Did Christ Establish a Church with an Expiration Date?

LAST supper

There is a popular and recurrent theme amongst many non-Catholic Christians that the promises given to Peter and Christ’s gift to him of the keys (to bind and loose), is not indicative of an office per se but a one time gift to Peter and that when Peter died so did the keys vanish with him. Likewise, using the same logic, the powers given to the Apostles after Christ breathed on them and gave them the power to forgive sins was also buried with them at their deaths. Thereby, any Christian Church is no better than any other as nobody has a special gift of the Holy Spirit to lead them to all truths. It died when the apostles died and its a great way to avoid any notion of there being any reliable and lasting authority in the practice and teaching of Christianity no matter the claims.

I like to be logical about these things so here is what bothers me about such notions.

If that is the case then all churches have become corrupted in their belief, teachings and their practices; as fallen creatures, men have a habit of doing that. There is thereby no inerrant authority to pronounce on a doctrine and there is no authority to stop the next generation from altering or actually opposing what was taught previously. There is neither a way to evaluate one church against another nor the changes that are on-going that may and do overturn previous teaching. It is simply ‘growth’ and ‘development’ due to the times and each church has a right to do as it sees fit. Even if people sit up and claim that they are not syncretists or believers in relativism it is all that is left unless an authority is still alive and working in this world.

If we believe that Christ sent us the Holy Spirit to dwell in the Church and to lead it to all Truth then Christ let us down or the Holy Spirit decided to lead a large variety of separate beliefs even though they hold contrary doctrines and teachings. That would make the Holy Spirit capable of blessing the notion that 2+2=4 in one church and 2+2=5 in another church or any other novel answer that a church might come up with. Now that kind of authority is not authority at all but permissiveness which claims that error is on a par with truth. And I doubt that is what Christ had in mind when He said that He would not leave us as orphans; can it really mean that he’ll support whatever anybody wants to believe in their own version of Christianity?

Sadly, if these gifts died with the Apostles, then the Nicene Creed and the Canon of Scripture were simply unauthorized man-made decisions that have no actual authority to compel one to believe them. And if we do somehow believe these for some personal reason, there is no authoritative reason that each of us should understand and interpret their meaning in the same way. A free for all ensues religiously and we are really no better off than the personal preferences that the pagans had for the gods of their choice. We are free to do as we like and nobody is right and nobody is wrong. Its only defensible in as good as are the apologists of each particular church or individual if they think that a personal belief, without a church, is all that is needed. In fact, if the church has no authority, then these people without a church are the most honest of all Christians.

Furthermore, is there then an expiration date on the necessity of Baptism, or of Belief and is it enough to say that God is Love and Mercy and that nobody will suffer loss and that all will find heavenly beatitude? For we can refer to Scripture and interpret our new form of Christianity based upon our personal preferences. For me; I think I very much like the idea that we all go to heaven and nobody will suffer. But others are free to make up their own minds and who is to say that they are wrong. Certainly not an authority that had a very short expiration date which died with the apostles. So, Who am I to judge?

It is very alluring to think that because we hold certain truths in common that the churches are basically the same. And without a clear authority that is the only conclusion one could rationally come up with if we are to believe that Christianity is not a hoax even though Christ did renege on His promises to the apostles and to the Church He founded.

So I chose the Catholic Church and think that it is still the Church that continues to have the authority that was vested in Peter and the apostles. For if it no longer exists then Christianity in my mind no longer is believable and is totally devoid of any veracity that it may once have had. In fact it is proven logically to have been a sham.

Thank God, however, the dogmas and teachings of the Catholic faith are never overturned and continue to operate from their inclusion into our body of faith, until the end of time as we know it. We do not one day wake up and decide that contraception is now OK, or that same sex marriage is now acceptable. We argue these issues and there are some who would love to change our teachings; but alas, they can’t. It is the protection of the authoritative nature that I would have expected the Church founded by Christ to have built into Her very DNA. And that is why I am Catholic. For without this assurance I am not sure that I would believe anything at all.

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Father John A. Hardon, S.J. Archives: Catechism & Catechesis

The following is from the easily followed book by Father John A. Hardon, S.J.  I would like to present a few of the articles that have been troubling a number of folks recently concerning, grace, love, the moral law, the Old Law and the New Law etc. Depending on the response I shall reproduce a few of these to see if we can open a dialogue concerning these principles. The entire section I am working from Part Three: The Life in Christ, can be found here.

Article 1: The Moral Law

The moral law is the work of divine wisdom. It is at once a paternal instruction and a divine pedagogy. It prescribes for man the ways and rules of conduct that lead to the promised beatitude.

