Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Garrigou-Lagrange on Baptism of Desire


From Garrigou-Lagrange's Our Savior and His Love for Us, p. 6 (snapshot from the ITOPL file).



Dan said...

I was browsing around the web and caught your quotation here and would like to offer a few quick comments for your consideration.

The first is that we have to be very careful when we quote people, even when these people are great Catholics and/or great Saints. Their words can often be edifying and wholly Catholic, but they are often opinions, or interpretations. So I advise prudence and caution.

Secondly, only a Pope can define dogmatically. A Saint cannot (unless he was a Pope, of course), a layman can not. No Pope has, as yet, defined definitely the theory of Baptism of "desire". At this stage it is something that can be certainly discussed, dissected and carefully studied but it does not have the charism of infallibility. I think, also, we should be brave enough Catholics to realize that sometimes even great Saints made problematic pronouncements and were, because of that, sometimes corrected by Holy Church.

The Church has, of course, defined the necessity of Baptism dogmatically and so that question is closed. Sadly, those looking for "loopholes" to cover the loss of dear non-Catholic friends and family will fall back on the theories of Baptism of blood and desire. We cannot let the theory substitute for the dogma. So until a future Pope defines, ex cathedra, the reality of something called Baptism of "desire" we have to be cautious in how we speak of it. That loophole can get out of hand very quickly, dilute the Catholic's realization of the necessity of Baptism and finally be lost altogether. The Sacrament of Penance is already heading in that frightening direction.

And we have to be perfectly logical here. I am not trying to be amusing when I say that if you are going to believe that one Sacrament can be obtained by a desire for it, then all the Sacraments can be obtained that way. In other words, if we allow Baptism of desire, should we allow Holy Orders of desire, Marriage of desire, Penance of desire, etc.?

We can discuss this like Catholic ladies and gentlemen but we must always, in the end, fall back on what we know is the truth, and that knowledge comes to us in infallibly defined dogmas and the authentic traditions of the Church.

Once again, prudence and caution are the watchwords.

Don Paco said...

Dan, baptism of desire enjoys the consensus of theologians, which is infallible, "so that question is closed," to use your words. The Magisterium is not the only witness of tradition.

M. A. said...

I would have to agree with Don Paco.

Also, it does not necessarily follow that because a desire for a sacrament suffices to received the graces of that sacrament,e.g.spiritual Communion, then "all the Sacraments can be obtained that way." I have never heard of a Catholic caution against spiritual Communions based on the fears of Dan, that it can be a "loophole" to dilute the necessity of Sacramental Communions.