NECESSITY OF INTERNAL INTENTION FOR VALIDITY OF SACRAMENTS
BY BISHOP LOUIS VEZELIS, O.F.M. D.D.
Like bogus (counterfeit) money, bogus Sacraments have no value other than to deceive the unwary into accepting them. Subjective good will is insufficient to change the objective reality. As a principle, it is easy to make the statement. It is in the application of the principle to specific cases where difficulties arise. Nothing is more conducive to charlatanism than the so-called "gray area". But, then, the upright must not be arbitrarily condemned as charlatans because of legitimate doubts. The Apostles and their faithful flocks: priests and laity carefully observed and did what Christ taught them to do. All teaching is for the purpose of doing, whether the activity be physical or spiritual.
Therefore, Jesus laid down the procedure whereby certain words and actions (Sacraments) produced grace. Those reject the Sacraments who reject the divinity of Jesus Christ, Author of grace. The Apostles were careful to perform these actions with the accompanying words. Thus, what Scholastic theologians later termed "matter" and "form" existed from the very beginning. In fact, if these two elements did not exist there could be no Sacrament. The third element was assumed to be present to the point that not much attention was given to it. This third essential element is INTENTION.
Like breathing, the intention to accomplish what Christ had instituted was too obvious to even be questioned. Whenever love cools, technicalities take on great importance. Proportionately, when good will (which is the same as love) laxes, regulation taxes. Laws are made to correct or curb abuses. The reception of a falsified Sacrament does not result in the reception of sacramental grace or any other effect of the Sacrament. The question of intention, therefore, is of vital importance when dealing with the validity and fruitfulness of the Sacraments. In this brief study of the necessity of internal intention for the validity of a Sacrament, nothing will be said of the matter and form. These two other essential elements for the validity of the Sacraments have been modified in the Modernist Church so as to render most of the Sacraments invalid regardless of the intention of the minister of the Sacrament.
On this point it may be worthwhile to remind the reader that Pope Pius XII issued a doctrinal statement when he promulgated the Apostolic Constitution of 1947 Sacramentum ordinis wherein were clearly and definitively stated the words essential for valid ordination to priesthood and consecration to the episcopacy. Paul VI changed the words which Pope Pius XII declared essential. In this way, anyone ordained or consecrated following the mutilated form imposed by Paul VI is not a valid priest or a valid bishop.
THE DOCTRINE CONCERNING INTENTION
Heresy generally shows itself externally as a controversy. When the controversy reaches a point where the legitimate authority is spurned in settling a matter, the next step is obstinacy which then sets itself up as the authority. A false authority will invariably teach false doctrine because it does not have the grace of the Holy Ghost to guide it. The earliest question of the validity of a consecration was that of the case of Novatian, the anti-pope. Novatian was the first to write a theological treatise in Latin. He was a Roman theologian. Besides this, he had tremendous administrative ability that won him not a little renown. That Novatian was not an insignificant clergyman may be adduced from the fact that he, as a priest, had charge of Rome after Pope Fabian was martyred (A.D. 250). Novatian had charge of the whole church during the vacancy of the see. He wrote many letters in the name of the Church to churches throughout the world. Only three of these letters survive. Novatian was bitterly attacked by his adversaries.
Unfortunately, most of the information we have about him was written by his enemies. It stands to reason that such reports would be colored with passion and prejudice. One polemic against Novatian does state the following: "that as long as Novatian was in the Church of Christ, he wept over the sins of his neighbors as if they were his own, bore the burdens of his brethren, as the Apostle exhorts, and strengthened with his exhortations those who were weak in divine faith." Novatian was not a heretic. He became a schismatic because he vigorously opposed Cornelius who, in the eyes of Novatian and many Roman theologians was too lax in regard to those who had sacrificed to idols during the Decian persecution. Novatian was a rigorist and did not favor the reconciliation of the lapsed pope Cornelius (25 1- 253) claims that Novatian enticed three ignorant provincial bishops to Rome, got them drunk with wine, and then forced them to give him episcopal consecration (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. VI,43).
