Tag Archives: Catholicism

Five Steps to Better Parenting

English: Holy Family, Mary, Joseph, and child ...
English: Holy Family, Mary, Joseph, and child Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The following is some good advice for parents:

  • Make the most of our time together.  My son and I have been having great conversations on the way to lacrosse practice and when we throw the football in our front yard.  The important thing is to maximize every minute with our children as opportunities to share and guide them to good decisions in life.  Making family dinner time a priority is one way to help make this happen.  Know that efforts to get our attention are often potential cries for help.  They need us, but are we available?
  • Listen before lecturing.  This is difficult for me!  The fastest way to have my son clam up is for me to cut him off with a “coaching moment.”  I can coach later, but I need to hear him out first and encourage him to share his thoughts.
  • Be great Catholic role models.  It doesn’t get more basic than this, but do we realize how often our children are watching our every move?  They will love God, be excited about Mass and have devotion to our Catholic faith if we do.  They will likely pray faithfully if we do. They will be more likely to grow up following the Magisterium and staying out of the “Catholic cafeteria line” if we do.
  • Honor the Sacrament of marriage.  Want to see our children get married and start great families some day?  Love our spouses and model the kind of marriage we want them to enjoy.  Show open affection, say “I love you” and make sure the kids know how much we honor and respect the person we have married.  We are dooming our kids to a marriageless future or possible divorce if they grow up in a home where the Sacrament of marriage is not treasured and valued.
  • Tune out popular culture and “detach.”  Guess what?  If we are obsessed with American Idol, buying junk we don’t need and trying to keep up with the neighbors, our kids are likely to emulate our behavior.  I am beginning to feel that every minute spent in front of the TV or the computer is wasted time and a missed opportunity to interact with the family.  This may be the hardest thing on the list, but we can do a better job with our time and focus.

via Throwing the Football and Five Steps to Better Parenting : The Integrated Catholic Life.

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Beggars All: Ex Opere Operato baptismal regeneration is not Biblical!

 

I was looking over some blog post suggestions from Zemanta and came across the blog post linked below. This is a highly anti-Catholic blog and what they certainly got right is the unity of the authors in their anti-Catholicism. This type of unity against the Church is one, that for me, is a simple affirmation of her divine origin and the fact that she is the One True Church. Reminds me of 1 John 2:19:

They went out from us, but they were not of us. For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us; but that they may be manifest, that they are not all of us.

Anyway, here are a couple of paragraphs that I wanted to focus on and offer my opinion on – inline of course:

So, we are unified in the gospel and in Christ against the errors of the Roman Catholic Church [How do they know they are correct since their theology extends back just a few hundred years at most and much of what they profess is heresy that was already addressed years ago by the Church? But they are united – though not in Christ but against Him and His Holy Church (1 Tim 3:15).], and specifically here, ex opere operato and baptismal regeneration. Infant baptism is a secondary issue over which we can disagree about, and Evangelical Protestant churches are free to practice and teach their convictions about it and defend it biblically, but maintain gospel unity [This is contradictory in nature as the Sacrament of Baptism, its regenerative nature and its requirement for entrance into heaven is central to the Gospel – but yet the Evangelical ecclesiastical communities can continue to disagree. Well as long as they agree to attack the Church.] and fellowship in conferences and networks such at “together for the gospel” and “the gospel coalition”, but RC baptismal regeneration is a doctrine and practice that divides us and that doctrine is a heresy and contrary to justification by faith alone in the Scriptures. [If baptism does nothing then why does St. Paul equate it circumcision (Col 2:11-12) or our own co-burial with Christ (Rom 6:3-7) and St. Peter give us the very clear statement, “baptism now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21)? Then there is the last statement about justification by faith alone. Well St. James tells us with one of the most clear versus in Sacred Scripture that we are “justified by works AND NOT BY FAITH ALONE” (James 2:24). Insert a head scratch here.]

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the work of the priest [Actually what the Church teaches is that any person can baptize another so long as they use the proper form – Trinitarian formula – and matter – water – and have the proper intent. A valid baptism can even be performed by an atheist! This is because it is God  who does the washing by pouring out His grace into our hearts – our souls – cleansing us.] – performing the ceremony of baptism on the recipient (infants mostly, and adult converts who have never been baptized in the name of the Trinity, etc.) actually causes the person to be born again and confers grace on that person. They teach that the water of baptism literally washes their souls [This part is correct as we see in Jesus’ own words to Nicodemus (John 3:5). Now the next statement about the priests and use of Latin is wrong. the priest happens to be the normal means by which this is done because they share in the Divine priesthood of Christ and thus act in persona Christi so he wold be the most obvious , primary choice. The use of Latin – sounds nice but not required. I was baptized in Spanish and I have seen baptisms performed in English. Doesn’t matter in this case so long as the Holy Trinity is the formula.], when performed by the RC priest, when he says the words in Latin, “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit“. The Latin phrase, “ex opere operato” means “from the work, it works”, which is to say that the action and duty and performance of the ceremony actually does something [Again, the Church does not teach tat the ceremony does something – it is the form and matter that Jesus revealed to us that confers this grace upon  us Not by some magic spell but by the Grace of God who engages our physical and spiritual components directly as the water one the outside gives us a physical representation of what is going on on the inside.And this is done by God.]  to the recipient.

via Beggars All: Reformation And Apologetics: Ex Opere Operato baptismal regeneration is not Biblical!

