Lumen Scholasticum

Elucubrations, translations, and commentary from a Scholastic and Catholic integralist perspective

Category: Scholastic Commentary

Bellarmine on Trent sess. VII can. 13: the sacramental rites and ceremonies

It has been a long while since our last post here; as usual, however, this is not at all to say that we have not been busy. Indeed, we have continued our readings, researches, and translations as earnestly as ever over the past (almost) two years, although the coronavirus pandemic has nonetheless obtruded various obstacles upon our work. Our attention has for a long while now been fixed on matters pertaining to the Church’s authority over the liturgy, and the writings of the theologians on this topic, with particular reference to the Council of Trent and St. Pius V’s reform of the Missal and Breviary. It came to our attention a long while back, that in some of the more radical fringes of the Catholic traditionalist movement, appeals and arguments are made to Trent and to St. Pius V’s Quo primum tempore, as proofs indicting in some substantial way the Novus Ordo Missæ of St. Paul VI. While we have long been dissatisfied with much in and about the liturgical reform, and find little in the new Mass to recommend it over the Tridentine liturgy; nevertheless the aforementioned appeals struck us as both very weak, and injurious to the Church’s authority so far as we were familiar with it. But the documents involved also seemed to us very intriguing, and after happening upon some other interesting and pertinent texts, we resolved to dive more deeply into what the theologians, canonists, liturgists, and rubricists had to say about ecclesial and pontifical power in the liturgy, and about the documents in question. While we are still in the process of finding, reading, translating, and organizing an ever-growing body of texts on this subject for a modest opusculum on the matter, we thought it good to post some lengthier texts which we have translated in the course of our inquiries, which are probably too large to include in full in the main body of that treatise but which we should like to have around for reference nonetheless.

The first entry in this series of sorts will be from the De controversiis of St. Robert Bellarmine, De sacramentis in genere, lib. II, cap. 29-32. In these chapters, our Cardinal and Doctor dissertates on the rites and ceremonies spoken of in the seventh session of Trent, can. 13, expounding and establishing the catholic doctrine on the matter and repelling the errors of the Protestant heretics of his day.

For this translation, we employed the 1613 Tri-Adelphorum edition of the Cardinal’s De controversiis, tom. III, col. 191ff. Since this translation was completed as something ancillary to our projects and hence of lesser importance, we have omitted to include internal hyperlinks to the works referenced within the text as has been our wont in other more recent posts of ours here and at The Josias.

A .pdf version of this translation may be found here.


On the ceremonies of the Sacraments in general.

We shall treat of the rites of the individual Sacraments in their own places; here we dispute only of the rites in general. We have decided to dispute this final controversy, as much because it is a most worthy thing to know, as also so that there be no canon of the Council of Trent regarding the Sacraments in general, which we shall not have defended; for up to this point we have defended all but the last, which declares anathema to those, who either contemn the ceremonies of the Church, or think that they can be omitted without sin.

There shall be four parts of this question. The FIRST, on the name, definition, and partition of ceremonies. The SECOND, on the state of the case, and the errors and lies of the heretics. The THIRD, on the explanation and proof of the truth. The FOURTH, on the objections of the adversaries.


On the name, definition, and partition of ceremonies.

As regards the FIRST, some things shall have to be noted in order to understand the state of the case. The FIRST is, what is a ceremony. And a ceremony is an external act of religion, which act is praiseworthy for no other reason, than that it is for the honor of God. For religion, which is the most noble of the moral virtues, has three acts, as with any other virtue. FIRSTLY, the internal elicited act, which is to will to God due honor, and to give him worship. SECONDLY, the external act corresponding to the internal act, which is any external action, which is not elsewise good, and praiseworthy, than because it is done to worship God, such as sacrifice, genuflexion, and similar things. THIRDLY, the commanded act, that is, the act of any virtue, which is ordained by religion to the honor of God. In this way, fasting, almsgiving, and other things of that sort can be called acts of religion, when they are done to worship God, although they otherwise be the acts of other virtues. Of this third act St. James spoke, cap. 1, that religion is to visit the orphaned, and to guard oneself immaculate from this age; and St. Augustine in the Enchiridion, cap. 3, said, that God is worshiped in faith, and hope, and charity. Of these three acts, the first is in no way a ceremony; the third is also not a ceremony, except insofar as commanded by religion; the second is properly and simply a ceremony, and of it we treat in this place.