Cornelius called this consecration "a shadowy and empty imposition of hands". He also claimed that Novatian obtained the episcopacy "by fraud and treachery". In the seventeenth century, Henri de Valois (d.1676) makes the following note in Eusebius' passage:"Cornelius calls this an imperfect and empty ordination, because it was solemnized by bishops of another diocese, and not by the bishops of Ostia, Tibur, and others who had the right and power of ordaining the bishops of Rome; it was also ineffectual and vain, because it was done by men who were drunk, and by force, at the tenth hour of the day, none of the clergy or people being present; and, lastly, because another bishop was already ordained."
Keeping in mind that the Bishop of Rome equates Vicar of Jesus Christ, it follows that anyone consecrated as bishop of Rome is by that fact elected to the Papacy. This is probably the ground for the argument of Cornelius regarding the right and power of certain bishops to consecrate the bishop of Rome, and hence in effect making a Pope.
The next case deals with the administration of a sacrament in jest. It is said that Athanasius, while at play, baptized his playmates. Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria, saw this through his window. After it was over, he called the boys and questioned them. The bishop decided that there had been a valid baptism.
Another matter was that of St. Genesius who, apparently, while an actor on the stage mimicked the Christian rites and pretending conversion requested his fellow actors to baptize him. Subsequently, Genesius suffers martyrdom as a Christian. Was he validly baptized? Even this example does not lack for imprecision. It is not clear whether the actor, Genesius, was truly converted or whether the "sudden conversion" was part of the mimicking.
According to this legend which appears to have various aspects, it seems that St. Augustine used it in his book on Baptism against the Donatists. Most people are familiar with the hypothetical cases that are so easily conceived, but seldom - if ever - are born. It is not permitted, according to the rules of logic, to pass from possibility to actual fact in argumentation. For, what is gratuitously assumed may be equally gratuitously denied. No conclusions can follow from mere assumption.
ST. AUGUSTINE'S VIEW OF INTENTION
He compares the case of Genesius, who allegedly received Baptism in a spirit of mimicry with the reception of Baptism deceitfully in the Church. He understands by "deceit" the outward manifestation of a belief which is not held interiorly, or a profession of a resolve to lead a Christian life belied by the real desire merely to obtain some material advantage. In our day, one might cite examples of false "traditionalist" clergy whose only tradition is the opportunity to enrich themselves by pretending tradition so as to easily enter the service of unwary and misguided laity. Their "tradition" is superficial mimicry.
When St. Augustine speaks of evil ministers, he refers to them as "false", "deceitful" and insincere". But, it should be carefully noted that these terms do not necessarily mean a pretended intention which was not really there in the administration of the Sacraments. These words apply to lack of intention in mimic baptism on the stage. Even in such cases, it is conceivable that a play would have a scene wherein someone is baptized. Thus, a mimicked baptism need not be malicious either.
The entire text of St. Augustine follows:
"The question is also commonly raised whether Baptism is to be approved [a vague word, not distinguishing between validity and fruitfulness] if received from one who had not himself received it, if, from some promptings of curiosity, he had chanced to learn how it ought to be given; and whether it makes any difference in what spirit the recipient receives it, whether in pretense or without pretense [simulatio]: if in pretense, whether in deceit, as in the Church, or in what is thought to be the Church; or, in jest, as in a play: and which is the more wicked, to receive it deceitfully [fallaciter] in the Church, or in heresy or schism without falseness, that is, with a sincere heart: and whether it be worse to receive it deceitfully in heresy, or in a play with faith, if one were to be moved by a sudden conviction in the midst of his acting. And yet, if we compare even such a one with him who receives it deceitfully in the Catholic Church itself, I should be surprised at any doubt about which of the two should be preferred: for I do not see what avail can be the intention [animus] of him who gives in truth to him who receives in falseness.
"But let us consider, in the case even of the minister acting deceitfully in Catholic unity itself, whether such should be rather received as Baptism, or that which is given in a play, if one were suddenly convinced and received it in faith: or, whether it be not true that as regards the men themselves, there is very great difference between a believing recipient in a play and a mocking recipient in the Church; but, as regards the genuineness (integritatem) of the sacrament there is no difference. For if it makes no difference to the genuineness of the sacrament in the Catholic Church, whether some act deceitfully or sincerely, so long as both do the same thing, then why it should make a difference outside, I do not see, provided the recipient is not cloaked by pretense, but changed by religious conviction.
