Speaking of flaming heretics, oh, yes, the VaticanCatholic website of the Most Holy Family Monastery. If you didn’t know better, you’d think you’d loaded the webpage for the Catholic version of the National Enquirer instead of a publication supposedly dedicated to disseminating true doctrine. With tabloid-like thumbnails everywhere, sensational news stories utterly devoid of religious content, you would be forgiven for thinking so, since the veneer of Catholicism is so thin as to be completely transparent. In other words, you’d see through it, and you should, too.
Most Holy Family Monastery does have an air of legitimacy, though I confess my ignorance as to how to establish a monastery legally, take public monastic vows, and carry on the work of a such a community in good faith and standing with the Church. For all I know, Most Holy Family Monastery may be legitimate as a Benedictine monastery. The scope of this post does not question whether Michael Dimond is a monk or not; only whether he and his website is heretical. I would answer that in the affirmative.
The issue which MHFM raises hell over, and for which it has become notorious is the issue of baptism of desire. Now I am not going to sit here and recapitulate all the tedious (and I must say, stupid) arguments the website proffers in defense of its position, namely, that baptism of desire is not taught by the Church. To do so would be to give too much ground to the enemy. There is a certain point at which one is obliged by Catholic teaching and discipline, to submit to clearly defined dogmatic teaching, and not engage in argumentation to its contrary. I am not obliged by duty or honor to argue with a supposed Catholic whether transubstantiation is a dogmatically sound teaching of the Holy Eucharist. If you don’t believe that, you ain’t Catholic, man! Likewise, if you don’t believe that a man may be saved from his sins through the desire of being saved from his sins by Christ, you ain’t Catholic, man.
We have a duty as Catholics to believe all that the Church teaches. We neither have a duty or a right to even entertain what non-Catholics (even those who call themselves Catholic) believe and teach which is contrary to what the Church teaches. We must submit our minds and wills to the magisterium and discipline of the Catholic Church. Not to give our assent and submission to such constitutes either an act of heresy or schism, or, ultimately, if the denial is based upon foundational teachings (like the divinity of Christ), apostasy.
What I am obliged by duty to do, however, is to point out where the Catholic Church definitively teaches, clearly and without qualification, that baptism of desire is a means by which we are born again. Once done, you the reader may rest assured that whatever MHFM may argue to the contrary, their position against BOD is erroneous, false, backward, and simply heretical, and their institution (be it even legitimately erected as a monastery) must be avoided as being heretical.
In session six, recorded in the fourth chapter of the Council of Trent—an organ of the infallible magisterium of the Catholic Church—we read the following:
By which words, a description of the Justification of the impious is indicated,-as being a translation, from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace, and of the adoption of the sons of God, through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Saviour. And this translation, since the promulgation of the Gospel, cannot be effected, without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof, as it is written; unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.
Though the wording is archaic and somewhat dense, I think any reader of any normal intelligence can understand the meaning here. Without baptism (the laver of regeneration), or without desiring baptism, you remain an impious and unjustified son of Adam, and are not adopted as a son of God—because you have not been born again!
Thus clearly does the Catholic Church teach that BOD is a legitimate means by which one becomes a member of the Church. But just in case the above is a little tentatively held in our minds, let us consider what the preeminent Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, had say, to whom the Council Fathers of Trent looked for guidance during the sessions of the council.
In the Summa Theologica, third part, question sixty six, article eleven, “Whether three kinds of Baptism are fittingly described—viz. Baptism of Water, of Blood, and of the Spirit?” St. Thomas writes the following:
I answer that, As stated above (III:62:5), Baptism of Water has its efficacy from Christ’s Passion, to which a man is conformed by Baptism, and also from the Holy Ghost, as first cause. Now although the effect depends on the first cause, the cause far surpasses the effect, nor does it depend on it. Consequently, a man may, without Baptism of Water, receive the sacramental effect from Christ’s Passion, in so far as he is conformed to Christ by suffering for Him. Hence it is written (Apocalypse 7:14): “These are they who are come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” In like manner a man receives the effect of Baptism by the power of the Holy Ghost, not only without Baptism of Water, but also without Baptism of Blood: forasmuch as his heart is moved by the Holy Ghost to believe in and love God and to repent of his sins: wherefore this is also called Baptism of Repentance. Of this it is written (Isaiah 4:4): “If the Lord shall wash away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall wash away the blood of Jerusalem out of the midst thereof, by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.” Thus, therefore, each of these other Baptisms is called Baptism, forasmuch as it takes the place of Baptism. Wherefore Augustine says (De Unico Baptismo Parvulorum iv): “The Blessed Cyprian argues with considerable reason from the thief to whom, though not baptized, it was said: ‘Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise’ that suffering can take the place of Baptism. Having weighed this in my mind again and again, I perceive that not only can suffering for the name of Christ supply for what was lacking in Baptism, but even faith and conversion of heart, if perchance on account of the stress of the times the celebration of the mystery of Baptism is not practicable.”