As regards the name: Ceremonies, amongst the Hebrews, are called תקים, which word properly signifies not so much the external action itself, as the law, or statute, by which that action is commanded. Wherefore also in the new Testament the Judaic ceremonies are usually called by the name of law, as in Matth. 11. The laws and the prophets until John. Gal. 5. I testify to every man circumcising himself, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. The Greeks render that word everywhere with δικαιώματα, that is, justifications, because they were rites instituted for justifying and purging man. The Latin interpreter almost always translates cæremonia in the old Testament for the Hebrew word תקים. Now this Latin word either is taken from the city of Cære, as is the opinion of Livy, lib. I, and Valerius Maximus lib. 1. c. 1., because in that city the Sacra Romana were preserved at the time when the Gauls plundered Rome; or perhaps more correctly it is drawn from the word carendo, so that a cæremonia is as it were a carimonia, as St. Augustine thinks, lib. 2. retract. cap. 37. and Gellius lib. 4. capit. 9. and Macrobius lib. 2. Saturnal. cap. 3. on account of the fact that certain ceremonies are set in abstaining, and lacking, as it was with the Jews, who abstained from the use of the flesh of swine, and nearly all the vows of the Nazarenes, and of others, who abstained even by vow from the use of wine, and of many other things.

But let us come to the partition. There are five partitions of ceremonies. The FIRST partition is taken from the end, or effect. For some are instituted in order to justify, such as the Sacraments, and of these we do not now treat: some for certain spiritual effects, such as the coercion of demons, as exorcisms, blessed water, etc., some only for adornment and signification, as the white garment of neophytes, the lights of candles, etc., and of these do we treat.

The SECOND partition is drawn from the efficient cause, that is, from the institutor. For some are in a certain way instituted by nature itself, which are able to be called natural: of which sort is, to look to heaven, to lift up the hands, to bend the knee, to beat the breast, when we pray to God: these nature itself teaches, whence they are also common to the Gentiles, and to any sects whatsoever. Some are instituted by God, as were many in the old testament, and some Sacraments in the new; and these are called divine ceremonies. Finally, some were instituted by the Apostles, or their successors, which are called Ecclesiastical ceremonies. And the partition of words is similar; for ceremonies are a certain kind of visible words. For we see some words to be natural, such as those by which we express various effects; for in the same way do all lament, sigh, laugh, etc. Others we see instituted by God, such as in Gen. 1. the name of heaven, earth, sea, and elsewhere the names of certain great men. Finally, we see others instituted by men, as when in Gen. 2. Adam gave names to the living things.

The THIRD partition is drawn from the formal cause. For some ceremonies are immediately the worship of God, such as sacrifice, prayer, adoration, etc.; some dispose to the worship of God, such as fasting, celibacy, harshness of life, etc.; some are instruments of divine worship, such as temples, altars, chalices, etc.

The FOURTH partition is from the material cause, or from the material object. For some ceremonies are concerned with persons; such as exorcisms, insufflations, the scattering of ashes, etc.; some regard times, such as feast days, vigils, Quadragesima, and thus also there are determinate times for the celebration of the Sacraments: some regard the mode, such as that the Sacraments be administered in the Latin tongue; finally, some regard things themselves, such as blessings of water, oil, vestments, palms, etc.

The FIFTH partition is taken from the accidents, so that some are universal, others particular, as the fast of the Sabbath in the times of Augustine was observed at Rome but not at Milan; and contrariwise the washing of feet after Baptism was observed at Milan, and not Rome. See Augustine epist. 118. and Ambrose lib. de Sacramentis 3. cap. 1. Likewise, some are temporary, such as abstinence from blood and things strangled, Act. 25. while others are perpetual, such as the rites of the Sacraments. Finally, some are of precept, others free, regarding which see Augustine epist. 118. Read the rest of this entry »

Manualist Monday: Benedict XIV on communicatio in divinis with heretics

After a rather extended hiatus, occasioned by some personal mortifications on our part and the subsequent onset of Lent, we return with a short piece, the posting of which has been far too long delayed. This is taken from the great treatise De synodo dioecesano of Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini, better known as Pope Benedict XIV—surely one of the most learned men to have graced the Chair of Peter, certainly as regards juridical and canonical subjects. The learnéd Pontiff here presents a brief but altogether luculent and forceful account of the Church’s traditional condemnation of communication in divinis with heretics, drawing from Scripture as well as the documents, decrees, and treatises of Councils, popes, and the theologians. (N.B. We have inserted hyperlinks and a few footnotes, in order to make immediately available to the curious and Latinate reader some further readings and sources to which Benedict makes reference.)

Benedictus XIV Pont. Opt. Maximus, De synodo dioecesano lib. VI, cap. 5, in Opera omnia (ed. Prati, 1844) vol. XI, p. 157ff.


Those things which were said in the preceding chapter, are confirmed by the example of the communion of Catholics with Heretics in divinis, and so also of the Matrimony of Catholics with Heretics.

