Category Archives: Theology

Fifteen Major Heresies the Church has Faced

This work deserves to be re-blogged, and so it is….

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The history of the Catholic Church is full of all sorts of heresies that have assailed the truths of the faith.  From the earliest days of the Gnostics and Docetists all the way down to the Jansenists and Quietists of later centuries, it seems there has never been a shortage of heretical thought.

But in each age, God has brought forth great members of the faithful to combat each one.  Each one gave their life in service to Christ and His Church in their own way, either as martyrs, confessors, or simply as servants to others for the sake of the love of Jesus.

The following is a list of fifteen of the major heresies that the Church has faced, and the illustrious persons who stood against them.

LINK TO STORY

New Testament: Sacrifice or Execution

Dr. Hahn explains why we call the Cross a Sacrifice and the implications of Christ’s command to “Do this” at the Last Supper. Listen closely and you’ll never view the New Testament the same way again…

SOURCE: St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology — YouTube — Facebook — Home page

The Truth About Mary and Scripture — Video

The Mother of God is a gift from the Cross in a world reduced to a desert because of its want of love…

John Corapi — “Thrown out like yesterday’s garbage…” Full Text/Video

John Corapi: Special Announcement. June 17, 2011

About the Black Sheep Dog… 

THE BLACK SHEEPDOG
On June 17, 2011, Corapi released an audio announcement on his Facebook page, YouTube channel, and his company, Santa Cruz Media’s, website proclaiming his new movement towards “The Black SheepDog.”  Combining the personified characteristics of “a black sheep,” and the “sheep” and role of a “sheepdog,” Corapi claims his newfound mission is the same, delivering messages of ‘hope’ and ‘truth,’ but now to a wider-audience.  He launched a blog-site: http://www.TheBlackSheepDog.us to allow his fans to begin establishing a ‘home’ where they can be in touch with him, directly.  A member from his media team shared “this is a very exciting move for John and his fans, as for the first time, in a long time, John will be directly in touch with this fan-base by way of social networks.”

Video announcement…

Written announcement….

This Sunday, June 19, 2011, is both Trinity Sunday on the Catholic liturgical calendar and Fathers’ Day on the secular calendar. It is a day I’ll never forget, and sadly so. It is the twentieth anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood in the Catholic Church. For twenty years I was called “father.” I am very thankful for those twenty years. I could have easily died any number of times, any number of ways in my life before that, so I consider it all a bonus, an undeserved bonus. To all of you that have communicated support, ordination anniversary congratulations, and other kind sentiments, I am greatly thankful, and I do not take that for granted.

All things change, only God stays the same, so I have to tell you about a major change in my life. I am not going to be involved in public ministry as a priest any longer. There are certain persons in authority in the Church that want me gone, and I shall be gone. I have been guilty of many things in the course of my life, and could easily and justifiably be considered unfit to engage in public ministry as a priest. The present complaint that you have heard about is, as far as I know, from the one person that I can honestly say I did more to help and support than any human being in my entire life. I forgive her and hope only good things for her. I am not going to get into a back and forth or argument with the Church or anyone else about this matter.

Suffice it to say that I love the Catholic Church and accept what has transpired. Unfortunately, the process used is inherently and fatally flawed, but the bishops have the power, apparently, to operate anyway they see fit. I cannot give a lengthy explanation of what has transpired, but I can tell you that the most likely outcome is that they leave me suspended indefinitely and just let me fade away. They can’t prove I’m guilty of the things alleged because I’m not, and they can’t prove I’m innocent because that is simply illogical and impossible. All civilized societies know that. Certain leaders in the Catholic Church apparently do not.

I accept moving on, but I am not ready to be altogether extinguished just yet. In the final analysis I have only one of only two viable choices:
1. I can quietly lie down and die, or
2. I can go on in ways that I am able to go on.

I did not start this process, the Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas ordered my superiors, against their will and better judgment, to do it. He in fact threatened to release a reprehensible and libelous letter to all of the bishops if they did not suspend me. He has a perfect right to do so, and I defend that right. Bishops aren’t bound by civil laws and procedures in internal Church matters. I agree with that, and would defend to the death the Church’s right to proceed as they see fit. He is the bishop and he has the right to govern as he sees fit. It isn’t an easy task. Many forces besiege him, including pressure from other bishops.

My canon lawyer and my civil lawyers have concluded that I cannot receive a fair and just hearing under the Church’s present process. The Church will conclude that I am not cooperating with the process because I refuse to give up all of my civil and human rights in order to hold harmless anyone who chooses to say defamatory and actionable things against me with no downside to them. The case may be on hold indefinitely, but my life cannot be. Some of the things that might surprise you about the way some of the bishops treat accused priests are as follows:

1.    The identity of the accuser is not revealed. You can guess, but you don’t actually know. Nor are the exact allegations made known to you. Hence, you have an interesting situation of having to respond to an unknown accuser making unknown accusations (unknown to the accused and his counsel).

2.    The persons chosen to investigate the allegations normally have no qualifications to do so. They certainly didn’t graduate from the FBI academy, nor do they have any other background to qualify them to interrogate or otherwise interview witnesses.

3.    There are no set rules of evidence or norms of procedure.

4.    You are for all practical purposes assumed guilty until you can prove you are innocent. This one is truly baffling. No civilized society operates that way. If you are accused of something you are considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

5.    The accused and his counsel have no right to obtain and review any of the evidence against him.

6.    The accused and his counsel are not provided the names of witnesses, nor are they permitted to cross-examine them.

7. There is a general unwillingness or outright refusal by certain of the         bishops to abide by applicable statutes of limitations, both in canon and civil law. There are good reasons for these statutes. Time has a way of clouding memories and distorting perceptions.

By the way, Canon Law does not dictate this. They choose to selectively ignore or violate both Canon Law and Civil Law, as they deem appropriate and or expeditious. Once again, they apparently have the discretionary power to do this, and if that’s the way it is I have to accept that as reality.

The bottom line is that the only way a just outcome is likely, in my view and that of my counsel, both civil and canon lawyers, is by accident, rather than as a result of the process.

I will not try to fight this irrational and unjust situation for the simple reason that I don’t want to be placed in an adversarial posture against the Church. For 20 years I did my best to guard and feed the sheep. Now, based on a totally unsubstantiated, undocumented allegation from a demonstrably troubled person I was thrown out like yesterday’s garbage. I accept that. Perhaps I deserve that.

I can’t do what I can’t do. I can only do what I can do. I shall continue, black sheep that I am, to speak; and sheep dog that I am, to guard the sheep—this time around not just in the Church, but also in the entire world. I am, indeed, not ready to be extinguished. Under the name “The Black Sheep Dog,” I shall be with you through radio broadcasts and writing. My autobiography, “The Black Sheep Dog,” is almost ready for publication. My topics will be broader than in the past, and my audience likewise is apt to be broader. I’ll do what I can under the circumstances.

Please don’t bother the bishop or complain because it will do no good and it wastes valuable time and energy, both his and yours.

I hope you stay with us and follow us into our new domain and name of “The Black Sheep Dog.” Through writing and broadcasting we hope to continue to dispense truth and hope to a world so much in need of it. For those of you who choose to part company and go away from us, we wish you well and thank you for your many kindnesses over the years. We’ll miss you in our usual meeting places, but assure you that there will be new places for us to meet, just like in “the good old days,” so for now,

God bless you, God love you, and goodbye.

John Corapi (once called “father,” now “The Black Sheep Dog”)

The Church Or The Bible

“Where is the man, no matter what denomination, church or religion, that will deny that we are bound to believe what God has taught?”

The following sermon is as relevant today as it was over 100 years ago when it was first preached by Father Arnold Damen, S.J.  This message was and still is a challenge to the many who pride themselves as being “Bible-and-Bible-Only Christians.”

One cannot have God for his Father, who will not have the Church for his Mother, and likewise, one cannot have the Word of God for his faith who will not have the Church for his teacher.  It is the infallible teaching authority of the Church, as promised by Christ, which alone preserves God’s Word from erroneous interpretation.  This is the essence of Fr. Damen’s sermon.

