Ignorance, Children &
the Use of Reason
+ + + + +
Repudiation of the
Errors of One’s Former Religion of
Falsehoods Is Related to Invincible Ignorance &
the Age of When a Child Begins to Reason Logically,
and Why the Church Doesn’t Require Those Who
Are Under 14 to Abjure Heresy or Schism
COMPOSED & EDITED JUNE 2009.
+ + + + +
“For there must be also heresies: that they also, who are approved, may be made manifest among you.” (1 Corinthians 11:19 DRC)
“See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. For the son of man is come to save that which was lost. What think you? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them should go astray: doth he not leave the ninety-nine in the mountains, and go to seek that which is gone astray?” (Matthew 18:10-12 DRC)
“He that hideth his sins, shall not prosper: but he that shall confess, and forsake them, shall obtain mercy. Blessed is the man that is always fearful: but he that is hardened in mind, shall fall into evil.” (Proverbs 28:13-14 DRC)
“And that servant who knew the will of his lord, and prepared not himself, and did not according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required: and to whom they have committed much, of him they will demand the more.” (Luke 12:47-48 DRC)
“And if all the multitude of Israel shall be ignorant, and through ignorance shall do that which is against the commandment of the Lord, and afterwards shall understand their sin, they shall offer for their sin a calf, and shall bring it to the door of the tabernacle… If any one sin through ignorance, and do one of those things which by the law of the Lord are forbidden, and being guilty of sin, understand his iniquity, he shall offer of the flocks a ram without blemish to the priest, according to the measure and estimation of the sin: and the priest shall pray for him, because he did it ignorantly: and it shall be forgiven him, because by mistake he trespassed against the Lord.” (Leviticus 4:13-14, 5:17-19 DRC)
“If I had not come, and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin… If I had not done among them the works that no other man hath done, they would not have sin…” (John 15:22, 24a DRC)
they brought to him young children, that he might touch them. And the disciples
rebuked them that brought them. Whom when Jesus saw, he was much displeased,
and saith to them: ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me, and
forbid them not; for of such is the
“Brethren, do not become children in sense: but in malice be children, and in sense be perfect.” (1 Corinthians 14:20 DRC)
+ + + + +
Intended by the Author of This Book
for the Greater Glory of the Adorable Triune Catholic God,
for the Worship of
the Sacred Heart of King Jesus Christ of
for the Praise of the Immaculate Heart of Queen Mary, the Blessed Ever-
Virgin Mother of God,
unto the Protection & Propagation of the Holy Roman Catholic Church &
Her Most Precious Heavenly Dogmas,
under the Euphonious Patronage of St. Cecilia, the Eloquent Patronage
of St. Catherine of
Ven. Mariana de Jesus Torres, Virgins &
“Domine, non est
exaltatum cor meum, neque elati
sunt oculi mei. Neque ambulavi
in magnis, neque in mirabilibus super me. Si non humiliter sentiebam, sed exaltavi animam
meam; sicut ablactatus est
super matre sua, ita retributio in anima mea. Speret
St. Francis Xavier, Patron of Catholic Missioners, Ss. Catherine of Alexandria & Francis of Sales, Patrons of Catholic Philosophers & Apologists, respectively, and St. Peter of Verona, the Glorious Martyr, may you be pleased to guide this arrow to its target, either unto eternal life or eternal death! “Now thanks be to God, who always maketh us to triumph in Christ Jesus, and manifesteth the odour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are the good odour of Christ unto God, in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one indeed the odour of death unto death: but to the others the odour of life unto life.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16b DRC)
St. Francis of Assisi, Humble Seraph of the Incarnate God, and St. Dominic the Preacher, Dogged Cherub of the Triune Deity, pray for your children that they may not fail the test but suffer the malice of the wicked gladly and so gain the Crown of Life!
+ + + + +
A NOTE TO THE READER:
In the present entry on this website for people calling themselves Catholic, in the First Things First section, I happened to mention that baptized children (who are certainly members of the Catholic Church due to their baptism when under the ‘age of reason’, which is around 7 years old and when most persons begin to be able to distinguish between right & wrong and truth & falsehood) raised in false religion do not have to abjure (denounce) the heresy in which they have been raised until the age of 14 in order to enter the Church of Rome. This is because, said I, they do not have the “full use of reason” prior to 14 and have not had enough time to adequately discover the errors of their heresy or the Saving Truth of the Catholic Faith. Thus, how can they abjure what they do not wholly understand that they profess in opposition to God’s One & Only Religion of Catholicism?
A gentleman who visited The Epistemologic Works read this and thought I might have a good point. He emailed a cohort of his, which cohort replied with a rebuttal --- carbon copied to me --- criticizing my position as not-quite-a-heresy yet close to it. This then caused me to review things very carefully. Whereupon I concluded that the position is not only not heresy but, in actuality, the best explanation there is for how baptized children are connected to the One True Church and where, roughly, they lose this connection as a result of failing to recognize the truth necessary to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Confused about so-called ‘invincible ignorance’, my dear reader? Wonder what role, if any, it plays in the salvation of a soul? Rather hazy on the age of discretion (i.e., ‘reason’) vs. the age of abjuration (repudiation of one’s heresy)?
