The Absolute Necessity of Sacramental Baptism in Water.

Syllogistic Proofs of the Absolute Necessity of Sacramental Baptism in Water

On the Necessity of Sacramental Baptism in Water by the Command of the One and Triune God.

1) Major Premise -- The One and Triune God commands every human being, without exception, to be Baptized in Water:

Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 6, Chapter 4, ex cathedra: "In these words there is suggested a description of the justification of the impious, how there is a transition from that state in which a person is born as a child of the first Adam to the state of grace and of adoption as sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ our savior; indeed, this transition, once the gospel has been promulgated, cannot take place without the laver of regeneration or a desire for it, as it is written: UNLESS A MAN IS BORN AGAIN OF WATER and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5)."

2) Minor Premise -- The Commandments of God are not impossible for us to fulfill:

Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 6, Chapter 11 on Justification, ex cathedra: " one should make use of that rash statement forbidden under anathema by the Fathers, that the commandments of God are impossible to observe for a man who is justified. 'FOR GOD DOES NOT COMMAND IMPOSSIBILITIES,' but by commanding admonishes you both to do what you can do, and to pray for what you cannot do."

Alternate Minor Premise -- God is certainly capable of bringing about the fulfillment of His commands:

Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council I, Session 3, Chapter 1, On God the creator of all things, ex cathedra: "EVERYTHING THAT GOD HAS BROUGHT INTO BEING HE PROTECTS AND GOVERNS BY HIS PROVIDENCE, which reaches from one end of the earth to the other and orders all things well. All things are open and laid bare before His eyes, even those which will be brought about by the free activity of creatures."

3) Conclusion:

"There is NO ONE about to die in the state of justification WHOM GOD CANNOT SECURE BAPTISM FOR, and indeed, Baptism of Water. The schemes concerning salvation, I leave to the sceptics. The clear truths of salvation, I am preaching to you." (Father Feeney, Bread of Life, pg. 56)

On the Necessity of natural water for Sacramental Baptism.

1) Major Premise -- Baptism is necessary for salvation.

Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 7, Canon 5, ex cathedra: "If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema."

2) Minor Premise -- True and natural water is necessary for Baptism.

Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 7, Canon 2, ex cathedra: "If anyone says that true and natural water is not necessary for baptism and thus twists into some metaphor the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: 'Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost,' let him be anathema."

3) Conclusion -- True and natural water is necessary for salvation.

On the Necessity of Sacramental Baptism in Water due to the One and Triune God's Perfection.

God desires that which is perfect for human beings, His Creation.

1) Major Premise -- The One and Triune God is a Perfect Being; as such, He desires that which is Perfect for His Creation.

2) Minor Premise -- Human beings are part of God's creation.

3) Conclusion -- God desires that which is perfect for human beings.

God desires Sacramental Baptism in Water for all human beings.

1) Major Premise -- God desires that which is perfect for human beings.

2) Minor Premise -- "When baptism is administered in water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, it is a perfect means of salvation for both adults and children." (Council of Vienne, Denzinger, #482)

3) Conclusion -- God desires Sacramental Baptism in Water for all human beings.

God can bring about Sacramental Baptism in Water, that which He desires, for all human beings.

1) Major Premise -- God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; as such, He can bring about that which He desires, respecting, of course, human free will.

2) Minor Premise -- God desires Sacramental Baptism in Water for all human beings.

3) Conclusion -- God can bring about Sacramental Baptism for all human beings, as long as we cooperate with God's grace.

On the Necessity of the Jurisdiction of the Catholic Church.

Major Premise: It is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

Minor Premise: Only the baptized are subject to the jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff:

Pope Julius III, Council of Trent, On the Sacraments of Baptism and Penance, Session 14, Chapter 2,  ex cathedra: "since the Church exercises judgment on no one who has not previously entered it by the gate of baptism. For what have I to do with those who are without (1 Cor. 5:12), says the Apostle. It is otherwise with those of the household of the faith, whom Christ the Lord by the laver of baptism has once made ‘members of his own body’ (1 Cor. 12:13)."

Conclusion: It is absolute necessary for the salvation of every human creator to be Baptized.

