Jesus


But since you said that all religions by diverse roads and pathways aspire to that one dwelling-place, I fear lest, perchance, while supposing that the way in which you are now found tends there, you should be somewhat reluctant to embrace the way which alone leads men to heaven. Observing, however, more carefully the word which you used, I think that it is not presumptuous for me to expound its meaning somewhat differently; for you did not say that all religions by diverse roads and pathways reach heaven, or reveal, or find, or enter, or secure that blessed land, but by saying in a phrase deliberately weighed and chosen that all religions aspire to it, you have indicated, not the fruition, but the desire of heaven as common to all religions. You have in these words neither shut out the one religion which is true, nor admitted other religions which are false; for certainly the way which brings us to the goal aspires thitherward, but not every way which aspires thitherward brings us to the place wherein all who are brought there are unquestionably blessed. Now we all wish, that is, we aspire, to be blessed; but we cannot all achieve what we wish, that is, we do not all obtain what we aspire to. That man, therefore, obtains heaven who walks in the way which not only aspires thitherward, but actually brings him there, separating himself from others who keep to the ways which aspire heavenward without finally reaching heaven. For there would be no wandering if men were content to aspire to nothing, or if the truth which men aspire to were obtained. If, however, in using the expression diverse ways, you meant me not to understand contrary ways, but different ways, in the sense in which we speak of diverse precepts, which all tend to build up a holy life — one enjoining chastity, another patience or faith or mercy, and the like — in roads and pathways which are only in this sense diverse, that country is not only aspired unto but actually found. For in Holy Scripture we read both of ways and of a way — of ways, e.g. in the words, I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted unto You; of a way, e.g. in the prayer, Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth. Those ways and this way are not different; but in one way are comprehended all those of which in another place the Holy Scripture says, All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth. The careful study of these ways furnishes theme for a long discourse, and for most delightful meditation; but this I shall defer to another time if it be required  In the meantime, however — and this, I think, may suffice in the present reply to your Excellency — seeing that Christ has said, I am the way, John 14:6 it is in Him that mercy and truth are to be sought: if we seek these in any other way, we must go astray, following a path which aspires to the true goal, but does not lead men there.

Letter 104

 

Principles

  1. God owes no one a supernatural end or the beatific vision.
  2. As it happens God created man with a supernatural end and so for the beatific vision.
  3. All other things being equal therefore He will bring any given man to that end.
  4. All other things are not equal for the human race has dishonoured God by original sin and offended him by individual actual sins.
  5. God, on account of His justice, will bring a man who dies guiltless of any actual sin but participating in original sin (so an infant below the age of reason) to the proportionate natural end.
  6. God, on account of His justice, will allow to die in his sins and suffer perpetual torment a man who dies guilty of actual sin and participating in original sin.
  7. God antecedently wills the salvation of all men and has made satisfaction for their sins.

Possible States of the Unevangelized

(a) A man who dies unevangelized before the age of reason will be brought by God to his proportionate natural end but excluded from beatitutde on account of the dishonour done to God in original sin.

(b) A man who attains the age of reason unevangelized and at that moment orders himself to the due end seeking to worship God in the manner He has appointed will receive the infusion of the articles of faith in that moment, be cleansed of original sin and ordered to the supernatural end by sanctifying grace.

(c) A man who attains the age of reason unevangelized and at that moment fails to order himself  to the due end and fails to seek to worship God in the manner He has appointed sins mortally against the first commandment. God will allow him to die in his sins and suffer perpetual torment unless he falls into category (d).

(d) A man who attains the age of reason unevangelized and at that moment fails to order himself  to the due end and fails to seek to worship God in the manner He has appointed sins mortally against the first commandment but later in life acknowledges the existence of the one God as known through reason, repents of his violations of natural law and seeks to order himself to the due end and to worship God in the manner He has appointed. God will either:

i. not preserve such a man in this state until death such that he again sins mortally and is lost or

ii. ensure that he is evangelised by natural, preternatural or supernatural means before death.

[There seems a good case from Holy Writ (Romans 3) that (b) is an empty set.]

 

 

Non Nisi Te Domine

The Icon of the Crucifixion in the Basilica of San Domenico Maggiore which spoke to St Thomas when he laid his writings on the altar and prayed to be shown any errors into which he might have fallen. “Thou hast written well of Me, Thomas,” said the voice. “What reward wilt thou have?” To which St Thomas answered  “None other than Thyself, Lord!”

“Now they (adults) are disposed unto the said justice, when, excited and assisted by divine grace, conceiving faith by hearing, they are freely moved towards God, believing those things to be true which God has revealed and promised, – and this especially, that God justifies the impious by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”

–  Council of Trent, Decree on Justification

“If anyone says that divine faith is not to be distinguished from natural knowledge about God and moral matters, and consequently that for divine faith it is not required that revealed truth should be believed because of the authority of God who reveals it: let him be anathema.”