Then this article is for you.
Everything below is exactly as I sent it to the recipients originally, with the exception of a few typos corrected and a couple of sentences expanded slightly to better communicate what I was trying get across. Otherwise, only a date of transmission and chapter headings have been added. May anything that is true or praiseworthy in this work be attributed to the efforts of the Holy Triune God through the Immaculate Hands of the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary. And may anything which is false or blameworthy be laid firmly in accusation at my own wayward feet.
+ + + 1. The Use of Reason + + +
1 August 2009
My Dear Souls,
Thank you to Mr. X for his remarks regarding the abjuration of children. This is Paul Doughton, the webmaster of The Epistemologic Works, writing to each of you who perused those remarks. I have attached his email in case you no longer have it and have forgotten it. Please be so kind as to review the following logic & observations in response, which, while necessarily addressed toward Mr. X, I intend for everyone to examine:
First, disciplinary law in the Church certainly can be unwise. Therefore, not requiring converts under fourteen years of age to publicly abjure may be foolish. However, I have not found anything yet in the writings of the early Church Fathers --- and this amounts to thousands of pages so far --- that states that they, or the leaders of the Church during the first few centuries after Christ, required a convert below the age of fourteen to publicly abjure. Hence, the disciplinary law of recent times may, after all, go back in practice to the ancient Church. If you know of something in their writings contrary to the present discipline for the conversion of children, then please tell me, carefully identifying the exact writer, composition & location within that writer’s text which you cite.
Which leads to the second point. For as you as much as acknowledged by inference, the Catholic Church has not yet seen fit to infallibly define either the precise age at which the use of reason is to be presumed operational for the man of at least adequate ability, or the precise age at which a child convert is to be required to publicly abjure prior to entrance into Christ’s Catholic Body. Ergo, neither the presumption of age seven as the age of the use of reason is ironclad, nor is the assumption surely correct of age fourteen as the age when public abjuration is required. They are not, because no one except the Church speaking solemnly through Her popes is guaranteed infallibility, and because --- as far as I am aware --- the early Church fathers have not stated unanimously that age seven is to be considered, with certainty, as the age of reason for the man of at least adequate ability, and they have not stated unanimously that age fourteen is when, with certainty, a young heretic should publicly abjure prior to entrance within the Catholic Church. Therefore, either one, or both, of these positions could be mistaken. But if you know of evidence that the Church fathers unanimously (or, leastwise, nearly unanimously) taught these positions, then please inform me, carefully identifying your sources.
Leading to the third point. For, whilst I have prefaced this letter with the above paragraphs, I do, in fact, actually accept the position --- common amongst Roman Catholics for at least the last millennium --- that the use of reason is the age of seven. However, my words have confused the issue since, in employing the phrase “the full use of reason”, I have conflated three different issues under the appearance of a single topic. This is partly because I was very busy and did not take the time to sufficiently explain what I was saying in The Epistemologic Works article in the First Things First section, aimed at those who consider themselves Catholic, when it comes to the abjuration of children; and partly because I had not yet taken the time to think everything through in regards to the abjuration of children before writing the article last year. I have long planned to replace it with a small book entitled Visible that is only half finished at the present moment. Meanwhile, I felt it necessary to have something in place that would acquaint readers with what they need to know in order to be truly Catholic, as well as to understand the present crisis and the things that divide those who claim to be real Roman Catholics. It was this necessity, along with my lack of time, which leads to our exchange. Nevertheless, I am at fault for the deficient words in my article and I beg your pardon.
Which then segues to the entirely sensible question --- so what are these three conflated issues that I conveyed insufficiently by the phrase “the full use of reason” and did not properly explain by the surrounding text of my article? They are as follows:
One, the ability to reason is a gradually increasing faculty in most human beings and not a suddenly attained asset in full at any particular point in time.
Two, a baptized child who is taking part in the practice of heresy must have adequate ability to reason in order to be able to identify the religious lies of his heresy.
And, three, a baptized child who is taking part in the practice of heresy must have sufficient time, even with an adequate ability to reason, in order to be able to recognize the religious lies of his heresy.
As to the first two issues, consider. Does a man attain to all of his mental capacities all at once, instantaneously? No, he does not. And can a child at the age of seven equal in capacity the mental ability of a man of much older age… say, for the sake of example, thirty years old? No, he cannot.
As a result, the ‘age of reason’ cannot mean --- nor can any intelligent Catholic from the past have honestly intended it to mean --- that a seven-year old child is fully rational. The child is adequately rational in that, provided he is at least of average intelligence, he can most likely begin to discern between right & wrong or truth & falsehood. He is thus beginning to be responsible, in God’s Sight, for his sins.
