This is the final installment of a multi-part book review on Ralph Martin’s new book “Will Many Be Saved?: What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization” by guest submitter Dominick Anthony Zarcone.
In “WILL MANY BE SAVED?” Ralph Martin succeeded in exposing the ‘atmosphere of universalism’ which permeates the Church and undermines her motivation to evangelize. Dr. Martin has examined LUMEN GENTIUM 16 which, because of bad interpretation, speculative theologies and misguided pastoral strategy, has added to the confusion regarding the Church’s primary mission. His book demonstrates that when LG 16 is not read in light of the text’s history of development, doctrinal tradition and scriptural foundations, the courageous and loving action, to which Vatican II calls the Church, will go undone.
What, one may ask, does this have to do with you and me? I have no influence on the Hierarchy. I can’t motivate Church leaders to be faithful to Christ and his great commission. Ralph Martin is a Consultor to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. Moreover, he went to Rome in October 2012 during the opening of the YEAR OF FAITH and the SYNOD on THE NEW EVANGELIZATION. So he might influence a number of bishops and perhaps his book will become required reading in some graduate school or other.
But what does his book have to do with you and me, the ordinary Catholic?
We say our prayers, read our spiritual books, go to confession and mass. Sure, we know about the doctrinal confusion, the liturgical abuses and the weak, even derelict, episcopal leadership which plague the Church. But how do Martin’s research, analysis and conclusions help me help the Catholic Church?
By helping each of us personally and by helping each of us help others. “WILL MANY BE SAVED?” reminds you and me that we are each called to ongoing conversion and growth in holiness. Salvation depends upon on our response. We read in LUMEN GENTIUM 14:
“He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity… All the Church’s children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged.”
For those of us who worry whether or not the Hierarchy will be faithful, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta encourages us by saying, “DO NOT WAIT FOR LEADERS: DO IT ALONE, PERSON TO PERSON.”
“WILL MANY BE SAVED?” has reminded us and perhaps has made us more aware than ever before that hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ makes an eternal difference in people’s lives.
Martin’s conclusions are sound doctrinally; preaching the Gospel and proclaiming salvation is a matter of life and death, eternal life or damnation; because “.. often men, deceived by the Evil One have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair.” (LG 16)
But, I am not an evangelist; am I?
If I have acknowledged sin in my life and recognized my helpless and lost condition without the grace of the Savior, I can help another person. If in the sacrament, I confess my sins trusting the Savior Jesus for forgiveness and the hope of eternal life, I Can Help Another Person. If at Holy Mass, I listen to the Word of the Lord in Sacred Scripture and the Eucharistic Prayer and I respond prayerfully in word or song, giving thanks to God the Father Almighty through Jesus Christ, eating his body and drinking his blood, I CAN HELP ANOTHER PERSON.
The most beautiful help anyone can give another is to bring Jesus to him and to bring him to Jesus. This help can be offered in many material ways, all of which are significant. But the help, the service, the mission for which the Church and all of her members exist is the announcement of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. (EN 15; cf. 1 Cor.2:1-5)
For those of us who still are uncomfortable with this rather new and unfamiliar spiritual work, please, let us reconsider what one reads in the NEW TESTAMENT, or in any of the many official documents of the Catholic Church. For example:
“To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer.” (CCC 904, Saint Thomas Aquinas)
“…the true apostle is on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers….or to the faithful.” (CCC 905, cf. AA 6.3 &AG 15)
“Evangelization will always contain a clear proclamation that, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all men, as a gift of God’s grace and mercy.” (Pope Paul VI in EN 27)
“I sense the moment has come to commit all of the Church’s energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church, can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples.” (Pope John Paul II in RM 3)
Because this is a matter of life and death, we pray.
We pray for the salvation of souls, for the conversion of sinners, for growth in holiness. We pray for ourselves, for our family and friends, for the whole world and even for our enemies. We pray that God would open an effectual door to share, explain, teach or just announce. And we invite.
We invite to Church, to Bible study, to Catechism class, to the special event or to our homes for dinner. And we pray, Come, Holy Spirit, come!
Dominick Anthony Zarcone
And we study and exhort others with the exhortations with which we have been exhorted: Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Exhortation Evangelization InThe Modern World:
The respectful presentation of Christ and His kingdom is more than the evangelizer’s right; it is his duty. It is likewise the right of his fellow men to receive from him the proclamation of the Good News of salvation. God can accomplish this salvation in whomsoever He wishes by ways which He alone knows. And yet, if His Son came, it was precisely in order to reveal to us, by His word and by His life, the ordinary paths of salvation. And He has commanded us to transmit this revelation to others with His own authority. It would be useful if every Christian and every evangelizer were to pray about the following thought: men can gain salvation also in other ways, by God’s mercy, even though we do not preach the Gospel to them; but as for us, can we gain salvation if through negligence or fear or shame- what St. Paul called “blushing for the Gospel”- or as a result of false ideas we fail to preach it? (EN 80)
Beloved Brothers and sisters, it has been a joy to review for you Ralph Martin’s “WILL MANY BE SAVED?” Together, with the help of God, we remember, reiterate and act upon these most memorable words: BE NOT AFRAID. OPEN THE DOORS TO CHRIST and PROCLAIM HIS HOLY NAME!