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Baptism of Blood and of Desire

From the teachings of the Popes, the Council of Trent, the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the Roman Martyrology, the Fathers, Doctors and Theologians of the Church

1. COUNCIL OF TRENT (1545-1563)

Canons on the Sacraments in General (Canon 4):
“If anyone shall say that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary for salvation, but are superfluous, and that although all are not necessary for every individual, without them or without the desire of them (sine eis aut eorum voto), through faith alone men obtain from God the grace of justiflcation; let him be anathema.”

Decree on Justification (Session 6, Chapter 4):
“In these words a description of the justification of a sinner is given as being a translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam to the state of grace and of the ‘adoption of the Sons’ (Rom. 8:15) of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior and this translation after the promulgation of the Gospel cannot be effected except through the layer of regeneration or a desire for it, (sine lavacro regenerationis aut eius voto) as it is written: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter in the kingdom of God’ (John 3:5).”


2. ST. ALPHONSUS LIGUORI (1691-1787)

Moral Theology (Bk. 6):
“But baptism of desire is perfect conversion to God by contrition or love of God above all things accompanied by an explicit or implicit desire for true Baptism of water, the place of which it takes as to the remission of guilt, but not as to the impression of the [baptismal] character or as to the removal of all debt of punishment. It is called “of wind␅ [flaminis] because it takes place by the impulse of the Holy Ghost Who is called a wind [flamen]. Now it is de fide that men are also saved by Baptism of desire, by virtue of the Canon Apostolicam De Presbytero Non Baptizato and the Council of Trent, Session 6, Chapter 4, where it is said that no one can be saved “without the laver of regeneration or the desire for it.”


3. 1917 CODE OF CANON LAW On Ecclesiastical Burial (Canon 1239. 2)

“Catechumens who, through no fault of their own, die without Baptism, are to be treated as baptized.” — The Sacred Canons
by Rev. John A. Abbo. St.T.L., J.C.D., and Rev. Jerome D. Hannan, A.M., LL.B., S.T.D., J.C.D.

Commentary on the Code:
“The reason for this rule is that they are justly supposed to have met death united to Christ through Baptism of desire.”


4. POPE INNOCENT III

Apostolicam:
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 eighth 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 (Denzinger 388).

Debitum pastoralis officii, August 28, 1206:
You have, to be sure, intimated that a certain Jew, when at the point of death, since he lived only among Jews, immersed himself in water while saying: “I baptize myself in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

We respond that, since there should be a distinction between the one baptizing and the one baptized, as is clearly gathered from the words of the Lord, when He says to the Apostles: “Go baptize all nations in the name etc.” (cf. Matt. 28:19), the Jew mentioned must be baptized again by another, that it may be shown that he who is baptized is one person, and he who baptizes another... If, however, such a one had died immediately, he would have rushed off to his heavenly home without delay because of the faith of the sacrament, although not because of the sacrament of faith (Denzinger 413).


5. POPE ST. PIUS V (1566-1572)

Ex omnibus afflictionibus, October 1, 1567
Condemned the following erroneous propositions of Michael du Bay:


6. ST. AMBROSE

“I hear you express grief because he [Valentinian] did not receive the Sacrament of Baptism. Tell me, what else is there in us except the will and petition? But he had long desired to be initiated... and expressed his intention to be baptized... Surely, he received [it] because he asked [for it].”


7. ST. AUGUSTINE, City of God

“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).


8. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS

Summa, Article 1, Part III, Q. 68:
“I answer that, the sacrament of Baptism may be wanting to someone in two ways. First, both in reality and in desire; as is the case with those who neither are baptized, nor wished to be baptized: which clearly indicates contempt of the sacrament, in regard to those who have the use of the free will. Consequently those to whom Baptism is wanting thus, cannot obtain salvation: since neither sacramentally nor mentally are they incorporated in Christ, through Whom alone can salvation be obtained.

“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 yet 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 graces he prayed for.’”


9. ST. ROBERT BELLARMINE, Doctor of the Church (1542-1621)

Liber II, Caput XXX:
“Boni Catehecumeni sunt de Ecclesia, interna unione tantum, non autem externa” (Good catechumens are of the Church, by internal union only, not however, by external union).


10. 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.


11. POPE PIUS IX (1846-1878) — Singulari Quadam, 1854:

174. “It must, of course, be held as a matter of faith that outside the apostolic Roman Church no one can be saved, that the Church is the only ark of salvation, and that whoever does not enter it will perish in the flood. On the other hand, it must likewise be held as certain that those who are affected by ignorance of the true religion, if it is invincible ignorance, are not subject to any guilt in this matter before the eyes of the Lord. Now, then, who could presume in himself an ability to set the boundaries of such ignorance, taking into consideration the natural differences of peoples, lands, native talents, and so many other factors? Only when we have been released from the bonds of this body and see God just as He is (see John 3:2) all we really understand how close and beautiful a bond joins divine mercy with divine justice.”

