A. Consider for a moment the history of the Church. Then, think of our present times as the making of history just as the faithful hundreds of years ago lived in their `present time' which is now their `history.' You will see that not much has changed, and the words of Scripture are being realized every day even though we do not know it or do not perceive it.
What do you think Catholics did when they were persecuted and when it was a crime punishable by death to attend Mass? What do you think they did when the majority of priests and bishops defected in England? When people could not attend Mass nor receive the Sacraments during the Communist oppression in so many countries, what did the people do then?
Sadly, many gave up their faith. But those who refused to abandon their faith for whatever reason, these are the genuine Catholics who are now in heaven.
And when there were antipopes in the past, what did the clergy _ bishops and priests _ and laity do? They did not follow the antipopes.
During the Great Western Schism, when there were three claimants to the throne of Peter, the Church went through a great period of division. However, none of the papal claimants promoted heresy. This is why we find canonized saints defending the validity and legitimacy of opposing `popes.'
It is only in our times that we have been forced to deal with antipopes whose efforts to destroy the Church have succeeded to a great extent. Beginning with the second claimant to use the name John XXIII _ "Good Pope John" and then proceeding to Paul VI, John Paul I and now the impiously reigning John Paul II, we have the Chair of Peter occupied by heretics. All these have actively promoted the Masonic subversion of the Church by rejecting the Church's unique teaching role in the world as the means of salvation for all men. John XXIII was the first to promote religious indifference with his anti-Catholic doctrine of `emphasizing that which unites, rather than that which divides.' On the surface, this idea sounds good and noble. But, closer examination of its real content shows what it truly is: The reduction of the Roman Catholic Church to nothing more than just another Church among many. It lays the groundwork for those who would follow him and continue the accelerated undermining of doctrine and discipline.
Should Catholics attend the churches of these heretics and schismatics? Of course not. What is the alternative? A Catholic must not support in any way heretics on the left nor heretics on the right. The true Church has always been found representing the middle course amid extremist controversy.
Should Catholics stay at home and pray? This is the only reasonable and practical thing to do.
Yet, even though our Catholics pray at home, they are not isolated nor alone. This is the time to realize the consequences of being members of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. As loyal members, we are never far from our brother and sister Catholics who hold the same faith with us and struggle the same way with us to persevere to the end in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
This is a true test of our faith in the teachings of the Church. If we cannot discipline ourselves in these difficult times, then we are not genuine Catholics. We Franciscans are your contact with the living and genuine Church.
Q. What is `implicit desire' and is it possible for anyone to be saved without baptism of water and having only such a desire?
D.B., Louisville, KY
A. Heresies do not die easily because the devil always finds willing tools to promote them.
The best way to approach a question such as this is by examining the meaning of the words. Without knowing the exact meaning of the terms, it is impossible to arrive at a correct understanding of the ideas which the terms represent.
So, let's look at what the dictionary defines as `implicit.' True, most people have at least a vague idea of what the word means. But, you will agree that vagueness is far from clarity.
Implicit: 2. Tacitly comprised; fairly to be understood, though not expressed; implied; as, an implicit condition of an agreement. 3. Involved in the nature or being of something, though not shown, expressed, or realized; virtual or potential; as, the oak is implicit in the acorn.
There are other meanings given for the word `implicit,' but those above are what concern us.
A desire is a longing for something perceived. There is an axiom in philosophy which states: "You cannot desire what you do not know." This means that the object of desire must be perceived first by the intellect and only then can it be desired.
The `desire' is an act of the will stimulated by the perception of an object as true and good.
It is in the second meaning that the Church applies the term `implicit' desire. In this sense, implicit is the opposite of explicit. In the process of salvation, the supernatural grace of God is an essential element. Without it, there can be no salvation.
Grace illumines the mind and gives strength to the will. Therefore, even in `implicit desire' the grace of God must be moving the mind and will of the person to desire that which is a condition for salvation, namely, baptism.
The error of those who take `implicit desire' to mean that everyone will be saved simply because everyone has a implicit desire for happiness as part of our human nature is that which has been promoted by the Wojtylian Church.
The Church's teaching on this point is clear to those who are not blinded by some kind of counter-desire. The Church teaches that no one can be saved without Baptism of water or its desire.
In this case, the desire may be implicit, namely, not yet realized in fact, or physically. For this reason St. Augustine states that God is not held to give grace only through the Sacraments. God can give grace outside the Sacraments: He can give the effective grace of the Sacrament without the external, physical Sacrament.
Those who deny this are termed by the Church to be heretics. Such was the case with the Jesuit, Father Feeney who promoted the error that baptism of water alone can save.
As you can see, there are the two extremes: The narrow-minded limitations of a rigid position and the broad-minded flexibility of the Modernists. The Church's position is between these two erroneous extremes.
For those who hold the first position, namely, that no one can be saved without the express reception of the Sacrament of Baptism, we might offer as a reply the words of Jesus Himself when He condemned adultery.
Jesus said: "You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart." (St.Matthew 5, 27-28).
Obviously, our Lord is talking about the `implicit desire' to commit adultery. This `implicit desire' to commit adultery is sufficient to be guilty of the actual act itself.
Note well: Our Lord says that the implicit desire has already realized the deed in the man's heart.
The same is true of the mystery of the Holy Mass. Jesus instituted the Sacrifice of the Mass on Holy Thursday while it was only on Good Friday that He was to physically undergo the express suffering and death on the Cross. This is why the Church teaches that the Sacrifice of the Mass is the same Sacrifice of Calvary. The former, an unbloody Sacrifice and the latter, a bloody Sacrifice. Yet, it is one and the same Sacrifice.
Then, too, what of all the times when it is physically impossible to receive a Sacrament such as Penance or Holy Eucharist? Do we not make `spiritual Communions'? And do we not try to make a perfect act of contrition when we are impeded from going to Confession to an authorized priest? Yet, the Church has never taught that these practices were of no avail either to the receiving of the graces from spiritual Communions or the forgiveness of sins.
But, although the Church teaches the value of `implicit desire' for the Sacraments, She also denies the efficacy of Sacraments received from heretics or schismatics. For example, the reception of the Sacrament of Penance from a priest not having authorization from his bishop is to be considered as of no effect.
Oddly enough, some of those clergymen who are so rigid in keeping the gates of heaven closed against those who can only elicit an implicit desire for the Sacrament of Baptism, have no problem administering the Sacrament of Penance without the necessary authorization of their bishop.
These "headless" clergy eventually begin defining their own dogmas and have no shame in publishing them far and wide.
I don't know how anyone else might justify such obvious contradiction, but I know that I would not wish to be associated with such heretical schismatics. After all, we are dealing with the eternal salvation of our souls.
What we may succeed in distorting for our own convenience before the day of judgment, will be impossible when standing before the Supreme Judge.
The safest course is always the wisest. And the safest course is always the course taught by the Church and Her genuine representatives.
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