necessity of Baptism to Salvation (180-195): When, however, the prescript is laid down that "without baptism, salvation is attainable by none" (chiefly on the ground of that declaration of the Lord, who says, "Unless one be born of water, he hath not life"), there arise immediately scrupulous, nay rather audacious, doubts on the part of some, "how, in accordance with that prescript, salvation is attainable by the apostles, whom - Paul excepted - we do not find baptized in the Lord? Nay, since Paul is the only one of them who has put on the garment of Christ's baptism, either the peril of all the others who lack the water of Christ is prejudged, that the prescript may be maintained, or else the prescript is rescinded if salvation has been ordained even for the unbaptized." I have heard - the Lord is my witness - doubts of that kind: that none may imagine me so abandoned as to ex-cogitate, unprovoked, in the license of my pen, ideas which would inspire others with scruple.
The chapter continues with a discussion of the questions as to whether the original 12 Apostles were ever actually baptized. But as one can see, the prescript being quoted is not so much being affirmed as being discussed, particularly with regards to certain scrupulous (or should we say audacious?) persons who had noted that Scripture does not record when the Apostles were baptized. Even more interesting is that Tertullian concludes this chapter with at least the faint possibility that even if the Apostles were not baptized they would indisputably be saved:
Tertullian, On Baptism, Chapter XII - Of the Necessity of Baptism to Salvation (126-135): Now, whether they [the Apostles] were baptized in any manner whatever, or whether they continued unbathed to the end - so that even that saying of the Lord touching the "one bath" does, under the person of Peter, merely regard us - still, to determine concerning the salvation of the apostles is audacious enough, because on them the prerogative even of first choice, and thereafter of undivided intimacy, might be able to confer the compendious grace of baptism, seeing they (I think) followed Him who was wont to promise salvation to every believer. "Thy faith," He would say, "hath saved thee;" and, "Thy sins shall be remitted thee," on thy believing, of course, albeit thou be not yet baptized. If that was wanting to the apostles, I know not in the faith of what things it was, that, roused by one word of the Lord, one left the toll-booth behind for ever; another deserted father and ship, and the craft by which he gained his living; a third, who disdained his father's obsequies, fulfilled, before he heard it, that highest precept of the Lord, "He who prefers father or mother to me, is not worthy of me."
This is to say that the Apostles were virtually certainly baptized, but even if not actually ever baptized, they nevertheless absolutely did have a fully saving faith. To have even entertained such possibility (no matter how plainly remote he considered it to be that the Apostles were not baptized) once again shows the capacity of God to save even the unbaptized in water. Anyway, that is enough on the subject of Tertullian. I now return to the extended quote of the passage from Robert Mary's book, which I present as given from that book:
Fifth, when a martyr is referred to as a 'catechumen,' it does not always mean he was not yet baptized. A catechumen was a person learning the Faith, as a student in a class called a catechumenate, under a teacher called a catechist. That students continued in their class even after they were baptized is confirmed conclusively by these words of Saint Ambrose to his catechumens: "I know very well that many things still have to be explained. It may strike you as strange that you were not given a complete teaching on the sacraments before you were baptized. However, the ancient discipline of the Church forbids us to reveal the Christian mysteries to the uninitiated. For the full meaning of the sacraments cannot be grasped without the light which they themselves shed in your hearts." (On the Mysteries and On the Sacraments, Saint Ambrose)
Now let me get this straight. The Treatise favorably quotes Robert Mary's book here to "prove" that the Church was quite fuzzy and unclear as to who was catechumen and who was baptized believer, such that the distinction was barely made, and often wrong. Was someone a baptized believer or only a catechumen? What difference does it make? It was all the same to them one way or the other: Catechumens can sometimes be called believers (as if they were already baptized) and "of the faithful" and so forth and baptized believers can sometimes be called catechumens, so it doesn't mean anything that the records of some saint describe that saint as being a catechumen at the time of their martyrdom.
