Choose a topic from Vol 3:


Reason proves God's existence
Primitive monotheism
Mystery of God's inner nature
Personality of God
Providence of God and the problem of evil


Immortal destiny of man
Can earth give true happiness?
Do human souls evolve?
Is transmigration possible?
Animal souls
Freedom of will
Free will and faith


Religion and God
The duty of prayer
The mysteries of religion
Can we believe in miracles?

The Religion of the Bible

Historical character of the Gospels
Canonical Books of the Bible
Original Manuscripts
Copyists' errors
Truth of the Bible
New Testament "contradictions"

The Christian Religion

Christianity alone true
Not the product of religious experience
Compared with Buddhism, Confucianism, Mahometanism, Bahaism, etc.,
Rejected by modern Jews
The demand for miracles
The necessity of faith
Difficulties not doubts
Proofs available
Dispositions of unbelievers

A Definite Christian Faith

One religion not as good as another
Changing one's religion
Catholic convictions and zeal
Religious controversy
The curse of bigotry
Towards a solution

The Problem of Reunion

Efforts at the reunion of the Churches
The Church of England as a "Bridge-Church"
Anglicans and the Greek Orthodox Church
The "Old Catholics" of Holland
Reunion Conferences
Catholic Unity
The Papacy as reunion center
Protestant hostility to Catholicism
The demands of charity

The Truth of Catholicism

Necessity of the Church
The true Church
Catholic claim absolute
A clerical hierarchy
Papal Supremacy
Temporal Power
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Catholic attitude to converts
Indefectible Apostolicity
Necessity of becoming a Catholic

The Church and the Bible

Catholic belief in the Bible
Bible-reading and private interpretation
Value of Tradition and the "Fathers"
Guidance of the Church necessary

The Dogmas of the Catholic Church

Dogmatic certainty
Credal statements
Faith and reason
The voice of science
Fate of rationalists
The dogma of the Trinity
Creation and evolution
The existence of angels
Evil spirits or devils
Man's eternal destiny
The fact of sin
Nature and work of Christ
Mary, the mother of God
Grace and salvation
The sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
Marriage and divorce
Extreme Unction
Man's death and judgment
Resurrection of the body
End of the World

Moral Teachings of the Catholic Church

Catholic intolerance
The Spanish Inquisition
Prohibition of Books
Liberty of worship
Forbidden Socieities
Church attendance
The New Psychology
Deterministic philosophy
Marriage Legislation
Birth Prevention
Monastic Life
Convent Life
Legal defense of murderers
Laywers and divorce proceedings
Judges in Divorce
Professional secrecy

The Church in Her Worship

Why build churches?
Glamor of ritual
The "Lord's Prayer"
Pagan derivations
Liturgical symbolism
Use of Latin
Intercession of Mary and the Saints

The Church and Social Welfare

The Church and Education
The Social Problem
Social Duty of the Church
Catholicism and Capitalism

Grace and salvation

770. Am I right or wrong in saying that all men are sure of salvation through the merits of Christ?

Wrong. Your mistake arises from your notion that Christ expiated our sins on the Cross without making any conditions for those who desire to benefit by His redeeming work. But redemption is not unconditional. Christ said to the man who asked, "What must I do to be saved?", "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Again, we are told that men must repent and be baptized; or again, "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved." All such conditions suppose that it is possible not to be saved. You will say, "Then Christ has not redeemed the human race after all!" To that I reply that He has paid a price sufficient for the redemption of all men who are willing to be saved and who are prepared to comply with the conditions. And henceforth it is each man's own fault only if he is lost.

771. Of what avail was the shedding of Christ's blood if there is still a danger of everlasting damnation in hell?

Of great avail. For without the shedding of that blood no human being could possibly have attained eternal salvation and the supernatural destiny originally intended for man by God. But whilst the death of Christ made this salvation possible, it was never intended to save men whether they wished to be saved or not, and whether they continued to do evil or not. Christ did not offer unconditional salvation to mankind.

772. When we Protestants are converted or changed by accepting Jesus as our Savior, we are then Christians with full assurance of eternal life.