The Holy See itself alludes to this fact in passing where, as you quoted in your letter on 16 May 2009, paragraph two, it says, “…the age of discretion for Confession is the time when one can distinguish between right and wrong, that is, when one arrives at a certain use of reason…” [Decree of the Sacred Congregation under the papal authority of Pius the Tenth, Quam singulari, Paragraph 14. Dated 8 August 1910 & promulgated 15 August 1910. Emphasis added.]
Because that’s what the use of reason is at the age of reason --- “a certain use of reason” and not the full use of reason which most adults later attain, or to which some fortunate souls (or unfortunate, as the case might be) attain in much greater capacity than their fellow human beings.
Indeed, the Holy See a little later in this decree goes further and makes the distinction even more explicit where it states in reference to a child’s reception of the Blessed Sacrament:
“From all this it is clear that the age of discretion for receiving Holy Communion is that at which the child knows the difference between the Eucharistic Bread and ordinary, material bread, and can therefore approach the altar with proper devotion. Perfect knowledge of the things of faith, therefore, is not required, for an elementary knowledge suffices --- some knowledge (aliqua cognitio); similarly full use of reason is not required, for a certain beginning of the use of reason, that is, some use of reason (aliqualis usus rationis) suffices.” [Quam singulari, Paragraph 19. Emphasis added.]
And need we remark how the Holy See’s very plain distinction between “full use of reason” and “a certain beginning of the use of reason” thus proves the point in spades?
+ + + 2. Degrees of Guilt + + +
Consequently, there is a direct correlation between the degree of knowledge or the degree of comprehension, and the degree to which someone is guilty for his sin. As Jesus said to St. Peter, the 1st Pope of His Catholic Body, “And that servant who knew the will of his lord, and prepared not himself, and did not according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.” (Luke 12:47-48a DRC, emphasis added) Note that Jesus does not say that the one who is ignorant of his Lord’s Will shall escape punishment altogether; rather, that the one in ignorance will merely suffer a “few stripes.” This is in opposition to the man who is fully knowledgeable & comprehending, who will be beaten with “many stripes.”
Punishment either way. It’s simply the degree that differs.
Likewise children who have attained to the age of reason. A child of at least average intelligence begins the age of reason around age seven, beginning to be able to discern between right & wrong, truth & falsehood. Notwithstanding, he has not reached, at this early age, a full capacity for mental reasoning and is hence not as responsible, in the Sight of God, as is the typical man who is thirty years old. The latter is far more responsible in God’s Sight for the evil that he has done.
Now, my dear souls, perhaps you are parents or perhaps you are not. Perhaps you are quite young, relatively speaking, or perhaps you are advanced in years. I do not know. I do know that I am 45 years old as I write and that I have six boys, ranging in age from 1 to 12. And I can tell you, both from memories of my own childhood and by observation of my young children, that a seven-year old child does not normally have the capacity to fully comprehend the lies of religious heresy. He can be taught simple things at the hands of his elders, which is why I very bluntly teach my youngest boys that heretical churches will lead them to Hell and that they should not associate religiously with heretics, or even socialize with them for hours on end for no good reason. Such situations are occasions for sin. We must avoid them where we can.
All the same, can I expect my seven-year old boy (I really do have a seven-year old child as I write these words, so the example is not hypothetical) to wholly comprehend all of the ins-and-outs of Protestant heresy, and even if I took the time to explain it to him exhaustively in intricate detail for ten weeks straight?
Of course not. He is not capable of it yet. I only require of him what is reasonably possible to require of him, nothing more. As he matures, he will grow in ability, and I will train him accordingly, guarding him against the deceits of Protestant heresy.
The same principle applies to children in general, and it is why the Church has not required public abjurations from a child under fourteen. A child younger than this must still --- if I am not mistaken, and as you have asserted --- make a Profession of Faith when converting from heresy, although not when below the age of seven. I.e., when below seven-years old, the Church does not require even a Profession of Faith from him at conversion. The Sacrament of Baptism is all that matters at this point. Above seven, he has attained to the use of reason and must reasonably profess that which he is converting to in a public fashion. He may not grasp everything completely in the Profession of Faith to the nth degree --- what child does at seven years of age, for instance? --- but, properly instructed according to the ability of his young age, he can understand enough to take it on faith that the Roman Catholic Church knows what She is talking about, that She --- and She alone --- is God’s Pillar & Ground of the Truth in our world, upholding what it is a man must profess in order to have Hope of Salvation. In brief, he understands what he must in order to save his soul, given his very young age & resultant mental limitations.
But all the ins-and-outs of heresy? Can a child below the age of fourteen adequately understand these things, holding full responsibility for them, as well as intelligently & truly abjuring all of the religious lies that his former religion taught?