Yet on the other hand, the Treatise lays out in no uncertain terms that there was a rigid line drawn between the catechumens and the baptized believers, the faithful," such that the difference between them was of such significance that one would be denied access to Heaven and the other permitted thereto if they died immediately, even as one was denied access to the heavenly liturgical mysteries while the other one was permitted access in the practice of the Church then. For the Treatise states (from pages 79-80):
The true teaching of apostolic and Catholic tradition on this topic is also seen from the teaching of the Catholic Liturgy, which all worshipping Catholics in the early Church acknowledged and believed: namely, that no unbaptized catechumen or unbaptized person was considered part of the faithful (see Section on "The One Church of the Faithful."). That unbaptized catechumens are not part of the faithful was held by all of the fathers because it was taught to all Catholics in the liturgy.
Dr. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Membership in the Church, p. 309: "3. The Fathers draw a sharp line of separation between Catechumens and 'the faithful.'"
So which is it, guys? Are the baptized faithful on the one hand and the catechumens on the other so much the same thing as for the terms for them both to be used interchangeably, or was there this big "sharp divide" between the two? I guess it depends upon whichever happens to be convenient for whichever argument they are making at the immediate moment!
In point of fact, while there may be some few passing mentions of a baptized person as being a catechumen, especially in the case where their baptism was rushed for whatever reason (or else baptized in some heretical sect, and they have only recently converted and so still have some learning to go through), there soon evolved a different expression for those who have been newly baptized, but still in need of some training and observation before entrusting them with any specific role, and that term is "neophyte." One actually sees the proper use of this word (with regards the holy martyrs) in one of the accounts covered in Robert Mary's book but carefully kept omitted from the Treatise:
At Alexandria, in the persecution of Severus, the holy martyrs Plutarch, Serenus, Heraclides a catechumen, Heron a neophyte, another Serenus, Rhais a catechumen, Potamioena, and Marcella her mother.
In this example, Heron is one of these newly-baptized "catechumens" (here properly called a "neophyte"), but Heraclides and Rhais are still called catechumens, in keeping with that sharp distinction the Church indeed has always classically made between the catechumens and the baptized faithful. In point of fact, despite what few contexts certain baptized persons might have ever been spoken of as catechumens under rare and limited circumstances, this was only done for practical distinctions regarding whether a person is ready for advancement in rank in the Kingdom, and never used of them once they were dead and all that remained was to decide how to honor them. So when an account of some martyr describes them as being a catechumen one can be certain that they were ONLY a catechumen (unbaptized, unless secretly and unknown to the Church), not one of these neophytes that sometimes got called catechumens on rare occasions.
Though the Treatise at this point inserts some additional material to point at some possible places where such a usage of the term catechumen might have been used, there is no hint here of that coming contradiction. Instead we are told that the mysteries were not explained in full until after baptism, and so therefore the person so newly baptized would still be learning the basics for some time. And what we are not told is that during this post-baptismal learning period the correct and common name for them is neophyte, a term occurring only once in the entire Treatise, and at quite a distance. Let us look at the two quotes given to "prove" that the word "catechumen" might be applied on at least some few occasions to a neophyte:
Pope St. Sylvester I, First Council of Nicaea, 325 A.D., Can. 2: "For a catechumen needs time and further probation after baptism..."
Council of Braga, 572, Canon xvii: "Neither the commemoration of Sacrifice [oblationis] nor the service of chanting [psallendi] is to be employed for catechumens who have died without baptism."
Neither of these, as given here, serves as anything like a clear use of the word catechumen to describe a neophyte. To illustrate, in the case of the first, picture someone applying for a job, and someone says of him "This applicant will need some training after he is hired…" that can hardly be construed to mean that the applicant will still be regarded as merely an applicant once he has been hired, even with his training yet to be accomplished. And in the second, picture a car crashing into a fire truck, of which it is said, "He should have seen that fire truck which is painted such a prominent color" that can hardly be construed to imply that there are other fire trucks that are not painted such a prominent color. After some more going on about how "imprecise" and "not infallible" the Martyrology is, the paragraphs from Robert Mary's book continue:
Sixth, in those days, a formal Baptism was a very impressive ceremony conducted by the bishop. However, the Church has always taught that, in case of necessity, any person of either sex who has reached the use of reason, Catholic or non-Catholic, may baptize by using the correct words and intending to do what the Church intends to be done by the sacrament. Therefore, in the early Church, baptized Christians and unbaptized catechumens were instructed to administer the sacrament to each other, if and as needed, whenever persecutions broke out.