If Protestantism teaches that, then Protestants are very much to be pitied. For their Protestantism is simply building up false hopes within them, and offering conditions of salvation radically opposed to the teaching of the New Testament. Nowhere is full assurance of salvation promised to anyone. Our Lord says to us, "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation." Why, if one is fully assured of salvation? Christ manifestly tells us that there is a danger of forfeiting it. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "He that thinks himself to stand, let him beware lest he fall." To the Hebrews he wrote, "It is impossible for those who were once illuminated, have tasted also the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost; have moreover tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, and have fallen away, to be renewed to penance." Hebrews VI., 4, 5. According to you people who have been once illuminated, have tasted the heavenly gift, and who were made partakers with the Holy Ghost, should have had full assurance of eternal life with Christ. Yet the event proved such an assurance illusory. St. Peter, too, tells us of those who had made shipwreck of the faith. He is talking of Christians, who had accepted Jesus as their Savior.

773. Jesus offers salvation as a sheer gift. All we have to do is to accept.

Jesus offers Himself and His grace to us as a free gift, beyond all our deserts. But you are wrong when you say we only have to accept. We have to labor and strive to fulfill all the obligations imposed upon us by God. Mere acceptance of Christ without that is of no avail. St. James, the Apostle, writes, "Faith without works is dead. Do you not see that by works a man is justified and not by faith only." James II.

774. The gift of God is life eternal through Christ Jesus.

That is quite true. But it is not an unconditional gift. After the fall of man, God had no obligation to offer us eternal happiness, and, therefore, His doing so was a sheer gift. But all the same He laid down certain conditions involving good works, and as we are not necessarily compelled to fulfill them, your full assurance becomes a chimera, as also your peculiar idea that for salvation we have only to accept Jesus as our Savior. With the help of His grace, we have to work out our own salvation by good works in fear and trembling lest we ourselves should fail to do our part.

775. But with Roman Catholics one always has to be doing something to gain grace.

I can merely say that, of course, that is so. When we pray we are doing something to gain grace. "Ask, and you shall receive," is the promise of Christ. Our Lord also showed the necessity of good works when He said, "He that doth evil cometh not to the light." Scripture tells us, too, to redeem our sins by almsgiving. But that would be impossible unless almsgiving for the love of Christ were a means by which we gain grace. All along the line, in this matter, your ideas are at variance with Scripture, whilst Catholic ideas are in accordance with it. And if your ideas are the average ideas of Protestants, it brings out once more that Protestantism is fundamentally un-Scriptural.

776. God has called us out of dead works to worship Him through Jesus, the true and living way.

That is true, provided you interpret "dead works" correctly. But it is quite wrong if you imagine that all good works are dead and useless.

777. Please explain the doctrine of Predestination of souls.

Predestination of soul is simply a special Providence of God in regard to a particular individual for whom God has foreordained special graces with which He knows that the individual will certainly correspond. There is no such thing as predestination to hell. To every man in this world God gives sufficient grace for salvation and every man can be saved by corresponding with it. Therefore, if any man is lost, it is his own fault. But there is a predestination for a specially chosen few to very special graces over and above the ordinary distribution, as in the case of St. Paul, who though a Pharisee, was predestined to his glorious Apostolate. Now, with these principles in mind, we can go on to your other questions.

778. Has everyone an equal chance of getting to heaven?

Not necessarily. The attaining of heaven depends upon the reception of actual Baptism in the case of infants, and upon Baptism at least implicitly by desire on the part of adults. But I take it from your letter that you are referring to adults, i. e., those who have come to the age of reason and responsibility. Yet even then, not all have necessarily an equal chance of salvation, although all, without exception, have a true chance. For example, Mary, the Mother of Christ, certainly received very special graces and helps which are not given to ordinary souls. But God gives to every adult sufficient grace for salvation. He has no obligation to give to every soul those extraordinary graces which, in His sheer generosity, He bestows upon some. The question of justice does not enter into the distribution of gratuitous gifts, although God is bound in justice to Himself to give sufficient grace that men may observe the commandments He imposes. And He does so.

779. After all, it is the kind of body that we have that governs our actions during our lives, and the kind of life we lead determines our reward in the next world.

