Bishops say Colombians unaware of truth behind euthanasia law :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Bishops say Colombians unaware of truth behind euthanasia law :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

The Normalization of the Abnormal: Common Denominators

However we may want to dismiss it, our society and now a complicit government is on a quest to normalize abnormal behavior. I would like to take this opportunity to discuss just a few of the “newly constituted norms” that many have embraced whether in a Christian church or even if they are completely un-churched. Although there are many other examples, I think that the sexual variety of long standing taboos in society are in many ways responsible for the crumbling of other social norms; replaced, as always by an abnormality. So the issues that quickly come to mind are the following: sex outside of marriage, contraception, homosexuality and the use of infanticide as a viable contraceptive.

There are common denominators in all of these actions, which I will point out as we go along. So the first taboo to fall was the rejection of marriage and the adoption of cohabitation and sexual recreation outside of marriage as well. For Christians this is known to be forbidden and expressed often within the Bible. But for those who are not Christian, they may want to try to use a little bit of logic when evaluating the issue. The purpose of marriage and its institution as a sacrament was to be a holy bond between two individuals of the opposite sex, so that the two become one and that their cooperation with one another would bring into this world new family member to share in the joys and anticipation of a heavenly end to which each and every soul is ultimately called. It is called a sacrament in the Catholic Church because the two individuals are making a sacred vow to one another; a vow to live a chaste and holy life dedicated to the premise of bringing new life into the world and to the giving of themselves unrestrictedly to whatever is necessary to bind their family in a bond of sacrificial love. The Holy Spirit is called on to bless the marriage and to give grace to the new “person” to help them live a life worthy of their call. To abrogate the vows of marriage and simply chase one’s lustful desires is to make a mockery of the true intent of the marital covenant. It was intended to be an exchange of persons; I am yours and you are mine. Anything less than this selfless exchange is a vulgar perversion of Holy Matrimony. Note the selfishness attached to these acts outside of marriage: a rejection of all consequences, commitments and responsibilities. It is a pure act of placing oneself at the center of one’s life.

Contraception is much the same. Many delude themselves into thinking that contraception is not the outright infanticide that constitutes abortion and therefore find nothing morally reprehensible in it. However, many abortifacient drugs are precisely that; inducing abortion at an early stage of pregnancy. Other types of contraception separate the sexual act from the procreative act which, though not technically abortive in nature, is still a barrier between the self-giving of the partners and the action of God in producing more souls; denying his command to “be fruitful and multiply.” God is a self giving God and is always productive in all His actions. His words do not come back to him void. To deny His desire to be part of one’s marriage and participate in the creation of new life is an affront to His will and to His natural law. The most common reasons for contraception these days seem to be for recreational sex and for married couples who do not want the financial responsibility of raising a child. Though natural family planning is a viable alternative to placing a barrier between the procreative act and the action of God, it is rarely practiced even by so-called “Catholics in good standing.” Another common denominator is the rejection of consequences, commitments and responsibilities; a selfish act that has taken the Catholic view of sex as being a holy act, and perverting it into something mundane. Once again we place God in second place and our desire for worldly comforts as the more important criteria for our family planning choices. Besides, it is so easy now and inexpensive as well.

The taboo against homosexuality has latched onto the coattails of unproductive sexual activity and now has entered the social conversation and activism that even includes our governing bodies. In a homosexual relationship there is absolutely no ability to open the sexual act to the procreative. In the natural order of things the mouth was made for eating and the rectum as a sewer pipe to excrete the toxins and waste from the body. Now to remotely think that this activity is in keeping, not only with Biblical writing, but with Natural Law is preposterous. You do not make love to organs that are not made for reproductive purposes. The homosexual lobby has had much success with “educators,” Hollywood elites and now with our law makers; the usual argument is one centered on love, discrimination and equal rights. No matter how compassionate they might frame their argument, the natural law is written on each man’s heart and he knows, at an instinctive level, that these acts are highly disordered. The same sex attraction is one that in many ways could be called narcissism on steroids: making love to oneself or at least to the image and likeness of oneself. Once again we see the selfish disregard for God, for the family and for one another; each partner seeking only to find sexual pleasure for themselves. There is no mutual giving in their acts, only taking.

