This has been bothering me lately.
Clearly the Council of Trent teaches that the desire for Baptism can be/is sufficient for salvation:
Canon 4. If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary for salvation but are superfluous, and that without them or without the desire of them men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification, though all are not necessary for each one, let him be anathema.
[Emphasis added] [Taken from the Council of Trent translation found at EWTN’s website, http://www.ewtn.com/library/councils/trent7.htm#3]
But then why this canon later (in a different section of canons):
Canon 5. If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema.
[also from EWTN, see link above]
It may be said that the above meaning of the word “baptism” should be interpreted to also mean “the grace of Baptism” and “baptism of desire/blood” but very close by to this canon we see canon 2, where the Council is using the word “baptism” to mean baptism by water exclusively:
Canon 2. If anyone says that true and natural water is not necessary for baptism . . . let him be anathema.
[also from EWTN, see link above]
Likewise, the Catechism says:
1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.
[taken from http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a1.htm]
Which seems to imply that the desire for Baptism is not itself Baptism, but only brings about the fruits of Baptism.
So, if Trent, in Canon 5 above, means by “Baptism” only Baptism with water, and not Baptism by desire/blood, which meaning seems to be implied by both Canon 2 and the Catechism,
and if Trent, in Canon 4 above (a canon from a different section), means to say that Baptism (with water) is not necessary for salvation, that it is optional, and that the desire for Baptism is sufficient for salvation,
then it appears that there is a contradiction in the teachings of Trent.
Of course, there cannot be such a contradiction, and with the right interpretation these teachings can be harmonized, but I would be happy if someone could explain the interpretation that reconciles these teachings, while at the same time dealing with what Canon 2 and the Catechism imply about the meaning of Trent’s use of the word “baptism” in Canon 5. (Essentially, I want to see if someone can explain an interpretation of this to me that harmonizes the teachings, without being too much of an interpretative “stretch”; it is the interpretative stretch that I personally use to harmonize these teachings that bothers me.)
Please note: This is not a thread to discuss whether or not the Baptism of Desire is legitimate; the Catechism has already answered this for me.
(Although I use them somewhat interchangeably, I understand that the baptism of desire is not identical to the baptism of blood, but baptism of blood seems to be just a subset of baptism of desire, because its effect appears to come from the desire for Christ/God (and, though ignorant of this at the time, the baptism that will lead to Christ) that is heavily implied in the act of dying for Christ that leads to that person’s baptism of blood.)