(1950)

843. What is law?

Law is a rule of conduct decreed by the competent authority in view of the common good.

(1951)

844. What does the moral law presuppose?

It presupposes the rational order established among creatures for their good and in view of their destiny by the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Creator.

(1951)

845. Where does all law find its truth?

All law finds its first and last truth in the eternal law.

(1951)

846. What are the expressions of the moral law?

They are varied and yet all interrelated. Thus, there are:

  • the eternal law, the source in God of all laws;
  • the natural law;
  • the revealed law, which includes the Old Law and the New Law of the Gospel;
  • the civil and ecclesiastical laws.

(1952)

847. Where does the moral law find its fullness and unity?

In the person of Jesus Christ. He is at once the end or purpose of the law and the way of perfection. He alone teaches and confers the justice of God.

(1953)

848. What is the natural law?

It is the law written in the soul of all men because our human reason orders us to do good and forbids sin. Its binding power comes from a higher Reason, which we are to obey.

(1954)

849. Where do we find the principle commandments of the natural law?

We find them in the Decalogue, or the Ten Commandments, given to Moses and elevated by Christ in His Sermon on the Mount.

(1955)

850. What are some notable features of the natural law?

The natural law is universal; its authority extends to all human beings. Its applications vary, but its basic principles unify the whole human race. It is unchangeable over the centuries of history, and even when denied or rejected, its basic principles cannot be destroyed.

(1956-1958)

851. What are the benefits of the natural law?

The natural law provides a solid foundation for guiding the human community in moral living. It gives the necessary grounds for civil laws and wise judicial decisions.

(1959)

852. Are the precepts of the natural law perceived clearly and immediately by everyone?

No, because of the darkening of man’s intellect by sin. That is why God provided revelation and grace, so that the basic truths of religion and morality would “be known by everyone, with facility, with firm certitude, and with no admixture of error” (First Vatican Council, Dei Filius, 2).

(1960)

853. What is the first stage of the revealed law?

It is the Old Law summed up in the Ten Commandments, given to Moses on Mount Sinai.

(1961-1962)

854. How is the Old Law imperfect?

It is imperfect because already before the coming of Christ it had to be completed by the prophetic and wisdom revelation of the Old Testament. But it is mainly imperfect because it had to be fulfilled by the teaching and life of Jesus Christ.

(1963)

855. How is the Law of Moses a preparation for the Gospel?

It foretells the work of redemption of the Savior, and provides the New Testament with images, types, and symbols for expressing the life of the Spirit.

(1964)

856. What is the New Law of the Gospel?

The New Law of the Gospel is the perfection here below of the natural and revealed divine law. Moreover:

  • It is the grace of the Holy Spirit given to believers by their faith in Christ.
  • It surpasses the Old Law, as seen in the Beatitudes, which direct God’s promises beyond this world to the kingdom of Heaven.
  • In the Sermon on the Mount, it does not add new external precepts but reforms our actions in the heart.
  • It directs our acts of religion to the Father, who sees in secret. Its prayer is the Our Father.
  • It is summed up in Christ’s teaching to do everything to others as we would have them do to us.
  • It is expressed in Christ’s new commandment that we should love one another as He has loved us.

(1965-1970)

857. How is Christ’s Sermon on the Mount amplified?

By the moral catechesis of the apostolic teaching, for example, the letters of St. Paul to the Romans, Corinthians, Colossians, and Ephesians. This catechesis shows that we are to treat cases of conscience in the light of our relation to Christ and the Church.

(1971)

858. Why is the New Law called the law of love, grace, and freedom?

  • It is called the law of love because it is animated by the love infused by the Holy Spirit, rather than by fear.
  • It is called the law of grace because it confers the supernatural power of grace to observe the New Law by means of faith and the sacraments.
  • It is called the law of freedom because it frees us from the ritual and juridical observances of the Old Law; it inclines us to act spontaneously under the impulse of charity; and it leads us from the state of servants to that of Christ’s friends.

(1972)

859. What are the evangelical counsels?

They are invitations extended by Christ to His followers not only to avoid sin, or whatever is incompatible with love, but to choose ways that are more direct and means that are more effective expressions of love. The counsels seek to remove whatever would impede the development of charity.

(1973-1974)

860. Are the followers of Christ to practice the counsels?

Yes, but according to each person’s grace from God and vocation in life. In the words of St. Francis de Sales, God wants us to observe “only those appropriate to the diversity of persons, times, opportunities, and strengths, as love requires” (Love, 8,6).

