The following article is the Sixth part of a series of articles taken from the book, "Outside the Catholic Church There is Absolutely No Salvation" which is written by, and is therefore the intellectual product of Bro. Peter Dimond, O.S.B of the Most Holy Family Monastery, to whom sole credit belongs:
The readers are encouraged to click on this link: [Outside the Catholic Church There is Absolutely No Salvation] for the entire document contained in this blog.
6. The One Church of the Faithful
Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution 1, 1215, ex cathedra: “THERE IS INDEED ONE UNIVERSAL CHURCH OF THE FAITHFUL, outside of which nobody at all is saved, in which Jesus Christ is both priest and sacrifice.”
The first dogmatic definition from the Chair of Peter on Outside the Church There is No Salvation (from Pope Innocent III) taught that the Catholic Church is the one Church “of the faithful,” outside of which no one at all is saved. But who are “the faithful”? Can one who has not been baptized be considered part of “the faithful”? If we look to Catholic Tradition, the answer is a resounding “No.”
As many of you know, the Catholic Mass is divided into two parts: the Mass of the Catechumens (those preparing to be baptized) and the Mass of the Faithful (those baptized).
In the early Church, the unbaptized catechumens (i.e., those who had not received the Sacrament of Baptism) had to leave after the Mass of the catechumens, when the faithful professed the Creed. The unbaptized were not allowed to stay for the Mass of the faithful, because it is only by receiving the Sacrament of Baptism that one becomes one of the faithful. This is the teaching of Tradition.
Casimir Kucharek, The Byzantine-Slav Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom: “In Canon 19 of the Synod of Laodicea (A.D. 343-381), for example, we read: ‘After the sermons of the bishops, the prayer for the catechumens is to be said by itself first; when the catechumens have gone out, the prayer for those who are doing penance; and after these . . . there should then be offered the three prayers of the faithful . . .’”
Here we see the 4th century Synod of Laodicea affirming the tradition that unbaptized catechumens were to depart from the Liturgy before the Mass of the Faithful began. And this distinction between the Mass of the Catechumens and the Mass of the Faithful was a staple in the ancient rites of the Catholic Church. Hence, Fr. Casimir Kucharek, in his large work on the Byzantine-Slav Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, says that the Liturgy of the Catechumens is “present in all Rites . . .” In other words, all of the ancient Catholic rites testified to the fact that no unbaptized person could be considered part of the faithful because they all dismissed unbaptized catechumens before the Mass of the Faithful began!
Hence Fr. Casimir Kucharek further writes:
“[St.] Athanasius mentions that they (catechumens) were not allowed to be present at the mysteries, while Cyril of Alexandria speaks of their departure before the more solemn parts of the service.”
The Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges the same teaching of Tradition.
The Catholic Encyclopedia, “Faithful,” Vol. 5, p. 769: “St. Augustine (says): ‘Ask a man: are you a Christian? If he be a pagan or Jew, he will reply: I am not a Christian. But if he say: I am a Christian, ask him again: are you a catechumen, or one of the faithful?’”
In the third century, the early Church father Tertullian criticized the custom of certain heretics who disregarded this crucial distinction between the unbaptized and the faithful.
The Catholic Encyclopedia, “Catechumen,” Vol. 3, p. 430: “Tertullian reproaches the heretics with disregarding it; among them, he says, ‘one does not know which is the catechumen and which the faithful, all alike come [to the mysteries], all hear the same discourses, and say the same prayers.”
Finally, I will quote a prayer from the ancient Byzantine-Slav Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. The prayer was recited at the dismissal of the catechumens before the Mass of the Faithful began.
Byzantine-Slav Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Dismissal of the Catechumens: “Let us, the faithful, pray for the catechumens, that the Lord have mercy on them… Lord and God, Jesus Christ, as the salvation of mankind: look down upon your servants, the catechumens, who bow their heads before you. In due time make them worthy of the waters of regeneration, the forgiveness of their sins, and the robe of immortality. Unite them to your holy, catholic, and apostolic church, and number them among your chosen flock."
