Thus, absolutely and ultimately, salvation in the theological order is to be found in the attainment of the Beatific Vision. The word is employed in this sense in the statement that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. But, for every individual who comes into this world in the state of original sin, the forgiveness of original or mortal sin is an integral and absolutely necessary part of the process of salvation. The most important lesson taught in the Unam Sanctam is the truth that this remission of sin, original or mortal, cannot be obtained outside the one supernatural kingdom of God here on earth, the society which we know as the Catholic Church."
One thing we have been learning and will be learning throughout these installments is that there is no remission of sins outside the Church and that non-members of that Church can have their sins forgiven within the Church.
Throughout these installments we have been learning something else if we did not know this already. We have learned that it is absolutely necessary for one to submit to the Roman Pontiff (if there is one) in order to be a member of the Church. Submission to the Roman Pontiff requires obedience to him as we shall see. If one finds himself in a position in which he cannot submit to what a purported Roman Pontiff "binds" on the "Church" because that which is "bound" is not Catholic i.e. goes against what the Church has always taught regarding faith and morals, brings the validity of one or more Sacraments into question, is a complete break with the liturgy codified in perpetuity, the "canonization" (making a Saint) of one whose character and or orthodoxy is highly dubious, and or imposes disciplines which are dangerous to the faith, one can be absolutely sure that it is not a legitimate Roman Pontiff who is doing the "binding".
Councils, the Sacraments, the liturgy, canonizations, and canon law are examples of what Popes bind on the Church on which must be accepted by the faithful in order to be members of the Catholic Church. From this it is easy to see that one who does not submit to what a valid Pope binds on the Church puts his soul in peril. This is the infallible teaching of the Church [the pronouncement of this dogma will be seen later in this document] and has been taught repeatedly and authoritatively throughout the history of the Church.
THE BULL UNAM SANCTAM
The second of eight documents of the ecclesiastical magisterium with which we are concerned in this section is the famous Bull Unam sanctam, issued by Pope Boniface VIII on November 18, 1302. The opening and the closing passages of this pontifical pronouncement contain highly important statements of the dogma.
The opening section of the Unam Sanctam states the dogma itself and gives insights into it not available in any previous declaration of the teaching Church.
We are bound by the obligation of faith to believe and to hold the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church, and We firmly believe and sincerely profess this [Church] outside of which there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins (extra quam nec salus est, nec remissio peccatorum). Thus, the spouse in the Canticle proclaims: "One is my dove: my perfect one is but one. She is the only one of her mother, the chosen of her that bore her." This signifies (repraesentat) the one Mystical Body, of which Christ is the Head, and God [is the Head] of Christ. In this [dove and perfect one] there is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." Certainly there was one ark of Noe at the time of the deluge, and it prefigured the one Church. The ark, which was finished in one cubit, has one ruler and commander, namely Noe. We read that all things that subsisted on the earth and which were outside of the ark were destroyed. And we venerate this [Church] as the only one, since the Lord says in the Prophet: "Deliver, O God, my soul from the sword: my only one from the hand of the dog." The Lord prayed for the Soul-that is, for Himself the Head - and at the same time for the body. He called the only Church a body because of the unity of faith, the unity of the sacraments, and the unity of charity of the Church, the Spouse. This [Church] is the Lord's seamless robe which was not cut, but for which lots were cast. Therefore there is one body, one Head, of the only Church, not two heads like a monster; Christ and Peter, the Vicar of Christ, and Peter's successor, since the Lord said to Peter himself: "Feed My sheep." He says "My" [sheep] universally, and not "these" or "those" in particular, and thus it is understood that He entrusted all [His sheep] to him. If, therefore, the Greeks or others say that they have not been entrusted to Peter and to his successors, they necessarily admit that they are not of the sheep of Christ, since the Lord says, in John, that there is one fold and one shepherd. [Denz., 468.]
