Gate of Heaven

It seems to us that when something is done about Liberal Catholicism in the United States, it will be the common sense of the simple Catholic people which will bring it about. A return to the pure Catholic Faith brought from Europe by our grandparents and great-grandparents will never be achieved out of the terrible confusion into which the American theologians have plunged themselves. Such a welter of words, signifying nothing, which has come out of efforts to explain away the Pope’s simple statement in his encyclical, Humani Generis, on no salvation outside the Church, we have never before seen.

It is with relief that we have turned from the crazy logic of these articles to the shrewd wisdom of men who have come to us from Boston Common.

“In the name of God, Father,” they say to Father Feeney, “what has happened to our priests?”

One of our most steadfast friends came to see us, with an Irish catechism in his hand.

“This is Butler’s Catechism, Father,” he said, “and many’s the time I was belted across the palms of my hands for not knowing it. The very thing they’re persecuting you for now, I had to learn over and over again when I was a boy. Let me read it to you. If you want, I’ll send for some more of these for you. Now, listen:

“Here, in the Most Rev. Dr. James Butler’s Catechism, which was reprinted in 1950, on page 26, it says:

2. Question: How do you call the true Church?

Answer: The Holy Catholic Church.

3. Q. Is there any other true Church besides the Holy Catholic Church?

A. No; as there is but one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God, and Father of all, there is but one true Church. (Ephes. iv. 5, 6)

4. Q. Are all obliged to be of the true Church?

A. Yes; no one can be saved out of it. (Acts, ii; John x; Matt. xxviii)

5. Q. Will strict honesty to every one, and moral good works, insure salvation, whatever Church or religion one professes?

A. No; unless such good works be enlivened by faith, that worketh by charity. (Gal. v, 6.)

6. Q. Why must our good works be enlivened by faith?

A. Because the Scripture says, without faith it is impossible to please God; and he that believeth not shall be condemned. (Heb. xi, 6; Mark xvi,16.)

8. Q. Must our good works be also enlivened by charity?

A. Yes; for St. Paul says, If I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiiteth me nothing. (I Cor. xiii, 3.)

9. Q. What is that charity of which St. Paul speaks?

A. That pure and sincere love of God, which makes us do his will in all things, and be obedient to his Church, which he commands us to hear. (Matt. xviii,17; Luke x,16.)

10. Q. Which are the marks or signs of the true Church?

A. The true Church is one, holy, Catholic and Apostolical.

11. Q. How is the Church one?

A. In being one body, and one fold, animated by one spirit, under one head, and one shepherd, Jesus Christ, who is over all the Church. (Eph. iv, 4.)

12. Q. In what else is the Church one?

A. In all its members believing the same truths, having the same sacraments and sacrifice, and being under one visible head on earth.

“Take that last answer alone, Father,” our friend said. “That makes sense to me.”

The Italians and the French who have talked with us about the doctrine of no salvation outside the Catholic Church have, almost to a man, said that never in their countries, as children, were they ever taught anything else. The Italians refused to believe there could be a difficulty about the doctrine. They said our interdict must have been given us for some other reason. However, when they had discussed the dogma with their American parish priests, they realized what we were saying was true. They threw up their hands and told us that Father Feeney would have a hard time, and had better go straight to Rome to see the Pope about it. We convinced them that if we were unable to see Archbishop Cicognani, the Pope’s delegate in America, we had very little hope of getting to His Holiness, even if we were able to go to Rome.

We have been sustained in our work by the warmth and love of many beautiful Italian Catholics.

The Catholic Church has never ceased to teach the doctrines of Christ and His Apostles. It will never cease to do so. Somewhere, the pure Catholic Faith will always be preached.

It is not true that there are many ways of reaching God through religion. It is not possible for a sincere Protestant and a sincere Jew to get to heaven, unaided by the grace of the Sacraments, or without having offered, with the priest, worthy sacrifice, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to God. It is not possible for anyone, furthermore, to attain heaven without having acknowledged and loved God’s Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

And it is not necessary, in order to know this, to have read books in theology. The Catholic Faith is at once so simple and so profound that a child can understand it, on the one hand, and scholars never exhaust it, on the other. Our Lord said, “Unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18; 3.)

When a child arrives at the age of seven or thereabouts, he has attained the use of reason, and he is permitted to go to Confession and make his First Communion. At that age, he is able to understand the simple truths of his Faith. He knows, and is delighted in the knowledge, that Jesus became man and died to redeem him from his sins, and open heaven to him again. He knows that Mary is the gate of heaven, because she was the gate through which Jesus came on earth.

