Tag Archives: Christianity

Catholic Media Coalition – Press Release: Kudos to the Bishop of Oakland and to the Pastor of St. Joseph the Worker for their stanch defense of the Faith

Contact: Mary Ann Kreitzer

Catholic Media Coalition

1216 Mill Road

Woodstock, Virginia 22664

(ph) 540-459-9493

email: kreitzr1@shentel.net

June 25, 2011 Members of the Catholic Media Coalition reacted with sorrow and anger over news of a demonstration outside the Berkeley Roman Catholic parish, St. Joseph the Worker that was orchestrated to greet Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Diocese of Oakland when he came to officiate at a June 2011 Confirmation Mass.

According to recent reports, this shameful action was, at least in some measure, organized to protest the pastor of St. Joseph the Worker, Reverend John Direen’s closing of a rectory conference room to the Berkeley Organizing Committee for Action (BOCA). BOCA is an affiliate of the Alinskyian organizing network PICO and, together with its sister organizations, is engaged in progressive, political activity.

For years, members of the Catholic Media Coalition have been researching and writing about Alinskyian organizing among religious institutions. The Alinskyian organizing networks have their roots in the dissenting Call to Action movement and foster liberation theology in their member congregations. The protesters in front of the parish have been trained in the tactics of protest and to claim as “rights” what have only been privileges.

We are grateful to the Bishop of Oakland and to the Pastor of St. Joseph the Worker for their stanch defense of the Faith.

Please be assured of our prayers and gratitude.

(Signatorees)

Mary Ann Kreitzer, president

Catholic Media Coalition, and

Les Femmes

Woodstock, Virginia

Valerie Lubitz, president

Los Pequeños de Cristo

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Stephanie Block, editor

The Pequeños Pepper, and

Catholic Media Coalition

Los Lunas, New Mexico

Allyson Smith, writer

San Diego, California

Carolyn Wendell, Director

VOCAL (Voice of Catholics Advocating Life)

Portland, Oregon

Nancy Kokstis, SFO

The Shepherds Warrior

Prentice, Wisconsin

Georgene M Sorenson,

Romans in the Desert

Tucson, Arizona

Janet Baker, director

Faithful Catholics of MD/DC

Washington, DC

Camille Giglio, director

California Right to Life Advocates

Kathy Parker, president

Brothers and Sisters at the Cross

Birmingham, Alabama

Alice Grayson, director

Veil of Innocence

West Falmouth, Massachusetts

Donna Steichen, author

Ojai, California

Jim Fritz, president

Defenders of the Faith

Berkeley Springs, WV

Kenneth Fisher,

CRCOA, Inc

James Mary Evans, webmaster

www.fratres.wordpress.com

Portland, Oregon

Sheila Parkhill, attorney

The Holy Family Society of Tucson

Tucson, Arizona

END OF POST

God’s Chihuahuas…

The producers of this trash are unaware that they are mocking the very Cross of Jesus Christ present within the suffering heart of His priest; nor are they aware of the spirit(s) that inspire such mockery within their own hearts…

From Creative Minority Report:

 

END OF POST

FULL TEXT — Official SOLT Statement Regarding Fr John Corapi

Official SOLT Statement Regarding Fr John Corapi

As the Regional Priest Servant of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT), I issue the following statement on behalf of the Society.
On 16 March 2011, the Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas, and the SOLT received a complaint against Fr. John Corapi, SOLT. As is normal procedure and due to the gravity of the accusation alleging conduct not in concert with the priestly state or his promises as a member of an society of apostolic of diocesan right, Fr. Corapi was suspended from active ministry (put on administrative leave) until such a time that the complaint could be fully investigated and due process given to Fr. Corapi. In the midst of the investigation, the SOLT received a letter from Fr. Corapi, dated June 3, 2011, indicating that, because of the physical, emotional and spiritual distress he has endured over the past few years, he could no longer continue to function as a priest or a member of the SOLT. Although the investigation was in progress, the SOLT had not arrived at any conclusion as to the credibility of the allegations under investigation.
At the onset, the Bishop of Corpus Christi advised the SOLT to not only proceed with the policies outlined in their own constitution, but also with the proper canonical procedures to determine the credibility of the allegations against Fr. Corapi. We reiterate that Fr. Corapi had not been determined guilty of any canonical or civil crimes. If the allegations had been found to be credible, the proper canonical due process would have been offered to Fr. Corapi, including his right to defense, to know his accuser and the complaint lodged, and a fair canonical trial with the right of recourse to the Holy See. On June 17, 2011, Fr. John Corapi issued a public statement indicating that he has chosen to cease functioning as a priest and a member of the SOLT.
The SOLT is deeply saddened that Fr. Corapi is suffering distress. The SOLT is further saddened by Fr. Corapi’s response to these allegations. The SOLT will do all within its power to assist Fr. Corapi if he desires to seek a dispensation from his rights and obligations as a priest and as a professed member of the SOLT. We request your prayers and the intercession of the Blessed Mother for the healing of Fr. Corapi and for any who have been negatively affected by Fr. Corapi’s decision to end his ministry as a priest and a member of the SOLT.
Fr Gerrard Sheehan, SOLT
Regional Priest Servant

Posted by SOLT Webmaster at 13:50

American Catholic Council — Before and After…

No, Sophia is not presenting herself for Holy Communion, she's snoring...

In April of 2009 I posted an article warning about a small dissident group from Minnesota calling itself the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform and its support for the formation of the American Catholic Council. The article was entitled “St. Joan of Arc Mpls. – Dialogue on difficult church issues, or advertisement to subvert the Catholic Church in America?“. In it I said:

“Simply put, there will be no effective American Catholic Council if reformers can’t somehow hoodwink laity and bishops into believing that their illegitimate goals are, well, legit…”

They weren’t, they couldn’t , and the council was…well, ineffective.