That is not very likely. When I was a child of seven, I did not comprehend the heresy in which I was raised. I had bits & pieces, maybe, that I parroted dutifully before my elders. But I had no real comprehension of what I was saying, or to what I was adhering. Nor did I when I was ten. My intelligence was greater at this point, and I could understand more, but I did not really grasp, in the fullest sense of the word, the lies that my heretical religion proclaimed. I was still a child and not fully capable yet of what the mind of a full-grown man can do. In a word, had I converted as, say, a twelve-year old, and been required to publicly abjure all the lies of my former Protestant heresy, I would not have fully --- and hence intelligently or adequately --- understood what I was abjuring.
And need I point out that this simple, straightforward fact renders the act of public abjuration pointless and thus unnecessary for a child below a particular age?
+ + + 3. A Matter of Time + + +
And this does not even begin to take account of my third conflated point as mentioned above. Namely, that a baptized child who is taking part in the practice of heresy must have sufficient time, even with an adequate ability to reason, in order to be able to recognize the religious lies of his heresy.
Think about it. Do you really suppose, my dear souls, that a child arrives at the age of seven with the use of reason and suddenly, all at once and in an instant, knows everything necessary to know in order to be able to recognize that he is ensconced in the practice of a false & heretical religion? Even full-grown adults with a far greater mental capacity must usually have at least a few months, if not years, to eventually & wholly realize the damnable error which they are in, extricating themselves from the Devil’s trap.
And does anyone expect a child of seven, who arrives at the use of reason, to suddenly realize what it takes a full-grown adult with a much greater mental capacity at least a few months, if not years, to recognize? To wit, that they are deceived by heresy?
My dear souls, this is neither rational nor just.
For whether or not you want to acknowledge that it may really take several years for a baptized child who is of good will to adequately recognize as heresy the false religion in which he is raised, you cannot possibly expect a normal child of seven to recognize in an instant, or even in several seconds, his heresy as heresy the very day of his attainment to the use of reason. It is a process of time, something that must proceed in a certain kind of fashion, and cannot occur instantaneously.
Ergo, it is my opinion that God provides some time beyond the age of reason --- meaning, the age of seven and a few years beyond --- for a baptized child raised in the practice of heresy to discover the errors of his false religion and the truths of the Catholic Faith. And it is my opinion for a very simple reason… because no man can suddenly know all of the facts he needs to know, nor does a child have all of the mental capacity he might require to adequately recognize his errors. Moreover, a young child does not normally have the amount of liberty, resources & access that a grown man possesses so as to investigate things thoroughly & properly. It takes time. This is the way God has made things, wherein events occur through a sequential process of moments & deeds, and this is the way it makes sense to me that He would deal with baptized children raised in a false religion. I cannot prove it infallibly since the Roman Catholic Church has not ruled on this particular point infallibly, as far as I know. Yet She has not ruled to the contrary, either, as far as I can tell, and what I say makes logical sense based on what we do infallibly know.
For instance, as a father of six children I would not require them to know instantaneously what they ought to know, and especially if they had only just became capable of knowing it. I would not punish them severely for not doing that which they could not possibly have known to accomplish, given that they had not sufficient time or opportunity yet to do so. I would give them enough time to discover it & comprehend it. Therefore, why should their Father in Heaven --- for remember, we’re talking about baptized souls who are, at least up to the age of reason, surely in the Catholic Body of Jesus and hence children of the Triune Catholic God --- not do similarly with them? As Christ also said, “Or what man is there among you, of whom if his son shall ask bread, will he reach him a stone? Or if he shall ask him a fish, will he reach him a serpent? If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more will your Father who is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:9-11 DRC)
And whereas it is true that baptized children raised in heresy are probably not asking God for the time they need to discover the True Religion, in this way escaping the Fire of Hell should they die in this state of youthful ignorance, I don’t always have to be asked by my sons in order to give them something good & necessary. Indeed, I often perceive their need --- and regardless of whether they yet know that they need it --- giving them what they must have so that they may later achieve in a reasonable amount of time that which is right & urgent to accomplish.
But if I, who am evil, know how to give what is good & necessary to my sons (good & necessary here meaning the time required for a good-willed child, who is unavoidably ignorant due to his youth, to discover what he needs to know in order to obey my will), then how much more will their Father in Heaven give the time required to His sons when it comes to those baptized children who could not, because of their heretical upbringing, know already the Religion that He commands, and who cannot possibly, because of their youthful ignorance, discover the Religion He commands without a minimally sufficient time to do so?
+ + + 4. What Invincible Ignorance Can & Cannot Do + + +
Which leads us to drive home a final point. For I have often remarked in the past few years, to anyone who will listen, that the only truly ‘invincibly ignorant’ people are those who are either children (what in centuries past were called babes, infants or sucklings), mentally disabled from earliest youth (what in former times were called idiots or retards, with no pejorative sense necessarily intended), or insane from earliest childhood (what used to be known as madmen). Because how could any of these categories of people perceive that which they haven’t the mind to perceive? How can they, no matter how many graces they receive, know that which it is impossible for them to know, not first having the capacity of mind for them to be able to do so?