I. The degree to which the Church has abominated the fellowship of Catholics with heretics, is clearly proved from the second epistle of the Apostle John, in which, in verses 10 and 11, he admonished his disciples in this wise: If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him, God speed you. For he that saith unto him, God speed you, communicateth with his wicked works. And moreover, from the epistle of the Apostle Paul to Titus, chap. 3, v. 10: A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid. Hence the same Apostle John, in order that he might precede others by his own example, refused to wash in the same bathhouse with Cerinthus the heretic, but said to his fellows: Let us flee more swiftly, lest the bathhouse, in which is Cerinthus the adversary of truth, should topple forthwith: as Irenaeus, Jerome, and Epiphanius testify. And St. Polycarp the bishop of Smyrna, instructed by the example of his Teacher, hostile and not daring to return the salutation to Marcion, who had greeted him, said: I know the firstborn of the devil. And so tenacious was the great Anthony in the discipline of this kind, that of him Athanasius writes, in De vita Antonii, num. 68, tom. 1, part. 2. Oper. pag. 847: Never did he communicate with the Meletian schismatics, considering from the beginning their proven malice and defection. Nor did he ever exchange words amicably with the Manichæans, or with any other heretics whatsoever, except for the sake of admonishing, in order that, their opinion being changed, they might hold to the godly Faith, regarding as he did their friendship and conversations to be harmful and pernicious to the soul; and he warned others likewise. Innumerable Canons of the Church have renewed this prohibition, but most of all do they press hard lest Catholics should communicate with heretics in sacred things, or lest they should frequent the gatherings of the same. Amongst the Apostolic Canons, the Forty-Fifth, known alternately as the Thirty-Seventh, sets down: Let the Bishop, Presbyter, and Deacon who should merely pray with heretics be deprived of communion: and the Sixty-Fifth, alternately the Sixty-Fourth or Fifty-Seventh: If any cleric or lay person should enter into a synagogue of the Jews, or of heretics, in order to pray, let him be put away, and separated. The Synod of Laodicea decreed something similar in can. 9 from the version of Dionysius Exiguus, tom. 1 of Collect. Harduinus col. 781: That Ecclesiastics are not permitted at the cemeteries of heretics, or to accede to those which by them are called martyr’s graves, for the sake of prayer or service: but ones of this sort, if they should be Faithful, are to be deprived of communion for a certain time. And the Fourth Council of Carthage, canon. 72. tom. 1. of Collect. Harduinus col. 983, which council Augustine praises in a sermon to the people of Mauretania Cæsariensis, says: One must neither pray nor sing psalms with heretics. Hence Cyril of Jerusalem, in catech. IV. n. 37. in fin. bids his catechumen to despise all the assemblies of the perfidious heretics: and the same is advised by the other Fathers, whom Christianus Lupus adduces in schol. et not. ad canon. Concil. tom. 5. edition. Venet. pag. 60 et seq. Read the rest of this entry »

Manualist Monday: Garrigou-Lagrange on the compulsion of unbelievers

This is a somewhat short text taken from Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.’s commentary on the Summa theologiæ of St. Thomas, IIaIIæ, q. 10, a. 8, Whether unbelievers are to be compelled to the faith? Our original interest in this text was occasioned by this very interesting paper by Thomas Pink. We first translated the text from Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange as support for Professor Pink’s argument concerning the theological tradition on the jurisdiction of the Church over the baptized—and though we continue to think, as any Catholic ought, that the Church does indeed by right wield jurisdiction over all the baptized, even heretics, schismatics, and apostates, we are not so sure that Professor Pink’s principal thesis of continuity holds water in respect of Dignitatis humanæ. Nevertheless, a very great value lies in reading his article, on account of the fact that he brings to the fore an important and now-forgotten aspect of Catholic sacramental theology and ecclesiology which is much needed in this time of crisis in the Church.

This theme of jurisdiction over the baptized is one to which we plan to return several times in the course of our translations here.

Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., De virtutibus theologicis: Commentarius in Summam theologicam S. Thomae IaIIæ q. 62, 65, 68, et IIaIIæ q. 1-46 (Torino, 1949), pp. 267-9.

Art. VIII. Whether infidels are to be compelled to the faith.

One must distinguish insofar as the infidels have at one time received the faith, or not.

First conclusion: Infidels who have never received the Christian faith, such as pagans and Jews, are in no way to be compelled to the faith, yet they can be compelled, particularly in a Catholic State, in order that they do not impede the faith.