With the exception of a 78-year-old Priest from someplace called Ferndale, (not sure if this isn’t the name of a local retirement home or suburb of Detroit), the visible-active presence of any hierarchal authority capable of providing momentum for the movement was non-existent. After 2+ years of long hard planning and promoting the event  by various dissident groups throughout the country, this “spirit driven” council celebrating the 35th anniversary of the now infamous Call To Action Conference led by the late Cardinal John Dearden, former Archbishop of Detroit, would in the end produce a whopping 1500 participants…

Snore.

Pope Benedict XVI’s beatification homily: full text

“In a word: he helped us not to fear the truth, because truth is the guarantee of liberty.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Six years ago we gathered in this Square to celebrate the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Our grief at his loss was deep, but even greater was our sense of an immense grace which embraced Rome and the whole world: a grace which was in some way the fruit of my beloved predecessor’s entire life, and especially of his witness in suffering. Even then we perceived the fragrance of his sanctity, and in any number of ways God’s People showed their veneration for him. For this reason, with all due respect for the Church’s canonical norms, I wanted his cause of beatification to move forward with reasonable haste. And now the longed-for day has come; it came quickly because this is what was pleasing to the Lord: John Paul II is blessed!

I would like to offer a cordial greeting to all of you who on this happy occasion have come in such great numbers to Rome from all over the world – cardinals, patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches, brother bishops and priests, official delegations, ambassadors and civil authorities, consecrated men and women and lay faithful, and I extend that greeting to all those who join us by radio and television.

Today is the Second Sunday of Easter, which Blessed John Paul II entitled Divine Mercy Sunday. The date was chosen for today’s celebration because, in God’s providence, my predecessor died on the vigil of this feast. Today is also the first day of May, Mary’s month, and the liturgical memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker. All these elements serve to enrich our prayer, they help us in our pilgrimage through time and space; but in heaven a very different celebration is taking place among the angels and saints! Even so, God is but one, and one too is Christ the Lord, who like a bridge joins earth to heaven. At this moment we feel closer than ever, sharing as it were in the liturgy of heaven.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (Jn 20:29). In today’s Gospel Jesus proclaims this beatitude: the beatitude of faith. For us, it is particularly striking because we are gathered to celebrate a beatification, but even more so because today the one proclaimed blessed is a Pope, a Successor of Peter, one who was called to confirm his brethren in the faith. John Paul II is blessed because of his faith, a strong, generous and apostolic faith. We think at once of another beatitude: “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven” (Mt 16:17). What did our heavenly Father reveal to Simon? That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Because of this faith, Simon becomes Peter, the rock on which Jesus can build his Church. The eternal beatitude of John Paul II, which today the Church rejoices to proclaim, is wholly contained in these sayings of Jesus: “Blessed are you, Simon” and “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe!” It is the beatitude of faith, which John Paul II also received as a gift from God the Father for the building up of Christ’s Church.

Our thoughts turn to yet another beatitude, one which appears in the Gospel before all others. It is the beatitude of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer. Mary, who had just conceived Jesus, was told by Saint Elizabeth: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord” (Lk 1:45). The beatitude of faith has its model in Mary, and all of us rejoice that the beatification of John Paul II takes place on this first day of the month of Mary, beneath the maternal gaze of the one who by her faith sustained the faith of the Apostles and constantly sustains the faith of their successors, especially those called to occupy the Chair of Peter. Mary does not appear in the accounts of Christ’s resurrection, yet hers is, as it were, a continual, hidden presence: she is the Mother to whom Jesus entrusted each of his disciples and the entire community. In particular we can see how Saint John and Saint Luke record the powerful, maternal presence of Mary in the passages preceding those read in today’s Gospel and first reading. In the account of Jesus’ death, Mary appears at the foot of the cross (Jn 19:25), and at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles she is seen in the midst of the disciples gathered in prayer in the Upper Room (Acts 1:14).

Today’s second reading also speaks to us of faith. Saint Peter himself, filled with spiritual enthusiasm, points out to the newly-baptized the reason for their hope and their joy. I like to think how in this passage, at the beginning of his First Letter, Peter does not use language of exhortation; instead, he states a fact. He writes: “you rejoice”, and he adds: “you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet 1:6, 8-9). All these verbs are in the indicative, because a new reality has come about in Christ’s resurrection, a reality to which faith opens the door. “This is the Lord’s doing”, says the Psalm (118:23), and “it is marvelous in our eyes”, the eyes of faith.

Dear brothers and sisters, today our eyes behold, in the full spiritual light of the risen Christ, the beloved and revered figure of John Paul II. Today his name is added to the host of those whom he proclaimed saints and blesseds during the almost twenty-seven years of his pontificate, thereby forcefully emphasizing the universal vocation to the heights of the Christian life, to holiness, taught by the conciliar Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium. All of us, as members of the people of God – bishops, priests, deacons, laity, men and women religious – are making our pilgrim way to the heavenly homeland where the Virgin Mary has preceded us, associated as she was in a unique and perfect way to the mystery of Christ and the Church. Karol Wojtyla took part in the Second Vatican Council, first as an auxiliary Bishop and then as Archbishop of Kraków. He was fully aware that the Council’s decision to devote the last chapter of its Constitution on the Church to Mary meant that the Mother of the Redeemer is held up as an image and model of holiness for every Christian and for the entire Church. This was the theological vision which Blessed John Paul II discovered as a young man and subsequently maintained and deepened throughout his life. A vision which is expressed in the scriptural image of the crucified Christ with Mary, his Mother, at his side. This icon from the Gospel of John (19:25-27) was taken up in the episcopal and later the papal coat-of-arms of Karol Wojtyla: a golden cross with the letter “M” on the lower right and the motto “Totus tuus”, drawn from the well-known words of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort in which Karol Wojtyla found a guiding light for his life: “Totus tuus ego sum et omnia mea tua sunt. Accipio te in mea omnia. Praebe mihi cor tuum, Maria – I belong entirely to you, and all that I have is yours. I take you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart” (Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, 266).