(1974)

A Review of Common Fallacies that Weaken Arguments. | Archdiocese of Washington

 

It occurs that our capacity to converse and to set forth arguments for the truth are often hindered today on account of many factors. One of those factors is a paradoxical relationship between a kind of skepticism and and exaggerated insistence on absolute proof that results. The fact is, absolute certitude in our human condition is rare, and to insist on it is usually unreasonable. This of course does not mean that firm certitude cannot be had in many matters as well as lesser degrees that remain a firm confidence as to the facts in a matter.

On Monday there was posted a reflection on the nature of thinking (Here)and argumentation and there was a promise of a follow-up. Herein is an attempt at that follow-through. First a quick review of Monday’s post:

We can distinguish two types of argumentation: Deductive and inductive.

via A Review of Common Fallacies that Weaken Arguments. | Archdiocese of Washington.

Barnhardt.biz – On The Immaculate Conception & Science

Posted by Ann Barnhardt – December 8, AD 2012 6:28 PM MST

This piece was very popular last year, and since there are a lot more eyes here than a year ago, it is worth a repost today, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Here’s your Christian catechesis for the weekend. First, who exactly is the Immaculate Conception? Most Catholics today are so incredibly ignorant and poorly catechized in their faith that a sickening number would say that Jesus is who the term Immaculate Conception is referring to. That would be wrong. Mary is the Immaculate Conception.

And here is where all of the non-Catholics begin to feel a distinct tightening in the solar plexus, a rush of blood to the face, a clenching of the jaw and a grinding of the teeth. Why? Because any mention of Mary other than as a human brood mare, and only around Christmastime – engenders RAGE amongst the Protesters. Why? Because, apparently, Mary draws people’s attention away from Jesus instead of pointing people TOWARD Him. Because, apparently, Jesus takes absolutely no delight in any of us, most especially His own mother, is insanely jealous of His own creation and thus hates His own mother, and demands that nobody EVER so much as LOOK at her, much less LOVE her, because Jesus is extremely insecure and just can’t handle people observing, loving and appreciating beauty in HIS OWN CREATION, even though everything in the universe was made by Him and through Him.

So every time a parent looks at their child in love, Jesus gets all mad. And every time a man looks at his wife in love, Jesus gets all mad. And every time a son looks at his mother in love, Jesus gets all mad. And every time a man looks at the mountains, or a sunset, or up at the stars in loving wonder and appreciation, Jesus gets all mad. And every time a person looks in loving appreciation at a beautiful painting, or building, or reads a beautiful bit of prose or poetry, or gazes upon a particularly elegant bit of mathematics or even computer programming code . . . JESUS GETS ALL MAD.

Do I have that about right, y’all? Snorf.

Anywho, back to the Immaculate Conception. This doctrine and non-negotiable tenet of Christianity teaches that Mary was, by the grace of God, prevented from carrying the stain of Original Sin from the moment of her conception. Mary was saved from sin by her Son, like all of the other faithful, it is just that the timing of her salvation was different from everyone else. This is why Mary calls God “my Savior” in her Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55. Instead of letting Mary fall in the mud puddle of sin like the rest of us, God stuck out His Arm back through time from the Cross and kept her from falling in the mud puddle – but if it wasn’t for God’s positive action of reaching out across time from the Cross and holding her from falling, she would have fallen. This is called “grace”, and is what the Angel Gabriel was referring to when he greeted Mary at the Annunciation with the words, “Hail! Full of grace! The LORD is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.” Luke 1:28

Full of grace means FULL. OF. GRACE.

How full is full? Full is totally full. To the brim. Full does not mean half-full or mostly-full. Full means full. Mary was FULL OF GRACE. And because Mary was FULL of grace, there was absolutely no room for sin. Mary didn’t sin because God her Savior had filled her with grace and therefore she just COULDN’T sin. Most of us reading this have a tiny taste of what this is like. For example, I^m guessing that everyone reading this, if handed a baby would be incapable of killing that baby. We just COULDN’T do it. No matter what threat was made against us, no matter what the adverse consequences to our own lives might be, we would take any adverse consequence before killing that baby. We are simply incapable of performing that act. Why? What is that internal force of energy that prevents us from committing acts of evil even when under intense duress and threat? It is grace. Pure and simple.

2012 editorial update: Apparently this example is somewhat iffy today, as almost every one of you would happily kill a baby with your tax dollars, as long as your tax dollars pay someone else to actually do the limb-ripping and decapitation of said baby behind closed doors. But I digress.

Sadly, most of us have a little grace, but are not in any way FULL of grace. I am personally much closer to being full of crap than of grace (which many of you have already pointed out to me, thank you very much), hence the daily, persistent, repeated sinning on my part. And I suspect it is a similar situation with you, dear reader, with the grace-to-crap ratio being much higher for you than for me. I really am quite full of crap.