Quanto Conficiamur Moerore (1863):
“...We all know that those who are afflicted with invincible ignorance with regard to our holy religion, if they carefully keep the precepts of the natural law that have been written by God in the hearts of men, if they are prepare to obey God, and if they lead a virtuous and dutiful life, can attain eternal life by the power of divine light and grace.”


12. POPE PIUS XII (1939-1958) — Mystical Body of Christ (June 29, 1943):
“As you know, Venerable Brethren, from the very beginning of Our Pontificate We have committed to the protection and guidance of heaven those who do not belong to the visible organization of the Catholic Church, solemnly declaring that after the example of the Good Shepherd We desire nothing more ardently than that they may have life and have it more abundantly... For even though unsuspectingly they are related to the Mystical Body of the Redeemer in desire and resolution, they still remain deprived of so many precious gifts and helps from heaven, which one can only enjoy in the Catholic Church.”


13. FR. A. TANQUERY, Dogmatic Brevior; ART. IV, Section I, II - 1945 (1024-1)

The Baptism of Desire. Contrition, or perfect charity, with at least an implicit desire for Baptism, supplies in adults the place of the baptism of water as respects the forgiveness of sins.

This is certain.

Explanation: a) An implicit desire for Baptism, that is, one that is included in a general purpose of keeping all the commandments of God is, as all agree, sufficient in one who is invincibly ignorant of the law of Baptism; likewise, according to the more common opinion, in one who knows the necessity of Baptism.

b) Perfect charity, with a desire for Baptism, forgives original sin and actual sins, and therefore infuses sanctifying grace; but it does not imprint the Baptismal character and does not of itself remit the whole temporal punishment due for sin; whence, when the Unity offers, the obligation remains on
one who was sanctified in this manner of receiving the Baptism of water.


14. FR. DOMINIC PRUMMER, O.P., Moral Theology, 1949:


15. FR. FRANCIS O’CONNELL, Outlines of Moral Theology, 1953:


16. MGR. J. H. HERVE, Manuale Theologiae Dogmaticae (Vol. III: chap. IV), 1931

II. On those for whom Baptism of water can be supplied:

The various baptisms: from the Tridentinum itself and from the things stated, it stands firm that Baptism is necessary, yet in fact or in desire; therefore in an extraordinary case it can be supplied. Further, according to the Catholic doctrine, there are two things by which the sacrament of Baptism can be supplied: namely, an act of perfect charity with the desire of Baptism, and the death as martyr. Since these two are a compensation for Baptism of water, they themselves are called Baptism, too, in order that they may be comprehended with it under one, as it were, generic name, so the act of love with desire for Baptism is called Baptismus flaminis (Baptism of the Spirit) and the martyrium (Baptism of Blood).


17. FR. H. NOLDEN, S.J., FR. A. SCHMIT, S.J.Summa theologiae moralis (Vol. III de Sacramentis), Book 2 Quaestio prima, 1921

Baptism of spirit (flaminis) is perfect charity or contrition, in which the desire in fact to receive the sacrament of Baptism is included; perfect charity and perfect contrition, however, have the power to confer sanctifying grace.


18. FR. ARTHUR VERMEERSCH, S.J., Theologiae Moralis (Vol. III), Tractatus II, 1948:

The Baptism of spirit (flaminis) is an act of perfect charity or contrition, in so far as it contains at least a tacit desire of the Sacrament. Therefore it can be had only in adults. It does not imprint a character; ...but it takes away all mortal sin together with the sentence of eternal penalty, according to: “He who loves me, is loved by my Father” (John 14:21).


19. FR. LUDOVICO BILLOT, S.J., De Ecclesiae Sacmmentis (Vol. I); Quaestio LXVI; Thesis XXIV - 1931:

Baptism of spirit (flaminis), which is also called of repentance or of desire, is nothing else than an act of charity or perfect contrition including a desire of the Sacrament, according to what has been said above, namely that the heart of everyone is moved by the Holy Ghost to believe, and to love God, and to be sorry for his sins.


20. FR. ALOYSIA SABETTI, S.J., FR. TIMOTHEO BARRETT, S.J., Compendium Theologiae Moralis, Tractatus XII [De Baptismo, Chapter I, 1926:

Baptism, the gate and foundation of the Sacraments, in fact or at least in desire, is necessary for all unto salvation...

>From the Baptism of water, which is called of river (Baptismus fluminis), is from Baptism of the Spirit (Baptismus flaminis) and Baptism of Blood, by which Baptism properly speaking can be supplied, if this be impossible. The first one is a full conversion to God through perfect contrition or charity, in so far as it contains an either explicit or at least implicit will to receive Baptism of water... Baptism of Spirit (flaminis) and Baptism of Blood are called Baptism of desire (in voto).


21. FR. EDUARDUS GENICOT, S.]., Theologiae Moralis Institutiones (Vol. II), Tractatus XII, 1902

Baptism of the Spirit (flaminis) consists in an act of perfect charity or contrition, with which there is always an infusion of sanctifying grace connected...

Both are called “of desire” (in voto)...; perfect charity, because it has always connected the desire, at least the implicit one, of receiving this sacrament, absolutely necessary for salvation.

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