The above syllogisms perfectly describe what Pope St. Leo the Great, in his Dogmatic letter to Flavian, taught:

Jn. 1:7); and again, This is the victory which conquers the world, our faith. Who is there who conquers the world save one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? It is He, Jesus Christ, who has come through water and blood, not in water only, but in water and blood. And because the Spirit is truth, it is the Spirit who testifies. For there are three who give testimony -- Spirit and water and blood. And the three are one. (1 Jn. 5:4-8) In other words, the Spirit of sanctification and the blood of redemption and the water of baptism. These three are one and remain indivisible. None of them is separable from its link with the others." (Council of Chalcedon, 451)

Of course, the above dogmatic declaration is infallible:
Also the epistle of blessed Leo the Pope to Flavian… if anyone argues concerning the text of this one even in regard to one iota, and does not receive it in all respects reverently, let him be anathema.” (Pope St. Gelasius, Decretal, 495)
The teaching of Saint Leo was reaffirmed over 400 years after it was declared:

"Likewise we believe that we must hold most firmly that all the multitude of the faithful, regenerated ‘from water and the Holy Spirit’ (John 3:5), and through this truly incorporated into the Church, and according to the apostolic doctrine baptized in the death of Christ (Rom. 6:3), in His blood has been absolved from its sins…" (St. Remigius, Bishop of Lyons, Council of Valence III, 855, Canon 5  Denzinger 324)
Didn't Saint Thomas teach Baptism of Desire?

Well, yes and no.  On the one hand, Thomas said,

"In the first way, three sacraments are necessary for salvation. Two of them are necessary to the individual; Baptism, simply and absolutely; Penance, in the case of mortal sin committed after Baptism; while the sacrament of order is necessary to the Church, since 'where there is no governor the people shall fall' (Proverbs 11:14)..." (Summa Theologica, IIIa, q.65, a.4).

"Men are bound to that without which they cannot obtain salvation. Now it is manifest that no one can obtain salvation but through Christ; wherefore the Apostle says (Romans 5:18): 'As by the offense of one unto all men unto condemnation; so also by the justice of one, unto all men unto justification of life.' But for this end is Baptism conferred on a man, that being regenerated thereby, he may be incorporated in Christ, by becoming His member: wherefore it is written (Galatians 3:27): 'As many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ.' Consequently it is manifest that all are bound to be baptized: and that without Baptism there is no salvation for men." (Summa Theologica, IIIa, q.68, a.1)

"Baptism is the sacrament of absolute necessity; and so its matter should be at hand everywhere. But it is enough that the matter of this sacrament, which is not of such great necessity, be easily sent to all parts of the world." (Summa Theologica, IIIa, q.72, a.2, ad 4)

"Consequently, if anyone were sanctified in the womb now, they would need to be baptized in order to be conformed to the other members of Christ by receiving the character of Baptism." (Summa Theologica, IIIa, q.68, a.1, ad 3)

On the other hand, Thomas writes:

"Secondly, the sacrament of Baptism may be wanting to anyone in reality but not in desire: for instance, 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, which desire is the outcome of 'faith that worketh by charity,' whereby God, Whose power is not tied to visible sacraments, sanctifies man inwardly. Hence Ambrose says of Valentinian, who died while yet a catechumen: 'I lost him whom I was to regenerate: but he did not lose the grace he prayed for.'" (Summa Theologica, IIIa, q.68, a.2)

So, which is it?  Of course, Saint Thomas was no dummy.  No doubt that he understood that he was, in the above quote, describing an unknown and unknowable set of human beings (for Saint Thomas knew that one could not "prove a negative," that is, that someone, in particular, was never baptized), as it is written, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment." (Hebrews 9:27)  As with Cornelius, who came to sanctification with only implicit faith, the One and Triune God miraculously transported Peter to complete the process, and there is no reason to doubt at least the possibility that Valentinian died with sacramental Baptism of water, in spite of Ambrose not being able to administer the sacrament himself.  This is what Saint Thomas taught:

"Everyone is bound to believe something explicitly...even if someone is brought up in the forest or among wild beasts. For it pertains to Divine Providence to furnish everyone with what is necessary for salvation, provided that on his part there is no hindrance. Thus, if someone so brought up followed the direction of natural reason in seeking good and avoiding evil, we must most certainly hold that God would either reveal to him through internal inspiration what had to be believed, or he would send some preacher of the faith to him as He sent Peter to Cornelius (Acts 10:20)." (The Disputed Questions on Truth, q.14, a.11)

And, of course, Peter baptized Cornelius.