 

Citing financial concerns, the Washington Theological Union has announced that it will close in 2013. Founded by six religious orders in 1968, the graduate school of theology and ministry has 1,400 alumni.

Citing financial concerns, the Washington Theological Union has announced that it will close in 2013. Founded by six religious orders in 1968, the graduate school of theology and ministry has 1,400 alumni.

Catholic Culture : Latest Headlines : Washington Theological Union to close

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Final Thoughts On the Corapi Situation

Human tongue. Regional preference to sour high...
Human tongue. Regional preference to sour highlighted; via Wikipedia

Okay, I hope that this will be my final thoughts on the subject of Fr. John Corapi but there is one thing that is leaving a sour taste in my mouth and that is the stench of seeming hypocrisy that coming from the com-boxes and even from some of the very bloggers, publishers and apologists that I have come to admire.

Personally we all know that none of us is without sin. The validly baptized are without Original Sin but the personal sin abounds. With the Catholic blogosphere set ablaze by Fr. Corapi’s statement many of persons have fallen prey to the Enemy. I guess even myself to some degree.

Top-notch personalities seem like fair-weather friends. For example many bloggers seed their posts with judgment against the Fr. Corapi. Many com-boxers do the same against all parties: priest, bishop, accuser, (and even others – I had to disclose this piece because I am trying not to judge intent or heart but comment on actions) etc.

I guess what I am ranting about is the disappointment I feel in reading the words of my Catholic brothers and sisters and find that there is truly some sort of judgment being placed on the heart of the parties involved with this scandal sans a few that are focusing on the power of prayer and not judging. (This is what I hope I am doing by the way.)

With this, the Enemy is certainly showing how wily he is and easily we fall.

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What is a Novena?

CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Novena
(From novem, nine.)

A nine days’ private or public devotion in the Catholic Church to obtain special graces. The octave has more of the festal character; to the novena belongs that of hopeful mourning, of yearning, of prayer. “The number nine in Holy Writ is indicative of suffering and grief” (St. Jerome, in Ezech., vii, 24; — P.L., XXV, 238, cf. XXV, 1473). The novena is permitted and even recommended by ecclesiastical authority, but still has no proper and fully set place in the liturgy of the Church. It has, however, more and more been prized and utilized by the faithful. Four kinds of novenas can be distinguished: novenas of mourning, of preparation, of prayer, and the indulgenced novenas, though this distinction is not exclusive.

 

What is a Novena?

CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Novena
(From novem, nine.)A nine days’ private or public devotion in the Catholic Church to obtain special graces. The octave has more of the festal character; to the novena belongs that of hopeful mourning, of yearning, of prayer. “The number nine in Holy Writ is indicative of suffering and grief” (St. Jerome, in Ezech., vii, 24; — P.L., XXV, 238, cf. XXV, 1473). The novena is permitted and even recommended by ecclesiastical authority, but still has no proper and fully set place in the liturgy of the Church. It has, however, more and more been prized and utilized by the faithful. Four kinds of novenas can be distinguished: novenas of mourning, of preparation, of prayer, and the indulgenced novenas, though this distinction is not exclusive.

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Q: What Makes the Catholic Church “Catholic” A: The Four [indelible] Marks of the Church

My very dear friend and God and Cheeseburgers contributer (well, he can post any time he pleases) Dan, who runs the Protestant blog Arminian Chronicles recently posted his take on a very serious question:

What Makes the Catholic Church ‘Catholic’?:

Is it her people, her leadership, her beliefs? The term catholic usually means universal, so one would think it’s her 1 billion plus people spread throughout the world. 

However, I recently pointed out that an overwhelming majority of Catholics use birth control. (link) Does this mean the Catholic Church is OK with birth control? Matthew Bellisario responded by pointing me to an earlier post he had written where he claimed all Christians up till the 1930’s rejected birth control. 

All Christians up until the 1930s interpreted this text as referring to Onan’s punishment of death [Genesis 38 7:9] by his act of “coitus interruptus.” (link

I responded by quoting Jovinianus‘ alternative explanation in the 4th century (link).
Matthew then made an interesting move; backing away from his claim of ‘all Christians’ to ‘every Christian group’. 

every Christian group before the 1930 interpreted this passage the way I am interpreting it. (link

So what is a church group? Given that 1) the Catholic church group rejects birth control and 2) most Catholics use birth control, one might think a church group is not really about her people, but rather her leadership. Rome‘s leadership is so small a group compared to the whole Catholic church that they are statistically insignificant – and in this case they don’t represent most Catholics. 

Recently Matthew Bellisario added another wrinkle, by posted that Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox are united in Christ due to their common belief of the real presence in the mass. (link) So there’s a connection between the East and West that transcends leadership differences; since the East does not recognize the Pope as their leader. So if it’s not her people or her leadership, what makes the Catholic church ‘Catholic’. 

I think Matthew’s move here undermines a fundamental principle of Roman Catholicism – namely the epistemic priority of the Church over doctrine. Indeed, for a Catholic to know some doctrine is true, they must first know it’s approved by the Church. In some cases knowing the Church teaches something is sufficient to know it’s true, without further inquiry. This is of course contrary the the scriptural model of ‘search the scriptures’ or teach then baptize, but it’s also at odds with Matthew’s finding unity across Church boundaries, which seems to invite people to examine doctrine first, then look for the Church. How could Rome stand up doctrines such as the assumption of Mary based on the evidence rather than her authority? 

