by Fr. C. Daniels
Q. Father, please explain to me, in simple terms, the dogma "outside the Church there is no salvation " and also it's consequences. I find it hard to speak of it to Protestants and worse still, to modern Catholics.
A good Catholic should never fear to categorically affirm this dogma. In fact, it's denial can constitute a mortal sin of heresy. The dogma must be understood exactly as it stands. Our Lord Jesus Christ is God and without Him there is no salvation since He is the unique Redeemer. "Without Me, you can do nothing." (Jn.. 15; 5) "No one comes to the Father except through Me." (Jn.. 14; 6)
It follows, as a logical sequence, that there could be no salvation outside the Church that He founded. He founded one Church as the vehicle or channel of His Redemptive grace. He could not have founded two or more Churches, for then, either they hold and teach the same identical doctrine, and in that case they are again one, or, they hold different doctrines. If such be the case, they either contradict each other, and then Our Lord is against Himself which is absurd, or, they teach two sets of doctrines. If they do, they both lack the fullness of doctrine necessary for salvation, which would then render each one insufficient for salvation. From this it is clear that there cannot be two or more Churches which are, each individually, channels of salvation.
But father, what about someone who does not know that the Catholic Church is the only true Church ?
Ignorance can be of two kinds: Culpable (guilty) or invincible (innocent). A person who is culpably ignorant cannot save his soul while he remains in that state. This would mean that a person refuses to want to know when he has every opportunity to learn.
If a person is invincibly ignorant, he could ... I repeat he could belong implicitly to the Church in voto. In voto means, literally, by desire or wish. An explicit belonging, or wish, would be shown by some exterior manifestation. An implicit belonging, or wish, is not shown exteriorly, but, could be simply explained in these words: "If I had the opportunity to know these things, these truths, then I most certainly would have embraced them!"
But how can we know whether or not a person is implicitly a Catholic?
In the case of a particular person, we can never know. God alone knows the heart of a man. God alone is the judge. You can never say that such or such a person is in hell. Even the Church has never defined any particular soul to be in hell. But, let us not conclude, as the modernists do, that we can therefore no longer defend the dogma. Neither do we conclude, as they do, that the dogma must be relegated to a theory, good for nothing but the bookshelf. NO! The dogma is a principle upon which our faith is based. Our faith is not based upon a simple theory. We shape our whole lives according to dogma.
If a person has never heard of the truths of the Catholic Church but yearns for the truth and keeps the ten commandments, which is the natural law, he may well be a Catholic in voto. Such a person will save his soul.
But, he would not know the Ten Commandments!
He does not know them in an orderly and sequential manner as Catholics do, but since they are part of the natural law, they are engraved in his heart. Even if a person has never heard it being expounded; "You will not steal," he still knows that he cannot take another's property. He knows he cannot go around killing others, yet he has never seen the commandment in black and white, nor, of course, does he know that it is the fifth of the Ten Commandments.
So, if a Protestant is a good Protestant he can save his soul?
NO, absolutely not! It is not because he is a pagan, or a "good" protestant, that he saves his soul, but that he is a Catholic without knowing it. Neither can anyone save his soul in virtue of any other religion but in the Catholic faith alone. All other churches are concoctions of the devil. "All the gods of the gentiles are devils" (Ps.9s; 5). One cannot be saved through one of these. A person cannot be a "good protestant." There is no such thing! There is a contradiction in terms because good is good, but Protestantism is a protest against good. If such a person is good, judged by the natural law he keeps, he is good notwithstanding his Protestant creed. (The key word is: notwithstanding ... malgre in French). To put it in other words; his protestant creed can only put him in danger of eternal damnation ... it cannot help him in the least. It is not because he is a protestant that he saves his soul, but because he is in reality, although implicitly, a Catholic.
But Father, I know many Protestants who know and love some real truths which their church taught them.
If they are real truths they do not come from the protestant church. They are Catholic truths stolen by the Protestants. If God has allowed a man to learn some truth in this way, He has allowed it again notwithstanding the erroneous creed.
Let me explain it in this way: If I am so bewildered by the actions of some wicked man that I turn back to God, I can never say that it was the wicked man that caused my conversion. I can and may indeed say that he was the occasion of my conversion. The grace of conversion came from God and not from the wicked man.
How can the person himself know?
He cannot. The only thing he does know is his own yearning for the truth. If Catholics, who know their doctrine and who frequent the sacraments, are still not absolutely sure of their own salvation, how much greater must the doubt be in the heart of one who is blind and confused. Added to this, we must say that keeping the Ten Commandments is difficult for Catholics who have the special help of the sacraments. How much more difficult it must be for the ignorant who strives to keep the commandments without these special helps.
Could you make a simple resume of all you said so that I can remember it more easily?
is the Catholic?
Q.May I pray for my own death ... that I may soon die?
Yes you may, under the condition that your desire for death is to be with God. The union with God in heaven is for what we have been created. It cannot be wrong to desire that last end. Man knows that death is the door by which that final union may take place. The saints have all desired death in order that they might be quickly united to God.
May I then desire death without the desire to see God?
Obviously the sin is already in your aversion from God. A desire of such a death is akin to despair. Therefore such a desire is sinful because it is not at all orientated to God. Judas sought for such a death.
If I do desire to see God, but my desire for death is not so much for God but rather to flee the difficulties of the world?
the fleeing is first in intention and the desire to see God only secondarily,
then it is an imperfection. You are running away from the cross that God
wishes you to carry. The saints have longed to see God, but in their love
for Him, they sustained the cross because they knew such was His Holy