Lastly, is the intrinsic evil of abortion; which today has practically become a sacrosanct sacrament of self-worship. It is the worship of a person’s choice whether to end the life of the child for their personal reasons, known only to themselves. Choice trumps life. And since Roe v. Wade approximately 60 million children have been denied life in order to triumphantly and defiantly exercise their right of choice. Line up these 60 million babies to be viewed by America and let’s see what the reaction might be among our citizens. But, no, these deaths are quietly and secretly dealt with so that no one sees the mayhem and destruction of human life that takes place in the quiet dark corners of our abortion mills. This is the ultimate form of selfishness because in order to satisfy our decision of what is best for us as an individual is paid for with the life of an innocent victim – a child who did nothing to deserve the death sentence. What crime did the child commit, I might ask? His bad luck, as they might call it, was to be created in the womb of someone who is irresponsible, selfish and lacks the ability to make a commitment to the child.

So the common denominator is obvious: it is a life of selfishness and self-centeredness that trumps any call to be responsible in this life and any call of God to center their journey on the final end of all men and women. For we were made for Him alone and we best start learning to repeat with Our Lord’s Mother, “be it done unto me, according to thy Word” instead of putting our wants, lusts and desires ahead of His. What has been mischaracterized as a “war on women” is in all actuality their “war on God” and nothing good will come of it. Do you really think that God will be the loser in the end? Our elected government leaders better start understanding Who they are really fighting. It isn’t just another political party they’re attacking and they will be held accountable for their actions.

Catholicism: the Reason for My Hope Part II

Challoner's 1749 revision of the Rheims New Te...

Challoner’s 1749 revision of the Rheims New Testament

Scripture and How We Acquired the Bible

Why should I believe the Bible?

It is the most basic question that a critic of Christianity might ask. It is a good question because I can see nothing in the books of the Bible that tell me that what you are reading is Divinely inspired. When I open the Bible, choirs of angels do not sing and a heavenly light does not appear to illumine the pages. So why should I believe the Bible and reject the Quran or the Bhagavad Gita?

It seems that I must make this decision on some criteria other than what is in the text. Even if a statement in the text did tell me that it was divinely inspired (and no text does that) there is no proof that it is. Surely, God would not expect me to believe something that could not be ratified by an authoritative source, otherwise I might believe in fairy tales or nursery rhymes as most atheist assert. Faith and reason must each play their role. God gave us reason for a reason and a free will so that we might accept truth or reject truth or vise versa.

It seems to me that God would provide us enough proof that we could reasonably accept the premise that the books of the Bible are indeed worthy to be called the Word of God; then the believer has what is necessary to make a leap of faith (not blind faith as some describe it) and come to a decision that is at least believable and acceptable to men of reason. In order for that to happen I need a trusted authority to inform me that the Bible is trustworthy and accurately portrays the Christian faith. Without the authority I have no reason to believe.

My parents may be my authority in the belief of my ancestors and heritage. That belief rests on the assumption that our parents (and their forefathers as well) would not lie about such things and thus we take the leap of faith needed to hold to these living memories and pass them down to our children as well though we cannot fully authenticate their every detail.

It is much the same with the Catholic Church. She is the Mother who ratifies the history, the heritage and the living faith of the Christian. It is, as I say, a living memory of the faith from the time of Christ (see Part I on Authority). So it is for this reason that I am able to accept the Bible and echo the words of St. Augustine when he fought with Manichaeism in a rebuttal of Mani: “I would not believe in the Gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not influence me to do so.” (Against the letter of Mani, 5,6, 397 A.D.)

Indeed, how could I accept the books of the Bible as being divinely inspired unless the Church told me? There must be an authority.

Without an authority we are at sea without a captain. Can we each be captains? Can we each navigate or teach ourselves the necessary navigational skills to get to our destination. How about the currents? Do we know them and how to counter them? Do we take best advantage of the wind?

It is simple logic that any church not founded by Christ that would use the books approved by the True Church cannot then say that the Church is wrong but the books of the Bible are inerrant. It is impossible logic. The Bible too was rewritten in parts and certain books removed by those who had not the authority to do so.

So Luther and Calvin used a different set of Jewish Scriptures than did the Church that gave us the Bible. They preferred to use the Palestinian Canon or Jerusalem Canon as opposed to the Septuagint that was in use throughout the Holy Land during the time of Christ. The latter canons being created by Rabbi’s after the destruction of the temple to stem the loss of Jews into the new Christian Church. It removed many books that prophesized about the Messiah: books that pointed to Christ as the One who was promised.

Now Luther and Calvin used these same books for other nefarious reasons than did the Rabbi’s. There reason in using them was to discourage things concerning “works of faith” working in love; or things concerning the prayers for the dead.