Of course, the right answer here is that the catholic church is all those who are assembled to Christ by the call of the Gospel (Hebrews 12:22-24). [My bold] Other than that, the bible simply speaks of individual, local congregations as churches.

While there is certainly truth to everything that Dan brings up here, such as the fact that church refers to a body of believers (in particular Christians) and that catholic (greek original katholikos) does mean universal, he fails to take into account what is at the core of Mathew Bellisario’s (Catholic Champion blog) arguement: the Four Marks of the Church.


BACKGROUND ON THE DISCUSSION

Okay, so the exhange above began with a post that Dan did highlighing an article on a survey/study that was done that sadly shows that a majority of self-identified Catholics choose to disobey the Church (and subsequently God) opt for artificial contraception. Dan raised the ire of Matt in the com-box by simply posting the following short intro to the linked article:

It appears most Catholics ingnor Rome’s extra-biblical requirements on birth control.  (link)

The blogosphere and com-boxing being what they are, there was certainly more to it this friendly banter but my point is that Catholics and Protestants, the faithful mind you, are now divided on an issue that up until the Seventh Lambeth Conference (1930, mainstream Anglican), was the official line for most if not all Christian denominations. I will concede that the issue of aritificial contraception is ancient (see Dan’s reference to Jovinianus). Just as ancient as that of infanticide and feticide.

This neither makes the use of contraception just or acceptable it simply means that it is a long standing issue just like many other grave sins such as murder, lust, etc. Furthermore, the sad fact that many self-identified Catholics choose to break God’s heart in this fashion does nothing to deminish or limit the authority and primacy of the Church. Saying as much is akin to saying that because we are given free will and we choose to sin continuously against God we have somehow weakened or diminished Him or His existence, etc.


THE FOUR MARKS OF THE CHURCH

The Four Marks of the Church was originally articulated at the First Council of Constantinople back in AD 381 and is found in the resutling text of the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed that remains in use till this day:

We believe (I believe) in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages. (God of God) light of light, true God of true God. Begotten not madeconsubstantial to the Father, by whom all things were made

Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And was incarnate of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary and was made man; was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried; and the third day rose again according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, and shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, of whose Kingdom there shall be no end. 

And (I believe) in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son), who together with the Father and the Son is to be adored and glorified, who spoke by the Prophets

And one holycatholic, and apostolic Church. We confess (I confess) one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for (I look for) the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to comeAmen.” [via New Advent]

It is the line, “…one holy, catholic and apostolic Church” that lays out the Four Marks. No other Church except the Catholic Church has these Four Marks, or as many Protestants refer to them “Attributes.”

ONE
In other words, unity. The One True Church of Christ must be united in all things. Paul, writing to the Ephesians, says in 4:3-6:

“…eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

Other Scripture references to this Oneness/unity include:

  • Jn 10:16 – there will be one fold and one shepherd.
  • Rom 16:17 – I urge that there be no divisions among you
  • 1Cor 1:10 – I urge that there be no divisions among you
  • Phil 2:2 – be of same mind, united in heart thinking one thing
  • Rom 15:5 – God grant you to think in harmony with one another
  • Jn 17:17-23 – I pray that they may be one, as we are one
  • 1Cor 12:13 – in one spirit we are baptized into one body
  • Rom 12:5 – we, though many, are one body in Christ
  • Col 3:15 – the peace into which you were called in one body
  • Mt 16:18-19 – upon this rock I will build my Church (singular)
  • Mt 18:17 – tell it to THE Church; if he refuses to listen even to THE Church… (must be visible)

How does the Church even come close to this unity? The answer is simple, through her teaching authority otherwise known as the Magesterium. Through ths mechinism the Church, being graced with the aid and guidance of the Holy Spirit (Jn 16-13), instructs the faithful concerning what is truth and what is error. This very Magesterium infallibly articulated the hypostatic union or the fact that Christ is both True God and True Man. Also the nature of God – One God, Three Persons. The Virgin Birth, the Canon of Scripture (all Christians agree at the very least on the New Testament), etc.

That said, some argue that divisions within the Church such as the debates on women’s ordination, married priests and the sad fact above that many self-proclaimed Catholics use artificial contraception agains the Church’s teaching prove that the Catholic Church is not united. This actually does nothing of the sort. What it does prove is that now, just like the day that Adam and Eve sinned, humans continue to freely elect to go against God, His Commanmendts in addition to those persons and/or institutions He has designated to represent Him. The Maegesterium today serves a similar role as Moses and Aaron did in the Old Testament: authorized spokesmen of God and stewards of His people.