The first section of the Unam Sanctam contains the statement of the dogma and three tremendously valuable explanations. The necessity of the Church for the attainment of eternal salvation is described in terms of the relation of the supernatural life of sanctifying grace to salvation itself, in terms of the unity and the unicity of God's true ecclesia, and in terms of the visibility of that ecclesia in the condition of the New Testament.
The statement of the dogma in the Unam Sanctam differs somewhat from its assertion in the Firmiter. In the older document we find the statement that no one at all is saved outside the Catholic Church. The Unam Sanctam, on the other hand, teaches us that salvation itself is not to be found outside this company. Quite obviously both of these propositions bring out the same meaning. They insist that the process of salvation is something found within the true kingdom of God on earth, and that a man has to be in some way within this social unit if he is to obtain this divine gift.
The first of the explanations offered here in the Unam sanctam, the teaching that neither salvation nor the remission of sins can be obtained outside the Catholic Church, is essentially important for the proper understanding of the doctrine of the necessity of the Church. The remission of sins, original or mortal, is an absolutely necessary part of the process of salvation for the men of this world. In teaching us that this first salvation cannot take place outside of God's supernatural kingdom on earth, Pope Boniface VIII has focused our attention on the nature of salvation itself.
Considered actively or as a process, salvation consists in saving a man, in transferring him from a bad condition, one in which the continuation of life is impossible, to a situation of security and enjoyment. In this way a man is saved if he is taken off a sinking ship and brought to another vessel in seaworthy condition, and thence to his home ashore. Considered objectively, salvation is the benefit received by the man who is saved.
In the vocabulary of the faith and of sacred theology, the process of salvation takes place when a man is removed from the condition of spiritual death, or of original or mortal sin, and transferred to the condition in which he enjoys the supernatural friendship of God and the possession of the life of supernatural grace. This process is brought to its final termination when, in the possession of Beatific Vision, the man saved attains the ultimate and unending perfection of the life of grace, and is forever exempt from the danger of losing it.
Thus, absolutely and ultimately, salvation in the theological order is to be found in the attainment of the Beatific Vision. The word is employed in this sense in the statement that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. But, for every individual who comes into this world in the state of original sin, the forgiveness of original or mortal sin is an integral and absolutely necessary part of the process of salvation. The most important lesson taught in the Unam Sanctam is the truth that this remission of sin, original or mortal, cannot be obtained outside the one supernatural kingdom of God here on earth, the society which we know as the Catholic Church.
In order to understand this aspect of the mystery of the Church, we must take cognizance of the fact, presented to us in Catholic doctrine, that the Beatific Vision is a vital act, the ultimate and perfective expression of a genuinely supernatural life. Furthermore, we must also realize that in reality, by God's Own institution, there is no situation available to men other than the sinful aversion from God or the possession of the supernatural life of sanctifying grace.
THE SUPERNATURAL ORDER
The salvation to which the Catholic Church refers when it teaches the dogma of its own necessity is inherently and essentially a supernatural thing. The Beatific Vision, in the acquisition of which the process of salvation is completed, is the direct and clear intellectual apprehension of God in the Trinity of His Persons. As such, it is an act absolutely beyond the natural power or competence or exigencies of any creature, actual or possible. It is the kind of operation which may be called natural only to God Himself.
An act is said to be natural to some being when it lies within the area of his natural competence. In terms of understanding or intelligence (and it is within the framework of understanding that the ultimate distinction between the natural and the intrinsically supernatural must be discerned), an act is natural when it is the apprehension of some reality within the sphere of the proper object of that creature's intelligence.
It is not too difficult to see this in terms of an example. The proper object of the human intelligence, precisely as such, is to be found in the essences or natures of material things. Man is definable as a rational animal. His natural activity is on the plane of his own being. He is naturally constituted so as to be able to understand the realities which he perceives through the activity of his sense faculties. What he is naturally able to understand is basically and primarily the world of being of which he is made aware by that sense activity which is natural to him.