In any case, Saint Thomas was not into theological novelty:

"Our Faith is identical with that of the ancients. Deny this, and you dissolve the unity of the Church. We must hold this for certain: that the faith of the people at the present day is one with the faith of the people of past centuries. Were this not true, then we would be in a different church than they and, literally, the Church would not be One." (On the Truth of the Catholic Faith, q.14, a.12)

Temporal Punishment Anyone?

Let’s be clear. Master Lombard, Saint Thomas, and everyone else taught that a sincere catechumen who embraced all of the Catholic Faith “whole and inviolate,” lived in submission, mind and will, to the Roman Pontiff, and yet, through no fault of their own, died without Baptism, would still suffer the temporal punishment in Purgatory due to his/her own venial sins, unless he/she was martyred in the Name of Christ. The scholastics taught that the actual reception of Baptism was necessary, in the absence of martyrdom, to remit what everyone believed and taught was the horrific punishment of Purgatory.

Do I believe that the One and Triune God would allow a sincere, faith-filled catechumen to suffer in Purgatory as a consequence of that person’s own venial sins when that person could have had his/her temporal punishment completely remitted through the actual reception of sacramental Baptism? No, I do not, but I admit that I could be wrong; always have.

For me, “Feeneyism” simply asserts the theological opinion that whomever the One and Triune God predestines to the eternal beatitude, His elect, are also predestined by Him (due to His Sovereignty, Providence, and Perfection) to receive Sacramental Baptism in Water, with no exceptions. The burden of proof is on those to show that the scholastics or even that the present Magisterium would consider this theological opinion to be in error or contrary to the Ordinary and Supreme Magisterium of the Church.

Baptism of Desire and/or Blood may simply be “hypotheticals” that never occur in reality. Some are offended by this notion, that a theologian or even a Pope could teach about a “hypothetical,” such as what would happen if a sitting Pope would become a heretic. However, this is what theologians do, is it not? And that is what the scholastics did in their exploration of the Deposit of Faith. That the World would have to wait 12 centuries for “The Four Books of Sentences” or another century for the great Summa should not be a surprise to anyone. That Father Feeney could make some additional observations to those great works (and in no way contrary to them) should not be a surprise either.

Can Angels validly Baptize?

It would seem so -- one (Gabriel) prophesied to our Lady, another comforted our Lord in the garden, still another rolled away the stone on His tomb and sat upon it. In any case, angels can do amazing things, as Saint Thomas teaches us:

"As was observed above in the preceding article, the local motion of an angel can be continuous, and non-continuous. If it be continuous, the angel cannot pass from one extreme to another without passing through the mid-space; because, as is said by the Philosopher (Phys. v, text 22; vi, text 77), 'The middle is that into which a thing which is continually moved comes, before arriving at the last into which it is moved'; because the order of first and last in continuous movement, is according to the order of the first and last in magnitude, as he says (Phys. iv, text 99). But if an angel's movement be not continuous, it is possible for him to pass from one extreme to another without going through the middle..." (Summa Theologica, Ia, q.53, a.2)

"This objection is based on continuous time. But the same time of an angel's movement can be non-continuous. So an angel can be in one place in one instant, and in another place in the next instant, without any time intervening. If the time of the angel's movement be continuous, he is changed through infinite places throughout the whole time which precedes the last 'now'; as was already shown (a. 2). Nevertheless he is partly in one of the continuous places, and partly in another, not because his substance is susceptible of parts, but because his power is applied to a part of the first place and to a part of the second, as was said above (a. 2)." (Summa Theologica, Ia, q.53, a.3, ad 3)

"Since the order of Divine Providence disposes that lower things be subject to the actions of higher, as explained above (q. 109, a. 2); as the inferior angels are enlightened by the superior, so men, who are inferior to the angels, are enlightened by them." (Summa Theologica, Ia, q.111, a.1)