With Mary there was no crap because God her Savior had FILLED her with grace, and thus there was no room for crap, and thus there was no sin. It’s really just 2nd grade math if you think about it. But WHY? Why was it essential for Mary to be sinless and sinless from the moment of her conception?

That’s where the science comes in.

There are two phases to Mary’s existence. The first phase was from the moment of her conception until the Annunciation, which is when Jesus was conceived in her womb. The second phase was from that moment of conception forward for all eternity. Each phase has its own physiological delight attached to it which required Mary to be a sinless vessel for Our Lord.

First, the pre-Annunciation period. As it turns out, all baby girls have all of the eggs that are ever going to be in their ovaries fully formed not just at birth, but fairly early in their fetal development phase. Unlike men who are continuously producing new sperm, a woman’s eggs aren’t created and formed with each menstrual cycle. All that is happening during a cycle is that an egg, which has been fully formed in a woman’s body since she was a pre-born fetus, is released into the reproductive tract. What this means theologically is that the egg containing the 23 chromosomes that God would miraculously fertilize with 23 chromosomes that He miraculously supplied (including a Y chromosome) to become the Word Made Flesh, Jesus Christ, was physically present inside Mary’s body from the time that Mary was inside of her mother’s womb.

That egg, and those chromosomes, that physical constituent of Our Blessed Lord was present inside of Mary’s body, waiting to be . . . if I may use the word . . . consecrated. The word consecrate, when broken into its Latin components means:

Con: With

Secr: Holy

Ate: Territory of a Ruler

And so, Mary was, from the time she was inside St. Ann’s womb, already carrying a portion of Our Lord’s physicality, namely 23 of His chromosomes. And thus Mary was, from her very beginning, already a tabernacle, already the Ark of the New Covenant, carrying within her what would be consecrated into The Law Incarnate, The High Priest, and The Bread of Life, directly analogous to the Old Ark, except perfected and fully fulfilled as God Incarnate. And as we know from the book of Exodus, the Old Ark had to be “pure within and without” (Exodus 25:11). And thus, the Ark of the New Covenant was truly pure within and without, except this purity was a purity that only God Himself could accomplish: the purity of Mary, full of grace and thus saved from all sin.

The second phase is actually broken into two sub-phases. The first sub-phase is when Mary was pregnant with Jesus and His entire body was inside of hers. The second phase is that phase from the time of Jesus’ birth forward into all eternity.

Jesus is STILL physically inside of Mary in a unique way. It was discovered just a few short years ago that immune cells pass from a pre-born child to the mother across the placenta. Not only do these immune cells, which are the child’s and thus carry the exclusive DNA of the child, pass across the placenta, but they persist in the mother’s body for the rest of her life. A woman who has carried a son has immune cells with Y-chromosomes in her bloodstream that can now be filtered out of her blood and observed. Female children also pass cells to their mothers. Thus, a woman truly does carry her children around inside of her, with their DNA coursing through her heart, for the rest of her life. That isn’t just a sentiment, it is a physiological fact.

Thus, Mary continued and continues to this day to be a perpetual, living tabernacle of her Son, as she carries cells with His DNA in her bloodstream. And so now we see why Mary had to be filled with grace and thus saved from the stain of sin from the moment of her conception eternally forward, because she was and is a perpetual Ark of the New Covenant.

This also explains why Mary’s body was assumed into heaven, body and soul, immediately at the end of her earthly life, because her body literally contained living cells of Our Lord and thus her body could not remain on earth in physical death to decay in any way. She simply was afforded the same physical resurrection that all of the faithful will receive, albeit instantaneously for her, given her very special state, both spiritually and physically. This is what is doctrinally referred to as “The Assumption”. The Feast of the Assumption is August 15th.

Finally, if you are reading this and it has made you the least bit angry, you need to sit down and ask yourself one excruciatingly simple question: WHY?

(This is in German – beautiful.)

via Barnhardt.biz – Commodity Brokerage.

Catholic In The Ozarks: Converting Protestants – A Secret Method

The Blessed Sacrament exposed

Catholic In The Ozarks: Converting Protestants – A Secret Method.

Get back to Real Catholicism and jettison the watered-down, protestant-like Catholic Lite that is so popular today.

Anglican Convert: Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Anglican Convert: Fr. Dwight Longenecker.