His intellectual activity is truly a knowledge of being. He is able to know, through his understanding of the sensible realities that lie within the sphere of being that constitutes the proper object of his human intelligence, that these realities could not be as they are and act as they do unless they were being kept in existence and in operation by an absolutely First Cause. By the employment of the processes of removal and excellence, he is able to understand what this First Cause is not, and how it can be accurately, even though inadequately, designated by human concepts and words. Ultimately, working along the lines of this natural human intellectual activity, man can arrive at the stage of natural intellectual perfection in which he becomes aware, precisely in and through his realization and recognition of the essences of material things, of the beauty and order of the universe, with its dazzling multitude of creatures depending upon God and working for His glory.
There can be, and there truly are, intellectual creatures completely superior to man. Yet, in every case, these creatures must inevitably and necessarily have their natural intellectual activity on the plane of their own being. Every creature, as a creature, is a being in which existence is something really distinct from essence. There is and there can be no creature which exists necessarily. All have received, and continue to receive, whatever being they possess from God Himself.
Hence the proper formal object of the intelligence of any creature, actual or possible, is necessarily something on the created level. From the examination of the reality within the compass of that proper formal object, any intellectual creature is able to arrive at a knowledge of God insofar as He is knowable as the First Cause of creatures. The clarity and profundity of this knowledge will be more perfect. Thus the natural knowledge of God by a created pure spirit would be immensely better than any natural knowledge of Him available to man, a rational animal. But this natural knowledge of God by a created pure spirit would, in the last analysis, remain within the range of understanding of God known through an examination of the effects He has produced in the created universe. This would mean an intellectual knowledge of God in the unity of His Nature, but not of the Blessed Trinity.
On the other hand, there is a type of knowledge of God which is natural only to God Himself. In the infinitely perfect act of understanding which is in no way really distinct from Himself, the Triune God sees Himself perfectly in the Trinity of His Persons, really distinct from one another, but subsisting in one and the same divine nature with which each of the three Persons is identified.
The basic truth about God's dealings with His intellectual creatures is to be found in the fact that it has pleased His goodness and wisdom to endow these intellectual creatures with the kind of knowledge of Him which He possesses Himself. Thus, for the created pure spirits (the angels), and for the entire human race, God has established an end or a final perfection completely distinct from and superior to the final end to which these intellectual creatures would naturally have been ordered. By the force of His decree the only ultimate and eternal perfection and beatitude available to these intellectual creatures is this intrinsically supernatural good, the knowledge and the possession of Himself in the Trinity of the Divine Persons in the clarity of the Beatific Vision.
This immediate intellectual cognizance of God in the Trinity of His Persons is, by its very essence, something above and beyond the natural needs and deserts of intellectual creatures. Furthermore, it is a vital act, accompanied by and belonging with a complexus of other acts which, taken together, constitute a true supernatural life. The love of friendship for God, as understood in the Trinity of His Persons, is one of those acts.
Now, the second truth about the supernatural order is the fact that God, in His wisdom and goodness, has willed to give the Beatific Vision to His intellectual creatures as something which they have earned or merited. Quite obviously this benefit is not to be earned through the performance of any activity on a merely natural plane. The only kind of activity which can truly merit the Beatific Vision is activity within the supernatural order itself, the working of the essentially supernatural life. Hence, for every intellectual creature called to the possession and enjoyment of the Beatific Vision, there is a period in which this life of the Beatific Vision is meant to be lived in a preparatory or militant state. For the children of Adam, this period is to be found in the life in this world.
Hence God wills that men should live and grow in the life of the Beatific Vision in this world so as to be able to merit the eternal possession and enjoyment of the Triune God in the world to come. In this period of trial and preparation it is quite obvious that the Beatific Vision itself is not available. The thing being merited is not being enjoyed while it is being merited. Consequently, during the period of this life, the supernatural awareness of God which guides and enlightens the supernatural life is that of divine faith. This consists in the certain acceptance of God's own message about Himself and about the eternal and salvific decrees of His providence in our regard. It is essentially supernatural, in that it tells us of God in the Trinity of His Persons. Faith is intrinsically a preparation and a substitute for the Beatific Vision itself, since it conveys information about that very Reality which we hope eventually to understand and to see in the glory of the Beatific Vision. At the same time it is completely distinct from and superior to any merely natural knowledge about God.