In his Testament, the new Blessed wrote: “When, on 16 October 1978, the Conclave of Cardinals chose John Paul II, the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, said to me: ‘The task of the new Pope will be to lead the Church into the Third Millennium’”. And the Pope added: “I would like once again to express my gratitude to the Holy Spirit for the great gift of the Second Vatican Council, to which, together with the whole Church – and especially with the whole episcopate – I feel indebted. I am convinced that it will long be granted to the new generations to draw from the treasures that this Council of the twentieth century has lavished upon us. As a Bishop who took part in the Council from the first to the last day, I desire to entrust this great patrimony to all who are and will be called in the future to put it into practice. For my part, I thank the Eternal Shepherd, who has enabled me to serve this very great cause in the course of all the years of my Pontificate”. And what is this “cause”? It is the same one that John Paul II presented during his first solemn Mass in Saint Peter’s Square in the unforgettable words: “Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ!” What the newly-elected Pope asked of everyone, he was himself the first to do: society, culture, political and economic systems he opened up to Christ, turning back with the strength of a titan – a strength which came to him from God – a tide which appeared irreversible. By his witness of faith, love and apostolic courage, accompanied by great human charisma, this exemplary son of Poland helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to be called Christian, to belong to the Church, to speak of the Gospel. In a word: he helped us not to fear the truth, because truth is the guarantee of liberty. To put it even more succinctly: he gave us the strength to believe in Christ, because Christ is Redemptor hominis, the Redeemer of man. This was the theme of his first encyclical, and the thread which runs though all the others.

When Karol Wojtyla ascended to the throne of Peter, he brought with him a deep understanding of the difference between Marxism and Christianity, based on their respective visions of man. This was his message: man is the way of the Church, and Christ is the way of man. With this message, which is the great legacy of the Second Vatican Council and of its “helmsman”, the Servant of God Pope Paul VI, John Paul II led the People of God across the threshold of the Third Millennium, which thanks to Christ he was able to call “the threshold of hope”. Throughout the long journey of preparation for the great Jubilee he directed Christianity once again to the future, the future of God, which transcends history while nonetheless directly affecting it. He rightly reclaimed for Christianity that impulse of hope which had in some sense faltered before Marxism and the ideology of progress. He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope, to be lived in history in an “Advent” spirit, in a personal and communitarian existence directed to Christ, the fullness of humanity and the fulfillment of all our longings for justice and peace.

Finally, on a more personal note, I would like to thank God for the gift of having worked for many years with Blessed Pope John Paul II. I had known him earlier and had esteemed him, but for twenty-three years, beginning in 1982 after he called me to Rome to be Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I was at his side and came to revere him all the more. My own service was sustained by his spiritual depth and by the richness of his insights. His example of prayer continually impressed and edified me: he remained deeply united to God even amid the many demands of his ministry. Then too, there was his witness in suffering: the Lord gradually stripped him of everything, yet he remained ever a “rock”, as Christ desired. His profound humility, grounded in close union with Christ, enabled him to continue to lead the Church and to give to the world a message which became all the more eloquent as his physical strength declined. In this way he lived out in an extraordinary way the vocation of every priest and bishop to become completely one with Jesus, whom he daily receives and offers in the Eucharist.

Blessed are you, beloved Pope John Paul II, because you believed! Continue, we implore you, to sustain from heaven the faith of God’s people. Amen.

END OF POST/SOURCE

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 TEXTS] Cardinal George Pell hammers unorthodox priest down under

“We cannot be sure whether Eric’s theological position is typical of a liberal or a radical Protestantism. But as an exercise in loyal dissent it moves beyond the limits of orthodox Catholicism…”

NOSEDIVE: The Spirit of Vatican II comes crashing down to earth.

To pell is to pelt; to knock about, is what mell is to beat with a mallet; to hammer… And yesterday Cardinal Pell hammered retired Australian priest Eric Hodgens and his unorthodox ethos of Vatican II, a spirit responsible for much of the difficulties and challenges the Catholic Church faces in the world today.

The brouhaha down under began with Hodgens bitter critique of the Church [Time to speak – and act] followed with Pell’s sharp rebuttal [Some Gaudium and No Spes] The Swag… Both exchanges follow in full:

Eric Hodgens is a Melbourne priest ordained in 1960. He has had parish appointments for all of his ministerial years except for two years of full-time study at Melbourne University. He was Director of Pastoral Formation for Priests in Melbourne for seven years while setting up a new parish. Eric has the most extensive set of statistics on secular priests in Australia and writes occasionally on Catholic and other matters. Further articles can be viewed on his blog www.catholicview.typepad.com

Time to speak – and act

A large section of Catholic priests are at odds with the public stance of the Church. The issues which disturb them include:

  • the displacement of the main game of spreading a message of life, hope, compassion and forgiveness by overstressing, moral issues;
  • foreclosing on moral issues which need revisiting – eg contraception, IVF, divorce, homosexuality;
  • World Youth Days which feed the personality cult of the pope to the detriment of the local church and which have not reversed the flow of youth from the Church;
  • the autocratic, non-consultative management style of many bishops – themselves unsuitable and unwanted and appointed without consultation;
  • the promotion of reactionary, authoritarian and fundamentalist movements such as Opus Dei, Legionaries of Christ, Heralds of the Gospel, Communione e Liberatione as real, effective responses to the challenge of faith in a secular world;
  • the non-consultative and politically motivated superimposition of a new, defective translation of the liturgy. This one has the potential of sparking a people-power revolt as a growing parade of liturgical experts list the bad policy and the abuses still being perpetrated under its banner;
  • The discomfort these priests feel ranges from embarrassment to outright disagreement.

Yet, we priests do not speak up much. Why?

We were trained not to speak up. In our earlier years we were afraid to speak up because the bishop was too awesome a figure. The rank gradient was steep. Remember “My Lord”. Remember genuflecting and kissing the ring. And bishops learned the trick of controlling the pack by showing anger or displeasure at the first sign of disagreement.