A conversion story: A journey from Methodist, to Anglican, to Catholic.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: Another Relevant Essay

 

Scandals

by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Every now and then people come across a counterfeit bill, but I never knew anyone who, because of it, argued that the United States currency was worthless. Astronomers have seen spots on the sun, but I have yet to hear of one who denied that the sun is the light of the world. But I know many who pick out the failings and sins of a few Catholics and then say: “But, my dear, they don’t tell you everything! The Church is really the work of the devil.”

This extreme point of view starts with a fact: There are scandals. For example, some Catholic husbands and wives are unfaithful; some Catholic politicians are more crooked than those who have no religion; some Catholic boys steal; some Catholic girls worship the same saints as pagan girls: movie heroes or band leaders; some Catholic industrialists are selfish and hardhearted and totally indifferent to the rights of workers; some Catholic labor leaders are more interested in keeping their leadership by annual strikes than in cooperating for social justice. Then in the Papacy, there is Alexander VI.

What does all this prove, but that Our Dear Lord has espoused humanity as it is, rather than as we would like it to be! He never expected His Mystical Body the Church to be without scandals because He Himself was the first scandal. It was a terrible scandal for those who knew Him to be God to see Him crucified and go down to seeming defeat, at the moment His enemies challenged Him to prove His Divinity by coming down from the Cross. No wonder He had to beg His followers not to be scandalized by Him. If the human nature of Our Lord could suffer physical defeat and be a scandal, why should there not be scandals in Our Lord’s Mystical Body made up of poor mortals such as we? If He permitted thirst, pain and a death sentence to affect His Physical Body, why should He not permit mystical and moral weaknesses such as loss of faith, sin, scandals, heresies, schisms, and sacrileges to affect His Mystical Body? When these things do happen, it does not prove that the Mystical Body the Church is not Divine in its inmost nature, any more than the Crucifixion of Our Lord proved He is not Divine. Because our hands are dirty, the whole body is not polluted. The scandals of the Mystical Body the Church no more destroy its substantial holiness than the Crucifixion destroyed the substantial wholeness of Christ’s Physical Body. The Old Testament prophecy fulfilled on Calvary was that not a bone of His Body would be broken. His flesh would hang like purple rags about Him, wounds like poor dumb mouths would speak their pain with blood, pierced hands and feet would open up torrents of redemptive life – but His substance, his bones, they would be sound. So with His Mystical Body. Not a bone of it shall ever be broken; the substance of Her doctrines will always be pure, though the flesh of some of her doctors fail; the substance of Her discipline will be sound, though the passion of some of her disciples rebel; the substance of Her faith will always be Divine though the flesh of some of her faithful will be so carnal. Her wounds will never be mortal, for Her Soul is Holy and Immortal, with the Immortality of Love Divine that came to Her Body on the Day of Pentecost as tongues of living fire.

Coming to one of the major scandals, let it be asked: “How could a wicked man like Alexander VI be the infallible Vicar of Christ and head of His Mystical Body the Church?” For an answer, go to the Gospel text where Our Lord changes the name of Simon to Rock, and then made Him the Rock on which He built what He called “My Church.” Our Lord on that very occasion made a distinction very few ever think of: He distinguished between infallibility or immunity from error, and impeccability or immunity from sin. Infallibility is inability to teach what is wrong; impeccability is inability to do wrong. Our Lord made the Rock infallible, but not impeccable.

Immediately after assuring Peter that he had the keys of Heaven and authority to bind and loose, Our Blessed Lord tells His Apostles that He “must go up to Jerusalem,” and “must be put to death” (Matthew 16:21). Poor, weak, human Peter, proud of his authority as the Rock draws Our Lord to his side, and begins rebuking Him, saying: “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to You” (Matthew 16:22). On hearing these words Our Lord “turned around and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an obstacle to Me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (Matthew 16:23).

A moment before Peter was called the Rock; now he is called Satan! In so many words Our Lord was telling him: “As a Rock upon which I build My Church, whenever you speak with the assistance of Heaven, you shall be preserved from error; but as Simon, son of Jonah, as a man, you are so frail, so carnal, so apt to be sinful, that you can become even like unto Satan. In your office you, as Peter, are infallible; but as man, Simon, you are peccable. The Power you have as Peter is My Making; the want of morals you have as Simon, is of your making.” Is this distinction between a person and his function hard to grasp? If a policeman directing traffic held up his hand and ordered you to stop, you would do so, even though you knew he beat his wife. And why? Because you make a distinction between his function as a representative of law and his person. I am sure that Our Lord permitted the fall of Peter immediately after the gift of Primacy to remind him and all his successors that infallibility would belong necessarily to his office, but virtue would have to be acquired by his own striving with the help of God’s grace. Whether the voice be sweet, or dull and grating, whether it be spoken with an accent or a flaw in grammar, we consider not the tone but the message. “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening” (I Samuel 3:9).

