In his homily on Sunday January 13, 2019, the Jesuit scholar Fr. Henri Boulad commented on the new baptism that Jesus Christ ushered in the world (in French "Lui vous baptisera dans l’Esprit et le Feu" here). Baptism makes us children of God, and children of the Church, he said. Is this designation for children of God limited to Christians? How about the Prophets and the sheep of Israel that came before Christ? How about non-Christians who seek the truth in their lives as much as they are able? Are Muslims, that we always see around, destined for hell? How about those who no longer practice their faith? Atheists? Are they too destined for hell? And his reassuring answer was "No." He quoted St. Augustine's "Many are in the Church but are not in her, and many are outside the Church, yet they are Christians." Everyone who seeks the truth can hope for eternal life in the love of our merciful Father of all. It is in the mystical Body of Christ that people are baptized by the Holy Spirit (i.e. the Spirit of Truth) and fire (the warmth of love). In the 19th century, Pope Blessed Pius IX had justified the possibility of salvation of those who did not hear the Gospel "Invincible Ignorance" reiterated by the Holy See in the case of the Jesuit priest Fr. Leonard Finney who in 1949 had mistakenly said that "outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation" (see an article on this here) The Ecumenical Second Vatican Council took Pope Pius IX's declaration further as a reference when the Fathers of the Council issued in 1964 the Church's Dogmatic Constitution (Lumen Gentium) which can be read here. Of particular relevance is Paragraph 16 - There the reader will find "Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God. In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues. But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, "Preach the Gospel to every creature", the Church fosters the missions with care and attention." - I have omitted the reference numbers that are found in official Church declarations but the interested reader can always find them here.
In 2000, The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published "Dominus Iesus" approved by Pope Saint John Paul II. In it, the faithful are reminded that salvation is possible only through the Lord Jesus Christ (here). Of particular relevance is this paragraph:
|[Nevertheless, God, who desires to call all peoples to himself in Christ and to communicate to them the fullness of his revelation and love, “does not fail to make himself present in many ways, not only to individuals, but also to entire peoples through their spiritual riches, of which their religions are the main and essential expression even when they contain ‘gaps, insufficiencies and errors'”. Therefore, the sacred books of other religions, which in actual fact direct and nourish the existence of their followers, receive from the mystery of Christ the elements of goodness and grace which they contain.]|
In science and scientific research, readers may wish to read how Artificial Intelligence will revolutionize business performance according to a recent IBM study. The findings were published by TechRepublic on January 15, 2019 (here). In an article published by Quanta Magazine on January 16, 2019, findings that the brain maps out ideas and memories like spaces by the Neuroscientist Professor Dr. John O'Keefe were commented on here. In late December 2018, scientists from CERN published reports on their findings throughout the past year including more findings of the early hot universe, compared to findings by the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider in the U.S. and new "Higgs signatures". Interested readers may wish to read it here and share the content.
Our concerns remain regarding promiscuity and the permissive culture in the West and on the other hand Islamic Radicalism that continues to rock the world - The atheistic world needs to wake up for there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom everyone may attain eternal joy. See my post here.
Need we say more? I would rather sing this beautiful hymn with the congregation at St. Anne's in Belfast...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sw5ZCZeS32M
1) Msgr. Robert Nusca, Pastor of Holy Rosary Catholic parish in Toronto, is a renowned Biblical scholar, Senior Fellow at St. Paul's Center. He holds a doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and is Professor of Biblical Studies at St. Augustine's Seminary; a member College of the Toronto School of Theology affiliated with the University of Toronto.
2) Fr. Henri Boulad, S.J. is a Jesuit scholar whose homilies in French are uploaded weekly on YouTube. Fluent in French, English and Arabic, he is a missionary who went to The Sudan in the 1980s, and tours Europe and Canada every year where he gives homilies and retreats as he does also in Egypt where he is resident. He taught theology at the High Institute of Theology in Cairo and visited Lebanon where he gave retreats.
3) Fluent in Arabic, French, and English, Fr. Georges Farah is a Lebanese Melkite Catholic scholar whose credentials include a doctorate in philosophy and another in theology from the renowned Sorbonne University in Paris.
4) Fr. Daniel Callam, CSB earned a Master's degree in Mathematics from the University of Toronto followed by a Doctorate degree in Divinity/Theology from Oxford University. He continues to teach theology and philosophy at St. Thomas University in Houston.