There you have it, folks. The clear teaching and theological reasoning for why BOD, here called Baptism of the Spirit, also called, Baptism of Repentance, is the teaching of the Catholic Church, the contradictory view being heretical. As Aquinas teaches, the effect is dependent on the cause, but the cause is not dependent on the effect. MHFM wants to reverse this teaching and say that, unless you are baptized by water you are not baptized at all. But this is reducing the cause to the effect, and making the cause, indeed, depend on the effect. The cause of the laver of rejuvenation is not water, H2O, but the Passion of Christ, as Aquinas teaches above. This cause “far surpasses the effect, nor does it depend on it.” Hence, if one conforms his life to that of Christ’s suffering, and suffers with Him and for Him, the neophyte yet unbaptized by water becomes baptized by blood, and is rejuvenated, made young, born again. Again, a man may receive the effect of the baptism without water, if he be “moved by the Holy Ghost to believe in and love God and to repent of his sins…”
As if that wasn’t enough to convince the reasonable man that the Church teaches BOD, in both the Catechism of the Council of Trent and in the next article of the ST, the Church teaches that charity and repentance are necessary conditions for the sacrament of baptism to even have an effect! In a topsy-turvy conclusion, the MHFM actually have it all donkey-backwards (if you catch my meaning). BOD is more important than the sacrament of baptism, because without it, one is not actually baptized, provided they are of the age of reason. This condition doesn’t apply to those who do not have the use of reason.
In the Tridentine Catechism, we read that, in order for baptism to have an effect, the one to receive baptism must have the three necessary conditions of the soul in order for the sacrament to have any effect: The first is the intention to receive baptism:
The faithful are also to be instructed in the necessary dispositions for Baptism. In the first place they must desire and intend to receive it; for as in Baptism we all die to sin and resolve to live a new life, it is fit that it be administered to those only who receive it of their own free will and accord; it is to be forced upon none. Hence we learn from holy tradition that it has been the invariable practice to administer Baptism to no individual without previously asking him if he be willing to receive it. This disposition even infants are presumed to have, since the will of the Church, which promises for them, cannot be mistaken.
Next, one must have faith:
Besides a wish to be baptised, in order to obtain the grace of the Sacrament, faith is also necessary. Our Lord and Saviour has said: He that believes and is baptised shall be saved.
And, finally, one must have repentance for past sins and a firm resolve not to sin:
Another necessary condition is repentance for past sins, and a fixed determination to avoid all sin in the future. Should anyone desire Baptism and be unwilling to correct the habit of sinner, he should be altogether rejected. For nothing is so opposed to the grace and power of Baptism as the intention and purpose of those who resolve never to abandon sin.
Hence, the Church clearly teaches that the sacrament of baptism is preconditioned on what is fittingly called as baptism of desire, or baptism of the Sprit, or baptism of repentance, which corresponds to the three necessary conditions for water baptism: desire or intention, faith, and repentance.
Finally, St. Thomas teaches in the Article 12: “Whether the Baptism of Blood is the most excellent of these,” that water baptism and baptism of blood are dependent on baptism of desire or charity or the spirit:
The shedding of blood is not in the nature of Baptism if it be without charity. Hence it is clear that the Baptism of Blood includes the Baptism of the Spirit…
From what has been cited as evidence, it is evident to any reasonable person that the Catholic Church teaches baptism of desire. To argue to the contrary is to be a heretic, plain and simple. Why MHFM has decided to die on this particular heretical hill is beyond my comprehension. Why they couldn’t just be a Benedictine monastery (legitimate or no, I cannot say), confine themselves to what the Church teaches, and not engage in disputations of the obvious, is beyond my comprehension. If I may idly speculate however, it could have something to do with that tabloid-mentality which centers on and indeed revolves around the sensational and controversial. Perhaps it is a marketing strategy, a way to separate themselves from the rest of the sedevacantist market out there.
Case in point: one of the latest videos on the website (which I did not click on and I discourage you from doing so!) is entitled: “Bishop Daniel Dolan Dies Suddenly—Six Months After He Said This.” The flowers of the man’s funeral are still fresh, and the Dimond sect have the vitriolic gall to release a video with a title like that. One should expect more (and get more) common decency even among the heathen. But, then again, the heathen in many respects is better than the heretic.
To that end, let it be known: The Most Holy Family Monastery and the VaticanCatholic website are hereby suspected of heresy and are henceforth placed and to remain on the index of forbidden websites until such a time as they renounce their heresy—and perhaps also renounce their penchant for tabloid content.
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