1. It is proved firstly from the authority of the Council of Trent, sess. 14, cap. 2 (Denz 895): “The Church exercises judgment over no one who has not first entered into her through the gateway of baptism.” Thus St. Paul says (1 Cor 5:12): “For what have I to do to judge them that are without? Do not you judge them that are within?” And this is clear also from the manner in which Christ sent the Apostles to preach the faith, not as armed soldiers, but as lambs in the midst of wolves, but if some should refuse to receive the Gospel, Christ does not command that the apostles should employ force, but that they leave and shake the dust from their sandals. And indeed the sons of Zebedee were called “sons of thunder,” because they wished to consume the Samaritan unbelievers with fire from heaven, upon which Christ rebuked these two junior Apostles, saying: “You know not of what spirit you are” (Luke 9:55).

2. It is proved secondly by theological argument: because to believe is of the will, as Augustine says, tract. 26 in Ioannem: “A man is capable of other things when unwilling, but cannot believe unless willing.”

It is confirmed by many declarations of the Church, which prohibit that infidels be compelled by force to the faith.

Nevertheless Constantine laudably destroyed the temples of idols; this was laudable, because to worship many gods is contrary to the law of nature, the custodian and defender of which every prince is for his subjects. But the law of the Christian faith is supernatural, to which the secular power does not extend itself.

But infidels can be compelled so that they do not impede the faith and its preaching by means of blasphemies, bad arguments, or open persecutions. For the Church has the right and the mandate from Christ of preaching the Gospel in the whole world. “And because of this,” St. Thomas says, “the faithful of Christ frequently make war against infidels…lest the infidels impede the faith of Christ.” And infidels cannot assert that probability may be less in favor of Christianity.

Second conclusion: Infidels who at one time RECEIVED the faith, such as HERETICS, and apostates, ARE ABLE even corporally to be compelled so that they might fulfill that which they promised. This considers at least the legitimacy of coercion.

1. It is proved firstly from ancient ecclesiastical law taken from the Fourth Council of Toledo. And also from the Council of Trent, sess. 7, can. 14 (Denz. 870): “If any one saith, that those who have been thus baptized when children, are, when they have grown up, to be asked whether they will ratify what their sponsors promised in their names when they were baptized; and that, in case they answer that they will not, they are to be left to their own will; and are not to be compelled meanwhile to a Christian life by any other penalty, save that they be excluded from the participation of the Eucharist, and of the other sacraments, until they repent; let him be anathema.”

But with respect to the execution of temporal penalties, which according to the ancient law are able legitimately to be inflicted upon heretics, cf. the Code, can. 6, n. 5: “Any punishments of the ancient law whatsoever, of which there occurs no mention in the Code, are abrogated.” With respect to spiritual penalties, such as excommunication, cf. the Code of Canon Law, can. 2314-2316, 2372. Cf. infra, q. XI, a. 3: whether heretics are to be tolerated.

2. The legitimacy of coercion is proved by the authority of St. Augustine cited in the reply to the first objection. He says in Epist. 93: “My opinion at first was that no man ought to be coerced to the unity of the faith, that this should rather be effected by word, that it ought to be contended with disputation, lest we should have false Catholics whom we had known to be open heretics. But this opinion of mine is overcome, not by the words of contradictors, but by demonstrative examples; for at first my city was opposed, which since it was entirely in the party of Donatus, was converted by fear of imperial laws to Catholic unity.”

Likewise the passage cited from Augustine in the replies to the third and fourth objections says (Epist. 185): “For who of ours should wish not only that one of them perish, but even so much as lose something of theirs? But…the house of David did not otherwise merit to have peace, except that Absalon his son, in the war which he was waging against his father, had been slain…Thus the Catholic Church, if She collects all the rest by the perdition of some, heals the dolor of Her maternal heart by the deliverance of so many peoples.”

3. It is proved by theological argument: Subjects are able to be compelled by their superiors so that they might satisfy their obligation. But they who received the faith and have been baptized, have been incorporated to the Church as Her subjects, and have obliged themselves to preserve the faith. Therefore they are able to be compelled by their superiors so that they satisfy their obligation, and this by spiritual, or even temporal penalties by which they pertain to the secular forum, under the direction of the Church. Cf. infra, q. XI, a. 3: whether heretics are to be tolerated. Cf. Ius actuale, Code on penalties and delicts against the faith and the unity of the Church (n. 2314, §1, n. 1, 2, 3; 2315, 2316, 2372). “All apostates from the Christian faith, and all heretics or schismatics, incur ipso facto excommunication…If they should give name to, or adhere to, a non-Catholic sect, they are ipso facto infamous, and without prejudice to can. 188, n. 4, let clerics, the given warning having been made in vain, be degraded. One suspected of heresy, who having been warned has failed to remove the cause of suspicion, should be prohibited by legitimate acts, and furthermore a cleric, the warning having been repeated to no avail, should be suspended a divinis.”