As a result, these types of persons are the only types who, in the most literal sense of the word, are truly invincibly ignorant. All other types of persons are merely vincibly in their ignorance to some degree or another, having at least some capacity of mind so that they may eventually conquer their ignorance and know that which they need to, or ought to, know.
Thus, however much the word has been misused in recent centuries --- particularly in modern times during the Great Apostasy, leading to the Salvation Heresy --- the term is certainly applicable to babes, idiots & madmen, provided the latter two categories are understood as having been such from earliest youth. Viz., those who are invincibly ignorant.
Nonetheless, ignorance alone cannot save, can it? That is to say,
ignorance all by itself that is invincible is not a positive something,
which in & of itself can propel a soul into the
Rather, ignorance is a qualification, which, when inculpable --- and that’s the whole point of talking about an ignorance that is invincible, that it is inculpably so --- causes God to see the soul as not responsible for sins committed by he who is totally & inescapably unaware of their wickedness, thereby excusing this soul of any concomitant guilt.
Which is why unbaptized babies cannot go to Heaven just because they die before the age of reason. They may have no actual transgressions upon their souls --- particularly actual transgressions of a deadly nature --- but they do have the stain of original sin, which is mortal. These kinds of souls (souls in the state of invincible ignorance) require the Sacrament of Baptism, the Church professing on their behalf that Faith which they must hold along with their baptism of water, in order to have hope of entering the Gates of Heaven. Once sacramental baptism is administered, their original sin is remitted, they are joined to the Catholic Body of Jesus Christ, and they receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. They are made new creatures & adoptive sons of the Almighty Triune Catholic God.
The point is, my dear souls, my opinion cannot be equated with the modernist lie of ‘salvation’ outside the visible Church by means of an ‘implicit faith’ or ‘hidden desire’ for water baptism. It cannot, because we are not talking about those who are unbaptized. We are talking about baptized souls and thus those who are both truly & visibly joined to the Body of Jesus Christ and members of His Catholic Church. Truly, because water baptism truly enters a man into Jesus’ Catholic Body. And visibly, because, whilst it is neither always possible nor always necessary for every Catholic to know the visible identity & existence of every other Catholic on this earth at any given time, it is at least potentially possible & often necessary for some Catholics to know the manifestly visible identity & existence of another Catholic on this earth at a given time, provided they have a genuine need to know and investigate adequately the evidence which is specific to a particular person in order to correctly determine whether he is, or is not, a member of Jesus’ Ecclesial Body. Which, when talking about children, means finding out if they have been validly baptized.
Consequently, given that a particular child of very young age is indeed validly baptized despite being raised in religious heresy, then the relevant question for a Catholic to ask about this child is not “Is he a member of the Roman Catholic Church?”, but, rather, “When does this child cease to be a member of the Roman Catholic Church?”
In other words, when is the baptized child who is raised in heresy excommunicated for failing to profess the Catholic Faith and for espousing heresy instead?
As of the composing of your letter on May 16th, you would say --- and please correct me if I am wrong about this --- that the child is automatically excommunicated as soon as he attains to the use of reason, which is, more or less, the age of seven for most people. Whereas I would say --- and grounded in the exact same principle, yet applied more logically & justly according to God’s Commandments --- that the child is automatically excommunicated only after he has attained to the use of reason and when he has had the minimum amount of time necessary for him to be able recognize the lies of his false religion & discover the truth of the Roman Catholic Faith.
It is the exact same principle involved in either position because, as you will have to acknowledge given that you take the time to think it through logically, the only reason Catholics have said that the souls of dead baptized babies go to Heaven is that these precious souls are in the state of invincible ignorance. That is to say, they cannot possibly, in their extreme youth and resultant lack of mental capacity, know God’s Command to profess the Catholic Faith whole & entire --- not to mention being unable to do so right away even if they could, in their limited powers of mind, know the Command to profess the Dogmas of Catholicism --- and hence are excused, in God’s Sight, for not doing so. Likewise, my position. I note that baptized children raised in heresy cannot possibly, in their extreme youth and resultant lack of mental capacity, either suddenly know God’s Command to profess the Catholic Religion whole & entire or suddenly know the Catholic Faith whole & entire at the moment of their attaining to the age of reason. It takes a certain minimal amount of time for them to be able to do so. Ergo, they are still invincibly ignorant and hence are excused, in God’s Sight, until they have had that minimum amount of time to accomplish what He commands about professing the Catholic Religion in its totality.