Without giving the reader the books and sections that even Calvin and Luther disagreed on putting in their Bibles, it should be obvious that they had no authority to tinker with the Bible at all. By whose authority are you acting? Obviously, the answer is that the authority was their own, given to themselves, as though they possessed it by their very nature.

Why Should I Attend Church with all the Hypocrites?

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam at St. Ignatius in Chic...

QUESTION: I do not attend Church because, as I see it, the parishes I’ve visited are filled with hypocrites. For sure, they are overflowing with those who profess Christian beliefs and virtues but they do not live as though they held these beliefs nor do they practice the virtues that they profess. I am better off just staying home and keeping myself away from such people.


Christ once spoke a parable that gets to the heart of this matter. In Luke Chapter 18, verse 9 through verse 14 he says the following: And to some who trusted in themselves as just and despised others, he spoke also this parable: “Two men went up into the temple to pray: the one a Pharisee and the other a publican. The Pharisee standing, prayed thus with himself: ‘O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican. I fast twice in a week: I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven; but struck his breast, saying: ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I say to you, this man went down into his house justified rather than the other: because every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” __ Luke 18:9-14

Those who think that they are not sinners foolishly exalt themselves because as scripture says, we are all sinners. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all iniquity. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar: and his word is not in us.” __ 1 John 1:8-10

So we should not be surprised to find ourselves amid sinners and hypocrites when we enter a Church. It is the place that they need to be. It is during the spiritual journey (begun in the Church) that some (not all) find their way to Heaven. There are no guarantees. It is a journey of faith that first has us professing the Truths of Christ with our lips though not necessarily with our actions. But in time this profession, coupled with the grace of God, can eventually lead us to accept these Truths in our hearts as well. At such time, we will make a strenuous effort to live the life that we have professed with our lips. But hypocrites should no more stay out of the Church because of their hypocrisy than we should stay out of the Church because they are sitting in the pews next to us. We all stand in need of the transforming love of Christ and we all need to seek His grace in overcoming our deficiencies.

The Church offers unique help and grace in our journey to God. For through the sacraments of the Church we are given the strength to continue the fight and the journey and the hope that is necessary in this quest. Without the sacraments we would succumb to despair and we would quit the journey altogether or fool ourselves into thinking that we could gain the sanctifying grace that is necessary for our salvation by ourselves. Let me illustrate by using an analogy to illustrate what this might be like.

 Let us say that I live in Maine with my family and I’m offered the job of a lifetime in Los Angeles. Let us also suppose that the only way that I can get to Los Angeles (as I haven’t the means to fly) is to drive in my car. So my hope is to drive to LA in my car and reach the destination that I long for. Thankfully, the highways are supposedly inspected for safety and the speed limits are regulated by law so that I can have great hope of arriving in LA without any mishaps along the way so long as I obey the speed limits that are posted along the highways. Now we also have hope that our fellow travelers will obey these speed limits and that all the roads have been inspected and that the bridges are safe, etc. But as we know, though most people profess to be law-abiding citizens, most do break the speed limit laws and from time to time our roads are not safe, sometimes due to criminal neglect. Should I abandon the only means that I have to reach LA because of this hypocrisy among my fellow drivers and the poorly managed government agencies that were established by our law makers to inspect these roads and keep them safe? Is my fear of going on this journey with all these hypocrites sufficient cause to abandon my only hope for occupational success? I do not know anyone who would stay in Maine because of it. Most would still take the chance and get in their car and begin the trip, even if they were law-breakers themselves.

 Why should it be any different for us when we begin the spiritual journey that Christ asks us to make? Though there is more at risk (our eternal happiness) some seem to make this argument to their own eternal loss.

Our hope is in the Church – not in our own privatized faith. Our own actions merit nothing unless they are somehow attached to the actions of Christ and the merit that He has gained for us. This is precisely what the Church offers. It is Christ Who made the Church an indispensable vehicle for those who seek Him. It is Christ that promised the Holy Spirit to the Church and it is Christ Who feeds us at the altar and forgives us our sins through the sacraments of His Church. Do I stay away from these gifts because I am not comfortable with the company that I have to keep? No more so than I should abandon the above trip to LA because I do not like or trust the other drivers on the road. Do I stay away because I too am a hypocrite who has sinned far too often? No more so than all the sinners who are called to repentance and a new life in Christ.

When everyone who professes their faith becomes perfect, as our Father in Heaven is perfect, we will no longer stand in need for the aid only available through the Sacraments of the Church. But until then, I hope that the rest of us are growing in holiness and laboring at being transformed in Christ for the greater glory of God.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Responding to a Profound Mystery

English: Icon of Jesus ChristThere are mysteries and there are miracles that mark one’s journey throughout our faith history; all of which are extraordinary but some might only be classified as profound.