Seventh, salvation was made possible for us when, on the Cross on Calvary, Our Lord Jesus Christ sacrificed His Sacred Body and Blood in atonement for our sins. Hence, a man is saved, not by sacrificing his own human blood, but by the sacrifice of the Most Precious Divine Blood of Our Holy Savior.
Let us put it another way: In our opinion, the absolutely certain remission of original sin and incorporation into Christ and His Church are accomplished only by the water to which, alone, Christ has given that power. A man's blood has no such power. Martyrdom is the greatest act of love of God a man can make, but it cannot substitute for the sacrament of baptism.
Jumping briefly over to the seventh and last of Robert Mary's points, no one has been ever claiming that BOB (or BOD for that matter) is a case of using one's own blood instead of Christ's for salvation. It is Christ's shed blood that saves us by means of the Grace infused to us, normally and typically in water baptism, but in exceptional cases infused in one or the other of the alternate modes of baptism. Shedding our own blood has only the power of uniting our sufferings to those of Christ, but it is Christ's that saves us, even who are united to His sufferings. Now back to the other.
The sixth is just one more speculation to make one suppose the scenario of such unbaptized martyrs having somehow been secretly baptized and the Church is simply unaware of that having happened. This overlooks the fact that before a saint is honored by the Church as much as possible was gathered about them to know of what sort they were, that they really were a martyr and so forth, and how they died. And if someone had baptized them privately, certainly that person, or anyone else who might have seen it, would have come forward. Perhaps this would account for certain instances in which persons dying under similar seeming circumstances to those listed above are not listed as having been "catechumens" or "baptized in their own blood" (unless "again" or "for the second time"), and so on.
For example, Robert Mary brings up one such saint whose story seems quite similar to several of the stories listed above, namely that of an actor simulating baptism as part of some play parodying Christianity, and then the actor converts on the spot and get promptly martyred. Check this account and how it is covered in Robert Mary's book:
Saint Gelasinus, Butler: A Comedian at Heliopolis in Phoenicia. He having been baptized, in jest, in a warm bath on the stage, coming out of it, loudly professed himself a Christian, and was stoned to death by the mob, in 297, as the chronicle of Alexander relates.
Robert Mary goes on to say that Butler was inconsistent in not treating this case as he treated the other cases listed above of onstage conversions. But what is known of these events now, so many years removed and with such a paucity of documentation, differs quite significantly from what was known at the time these accounts were initially prepared and the participants still alive at the time and available for consultation. If it should be the case that this was really not included by the Church among such similar cases of Baptism of Blood as Saints Ardalion, Genesius, and Porphyry, it could quite legitimately be because either his baptism, though in jest, somehow passed that bare threshold necessary for validity where the others didn't, or else that enough time passed between his declaration and his stoning to provide him an opportunity for one of those emergency baptisms that these deniers of BOB love to go on about.
For it takes a lot to make for a valid sacrament, even baptism which is admittedly the easiest. While the recipient can have many manners of imperfections in his desire, such as infancy (that he made no choice for it, or even that in infancy he was baptized against the choice of his pagan caretakers), doing it in jest, or with imperfect contrition for his sins, or even being baptized by heretics into a heretical sect, there is nothing short of an outright refusal to be baptized or to admit its graces on the part of the recipient that would invalidate the sacrament. The intention standards are stronger on the one administering the sacrament, who must have specifically the intention to "do what the Church does," and who must also use the exact and correct formula. Perhaps in the other cases, the "formula" used was sufficiently inaccurate (being only a parody) as to be invalid (as could have been determined by the Church through a simple review of the script for the play, for example if it read in parody of the baptismal formula, “I give you a luxurious warm bubble-bath in the name of Jesus”), whereas in the case of Gelasinus the formula was correct and the one doing it might have really intended it, even if only on a dare or some similar such low motive.