It is true to a certain extent only that the kind of life one leads determines his reward in the next world. I say "to a certain extent," because after an evil life a man could die repentant and be saved almost solely through the merits of Christ, his only personal good being practically the one act of good will by which he corresponds with the final grace God's mercy offers him. But as it would be a sin of presumption to lead an evil life in the expectation of such a final grace, we wisely try to live according to the graces God gives us day by day, so as to be ready whenever God should decide to take us from this world. In this sense, the kind of life we live normally determines our future lot. But now, let us take your first statement: It is the kind of body we have that governs our actions during life. That is not true. Man's higher faculties, reason and will, govern his actions. If he has the use of these faculties, and they do not govern his actions, but are subservient to the blind impulses of bodily inclinations, he sins. But men do not necessarily give in to those blind impulses, and I absolutely deny the general statement that the kind of body a man possesses governs his actions during life.

780. The course our life is going to take is affected to a great degree by the type of make-up we are given, a factor over which we have no control.

We have control over our make-up. Thousands of people have successfully resisted inherited tendencies. I agree that the standard of virtue attained by different people often varies according to their natural characteristics. For example, a person naturally irritable because born of nervous and highly strung parents will find it harder to practice patience and good temper than another person of a naturally sanguine and happy temperament. But God makes every allowance for relative difficulty, and if a naturally irritable person attains to fifty degrees of patience, whilst a person with an equable nature seems to possess one hundred degrees, the one who attains fifty degrees may be far more pleasing to God, insofar as his apparently less virtue is the result of much greater efforts at self-control than the placid type ever had to exercise in his life.

781. You say each soul gets enough grace for salvation if it will but correspond.


782. Yet God creates souls immediately. What of those He creates with evil inherent tendencies?

No soul is evil in virtue of its creation by God. But the soul is not the complete human being. Man consists of both body and soul, and both cooperate in the formation of his personality. Now if the body be defective owing to parentage or malformation, the soul will be affected in its operations. And the body can be defective either in brain formation or in general dispositions. A defective brain, which the soul must use for its thought processes, may result in dullness and consequent ignorance, or even in complete imbecility. General dispositions can, as a result of inherited tendencies, give a propensity to sensuality in various forms, anger, or any other of the bodily passions. But the point to note is this, that these apparently evil tendencies are not due to the creative production of the soul by God, but to the quality of the bodily counterpart with which it is necessarily associated. In other words, they are due, not to the primary cause, God, but to secondary causes, whether physiological or psychological. Having cleared up this point as to the origin of inherited evil tendencies, let us turn to their effects as regards the salvation of the soul.

783. You say that enough grace is given such people to make up for their inherited evil tendencies. That seems a very doubtful proposition.

You make me say more than I have said. I say that enough grace is given them to enable them to save their souls. I do not say that that grace will so make up for their inherited evil tendencies that they will be on an equal footing with others. But you overlook a most important point. The salvation of a soul depends not only upon the use of grace, but upon the relative standards expected of the soul by God. Our Lord tells us clearly that God will adjust His demands according to the actual responsibility of each individual. And that that responsibility varies He shows in His parable of the talents, five being given to one man, two to another, and but one to a third. Not so much will be required of the man with but one talent as from him with five talents. Again, in Luke XI, 48, Christ says, "Unto whom much is given, of him much shall be required." But that God gives sufficient grace to each according to the standard required of him for salvation is not in the least a doubtful proposition. God has revealed that He sincerely wills the salvation of all men and also that grace is necessary for salvation. Therefore to all men He offers sufficient grace for their salvation according to their relative needs and the relative standards allotted to them.

784. Some souls are too brutal and hardened to be sensitive to grace. Does grace create a new moral nature within them?

Grace does not necessarily destroy inherited evil tendencies. But sufficient grace is offered to those with them to enable them to resist their influence. If they refuse to listen to the promptings of grace and of conscience, they may become more and more brutal and hardened, and less sensitive to grace. They become habitual sinners. But don't mix up the question of sanctification with that of salvation. Christ died for sinners. He came to save that which was lost, and He wills not the death of a sinner but that he be converted and live. Even after a lifetime of sin. He will still offer sufficient grace for salvation, and special graces towards the end of life when sinful attractions have lost much of their fascination.