For instance: God creating man in His own image and likeness is an extraordinary thing but God becoming man is so extraordinarily profound that we must respond to this statement in some heightened way. By elevating this mystery the Church hopes that all Christians might meditate upon the significance of this inconceivable event and gain some small insight into the very nature of God. That, of course, was why the Church mandated that at the very mention of the incarnation of Christ, in the Nicene Creed, the faithful should immediately drop to their knees to both accent and contemplate the enormity of the event; an event that brought us salvation and the hope of eternal life. Without this event, heaven is impossible and our human fate hopeless.

Since the advent of the Novus Ordo, our genuflections were turned into a bow of the head reserving a genuflection for Christmas and the Annunciation. Now, almost 50 years hence, even the bows have all but disappeared. At Christmas and the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord nothing changes: our response is like any other day which is to say that we do nothing at all. I think it is a point well taken, that how we pray is how we believe (lex orandi, lex credendi). And our relaxed attitude might be telling us that today we do precious little of either.

A lukewarm response begets a lukewarm faith and we all remember the warning of the Spirit to the Angel of the Church in Laodicea(Rev, 3:13-22): “thou art neither cold, nor hot. I would thou wert cold, or hot. But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.” It seems that the riches and plenty of those living in Laodicea had rendered the faithful unthankful and incapable of seeing their own wretchedness and nothingness in relation to God. The answer to their blindness and to the restoration of their former zeal was revealed to be the twofold path of penance and prayer. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.” _ Rev. 3:22

Living in a land of plenty coupled with our heritage of self-reliance may also have hindered many of us who were called to a Christian life. We seem incapable of developing fully the most basic trait necessary to accomplish this spiritual journey: namely, humility. For it is through humility that we are driven to our knees in penance and in prayer.

Genuflection is an exterior sign of our interior humility and should call to mind our true state in relation to the Creator of the Universe. What further can be said that might reveal the astounding truth regarding the love of God for man? That God would deign to live a life in human vesture is so unimaginable that it should evoke unmitigated awe and love in return for a gift that is beyond conception. “For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.” __ Php, 2:5-8

If Christ, the Son of God, the Lord of lords could humble himself for our redemption, can we not humble ourselves before Him in a recollected moment of awe and love for this Gift of gifts? Since God gave Himself for love of man it seems that our only possible response would be to give ourselves in entirety to God for love of Him.

Where Does a Church Get its Authority?

This might be presented as the argument of authority.

There are two recognized types of authority: One IMMEDIATE and the other MEDIATE. They could be characterized in the following way:

 Immediate Authority is unquestioned and undisputed authority that rests upon their inherent right which is a product of who the person is. They do not require any authority from another. Their authority is not different from their person: it is who they are in and of themselves. Immediate authority cannot be gained and is natural to who they are. This type of authority is absolute and apparent.

Mediate Authority: Authority that is given to someone by another with immediate authority. It is entirely dependent upon a person who possesses immediate authority and cannot be self-imposed upon themselves. This type of authority, which allows them to act with authority in a particular capacity, is practiced in the name of the immediate authority who bestowed this right upon them. Mediate authority can be specific and bounded to certain areas of concern or it can be all-encompassing and unbounded requisite to the wishes of the Immediate Authority. Mediate Authority can be passed on to others when a vacancy arises due to death or sickness. For instance a King sends his ambassador and his entourage to another country to negotiate with that country on a matter of state. If the appointed ambassador becomes incapacitated or dies on the trip, he can appoint another from his entourage to carry out the mission in his absence.

In Christianity, it would seem prudent to examine by what form of authority the church or pastor teaches. If one goes outside of the immediate or mediate authority then how can they posses a valid authority. Would they not merely possess that which men might choose in allowing them this authority or revoking it on a whim? But how can those without authority bestow that which they don’t possess: it is an invalid use of authority.

Did Martin Luther or John Calvin have Immediate Authority: in other words, are they Divine? The answer is obviously no. Did they receive Mediate Authority from Christ as did Peter and the Apostles? Again, the answer is obviously no and they made no such claim. Had they made this claim, as many individuals have over the centuries, would we be required to believe them without proof? The self-evident answer would seem to be no.