Here we see that the ancient eastern rite liturgy of St. John Chrysostom makes a forceful distinction between the unbaptized (the catechumens) and the faithful. It confirms that because the catechumens are not baptized into the faithful, they are not forgiven their sins or united to the Catholic Church. The unbaptized do not belong to the one Church of the faithful. This is part of the ancient Catholic Faith. And obviously this fact is not proven to be part of the ancient Catholic Faith simply because an early Church father stated it – for a statement from a given early Church father doesn’t prove this definitively; but rather it is proven because the testimonies of the aforementioned saints are in perfect harmony with the clear teaching of Catholic liturgical worship, which divides the Mass of Catechumens from the Mass of the Faithful. It is, therefore, the teaching and rule of Catholic worship that no unbaptized person is to be considered part of the faithful. And this is why all who died without the Sacrament of Baptism were refused Christian burial everywhere in the universal Church since the beginning.
And because this was the universal rule of worship in the Catholic Church, it was the expression of the universal Faith and Tradition of the Catholic Church.
Pope Pius XI, Quas Primas (# 12), Dec. 11, 1925: “The perfect harmony of the Eastern liturgies with our own in this continual praise of Christ the King shows once more the truth of the axiom: Legem credendi lex statuit supplicandi. The rule of faith is indicated by the law of our worship.”
Therefore, it would be contrary to Tradition to assert that a person who has not received the Sacrament of Baptism is part of the faithful.
St. John Chrysostom (Hom. in Io. 25, 3), (4th Century): “For the Catechumen is a stranger to the Faithful . . . One has Christ for his King; the other sin and the devil; the food of one is Christ, of the other, that meat which decays and perishes . . . Since then we have nothing in common, in what, tell me, shall we hold communion? . . . Let us then give diligence that we may become citizens of the city above . . . for if it should come to pass (which God forbid!) that through the sudden arrival of death we depart hence uninitiated [unbaptized], though we have ten thousand virtues, our portion will be none other than hell, and the venomous worm, and fire unquenchable, and bonds indissoluble."
St. Ambrose, (4th Century) Bishop and Doctor of the Church: “I shall now begin to instruct you on the sacrament you have received; of whose nature it was not fitting to speak to you before this; for in the Christian what comes first is faith. And at Rome for this reason those who have been baptized are called the faithful (fideles)."
This teaching of Tradition is why in the Traditional Rite of Baptism, the unbaptized catechumen is asked what he desires from holy Church, and he answers “Faith.” The unbaptized catechumen does not have “the Faith,” so he begs the Church for it in the “Sacrament of Faith” (Baptism), which alone makes him one of “the faithful.” This is why the Sacrament of Baptism has been known since apostolic times as “the Sacrament of Faith.”
Catechism of the Council of Trent, On Baptism – Effects of Baptism: “. . . Baptism . . . the Sacrament of faith . . .”
Catechism of the Council of Trent, On Baptism – Second Effect: Sacramental Character: “. . . Baptism . . . By it we are qualified to receive the other Sacraments, and the Christian is distinguished from those who do not profess the faith.”
Pope Clement VI, Super quibusdam, Sept. 20, 1351: “ . . . all those who in baptism have received the same Catholic faith . . .”
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 6, Chap. 7 on Justification, ex cathedra: “ . . . THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM, WHICH IS ‘THE SACRAMENT OF FAITH . . . THIS FAITH, IN ACCORDANCE WITH APOSTOLIC TRADITION, CATECHUMENS BEG OF THE CHURCH BEFORE THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM, when they ask for ‘faith which bestows life eternal,’ (Rit. Rom., Ordo Baptismi).”
And with these facts in mind (that a catechumen “begs” for the faith because he isn’t part of the faithful), remember the definition of Pope Innocent III at the Fourth Lateran Council: “There is indeed one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which nobody at all is saved . . .” The original Latin reads: “Una vero est fidelium universalis ecclesia, extra quam nullus omnino salvatur . . .” The Latin words nullus omnino mean “absolutely nobody.” Absolutely nobody outside the one Church of the faithful is saved. Since the one Church of “the faithful” only includes those who have received the Sacrament of Baptism – as apostolic tradition, liturgical tradition and Church dogma show – this means that absolutely nobody is saved without the Sacrament of Baptism.