The love of charity which will accompany the Beatific Vision in the saints for all eternity also is meant to accompany the act and the virtue of divine faith in this world. And, where this charity is present, the supernatural life itself exists and operates. Where it is not present, there is no supernatural life, although faith and hope may still exist.
The immediate supernatural principles of the supernatural life in this world are the various infused theological and moral virtues and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. The ultimate intrinsic and created supernatural principle of this life is the quality which we call sanctifying grace. This quality acts as the ultimate intrinsic created principle of the supernatural life in this world and in the next.
Now the process of salvation consists primarily in the bestowal of this life of sanctifying grace upon a person who has hitherto not possessed it. Ultimately it consists in the granting of the Beatific Vision to this individual. For, according to God's Own institution, as He has made this known to us in the message He has revealed to us in Jesus Christ His Son, the life of sanctifying grace in heaven, the life of the Beatific Vision itself, can be enjoyed only as the continuation and the fruition of the life of grace which has begun to operate in this world, and which is existent at the very moment when the individual passes from this life to the next. The only men who will see God in Heaven are those who have passed from this life in the state of grace.
Thus there are two factors to be considered in the bestowal of the Beatific Vision. The first is the giving of the life of grace to the person in this world. The second is the actual attainment of the clear understanding and possession of the Triune God in Heaven. It is the teaching of the Unam Sanctam that both of these factors or benefits are available only within the Catholic Church.
THE TERMINUS A QUO
IN THE PROCESS OF SALVATION
The gift which the documents of the Church designate as "salvation" is the Beatific Vision, the ultimate flowering of the supernatural life of sanctifying grace which must begin to exist in this world. A man is said to be saved, ultimately, when he receives this supernatural benefit of the Beatific Vision. The term "salvation," however, involves more than this.
The key fact which must be taken into consideration in any theological explanation of salvation is the truth that actually the bestowal of the life of sanctifying grace is inseparable from the remission of original or mortal sin in the world in which we live. There have been cases in which this was not so. Our Lord, in His human nature, possessed in a completely perfect manner all the gifts of sanctifying grace and, both by reason of the divinity of His Person and by reason of the fact that He was not descended from Adam by a process of carnal generation, He was never in any way stained with the guilt of sin. His Blessed Mother was immaculately conceived. By the pre-applied merits of His Passion and death, she was preserved free from any taint of sin from the very moment she began to exist. In her case, also, the granting of the gift of sanctifying grace was not accompanied by any remission of sin. With her, the beginning of existence coincided with the beginning of the supernatural life of sanctifying grace. Likewise, Adam and Eve, Before the Fall, were constituted in grace from the first moment of their existence. With them, however, the second granting of the life of grace was brought about in and through the remission of sin.
In every one of their descendants this same thing has occurred, except for the cases of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother. Mary excepted, every person born into the family of Adam through the process of carnal generation has come into this world in the state of original sin. Both this original sin and the mortal sins men commit during the course of their lives are incompatible with the life of grace. And, by the institution of God Himself, the stain of sin can be removed only by the granting of the life of grace.
The state of sin, original or mortal, is a state of aversion from or enmity with God. The removal of that state is accomplished when, and only when, the person who has hitherto been in the state of sin is constituted in the condition of friendship with God and is properly ordered to Him. And there is no situation other than that of sanctifying grace itself in which a man can be well ordered toward God.