Luther, Calvin and Zwingli had no authority to defy the rightful authorities of the Church who received their authority directly from Christ. They abandoned the Church over disagreements and scandals in the Church without making use of the remedies that have been used by others the last 2000 years to correct and reform those who might scandalize the Church: for these disagreements and scandals started almost immediately. It is important to see how the Church reacted to the apostle James and the Judaizers and James’s response[1]. This was a big disagreement in the Church and threatened a rift in our Christian faith. James did not leave the Church on account of his disagreement. Instead, he left it to the Council of Jerusalem where Peter with much urging from Paul decided that the Judaizers could not burden new converts with circumcision or dietary laws. James accepted their authority. Contrast that with Luther and the others who left the Church and did not even attempt to settle their disagreements within the Church. They simply walked and started their own church without recognizing any authority but their own: authority they never possessed: for self-imposed authority is no authority at all.

Christ foresaw such problems when he warned the apostles that scandals would necessarily come[2]. But He also prayed for unity[3] among His followers. In fact they deny that the Bible, which they all claim for their authority, specifically relates the power that Christ (the Immediate Authority) gave to Peter[4] to lead His Church and to the Apostles[5] (acting together in union with Peter) to rule in His absence.

Without a known valid authority, who can decide what to believe? If it is simply the Bible that is the authority, then whose interpretation should be believed? Should each individual decide by their own understanding what difficult Scripture passages might mean? If so, how does this compare to anarchy where anyone can claim his own authority? The confusion is never ending with as many sets-of-beliefs as there are people on the planet. Each of us would, if we had a desire to do it, found our own personal church that conforms to our unique interpretations, personal likes, dislikes or preferences.

Licit authority seems to be at the very heart of the present disunity of Christianity. It can readily be seen in the fruit of the first separated churches (Lutheran, Calvinist and Baptist) who have divided over the years into nearly 30,000 churches, each with their own particular nuances in their theology. Though they mostly hold to the same major convictions of the Christian faith, the details have divided the One Church established by Christ into many disparate factions, scandalous to the desire of our Lord to remain as one.

[1] Read Acts 15

[2] For it must needs be that scandals come: __ Mt. 18:7.  The following verses state that the offenders should be rooted out: not that the body of the Church be abandoned.

[3] Holy Father, keep them in thy name whom thou has given me; that they may be one, as we also are. __ Jn. 17:11

[4] And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.__ Mt. 16:18

[5] When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. __ Jn. 20:22-23

God: the end for which man was made

Examplatory drawing for the concept of the foo...

Man has a purpose in life. Just as all created things are ordered to an end, so too are we. Of course the ultimate end of many created things are well known due to our observations from daily life; they can easily be studied and recorded by scientists and others. For instance, we see in nature the assimilation of minerals to sustain the lives of plants and the use of these plants as food for animals and man alike. This food chain is but one observable set of events that indicate the importance of everything in creation and the apparent ordering of the lower to the higher.

English: Street clock in Globe, Arizona, USA F...

Man is also a creator of things and the intended purpose of our creations is normally apparent; a clock keeps time, a chair is to sit in, etc. These are the ends, if you like, or purpose for which they were created. In fact we judge the ‘goodness’ or ‘badness’ of our creations by their ability to conform to the purpose for which we made them. A clock that cannot keep time is useless (bad) in regards to the purpose for which it was created and useful (good) according to its accuracy in keeping time etc. The same can be said of all created things.

But what is the purpose of man? If it makes sense that we create things with a purpose and aim and that the natural order seems also to have a purpose, then should we (creations of God) not also have some purpose in life? Since we are not ordered to a higher form as food nor are we created to enhance the ease or comfort of a superior being here on earth, perhaps we are ordered to that which is not observable in our physical world. We might say that our aim is of a higher order; ordered to the spiritual rather than the physical.

We are not man-made creations devoid of fault for our defects. If we were clocks, we would be clocks that could self-direct our obedience to, or deviance from, our intended purpose. We could decide if we were going to run fast, slow or not at all. In fact, we might even declare that we were not clocks at all. We could decide that we would not adhere to the purpose of ‘clock’ to which we owe our existence. We might decide that we are beautiful and should be adored for our beauty or that we are beholding to no one and therefore should only seek self-satisfaction as a goal. Though we could make such a decision, it would not have any bearing whatsoever on objective reality. Since we possess such freedom of choice we bear culpability for the decisions we make to either accept or reject our intended purpose.