A child can understand that before Jesus went back to His Father in heaven He founded a Church, which is the only Church in which men can be saved. It is as simple as A B C to a child that if anyone were to found a Church, it would have to be God, and not man. And God would found only one Church, because if He founded more than one, it would mean that something was wrong with the first one – a child would reason – and God could never make a thing that had something wrong with it. It would have to be the best that could be, or else God would never make it. The Church could have bad men in it, but that would be men’s fault, and not the Church’s, and some day God would take the bad men away.

It would be clear to a child that anyone who was stubborn and proud and wicked enough to stay outside Jesus’ Church would have to be punished. Punishment is a just thing, a child early discovers. One who did not love Our Lady and the Holy Father would be punished too, the child would add by way of postscript.

Now, no matter how old we grow, or how adult we become in other territories, religiously we have but to listen as children to the words of Our Lord speaking through His Apostles – and through His Church in its Saints and Doctors and Popes – to know that salvation was never promised to those outside the fold. If we hold to the simplicity of children in this all-important matter, the confused adultisms of intellectuals in the Church will not deceive us, or drag us into heresy.

Simply, then, from the words of Our Lord Himself, let us consider the case of the non-Catholic with regard to salvation.

First, we will take the case of the Jew. His case happens to be the most simple There is no question at all about whose case is the most tragic – the Jew’s, the Protestant’s, the Mohammedan’s, the Hindu’s – for all are equally tragic. None of them can attain the Beatific Vision of God. God has said so. It does not matter how close they come, or how far away they are. To miss heaven at all is to miss it completely. And it is an unfathomable loss.

The Jew is unbaptized. Our Lord’s words on those who are unbaptized are terribly clear. Jesus told us:

Mark 16;16: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.

John 3;5: Jesus answered: Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Even if we did not know that for almost two thousand years the Jews, whom Jesus called a “stiff-necked people,” have stubbornly and sinfully refused to acknowledge Him as the Son of God and the Messiah promised from the creation of the world, these words of Our Lord concerning the necessity of Baptism would be sufficient to tell us that they cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven – as Jews.

Someone has said that the Jews are like people waiting in a railroad station for a train that passed two thousand years ago.

And so we know that the Jews – unless before they die they come into the Catholic Church – cannot be saved because Jesus said so.

Second, we have the case of the Protestant.

A Protestant may or may not be baptized. If the Protestant’s Baptism is valid, it suffices for admission into the kingdom of heaven only until the second requirement comes due. The second requirement is the receiving – when he reaches the use of reason – of two other Sacraments: Penance and Holy Eucharist.

And these two Sacraments a Protestant does not have in his church because (a) they are not believed in, or (b) they are unavailable in Protestant churches.

If, by some chance, the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist were believed in, Protestant ministers are without valid Holy Orders by which to confer them. The members of a Protestant congregation, therefore, are without Confession and without the Blessed Sacrament, which is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, under the appearances of bread and wine.

Several Anglican ministers (of what is generally known as the Anglican Church in England and the High Episcopalian Church in America), knowing their Holy Orders are not valid, have, in recent years, fraudulently obtained true Holy Orders by going to Greek bishops for ordination. These ministers then administer the Sacraments, but they do so against the will of Jesus, and apart from the unity of the true Church. By administering the Sacraments of the Church with fraudulently obtained Holy Orders, such ministers are guilty of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and every administration of the Sacraments by them is a sacrilege.

We see immediately the foremost reason why Protestants cannot be saved – because they do not receive the Blessed Sacrament. Our Lord was thunderingly direct, simple, and unmistakably clear on the eating of the Holy Eucharist for salvation. He said:

John 6;48: I am the bread of life.

49: Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead.

50: This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die.

51: I am the living bread which came down from heaven.

52: If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world.

53: The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat.?

54: Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.

55: He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

56: For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.

57: He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.

58: As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.

59: This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.

60: These things he said, teaching in the synagogue , in Capharnaum.

