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The Ignorant Will Perish in His Ignorance

St Vincent de Paul speaks of the need for Catholics to be well informed on current questions involving the Church so they will not be fooled by the enemy. It is a principle of Catholic vigilance that certainly applies in a special way to our days, when Holy Mother Church is passing through a crisis that some have qualified as the gravest in her History.

St. Vincent de Paul

This is from an outline of a study on grace, drawn up by St. Vincent de Paul in response to a Jansenist question on grace (1).

1. It is very advisable to be well instructed regarding the debate that is presently going on in the Church on the subject of grace.

Why should we instruct ourselves on this topic? The reasons we should do so are the following:

A. We are in danger of being fooled when new opinions are presented and of following the error instead of the truth. In this sense, the Holy Spirit said that the ignorant will be ignored and will perish in his ignorance. This was what happened with many who fell into error because they did not carefully study from the beginning the opinions of Luther and Calvin.

B. What is at stake in this matter is our salvation, which demands that we should believe everything that the Church teaches. In a certain sense, those who do not want to be instructed on things regarding their salvation will find themselves on the road of eternal perdition.

C. In case there are different opinions among those inside the Church, it is prudent to be well instructed and very dangerous to act in any other way.

(J. Herrera and V. Pardo, San Vicente de Paul - Biografia y Selección de Escritos,
Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 1950, p. 821)
1. Jansenism was a heresy that denied the role of free will in the acceptance and use of grace. It sustained that God's role in the infusion of grace is such that it cannot be resisted and does not require human assent. The Catholic teaching is that God's free initiative demands man's free response, that is, the gift of grace can be resisted and requires human assent.
Posted November 8, 2008
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