+ + + 5. The Dogma of Salvation Is Upheld + + +
Nor should you be sidetracked by the fact that a baptized child raised in heresy of, say, eight years old, could espouse heresy. E.g., let’s suppose he goes along with his elders, hearing them trash the Catholic Church, and quips, “The Bible all by itself is what I believe.” This alone would not necessarily send such a child to Hell, since, when you think about it, we could also imagine a baptized child raised in heresy of, say, six years old, doing & saying the same thing. And yet you would tell me that the six-year old child is likely in Heaven if he dies at that age, and all because he dies baptized before the age of reason, which is seven. But what is the cause for thinking it so? Invincible ignorance. He can’t possibly, in his extreme youth, as of yet adequately recognize the lies of his false religion or as of yet adequately find the truth of the Roman Catholic Religion. Hence, he is excused in God’s Sight for what is otherwise a very grievous & objective sin of heresy.
Nevertheless, what about the eight-year old boy? Even if he has attained to the use of reason, does he yet have sufficient mental capacity to adequately comprehend the heresy of ‘scripture alone’ --- and has he yet had sufficient liberty, time, tools & resources to recognize the other lies of his false religion or to find the truth of the Catholic Faith? Do not children of such young ages, whether six or eight --- and in lieu of being able to think for themselves in a fully independent way as of yet --- often merely parrot what they hear their elders & teachers say?
Of course they do. Any observant adult knows that this is so, any intelligent parent sees it in practice every single day. How, then, can the six-year old be readily excused (and even though six-year-olds will frequently have at least some ability to reason, distinguishing between truth & falsehood or right & wrong) while the eight-year old could not possibly fall under the same principle to at least some extent, given his limited capacity & time?
Mind you, this is not an argument for indefinite extension of membership of the Catholic Church based on fuzzy boundaries. No one knows with great certainty without careful examination when, precisely, an individual child attains to the use of reason. Moreover, even with careful examination, probably only God knows the exact hour or date that a child attains to this ability, beginning to distinguish between right & wrong or truth & falsehood. Hence why Catholics have simply said that the age of seven, more or less, is a good rule of thumb to go by. One particular child of really exceptional ability may attain to reason much earlier. Another particular child of very limited ability may attain to reason much later. The boundary overall for everyone is thus hazy.
No, I am not arguing for indefinite extension of the boundary. I am applying logic based on what we can know with some certainty. And just because this leaves the boundary hazy is no justification for rejecting my argument; the common boundary as accepted by Catholics for at least the last millennium concerning the age of reason is also hazy. From a purely human perspective, fuzziness of boundaries is unavoidable in many cases due to unknown or hidden factors & numerous variables. Notwithstanding, this doesn’t mean a boundary doesn’t exist. It merely means that we must content ourselves with knowing, most of the time, a general rule of thumb when things are unknown, hidden or numerous. Much like the miles of coastline that a country has --- wherein it practically impossible to get the precise number or for experts of cartography to agree on such a number --- so, too, the exact age at which various baptized children raised in heresy may be automatically excommunicated is, for us, usually uncertain.
All the same, God knows the precise moment for each baptized child raised in heresy. We can simply surmise carefully based on what we know infallibly & what we deduce logically. As regards baptized children raised in heresy overall, this will leave us, because of our lack of particular knowledge, with a degree of haziness. But the haziness is not without limits. Sooner or later, each child will become automatically excommunicated for failing to recognize the lies of his false religion and for failing to find the truth of the Roman Catholic Faith. And sensible, logical rules of thumb can establish, with a good degree of certainty in our minds, the upper & lower boundaries for when automatic excommunication of such children takes place. Let it be stated clearly, then:
There is no denial of the Salvation Dogma here, whether
explicitly or implicitly. Outside of the One, Holy, Roman,
+ + + 6. Missing the Commandments + + +
The only difference, then, my dear souls, between your position & my position is this:
You posit (and whether you realize it or not) an obstruction of faculty alone for the baptized child raised in heresy who has not yet attained to the age of reason. While, in contrast, I posit not only an obstruction of faculty for the baptized child raised in heresy who has not yet attained to the age of reason, but, as well, an obstruction of resource for the baptized child raised in heresy who has already attained to the age of reason. The first asserts the necessity of minimal use of mind alone, in a vacuum all by itself, in order to be able to know, comprehend & profess the Roman Catholic Faith. The second asserts the necessity of time & other pertinent resources in conjunction with an adequate ability of mind in order to be able to know, comprehend & profess the Roman Catholic Faith.
Now, having said all this, I could be wrong. I am not infallible.
And, if the Catholic Church has, without me yet knowing, stated infallibly
contrary to my position what the precise moment of excommunication for these
baptized children raised in heresy is --- or has set different upper or lower
limits than what I have thought, or will state infallibly either of these
things in the future, contrary to what I now think --- then I will have to back
down. Whether or not I could understand it, I would have to submit to the
infallible judgment of
That explained, I make a few last observations.
For you quote from The Catechism of the Council of Trent in paragraph three of your email on 16 May 2009:
“…no one who has arrived at the use of reason can be
justified, unless he is resolved to keep all of God’s
Commandments.” [Published by TAN Books &
Publishers, Inc., in 1982 in
You then seem to argue, if only by implication, that baptized children who are above the age of the use of reason but raised in heresy couldn’t possibly be justified or within the Catholic Church since --- so you appear to infer --- they cannot be resolved to keep all of God’s Commandments. Whereas, apart from the fact (which you acknowledge) that this catechism is not infallible, you make an unwarranted assumption in doing so.
