The following reflection is taken from an email sent by a close friend who is happy for me to share it with our readers:
There is much talk of late about the final destiny and salvation of those who have left this world without baptism or membership of the Catholic Church, on account of the teaching: ‘no salvation outside of the Catholic Church’.
St Anthony of Egypt was pondering on the fate of non-Catholic souls after death. An angel appeared to him saying : “Look to thyself Anthony, the knowledge of these things is not for thee.” In other words the angel was telling him not to speculate. God has not revealed it. It is entirely in the Justice of God!
St Thomas Aquinas wrote: Man may, without baptism of water, receive the sacramental effect, in so far as he is conformed to Christ by suffering for Him. Hence it is written in Revelation 7:14 “These are they who are come out of the 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 Spirit, not only without baptism of water, but also without baptism of blood: for as his heart is moved by the Holy Spirit to believe in and love God, and to repent of his sins; wherefore this is called baptism of repentance.” (Ref. Our Lord’s words to the repentant thief: ” This day thou shalt be with Me in paradise…”)
Blessed Pope Pius IX in Singulari Quadam, taught that the faithful must not occupy themselves with pointless speculation about the possibility of salvation for those outside the Church, since only God knows whom He will save ( by some extraordinary manner ). Pius IX exhorted the faithful to hold fast to, outside the Church there is no salvation, but to continue the God-given work, to make disciples of all nations. “All further inquiry is unlawful” concluded the Holy Father.
The mother of Fr Hermann Cohen, is a wonderful example of the mercy of God, at the last moment of a person’s life. Fr Cohen had prayed for, and consecrated his mother to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to gain his mother’s conversion. She died without having shown any sign of the hoped and prayed for grace of conversion.
Deeply distressed, Fr Cohen visited the Cure of Ars, who told him to ” hope on, some day on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, you will receive a letter that will bring you great consolation.”
Six years later, 8 December 1861, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Jesuit priest sent Fr Cohen a letter from a saintly soul, who, after Holy Communion, had intimate communications with Our Lord in which Our Saviour had revealed the passing of Fr Cohen’s mother:
“At the moment when Fr Cohen’s mother was about to breathe her last, when she appeared deprived of consciousness, almost lifeless, Mary, our Good Mother, presented Herself before Her Divine Son, and prostrate at His feet, said, ” Grace and pity, O My Son for this soul who is going to perish! Another moment and she will be lost for all eternity. I implore Thee, to do for the mother of My servant Hermann, what Thou would wish him to do for Thine, if he were in Thy place and Thou were in his. His mother’s soul is his dearest treasure; he has consecrated it to Me a thousand times, entrusting it to the tenderness and solicitude of My Heart. Can I suffer her to perish? No, no, that soul is My possession: I claim it as a heritage, as the price of Thy Blood and of My Sorrows at the foot of the Cross.” Scarcely had the divine supplicant ceased speaking, when a strong powerful grace, escaping from the Source of all graces, the Adorable Heart of Jesus, illuminated the soul of the poor dying woman, and instantaneously triumphed over her resistance. That soul turned at once with loving confidence towards Him Whose mercy had followed her into the very arms of death, and said to Him, “O Jesus, God of the Christians, the God whom my son adores, I believe, I hope in Thee. Have pity on me.”
In that profound cry, heard by God alone and which sprang from the depths of her heart, were sincere sorrow ( i.e. perfect contrition) for her obstinacy and her faults, the desire for Baptism, the wish to receive it, and to live according to our life-saving religion. That spontaneous act of faith, of hope in Jesus, was the last sentiment of her soul; the moment she sent it up to the Throne of Divine Mercy, the frail threads that held her in her mortal covering, broke, and she fell at the feet of Him Who had been her Saviour, before He was her Judge. After showing me all this, Our Saviour added: “Let Fr Hermann know this; it is the consolation I wish to give him after his long sufferings, in order that he may praise, and cause everywhere to be praised, the kindness of My Mother’s Heart, and Her Power over Mine.”
Without affecting the doctrine, ‘outside the Church there is no salvation’, here Our Lord has shown us that at the very last moment of a person’s life, a soul can enter the Catholic Church, and be saved by baptism of desire, of repentance, and enter Heaven a full Catholic, especially through the prayers and consecrations of another generous soul, to the Motherly care of Our Lord’s Most Holy Mother, and ours!
Pray and consecrate, to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, often if not daily, all those who are dear to you, and those who without knowing it, are desperately in need of the grace of conversion and salvation. O Mary, Immaculate Queen, triumph and reign in all our hearts, be our holy hope.