785. You say he can turn to God if he will. But he could not easily do so, and my argument hinges on this point.

I presume your argument is that not every man does receive sufficient grace for salvation. If so, it hinges on a point which scarcely affects the case. He receives sufficient grace if he can save his soul. Whether he can do so easily or with difficulty is beside the point. As long as he can do so, the grace is not insufficient for salvation. Then, too, you seem confused on two important matters. Remember that final salvation does not imply that a man will necessarily correspond with every grace during life, or turn to God at this moment or that. He is saved if he actually dies in a state of grace, whatever his previous life may have been. Again, when you mention the word "easily," you are working on the old idea that it is harder for some people to be good than for others. Very good. But if that be truly so, their responsibility is diminished and God expects less of them. Yet, at the last, to say the least, He will give them grace sufficient for their radical conversion and salvation, a grace adjusted to their particular needs. If they need a greater grace than a less hardened person, they will get that greater grace. That grace will not force them. They will have to accept it voluntarily with whatever will-power they actually have. But it will be truly sufficient for their salvation according to their actual capacity and the relative standard God expects of them.

786. Even the well-disposed fall into sin at times, finding it hard to resist temptation. How much harder for one subject to evil tendencies and environment.

You are mixing up sanctification and salvation. A lifetime of holiness means the regular avoidance of sin, and the practice of Christian virtue. And we owe it in justice to God to strive to live such a life. But salvation is the blending of a state of God's friendship with the moment of death. And the problem put before me was the problem of salvation, not the problem of perpetual resistance of temptation and sin. It is harder for one subject to evil tendencies and environment to resist sin. But God will make every allowance for that. The man who sins when he can easily resist is of a far more malicious disposition than one who sins when he can't easily resist. And the former is in far more danger of dying in persevering malice than the latter.

787. Won't you admit that the one with evil heredity and environment has a harder task to save his soul than we have?

I admit that it is harder for him to live a life of consistent virtue. But I deny that sufficient grace will not be so offered him for his ultimate salvation that if he lose his soul, it will be due to his own fault. He may fall into sin more often during life. It may be harder for him to be good. But God will make every allowance for his disabilities and offer him a truly sufficient grace according to his necessities to enable him to die repentant.

788. Is not his harder task due to no fault of his?

Whatever is due to no fault of his will not interfere with his salvation. A man can be lost only for what is his own fault, not for what is not his own fault. God knows all the grades of personal responsibility and guilt, and will duly allow for them.

789. Why did you become a priest, and dedicate your life to the work of God, and why has some other unfortunate become a heathen? If we take the two lives and examine them we must find two different sets of circumstances over which neither party had any control.

This question sums up the mistake which characterizes your whole letter. You are dealing with man's relation to a supernatural destiny, yet you are trying to explain it by natural elements only. You are leaving out God and the influence of grace, and all notions of supernatural agency. It's rather like complaining that you can't dig up cube roots with a spade. Why did I become a priest, and why has some other unfortunate become a heathen? I became a priest because God inspired me with the thought to do so, and because I chose to correspond with that good inspiration. I need not have done so. I could have refused and could have become a heathen. Why did some other unfortunate become a heathen? Well, if he ever possessed the Christian faith, he became a heathen because he chose not to correspond with the grace God gave him. If you took our two lives, you will not find different sets of circumstances over which we had no control, in the sense you intend. Some circumstances may have happened which we could not control, but we did not lose the power to control ourselves in those circumstances. That is the point you overlook. I could not control the fact that I was brought into contact with the claims of the Catholic Church. But acceptance or rejection of those claims certainly was within my control.

790. What did Christ mean by the parable in which the late arrivals received the same pay as those who had worked all day, and who justly protested?

