Tuesday, December 20, 2005

More thoughts on Baptism of Desire

Pope Innocent III


"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 the 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 eigth 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 the book also 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." (Denziger 388).

St. Augustine

"I do not hesitate to place the Catholic catechumen, who is burning with the love of God, before the baptized heretic..The centurion Cornelius, before Baptism, was better than Simon [Magus], who had been baptized. For Cornelius, even before Baptism, was filled with the Holy Ghost, while Simon, after Baptism, was puffed up with an unclean spirit." (De Bapt. C. Donat., IV 21).

St. Thomas Aquinas

Article 1, Part III, Q. 68:

"...when a man wishes to be baptized, but by some ill-chance he is forestalled by death before receiving Baptism. And such a man can obtain salvation without being actually baptized, on account of his desire for Baptism."

Roman Martyrology:

January 23: At Rome, St. Emerentiana, Virgin and Martyr, who was stoned by the heathen while still a catechumen, when she was praying at the tomb of St. Agnes, whose foster-sister she was."

April 12: At Braga, in Portugal, St. Victor, Martyr, who, while still yet a catechumen, refused to worship an idol, and confessed Christ Jesus with great constancy, and so after many torments, he merited to be baptized in his own blood, his head being cut off."

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