To wit, my dear souls, how do you know that a baptized child raised in heresy does not resolve to keep all of God’s Commandments? We cannot be certain of such a thing without careful & individual examination of these children. That is to say, there may indeed be individuals amongst these children who are resolved to obey all of God’s Commandments.
The problem for them, therefore, is not that they are not resolved to obey the Commands of God but that they are not yet aware of what all of His Commandments are!
Yet if invincibly so --- not having had the time or resources yet to figure everything out --- then how is it this child stands condemned in God’s Sight, being responsible for, and thus wholly guilty of, his objective sin? We review Christ’s words once again.
“And that servant who knew the will of his lord, and prepared not himself, and did not according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.” (Luke 12:47-48a DRC, emphasis added)
The baptized child is definitely a part of Christ’s Catholic Body and thus definitely the Lord’s “servant”. The dispute is over when he becomes automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Body of Christ, not over whether he was ever a member of this Body in the first place. Invincible ignorance prevents excommunication from occurring at an age under seven years old, as you would presumably acknowledge. Yet if the same child at, say, age eight, has not yet had enough time & resources to discover the Commands of the Triune Catholic God, then is not his ignorance still invincible? Most assuredly so. Ergo, he shall be beaten “with few stripes.”
In fact, it is at least one fair interpretation of this scriptural passage to say that Jesus is distinguishing between mortality of sin (“many stripes”) and veniality of sin (“few stripes”). If so, then it is very easy to see how a child who is above the age of reason but still invincibly ignorant could espouse heresy, parroting his elders, while not being held guilty by God of a mortal sin of heresy. Because, in such a case, the guilt of his objective sin of heresy would be only venial or less, and not mortal. And if this is not the case, then how can a child of, say, age six, espouse the very same heresy, parroting his elders, and, should he die at that moment, not suffer damnation forever because he committed a mortal sin of heresy?
If the lack of ability of mind makes such an objective sin venial or less, then the same lack also makes such an objective sin venial or less when a person has not yet had enough time, with the ability of mind, to even possibly discover what he needs to know in order to recognize the lies of his false religion & find the truth of the Catholic Faith.
+ + + 7. Conversion + + +
However, you may protest that Catholics have called baptized children raised in heresy who are above the age of seven ‘converts’ when they end participation in a false religion, and also required them to make a Profession of Faith. Does this not, you as much as say, make them certainly outside the Church? To what are they ‘converting’ if they were inside Her Sanctuary to begin with?
The answer is twofold.
One, just because they may not be old enough, or had enough time, to comprehend adequately the lies of their heresy, does not mean that they are incapable of knowing anything at all. Which is why the Catholic Church requires instruction in the True Faith of those of Her members who are very young. But which is also why She does not expect such young members to be instructed like adults, to the degree of breadth & complexity that older members are. Hence, She only requires them to profess what they can grasp. Consequently, the training She gives a young child is not the same as the training that an adult receives, or someone who is converting to the Church as an adult. So, while She may not expect a young child to adequately understand the heresy in which he was raised --- and thus not have to publicly & formally abjure it --- She does expect the young child of age seven or more, in most circumstances, to understand the True Faith enough, taught to him in a very simple fashion that he can grasp, so that he can take it on as his own and profess it simply. He can no longer do this with the heretical religion that he was raised in; he now does this for the True Religion in which he is presently taught. This is what conversion means for him, due to his limited mind & resources.
And, two, the use of the term ‘convert’, or variations thereof, in regards to young children is somewhat similar to the term ‘catechumen’ in regards to the newly baptized. Because, as you may know, ancient Catholics called those converting as adults to the One True Faith ‘catechumens’ even after they had just been baptized. This has been a source of confusion concerning the Sacrament of Baptism since those who uphold the so-called ‘baptism of desire’ position will often cite martyrologies and ‘catechumens’ who are reported to have been martyred, thereby ‘proving’ --- so these people think --- the position that a person can die unbaptized while still going to Heaven.
While, in contrast, the correct understanding (with the proviso in mind that such martyrologies are not infallible, of course) is that these ‘catechumens’ were either baptized already in preparation for possible martyrdom (baptized early due to the emergency situation of a bloody persecution) or else baptized in regular fashion at the time of Easter but still called ‘catechumens’ because catechism in ancient times went on for a very long time, even for a brief while following their official ceremony of baptism (wherein certain mysteries not explained before --- such as the Holy Eucharist --- were now thoroughly explicated in light of the marvelous graces they had just received in the Sacrament of Baptism).
The gist of what I’m saying?