But suppose the Protestants do not know the Holy Eucharist is God? the Liberal Catholics ask. Just imagine, we answer, the Real Presence of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, to be a fact, and God not to have made it easy for all of good will to find it! Just imagine God not to have provided a sacrosanct and singular citadel to preserve this Blessed Sacrament as God’s great Gift to man! And just imagine any one of the Protestant churches being that citadel! Imagine what care any of the Protestant churches would take of the Precious Body and Blood of Jesus. Every single Protestant church did away with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. The Anglicans, after depriving their people of the Holy Eucharist for over three hundred years, tried to bring It back – without valid Holy Orders by which to do so.

One of Father Feeney’s tenderest stories is the experience of an Anglican nun, who was superior of an Anglican convent in Boston. Her nuns professed to believe in the Blessed Sacrament. They received “the Blessed Sacrament” from the hands of a priest who did not have valid Holy Orders. Now, one day the Anglican Bishop of Boston came to pay the Community an episcopal visit. This Bishop did not believe in the Holy Eucharist, at all, and so one of the nuns, for fear of offending him, took the “Blessed Sacrament” out of the tabernacle and hid it until the Bishop departed.

Whereupon, the Superior of the convent, knowing now for sure that the faith of her sisters was spurious, went upstairs and took off her habit. She resigned from the convent and from the Anglican Church. She became a humble Catholic laywoman, and lived on for many years in relative poverty – in comparison with the liturgical luxury she once enjoyed – secure in possession truly of the Real Presence of her Lord and Saviour in the Blessed Sacrament of His altar. She was Miss Julia Pember, and not only was she Father Feeney’s friend; I also had the privilege of having her for mine. And I know it shocked her when Catholics, themselves not realizing the Gift of God, would compliment her extravagantly for doing what she ought to have done, and for feeling no cost too much to pay for the pearl of great price, her Catholic Faith.

To put it, then, in simple, conversational terms: Imagine the Blessed Sacrament without the Pope to protect Its sacrosanct value, and imagine the whole world not being intended by God to take advantage of Its sacred familiarity!

Only one-sixth of the world is Catholic at the present time. What sort of brutality could have entered the thought of our Church to induce its priests to keep its best gifts for itself, and hand out only religious rhetoric to the starving, hungering people of the world – whether their hunger be for food, which Jesus, in the Blessed Sacrament, can satisfy; or for love, which the Spouse of the Holy Spirit – Our Lady – can appease.

The thing that happens when there is double talk as to where salvation is to be found by any arrangement other than the Rock upon which Christ built His Church, is that Jesus and Mary are made secondary values in the human salvation God planned for man. And some proud, inhuman, diabolical substitute is given in place of the Word Made Flesh, Who dwells amongst us.

Either Mary the Mother of God is meant to be the Queen of every man’s and woman’s heart, or else there is no Blessed Virgin Mary. Either the Blessed Eucharist, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in simple and innocent form is meant to be put into the mouth of every human being in this world by Christ’s commandment, or else there is no such thing as the Presence of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ under the species of bread and wine.

Either Christ’s legacy to man at the Last Supper, His last will and testament, His magnum donum, His greatest gift, is meant to be the Food apart from which there can be no salvation – or else it is not the Bread of Life. It is just one among many other nourishments, not one of them divine. And any church which has charge of the Blessed Eucharist – to keep it in divine protection – either tells the world that outside this church there is no salvation, or else it is not the church established by Christ.

Thanks be to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and thanks be to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces, the Popes of the Roman Catholic Church, in clear definition, have told the world where salvation is to be found. These definitions I have given in an earlier chapter.

To sum it up, then, we have seen that there are those who do not receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion. And these cannot have eternal life with God. These are the heretics and infidels.

Then there are those who do receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord. These who do receive It, can receive It in three ways:

(1) Unworthily; in the Greek Orthodox Church, or in an Anglican Church where a minister has surreptitiously obtained Holy Orders from a Greek Orthodox bishop. Those who receive It from such a priest are guilty of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

(2) There are those who receive It in the Catholic Church, and who think It is not necessary for salvation for those outside the Church. These do not really believe the Blessed Sacrament is the Bread of Life; and they, too, are guilty of the Body and Blood of Jesus.

(3) And finally, there are those who receive It, and believe It is the Bread of Life both for themselves and for all mankind. These both love the Body and Blood of Jesus in Itself, and love the whole world, for whom It was intended.

John 6;40: And this is the will of my Father that sent me: that everyone who seeth the Son, and believeth in him, may have life everlasting, and I will raise him up in the last day.

And how shall every man have life everlasting?

John 6;55: He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.