We were also trained to put the Church institution first. Rocking the boat in public was disloyalty and self-aggrandisement.

More recently priests worked out that it was useless to talk up anyway. Bishops generally were impervious to criticism, especially on issues of Roman policy.
The Diocesan Council of Priests became a waste of time in most dioceses. So, why waste your psychological energy? Just go back to your parish and do your own thing.

Finally, there was always the promise of obedience which imitated the antique oath of fealty to the liege lord. “Do you promise obedience and respect to me and my successors?” Priests took this literally and seriously.

This policy will no longer do. It is time to speak up and to act. The matter is urgent. Why?

The church in Australia and the west is in serious trouble. Church-loving laity know it, priests know it. The symptoms are clear: a drought of priests, dropping Mass attendance, the loss of the younger generation and a walking away from membership by the worn down hard core.

So, what is the cause and what response is needed?

In Europe and its offspring, membership of the Church was overwhelmingly a matter of inheritance. The baby was christened and all presumed that it would stay a Church member for life. Most European states had an established religion. They were confessional states. Even after the arrival of the secular states the denominational sub-groups remained relatively large and strong. Christian identity remained confessional – ie I belong to this church, believe what it believes and practice religion the way it does. Membership qualifications were clear and the group’s boundaries were clearly defined.

Two rules of membership provided continued existence. Firstly, you christened your children and inculturated them into the group. Secondly, there was strong group pressure not to defect.

Since World War II the social cohesion of religious groups has weakened leaving christened members freer to think and act for themselves. A lot of this is due to a massive expansion of knowledge — scientific, psychological, sociological, historical, critical. Combined with a massive expansion of education, the result is much more freedom of thought. In this new environment long assumed facts have been turned upside down. So many accepted beliefs and practices are seen as dated and irrelevant. Bemoaning the scene is no help. We must revisit the core message of the Church and re-work the way we present it in the light of the new knowledge in this new social context. One term used to describe this process is recontextualization.

Rome lays the blame on secularism and relativism and calls for a new evangelization. John Paul II started this call. Benedict has followed it up by establishing the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. The problem with this is that there is no intention to review the articulation of faith and moral teaching, nor an intention to try out new approaches to liturgy, nor to experiment in inculturation. Look at the favoured new movements, the new translation of the missal, the catechesis offered at World Youth Days – all reasserting the old model which is not working.

The foreclosed answer is reconfessionalisation, not the recontextualization needed Recontextualization entails accepting, even welcoming, secular and pluralistic culture. We rearticulate our core faith so that it makes sense in that context.

We rearticulate our concept and imagery of God so that God is the unseen, transcendent core of being rather than the string puller and button pusher of a puppet world. Jesus becomes the face and voice of the unseen God and the channel of God’s faithfulness and love. Salvation is the hope that we can justifiably hold on to in the face of death – a hope reassured by our faith in Jesus risen.

The recontextualized articulation of the central message of Christian salvation is well under way. Scripture scholars like Ray Brown, Joe Fitzmyer, John Meier and Eugene La Verdiere have shown us how faith develops and its articulation grows. As Jesus became larger than life in the belief of the early Christian communities they told larger than life stories. Under their guidance the scriptures make sense.

Karen Armstrong has lucidly shown the distinction between logical and mythological discourse. If you want to have meaningful faith conversation in the modern world you must understand the power and meaning of myth.

Theologians like Roger Lenaers and Roger Haight rearticulate the core of Christian theology in a way which is credible in the modern world. Michael Morwood and Philip Kennedy have done a fine job of popularizing this recontextualized theology. But their efforts are not appreciated by Rome. Haight has been silenced. Tissa Balasurya and Jaques Dupuis were both pursued by the CDF for recontextualizing Christian faith in the face of religious pluralism.

The Catholic Church had a great chance to meet this challenge at the start of the 20’h century. The response was Pius X’s campaign against modernism with mind-numbing results. We were not alone. At about the same time the US protestants answered the challenge with their fundamentalist tracts. We got another chance with Vatican II and Gaudium et Spes. The non-converted curial remnant got busy and won the post-conciliar battle especially under John Paul II. Gaudium et Spes was dismantled. The result is our unpreparedness for the current collapse. It is now the 11th hour. The matter is urgent.

It is precisely because so many priests have taken steps along this econtextualizing path that they are in disagreement with Roman policy as it recycles the old confessional model. Many priests have already very thoughtfully modified their pastoral practice. They are already recontextualizing their own faith journey. They have replaced the simplistic faith of their youth with a more fluid faith borne out of experience, more mature and reflective appreciation of the scriptures and a more vital, dynamic theology.

Our promise of loyalty was made to the Church in the person of the bishop. If the bishop is wrong, a loyal priest speaks up. In the light of relentless alienating Roman policy, made acutely specific in the current imposition of the defective translation of the liturgy, we have the responsibility not only to speak up but to act.

Cardinal Pell responds:

Some Gaudium and No Spes

By George Cardinal Pell

Father Eric Hodgens’ piece on the Gaudium et Spes priests gives us plenty of food for thought. It is well written and provocative, as you would expect of a priest who described his own cohort as possessing “the biggest proportion of intelligent, educated and competent leaders”. But it is unbalanced, misguided, selective and sometimes inaccurate.

Recently I have been concerned by the theological extremism of some Swag contributions, and am grateful for the opportunity to state the case for the orthodox mainstream. I am not ordering anyone to “withdraw to the fortress and sing the old song”, but my best lines are still from the New Testament with its ancient truths and melodies.

Eric sees himself now as “a presbyter called and ordained by the Church – the People of God” rather than as “a priest called and consecrated by God”. It is difficult to know exactly what this means, but it might point us to a number of fundamental issues.

More cards have been laid on the table than in Father Hodgens’ earlier writings. While it would be interesting to know whether he still has any jokers up his sleeve, it is more important to recognize that many of the cards cannot be identified accurately. We do not know, for example, his answers to the nine questions he lists. We do not know the limits to his hostility to some ancient devotions such as adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and veneration of Our Lady. We do not know whether his opposition to the papacy and episcopate touches these institutions themselves or simply the style of recent incumbents. So too with priesthood and traditional Christian teaching on marriage, divorce and sexuality.