HOLY
In other words, sanctity. The One True Church of Christ must have been founded by Jesus Himself and no other. Furthermore, by nature of her founder, the One True Church will be protected from error. Matthew recounts the following in his Gospel:

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19)

Other Scripture references include [adapted from Sripture Catholic]:

  • Is 35:8, 54:13-17 – refers to the Church as the Holy Way and cannot teach error
  • Acts 9:2; 22:4; 24:14,22 – the early Church is identified as the “Way” (cf Is 35:8)
  • Mt 10:20; Luke 12:12 – Jesus tells His apostles it is not they who speak, but the Spirit
  • Mt 18:17-18 – the Church (not Scripture) is the final authority on questions of the faith.
  • Mt 28:20 – Jesus promises that He will be with the Church always.
  • Lk 10:16 – whoever hears you, hears me. Whoever rejects you, rejects me.
  • Lk 22:32 – Jesus prays for Peter, that his faith may not fail.
  • Jn 11:51-52 – God allows Caiaphas to prophesy infallibly, thus showing that this grace comes from God not men
  • Jn 14:16 – Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit would be with the Church forever.
  • Jn 14:26 – Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit would teach the Church (the apostles and successors) all things regarding the faith.
  • Jn 16:12 – Demonstrates that the Church’s infallible doctrine develops over time.
  • Jn 16:13 – Jesus promises that the Spirit will “guide” the Church into all truth.
  • 1 Cor 2:13 – Paul explains that what the ministers teach is taught, not by human wisdom, but by the Spirit.
  • Acts 15:27-28 – the apostles know that their teaching is being guided by the Holy Spirit. He protects the Church from deception.
  • Eph 3:10 – the wisdom of God is known, even to the intellectually superior angels, through the Church (not the Scriptures).
  • Eph 3:9 – this, in fact, is a mystery hidden for all ages – that God manifests His wisdom through one infallible Church for all people.
  • Eph 3:20 – God’s glory is manifested in the Church by the power of the Spirit that works within the Church’s leaders.
  • Eph 5:23-27, Col. 1:18 – There is only one Church, just as Christ only has one Bride.
  • 1 Th 5:21 – Paul commands us to test everything. The Catholic Church, whose teachings on faith and morals have never changed.
  • 1 Tim 3:15 – Paul says the apostolic Church (not Scripture) is the pillar and foundation of the truth.
  • 1 Jn 4:6 – John writes that whoever knows God “listens to us” (the bishops and successors to the apostles).

No other religious organization, intusution, whatever…comes close to backing up what the Church claims with this Mark. That for over 2,000 years she has reigned, not altered her dogmas and doctrines despite persecutions, schisms and “Reformations.” Even secular historians can show that the Catholic Church extends her reach to AD 33. To quote Rabbi Gamilieal:

“So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”  (Acts 5:38-39)

CATHOLIC
In other words, universality. This mark not only directly answers Dan’s question but also answer’s the greater meaning of Dan’s question, which, if I understand my good friend correclty, is, “How can the Church claim to be what she says and how can she back it up becuase I see no evidence?”

I answer this question with a question: Which Church carried out the Great Commission?

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19)

Other Scripture references include:

  • Mt 28:20 – teach all of my commandments
  • Mk 16:15 – preach the gospel to the world
  • Acts 1:8 – witness unto the uttermost parts
  • Acts 10:9-28 – universality revealed to Peter
  • Rm 1:5-6 – the faith among all nations
  • 1 Cor 12:13 – of many origins, we are one
  • Ep 3:20-21 – glory in church for all ages
  • Mt 5:14-15 – the light…shining for all
  • Mk 7:24-30 – the Syro-phoenician woman

The Catholic Church has been in the business of evangelizing since AD 33 and by the grace of God working through the faith and deeds of her saints and sinners spread and continues to spread the Gospel of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to all corners of the Earth – baptizing all peoples in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

There are other facets about the Church that demonstrate the unversality or catholicity of the Church. For example, the Liturgy. Despite some variations that are unique to the different churches within the greater Church (e.g. Latin Rite, Byzantine Rite, Dominican Rite, Anglican Rite, etc.) the basic liturgy remains the same and must be approved by the Roman Pontiff.

I wish now to draw attention to a common mistake made by many Protestants when refering to the Church. The Church is universal. To call me Roman Catholic or Latin Catholic or even Western Catholic is okay and accurate but to call…Fr. Thomas Loya a Roman Catholic would not be. He is a Byzantine Catholic – an Eastern Rite Church. Get the idea? Roman Catholicism is but a rite within the Church. It just happens to be the most common.

Because the Latin Church is the most common, it makes sense that the official, universal language fo the Church become and remain Latin. This offers me and every other Catholic the opportunity to attend Mass in any part of the world actively know what is going on, what prayers are being said, (by way of the Litrigical Calendar) what celebration is taking place, etc. I have had the privalige to attend Masses in English, Spanish, Korean and of course Latin. (Obviously I did not understand the Korean vernacular but knew exactly what was going on.)

Thanks be to God, the Catholic Church is the only church that fulfills this prophecy (because every day at every hour – except Good Friday – Mass is said somewhere on this Earth):

“For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11)

APOSTOLIC
In other words, continuity (or as all other sources refer to it, apostolocity). Here again, is another unique mark of the One True Church of Christ that no other institution can claim or meet except the Catholic Church. Paul speaks of this mark in his letter to the Ephesians:

“So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone…”  (Ephesians 2:19-20)

Other Scripture references include:

  • Jn 15:16 – Jesus chose special men to be his Apostles
  • Jn 20:21 – Jesus gave the Apostles his own mission
  • Lk 22:29-3 – Jesus gave them a kingdom
  • Mt 16:18 – Jesus built Church on Peter, the rock
  • Jn 10:16 – one shepherd to shepherd Christ’s sheep
  • Lk 22:32, Jn 21:17 – Peter appointed to be chief shepherd
  • Eph 4:11 – church leaders are hierarchical
  • 1Tim 3:1, 8; 5:17 – identifies roles of bishops, priests, deacons
  • Tit 1:5 – commission for bishops to ordain priests
  • 2 Chr 19:11 – high priest is over you in everything of Lord’s
  • Mal 2:7 – seek instruction from priest, he is God’s messenger
  • Eph 4:11 – God gave some as apostles, others as prophets…
  • 1 Cor 12:28-29 – God designated in church: apostles, …
  • Acts 1:20 – let another take his office
  • Acts 1:25-26 – Matthias takes Judas’ apostolic ministry
  • 1 Tim 3:1, 8; 5:17 – qualifications for: bishops, priests, & deacons
  • 1Tim 4:14 – gift conferred with the laying on of hands
  • 1Tim 5:22 – do not lay hands too readily on anyone
  • Acts 14:23 – they appointed presbyters in each church
  • 2Tim 2:2 – what you heard from me entrust to faithful teachers
  • Titus 1:5 – appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed

Apostolicity refers directly to being of or related to the Apostles. This of course includes succession and authority. For if the Church of Christ was to remain in this world until its consumation (Mt 28:20) then certainly Jesus must have intended that the offices of bishop, presbytyr and deacon would continue and be passed on. Moreover, apostolicity ties the other three marks together:

  • Continuity lends itself to unity. Think of why the U.S. is the only country in the entire world to have the oldest Constitution despite declaring her independance from Great Britain only 235 years ago. Without this reverence for the consistent nature of this governing document our nation would have surely crumbles and divided long ago. Same goes for the Church. Without a direct link to the Apostles, the authority of Church leadership would become nullified once public favor leaves them. The Church is not a democracy – it is the “pillar and foundation of Truth” (1 Tim 3:15).
  • Continuity of this fashion proves divine origin. The U.S. may remain united but the Constitution, Congress, the President and the Judiciary are from infallible. Constitutional amendments prohibitng and then repealing alochol prove that – not to mention other more serious issues such as slavery and women’s sufferage. Paul, writing to the Church in Corinth, says as much when he reminds them to “maintain the traditions even as [he delivered them]” (1 Cor 11:2).
  • Continuity allows to for universality. Again, the greatest empires in history and the most powerful nations on earth today hold in common one thing with the Church: one continuous vision despite changes in leadership, revolts, etc. For the U.S. this vision rests with that of the Fathers. Thus the debates over the constittionality of one law or another. Same goes for the Church. We can expand and spread the very same Gospel in different parts of the world because we have a visible, identifiable succession of leaders from the Original Twelve through today. But there is one added caveat that the Church has that no earthly instution has: a guarantee of continuity, authority and infallibility from God Himself.

This is what makes the Catholic Church “Catholic.”

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Q: What Makes the Catholic Church "Catholic" A: The Four [indelible] Marks of the Church

My very dear friend and God and Cheeseburgers contributer (well, he can post any time he pleases) Dan, who runs the Protestant blog Arminian Chronicles recently posted his take on a very serious question:

What Makes the Catholic Church ‘Catholic’?:

Is it her people, her leadership, her beliefs? The term catholic usually means universal, so one would think it’s her 1 billion plus people spread throughout the world. 

However, I recently pointed out that an overwhelming majority of Catholics use birth control. (link) Does this mean the Catholic Church is OK with birth control? Matthew Bellisario responded by pointing me to an earlier post he had written where he claimed all Christians up till the 1930’s rejected birth control. 

All Christians up until the 1930s interpreted this text as referring to Onan’s punishment of death [Genesis 38 7:9] by his act of “coitus interruptus.” (link

I responded by quoting Jovinianus’ alternative explanation in the 4th century (link).
Matthew then made an interesting move; backing away from his claim of ‘all Christians’ to ‘every Christian group’. 

every Christian group before the 1930 interpreted this passage the way I am interpreting it. (link

So what is a church group? Given that 1) the Catholic church group rejects birth control and 2) most Catholics use birth control, one might think a church group is not really about her people, but rather her leadership. Rome’s leadership is so small a group compared to the whole Catholic church that they are statistically insignificant – and in this case they don’t represent most Catholics. 

Recently Matthew Bellisario added another wrinkle, by posted that Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox are united in Christ due to their common belief of the real presence in the mass. (link) So there’s a connection between the East and West that transcends leadership differences; since the East does not recognize the Pope as their leader. So if it’s not her people or her leadership, what makes the Catholic church ‘Catholic’. 

I think Matthew’s move here undermines a fundamental principle of Roman Catholicism – namely the epistemic priority of the Church over doctrine. Indeed, for a Catholic to know some doctrine is true, they must first know it’s approved by the Church. In some cases knowing the Church teaches something is sufficient to know it’s true, without further inquiry. This is of course contrary the the scriptural model of ‘search the scriptures’ or teach then baptize, but it’s also at odds with Matthew’s finding unity across Church boundaries, which seems to invite people to examine doctrine first, then look for the Church. How could Rome stand up doctrines such as the assumption of Mary based on the evidence rather than her authority? 

Of course, the right answer here is that the catholic church is all those who are assembled to Christ by the call of the Gospel (Hebrews 12:22-24). [My bold] Other than that, the bible simply speaks of individual, local congregations as churches.

While there is certainly truth to everything that Dan brings up here, such as the fact that church refers to a body of believers (in particular Christians) and that catholic (greek original katholikos) does mean universal, he fails to take into account what is at the core of Mathew Bellisario’s (Catholic Champion blog) arguement: the Four Marks of the Church.