It is generally safe to say that those who know everything about the few bad successors of Peter, know nothing at all about the very many good ones. The wickedness of one man in authority is allowed to obscure a million saints. How many who dwell on the Vicars of Christ during the brief period of the Renaissance, ever dwell on their history for the other 1900 years? How many of those who exploit the bad few ever admit that of the first thirty-three successors of Peter, thirty were martyrs for their Faith, and the other three exiled for it? How many of those who concentrate on the bad example of a few know, or ever admit, that of the two hundred and sixty-one successors of St. Peter, eighty-three have been canonized for their heroic virtue, and that over fifty were chosen over the protest of their own unworthiness for such a high office, and that few can match in humility, wisdom and learning our present Holy Father, Pius XII? Anyone who attacks such a long line of martyrs, saints, and scholars must be certain of his own sinlessness to lay his hand on the few who revealed the human side of their office. If the revilers themselves are holy, pure and undefiled, let them pick up their stones. Our Lord said that it is the privilege only of those who are without sin to cast the first stone. But if they are not without sin, then let them leave the judgment to God. If they are without sin, they belong to a different race from you and me, for from deep down in our hearts a cry comes to our lips: “Be merciful to me a sinner.”

Turning to the scandal of bad Catholics, it must be remembered that Our Lord no more expected to have every member of His Church perfect than He expected to have perfect Apostles. That is why He said that on the last day He would throw the bad fish out of His net. Some Catholics may be bad, but that does not prove the Mystical Body is wicked, any more than because a few Americans who sell themselves to Russia, proves that America is a race of traitors. Our Faith increases responsibility, but it does not force obedience; it increases blame but it does not prevent sin. If some Catholics are bad, it is not because they are members of Christ’s Mystical Body, but rather because they are not living up to its Lights and Grace.

The psychology of those who are scandalized as bad Catholics is interesting. It means that they expected something better; if people who themselves are wicked, rejoice in the scandal, it is because they think they have greater authority for sinning than anyone else who fell. One never hears it said: “He is a bad Relativist,” or he is a “scandalous Humanist” or an “adulterous Ethicist,” because they never really expected anything better from them in the beginning. The horror that one feels at those who fall, is the measure of the height of virtue to which they expected to stand. We are grateful for the compliment of their being scandalized at our weak members, and for being intolerant with us about the very things they tolerate in others. They know that there are no other new lights possible if the sun fails! It is intellectually stultifying and morally easy to be a Communist; it is intellectually refreshing and morally hard to be a Catholic.

No ideal is more difficult of attainment. When anyone falls away from a Sun Cult he never has very far to tumble. But when a Catholic falls away, he is apt to be far worse than anyone else. The greater the height from which he falls, the greater the splash. “The corruption of the best is the worst.” No flowers smell worse than the rotted lily.

May we ask those who are scandalized with the failings of the Church, how perfect the Church would have to be before they would become incorporated into it as a living cell? If it were as perfect as they wanted it to be, do they realize that there would be no room for them? Just suppose for a moment, that Christ’s Mystical Body had no moral weaknesses; suppose that no monk ever broke his priestly vows to marry a nun and start a new religion – and this really happened; suppose that no bishop was ever just a business administrator and no priest ever disedifying and no monk ever fat, and no sister ever cross to children, and sanctity was as automatic as a parking meter; and suppose no one ever gave scandal to those who are on the outside to justify the way they were living. Would such a Church be the kind that Our Lord envisaged Who told us that cockle would be sowed with wheat, and that some of the children of the Kingdom would be cast out? If the Mystical Body were as perfect as the scandalized would have it, would not Her very perfection accuse and condemn us who are not saintly? Too high an ideal often repels rather than attracts. She would be so saintly that She would no longer allure ordinary mortals. She might even appear to the struggling souls as terribly Puritan, easily scandalized at our failings, and might even shrink from having Her garments touched by sinners like ourselves. Gone then would be the hope for those who are unholy or in sin. NO! The Mystical Body with none but perfect members would be a stumbling block. Then, instead of us being scandalized by Her, She would be scandalized by us, which would be far worse.