"Has the sincerity of people dealing with the sacraments more power over them to make them valid, than deceitfulness, whether in minister or recipient, to make them vain? And, yet, if the deceitfulness is afterwards revealed, no one seeks a repetition of the sacrament, but the pretense is either punished with excommunication or set right by Penance. (I.e. neither the goodness nor badness of the persons concerned affects the validity.) But the safe course for us, is not to advance with any rash judgment in setting forth a view which has neither been raised in any provincial Council of the Catholic Church nor decided in a general one; but to have complete confidence only in asserting things which have been clearly established by the consent of the universal Church, under the direction of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ.
"Nevertheless, if any were to press me supposing I were duly seated in a Council where a question were raised on points like these - to declare my own opinion, without having heard the views of others whose judgment I would rather follow: then; if I felt as I do now while I write this, I should not hesitate to say that everyone possesses Baptism, wherever he received it and from whatever sort of men, provided that it were consecrated by the words of the gospel, and received without pretense and with some degree of faith; although it would be of no profit to them for the salvation of their souls if they were without charity, which grafts them into the Catholic Church. 'For although I have faith', says the Apostle, 'so that I could remove mountains, but have not charity, I am nothing.' (1 Cor. 13, 2) Just as already, from the decrees of our predecessors, I have no hesitation in saying that all those have Baptism who, though they receive it deceitfully, yet receive it in the Church, or where the Church is thought to be by those in whose society it is received, of whom it is said, 'They went out from us', (I John 2: 19). But if there was no society of those who so believed, and if the man who received it did not himself hold such belief, but the whole thing was done as a farce, or a comedy, or a jest. If were asked whether the baptism which was thus conferred should be approved, I should declare my opinion that we ought to pray for the declaration of God's judgment through the medium of some revelation, seeking it with united prayer and earnest groaning of suppliant devotion, humbly deferring all the time to the decision of those who were to give their judgment after me, in case they should set forth anything as already examined and settled. And, therefore, how much the more must I be considered to have given my opinion now without prejudice to the utterance of more diligent research or authority higher than my own." (De Bapt. contra Donat.7, 53, .101.P.L.43, 242-43)
The great impetus in the study of the sacraments took place in the 12th century. It was at this time that theologians gave their attention to the question of the minister's mind and intention. Hugh of St. Victor (d.1141) indicated that even in cases where there is some levity accompanying the administration of the sacrament, the reality of the sacrament need not be destroyed. He writes:
"Question is also raised about those who are baptized in mimicry, that is, jocosely, whether they receive the true and full sacrament of Baptism. It must be understood that it is one thing to give or receive something in jest or derision and still wish to give or receive and to intend this in every way, namely, that the thing jokingly given or received be really given and received. It is another thing to do something which has the outward appearance of this, and yet not to wish to do this and not to intend that this is the intention of baptizing, even if due reverence does not exist in the performance, there is in truth the sacrament, since the action is done fully and this is intended, in spite of the fact that the agent must be blameworthy because he does not worthily do what is done and intended.
"But it is quite absurd that where there is no intention of doing a thing, the thing should be said to exist merely on account of the appearance of it, an appearance which is not deliberately chosen for the purpose of the thing, but arises from some other circumstance. Thus certain ignorant people think that the words which were instituted to consecrate the Eucharist, if said over bread and wine, by anyone; anywhere, and for whatsoever purpose, have the effect of consecration and sanctification: as if the sacraments of God were so instituted that they allow no reasonable use by the minister, but by some kind of violent, irrational and pertinacious force arrive at their effect without any intention or will on the part of those who use them. I brought my child to the bath.