Obviously, the possible scenarios I here have laid out for these comedians getting themselves "baptized" (?) on stage in poking fun of the Church are every bit as much guesswork as the speculations made by Peter Dimond, Robert Mary, Fr. Feeney, and all others who deny BOB to the effect that they somehow all got baptized in water in some secret and undocumented manner despite the Church believing otherwise of them.
And this introduces the real point of the unbaptized martyrs. Those who deny BOB (specifically) have managed to make a truly stunning misdirection by quibbling over the details of the Martyrology and of all other sources of information as to the holy martyrs the Church has honored at various times on Her liturgical calendar or otherwise clearly spoken of as being saved or of being blessed to see God in Heaven, etc.
For even were every one of these unbaptized martyrs of the Church to have every one of them been secretly baptized (and the odds against each, let alone all and every last one of them taken together, are steep) even one such is all that is needed to utterly blow the denial of BOB out of the water. But let us for the sake of argument allow that each and every one of these were secretly baptized in water. The fact remains that the Church didn't and doesn't know anything about that. The Church, that has believed (even if mistakenly) all of these martyrs to have died without baptism in water, is nevertheless the same Church which has deigned to honor them as holy martyrs!
As we can see here, St. Augustine clearly believed certain martyr-saints to have been unbaptized, and he evidently wrote this to an audience that assumed the same, and within which no refutation of this statement is found. Let us look again at part of the quote from St. Augustine that was presented so many installments ago:
For those who have been baptized when they could no longer escape death, and have departed this life with all their sins blotted out, have not equal merit with those who did not defer death, though it was in their power to do so, but preferred to end their life by confessing Christ, rather than by denying Him to secure an opportunity of baptism.
A Church that can believe a saint to be a saint, while also believing that saint to have never been baptized in water, is therefore a Church that believes that there can be salvation to some who have never been baptized in water.
Indeed, why should the Church have called these martyrs saints unless She could believe they really are in Heaven, though not baptized in water? And what are we to make of a canonization process that assigns a heavenly outcome to these martyrs? This gets back to my former point about how these objectors of Baptism of Blood and Desire seeing the Pope in his infallibility as being like an oracle bringing new revelation into the world instead of justly ruling between the opinions of men. Again it just seems that these deniers of BOB think the Pope, using his infallibility as a source of new revelation, just sniffs from the cosmos the fact that certain persons are in Heaven and so proclaims them as saints and authorizes them to be put on the calendar.
So, the "reasoning" goes like this: The Pope (thus using his infallibility as a source of revelatory knowledge) proclaims a person to be a saint. Ergo that person must have been baptized in water, even though the Pope himself believed otherwise, and that now it is up to these deniers to fill in that historical detail heretofore neglected (or rejected) by the Pope and everyone else.
Over and against such an opinion is that of the Church, as summarized in the Catholic Dictionary by Donald Attwater, which states under the entry for Infallibility of the Pope that "Infallibility does not by any means do away with the necessity of study and learning, but simply under certain conditions guarantees that the conclusions drawn from study and learning are free from error; the pope's knowledge is not infused into him by God: he gains it just as does any other man, but he is assisted, watched over, by the Holy Spirit so that he does not use his authority and his knowledge to mislead the Church at the times and under the conditions stated above."
So perhaps now it is time to humble ourselves and listen to the guidance of this small sampling of the ancient Fathers regarding this doctrine, even in the tiny quotes as given in the Treatise:
Appendix: Works Doubtfully Attributed to Hippolytus, Eucharistic Canon Entries Used by The Ethiopian Christians: "19. Of the catechumen who suffers martyrdom before baptism."