We cannot be sure whether Eric’s theological position is typical of a liberal or a radical Protestantism. But as an exercise in loyal dissent it moves beyond the limits of orthodox Catholicism.

Let me attempt to state the issue in the most basic terms.

We find no evidence in Eric’s article that the Catholic Church is the recipient of divine revelation, “God’s message not some human thinking” (1 Thess 2.13); nor that the Catholic Church was founded by the Son of God “the Word who was with God . . . the Word who was God” (Jn 1.1), Jesus the Christ, the son of Mary with a divine as well as a human nature. If Christ is divine, New Testament teachings have a unique authority.

Eric writes with the genuine anguish of most of us older Catholics who grew up at an unusually high tide of faith and practice and lived through the radical decline which followed the social revolution of the 1960s in the First World. But some of the damage was self-inflicted.

One major point of difference is that in my view Eric’s prescriptions are a significant cause of our problems. His solutions were put into practice after the Council, to some degree in Australia, but especially in Belgium, Holland and French-speaking Canada. They emptied the Churches there.

Pope Paul VI appointed no bishops who were opposed to the ethos of Vatican II, and for various reasons the good bishops appointed in Holland were overwhelmed, tossed aside by the liberal gales. This brings me to another contemporary fact, which I never anticipated as a young seminarian in Rome during the Council or as a young priest. The now aged liberal wing of the Church, which dominated discussion after the Council and often the bishops and the emerging Church bureaucracies, has no following among young practising Catholics, priests or religious. This is not only true in Australia, but everywhere in the Western world. In these different countries dominated by a secular media and intelligentsia, liberalism has no young Catholic progeny.

On reflection we should not find this surprising, as growth is tied to Gospel fidelity, to faith, love and sacrifice. After Vatican II many of us overestimated our cultural strengths and underestimated the virulence of anti-Christian forces. You need strong Christian foundations to participate productively in “open dialogue”. Without these roots the end of the road is agnosticism.

I should conclude with a few words in defence of the four popes who were mauled, especially Paul, John Paul II and Benedict. Incidentally it is a matter of historical record that at the 1971 Synod of Bishops, Pope Paul offered to the bishops the option of ordaining married men to the priesthood and the bishops declined to accept this.

All three popes were prolific writers, while John Paul II and Benedict were professional academics with a record of scholarly and popular publications rarely if ever equalled by any Australian priest. I believe Pope Benedict is now our most distinguished living theologian.

The charges against the Holy Father do not amount to too much e.g. instituting a special year to honour priests (which was well received by priests and people), continuing with a new translation of the Roman Missal, and encouraging the Tridentine Mass to be celebrated. He did not receive back the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, but only lifted their excommunication. They are still in schism.

Pope John Paul provokes a special hostility, allegedly an abuser of power, out of touch in scripture, limited in theology, a bad listener. It is a surprise that anyone came to his funeral. In particular he is denounced for emasculating the leadership of the Church, who are clerical and compliant, “low on creativity, leadership, education and even intelligence”.

In an astonishing example of provincial arrogance, Hodgens claims that “the more intelligent and better educated” bishops (only “some” to be sure) are corrupt and have sold their soul for advancement. Me thinks he protests too much.

Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict were not hostile to intelligence, education or competence, but they have striven regularly to appoint bishops who will defend the apostolic tradition and strive to implement policies which will strengthen the Catholic position, not white-ant it.

Hodgens’ misunderstanding of the magisterium is typical of his position. The magisterium refers primarily to the teaching authority of the pope together with the bishops (Vatican II’s collegiality). The baptised faithful share in this and so do the theologians with priests and religious.

Certainly the teaching authority of the bishops was recognized early by St. Ignatius of Antioch (+107 A.D.) and St Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons (+200 A.D.) with his apostolic succession lists of bishops to defend the apostolic tradition. The ancient teaching chair of the bishop exemplifies this, predating by many centuries any groups of professional theologians in the medieval universities. In Pope John Paul’s 27 years of pontificate 24 individuals were disciplined for their theological views, including eight who were silenced or removed, in the worldwide Catholic community of more than one billion believers. Father Hodgens himself escaped any reign of terror and so did many hundreds of dissidents.

Eric is a bit too generous to his generation, to which I belong. Many were formidable, but we coincided with a period of decline probably unparalleled since the Reformation.

“Reflections on an ordination golden anniversary” is thought provoking. I am glad Father Hodgens has enjoyed his years of priesthood. Unfortunately much of the analysis is mistaken since his solutions, to the extent we can identify them, are less than Catholic and would make a difficult situation worse.

END OF POST

Behold, your spiritual mother…

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:25-27).

The Catholic Church: Gift of Love, Truth and Life

By F. K. Bartels
1/23/2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
+++
It was bishop Fulton J. Sheen who said, “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” It is helpful to contemplate how the Church came to exist, and the price our Lord paid to give birth to her.
GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) — Although it is fashionable in some circles to view the Catholic Church as merely one institution among others, it is vital to properly understand who and what the Church is, for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ sacrificed his sacred humanity on the cross for the sake of his holy Bride. It was therefore God himself who willed that the Church should exist. As the sacrament of salvation and the gateway to eternal life, the Church exists as a definite and specific institution, invisible and visible, divine and human — a gift of love, truth and life. 

There is in fact a great deal of misunderstanding in contemporary society about Mother Church. It would not be an exaggeration to state that if Christ had not founded her as a definite and specific Church, then the fullness of truth our intellects so thirstily crave would be inaccessible: we would be doomed to grope in a world of darkness without hope of understanding the reality of those things which are beyond what is readily apparent to the senses. In absence of the Church, we could not know with certainty the truth about salvation and redemption, grace and free will; nor of the eschatological realities each man must eventually face; nor could we even understand what a human person is. Christ, of course, knew all this. Therefore, the Way, the Truth, and the Life who is our Savior (see Jn 14:6) founded his Church as an apostolic institution of unity, holiness, and catholicity.

