Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Are there few who will be saved?

Regarding Fr. Z's post: Can non-Catholics be saved?
Father had to know he would get tons of comments on this one - and it is a classic.  As of now he has 104 comments - I hope he leaves comments open - just to see how many more he gets.  What if it makes Guinness?  Cool.
Can non-Catholics be saved?  Father Z answers in the affirmative, and I agree with him.  "Yes, non-Catholics who die outside formal union with the Church can be saved."  Then Father goes on briefly to defend his opinion - which accords with Church teaching of course.  For the record, I agree with him as well.  Some of Father's commentators do not however - and it is that conversation, or rather debate, which demonstrates the dissension lurking amongst otherwise well intentioned, faithful Catholics - or church people, as I always refer to our types.

The traditional remnant picked up Fr. Z's statement however, I haven't read everything on what they are saying - but evidently it's getting a bit twisted.  I'm always amazed that a priest as orthodox and conservative as Fr. Z is still not Catholic enough for some of these people - a few of whom most likely think they are more Catholic than the Pope.  Yet, even if they could be more Catholic than the Pope, that is no guarantee of salvation.
It seems to me not a few of these people are not fully aware they are steeped in pride.  ... They often seem to be full of hidden self-esteem and satisfaction, more pleased with their own spirit and spiritual goods and orthodoxy than those of their neighbor.  They pride themselves as a remnant of the true faith, preserving the dogma of faith intact, frequently rejecting any development of doctrine or liturgy beyond a certain date.   They sometimes resemble the pharisee who thanked God he was not like other men, and that he had the various virtues, and who from the thought of these virtues and observance derived self-satisfaction and presumption.  Though these people may not express these sentiments as the pharisee did, they habitually exhibit them in attitude and behavior, as well as online.  Indeed some have become so proud that they are worse than the pharisee, since they frequently hold in contempt those who disagree with them, and worse, they publicly disparage particular individuals. - Adapted from various counsels of John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mt. Carmel.
That said - I'm guilty of the same kind of pride and presumption.  Preferring to think of myself as the repentant publican in the corner beating his breast, upon closer examination I discover a hidden self-esteem and satisfaction over my so-called humility and observance of Church teaching, while secretly disparaging the pharisee for his very real perfection.


  1. My favorite part of this whole debate so far has been Mark Shea's comment, when he refers to the "The curious notion that the sacraments were intended as reducing valves to keep as many people out of heaven as possible" ... I really think some people see things that way. I don't always agree with Shea, but he's spot on there.

    Ah, and Fr. Z, the liberal. I've seen websites declaring St. Therese of Lisieux, , Bl. Mother Theresa, Bl. John Henry Newman, Abp. Fulton Sheen, and Fr. John Hardon, among others, as incorrigible liberals. But John Hardon? Come on! And that's leaving out what they say about the popes, of course, especially John Paul II, their favorite.

    Do these people ever realize the extreme irony of their radical positions?

    And by the way, before I saw the word "adapted", I thought St. John of the Cross said especially online". Ha.

  2. The Church makes it as plain as day that there is--potentially--salvation outside the Church, understood rightly: "Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation." (CCC 848)

    Not only should Catholics believe this but why wouldn't one want to believe it (assuming of course the primacy of truth--the Church's teaching--over what we desire to be true)?

    Heck, we even have Catholics theologians who ponder if we should dare to hope that all men will be saved. And the Church has never declared with assurance that anyone is actually in Hell, only that we must believe it exists. If one had any sense of what eternal separation from God would mean, I don't know how one could rest easily with such a constricted, in-the-visible-Church-alone view of salvation.

  3. God can do whatever He wants. Remember the workers hired at the 9th hour who got the same wages as those who worked all day?

    In this case, it is not our job to judge God. Our job is to get ourselves and our families and friends and everybody else into heaven. "And sometimes use words!"

    Terry, your last paragraph particularly struck home.

  4. I "lobbed" a bomb on there; can't let myself go back to read the comments (I'm very sensitive, you know!!:-)!)...
    I defended von Balthasar's book, "Dare We Hope that All Men be Saved" by just saying he did not teach "universal salvation" ala Origen; rather, he made it clear that each of us are "under judgment" and that declaring that masses of people are damned is not the proper response to this question.
    The Redemption that our Lord gives us is more radical than we can imagine; and to posit "them" into hell is just contrary to the biblical and theological tradition of the Church.
    Well, anyway.
    So much for a day's work:-)!
    Now, I'm off to offend some dissenters somewhere...it's an equal opportunity kinda thing; it's a hell of job, but somebody has to do it!

  5. I find it amazing that the writings of St. Faustina of the Divine Mercy message emphasis in an extremely powerful way both the reality of Hell and the Lord's love for us, which, as you reference Father, is "more radical than we can imagine"; it's a both/and.

    "Dare we hope that all men be saved?" Looked at another way: Do we really belong to Our Lord who is Mercy if we don't?

  6. Yes, Patrick.
    St. Faustina is always my reference...she said our Lord revealed to her that He knocks "three times" between physical death and "theological death" and if the door is open a crack, He can enter in.
    That seems to be much more in line with the constant teaching of the Church, that Jesus, the Divine Mercy and the Suffering Servant, seeks out His children, even those who, for whatever reason, have not been faithful to Him in this life...if they, for whatever reason, have any "open door", He will enter.
    Purgatory; yes.
    Salvation? Let us hope; let us pray.
    He died such a horrid death and suffered so much...how can this be relegated to only "the chosen"...by human standards, that is.
    The longer I live, the more I see how human beings are so damned broken, conflicted and just nuts...God has to sort this out.
    He just has to!

  7. I can't imagine why, perhaps it was momentary derangement but I entered the fray there with one comment which has been utterly ignored, which come to think of it is just dandy.

    Presently I have one of my own Catholic trolls on a post about Protestant trolls (oddly not unrelated) that's plenty nuff for me. St. Andre Bessette advised one women, it takes two to create a storm. Someone has to be the one to close the window and keep the draft out. ie - shut up.

  8. Owen: Good for you. Yes.
    God is ever greater. And somehow this is so difficult for the "chosen" to understand.

  9. Thanks Fr.

    In an odd turn, tonight, in person, I was accused of being anti-Protestant for teaching the Church's teaching on a the authority of the Church to define the canon, interpret and teach sacred Scripture. It's been a dandy day.

    I need to grow another layer of skin and yet at the same time pray for a heart of flesh before my God.

  10. Nazareth Priest-

    I like the comments you left on Father Z's post. While we have to acknowledge that there is a hell, some people just focus on that AND the damnation of the masses and disregard "Christus regnat, Christus vincit, Christus imperat..."

    I wonder a little bit about these individuals and contemplate whether in their fervor they may have committed a serious sin.

  11. Tom - actually Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church claim to know just who is going where. LOL!

  12. I just left a zinger in the commbox over there. But it was heartfelt and honest.


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