If the life of the Mystical Body had been one triumphant, blazing transfiguration on a mountain top, apart from the woes and ills of man, She would never have been the comforter of the afflicted and the refuge of sinners. She has been called like Her Divine Head, to be a redemptress, lifting men from the shadows of sin to be the tabernacles of grace where saints are made. She is not a far-off, abstract idea, but a Mother, and though She has been stained with dust in Her long journey through the centuries, and though some of her children have nailed Her Body and saddened Her Soul, yet there is joy in her Heart because of the children She has nourished; there is gladness in Her eyes, because of the faith She has preserved; there is understanding in Her soul, for She has understood the frailty of our flesh, and knows how to nourish it back to life. And in these qualities one divines the reason why Our Lord chose, not a saintly man like John, but a weak, fallen man like Peter as His First Vicar, in order that through his weakness he, and the Church of which he is the head, might sympathize with the weakness of his brethren, be their apostle of mercy and, in the truest sense of the term, the vicar of the Savior and the Redeemer of the world, Who came not to save the just but me, a sinner.

Our Lord often punishes His Mystical Body from time to time, by permitting some of the members or cells of that Body to separate themselves from it, but He punishes them still more. On the whole the world is right! We Catholics are not all we ought to be! The world is the way it is, because we Catholics are the way we are. Our Lord said: “If salt loses its taste, what is there left to give taste to it?” (Matthew 5:13). It is not the world we have failed, but Christ, and in failing Christ, we failed the world. But we beg those of you who see our failings to remember how hard it is for us to be everything Our Lord wants us to be. It is so easy to be a Democrat or a Republican or a “Cosmic Unifier,” but it is very hard to be a Catholic! Judge us not by our failings, as you judge not art by the feeble scribbling of a child. Look rather to our artistic masterpieces: the saints, and there are countless armies of them in the world. We have hurt you by our failings, and we beg your pardon, but we hurt Our Dear Lord more, and we shall do penance.

There are many of you who are scandalized by us, who, if you had the same Infallible Truth to guide you, the same Divine Eucharist to nourish you daily, would be a thousand times better than we are. We ought to be better than we are. And here I touch on the only unhappiness that comes to us as Catholics, and believe me, it is very real! We are unhappy because we are not saints. Will you therefore pray for us? Thanks!

God love you!

Catholicism: the Reason for My Hope Part VI

The Saints and the Mystics of the Church

What are saints but the heroes of faith? They are declared by the Church to be holy men and women who led heroic lives to keep themselves in the state of holiness or in some cases gave their lives to defend their faith; those faithful martyrs. They are the few who are the rarest of humans; who dared to attempt in this life what Christ challenged His followers to do, “Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.”[1] Though they fell over and over in life, most of these men and women came as close as we could ever dream, to doing just what Christ had asked of us: reaching spiritual perfection.

The Catholic Church gives the proper veneration and honor to these heroes of the faith. As the world gives honor to its heroes, the Church gives honor to Hers. Our Catholic children have the most proper and appropriate heroes to hold in esteem and to guide their lives.

To become a saint is not a simple matter because the Church requires of God his stamp of approval, His seal of authenticity if you will, on the heroic nature of any declared saint of the Catholic Church. Each must have at least one miracle attributed to them before their death and another attributed to their intercession after their death. Now that is a tall order but God is up to the task, having stamped His approval on a multitude of saintly heroes over the course of these 2000 years. They have been ratified by their miracles and in some cases by the miracle of becoming incorruptible; that is, their body does not decay after death.

The biographies of these individuals and their own spiritual writings have given us a library of valuable spiritual help and encouragement. No other church has so many spiritual heroes to draw upon. Their stories give us encouragement in facing trials and what to do when we fail those trials. Their prayers help us fashion our prayers to God, leaving our needs in His hands while praising Him and praying for others. They are the warriors in the spiritual battles against evil in this world and have shaped countries, continents and the history of our Church. They have taught us how to teach the faith by living the faith as it was meant to be lived.

These are the people who walk this earth as other Christ’s; “And I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me.”[2] They effectively, “. . . put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth.”[3] They are what we are all supposed to aspire to in the Christian life. They fought the good fight and ran the good race having persevered to the end and winning the crown. God loves a saint.

As Scott Hahn has said, the best way to honor an artist is admire his art. In this way God is honored when we give honor to those who are His finest handiwork of human beings. And how much more true is this of Mary, the Mother of God; The Saint among saints. She is the singular boast of our broken nature. Only she, among the history of man was found worthy to be spared the stain of original sin, won for her by the grace of Christ’s redeeming death, at the moment of her conception; she who is ever-virgin and sinless and stainless though she possessed a human nature. She was chosen by God before all ages and she gave her will entirely over to His request. She is a singularity and God is pleased when we give her the heightened honor that she deserves. For she is God’s finest handiwork of the human creature; it is to honor her to praise God for His gift of her to mankind. Without her yes, where would we now be? Would we still be awaiting the Messiah and someone who might be worthy to bear Him, care for Him and protect Him as an infant? We need not worry of such things for she used Her will to do only His will. Hail Mary, full (not just partially filled) of (God’s) grace.