Though it is the Church who dispenses the words of truth and the sacraments of life, and who carries the faithful in her womb as they journey along in God’s providential plan, there are some who willingly isolate themselves from such beautiful gifts. For some view her through sterile, calculating eyes as an human institution only; one who ceaselessly attempts to shackle modern man with ever-tightening moral constraints. In this way, she is viewed with suspicion, and thus whatever moral word she may proclaim with love for the freedom and safety of her children is dismissed as an undue, legalistic imposition that stymies freedom.

Others see the Church in an entirely abstract way, as if she did not exist as Mother Church whose words transmit the fullness of truth, but rather as a vague concept that simply and only refers to the manner in which Christians share a relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ. In this view, the Church is seen as a non-institution, indefinite and unspecific: the word Church is reduced to “church,” and with that reduction the fullness of its meaning is lost. Consequently, the words “church” and “Christian” are often thought to be synonymous. However, being a member of the latter group does not necessarily imply full communion with the former. While it is true that by virtue of their baptism all Christians are incorporated into the Church, it is important to distinguish between full and partial communion. In order for one to be in full communion with Christ’s Bride, it is necessary to be a practicing Catholic who gives assent to all that the Church teaches.

There are still others who view the Church through the warped lens of indifferentism. The fullness of truth transmitted by the Church is regarded with cold disinterest; ruled by pragmatism, the fleeting events of contemporary society are given the utmost priority, and thus worshiped as idols; truth and religion are seen as distant, trivial issues hardly worth fretting over, for there is little time for it all. The ramification of such an insane attitude is that the breadth and depth of religious truth is madly considered to be mere inconsequential clutter.

Jesus Christ Suffered And Died For The Church

It was bishop Fulton J. Sheen who said, “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” It is helpful to contemplate how the Church came to exist, and the price our Lord paid to give birth to her.”Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:25-27).

Many theologians see in this sacred moment on Calvary the formation of the first cell of the Church. Hans Urs Von Balthasaar commented on the fruits of the relationship conferred on Mary and John by our Beloved Savior: “From this original cell of the Church established at the Cross will come everything which will form the organism of the Church” . It is there, at the base of the cross, in an act of unwavering faith confronted with intense emptiness, pain and sorrow, that the gift of Church as a community bound in Love is conferred upon the Virgin Mother and the beloved disciple. This new way of life is immediately and fully embraced, for the disciple takes Mary into his home “from that hour”.

“In order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, . . . the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out” (Jn 19:31-34).

In his book, God Is Near Us, then Cardinal Ratzinger writes, “From his side, that side which has been opened up in loving sacrifice, comes a spring of water that brings to fruition the whole of history. From the ultimate self-sacrifice of Jesus spring forth blood and water, Eucharist and baptism, as the source of a new community.” Thus this Cardinal who would soon become Pope Benedict XVI was able to say, “The Lord’s opened side is the source from which spring forth both the Church and the sacraments that build up the Church.”

In this sacred, incomparable event on the cross, the Person of Jesus Christ is revealed: The Son of God and Son of Man willed to die for humanity, and, in that astonishing moment which will forever leave men speechless, he has lovingly formed in the midst of a chaotic world an island of truth and security: his Bride, the Catholic Church. This gift of love, truth and life flowed forth in divine abundance as an organic, living reality of oneness, whose beating heart is Christ himself.

The Church: Monarchical And Hierarchical Authority

Our understanding of the Church would be incomplete if we overlooked St. Matthew’s gospel. After Simon Peter confessed that Jesus is the “Messiah, the Son of the living God,” Jesus replies, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (16:17-19).

In Matthew’s gospel we clearly see that the Church is founded by Christ as a definite and specific institution; i.e., Christ founded the Church — not “churches”. Authority is conferred on St. Peter as leader, who is given the “keys to the kingdom,” and the power to “bind” and “loose”. The implication of this fact is that Peter had a primacy or special place among the apostles. Here, with St. Peter as earthly head, we see the visible monarchical structure of the Church. It stands to reason that Christ would install a leader at the helm of his Church, for without one she would quickly fall into division and disarray. Analogies always fall short; nevertheless, we should note that any business or corporation would not long survive without a leader. In Matthew 18:18, Christ gives the authority of binding and loosing to the other apostles — though Peter remains at the helm — forming the hierarchical structure of the Church.

Some object to the claim that St. Peter was First Bishop of Rome and leader of the Church. There is the notion that Christ founded his Church on St. Peter’s faith only; that Peter had no actual leadership role, and that he was but merely a figurehead. Some presently treat the office of the papacy in such a manner. But no one gives the “keys to the kingdom” to faith; no one confers the power to “bind” and “loose” on faith. Christian faith is the theological virtue by which the mind and will assents to God’s revelation: it is a movement of the intellect and choice of the will to love the God of infinite goodness with all one’s heart. Faith is saying “yes” to the Word. Faith in itself cannot possess the authority to “bind” and “loose”. Authority is granted to people. In this case, it is conferred on the Church, an authoritative monarchical and hierarchical institution, who is the Body of Christ and who possesses the fullness of truth.

The early Church Fathers were firmly convinced of the primacy of Peter and of a definite and specific Church instituted by Jesus Christ. Thus, on looking into history, we find the notion of a vague, non-institutional church entirely foreign to the Christian community.

On the unity and authority of the Church, St. Ignatius wrote: “You must all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles. Reverence the deacons as you would the command of God.  Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. . . . Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, A.D. 105).

It is especially noteworthy that Ignatius, a man of Antioch, first writes, so far as we know, of the term Catholic Church; for it was also at Antioch that, as the Acts of the Apostles indicate, the followers of Jesus Christ were first called Christians (see Acts 11:26).