To be well ordered toward God, or to be in a state of friendship with Him, a man must be working toward the goal which God Himself has set for him. And, according to God's own revealed message, the one goal or end in the attainment of which man may find his ultimate and eternal beatitude is that of the Beatific Vision. There is no other ultimate end available to man. If he fails to attain this objective then, whatever he may seem to have accomplished during the course of his earthly life, he will have been forever a failure. There is no state of neutrality toward God, and there is no possible state of merely natural friendship with Him available to the children of Adam.
In other words, all and only the persons who are not in the state of grace are in the state of original or mortal sin. All and only the persons who are not in the state of original sin or mortal sin or both possess the life of sanctifying grace. Hence, according to God's own institution, the process by which a man who has hitherto not been in the state of grace receives this supernatural life from God is necessarily the process by which his original or mortal sin is forgiven. The terminus a quo [the end from which; starting point - J. G.] of the transfer by which a man is brought into the state of supernatural grace is necessarily, for the children of Adam, the state of original or mortal sin.
OUR LORD'S FUNCTION IN THE REMISSION OF SIN AND THE
GRANTING OF THE LIFE OF GRACE
It is a basic and central part of God's revealed message that the remission of sin, the process in which the supernatural life of sanctifying grace is infused into a soul which has hitherto been deprived of it, is possible only through and in Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is in Our Lord, according to St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, that "we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins, according to the riches of his grace." [Eph., 1: 7.] And St. Peter, in his first epistle, speaks of "the God of all grace who hath called us unto his eternal glory in Christ Jesus." [I Pet., 5: 10.] In fact one may say that the central message of the New Testament is the fact that salvation and the remission of sins are possible only in and through our Lord.
By His suffering and death, He redeemed us and freed us from the bonds of our iniquities. The actual graces or divine aids by which a man is enabled to move towards the love of charity for God and the hatred of sin which come together at the moment of justification have been merited by us by Our Lord. So too are graces by which a man is effectively and freely moved to justification and to the increase in the life of grace acquired, along with the remission of sin, in the process of justification.
Moreover, justification, the actual transfer of a man from the state of original or mortal sin into the state of sanctifying grace, is possible only in Our Lord. Here the dogma of the Catholic Church's necessity for the attainment of eternal salvation and for the remission of sin manifests itself as the clear and accurate statement of the meaning actually conveyed in the scriptural expression "in Christ Jesus." Neither justification nor glorification-that is, neither the remission of our sins nor the attainment of the Beatific Vision-is possible except "in Christ Jesus." And the Church, in the divinely inspired epistles of St. Paul, is represented precisely though metaphorically as "the body of Christ." To be "in Christ Jesus," then, is to be "within" the Mystical Body of Christ, Our Lord's one and only true Church or kingdom. And, just as justification and glorification are absolutely impossible other than "in Christ Jesus," they are likewise absolutely impossible "outside" His Mystical Body, which is the Church.
It is highly important for us to realize that, in asserting the dogma of its own necessity for salvation and for the living of the life of sanctifying grace, the Catholic Church is simply stating in a non-figurative fashion the very truth which Our Lord Himself expounded through His use of the metaphor of the vine and the branches. Our Lord taught:
I am the true vine: and my Father is the husbandman.
Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit, He will take away: and every one that beareth fruit, He will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Now you are clean, by reason of the word which I have spoken to you.
Abide in Me: and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
I am the vine: you the branches. He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing.
If any one abide not in Me, he shall be cast forth as a branch and shall wither: and they shall gather him up and cast him into the fire: and he burneth.
If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will: and it shall be done unto you.
In this is My Father glorified: that you bring forth very much fruit and become My disciples. [John, 15: 1-8.]
Our Lord Himself explained the reality of this "abiding" in Him which was requisite for the life of grace and of salvation in the Eucharistic Discourse itself.
Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say unto you: except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.
He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.
For My flesh is meat indeed: and My blood is drink indeed.
He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood abideth in me: and I in him.
As the living Father hath sent Me and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, the same also shall live by Me.