God has revealed to mankind the purpose for which we were made. This aim and purpose as taught by His Church is that we are to know, love and serve Him. It is through this means that our destiny is fulfilled and that we are able to seek happiness not only in this life but also throughout eternity. If we have heard and assented to this purpose as revealed by God, we might then measure success or failure by our conformity to this intended purpose. By obedience to this fundamental Truth we find our happiness and achieve peace of soul. All else might be considered a life completely devoid of reality; a life lived in conformance to a lie. Such a life brings unhappiness, confusion, and conflict. Yet many prefer such a life to that which is consistent with Reality.

The world may think the Christian soul, living in accord to God’s plan, a complete fool . . . though nothing could be further from the truth. This would be like an employee who refuses to do the work for which he has been hired, criticizing those who do their appointed jobs. He may deride them as zealots or mad men because they labor ceaselessly rather than lounge around . . . but a day of reckoning will eventually cost him his job. In regards to the Christian life we find ourselves a minority and thus tempted to abandon our purpose – the narrow path that leads to eternal happiness. We must continually remind ourselves that wrong is always wrong and that right is right even if the whole world is wrong. To know our purpose in life and to live according to this purpose frees us from a life of slavery to our own whims and those of others. It frees us from taking a poll in order to decide what is right or wrong. To know our purpose in life and to live in harmony with this end is mere common sense. It is the homecoming of the prodigal son, the raising up of oneself from the fall of Adam, the return to our original nature – that for which we were made.

We Live in a Moral Universe

Galaxies are so large that stars can be consid...

We live in a moral universe. It is a universe that has choices and values from which we can choose; e.g. love over hatred, obedience over tyranny, or right over wrong. Within this framework our Creator has endowed mankind with freewill in order that he might exercise this freedom rightly and choose the good while rejecting the evil, thereby cooperating with Christ in the salvation of his own soul. This freedom is essential to our faith and without it we would be no different from the beasts or worse yet, relegated to an existence of complete and forced servitude. Suffering and death are necessary in such a universe. For without them, our choices would have no meaning or consequence; Evil would reign eternal with the Good and neither would have more relevance or worth than the other.

Freedom is not, as many are given to believe these days, the right to do whatever we want. It is the right to choose correctly, that which is in accord with our moral standard, which is God Himself. To make ourselves the standard by which we live is to have a fool for a king. It is precisely this type of moral freedom, which is largely responsible for this age of existential tolerance; a philosophy that says we must live in accord with our own individual moral code. We might call it the “I’ve got to be me” or the “I’m OK, you’re OK” syndrome.

God is not the god of tolerance. He is the God of Love. He does not merely tolerate people, but loves, even to His brutal death on the cross, all the human souls that He has created. Pray tell what can be more precious in this universe than our human souls?  It is the only thing for which God has deemed important enough to live, suffer and die while clothed beneath His veil of human flesh. Likewise, the primary mission of His Church is precisely the same – the salvation of souls.

It is true that God bears our faults and that we should do the same for our neighbor; for we should imitate God’s zeal for the salvation of souls; for one another’s and especially our own. The sinner must always be loved but the sin must never be accorded tolerance. Do I want my sins tolerated? Or worse yet, do I want to be tolerated? The answer in both cases is no. I want to be loved by God – and by the testimony of our Lord and His Church this desire is assured. By our reciprocal love of God and obedience to faith, our salvation is promised.

Thereby we love the sinner and hate the sin. We recognize that there is good and evil in the world and exercise our freedom to choose the moral over the amoral. We strive to live according to the objective standard, the same standard of our universe, which bears our Creator’s mark. For our Creator is a moral God and His Creation is marked with no less than His indelible seal. There is objective Truth and an objective Morality. We have the freedom to pursue our eternal happiness, which is the sure consequence of our abandonment to God’s Will and our persistent love of Him. For to love His Standard is to love Him who created the universe and all the souls for which He died in order that we might live. Thank the Lord, that God is not a tyrant but a loving Father to whom we owe loving obedience. Praise Him Who loved us first and will not abandon us to our dark desires but bears with us in love that we might freely choose only Him. Thank God for giving us the honor and dignity of living in a moral universe.

Sola Fide – Part II

In my previous article I maintained that no one in the Protestant Reformation had the authority to teach any form of Christianity that opposed the legitimate teaching of the Christian Church; for these teachings were organically taught from the time that Christ founded his Church under the leadership of Peter and the apostles. Just as the Old Testament Church had grown, under the leadership of the authorities that God had chosen to lead the Hebrew people, the New Testament Church (the Christian Church) had also blossomed under the leadership of the ambassadors given her by Christ. It was, and is, incumbent upon these churches to answer the hard questions of their times and to serve as arbiter of those questions concerning faith and morals. These matters cannot be resolved by a few scholarly people nor can they be resolved by taking a vote of the people. God does not take any chances: He created a theocracy with Christ as the head of the Church speaking to the people through his appointed ambassadors. Until Christ himself takes the authority away from these persons, they remain in charge of such matters. No man can simply decide upon his own intellectual, emotional or moral convictions to wrest this power from those whom Christ has named to lead his church.