I came to the water not to baptize, but to bathe; not to give a sacrament, but to wash away dirt and to help health. I put my child into the water, but because I wanted him to grow up well and be a useful man, I happened to say, as I might say in eating or drinking, in ploughing or sowing, I said: 'In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: You come and say to me that my child is baptized. I admit he has been bathed, I deny he has been baptized. But if you imagine he has been baptized because when I bathed him I said: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, then the bit of bread has also been baptized because when I dipped it I said: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. See, then, and realize that the work of God's ministries ought to be reasonable, and one ought not to forejudge merely by appearances where there is no intention." (De Sacramentis, lib.2, p.2,13, P.L. 176,458 sq)
With reference to the legend of St. Genesius, Peter Lombard states that "it does not appear to the wise that there is a true Baptism where there is no intention of baptizing".As regards the Holy Eucharist, the SENTENTIAE DIVINITATIS of that period is even stronger:
"Three things are needful that this change should come about: Order, action, intention. Order, that there should be a priest; action, that those words should be said; intention, that he should utter them with the intention that the bread and wine should be changed into the true flesh and blood. For if he utters them to instruct a deacon how to consecrate, no change is produced."It is possible that the first time the use of the expression "an intention of doing what the Church does" is found in Prevostin (d.1210).
William of Auxerre (d.1231) says: "If a minister uses the right form of words and has the intention of doing what the Church does, taking the expression in a broad way, for instance, if he intends to do what the Church is accustomed to do, it would be a Baptism." Alexander of Hales and St. Bonaventure also maintain that an internal intention is necessary.
St. Albert the Great (d. 1280) says:"An intention on the part of the minister is required for Baptism; but not an intention of consecrating anything, but only of doing what the Church does, and this is expressed by the word of Baptism, in saying, 'I baptize thee ....’ Hence, if this word is pronounced, with the intention of doing what the Church does, over one not baptized and not objecting then or afterwards, it is true Baptism; and in such circumstances the whole thing is not mimicry, because the intention expressed in the word of the first person was not mimicry. But if it was mimicry, and the subject object.~, then he obtains nothing."The obvious objection would be that there is a great danger of incertitude about the reality of the sacrament in view of the fact that we do not know what may be the internal intention of the priest.
St. Albert answers that the danger is not great: "because a general intention is expressed in the words of baptizing; and that intention is enough for the intention of the Church, namely, to do what the Church does; even though he does not believe it is good for anything; but such an intention suffices, as said."St. Thomas follows St. Albert. He demands an intention and proves it as follows:
"When a thing is indifferent to many uses, it must needs be determined to one, if that one has to be effected. Now those things which are done in the sacraments can be done with various intent; for instance, washing with water, which is done in Baptism, may be ordained to bodily cleanliness, to the health of the body, to amusement, and many other similar things. Consequently, it needs to be determined to one purpose, i.e. the sacramental effect, by the intention of him who washes. And this intention is expressed by the words which are pronounced in the sacraments, for instance the words I baptize thee in the name of the Father, etc ..."
It is significant that even though there may be minor differences concerning the explanation and degree of internal intention required, all agree that it is necessary for the validity of a Sacrament. Even St. Thomas who holds that using the words of the formula itself and meaning them is sufficient without any other intention, gives a warning: "and nothing else be said expressing the contrary". This means that there is no indication either at the moment of the administration of the Sacrament or at any other time that the private mind of the minister was contrary to his express actions and words. Should there be any indication that the minister did not actually mean the words he had spoken, then St. Thomas would hold that the intention was defective and there was no valid Sacrament. An interesting question is posed and the answer given by St. Thomas is quite instructive:
"If a demon appeared in the form of man and administered baptism, would that baptism be valid? St. Thomas answered:"I answer that the devil, if he appeared as a man, could perform the ceremonies of Baptism, but not confer the sacrament and this for two reasons. First, because the dispensation of the sacraments has been entrusted only to men, who share human nature with the Word Incarnate, from whom, in the nature he assumed, the sacraments are derived... Secondly, if the devil pretended to baptize, there would al ways be the fear that he did not do so with the intention of baptizing, which is needful for the sacrament, but with the intention of deceiving; because it is unlikely that he would secure so great a good for a man as is spiritual rebirth." (D.5, q.2, a.3, sol.1)
The necessity for a genuine intention cannot be made clearer: without it, the words themselves can be used for malicious deception. Pope Leo X condemned the following proposition of Luther:"If by impossibility the penitent were not contrite, or the priest did not seriously, but only in jest, absolve him, if nevertheless he believes himself absolved, he is most truly absolved". (Denz.752).This logically flows from the 'sola fides' position of Luther. It all comes down to what the recipient believes: "All which we believe that we receive, that we do actually receive, regardless of what the minister does or does not do, even though he act through dissimulation or in open mockery." (De Captivitate Babylonica). It might be noted that such errors as proposed by Luther are repeated among many traditionalist Catholics. A variation of this error is contained in the false application of the statement "the Church supplies what is lacking."