This is the bread that came down from Heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead. He that eateth this bread shall live for ever. [John, 6: 54-59.]
Now, by the divine constitution of the Church militant of the New Testament, this social unit is the one social unit within which men may partake worthily of the Eucharistic banquet. Our Lord's Own ecclesia is the one and only company within which the Eucharist itself was instituted and for which it was intended. The Eucharistic sacrifice is offered, and the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is received rightly and properly only within this community. Conversely, any man who fruitfully and worthily partakes of this Eucharistic feast is within the true Church, at least by intention.
Our Lord's statement that "he that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood abideth in Me: and I in him" is definitely not restricted to the physical reception of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. A spiritual reception of the Eucharist, which consists in a desire (even an implicit desire) to partake of the Sacrament and to profit from that reception is sufficient for this union with Our Lord in the case of a person for whom the actual reception or physical reception of the Sacrament is, for one reason or another, really impossible.
Thus, as Our Lord explains the matter, salvation and the supernatural life of sanctifying grace are possible for the member of the Church who is within this society as one of its integral parts, and who is vitally joined to Our Lord by the worthy reception of the Sacrament of His love. It is also possible for the Catholic who is unable physically to receive the Sacrament, but who, with a desire of the Sacrament and of its effects and with the intention of charity animating that desire, is integrated into the Church, the household of the living God, within which and for which that sacrifice is offered and that sacrament is confected. It is also possible for the non-member of the Church who, unable to attain membership in Christ's Mystical Body and enlightened by true and supernatural divine faith, loves God with the affection of true charity and, in that love, forms at least an implicit desire of the sacrament and of its salvific effects. In this last case the man who possesses this desire, presenting it to God in the form of prayer, will receive the guerdon [reward - J. G.] he seeks, union with Our Lord in His company, which is the Church. The man is brought into the Church (though obviously not constituted as a member of the Church) and into spiritual and salvific reception of Our Lord's Body and Blood, through the force of his prayer and desire that are animated and motivated by divine charity.
THE DOGMA AND THE ERROR OF QUESNEL
This is the meaning of the teaching about the Church's necessity for the attainment of eternal salvation and for the remission of sins which has been brought out so powerfully and profoundly in the Unam Sanctam. In this great document Pope Boniface VIII brings out his teaching principally by the use of two of the metaphorical scriptural names or designations of the Church. He employs the name and the notion of the Church as "Spouse of Christ" to show that those who are within the Church are within the reality which may be said to constitute one body with Him. And he employs the term "Mystical Body" to designate the Church as the social unit within which alone there is intimate and salvific contact with Our Divine Redeemer. And thus, in his enunciation and explanation of the dogma, he brings out, in the technically expressive terminology of sacred theology, the very lesson which Our Lord brought out so forcefully in the figurative language He used in teaching His disciples.
When the Unam Sanctam teaches us that there can be no remission of sins outside the Catholic Church, it is telling us, actually, that it is impossible to obtain the life of sanctifying grace or to live that life outside this supernatural kingdom of God. It is bringing out the divinely revealed truth that, by God's own institution, the life of sanctifying grace is to be possessed and derived from Our Lord by those who are united with Him, abiding in Him, in His Mystical Body, which is the Catholic Church.
We must be especially clear, both in our concepts and in our terminology, on this point. What the Unam Sanctam certainly implies, in declaring the necessity of the Church for the remission of sins, is the truth that the life of sanctifying grace and the supernatural habitus of sanctifying grace can be obtained and possessed only within the Church. In the light of Catholic doctrine, however, it is both certain and obvious that actual graces are really offered to and received by men who are definitely "outside the Church," in the sense in which this expression is employed in the ecclesiastical documents which state the dogma of the Church's necessity for the attainment of eternal salvation. As a matter of fact the proposition that "no grace is granted outside the Church (extra ecclesiam nulla conceditur gratia)" is one of the theses condemned explicitly by Pope Clement XI in his dogmatic constitution Unigenitus, issued September 8, 1713, and directed against the teachings of Pasquier Quesnel. [Denz., 1379.]