‘Convert’ does not have to mean one & only one very restricted thing. The conversion of a full-grown adult is very different from the conversion of a very young child. Just as the term ‘catechumen’ could mean both someone not yet joined to the Catholic Church (what they were before they were baptized in water) as well as someone already a member of Her Sacred Body (what they were after they were baptized in water), so, too, can the term ‘convert’ mean both someone who has the mind & resources to have fully comprehended & repudiated his heresy (thereby entering him into the Body that he as a validly baptized youth left later on due to his culpably espousing heresy & failing to find Catholicism) as well as he who doesn’t yet have the mind & resources to do so (thereby confirming him in the Body that he may already be a member of due to his inculpably espousing heresy before & not having had enough time or resources prior till then to find Catholicism).
The exact connotation of the terms depends on the context in which they are used. One cannot know for certain what the precise meaning of the term is until one has understood first, correctly, what the circumstances are in which they are employed and, second, who, exactly, they are describing.
End of sentence.
+ + + 8. More Just, As Well As More Logical + + +
But, my dear souls, this is enough for now. You may have other protests against my position. I have written as much as I can for the time being whilst still reasonably expecting you to peruse it all, cogitating carefully.
In summation, no, I have not confused “a disciplinary teaching of the Church with a dogma.” [X’s Email to Various Persons on 16 May 2009, Paragraph 5] Notwithstanding, I have used a phrase (“full use of reason” --- which, in & of itself, is totally logical & legitimate, as the Holy See’s use of the exact same phrase, as translated into English, in Paragraph 19 of Quam singulari demonstrates), in my article for those who consider themselves Catholic in the First Things First section of The Epistemologic Works website, in a setting that can lead the reader to conflate several things into one. This is confusing. It is my fault, and I again beg your pardon. I will change this in the article as soon as I can. Better yet, as soon I may in the next few months, Heaven willing, I will post the new small book, Visible, in its stead. Meanwhile, I stick with what I have, correcting that which potentially misleads as soon as possible.
Nonetheless, you are correct that “God is God, and we are not.” [X’s Email to Various Persons on 16 May 2009, Paragraph 8] Ergo, if either previous infallible statements of the Catholic Church or future infallible statements of the Catholic Church make it clear that I am in error, then I will repudiate what I have posited & embrace the Pillar & Ground of the Truth, professing Her dogma in the matter. It is entirely possible that God, despite my opinion, considers baptized children raised in heresy to fall outside the Church the instant they attain to the use of reason. And, of course, in such a situation He is entirely capable of preserving such children, who have fallen out of the Church but who are of good will, for later profession of the True Faith & abjuration of their heresy.
The question is thus not can He do such a thing, but does He do such a thing?
We already know that God chooses to prevent dead baptized children from falling into the Pit of Hell should they die before reaching the age of reason, in spite of not professing the Catholic Faith whole & entire. This is because of their invincible ignorance. Yet if God does this for inculpably ignorant children prior to the age of reason, then, given that such children are still inculpably ignorant for a short while after attaining to the age of reason --- having “a certain beginning of the use of reason” as the Holy See states in Paragraph 19 of Quam singulari --- why wouldn’t God choose to apply the exact same principle to a child after the use of reason but who, for a lack of mind & time, is still invincibly ignorant? This is why I said, in the middle of this letter, that my position is a more logical application of the principle according to God’s Commandments.
But if this is so, then --- provided that such a child is of good will and would, if only given the chance later on, enter back into the Church should the attainment of the age of reason have thrown him out of the Church due to being raised in heresy --- why would God choose to have such a child excommunicated in the first place, thereby depriving him of great graces, when invincible ignorance is what detains him, by a lack of mind & time, from recognizing the lies of his heresy & the truth of the Catholic Faith as of yet? Such action not only doesn’t make good sense, but is in direct contradiction to the principle of inculpability when it comes to those who are, truly, invincibly ignorant! Which is why I also said, in the middle of this letter, that my position is a more just application of the principle according to God’s Commandments.
My dear souls, should you want to dispute me after reading all of this carefully & thoroughly, then it looks to me like only a clear infallible statement from the Catholic Church could give us absolute certainty in this particular matter, one way or another. Until then, I rely on what I can know infallibly from the Roman Catholic Church and apply straightforward logic & justice based on God’s Commandments. I trust that you have, with a good will, followed this logic and comprehended it adequately.
Precious souls, if you are truly Catholic then I pray that the Triune God of the Catholic Church & Creator of All That Exists Out Of Nothing will grant you, through the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary & Her Immaculate Hands, all the graces you need in order to be good Catholics and to uphold & defend the Roman Catholic Faith --- with your very blood, if necessary. And, if you are not truly Catholic, then I pray that the same will grant you the graces necessary to enlighten your minds to the Exclusively Saving Truth of the Roman Catholic Religion, causing you to repudiate all worldly errors & enter Her Sanctuary, clinging to Her Dogmas until, and especially at, your deaths upon this earth.
Yours very sincerely with the Charity of Christ & His Mother,
+ + +
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