Objection: Infidels who never received the faith are not to be coerced to it, because to believe is of the will; but the same reason serves for heretics. Therefore they are not to be coerced.

St. Thomas responds in the reply to the third objection: “Just as to vow is of the will, but to render is of necessity, so to accept the faith is of the will, but to hold it, having been accepted, is of necessity. And thus heretics are to be compelled so that they might hold to the faith.”

But this is understood: First, in a Catholic state, and secondly as something per se licit, but per accidens sometimes a greater evil would follow, cf. ad 1; thirdly, relative to heretics who personally received the faith, at least receiving baptism in infancy. But the children of heretics after two or three generations often become as infidels who never received the faith.

Cardinal Cajetan on correction of prelates

Today, keeping in mind recent events within the Church, we offer a somewhat brief text from Cardinal Cajetan’s celebrated commentary on the Summa theologiæ of St. Thomas, IIaIIæ, q. 33, a. 4, Whether a man is bound to correct his prelate? Cajetan mostly comments on St. Thomas’ response to the second objection, which has to do with St. Paul withstanding St. Peter to the face in Galatians 2:11. We shall give the text of objection 2 and St. Thomas’ response, followed by the comment of Cajetan.


Obj. 2: Further, a gloss on Gal. 2:11, “I withstood him to the face,” adds: “as an equal.” Therefore, since a subject is not equal to his prelate, he ought not to correct him.

Ad 2: To withstand anyone in public exceeds the mode of fraternal correction, and so Paul would not have withstood Peter then, unless he were in some way his equal as regards the defense of the faith. But one who is not an equal can reprove privately and respectfully. Hence the Apostle in writing to the Colossians (4:17) tells them to admonish their prelate: “Say to Archippus: Fulfil thy ministry [*Vulg.: ‘Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.’ Cf. 2 Tim. 4:5].” It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith, and, as the gloss of Augustine says on Gal. 2:11, “Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects.”

Commentary of Cardinal Cajetan

I. In the fourth article, in response to the second objection, there is a great doubt: how Paul was equal to Peter as regards the defense of the faith, since Peter was the sole universal pastor, being superior to all as the head to the members because of the office of the papacy, even as regards the defense of the faith.

To this, it is said that, regarding the defense of the faith, Paul was equal to Peter executively. Wherefore also in the text of St. Thomas, it is said in some way: as if to say, that not simply in the defense of the faith, but in some way in this was he equal. But this parity signifies the universal care in both, of defending the faith had from the Lord Jesus Christ. The supreme authority is consistent with this equality, because the office is in Peter alone of defending the faith. Just as if the Pope were to commit episcopal authority in some diocese to an archpriest, the archpriest would be equal to a bishop on account of the delegated power for executing [duties], but not from an office.

II. In the same response to the second objection, note that, since the apostolic teaching is proposed to the Church not by word alone, but by deed; from the deed of Paul, we are taught that, where there is danger to the faith (not lifeless faith but living faith) in some church—and there is hope of assisting in this danger not through secret admonition, but only through this—the prelates should be charged publicly by the subjects, as the prelates err publicly. Indeed, the deed of Peter was not so great that it would have the nature even of active scandal; as the Author says below in the question on scandal.[1] And danger to charity is danger to life: because faith without works is dead.[2] And again, the Church’s whole study is to bring forth, nourish, and protect[3] living faith: and the part which remains is to be bound into bundles to burn.[4] For this reason, Paul, charging Peter because of the danger to the salvation of those believing, and not suffering so small a sin (yet scandalous still), taught others how bold they ought to show themselves in accusing the sins (yet with words) of their prelates who are scandalizing the Church and drawing others to damnation by their example. And to this are held princes both of the Church and of the world, when the Pope scandalizes the Church and, reverently reminded of his office, comes not to his senses. For and in fact, it is probable that he will respect princes who accuse in public, although he scorns the good of the subjects; and if he does not become good, he will at least not scandalize others. For those who are able to provide help are much more obliged to this than to destroying those who are led to corporeal death. For they ought to set up a wall for the house of Israel.[5] He who shall see his brother in need, and shall shut up his bowels from him: how doth the charity of God abide in him?[6]

[1] ST IIaIIæ, q. 43, a. 6, ad 2.

[2] James 2:26.

[3] Cf. Augustine, De Trinitate, lib. XIV, cap. 1.

[4] Matthew 13:30.

[5] Ezechiel 13:5.

[6] 1 John 3:17.