"But it must be observed that as God did not bind His power to the sacraments, so as to be unable to bestow the sacramental effect without conferring the sacrament; so neither did He bind His power to the ministers of the Church so as to be unable to give angels power to administer the sacraments. And since good angels are messengers of truth; if any sacramental rite were performed by good angels, it should be considered valid, because it ought to be evident that this is being done by the will of God: for instance, certain churches are said to have been consecrated by the ministry of the angels. But if demons, who are 'lying spirits,' were to perform a sacramental rite, it should be pronounced as invalid." (Summa Theologica, IIIa, q.64, a.7)

Sounds like Einstein's Theory of Relativity!  Non-local space, quantum teleportation & entanglement, faster-than-light travel, plus subliminal, but direct, communication.

Now, even if you are going to say that "only humans" can Baptize, then there is no reason why the angels (which may number in the trillions) cannot transport a Catholic missionary from one location to another to do just that and return that person home without anyone ever noticing.

As a follower of Father Feeney's theology, I profess and believe in both Baptism of Desire and/or Blood; I just don't think that they happen in the absence of Sacramental Baptism of Water. So, exactly, what aspect of Church teaching am I "denying"? And, please be specific, if you have such an answer for me.

Does the Church teach that we must have faith that there are people who go to Heaven who die without Baptism? If so, then we must have faith in things that did not occur. This is absurd.

Many, if not most, modernistic theologians, do not like miracles, at least those that occur on a large scale. However, "and the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints that had slept arose, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, came into the holy city, and appeared to many..." (Matthew 27:52-53) Did that event happen? If so, then angels can baptize, by the millions, which means that there may be a lot of pre-Columbian North & South American Indians, indigenous Africans, Australians, and Asians in Paradise.

What about the salvation of the Indians?

The late Professor Carl Sagan, an agnostic, had a wonderful quote (which he "borrowed"):

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

Do you believe in ensoulment -- Yes or No?  If so, is that a miracle?  If so, why? If not, why not?  Does ensoulment occur on a large scale, even among the pre-missionary natives?  Or, are such human beings "soulless"?  And, if the One and Triune God is capable of giving the pre-missionary natives souls, why would He be "incapable" of securing their Baptisms at some time during their infancies? According to Catholic dogma, the following is de fide:

For an infant, a valid Baptism is always a fruitful one.

Therefore, the following two propositions can never, ever be disproved:

1) It is impossible to prove that any particular individual was not sacramentally Baptized in water at some time during that person's infancy.

2) It is impossible to prove that a person who was sacramentally Baptized in water during his/her infancy will not (or has not) receive (received) salutary repentance at the moment of his/her own death.

And, of course, what the One and Triune God can do for one, He can also do for many.  Of course, modernists like to use the Argument from Geography as "proof" of implicit faith absent the Blessed Trinity and Incarnation being salvific, because Christ's coming, so they say, would have been a "disaster" for pagans everywhere.  However, as is pointed out on the website,
Although we can only estimate levels and trends of infant mortality prior to the most recent centuries, it seems probable that through much of human history 30 to 40 percent of all infants born died before they could celebrate their first birthdays.
As far as I can, this is accurate; in addition, prior to modern times, an infant who survived his/her first year of life had a 50/50 chance of surviving to adolescence. For me, it seems cruel that the One and Triune God would allow an avenue of salvation for those who had reached the "perfect age" while excluding the most tender and innocent members of those pagan societies, infants and young children.

Of course, the Mormons say that Christ came to pre-Columbian America, preached to the Indians, and then left, all without a trace.  What we are proposing is far less grand, that given the fact that "anyone whatsoever" (Lateran IV, Canon 1) can validly baptize, perhaps some individuals were moved by the graces of the Holy Spirit to do just that and perhaps many pagan infants and children died with Baptism than who died without it.  The formula for Baptism is simple, "I baptize you..." with some water added in. It does not, as far as I can tell, even require the Trinitarian formula, although, that is, by far, the preferred form.  So, it's simple and would only require a few seconds of effort.  I am not sure what "historical traces" one would expect from such an activity.