St. Cyprian, writing in about A.D. 251: “The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ . . . On him he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?” (The Unity of the Catholic Church, 4).

It was St. Cyprian’s understanding of the reality of the Church that compelled him to write this vital truth: “He who has turned his back on the Church of Christ shall not come to the rewards of Christ; he is an alien, a worldling, an enemy. You cannot have God for your Father if you have not the Church for your mother. Our Lord warns us when He says: ‘he that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth.’ Whosoever breaks the peace and harmony of Christ acts against Christ; whoever gathers elsewhere than in the Church scatters the Church of Christ” (Ibid.).

We return to the Crucifixion. God Incarnate, through Whom all things were created and are sustained, sacrificed himself and died on the cross for his Church: a definite and specific, divine and human institution of oneness who exists as the Body of Christ. Our Savior died for the immense and incomparable gift of his Church: the sacrament of salvation whose sole purpose is to guide humankind to its eternal end. The Church is a sign and instrument of Christ’s salvation: it is within the loving arms of Mother Church that God’s children receive the sacraments in which they are swept up into the life of the Holy Trinity. Such a gift is priceless and beyond all comparison. It should never be overlooked, dismissed or rejected; rather every Christian should flock to Mother Church, the gateway to life eternal.

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F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever have. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at catholicpathways.com

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Finding the Fullness of Christian Truth…

Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter by Pietro...
Image via Wikipedia

“Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours” (2 Thess. 2:15)

Tradition, Scripture, and Magisterium: The Fullness of Truth

By F. K. Bartels
3/24/2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Christian faith is not a “religion of the book.” Christianity is the religion of the “Word” of God, a word which is “not a written and mute word, but the Word which is incarnate and living” (Catechism of The Catholic Church, No. 108).

GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) – On March 23 Pope Benedict XVI, during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square, focused his catechesis on St. Lawrence, whom he acknowledged as an “effective preacher,” and a “theologian versed in sacred Scripture and the fathers of the Church.” St. Lawrence was, continued the Pope, “also able to illustrate in an exemplary way the Catholic doctrine to Christians who, above all in Germany, had followed the Reformation.” 

“With his clear and quiet exposition,” continued our Holy Father, St. Lawrence “showed the biblical and patristic foundation of all the articles of the faith called into question by Martin Luther. Among these, the primacy of St. Peter and his Successors, the divine origin of the episcopate, justification as man’s interior transformation, the need of good works for salvation. The success that Lawrence enjoyed helps us to understand that also today, in carrying forward ecumenical dialogue with so much hope, the confrontation with sacred Scripture, read in the Tradition of the Church, is an irreplaceable element of fundamental importance, as I wished to recall in the apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini.”

It is not necessary to ask why Pope Benedict would use the phrase “confrontation with sacred Scripture”; for it is the inconsistent interpretation of Scripture itself which often continues to — at least to a large extent — fuel disunity in contemporary Christendom. Our Lord prayed for unity among his followers on the eve of his Passion (see Jn. 17); however, it will not be achieved until Christians can agree on key doctrines of the Christian religion, such as those mentioned above by our Holy Father.

Pope Benedict also emphasized the importance of reading Scripture “in the Tradition of the Church.” The inseparable relationship between Tradition (the word of God revealed to the living community of the Church) and Scripture remains as perhaps the single most misunderstood element of the true Christian religion among those who trace the origin of their particular faith tradition to the Reformation. Simply, Tradition is viewed today by some Christians as an intrusion on the word of God, when, in fact, it is just the opposite: it is essential to a fruitful and proper understanding of Scripture. One without the other diminishes the whole of God’s revealed word.

The notion that Scripture should be interpreted in an isolated fashion apart from Tradition was foreign to the apostolic Church, as St. Paul attests: “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours” (2 Thess. 2:15). It was not until Martin Luther and the Reformation in the sixteenth century that sola scriptura became entrenched in parts of Christendom. Thomas Bokenkotter wrote that for “Luther, ‘Scripture alone’ was the supreme authority in religion-and henceforth this phrase became the rallying cry of all Protestants” (A Concise History of the Catholic Church, 208).

Further, Hilaire Belloc noted that the main principle of the Reformation was a “reaction against a united spiritual authority” (The Great Heresies, 97). While the Reformation was ignited by a complex array of disagreements, clergy abuses, frustration over certain practices in the Church at that time, and other issues, it was nevertheless the tenet of “Scripture alone” which provided the reformers with an anchor point on which a break from the authority of the Catholic Church could be both implemented and, so it seems, sustained. The Christians of that period were Catholics and, in order to facilitate a break with Rome, it became necessary to argue against the importance of Tradition and the authority of the Church: “Scripture alone” became the foundation of such an argument.

Tradition: The Revealed Word of God In History

In Part One of Verbum Domini, Pope Benedict XVI, in describing the various ways in which the word of God is spoken throughout salvation history, focuses on the relationship between Tradition and Scripture. It is important to recognize that, at the very outset, our Holy Father wished to make clear the inseparable relationship between the apostolic Tradition contained in the living Church and the written word of God preserved in Sacred Scripture:

“Then too, the word of God is that word preached by the Apostles in obedience to the command of the Risen Jesus: ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation’ (Mk. 16:15). The word of God is thus handed on in the Church’s living Tradition. Finally, the word of God, attested and divinely inspired, is sacred Scripture, the Old and New Testaments. All this helps us to see that, while in the Church we greatly venerate the sacred Scriptures, the Christian faith is not a ‘religion of the book’: Christianity is the ‘religion of the word of God,’ not of ‘a written and mute word, but of the incarnate and living Word’ (qtd. from St. Bernard of Clairvaux). Consequently the Scripture is to be proclaimed, heard, read, received and experienced as the word of God, in the stream of the apostolic Tradition from which it is inseparable” (Verbum Domini, 7).