Every sincere Bible reader deserves to know the true relation God has established between His Church and Holy Scripture.  Therefore, we invite all who love the Bible, to read Father Damen’s exposition with an open mind, lest while reading the Scriptures “… the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.” [2 Peter 3:16]

The Church Or The Bible

I.

Dearly Beloved Christians, when our Divine Saviour sent His Apostles and His Disciples throughout the whole universe to preach the Gospel to every creature, He laid down the conditions of salvation thus: “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be condemned”  [Mark 16:16].  Here, then, Our Blessed Lord laid down the two conditions of salvation, Faith and Baptism.  I will speak this evening on the condition of Faith.

We must have Faith in order to be saved, and we must have Divine Faith, not human faith.  Human faith will not save a man, but only Divine Faith.  What is Divine Faith?  It is to believe, upon the authority of God, the truths that God has revealed.  That is Divine Faith, to believe all that God has taught upon the authority of God, and to believe without doubting, without hesitation.  For the moment you begin to doubt or hesitate, that moment you begin to mistrust the authority of God, and, therefore, insult God by doubting His word.  Divine Faith, therefore, is to believe without doubting and without hesitating.  Human faith is belief upon the authority of men, on human authority.  But Divine Faith is to believe without doubting, without hesitating, whatsoever God has revealed upon the authority of God, upon the Word of God.

Therefore, my dear people, it is not a matter of indifference what religion a man professes, providing he be a good man.

You hear it said nowadays in this Nineteenth Century of little faith that it matter not what religion a man professes, providing he be a good man.  That is heresy, my dear people, and I will prove it to you to be such.  If it be a matter of indifference what a man believes, providing he be a good man, then it is useless for God to make any revelation whatever.  If a man is at liberty to reject what God revealeth, what’s the use for Christ to send out His Apostles and disciples to teach all nations, if those nations are at liberty to believe or reject the teachings of the Apostles or disciples? You see at once that this would be insulting God.

If God reveals a thing or teaches a thing, He wants to be believed.  Man is bound to believe whatsoever God has revealed, for, my dear people, we are bound to worship God, both with our reason and intellect, as well as with our heart and will.  God is master of the whole man.  He claims his will, his heart, his reason and his intellect.

Where is the man, no matter what denomination, church or religion, that will deny that we are bound to believe what God has taught?  I am sure there is not a Christian who will deny that we are bound to believe whatsoever God has revealed.  Therefore, it is not a matter of indifference what religion a man professes.  He must profess the true religion if he wants to be saved.

But what is the true religion?  To believe all that God has taught.  I am sure that even my Protestant friends will admit this is right, for, if they do not, I would say they are no Christians at all.

“But what is the true Faith?”

“The true Faith,”  say Protestant friends, “is to believe in the Lord Jesus.”

Agreed, Catholics believe in that.  Tell me what you mean by believing in the Lord Jesus?

“Why,”  says my Protestant friend, “you must believe that He is the Son of the Living God.”

Agreed again.  Thanks be to God, we can agree on something.  We believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God, that He is God.  To this we all agree, excepting the Unitarians and Socinians, but we will leave them alone tonight.  If Christ be God, then we must believe all He teaches.  Is this not so, my dearly beloved Protestant brethren and sisters?  And that’s the right Faith, isn’t it?

“Well, yes,”  says my Protestant friend, “I guess that is the right Faith.  To believe that Jesus is the Son of the Living God, we must believe all that Christ has taught.”

We Catholics say the same, and here we agree again.  We must believe all that Christ has taught, that God has revealed.  Without this Faith, there is no salvation.  Without this Faith, there is no hope of Heaven.  Without this Faith, there is eternal damnation!  We have the words of Christ for it, “He that believeth not shall be condemned.”

II.

But if Christ, my dearly beloved people commands me under pain of eternal damnation to believe all that He has taught, He must give me the means to know what He has taught.  And the means Christ gives us of knowing this must have been at all times within the reach of all people.

Secondly, the means that God gives us to know what He has taught must be a means adapted to the capacities of all intellects, even the dullest.  For even the dullest have a right to salvation, and consequently they have a right to the means whereby they shall learn the truths that God has taught, that they may believe them and be saved.

The means that God give us to know what he has taught must be an infallible means.  For if it be a means that can lead us astray, it can be no means at all.  It must be an infallible means, so that if a man makes use of that means, he will infallibly, without fear of mistake or error, be brought to a knowledge of all the truths that God has taught.

I don’t think there can be anyone present here, I care not what he is, a Christian or an unbeliever, who can object to my premises.  And these premises are the groundwork of my discourse and of all my reasoning, therefore, I want you to bear them in mind.  I will repeat them, for on these premises rests all the strength of my discourse and reasoning.

If God commands me under pain of eternal damnation to believe all that He has taught, He is bound to give me the means to know what He has taught.  And the means that God gives me must have been at all times within the reach of all people, must be adapted to the capacities of all intellects, must be an infallible means to us, so that if a man makes use of it he will be brought to a knowledge of all the truths that God has taught.

III.

Has God given us such means?  “Yes,”  say my Protestant friends, “He has.”  And so says the Catholic.  God has given us such means.  What is the means God has given us whereby we shall learn the truth that God has revealed?  “The Bible,”  say my Protestant friends, “the Bible, the whole of the Bible, and nothing but the Bible.”  But we Catholics say, “No, not the Bible and its private interpretation, but the Church of the Living God.”

I will prove the facts, and I defy all my separated brethren, and all the preachers, to disprove what I will say tonight.  I say, then, it is not the private interpretation of the Bible that has been appointed by God to be the teacher of man, but the Church of the Living God.

For, my dear people, if God has intended that man should learn His religion from a book, the Bible, surely God would have given that book to man.  Christ would have given that book to man.  Did He do it?  He did not.  Christ sent His Apostles throughout the whole universe and said, “Go ye, therefore, and teach 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.”

Christ did not say, “Sit down and write Bibles and scatter them over the earth, and let every man read his Bible and judge for himself.”  If Christ had said that, there would never have been a Christianity on the earth at all, but a Babylon and confusion instead, and never one Church, the union of one body.  Hence, Christ never said to His Apostles, “Go and write Bibles and distribute them, and let everyone judge for himself.”  That injunction was reserved for the Sixteenth Century, and we have seen the result of it.  Ever since the Sixteenth Century there have been springing up religion upon religion, and churches upon churches, all fighting and quarreling with one another, and all because of the private interpretation of the Bible.

Christ sent His Apostles with authority to teach all nations, and never gave them any command of writing the Bible.  And the Apostles went forth and preached everywhere, and planted the Church of God throughout the earth, but never thought of writing.

The first word written was by Saint Matthew, and he wrote for the benefit of a few individuals.  He wrote the Gospel about seven years after Christ left this earth, so that the Church of God, established by Christ, existed seven years before a line was written of the New Testament.

Saint Mark wrote about ten years after Christ left this earth, Saint Luke about twenty-five years, and Saint John about sixty-three years after Christ had established the Church of God.  Saint John wrote the last portion of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, about sixty-five years after Christ had left this earth and the Church of God had been established.  The Catholic religion had existed sixty-five years before the Bible was completed.

Now, I ask you, my dearly beloved separated brethren.  Were these Christian people, who lived during the period between the establishment of the Church of Jesus and the finishing of the Bible, really Christians, good Christians and enlightened Christians?  Did they know the religion of Jesus?  Where is the man that will dare to say that those who lived from the time that Christ went up to Heaven to the time that the Bible was completed were not Christians?  It is admitted on all sides, by all denominations, that they were the very best of Christians, the first fruit of the Blood of Jesus Christ.

But how did they know what they had to do to save their souls?  Was it from the Bible that they learned it?  No, because the Bible was not written.  And would our Divine Saviour have left His Church for sixty-five years without a teacher, if the Bible is the teacher of man?  Most assuredly not.