Cyprian. Epistle LXXII, To Jubaianus, Concerning the Baptism of Heretics: 22: "On which place some, as if by human reasoning they were able to make void the truth of the Gospel declaration, object to us the case of catechumens; asking if any one of these, before he is baptized in the Church, should be apprehended and slain on confession of the name, whether he would lose the hope of salvation and the reward of confession, because he had not previously been born again of water? Let men of this kind, who are aiders and favourers of heretics, know therefore, first, that those catechumens hold the sound faith and truth of the Church, and advance from the divine camp to do battle with the devil, with a full and sincere acknowledgment of God the Father, and of Christ, and of the Holy Ghost; then, that they certainly are not deprived of the [grace of the] sacrament of baptism who are baptized with the most glorious and greatest baptism of blood, concerning which the Lord also said, that He had "another baptism to be baptized with." But the same Lord declares in the Gospel, that those who are baptized in their own blood, and sanctified by suffering, are perfected, and obtain the grace of the divine promise, when He speaks to the thief believing and confessing in His very passion, and promises that he should be with Himself in paradise. Wherefore we who are set over the faith and truth ought not to deceive and mislead those who come to the faith and truth, and repent, and beg that their sins should be remitted to them; but to instruct them when corrected by us, and reformed for the kingdom of heaven by celestial discipline."
Augustine, City of God, Book XIII, Chapter 7. – Of the Death Which the Un-Baptized Suffer for the Confession of Christ: For whatever unbaptized persons die confessing Christ, this confession is of the same efficacy for the remission of sins as if they were washed in the sacred font of baptism. For He who said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” made also an exception in their favor, in that other sentence where He no less absolutely said, “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven;” and in another place, “Whosoever will lose his life for my sake, shall find it.” And this explains the verse, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” For what is more precious than a death by which a man’s sins are all forgiven, and his merits increased an hundredfold? For those who have been baptized when they could no longer escape death, and have departed this life with all their sins blotted out have not equal merit with those who did not defer death, though it was in their power to do so, but preferred to end their life by confessing Christ, rather than by denying Him to secure an opportunity of baptism. And even had they denied Him under pressure of the fear of death, this too would have been forgiven them in that baptism, in which was remitted even the enormous wickedness of those who had slain Christ. But how abundant in these men must have been the grace of the Spirit, who breathes where He listeth, seeing that they so dearly loved Christ as to be unable to deny Him even in so sore an emergency, and with so sure a hope of pardon! Precious, therefore, is the death of the saints, to whom the grace of Christ has been applied with such gracious effects, that they do not hesitate to meet death themselves, if so be they might meet Him. And precious is it, also, because it has proved that what was originally ordained for the punishment of the sinner, has been used for the production of a richer harvest of righteousness. But not on this account should we look upon death as a good thing, for it is diverted to such useful purposes, not by any virtue of its own, but by the divine interference. Death was originally proposed as an object of dread, that sin might not be committed; now it must be undergone that sin may not be committed, or, if committed, be remitted, and the award of righteousness bestowed on him whose victory has earned it.
CYRIL, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture III, On Baptism, 10: "If any man receive not Baptism, he hath not salvation; except only Martyrs, who even without the water receive the kingdom."
St. Fulgence, 523: "From that time at which Our Savior said: "If anyone is not reborn of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven,' no one can, without the sacrament of baptism, except those who, in the Catholic Church, without Baptism pour out their blood for Christ…"
The Treatise finds fault in Cyprian in that he used the phrase "Sacrament of Baptism" in one place here obviously that was meant as a shorthand for the Graces of the Sacrament of Baptism, or the equivalent Graces to those which would normally be received in the Sacrament of Baptism (hence my insertion, using brackets, of the clarification "[grace of the]" in the phrase as given to clarify the evident intent). The statements of Sts. Cyril and Fulgence are unmistakable in their clear support of BOB; how their statements fit in with BOD will be explored in the next installment.