The mystical saints are the few who have tried to explain to us what is unexplainable. They try to speak the unspeakable, and describe the indescribable. However mystical are their writings, one gets a sense of the mysteries that are revealed to those who are so disposed to seek God through mystical prayer. Their writings are so sublime that they fill the reader’s soul with joy and grace. You, as a reader, know that you are listening to someone who truly spoke to God and what an indescribable grace it is to see Christ through such a thin veil. They are a rare breed who reaches the level of mystical prayer which is described as spiritual union: the marriage of their souls to Christ’s. It is a bliss filled encounter that transforms these saints into love itself, just as God is Love Himself. Their writings serve as a proof that the God of our prayers is truly God and truly present to us. No protestant church has such sublime heroes to lead them to an assurance so gratifying to the ordinary soul.

So now you have my reasons for hope in Christ as found through the intellect and through the spirit. They were all delivered to me via the Holy Catholic Church who is now and will remain forever the Mystical Body of Christ (with Christ as Her head) and the future Bride of the Bridegroom (with Christ as the Head of the espoused pair). Our human marriages only reflect the Wedding Feast of Heaven where the Church becomes one with Christ: like our earthly weddings, “two in one flesh.”[4]


[1] Matthew 5:48

[2] Galatians 2:20

[3] Ephesians 4:24

[4] Genesis 2:24

Catholicism: the Reason for My Hope Part IV

Church Fathers, a miniature from Svyatoslav's ...

Church Fathers

The History and Teachings of the Early Church Fathers

Nothing speaks to us better than getting to know the history of any enterprise that we undertake: we usually learn all we can about the company we work for so that we can relate to others how it came to be and what the philosophy was of the entrepreneurial beginnings of the company. Part of that history is learning about the founder and the early leaders of the company and their vision of the company and their successful leadership as well as their single mindedness in reaching the goal of the founder. At least that is something we salesmen study when we go to work for a new company with a long history. It lends credibility to the company that we are representing and unites us in some small way to a participation in the company’s goals.

It is no different in the new Catholic, who represents the Church in the world to all who meet and talk with them. Why then, do so few Christians spend almost no time at all looking at our history and the Early Church Fathers who forged the beginnings of the largest institution on the face of the planet: 1.2 billion members yoked to the teachings of the Church?

It is this history, which the Bible initiates as our first introduction or orientation to the Catholic Faith. Her structure and our adherence to doctrine were discussed somewhat in the last post; Part III. But for further information which is to our great benefit to read, we have the accounts of the earliest Christians and the beliefs that they held from the beginning. Even a cursory reading of these great men and pioneers of our Faith, add their mark of approval on most of our beliefs and practices still in place over almost 2 millennia.

The belief in the real presence of Christ residing, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist, our heightened honor that is afforded our Blessed Virgin Mary, our honoring of the saints and martyrs, our belief in the Pope as being the sovereign leader of the Church, the idea that a priest can forgive us our sins if we are contrite and sorry for them and willing to amend our ways, the need for Baptism and the efficacy of the other sacraments of the Church, the love and adherence that we give to the books of the Bible, the gravity of abortion and sins of the flesh, and the knowledge that we are bound to an authority that is beyond our mortal world but embodied in the ministry that was founded by Christ Himself. All of these things and more can be verified by the writings which came from the earliest Christians: these we call the Early Church Fathers.

The latest historical find which dates back as far as the oldest entries in the New Testament is called the Didache or Teaching of the Twelve. I would recommend that every Christian read the document and understand that it was a small handbook that was widely carried throughout the Christian world a mere 30 to 50 years after the death of our Lord and Savior.

Much, therefore, that I heard from non-Catholic sources, who mocked and ridiculed Catholic beliefs and practices were, besides being condescending, proved wrong: to be sure, the faith of our fathers is being faithfully carried forward into our modern age by the Catholic Church.

Since this is just a short post, for those who want to get into the meat of the proofs concerning the Catholic Tradition, one should at the very least read the Didache and the writings of the Early Church Fathers for illuminating insight into what our earliest Christians believed.

You will quickly come to the conclusion that the Catholic Church stands with these founding fathers and does not make up new and novel doctrines to force on their members. Without this tie to Christ, the apostles and the earliest known Christians, how could anyone have faith that their way of understanding, living or teaching a particular brand of Christianity is truly authentic? History provides us with that reassurance and gives me the Reason for My Hope within the Catholic construct of the Christian faith.