The parable is not to be interpreted literally and merely from this world's point of view, but as exhibiting the conditions of the kingdom of heaven to which Christ applied His illustration. Eternal salvation depends upon the gift of divine grace, and God will grant that salvation by justice to those who have served Him from their youth, by mercy and goodness to those who turn to Him in repentance or later stages of life, or even at the last moment. And no one will ever have the right to complain against God whether He manifests His justice or His mercy in granting salvation to any given soul. Equity will be secured, of course, by the greater glory and merit of those who have served God longer and more faithfully on earth. But our Lord is not here concerned with that. He is concerned with the general fact of eternal salvation given equally to souls of various qualifications. The parable was directed against the Pharisees who thought themselves the elite, and condemned our Lord's goodness to the publicans and sinners, as if these poor people should not be given any hope of eternal salvation. They thought that was theirs by right, and that God was not free to grant it to others even in sheer mercy. Where the dispensation of grace is concerned God is above all human criticism.

791. I understand that Catholic people believe that they can be saved if forgiven by a priest up to the last moment of life.

That is so. We Catholics dare not put limits to God's mercy; God has Himself declared that His mercy outnumbers all reckoning on the part of men. But don't conclude that Catholics believe that they are justified in continuing in sin merely because if a man repents at the last he can be saved. They know quite well that they are never justified in continuing in a state of sin. God has promised forgiveness when a man does repent, but He has never promised time to repent. If a man mocks God's mercy by making it the excuse for further sin, and for further delay in his conversion, such a man forfeits any right to mercy at the last. If he repents he will save his soul, but how does he know that he will not meet with a sudden and unforeseen death? If he receives the Sacraments from a priest, and is in proper dispositions, he will save his soul, but what guarantee has he that a priest will be available just where and when he is needed? Remember, too, that according to Catholic doctrine, sins, even though forgiven, have to be expiated in purgatory; and the man who barely saves his soul after a lifetime of sin, will expiate his sins in a purgatory that will scarcely bear description. God is not mocked. Sins cannot be multiplied with impunity, even though God is merciful.

792. If two Catholics die, one after a good life, and another after an evil life, but getting forgiven before he dies, does the evil one get the same reward as the good one?

No. The evil one will have far more to expiate in purgatory, and when he does enter heaven, will attain a far lower degree of happiness and glory than the one who has consistently served God.

793. Don't you think it would be very hard on one who lived a very good life, but was unfortunate enough to die at the last with a mortal sin on his soul?

That is hardly a likely contingency. But if it did happen, it would be hard for such a person, but not unjust. Firstly, he has no need and no right to be in a state of mortal sin when death comes. Secondly, his previous good life does not affect the matter. The observance of all God's commandments for sixty years gives no right whatever to violate one of them then. It's like arguing that a man is justified in stealing on Tuesday because he did not commit adultery on the preceding Monday.

794. On the other hand a person who had led a bad life could repent at the last and save his soul.

That's not hard on anybody. The grace of repentance is always at the disposal of men of good will, offered through the sheer mercy of Christ. Both the cases you give me could have accepted it. The first man did not, the second man did.

795. The good man would go to hell, and the had man to purgatory. That's hardly fair, is it?

Fairness is not involved in this question. Firstly, you are comparing two cases which have no relation to each other. The fact that the wicked man accepted God's mercy has no relation whatever to the fact that the previously good man would not have it. Remember that God offered sufficient grace equally to both according to the necessities of each. Supposing that I meet two beggars, and offer each half-a-dollar; if one notices that I am a priest, and through bigoted enmity towards me, spits on the ground and refuses to take my offering, whilst the other gratefully accepts it, are you going to blame me for injustice because one man goes without his dinner, whilst the other has it? Again, you are not right in assuming that the good man, as you put it, is condemned to hell. You are thinking only of his previous goodness, forgetting your own supposition of subsequent mortal sin. Being in a state of mortal sin, he is no longer a good man, and you have no right to assume that he is still good. Nor is he condemned to hell for any of his previous goodness. He is condemned for being an evil man in a state of enmity with God, a state which no previous goodness could justify. And the bad man is not saved because he was bad. He is saved because he had ceased to be bad, repenting of his crimes, and becoming good in God's sight by his willing correspondence with the grace offered him. We cannot exclude goodness by supposing that a man falls into mortal sin and dies in that state, and yet still regard that man as possessing goodness. Nor can we suppose a bad man converted to goodness, and then argue as if he were saved because of his badness.



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