Given all the above, what has ever been put forth as any supposed refutation of BOB? To avoid the risk of defacing the holy memory of the martyrs, useful quotes (even out of context) are relatively difficult to find, and easy to explain. Let's start with the Council of Florence, which is by far the most useful papal quote to those fighting the Catholic doctrines of both BOB and BOD:
Pope Eugene IV, "Cantate Domino," Council of Florence, ex cathedra: "No one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has persevered within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church."
See in here the close grammar used. This speaks of those who leave the Church (for the ancient Fathers are full of denunciations of those who leave the Church, and for the martyrdoms of those who schismatically or heretically departed from the Church they have absolutely no respect. This is why one must "persevere" in the Church, something that only applies to those who are already inside as baptized members of the Church or Faithful. It is like saying that "If an American does not pay his taxes he is to be barred from all Governmental assistance." Nowhere in such a statement can one construe anything one way or the other as to what Governmental assistance non-Americans might possibly be permitted access to, as that statement only applies to Americans. So yes, a Catholic who leaves the Church, and is then martyred while still alienated from the Church, will be damned, and no BOB would apply to such an individual.
Again, one big thing lacking is any Ancient Father refuting Baptism of Blood (or even of Desire for that matter). Going through the Ancient Fathers one finds them refuting error after error of every kind. Surely if BOB (as for example taught by Tertullian) were wrong one would find later Fathers discussing and refuting Tertullian's "theory" instead of simply and passively (or even actively in a number of cases) accepting it and passing it along. In particular you don't have any Ancient Father saying "I know some have taught that the unbaptized martyrs can be saved by their martyrdom serving as a baptism in blood, but they are wrong…" Absolutely not one! Even if there were only "8" (the Treatise acknowledges on page 51) who taught Baptism of Blood, that would still be eight against zero. And I suspect there are many more.
So what can the Treatise do to falsely create the opposite impression? There is yet another occurrence of its famous misquote of Trent, the one that says that Baptism is necessary, and into which the Treatise repeatedly inserts the phrase "the Sacrament" in order to distort its true and plain meaning as written. The only other recourse is to repeat the abused and misquoted Fr. Jurgens quote I have already exposed. To refresh memory on how this quote is made to sound convincing against BOB and BOD, by cutting out the references to how it only applies to infants, I give it again here, with only the Treatise-quoted portions in "maroon" color:
The state of infants who die without Baptism has long been one of the knottier problems of theology. If there were not a constant tradition in the Fathers that the Gospel message of "Unless a man be born again et reliqua" is to be taken absolutely, it would be easy to say that our Savior simply did not see fit to mention the obvious exceptions of invincible ignorance and physical impossibility. But the tradition in fact is there; and it is likely enough to be found so constant as to constitute revelation. The Church has always admitted Baptism of desire as a rescuing factor, when the desire is a personal and conscious one on the part of the one desiring Baptism for himself, as in the case of a catechumen.
Since writing that prior installment in which I first exposed this quote I have found it in Robert Mary's book Father Feeney and the Truth About Salvation on page 137 exactly as misquoted in the Treatise. So I guess there is room to wonder whether Peter Dimond independently found the same thing (making him guilty of scholastic dishonesty in his false research), or if he drew it verbatim from Robert Mary's book which he obviously had access to since the Treatise quotes in several places, and at least once at some length, thus not even doing his own research and furthermore neglecting to check his sources as any sound researcher must always do.
Recently a question as to taking "credit" for his "research" came up in some private correspondences. I'll leave it to Peter Dimond himself to decide whether he wants to take "credit" (or blame?) for this particular piece of scholastic dishonesty or admit to having relied on the "research" of others without even so much as checking their references.
Griff L. Ruby
Next Week: Part 10
For the first installment of this series, see Part 1
For the second installment of this series, see Part 2
For the third installment of this series, see Part 3
For the fourth installment of this series, see Part 4
For the fifth installment of this series, see Part 5
For the sixth installment of this series, see Part 6
For the seventh installment of this series, see Part 7
For the eighth installment of this series, see Part 8
Griff's book is available from iUniverse.com Books for $26.95 or can be read on-line at www.the-pope.com 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.