Jesus could not tell us more clearly. The whole story of salvation is written in Holy Scripture, provided we read it with eyes that see. Jesus goes on, in this same chapter of St. John, to give us an example of what happens when men refuse His flesh to eat, and His blood to drink. St. John recounts:

John 6;61: Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it?

62: But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you?. .

67: After this, many of his disciples went back: and walked no more with him.

It is difficult to portray the degree of privation, the depths of loss in this last sentence. To walk no more with Jesus is no more to be in His company. And before such bleak desolation words abandon me, for it is the very essence of hell – to be no more or ever in the company of God.

These disciples who walked away from Jesus were men He had loved. They had given up a great deal to follow Him. Jesus knew that what He had just said to them was a hard saying, for the drinking of blood was a forbidden and a heinous thing for a Jew. Too, this discourse on the Holy Eucharist was made by Our Lord about a year before the Last Supper – at which He instituted the Blessed Sacrament – and even the chosen twelve were still in need of many graces – let alone the disciples.

But who shall question God? And who presume to tell God what is merciful and what is not merciful; what is just and what is not just?

Isa. 40;13: Who hath forwarded the spirit of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor, and hath taught him?

Wisd. 9;13: For who among men is he that can know the counsel of God? or who can think what the will of God is?

14: For the thoughts of mortal men are fearful, and our counsels uncertain.

15: For the corruptible body is a load upon the soul, and the earthly habitation presseth down the mind that museth upon many things.

16: And hardly do we guess aright at things that are upon earth: and with labour do we find the things that are before us. But the things that are in heaven, who shall search out?

17: And who shall know thy thought, except thou give wisdom, and send thy Holy Spirit from above:

18: And so the ways of them that are upon earth may be corrected, and men may learn the things that please thee?

The history of the Chosen People is filled with instances of punishment for those who dared to question the word of God. Catholics in our day rarely read the Old Testament. They should do so, if only to have restored to them the fear of God. Fear of God is a salutary, just and holy thing. It is well to reflect – in our soft age – on the strong punishment God has meted out to those who offended Him.

Our first parents were banished forever from the Garden of Eden and condemned to work out their days by the sweat of their brow because they disobeyed one command of God.

“Look not back!” the angels of the Lord said to Lot and his wife, as they led them from the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrha. And because Lot’s wife did not heed this order, because she decided for herself what she would obey and what she would not obey, she turned around and looked back – and was then and there turned into a pillar of salt. She became a horrible example for generations of her people – and for us.

God said to Moses, in Egypt:

Exod. 12;12: And I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and will kill every firstborn in the land of Egypt both man and beast: and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord.

This killing is, undoubtedly, shocking to the Liberals of our day, who in their dead faith and pious sentimentality, cannot bear the thought of God’s refusal of heaven, in the New Testament, to those who reject His Sacraments, His Holy Sacrifice, and His Mother. But so contrary to the Liberals’ standard is God’s judgment of the just slaughter of the Egyptians, that He made a commandment upon the Jews to keep the day as a memorial:

Exod. 12;13: And the blood shall be unto you for a sign in the houses where you shall be: and I shall see the blood, and shall pass over you: and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I shall strike the land of Egypt.

14: And this day shall be for a memorial to you: and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord in your generations with an everlasting observance.

Even the faithful and holy Moses failed of the reward of his long years of striving – because one day he dared to hesitate before the word of God! On account of this, another, and not he, was appointed to lead his people into the Promised Land. Moses saw the Promised Land, but was not suffered to go into it.

On and on we might go. Over and over, it was necessary for God to punish men when they presumed to question His word. The destruction of Jerusalem, foretold by Our Lord in St. Matthew and St. Luke, when there should be a “tribulation such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be,” (Matt. 24;21) was a punishment so terrible that historians have been at a loss to describe it. It occurred in the year 70 A.D., about thirty-seven years after the beginning of the Church. A million people perished during the siege of the City which had witnessed the Passion and Death of the Son of God and in whose streets James the Apostle (the cousin of Jesus who so strikingly resembled Him in appearance) was stoned to death.

When God speaks, we, His creatures, must listen and assent; or take the consequences.

Isa. 66;2: My hand made all these things, and all these things were made, saith the Lord. But to whom shall I have respect, but to him that is poor and little, and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my words.

Jesus Christ, Who is God, has spoken on the subject of salvation. His words have been reiterated down the centuries by His Church, in infallible pronouncements. It were well for us to heed them.