It is certain with the certitude of divine faith itself that actual graces are really necessary to prepare men for and to move them to the very acts by which they come to be "within the Church." Thus, in the light of Catholic teaching, it is obvious that these graces are offered and granted to men who are really outside the Church, lacking both real membership in the supernatural kingdom of God and any real desire of membership.
Except in the case of a true moral miracle, such as that which occurred in the instantaneous conversion of St. Paul, the process of justification (which can terminate only within the true Church) is preceded by a series of acts which, together, constitute the preparation for justification. In a famous chapter of its decree on justification the Council of Trent has listed and briefly explained some of these acts, as they occur in the case of one who has hitherto lacked the true faith. Under this heading it speaks of acts of faith, of salutary fear, of hope, of initial love of God, and of pre-baptismal penance. The process of preparation for justification, according to this chapter, ends with the intention to receive baptism, to begin a new life, and to observe God's commandments. [Cf. Denz., 798.]
Now an unbaptized person who has not the Christian faith is in no sense within the Catholic Church. He does not begin to be within it, either as a member or as one who sincerely desires to become a member, even when he makes his initial act of faith. Yet, according to the clear and infallibly true teaching of the Catholic Church, divine grace is absolutely requisite, not only for the eliciting of the act of faith itself, but even for what the Second Council of Orange calls the "affectus credulitatis," [Cf. Denz., 178.] the disposition or the willingness to believe. This actual grace is definitely given to men who are outside the Church. And thus the assertion that no grace is granted outside the Church is completely incompatible with Catholic teaching, even though it is the Catholic doctrine that the life of supernatural grace itself is not to be obtained or possessed outside the Church.
THE CHURCH'S UNITY AND UNICITY
The basic teaching of this opening section of the Unam Sanctam is the truth that the supernatural life of sanctifying grace can neither begin nor continue apart from and outside Our Lord's Mystical Body. Thus it constitutes a powerful and supremely accurate commentary on those passages of Sacred Scripture which show us that the supernatural life of grace cannot exist other than in and through Our Lord, and thus in His company, the society which was and is so intimately joined to Our Saviour that persecution of it was described by Him as persecution of Himself.
The presentation of this truth is made especially forceful in this document by its insistence that this community, outside which there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins, is genuinely one and unique. Pope Boniface VIII appeals to scriptural images, like that of the ark of Noe and the seamless robe of Christ. He adduces the teaching in the Canticle of Canticles that the beloved, the figure of the Church, is truly and only one. He appeals to the fact that in the Church there is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism," and to the bonds of unity existing within the Church. Finally, he points to the unity of the Church's leadership, exercised by the Bishop of Rome by the authority and in the name of one spiritual and supreme Head, Jesus Christ.
In thus insisting on the unity of the company outside which there is no salvation, the Unam sanctam brings out the supremely practical implication of the dogma. The Church within which one must enter and dwell if they are to attain the remission of their sins and the possession and final flowering of the supernatural life is definitely one community, undivided in itself, and quite distinct from every other social unit in existence. This one company is the ecclesia which all must seek to enter, and within which they must remain if they are to be pleasing to God in this world and in the next. The dogma of the Church's necessity for the attainment of eternal salvation, as seen in this light, is certainly not an affair of mere theory or speculation, but a truth which men must accept as revealed by God Himself, and which they must use as a guiding principle of their own lives.
THE CHURCH'S VISIBILITY
The intensely practical presentation of the dogma in the Unam Sanctam is increased by this document's insistence on the visibility of the one society within which alone men may find salvation and the forgiveness of their sins. The true Church which is necessary for the attainment of salvation is the one society over which Peter and his successors rule by Our Lord's own commission. Our Lord confided all of His sheep, all of the people whom the Father had given to Him to be brought to eternal life, to the care of Peter. Those individuals who describe themselves as not confided to St. Peter and his successors, and thus are not owing obedience to them [emphasis mine - J. G.], characterize themselves as not being among the sheep of Christ. They show themselves to be outside the company within which alone there is salvific contact with Our Lord.