Were the Apostles Christians, I ask you, my dear Protestant friends?  You say, “Yes sir, they were the very founders of Christianity.”  Now, my dear friends, none of the Apostles ever read the Bible, not one of them except perhaps, Saint John.  For all of them had died martyrs for the Faith of Jesus Christ and never saw the cover of a Bible.  Every one of them died martyrs and heroes for the Church of Jesus before the Bible was completed.

How, then, did those Christians, that lived in the first sixty-five years after Christ ascended, know what they had to do to save their souls?  They knew it precisely in the same way that you know it, my dear Catholic friends.  You know it from the teachings of the Church of God and so did the primitive Christians know it.

IV.

For not only sixty-five years did Christ leave the Church He had established without a Bible, but for over three hundred years.  The Church of God was established and went on spreading itself over the whole globe without the Bible for more than three hundred years.  In all that time the people did not know what constituted the Bible.

In the days of the Apostles, there were many false gospels.  There was the Gospel of Simon, the Gospel of Nicodemus, of Mary, of Barnabas, and the Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus.  All of these gospels were spread among the people, and the people did not know which of these were inspired and which were false and spurious.  Even the learned themselves were disputing whether preference should be given to the Gospel of Simon or that of Matthew, to the Gospel of Nicodemus or the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Mary or that of Luke, the Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus or the Gospel of Saint John the Evangelist.

And so it was in regard to the epistles.  Many spurious epistles were written and the people were at a loss for over three hundred years to know which was false or spurious, or which was inspired.  And, therefore, they did not know what constituted the books of the Bible.

It was not until the Fourth Century that the Pope of Rome, the Head of the Church, the successor of Saint Peter, assembled together the Bishops of the world in a council.  And there in that council it was decided that the Bible, as we Catholics have it now, is the Word of God, and that the Gospels of Simon, Nicodemus, Mary, the Infancy of Jesus, and Barnabas, and all those other epistles were spurious or, at least, unauthentic.  At least, that there was no evidence of their inspiration, and that the Gospels of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and the Book of Revelation, were inspired by the Holy Ghost.

Up to that time the whole world for three hundred years did not know what the Bible was.  Hence, they could not take the Bible for their guide, for they did not know what constituted the Bible.  Would our Divine Saviour, if He intended man to learn his religion from a book, have left the Christian world for three hundred years without that book?  Most assuredly not.

V.

Not only for three hundred years was the world left without the Bible, but for 1,400 years the Christian world was left without the Sacred Book.

Before the art of printing was invented, Bibles were rare things.  Bibles were costly things.  Now, you must all be aware, if you have read history at all, that the art of printing was invented only a little more than four hundred years ago, about the middle of the Fifteenth Century, and about one hundred years before there was a Protestant in the world.

As I have said, before printing was invented books were rare and costly things.  Historians tell us that, in the Eleventh Century, eight hundred years ago, Bibles were so rare and costly that it took a fortune, a considerable fortune, to buy oneself a copy of the Bible!  Before the art of printing, everything had to be done with the pen upon parchment or sheepskin.  It was, therefore, a tedious and slow operation, a costly operation.

Now, in order to arrive at the probable cost of a Bible at that time, let us suppose that a man should work ten years to make a copy of the Bible and earn a dollar a day.  Well, then, the cost of that Bible would be $3,650.  Now, let us suppose that a man should work at the copying of the Bible for twenty years, as historians say it would have taken him at that time, not having the conveniences and improvements to aid him that we have now.  Then, at a dollar a day, for twenty years, the cost of a Bible would be nearly $8,000.

Suppose I came and said to you, “My dear people, save your soul, for if you lose your soul all is lost.”  You would ask, “What are we to do to save our souls?”  The Protestant preacher would say to you, “You must get a Bible.  You can get one at such-and-such a shop.”  You would ask the cost and be told it was $8,000.  You would exclaim, “The Lord save us!  And can we not go to Heaven without that book?”  The answer would be: “No, you must have the Bible and read it.”  You murmur at the price, but are asked, “Is not your soul worth $8,000?”  Yes, of course it is, but you say you do not have the money, and if you cannot get a Bible, and your salvation depends upon it, evidently you would have to remain outside the Kingdom of Heaven.  This would be a hopeless condition, indeed.

For 1,400 years the world was left without a Bible — not one in ten thousand, not one in twenty thousand, before the art of printing was invented, had the Bible.  And would our Divine Lord have left the world without that book if it was necessary to man’s salvation?  Most assuredly not.

VI.

But let us suppose for a moment that all had Bibles, that Bibles were written from the beginning, and that every man, woman, and child had a copy.  What good would that book be to people who did not know how to read it?  It is a blind thing to such persons.

Even now one-half the inhabitants of the earth cannot read.  Moreover, as the Bible was written in Greek and Hebrew, it would be necessary to know these languages in order to be able to read it.

But it is said that we have it translated now in French, English, and other languages of the day.  Yes, but are you sure you have a faithful translation?  If not, you have not the Word of God.  If you have a false translation, it is the work of man.  How shall you ascertain that?  How shall you find out if you have a faithful translation from the Greek and Hebrew?

“I do not know Greek or Hebrew,”  says my separated friend; “for my translation I must depend upon the opinion of the learned.”

Well, then, my dear friends, suppose the learned should be divided in their opinions, and some of them should say it is good, and some false? Then your faith is gone, you must begin doubting and hesitating, because you do not know if the translation is good.

Now with regard to the Protestant translation of the Bible, allow me to tell you that the most learned among Protestants tell you that your translation, the King James edition, is a very faulty translation and is full of errors.  Your own learned divines, preachers, and bishops have written whole volumes to point out all the errors that are there in the King James translation, and Protestants of various denominations acknowledge it.

Some years ago, when I lived in St. Louis, there was held in that city a convention of ministers.  All denominations were invited, the object being to arrange for a new translation of the Bible, and give it to the world.  The proceedings of the convention were published daily in the Missouri Republican.  A very learned Presbyterian, I think it was, stood up, and, urging the necessity of giving a new translation of the Bible, said that in the present Protestant translation of the Bible there were no less than 30,000 errors.

And you say, my dear Protestant friends, that the Bible is your guide and teacher.  What a teacher, with 30,000 errors!  The Lord save us from such a teacher!  One error is bad enough, but thirty thousand is a little too much.

Another preacher stood up in the convention, I think he was a Baptist, and, urging the necessity of giving a new translation of the Bible, said for thirty years past the world was without the Word of God, for the Bible we have is not the Word of God at all.

Here are your own preachers for you.  You all read the newspapers, no doubt, my friends, and must know what happened in England a few years ago.  A petition was sent to Parliament for an allowance of a few thousand pounds sterling for the purpose of getting up a new translation of the Bible.  And that movement was headed and carried on by Protestant bishops and clergymen.

VII.

But, my dear people, how can you be sure of your faith?  You say the Bible is your guide, but you cannot be sure that you have the faith.  Let us suppose for a moment that all have a Bible which is a faithful translation.  Even then it cannot be the guide of man, because the private interpretation of the Bible is not infallible, but, on the contrary, most fallible.  It is the source and fountain of all kinds of errors and heresies and all kinds of blasphemous doctrines.  Do not be shocked, my dear friends.  Just be calm and listen to my arguments.

There are now throughout the world 350 different denominations or churches, and all of them say the Bible is their guide and teacher.  I suppose they are all sincere.  Are all of them true churches?  This is an impossibility.  Truth is one as God is one, and there can be no contradiction.  Every man in his senses sees that every one of them cannot be true, for they differ and contradict one another, and cannot, therefore, be all true.  The Protestants say the man that reads the Bible right and prayerfully has truth, and they all say that they read it right.

Let us suppose that there is an Episcopal minister.  He is a sincere, honest, well-meaning and prayerful man.  He reads his Bible in a prayerful spirit, and from the word of the Bible, he says it is clear that there must be bishops.  For without bishops there can be no priests, without priests no Sacraments, and without Sacraments no Church.  The Presbyterian is a sincere and well-meaning man.  He reads the Bible also, and deduces that there should be no bishops, but only presbyters.  “Here is the Bible,”  says the Episcopalian, and “here is the Bible to give you the lie,”  says the Presbyterian.  Yet both of them are prayerful and well-meaning men.