Sola Scriptura (the Bible Alone) as discussed previously cannot be the rule of faith unless it complies with the Apostolic Tradition of the Church. Christ did not give his followers a mission to write any books[1] nor did he tell anyone to use a book as a basis for ascertaining truth.[2] He told the apostles to teach the good news throughout the world and the apostles tell us that the Church is the pillar and ground (foundation) of the truth. It was only by strict adherence to this Tradition that the Catholic Church was able to declare these books “inspired by God” and include them in those sacred texts which eventually became the Bible. As such, these writings are without a doubt the Holy Scripture but we must be careful that our interpretations of these texts adhere to the Apostolic Tradition that confirmed them in the first place. If not, these writings will not necessarily conform to the teachings of Christ as received by those who walked with Christ, his living witnesses, down to our present day. If one reads the writings of the ancient Christians, the Early Fathers of the Church, all doubt should quickly be laid to rest. The Catholic Church to my knowledge is the only church where the Biblical interpretations continue to preserve these same apostolic teachings.

Martin Luther, author of the text of Christ la...

So now we come to the second of the 5 solas[3] that fueled the reformation: sola fide, by faith alone. This dictum was preached first by Martin Luther and later picked up by others including Huldrych (or Ulrich) Zwingli. This rule declared that one is saved or justified by faith alone. It denounced the need for man to do anything to go to heaven other than believe that Christ died for our sins; we need only have faith that we are saved and that alone will be sufficient. Again this is a nice thought, it is not exactly Biblical and it certainly clashed with 1500 years of Christian teaching.

To read the arguments of the day or listen to modern defenders of Protestantism one is often struck by the accusations against the Catholic Church. Although the Catholic Church never denied the need for faith for our salvation, it was alleged that the Catholic Church taught that we were saved by works (good deeds, penance, alms, etc.). Such a thing had never been taught by the Church in such simplistic terms and these one-dimensional views only served to corrupt the Catholic position.

In an effort to give Biblical proof of the Protestant sola fide, the reformers relied heavily on the words of St. Paul and ignored passages of St. James and others and at times, Christ Himself. It is interesting to note that the passage from Romans 3:28 (“For we account a man to be justified by faith, without the works of the law.”) was rendered ‘justified by faith alone’ in the Luther Bible. But Catholics already believed that Christians were justified by faith and the certainty of that faith can only be known by how one lives their faith (the works of faith). The following is just a sample of Biblical texts that further our understanding of the issue:

  •  But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up to thyself wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation of the just judgment of God. Who will render to every man according to his works. __Romans 2:5,6
  • For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of GodNot of works, that no man may glory. __ Ephesians 2:8,9
  • Charge the rich of this world not to be highminded, nor to trust in the uncertainty of riches, but in the living God, (who giveth us abundantly all things to enjoy,) To do good, to be rich in good works, to give easily, to communicate to others, To lay up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on the true life. __ 1 Timothy 6:17-19
  • All things are clean to the clean: but to them that are defiled, and to unbelievers, nothing is clean: but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess that they know God: but in their works they deny him; being abominable, and incredulous, and to every good work reprobate. __ Titus 1:15,16

There are many other texts that could be quoted and I do not here include quotes from the Book of James simply because both Luther and Calvin found this book to be unworthy of inclusion within their new canons of scripture. But notice that Catholics believed above all that faith is 1) a virtue; 2) a gift from God, undeserved and given to us by the working of the Holy Spirit (so that we may not boast); 3) that the fruits of faith are the good works of those who have been given this Grace (for we do not think that God’s Grace is given to a soul only to remain fruitless). To claim that the Catholic Church teaches that we are saved by works is not only mistaken it is manifestly deceitful. This is especially true when one considers that both Luther and Calvin (ex-Catholic priests) knew this to be false.