It's not that the One and Triune God could not use "extraordinary means" to save someone; it's that He does not have to do so!  And, since we know that God is a Perfect Being, it stands to reason that He will use the "ordinary means" that He has revealed to us to bring salvation to His elect.  As for the North American Indians, how about those individuals who "slow roasted" Catholic missionaries?  Did they "reject" the Gospel?  If so, what would be the point in God bringing the "Good News" to them any earlier in time?

You can't have your "rationalistic, materialistic cake" and eat it, too!  If you profess faith in the existence of the immutable, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent One and Triune God (like it matters), then you must acknowledge the fact that if He can create souls by the billions, then He can secure the Baptisms of each and every one of His elect.  Neither time nor space will be an issue for the Creator of time and space.

I think that some "doth protest too much."

Saint Augustine and his student, Saint Prosper.

"Not one of the elect and predestined perishes, regardless of his age at death. Never be it said that a man predestined to life would be permitted to end his life without the sacrament of the Mediator. Because, of these men, Our Lord says: 'This is the will of the Father, that I should lose nothing of what he has given me.'" (St. Augustine, Against Julian, 5, 4)

"If you wish to be a Catholic, do not venture to believe, to say, or to teach that they whom the Lord has predestined for baptism can be snatched away from his predestination, or die before that has been accomplished in them which the Almighty has predestined.’ There is in such a dogma more power than I can tell assigned to chances in opposition to the power of God, by the occurrence of which casualties that which He has predestined is not permitted to come to pass. It is hardly necessary to spend time or earnest words in cautioning the man who takes up with this error against the absolute vortex of confusion into which it will absorb him, when I shall sufficiently meet the case if I briefly warn the prudent man who is ready to receive correction against the threatening mischief." (St. Augustine, On the Soul and Its Origin 3, 13)

"For in this respect they are in the same condition as the greatest sinners; regenerated in baptism they are alike in sanctity; take away baptism, and they perish all together. It is a fact then, that grace seeks its adopted sons even among the worse sinners in their very last moments, and that many who looked less wicked are denied this gift. But who could say that these facts escape God’s ruling or that He decrees them without a profound justice?…It is obvious that all who die without baptism are lost." (St. Prosper of Aquitaine, The Call of All Nations, 1, 17; 2, 24)

To sum up.

"Feeneyism" simply asserts the theological opinion that whomever the One and Triune God predestines to the eternal beatitude, His elect, are also predestined by Him (due to His Sovereignty, Providence, and Perfection) to receive Sacramental Baptism in Water, with no exceptions.  This assertion is not a denial of Baptism of Desire and/or Blood, but simply an assertion that neither of those ever occur in the complete absence of Sacramental Baptism of Water.  To embrace this view is to affirm, wholly, everything which Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Church's universal Doctor, taught.

Could you be wrong?

Definitively.  It's absurd to claim that the Church, through her ordinary & authentic Magisterium, would teach doctrines that have no basis in reality.  It is wholly orthodox to state as de fide that there are individuals in Paradise who have died without Baptism; the Church has, however, not yet made such a dogmatic declaration.  How many such persons, if any, is an unknown, but the possibility of such individuals must be acknowledged.

The whole question of whether the Triune God allows any of His Elect to end their lives without the character of sacramental Baptism reminds me of that scene from Hamlet:
Now might I do it pat, now he is praying;
And now I'll do't. And so he goes to heaven;
And so am I revenged. That would be scann'd:
A villain kills my father; and for that,
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
To heaven.
O, this is hire and salary, not revenge.
He took my father grossly, full of bread;
With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;
And how his audit stands who knows save heaven?
But in our circumstance and course of thought,
'Tis heavy with him: and am I then revenged,
To take him in the purging of his soul,
When he is fit and season'd for his passage?
Up, sword; and know thou a more horrid hent:
When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,
Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed;
At gaming, swearing, or about some act
That has no relish of salvation in't;
Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,
And that his soul may be as damn'd and black
As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays:
This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.
I don't think that anyone (Hamlet included) is capable of beating the omnipotent God at "His own game," but if you are reading this and you think that you can enter Heaven, which is life eternal, without the character of sacramental Baptism, then I think that you are at least being presumptuous.  "Good Luck with that," as the saying goes.