Then the Baptist comes in.  He is a well-meaning, honest man, and prayerful also.  “Well,”  says the Baptist, “have you ever been baptized?”  “I was,” says the Episcopalian, “when I was a baby.”

“And so was I,”  says the Presbyterian, “when I was a baby.”  “But,”  says the Baptist, “you are going to Hell as sure as you live.”

Next comes the Unitarian, well-meaning, honest, and sincere.  “Well,” says the Unitarian, “allow me to tell you that you are a pack of idolators.  You worship a man for a God who is no God at all.”  And he gives several texts from the Bible to prove it, while the others are stopping their ears that they may not hear the blasphemies of the Unitarian.  And they all contend that they have the true meaning of the Bible.

Next comes the Methodist, and he says, “My friends, have you got any religion at all?”  “Of course we have,”  they say.  “Did you ever feel religion,”  says the Methodist, “the spirit of God moving within you?”  “Nonsense,”  says the Presbyterian, “we are guided by our reason and judgment.”  “Well,”  says the Methodist, “if you never felt religion, you never had it, and will go to Hell for eternity.”

The Universalist next comes in, and hears them threatening one another with eternal hellfire.  “Why,”  says he, “you are a strange set of people.  Do you not understand the Word of God?  There is no Hell at all.  That idea is good enough to scare old women and children,”  and he proves it from the Bible.

Now comes in the Quaker.  He urges them not to quarrel, and advises that they do not baptize at all.  He is the sincerest of men, and gives the Bible for his faith.

Another comes in and says, “Baptize the men and leave the women alone.  For the Bible says, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  “So,”  says he, “the women are all right, but baptize the men.”

Next comes in the Shaker and he says, “You are a presumptuous people.  Do you not know that the Bible tells you that you must work out your salvation in fear and trembling, and you do not tremble at all.  My brethren, if you want to go to Heaven shake, my brethren, shake!”

VIII.

I have here brought together seven or eight denominations, differing one from another, or understanding the Bible in different ways, illustrative of the fruits of private interpretation.  What, then, if I brought together the 350 different denominations, all taking the Bible for their guide and teaching, and all differing from one another?  Are they all right?  One says there is a Hell, and another says there is not Hell.  Are both right?  One says Christ is God, another says He is not.  One says they are unessential.  One says Baptism is a requisite, and another says it is not.  Are both true?  This is an impossibility, my friends.  All cannot be true.

Who, then, is true?  He that has the true meaning of the Bible, you say.  But the Bible does not tell us who that is, the Bible never settles the quarrel.  It is not the teacher.

The Bible, my dear people, is a good book.  We Catholics admit that the Bible is the Word of God, the language of inspiration, and every Catholic is exhorted to read the Bible.  But good as it is, the Bible, my dear friends, does not explain itself.  It is a good book, the Word of God, the language of inspiration, but your explanation of the Bible is not the language of inspiration.  Your understanding of the Bible is not inspired, for surely you do not pretend to be inspired!

It is with the Bible as it is with the Constitution of the United States.  When Washington and his associates established the Constitution and the Supreme Law of the United States, they did not say to the people of the States: “Let every man read the Constitution and make a government unto himself.  Let every man make his own explanation of the Constitution.”  If Washington had done that, there never would have been a United States.  The people would all have been divided among themselves, and the country would have been cut up into a thousand different divisions or governments.

What did Washington do?  He gave the people the Constitution and the Supreme Law, and appointed his Supreme Court and Supreme Judge of the Constitution.  And these are to give the true explanation of the Constitution to all the American citizens, all without exception, from the President to the beggar.  All are bound to go by the decisions of the Supreme Court, and it is this and this alone that can keep the people together and preserve the Union of the United States.  At the moment the people take the interpretation of the Constitution into their own hands, there is the end of the union.

And so it is in every government.  So it is here and everywhere.  There is a Constitution, a Supreme Court or Law, a Supreme Judge of that Constitution, and that Supreme Court is to give us the meaning of the Constitution and the Law.

In every well-ruled country there must be such a thing as this: a Supreme Law, Supreme Court, Supreme Judge, that all the people abide by.  All are bound by decisions, and without that, no government could stand.  Even among the Indian tribes such a condition of affairs exists.  How are they kept together?  By their chief, who is their dictator.

So our Divine Savior also has established His Supreme Court, His Supreme Judge, to give us the true meaning of the Scriptures, and to give us the true revelation and doctrines of the Word of Jesus.  The Son of the Living God has pledged His Word that this Supreme Court is infallible, and therefore, the true Catholic never doubts.

“I believe,”  says the Catholic, “because the Church teaches me so.  I believe the Church because God has commanded me to believe her.”  Jesus said:  “Tell the Church.  And if he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.”  [Matt 18:17].  “He that believeth you believeth Me.”  said Christ, “and he that despiseth you despiseth Me.”  [Luke 10:16].  Therefore, the Catholic believes because God has spoken, and upon the authority of God.

But our Protestant friends say, “We believe in the Bible.”  Very well, how do you understand the Bible?  “Well,”  says the Protestant, “to the best of my opinion and judgment this is the meaning of the text.”  He is not sure of it, but to the best of his opinion and judgment.  This, my friends, is only the testimony of a man.  It is only human faith, not Divine Faith.

It is Divine Faith alone by which we give honor and glory to God, by which we adore His infinite wisdom and veracity.  That adoration and worship is necessary for salvation.

I have now proved to you that private interpretation of the Scripture cannot be the guide or teacher of man.  In another lecture I shall prove that the Catholic Church is the only true Church of God, and that there is no other.

END OF POST/SOURCE

(Full Text) Pope Benedict XVI Lenten Message — You Were Buried with Him in Baptism, in Which You Were Also Raised with Him

“Dear Brothers and Sisters, through the personal encounter with our Redeemer and through fasting, almsgiving and prayer, the journey of conversion towards Easter leads us to rediscover our Baptism…”

Ananias Baptizes Paul

Pope Benedict XVI Lenten Message — You Were Buried with Him in Baptism, in Which You Were Also Raised with Him

1. This very life was already bestowed upon us on the day of our Baptism, when we “become sharers in Christ’s death and Resurrection”, and there began for us “the joyful and exulting adventure of his disciples” (Homily on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, 10 January, 2010). In his Letters, St. Paul repeatedly insists on the singular communion with the Son of God that this washing brings about. The fact that, in most cases, Baptism is received in infancy highlights how it is a gift of God: no one earns eternal life through their own efforts. The mercy of God, which cancels sin and, at the same time, allows us to experience in our lives “the mind of Christ Jesus” (Phil 2: 5), is given to men and women freely. The Apostle to the Gentiles, in the Letter to the Philippians, expresses the meaning of the transformation that takes place through participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, pointing to its goal: that “I may come to know him and the power of his resurrection, and partake of his sufferings by being molded to the pattern of his death, striving towards the goal of resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3: 10-11). Hence, Baptism is not a rite from the past, but the encounter with Christ, which informs the entire existence of the baptized, imparting divine life and calling for sincere conversion; initiated and supported by Grace, it permits the baptized to reach the adult stature of Christ.

particular connection binds Baptism to Lent as the favorable time to experience this saving Grace. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council exhorted all of the Church’s Pastors to make greater use “of the baptismal features proper to the Lenten liturgy” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium, n. 109). In fact, the Church has always associated the Easter Vigil with the celebration of Baptism: this Sacrament realizes the great mystery in which man dies to sin, is made a sharer in the new life of the Risen Christ and receives the same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead (cf. Rm 8: 11). This free gift must always be rekindled in each one of us, and Lent offers us a path like that of the catechumenate, which, for the Christians of the early Church, just as for catechumens today, is an irreplaceable school of faith and Christian life. Truly, they live their Baptism as an act that shapes their entire existence.