We might think of Tradition as the foundation upon which Sacred Scripture is built, for Tradition is of apostolic origin, and was first received into the Church by the Apostles who heard it from the Savior’s own lips. These men, the foundation-stones of the Church (Eph. 2:20), went forth and, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, handed on by “oral preaching, by their example, [and] by their ordinances, what they themselves had received.” It was the “Apostles and others associated with them who, under the inspiration [of the] Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing” (Ibid., 17-18).

Quoting from Vatican IIs Dei Verbum, Pope Benedict XVI stated that Tradition is “a living and dynamic reality”: it “‘makes progress in the Church, with the help of the Holy Spirit’; yet not in the sense that it changes in its truth, which is perennial. Rather, ‘there is a growth in insight into the realities and the words that are being passed on,’ through contemplation and study, with the understanding granted by deeper spiritual experience and by the ‘preaching of those who, on succeeding to the office of bishop, have received the sure charism of truth'” (Ibid.).

Tradition, Scripture and Magisterium: The Threefold Key To Christian Unity

It is hardly necessary to ask whether “Scripture alone” is entirely sufficient as the sole rule of faith for the Christian religion. The centuries since the Reformation up to present times adequately demonstrate that it is not. Nevertheless, it should be of great interest to every Christian who cherishes the word of God in their heart to contemplate sincerely and carefully whether or not they are receiving God’s revelation in its entirety. In a word, is the fullness of truth important? Surely every devout and pious Christian will agree that it is. In our love for God we want to know the whole truth, for God is Truth, and we intuitively understand that it is necessary to live in the truth to live with God. The truth is an inseparable and integral part of the Christian life, for it was Jesus Christ who said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6). It could easily be argued that, for the Christian, accessing the fullness of truth is as important as even a breath of air: while oxygen is necessary for our bodies it is the Risen Lord of Truth who sustains us and provides our very life-principle.

It becomes, then, a question of whether Scripture contains the whole of God’s revelation to his people. As much as we cherish Scripture, the answer can be nothing other than a definitive “no.” In the economy of salvation God speaks to his people through history, creation, the prophets, and “most fully in the mystery of the incarnation, death and resurrection of the Son of God” (Verbum Domini, 7). It was the Person of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, who self-communicated his word to the Apostles, informing them of what he desired them to know and what he wished them to communicate to the Church, the People for whom he gave up his life on the cross. The point is, the transmission of God’s revelation took place first in the ecclesial community through oral preaching. Later, it was members of that same Church who, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, recorded in the New Testament some of the sayings and parables of Jesus, the mysteries of his life, his commands, and some of what had been revealed to the Apostles by the Spirit.

Through apostolic succession, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church has faithfully cherished and transmitted the deposit of faith she received from Christ, which includes both Tradition and Scripture in accordance with the Risen Lord’s command: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15). Thus we can easily see that in order to access the fullness of truth — the deposit of faith given the Church by Jesus Christ — one must consult both Tradition and Scripture. The Gospel is both God’s unwritten and written word, not, rather, simply the written word only. As Pope Benedict observed, “Ultimately, it is the living Tradition of the Church which makes us adequately understand sacred Scripture as the word of God” (Verbum Domini, 17-18).

Further, the spiritual authority of the Catholic Church Christ founded and which the reformers so often sought to dismiss is just as integral and inseparable from the fullness of truth as is Tradition and Scripture. For apart from the Magisterium (teaching authority) of the Church, the fullness of God’s revelation cannot be maintained on earth in its integrity.

“It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls” (Catechism of The Catholic Church, No. 95).

Pope Benedict XVI reminds those faithful who thirst for the fullness of God’s revealed truth where the nourishing fount of “the supreme rule of faith” is to be found: “In short, by the work of the Holy Spirit and under the guidance of the magisterium, the Church hands on to every generation all that has been revealed in Christ. The Church lives in the certainty that her Lord, who spoke in the past, continues today to communicate his word in her living Tradition and in sacred Scripture. Indeed, the word of God is given to us in sacred Scripture as an inspired testimony to revelation; together with the Church’s living Tradition, it constitutes the supreme rule of faith” (Verbum Domini, 17-18).

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F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at catholicpathways.com

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Christianity ‘a la carte…

“It is our mission to announce all the will of God, in its totality and ultimate simplicity…”

Lectio divina and the will of God...

Rome, Italy, Mar 11, 2011 / 04:44 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Priests must not preach “Christianity ‘a la carte’” and should be willing to approach even uncomfortable aspects of the Gospel, Pope Benedict said in a meeting with priests this week.

In a meeting with priests and religious from the Diocese of Rome on March 10, the Pope led a Scripture meditation as the “pastor of the pastors.”

He based the meditation – called a “lectio divina” (sacred reading) – on a chapter from the Acts of the Apostles in which St. Paul leaves the faithful in Ephesus with instructions on how to continue preaching the Gospel after his departure.

Paul’s advice to be humble and vigilant in preaching the faith, to make themselves completely available in service to Christ and the Church, and prayerful as they protect their “flocks” are all relevant characteristics of priests nearly 2,000 years later, said the Pope.

He implored priests to show “full-time” fidelity to their vocation as priests, “being with Christ and being ambassadors of Christ.”

The Pope also called on priests today not to shrink from proclaiming “the entire plan of God.”
“This is important,” said the Pope. “The Apostle does not preach Christianity ‘a la carte,’ according to his own tastes, he does not preach a Gospel according to his own preferred theological ideas; he does not take away from the commitment to announce the entire will of God, even when uncomfortable, nor the themes he may least like personally.

“It is our mission to announce all the will of God, in its totality and ultimate simplicity. But the fact that we must instruct and preach is important – as St. Paul says – and really proposes the entire will of God.”

In a world where people are curious to know everything, “so much more should we be curious to know the will of God,” said Pope Benedict.

“What thing could be more interesting, more important, more essential for us than to know what God wants, to know the will of God, the face of God?”

He called on priests and religious to respond to this curiosity and awaken it in others, assisting them in “knowing truly all the will of God and knowing then how we can and must live, which is the path of our lives.”