–  First Vatican Council, Dei Filius

A system of morality based exclusively on human reason robs man of his highest dignity and lowers him from the supernatural to the merely natural life. Not but that man is able by the right use of reason to know and to obey certain principles of the natural law. But though he should know them all and keep them inviolate through life-and even this is impossible without the aid of the grace of our Redeemer-still it is vain for anyone without faith to promise himself eternal salvation. ‘If anyone 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’ (John XV., 6). ‘He that believeth not shall be condemned’ (Mark XVI., 16).

–  Leo XIII, Tametsi Futura Prospicientibus

“We declare that the greater number of those who are condemned to eternal punishment suffer that everlasting calamity because of ignorance of those mysteries of faith which must be known and believed in order to be numbered among the elect.”

–  Pius X, Acerbo Nimis

 

Summa Theologiae IIaIIae, 2, 5

Whether man is bound to believe anything explicitly?

Objection 1. It would seem that man is not bound to believe anything explicitly. For no man is bound to do what is not in his power. Now it is not in man’s power to believe a thing explicitly, for it is written (Romans 10:14-15): “How shall they believe Him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they be sent?” Therefore man is not bound to believe anything explicitly.

Reply to Objection 1. If we understand those things alone to be in a man’s power, which we can do without the help of grace, then we are bound to do many things which we cannot do without the aid of healing grace, such as to love God and our neighbor, and likewise to believe the articles of faith. But with the help of grace we can do this, for this help “to whomsoever it is given from above it is mercifully given; and from whom it is withheld it is justly withheld, as a punishment of a previous, or at least of original, sin,” as Augustine states (De Corr. et Grat. v, vi [Cf. Ep. cxc; De Praed. Sanct. viii.]).

The Holy and Ecumenical Council of Florence

(seventeenth ecumenical)

“The holy Roman church, founded on the words of our Lord and Saviour … firmly believes, professes and teaches that the legal prescriptions of the old Testament or the Mosaic law, which are divided into ceremonies, holy sacrifices and sacraments, because they were instituted to signify something in the future, although they were adequate for the divine cult of that age, once our lord Jesus Christ who was signified by them had come, came to an end and the sacraments of the new Testament had their beginning. Whoever, after the passion, places his hope in the legal prescriptions and submits himself to them as necessary for salvation and as if faith in Christ without them could not save, sins mortally. It does not deny that from Christ’s passion until the promulgation of the gospel they could have been retained, provided they were in no way believed to be necessary for salvation. But it asserts that after the promulgation of the gospel they cannot be observed without loss of eternal salvation. Therefore it denounces all who after that time observe circumcision, the sabbath and other legal prescriptions as strangers to the faith of Christ and unable to share in eternal salvation, unless they recoil at some time from these errors. Therefore it strictly orders all who glory in the name of Christian, not to practise circumcision either before or after baptism, since whether or not they place their hope in it, it cannot possibly be observed without loss of eternal salvation.”

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Clement VI

Denzinger 550  The Satisfaction of Christ, the Treasure of the Church,

[From the Bull of jubilee, “Unigenitus Dei Filius,” Jan. 25, 1343]

The only begotten Son of God . . . “made unto us from God, wisdom, justice, sanctification and redemption” [1 Cor. 3], “neither by the blood of goats or of calves, but by His own blood entered once into the holies having obtained eternal redemption” [Heb. 9:12]. “For not with corruptible things as gold or silver, but with the precious blood of His very (Son) as of a lamb unspotted and unstained He has redeemed us” [cf.1 Pet. 1:18-19], who innocent, immolated on the altar of the Cross is known to have poured out not a little drop of blood, which however on account of union with the Word would have been sufficient for the redemption of the whole human race, but copiously as a kind of flowing stream, so that “from the soles of His feet even to the top of His Head no soundness was found in Him” [ Is. 1:6]. Therefore, how great a treasure did the good Father acquire from this for the Church militant, so that the mercy of so great an effusion was not rendered useless, vain or superfluous, wishing to lay up treasures for His sons, so that thus the Church is an infinite treasure to men, so that they who use it, become the friends of God [ Wis. 7:14].

551 Indeed this treasure . . . through blessed Peter, the keeper of the keys of heaven and his successors, his vicars on earth, He has committed to be dispensed for the good of the faithful, both from proper and reasonable causes, now for the whole, now for partial remission of temporal punishment due to sins, in general as in particular (according as they know to be expedient with God), to be applied mercifully to those who truly repentant have confessed.

552 Indeed, to the mass of this treasure the merits of the Blessed Mother of God and of all the elect from the first just even to the last, are known to give their help; concerning the consumption or the diminution of this there should be no fear at any time, because of the infinite merits of Christ (as was mentioned before) as well as for the reason that the more are brought to justification by its application, the greater is the increase of the merits themselves.

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