2. In order to undertake more seriously our journey towards Easter and prepare ourselves to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord – the most joyous and solemn feast of the entire liturgical year – what could be more appropriate than allowing ourselves to be guided by the Word of God? For this reason, the Church, in the Gospel texts of the Sundays of Lent, leads us to a particularly intense encounter with the Lord, calling us to retrace the steps of Christian initiation: for catechumens, in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of rebirth; for the baptized, in light of the new and decisive steps to be taken in the sequela Christi and a fuller giving of oneself to him.

The First Sunday of the Lenten journey reveals our condition as human beings here on earth. The victorious battle against temptation, the starting point of Jesus’ mission, is an invitation to become aware of our own fragility in order to accept the Grace that frees from sin and infuses new strength in Christ – the way, the truth and the life (cf. Ordo Initiationis Christianae Adultorum, n. 25). It is a powerful reminder that Christian faith implies, following the example of Jesus and in union with him, a battle “against the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world” (Eph 6: 12), in which the devil is at work and never tires – even today – of tempting whoever wishes to draw close to the Lord: Christ emerges victorious to open also our hearts to hope and guide us in overcoming the seductions of evil.

The Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord puts before our eyes the glory of Christ, which anticipates the resurrection and announces the divinization of man. The Christian community becomes aware that Jesus leads it, like the Apostles Peter, James and John “up a high mountain by themselves” (Mt 17: 1), to receive once again in Christ, as sons and daughters in the Son, the gift of the Grace of God: “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. Listen to him” (Mt 17: 5). It is the invitation to take a distance from the noisiness of everyday life in order to immerse oneself in God’s presence. He desires to hand down to us, each day, a Word that penetrates the depths of our spirit, where we discern good from evil (cf. Heb 4:12), reinforcing our will to follow the Lord.

The question that Jesus puts to the Samaritan woman: “Give me a drink” (Jn 4: 7), is presented to us in the liturgy of the third Sunday; it expresses the passion of God for every man and woman, and wishes to awaken in our hearts the desire for the gift of “a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life” (Jn 4: 14): this is the gift of the Holy Spirit, who transforms Christians into “true worshipers,” capable of praying to the Father “in spirit and truth” (Jn 4: 23). Only this water can extinguish our thirst for goodness, truth and beauty! Only this water, given to us by the Son, can irrigate the deserts of our restless and unsatisfied soul, until it “finds rest in God”, as per the famous words of St. Augustine.

The Sunday of the man born blind presents Christ as the light of the world. The Gospel confronts each one of us with the question: “Do you believe in the Son of man?” “Lord, I believe!” (Jn 9: 35. 38), the man born blind joyfully exclaims, giving voice to all believers. The miracle of this healing is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also open our interior vision, so that our faith may become ever deeper and we may recognize him as our only Savior. He illuminates all that is dark in life and leads men and women to live as “children of the light”.

On the fifth Sunday, when the resurrection of Lazarus is proclaimed, we are faced with the ultimate mystery of our existence: “I am the resurrection and the life… Do you believe this?” (Jn 11: 25-26). For the Christian community, it is the moment to place with sincerity – together with Martha – all of our hopes in Jesus of Nazareth: “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world” (Jn 11: 27). Communion with Christ in this life prepares us to overcome the barrier of death, so that we may live eternally with him. Faith in the resurrection of the dead and hope in eternal life open our eyes to the ultimate meaning of our existence: God created men and women for resurrection and life, and this truth gives an authentic and definitive meaning to human history, to the personal and social lives of men and women, to culture, politics and the economy. Without the light of faith, the entire universe finishes shut within a tomb devoid of any future, any hope.

The Lenten journey finds its fulfillment in the Paschal Triduum, especially in the Great Vigil of the Holy Night: renewing our baptismal promises, we reaffirm that Christ is the Lord of our life, that life which God bestowed upon us when we were reborn of “water and Holy Spirit”, and we profess again our firm commitment to respond to the action of the Grace in order to be his disciples.

3. By immersing ourselves into the death and resurrection of Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are moved to free our hearts every day from the burden of material things, from a self-centered relationship with the “world” that impoverishes us and prevents us from being available and open to God and our neighbor. In Christ, God revealed himself as Love (cf. 1Jn 4: 7-10). The Cross of Christ, the “word of the Cross”, manifests God’s saving power (cf. 1Cor 1: 18), that is given to raise men and women anew and bring them salvation: it is love in its most extreme form (cf. Encyclical Deus caritas est, n. 12). Through the traditional practices of fasting, almsgiving and prayer, which are an expression of our commitment to conversion, Lent teaches us how to live the love of Christ in an ever more radical way.Fasting, which can have various motivations, takes on a profoundly religious significance for the Christian: by rendering our table poorer, we learn to overcome selfishness in order to live in the logic of gift and love; by bearing some form of deprivation – and not just what is in excess – we learn to look away from our “ego”, to discover Someone close to us and to recognize God in the face of so many brothers and sisters. For Christians, fasting, far from being depressing, opens us ever more to God and to the needs of others, thus allowing love of God to become also love of our neighbor (cf. Mk 12: 31).

In our journey, we are often faced with the temptation of accumulating and love of money that undermine God’s primacy in our lives. The greed of possession leads to violence, exploitation and death; for this, the Church, especially during the Lenten period, reminds us to practice almsgiving – which is the capacity to share. The idolatry of goods, on the other hand, not only causes us to drift away from others, but divests man, making him unhappy, deceiving him, deluding him without fulfilling its promises, since it puts materialistic goods in the place of God, the only source of life. How can we understand God’s paternal goodness, if our heart is full of egoism and our own projects, deceiving us that our future is guaranteed? The temptation is to think, just like the rich man in the parable: “My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come…”. We are all aware of the Lord’s judgment: “Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul…” (Lk 12: 19-20). The practice of almsgiving is a reminder of God’s primacy and turns our attention towards others, so that we may rediscover how good our Father is, and receive his mercy.

During the entire Lenten period, the Church offers us God’s Word with particular abundance. By meditating and internalizing the Word in order to live it every day, we learn a precious and irreplaceable form of prayer; by attentively listening to God, who continues to speak to our hearts, we nourish the itinerary of faith initiated on the day of our Baptism. Prayer also allows us to gain a new concept of time: without the perspective of eternity and transcendence, in fact, time simply directs our steps towards a horizon without a future. Instead, when we pray, we find time for God, to understand that his “words will not pass away” (cf. Mk 13: 31), to enter into that intimate communion with Him “that no one shall take from you” (Jn 16: 22), opening us to the hope that does not disappoint, eternal life.

In synthesis, the Lenten journey, in which we are invited to contemplate the Mystery of the Cross, is meant to reproduce within us “the pattern of his death” (Ph 3: 10), so as to effect a deep conversion in our lives; that we may be transformed by the action of the Holy Spirit, like St. Paul on the road to Damascus; that we may firmly orient our existence according to the will of God; that we may be freed of our egoism, overcoming the instinct to dominate others and opening us to the love of Christ. The Lenten period is a favorable time to recognize our weakness and to accept, through a sincere inventory of our life, the renewing Grace of the Sacrament of Penance, and walk resolutely towards Christ.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, through the personal encounter with our Redeemer and through fasting, almsgiving and prayer, the journey of conversion towards Easter leads us to rediscover our Baptism. This Lent, let us renew our acceptance of the Grace that God bestowed upon us at that moment, so that it may illuminate and guide all of our actions. What the Sacrament signifies and realizes, we are called to experience every day by following Christ in an ever more generous and authentic manner. In this our itinerary, let us entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary, who generated the Word of God in faith and in the flesh, so that we may immerse ourselves – just as she did – in the death and resurrection of her Son Jesus, and possess eternal life.

From the Vatican, 4 November, 2010

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

© Copyright 2011 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Josephine County Christians: What would John Calvin and Martin Luther think of Evangelical Protestantism(s) today?

Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder, pain...
Image via Wikipedia

Always keeping in mind and heart the following from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Speaking of the separation of our brothers and sisters, paragraph # 818 states, “However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these community [that resulted from such separation’ and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers… All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.” (C.C.C. # 818)

I’m embarking on a new series of posts for the unity of the one Church Christ the Lord prayed for, and all responses towards that end or welcomed–Today’s first post asks the question:

What would John Calvin and Martin Luther think of Evangelical Protestantism(s) today?

END OF POST

The Source and Summit of Our Lives is the Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist

Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist

By Vic Biorseth, http://www.Thinking-Catholic-Strategic-Center.com

Eucharist is my foundation, my grounding in the Catholic faith; Jesus truly present in the Eucharist is what keeps me sane, on the path and in the Way, no matter what I encounter in this world.

How can I so willingly accept the disdainful title of “bread worshiper” and openly state that I truly believe that that little wafer up there at the front of the church is God?

Well, Jesus said it. That’s good enough for me.


Let’s begin at John; open your bible to John 6:30 (or, go to Bible Browse (RSV) (Opens in a New Window) and browse down to John 6:30 in another window) and follow along. We will look at the actual words of Jesus on the subject. He repeatedly refers to Himself as come down from Heaven, asmanna from Heaven, as food, as drink, as required for life, and as offeringeverlasting life to those who accept what He says.

Verse 30: The followers ask Jesus for a sign, indicating that Moses gave bread to the people in the desert, so what could Jesus do. Our Lord told them it was not Moses, but God who gave them the manna, and that the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.

Jesus as Eucharist: 1

He then told them, the first time, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.”

Jesus as Eucharist: 2

In verse 38 He said, a second time, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; . . . ”

At this many murmured at Him because He said He was the bread which came down from heaven.

Jesus as Eucharist: 3

And He said, a third time, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, `And they shall all be taught by God.’ Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.”

Jesus as Eucharist: 4

And He said, a fourth time, “Not that any one has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.”

Jesus as Eucharist: 5

And He said, a fifth time, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.”

Jesus as Eucharist: 6

And He said, a sixth time, “This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die.”

Jesus as Eucharist: 7

And He said, a seventh time, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

Then they disputed among themselves, saying how can this man give us his flesh to eat?

Jesus as Eucharist: 8

And He tied the teaching to salvation, when He said, an eighth time, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;”

Jesus as Eucharist: 9

Then He said, a ninth time, “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Jesus as Eucharist: 10

Then He said, a tenth time, “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.”

Jesus as Eucharist: 11

Then He said, an eleventh time, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”

Jesus as Eucharist: 12

Then He said, a twelfth time, “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.”

Jesus as Eucharist: 13

Then He said, a thirteenth time, “This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.”

At this many of his followers said this was a hard teaching, and questioned who could follow it. He spoke again, as He did many times in Scripture, about choosing between the flesh (meaning the world and death) and the spirit (meaning the Kingdom and life) but many of His followers left Him and followed Him no more.

He didn’t call them back. He turned to those remaining, including the Twelve, and issued them the stinging challenge: “Do you also wish to go away?”

And Simon Peter answered for them, saying “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Note well that Peter didn’t say that he understood what was taught; how could anyone understand such a mysterious, other-worldly thing? But, what Peter did understand was exactly Who was doing the teaching. He accepted it because Jesus taught it, pure and simple.

And, it must be remarked, Jesus taught it in no uncertain terms. Thirteen times He referred to Himself as food, drink, demanding to be eaten, as coming down from Heaven, as being sent by the Father, in ever increasingly strong terms.

There is absolutely no way to misinterpret what He was saying here. Such sentences as my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink most certainly do not present the language of metaphor. Neither is the term “he who eats (Greek: trogon)” the language of metaphor; it is very crude and direct, and the only reasonable translation is literal.

If He were speaking figuratively, then, in accordance with Hebrew culture at the time, eating one’s flesh and drinking one’s blood was figuratively meant to say to injure someone’s character by slander or libel or calumny; speaking figuratively here makes no sense.

He meant what He said. You can’t get around it.

If you want to understand the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist, this is the Scriptural beginning point. Read and re-read the Eucharistic discourse in John 6 until you are fairly comfortable with the information it gives you. Then you will be ready for the next step.

Jesus said that He was “Bread from Heaven,” that His flesh was food, that His blood was drink, and that, unless we eat of Him and drink of Him, we do not “have life.” So, according to His teaching, we are called upon to actually eat His flesh and to drink His blood.

And the question naturally arises, how, exactly, are we going to do that little trick?

With that question firmly in mind, we are now ready to explore the other Eucharistic passages in the synoptic Gospels, and in the rest of the New Testament. Keep the question in mind; write it down on a note pad if necessary.

Some Protestant objections to the universal Catholic teaching on the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist stem from the “do this in remembrance of me” passages attached to the Eucharistic discourses in Luke and 1 Corinthians. Which, in their interpretation, makes the Eucharist merely some kind of memorial not involving in any way the flesh and blood of our Lord. What they totally ignore is the literal interpretation of the word “is” each time our Lord says “this is my body” and “this is my blood”. Interestingly, many of them interpret so much of the Bible literally, but cannot accept the literal interpretations of the Eucharistic discourses.

Keep the question in mind. You’ve been instructed by Jesus to eat His flesh and drink His blood, if you want life in you, else you do not have life. Exactly how are you going to do as instructed by Jesus Himself? That’s the question.

Turn to Matthew 26:26. Here it is:

“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”

Then, turn to Mark 14:22. Here it is:

“And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”

Then, turn to Luke 22:19. Here it is:

“And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

Then, turn to 1 Corinthians 11:24. Here it is:

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Now, the very next verses undo the Protestant claim that Eucharist does not contain the sacred body and blood of our Lord. From verse 27 on:

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.”

So, if we come to the altar not discerning the body of Christ, we eat our own judgment. Consider also Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians 10:16:

“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?”

Now, I’m no great Scripture scholar, I’m just a Catholic layman; but Protestants I’ve discussed this with seem to know a lot less Scripture than Protestants are publicly touted to know. If Christ meant that all the different Eucharistic discourses were meant to be taken as “this issymbolically my body” then why didn’t he explicitly say that, at least once, somewhere? What He said, repeatedly, was, this is my body. If He didn’t mean that, then, just exactly what did He mean?

Doctrine of the Real Presence in the Eucharist

The doctrine of the Real Presence asserts that in the Holy Eucharist, Jesus is literally and wholly present — body and blood, soul and divinity — under the appearances of bread and wine. The biblical foundation for this doctrine is so solid as to be irrefutable. The early Church Fathers interpreted these passages quite literally.

Ignatius of Antioch, on the true presence in the Eucharist:

(Letter to the Romans 7:3 [A.D. 110]): “I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible”.

(Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1 [A.D. 110]): “Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes”.

Justin Martyr, on the true presence in the Eucharist:

(First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]): “We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus”.

Irenaeus, on the true presence in the Eucharist:

(Against Heresies 4:33–32 [A.D. 189]): “If the Lord were from other than the Father, how could he rightly take bread, which is of the same creation as our own, and confess it to be his body and affirm that the mixture in the cup is his blood?”

(ibid., 5:2): “He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life—flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?”

Clement of Alexandria, on the true presence in the Eucharist:

(The Instructor of Children 1:6:43:3 [A.D. 191]): “’Eat my flesh,’ [Jesus] says, ‘and drink my blood.’ The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutrients, he delivers over his flesh and pours out his blood, and nothing is lacking for the growth of his children”.

Tertullian, on the true presence in the Eucharist:

(The Resurrection of the Dead 8 [A.D. 210]): “[T]here is not a soul that can at all procure salvation, except it believe whilst it is in the flesh, so true is it that the flesh is the very condition on which salvation hinges. And since the soul is, in consequence of its salvation, chosen to the service of God, it is the flesh which actually renders it capable of such service. The flesh, indeed, is washed [in baptism], in order that the soul may be cleansed . . . the flesh is shadowed with the imposition of hands [in confirmation], that the soul also may be illuminated by the Spirit; the flesh feeds [in the Eucharist] on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may be filled with God”.