Again, this Catholic position might also be stated: that by God’s Love for us and by His unfathomable Mercy, God deigned to give us His Grace (an unmerited gift) that we might receive the virtue of Faith (a gift of God) so that by our freewill and cooperation with this Grace we might live according to His Gift of Faith and live a life inspired by the Holy Spirit (who gives us the will to produce Works of Faith). The highest of these works is the outward expression of the twofold commandment to love God and our neighbor. Now the willingness or unwillingness to respond to God’s Grace is similar in all respects to Christ’s parable about the sower of seeds: And he spoke to them many things in parables, saying: “Behold the sower went forth to sow. And whilst he soweth some fell by the way side, and the birds of the air came and ate them up.  And other some fell upon stony ground, where they had not much earth: and they sprung up immediately, because they had no deepness of earth.  And when the sun was up they were scorched: and because they had not root, they withered away.  And others fell among thorns: and the thorns grew up and choked them.  And others fell upon good ground: and they brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold.” __ Matthew 13:3-8    It is the same way with the Grace that God freely gives to us. Some bear fruit and some do not and it depends in great part to our will and cooperation with the Graces that God bestows upon our souls. Justification by faith alone was a novel teaching and has survived the centuries, in part, by the continuous mischaracterizations of the Catholic position.

Astoundingly, most of the wonderfully religious and pious Protestants that I have known have abounded in good works. Billy Graham quickly comes to mind as a man who has lived the gospel life while people such as Jim Jones stand in dark contrast to the goodness of Reverend Graham and his cooperation with God’s Grace. It is a fundamental principal in the Catholic Church that God has always wanted mankind to cooperate and participate in our own salvation. Christ paid the price but it is up to us to participate in His sacrifice by cooperation and thus apply his salvific Grace to our soul.

St. Paul states in Colossians 1:24   I “now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church:” It seems that St. Paul understood that his penance and suffering had merit and helped him participate in the sufferings of Christ as it applied especially to the Church which is Christ’s Mystical Body on earth. Thus we are urged to be obedient to the commandments and live a good, prayerful and penitential life: “. . . unto all the country of Judea, and to the Gentiles did I preach, that they should do penance, and turn to God, doing works worthy of penance.”[4] We are reminded in Romans 2:5,6  “But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up to thyself wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation of the just judgment of God. Who will render to every man according to his works.

Now I could go on and on but it simply becomes a war of verse opposed to verse and a myriad of interpretations that any individual might choose to believe. But the same basic points that were made concerning sola scriptura diminish the impact of arguments made by individuals who would argue against the teachings held firmly by the Church Christ established; a Church that has preached the same truths uninterruptedly since his death on the Holy Cross.

Let’s recap for a moment: The Protestant leadership . . .

  • did not receive a mission from God and therefore did not have any authority to teach a new doctrine or create a new canon of scripture
  • taught new and novel interpretations of many Biblical texts
  • believed that every individual could read the Bible and decide on the meanings without recourse to an authority – leaving in their wake a type of anarchy against Church teaching – open to the possibility of countless individual doctrines and thus, new churches divided along doctrinal lines
  • fueled the coming age of enlightenment (the age of reason) which reached full swing during the 18th century, overturning structures of power that had existed for centuries
  • applied their thirst for democratic institutions, individual rights and freedom to God’s structure of the Church – a structure that was built upon the foundations of the Jewish tradition but fully realized and understood since the life and death of Christ
  • placed themselves in high levels of importance that rested solely on the desires of the people – rule from the bottom up – negating the authority that Christ had given the Church

Those who participated in the reformation did so, knowingly violating the traditional rules of faith: re-writing and eliminating writings from Holy Scripture; pretending to have more authority than the ministers who inherited their missions from the Apostles; denying the authority of the Church; ignoring the writings and witness of the ancient fathers of the Church; refuting the authority of the Church Councils; dismissing the authority of the Pope – the successor to Peter; belittling the constant trail of miracles that mark the history of the Church; while bringing disunity to Christ’s body the Church.

However, it is important to remember that those who today are raised in the tradition of the Protestant faiths are no more responsible for these violations of the faith than are we individually responsible for the original sin that we inherited from our first parents – but we do inherit it nonetheless. May unity one day reunite us all in the one body of Christ – the Church – for it is a scandal that His Church should be divided and continue to divide year after year.

The Catholic Church hopes and awaits a joyous reunion with our separated brother and sisters in Christ. “Holy Father, keep them in thy name whom thou has given me; that they may be one, as we also are.” __ John 17:11

[1] Matthew 28:18-20           And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

[2] I Timothy 3:15                 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

[3] sola scriptura (the Bible alone); sola fide (faith alone); sola gratia (by grace alone); solus Christus (Christ alone) and soli Deo gloria (glory to God alone)

[4] Acts 26:20