NECESSITY OF INTERNAL INTENTION OF DOING WHAT THE CHURCH DOES
As has already been pointed out, it is not only the intention that is essential for the validity of the Sacrament, but this intention must be internal. This means that the external observance of the rites does not make the Sacrament valid - as some would continue to believe today despite the declarations of the Church, for example the pronouncement of the Holy Office in 1690 condemning the statement: "Baptism is valid, even if conferred by a minister who observes the full rite and external form of baptizing, but in his heart makes the resolve: I do not intend to do what the Church does". (Denz.1318)
Concerning Holy Orders: The Sacred Congregation of the Council gave a decision in the following cases (January 23, 1586): A bishop, before the Ordination ceremony, declared that he had no intention of ordaining my candidates who were under age, and that if any such received the imposition of hands, it would be an empty ceremony. The answer was that those under age were not ordained. In another case, that of Bishop Anthony Gonzalez de Acuna, Bishop of Charcas in South America, this bishop declared with an oath before an ordination ceremony that he intended not to confer orders on any candidate of mixed blood. Several such presented themselves and received the rite at his hands.
The case was referred to Rome and on February 13, 1682, the Sacred Congregation of the Council gravely rebuked the Bishop for his conduct. Nevertheless, this Sacred Congregation pronounced that the Orders were invalid in the case of those of mixed blood, and that all priestly acts performed by them were invalid.
Pope Leo XIII also deduced the invalidity of Anglican Orders both from defect of form and from defect of intention. There are those who conveniently pass over in silence this second ground for the invalidity of Anglican Orders.
The Pope stated: "With this intrinsic defect of form, therefore, is combined a defect of intention, equally necessary for the existence of a sacrament."Again, the reader may have heard the argument that claims to be Church doctrine based on this partial statement of Pope Leo XIII:"Concerning the mind or intention in itself, which is something internal, the Church does not pass judgment; but she is bound to judge of it in so far as it is externally manifested. Now, if a person has seriously and duly used the proper matter and form for performing or administering a sacrament, he is by that very fact presumed to have intended to do what the Church does."
If this were all that Pope Leo XIII had said on the matter, it would be evident that he is guilty of self-contradiction. He had just finished saying a few lines earlier that "with this defect of form is combined a defect of intention. In the case of the Anglicans, their denial of the sacrificing priesthood is expressed in the new rite which they instituted. This new rite manifested a different intention than that of the Church. Consequently, not only the form but the intention were defective.The same is true of the new rites in the Apostate Conciliar Church as imposed by the false pope, Paul VI in 1968. The ordinations of priests and consecration of bishops is invalid due to defect of form and defect of intention. Of equal importance to every serious Catholic is the question of validity of the recently deceased archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre and all those whom he had ordained and consecrated.
Based on the sound doctrine and practice of the Church, sufficient evidence which no reasonable person can deny shows that the Bishop who ordained and consecrated Marcel Lefebvre was a member of the Luciferian sect of Freemasons. This same individual, as a Cardinal, was one of the foremost leaders in promoting the undermining of the Catholic Church during and after Vatican II.If, as St. Thomas points out, Satan himself could not confect valid Sacraments because of lack of sufficient intention, is it not fair to conclude that nor can his dedicated followers? Only valid Sacraments give sacramental grace provided the recipient places no obstacle in the way. Invalid Sacraments are standard in the Conciliar Church which poses with brazen audacity as the "Roman Catholic Church". It is possible to turn ones back upon the truth and those who speak the truth. But, it is impossible to turn one's back on the God of truth Who will deal with each one on the Day of Judgment. Meanwhile, all that can be said is this: Those who have ears let them hear!