Hippolytus, on the true presence in the Eucharist:

(Fragment from Commentary on Proverbs [A.D. 217]): “‘And she [Wisdom] has furnished her table’ [Prov. 9:2] . . . refers to his [Christ’s] honored and undefiled body and blood, which day by day are administered and offered sacrificially at the spiritual divine table, as a memorial of that first and ever-memorable table of the spiritual divine supper [i.e., the Last Supper]”.

Origen, on the true presence in the Eucharist:

(Homilies on Numbers 7:2 [A.D. 248]): “Formerly there was baptism in an obscure way . . . now, however, in full view, there is regeneration in water and in the Holy Spirit. Formerly, in an obscure way, there was manna for food; now, however, in full view, there is the true food, the flesh of the Word of God, as he himself says: ‘My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink’ [John 6:55]”.

Cyprian of Carthage, on the true presence in the Eucharist:

(The Lapsed 15–16 [A.D. 251]): “He [Paul] threatens, moreover, the stubborn and forward, and denounces them, saying, ‘Whosoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord’ [1 Cor. 11:27]. All these warnings being scorned and condemned—[lapsed Christians will often take Communion] before their sin is expiated, before confession has been made of their crime, before their conscience has been purged by sacrifice and by the hand of the priest, before the offense of an angry and threatening Lord has been appeased, [and so] violence is done to his body and blood; and they sin now against their Lord more with their hand and mouth than when they denied their Lord”.

Council of Nicaea I, on the true presence in the Eucharist:

(Canon 18 [A.D. 325]): “It has come to the knowledge of the holy and great synod that, in some districts and cities, the deacons administer the Eucharist to the presbyters [i.e., priests], whereas neither canon nor custom permits that they who have no right to offer [the Eucharistic sacrifice] should give the Body of Christ to them that do offer [it]”.

Aphraahat the Persian Sage, on the true presence in the Eucharist:

(Treatises 12:6 [A.D. 340]): “After having spoken thus [at the Last Supper], the Lord rose up from the place where he had made the Passover and had given his body as food and his blood as drink, and he went with his disciples to the place where he was to be arrested. But he ate of his own body and drank of his own blood, while he was pondering on the dead. With his own hands the Lord presented his own body to be eaten, and before he was crucified he gave his blood as drink”.

Cyril of Jerusalem, on the true presence in the Eucharist:

(Catechetical Lectures 19:7 [A.D. 350]): “The bread and the wine of the Eucharist before the holy invocation of the adorable Trinity were simple bread and wine, but the invocation having been made, the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine the blood of Christ”.

(ibid., 22:6, 9): “Do not, therefore, regard the bread and wine as simply that; for they are, according to the Master’s declaration, the body and blood of Christ. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but be fully assured by the faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy of the body and blood of Christ. . . . [Since you are] fully convinced that the apparent bread is not bread, even though it is sensible to the taste, but the body of Christ, and that the apparent wine is not wine, even though the taste would have it so, . . . partake of that bread as something spiritual, and put a cheerful face on your soul”.

Ambrose of Milan, on the true presence in the Eucharist:

(The Mysteries 9:50, 58 [A.D. 390]): “Perhaps you may be saying, ‘I see something else; how can you assure me that I am receiving the body of Christ?’ It but remains for us to prove it. And how many are the examples we might use! . . . Christ is in that sacrament, because it is the body of Christ”.

Theodore of Mopsuestia, on the true presence in the Eucharist:

(Catechetical Homilies 5:1 [A.D. 405]): “When [Christ] gave the bread he did not say, ‘This is the symbol of my body,’ but, ‘This is my body.’ In the same way, when he gave the cup of his blood he did not say, ‘This is the symbol of my blood,’ but, ‘This is my blood’; for he wanted us to look upon the [Eucharistic elements] after their reception of grace and the coming of the Holy Spirit not according to their nature, but receive them as they are, the body and blood of our Lord. We ought . . . not regard [the elements] merely as bread and cup, but as the body and blood of the Lord, into which they were transformed by the descent of the Holy Spirit”.

Augustine, on the true presence in the Eucharist:

(Explanations of the Psalms 33:1:10 [A.D. 405]): “Christ was carried in his own hands when, referring to his own body, he said, ‘This is my body’ [Matt. 26:26]. For he carried that body in his hands”.

(Sermons 227 [A.D. 411]): “I promised you [new Christians], who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the sacrament of the Lord’s Table. . . . That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ”.

(ibid., 272): “What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice is the blood of Christ. This has been said very briefly, which may perhaps be sufficient for faith; yet faith does not desire instruction”.

Council of Ephesus, on the true presence in the Eucharist:

(Session 1, Letter of Cyril to Nestorius [A.D. 431]): “We will necessarily add this also. Proclaiming the death, according to the flesh, of the only-begotten Son of God, that is Jesus Christ, confessing his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into heaven, we offer the unbloody sacrifice in the churches, and so go on to the mystical thanksgivings, and are sanctified, having received his holy flesh and the precious blood of Christ the Savior of us all. And not as common flesh do we receive it; God forbid: nor as of a man sanctified and associated with the Word according to the unity of worth, or as having a divine indwelling, but as truly the life-giving and very flesh of the Word himself. For he is the life according to his nature as God, and when he became united to his flesh, he made it also to be life-giving”.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, on the true presence in the Eucharist:

1373 “Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us,” is present in many ways to his Church:[195] in his word, in his Church’s prayer, “where two or three are gathered in my name,”[196] in the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned,[197] in the sacraments of which he is the author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister. But “he is present . . . most especially in the Eucharistic species.”[198]

1374 The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as “the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend.”[199] In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.”[200] “This presence is called ‘real’ – by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.”[201]

1375 It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament. The Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and of the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion. Thus St. John Chrysostom declares:

It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God’s. This is my body, he says. This word transforms the things offered.[202]

And St. Ambrose says about this conversion:

Be convinced that this is not what nature has formed, but what the blessing has consecrated. The power of the blessing prevails over that of nature, because by the blessing nature itself is changed…. Could not Christ’s word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing things into what they were not before? It is no less a feat to give things their original nature than to change their nature.[203]

1376 The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.”[204]

1377 The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ.[205]

1378 Worship of the Eucharist. In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord. “The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession.”[206]

1379 The tabernacle was first intended for the reservation of the Eucharist in a worthy place so that it could be brought to the sick and those absent outside of Mass. As faith in the real presence of Christ in his Eucharist deepened, the Church became conscious of the meaning of silent adoration of the Lord present under the Eucharistic species. It is for this reason that the tabernacle should be located in an especially worthy place in the church and should be constructed in such a way that it emphasizes and manifests the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

1380 It is highly fitting that Christ should have wanted to remain present to his Church in this unique way. Since Christ was about to take his departure from his own in his visible form, he wanted to give us his sacramental presence; since he was about to offer himself on the cross to save us, he wanted us to have the memorial of the love with which he loved us “to the end,”[207] even to the giving of his life. In his Eucharistic presence he remains mysteriously in our midst as the one who loved us and gave himself up for us,[208] and he remains under signs that express and communicate this love.

The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease.[209]

1381 “That in this sacrament are the true Body of Christ and his true Blood is something that ‘cannot be apprehended by the senses,’ says St. Thomas, ‘but only by faith, which relies on divine authority.’ For this reason, in a commentary on Luke 22:19 (‘This is my body which is given for you.’), St. Cyril says: ‘Do not doubt whether this is true, but rather receive the words of the Savior in faith, for since he is the truth, he cannot lie.'”[210]

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.
Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived;
How says trusty hearing? That shall be believed;
What God’s Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there’s nothing true.[211]

True Presence in the Eucharist: Conclusion

If anyone out there has or can point out a longer, or more solidly documented, or more consistent historical teaching on the subject, show me. If the Roman Catholic teaching consistently goes back to and through the apostolic era and right on into Scripture, then it looks like it hasn’t ever changed, in the Church Christ founded. Any other interpretations are coming out of denominations that didn’t even exist until relatively modern times, long after the doctrine was solidly established and consistently practiced for many, many centuries.