This strong and realistic teaching of the Unam Sanctam is most perfectly manifested in the definition in which this document ends.
Hence We declare, state, define, and assert that for every human creature submission to the Roman Pontiff (subesse Romano Pontifici) is absolutely necessary for salvation (omnino de necessitate salutis). [Denz., 469.]
During our own times, prior to the issuance of the encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi, there was a manifest tendency on the part of some Catholic writers to teach the existence of a so-called "invisible Church," in some way distinct from the organization over which the Roman Pontiff presides, and to ascribe to this imaginary entity the necessity for salvation. The closing sentence of the Unam Sanctam had long ago rendered this position absolute[ly] untenable from a theological point of view. As this document showed most clearly, the Church outside which there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins is, in fact, the society over which the Roman Pontiff presides as the Vicar of Christ and as the successor of St. Peter. It is the society designated by the Bellarminian definition of the true Church, as the assembly of men united in the profession of the same Christian faith and by the communion of the same sacraments, under the rule of the legitimate pastors, and especially of the Roman Pontiff, the one Vicar of Christ on earth. [Cf. De ecclesia militante, c. 2.]
These points are brought out with particular clarity in the Unam Sanctam:
(1) The Church is necessary, not only for the attainment of salvation itself, but for the forgiveness of sins, which is inseparable from the granting of the supernatural life of sanctifying grace.
(2) The Church is necessary for the attainment of salvation and of the life of grace precisely because it is the Body and the Spouse of Jesus Christ.
(3) Attainment of salvation in the Church involves union with the Bishop of Rome.
(4) The dogma of the Church's necessity for the attainment of eternal salvation cannot be explained accurately in terms of any "invisible Church."
Hopefully we have learned that actual graces operate outside the Church to move those outside the Church within the Church. The process of moving from the state of unbelief to a state of sanctifying grace often involves several steps. Actual grace can get one to reflect upon one's own existence and how he came into being. It can lead to the belief that we did not cause our own existence and ultimately lead to a belief in a Creator. The belief in a Creator can lead one to be thankful for his existence. Being thankful for one's existence is like a prayer which can ultimately lead one to seek to know and do the Creator's will. Step by step actual grace can work on one outside the Church and move him within that Church and into a state of sanctifying grace. One of good will, as he inches towards obtaining a supernatural Faith, will ultimately begin believing that the Creator he believes already exists is the rewarder of good and the punisher of evil. Such a one will seek the true Church and perhaps come to believe in the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation of Christ before he enters that Church as a member. If such a one dies on this journey before consummating membership he will be in position to be saved having obtained a supernatural Faith and Charity while being in a state of sanctifying grace. Such a one will be the beneficiary of the remission of sin within the Church through Baptism of ["desire"] the Holy Ghost.
In the above example one sees how the actual grace of God working on individuals outside the Church leads them within the Church. It should be clear that it is not by the individuals own power that he is enlightened to move from a state of unbelief to belief. On the other hand, God gives him the ability to cooperate with the actual grace used to nudge him within the Church. God does not allow such a person to head towards eternal salvation, if he is of good will, desiring to know God and do His will, without giving him the ability to be saved. The Omniscient One does not start one on a journey from outside the Church to within it only to prematurely cut him off and damn him to Hell despite his good will and readiness to cooperate with the will of His Creator. It is a known fact that some people of good will move from a position of unbelief to belief but die before they have a chance to become actual members of the Church. Such people if they have a supernatural Faith and perfect Charity will die within that Church despite not being members and will be saved within it.
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"Catholics who remain faithful to Tradition, even if they are reduced to but a handful, they are THE TRUE CHURCH" Saint Athanasius, "Apostle of Tradition" AD 373