By coming forward to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we make three important statements of profound significance:

  1. We state not only that we are not in a state of mortal sin, but we consider ourselves to be in a state of grace worthy of even approaching the Lord.
  2. We state that we fully recognize the true Presence of our Lord, body, blood, soul and Divinity, under the appearances of common bread and wine.
  3. We state that we are fully and completely Catholic, as we participate in Communion and become what we eat – the Body of Christ – his whole Church. Which means that we fully accept all that the Church He founded safeguards, teaches and hands on to us.

One Protestant I remember arguing with (and, I learned later, many other Protestants in many other arguments have said virtually the same thing) said, Vic, if I really believed that was God up there, I would crawl on my belly down the aisle to receive Him. He had that part right.

Most of us take for granted the presence of the Lord, perhaps too much; it becomes a commonplace, a ritualized thing to do on Sundays and Holy Days.

But, sometimes, we need to take stock. That’s God up there. We ought to be crawling on our bellies down the aisle to receive Him.

Coming forward in the Eucharist to experience Communion with the Lord is, all at once, the most daring, the most humbling, and the most glorious thing any Catholic man can ever do.

Where are you in your walk, and how well do you recognize the miracle we participate in, involving as it does, actual, physical Communion with Jesus Christ, the Lord thy God, in the Eucharist? Have you fully recognized that we become what we eat, which is, the Body of Christ, His Church, with which we openly profess complete unity by daring to come to the Communion Rail? Do you make certain to have reconciled with any you have sinned against and with the Lord before you come forward to receive?

When I was a boy, an old nun told me that Jesus Christ – body, blood, soul and divinity – remains wholly within and part of me, personally, until the last fragment of physical Host is dissolved and gone. Which makes me, during that time, an actual Tabernacle of the Lord. This is, for me, the holiest of times; a time of silent contemplation and thanksgiving. I cannot sing during that time, or further participate in any other activity. Communion is the reason that the Mass has become my deepest prayer. Meditate upon the significance of it. And come worthily to the Receive the Lord, and live forever, as He faithfully promised. And He will raise you up on the last day.

Blessed be God forever; and thank you, Lord Jesus.


Recommended Reading

Encyclical Letter: Ecclesia De Eucharistia, of his holiness John Paul the Great.

Apostolic Letter: Rosarium Virginis Mariae, of his holiness John Paul the Great.

(In this letter, John Paul the Great introduced five new mysteries of the rosary, the Mysteries of Light. They include 1) His baptism in the Jordan; 2) His self-manifestation at the wedding at cana; 3) His proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with His call to conversion; 4) His Transfiguration; and, finally, 5) His institution of the Eucharist, as the sacramental expression of the Paschal Mystery.

All of these mysteries deserve attention in study, meditation and contemplation. His holiness gave us, in the fifth mystery, the sacrament of sacraments, ready to be plumbed to the depth of our souls, in recognition of the Truth of His Presence.)

God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, The Heart Of Life; Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, currently Pope Benedict XVI; Ignatius Press.

Reference Material

Bill O’Reilly’s False Facts of Life…

Need to get this one right Bill…

Bill O’Reilly’s False Facts of Life | Catholic Exchange.

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“It was all war, all the time.” — Catholicism vs. Communism

John Paul II will be beatified by Pope Benedict on May 1st, (May Day) 2011.

EDITOR: This post is dedicated to my friend in arms, Charles, who I know joins with me in opposing those forces which would seek to threaten all that is true, good, and beautiful concerning Our Lord Jesus Christ, His Church, our faith, and the freedom He offers each man.

That Pope John Paul II was a pivotal figure in the fall of European Communism is accepted as a truism, but many details of that drama have remained hidden in archives.

A US biographer of the late pope has now provided particulars of what he describes as the full-scale war by Communism against the Catholic Church, and Pope John Paul’s astute and successful counter-strategy.

The Polish pope displayed political savvy and “a shrewdness that combined steadiness of strategic vision with tactical flexibility”, George Weigel told an audience of seminarians, diplomats and Vatican officials at the Pontifical North American College on Sunday.

One of Pope John Paul’s moves, Mr Weigel said, was to appoint as his own Secretary of State Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, the architect of the Vatican’s “Ostpolitik” efforts to reach workable compromises with communist regimes.

By doing so, he “created tactical advantages for the Church: as the pope preached moral revolution over the heads of Communist regimes, speaking directly to their people, [Cardinal] Casaroli continued his diplomacy, thus denying the Communists the opportunity to charge that the Church had reneged on its commitment to dialogue,” Mr Weigel said.

Mr Weigel said he based his conclusions on previously secret cables and memos that have emerged from behind the former Iron Curtain. He came across the information while researching his latest book on the life of Pope John Paul, The End and the Beginning, which looks at the pope’s final years and evaluates his legacy.

As a point of orientation, he quoted Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Pope John Paul’s longtime secretary, who once remarked about the Church’s battle with Poland’s Communist regime: “You must understand that it was always ‘them’ and ‘us’.” What he meant, Mr Weigel said, was that “the struggle between Communism and Catholicism could not be understood as a matter of episodic confrontations… It was all war, all the time.”

Certainly that was how Communist leaders from Moscow to Budapest saw it, Mr Weigel said. He catalogued efforts by Communist regimes to place spies in local Catholic hierarchies and the Vatican, to exploit the Church’s moves toward openness and dialogue, to create ecumenical confusion and to compromise Church leaders by planting false stories.

In 1983, Mr Weigel recounted, the Polish security police even decided to blackmail Pope John Paul. The instrument chosen was a fake diary said to have been written by a deceased female employee of the Archdiocese of Krakow, in which the diarist reported she had been the future pope’s lover. The plot fell apart when one of the conspirators, after successfully planting the diary in the home of a Krakow priest, got drunk, crashed his car and blabbed to police about what he’d just done.

Although the story has a Keystone Kops flavour, Mr Weigel noted that the same security police operative would surface a year and a half later – as one of the men who beat Solidarity activist Fr Jerzy Popieluszko to death and dumped his body in the Vistula River.

Mr Weigel said Soviet bloc intelligence services tried to manipulate the debates of the Second Vatican Council for political ends, a process that continued as the “Ostpolitik” policy of the Vatican developed and prevailed. He said the Hungarian regime used the Vatican’s diplomatic opening to take control of the Catholic Church in the country; most bishops nominated after 1964 were co-operators with internal security and foreign intelligence services, he said.

At the Pontifical Hungarian Institute in Rome, all the rectors and half the students in the late 1960s were trained agents of Hungarian secret intelligence, he said.

Mr Weigel said Communist moles were placed successfully at Vatican Radio, at the Vatican newspaper and in pontifical universities. When Pope John Paul II was elected, he took some counter-intelligence steps; for one thing, materials dealing with Poland were no longer archived in the Secretariat of State but were kept in the papal apartment “where there was no chance for mischief-makers to prowl around”, Mr Weigel said.

When Pope John Paul met leaders such as Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, the pope decided not to keep a written record of their conversations, so that the notes would not fall into the wrong hands. Instead, Mr Weigel said, the pope and then-Mgr Dziwisz would discuss the encounters, and the secretary kept notes in diaries that remained under his control.

Mr Weigel said he thinks some lessons can be drawn by the Church’s experience with European Communism, as it looks to present challenges in the world’s remaining Communist states and in Islamic states. For one thing, he said, Vatican efforts to reach beneficial compromises with communist powers “rarely, if ever, paid significant dividends”.

He said a much more valuable witness was provided by church leaders who spoke courageously against the regimes, sometimes paying with their lives.

“Deeply committed and politically shrewd Christian pastors and laity eventually won out over communism. The blood of martyrs, however, was the seed of victory. Their sacrifice, and what we can learn from it about the cardinal virtue of fortitude – courage – must never be forgotten,” he said.

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