BACKGROUND ON THE DISCUSSION

Okay, so the exhange above began with a post that Dan did highlighing an article on a survey/study that was done that sadly shows that a majority of self-identified Catholics choose to disobey the Church (and subsequently God) opt for artificial contraception. Dan raised the ire of Matt in the com-box by simply posting the following short intro to the linked article:

It appears most Catholics ingnor Rome’s extra-biblical requirements on birth control.  (link)

The blogosphere and com-boxing being what they are, there was certainly more to it this friendly banter but my point is that Catholics and Protestants, the faithful mind you, are now divided on an issue that up until the Seventh Lambeth Conference (1930, mainstream Anglican), was the official line for most if not all Christian denominations. I will concede that the issue of aritificial contraception is ancient (see Dan’s reference to Jovinianus). Just as ancient as that of infanticide and feticide.

This neither makes the use of contraception just or acceptable it simply means that it is a long standing issue just like many other grave sins such as murder, lust, etc. Furthermore, the sad fact that many self-identified Catholics choose to break God’s heart in this fashion does nothing to deminish or limit the authority and primacy of the Church. Saying as much is akin to saying that because we are given free will and we choose to sin continuously against God we have somehow weakened or diminished Him or His existence, etc.


THE FOUR MARKS OF THE CHURCH

The Four Marks of the Church was originally articulated at the First Council of Constantinople back in AD 381 and is found in the resutling text of the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed that remains in use till this day:

We believe (I believe) in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages. (God of God) light of light, true God of true God. Begotten not madeconsubstantial to the Father, by whom all things were made

Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And was incarnate of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary and was made man; was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried; and the third day rose again according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, and shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, of whose Kingdom there shall be no end. 

And (I believe) in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son), who together with the Father and the Son is to be adored and glorified, who spoke by the Prophets

And one holycatholic, and apostolic Church. We confess (I confess) one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for (I look for) the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to comeAmen.” [via New Advent]

It is the line, “…one holy, catholic and apostolic Church” that lays out the Four Marks. No other Church except the Catholic Church has these Four Marks, or as many Protestants refer to them “Attributes.”

ONE
In other words, unity. The One True Church of Christ must be united in all things. Paul, writing to the Ephesians, says in 4:3-6:

“…eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

Other Scripture references to this Oneness/unity include:

  • Jn 10:16 – there will be one fold and one shepherd.
  • Rom 16:17 – I urge that there be no divisions among you
  • 1Cor 1:10 – I urge that there be no divisions among you
  • Phil 2:2 – be of same mind, united in heart thinking one thing
  • Rom 15:5 – God grant you to think in harmony with one another
  • Jn 17:17-23 – I pray that they may be one, as we are one
  • 1Cor 12:13 – in one spirit we are baptized into one body
  • Rom 12:5 – we, though many, are one body in Christ
  • Col 3:15 – the peace into which you were called in one body
  • Mt 16:18-19 – upon this rock I will build my Church (singular)
  • Mt 18:17 – tell it to THE Church; if he refuses to listen even to THE Church… (must be visible)

How does the Church even come close to this unity? The answer is simple, through her teaching authority otherwise known as the Magesterium. Through ths mechinism the Church, being graced with the aid and guidance of the Holy Spirit (Jn 16-13), instructs the faithful concerning what is truth and what is error. This very Magesterium infallibly articulated the hypostatic union or the fact that Christ is both True God and True Man. Also the nature of God – One God, Three Persons. The Virgin Birth, the Canon of Scripture (all Christians agree at the very least on the New Testament), etc.

That said, some argue that divisions within the Church such as the debates on women’s ordination, married priests and the sad fact above that many self-proclaimed Catholics use artificial contraception agains the Church’s teaching prove that the Catholic Church is not united. This actually does nothing of the sort. What it does prove is that now, just like the day that Adam and Eve sinned, humans continue to freely elect to go against God, His Commanmendts in addition to those persons and/or institutions He has designated to represent Him. The Maegesterium today serves a similar role as Moses and Aaron did in the Old Testament: authorized spokesmen of God and stewards of His people.

HOLY
In other words, sanctity. The One True Church of Christ must have been founded by Jesus Himself and no other. Furthermore, by nature of her founder, the One True Church will be protected from error. Matthew recounts the following in his Gospel:

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19)

Other Scripture references include [adapted from Sripture Catholic]:

  • Is 35:8, 54:13-17 – refers to the Church as the Holy Way and cannot teach error
  • Acts 9:2; 22:4; 24:14,22 – the early Church is identified as the “Way” (cf Is 35:8)
  • Mt 10:20; Luke 12:12 – Jesus tells His apostles it is not they who speak, but the Spirit
  • Mt 18:17-18 – the Church (not Scripture) is the final authority on questions of the faith.
  • Mt 28:20 – Jesus promises that He will be with the Church always.
  • Lk 10:16 – whoever hears you, hears me. Whoever rejects you, rejects me.
  • Lk 22:32 – Jesus prays for Peter, that his faith may not fail.
  • Jn 11:51-52 – God allows Caiaphas to prophesy infallibly, thus showing that this grace comes from God not men
  • Jn 14:16 – Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit would be with the Church forever.
  • Jn 14:26 – Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit would teach the Church (the apostles and successors) all things regarding the faith.
  • Jn 16:12 – Demonstrates that the Church’s infallible doctrine develops over time.
  • Jn 16:13 – Jesus promises that the Spirit will “guide” the Church into all truth.
  • 1 Cor 2:13 – Paul explains that what the ministers teach is taught, not by human wisdom, but by the Spirit.
  • Acts 15:27-28 – the apostles know that their teaching is being guided by the Holy Spirit. He protects the Church from deception.
  • Eph 3:10 – the wisdom of God is known, even to the intellectually superior angels, through the Church (not the Scriptures).
  • Eph 3:9 – this, in fact, is a mystery hidden for all ages – that God manifests His wisdom through one infallible Church for all people.
  • Eph 3:20 – God’s glory is manifested in the Church by the power of the Spirit that works within the Church’s leaders.
  • Eph 5:23-27, Col. 1:18 – There is only one Church, just as Christ only has one Bride.
  • 1 Th 5:21 – Paul commands us to test everything. The Catholic Church, whose teachings on faith and morals have never changed.
  • 1 Tim 3:15 – Paul says the apostolic Church (not Scripture) is the pillar and foundation of the truth.
  • 1 Jn 4:6 – John writes that whoever knows God “listens to us” (the bishops and successors to the apostles).

No other religious organization, intusution, whatever…comes close to backing up what the Church claims with this Mark. That for over 2,000 years she has reigned, not altered her dogmas and doctrines despite persecutions, schisms and “Reformations.” Even secular historians can show that the Catholic Church extends her reach to AD 33. To quote Rabbi Gamilieal:

“So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”  (Acts 5:38-39)

CATHOLIC
In other words, universality. This mark not only directly answers Dan’s question but also answer’s the greater meaning of Dan’s question, which, if I understand my good friend correclty, is, “How can the Church claim to be what she says and how can she back it up becuase I see no evidence?”

I answer this question with a question: Which Church carried out the Great Commission?

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19)

Other Scripture references include:

  • Mt 28:20 – teach all of my commandments
  • Mk 16:15 – preach the gospel to the world
  • Acts 1:8 – witness unto the uttermost parts
  • Acts 10:9-28 – universality revealed to Peter
  • Rm 1:5-6 – the faith among all nations
  • 1 Cor 12:13 – of many origins, we are one
  • Ep 3:20-21 – glory in church for all ages
  • Mt 5:14-15 – the light…shining for all
  • Mk 7:24-30 – the Syro-phoenician woman

The Catholic Church has been in the business of evangelizing since AD 33 and by the grace of God working through the faith and deeds of her saints and sinners spread and continues to spread the Gospel of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to all corners of the Earth – baptizing all peoples in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

There are other facets about the Church that demonstrate the unversality or catholicity of the Church. For example, the Liturgy. Despite some variations that are unique to the different churches within the greater Church (e.g. Latin Rite, Byzantine Rite, Dominican Rite, Anglican Rite, etc.) the basic liturgy remains the same and must be approved by the Roman Pontiff.

I wish now to draw attention to a common mistake made by many Protestants when refering to the Church. The Church is universal. To call me Roman Catholic or Latin Catholic or even Western Catholic is okay and accurate but to call…Fr. Thomas Loya a Roman Catholic would not be. He is a Byzantine Catholic – an Eastern Rite Church. Get the idea? Roman Catholicism is but a rite within the Church. It just happens to be the most common.

Because the Latin Church is the most common, it makes sense that the official, universal language fo the Church become and remain Latin. This offers me and every other Catholic the opportunity to attend Mass in any part of the world actively know what is going on, what prayers are being said, (by way of the Litrigical Calendar) what celebration is taking place, etc. I have had the privalige to attend Masses in English, Spanish, Korean and of course Latin. (Obviously I did not understand the Korean vernacular but knew exactly what was going on.)

Thanks be to God, the Catholic Church is the only church that fulfills this prophecy (because every day at every hour – except Good Friday – Mass is said somewhere on this Earth):

“For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11)

APOSTOLIC
In other words, continuity (or as all other sources refer to it, apostolocity). Here again, is another unique mark of the One True Church of Christ that no other institution can claim or meet except the Catholic Church. Paul speaks of this mark in his letter to the Ephesians:

“So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone…”  (Ephesians 2:19-20)

Other Scripture references include:

  • Jn 15:16 – Jesus chose special men to be his Apostles
  • Jn 20:21 – Jesus gave the Apostles his own mission
  • Lk 22:29-3 – Jesus gave them a kingdom
  • Mt 16:18 – Jesus built Church on Peter, the rock
  • Jn 10:16 – one shepherd to shepherd Christ’s sheep
  • Lk 22:32, Jn 21:17 – Peter appointed to be chief shepherd
  • Eph 4:11 – church leaders are hierarchical
  • 1Tim 3:1, 8; 5:17 – identifies roles of bishops, priests, deacons
  • Tit 1:5 – commission for bishops to ordain priests
  • 2 Chr 19:11 – high priest is over you in everything of Lord’s
  • Mal 2:7 – seek instruction from priest, he is God’s messenger
  • Eph 4:11 – God gave some as apostles, others as prophets…
  • 1 Cor 12:28-29 – God designated in church: apostles, …
  • Acts 1:20 – let another take his office
  • Acts 1:25-26 – Matthias takes Judas’ apostolic ministry
  • 1 Tim 3:1, 8; 5:17 – qualifications for: bishops, priests, & deacons
  • 1Tim 4:14 – gift conferred with the laying on of hands
  • 1Tim 5:22 – do not lay hands too readily on anyone
  • Acts 14:23 – they appointed presbyters in each church
  • 2Tim 2:2 – what you heard from me entrust to faithful teachers
  • Titus 1:5 – appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed

Apostolicity refers directly to being of or related to the Apostles. This of course includes succession and authority. For if the Church of Christ was to remain in this world until its consumation (Mt 28:20) then certainly Jesus must have intended that the offices of bishop, presbytyr and deacon would continue and be passed on. Moreover, apostolicity ties the other three marks together:

  • Continuity lends itself to unity. Think of why the U.S. is the only country in the entire world to have the oldest Constitution despite declaring her independance from Great Britain only 235 years ago. Without this reverence for the consistent nature of this governing document our nation would have surely crumbles and divided long ago. Same goes for the Church. Without a direct link to the Apostles, the authority of Church leadership would become nullified once public favor leaves them. The Church is not a democracy – it is the “pillar and foundation of Truth” (1 Tim 3:15).
  • Continuity of this fashion proves divine origin. The U.S. may remain united but the Constitution, Congress, the President and the Judiciary are from infallible. Constitutional amendments prohibitng and then repealing alochol prove that – not to mention other more serious issues such as slavery and women’s sufferage. Paul, writing to the Church in Corinth, says as much when he reminds them to “maintain the traditions even as [he delivered them]” (1 Cor 11:2).
  • Continuity allows to for universality. Again, the greatest empires in history and the most powerful nations on earth today hold in common one thing with the Church: one continuous vision despite changes in leadership, revolts, etc. For the U.S. this vision rests with that of the Fathers. Thus the debates over the constittionality of one law or another. Same goes for the Church. We can expand and spread the very same Gospel in different parts of the world because we have a visible, identifiable succession of leaders from the Original Twelve through today. But there is one added caveat that the Church has that no earthly instution has: a guarantee of continuity, authority and infallibility from God Himself.

This is what makes the Catholic Church “Catholic.”

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Responding to “Liberalism in the Catholic Church”

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Image via Wikipedia

EMBLEM OF THE PAPACY: TRIPLE TIARA AND KEYS

First I would like to note that the following comment came from a friend on Facebook who was responding to my own endorsement of “Liberalism in the Catholic Church” a fine post on the Called to Communion website. The author of the post begins:

Catholicism is a religion of truth, not opinion. This truth is a divinely revealed truth, not simply one we make up as we go along. Be that as it may, it is no secret that the Catholic Church is beset by certain elements that reject the revealed truth of the faith. It is a spirit that seeks to overturn revealed truth in favor of modern capitulations. It is an idea that the revealed truth is ‘outdated’ and needs to be revised because modern man is, well, modern. This spirit is often called ‘Liberalism.’

He goes on to quote the famous Anglican convert and Blessed John Cardinal Henry Newman who defines liberalism in religion as:

Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining force and substance daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy. Devotion is not necessarily founded on faith. Men may go to Protestant Churches and to Catholic, may get good from both and belong to neither. They may fraternize together in spiritual thoughts and feelings, without having any views at all of doctrine in common, or seeing the need of them. (Blessed John Henry Newman’s Roman Address of 1879 as quoted in “Letters to a Young Catholic” by George Weigel)

In my posting or commenting on this article on Facebook (how it ended up there I am not exactly sure but whatever) I simply stated that the author’s observations were on point and liberalism of this sort and absolute Truth do not get on well.
My friend, whom I believe is a baptized Catholic and knew well back in the dark days of my youth stated the following:

There are some sticky issues here. Why can’t women lead? Why can’t priest marry? These are not biblically inspired rather they are tradition. The article is right– liberalism and tradition do not mix. Some of the faithful want progress while others want a return (or more entrenched) to traditionalism. The Church is about community and this ‘split’ causes conflict and division. However, by dismissing the opinions of liberals (and saying it is all their fault), the Church loses some of its essence as well.

For me none of these issues are sticky and the Church’s response, as usual, more that just Biblical it follows in the line of Sacred Tradition, which is that part of the Deposit of Faith verbally passed on from the Apostles themselves. Let me get the meat.


Why can’t women lead?
The issue here is not whether women can lead or not it is why is it that women cannot be ordained priests? To address the actual text, women have, can and do lead. Take a look at our mothers, nuns, bulk of teachers and catechists and most importantly the role of women in Salvation History – most importantly Our Lady. The manner in which our Creator designed us is to function as a complementary pair. That is to say that each gender has a role but work in unity to accomplish the goal.

Now, when thinking in terms of why women cannot be ordained, this is simpler to address. Jesus is a man – a male. And every validly ordained priest acts in the person of Christ when they are celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, etc. (Oh, and there is the fact that there is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit who is the spouse of the Blessed Virgin as a woman cannot impregnate a woman.) Add to this the fact that Jesus Himself did not select any woman (His Mother surely would have been at the top of the list) to share in His priesthood in this ministerial fashion and the case is closed. Not so for liberals.

Religious liberals in the Church wrongly identify the nature of the Church, her authority and the essence of the ministerial priesthood by somehow getting the idea that the Church can change something that is part of the Deposit of Faith. No where in the Church’s over 2,000-year history can anyone see that a woman was ordained a priest. This is a fact of life and cannot be changed but by God Himself.


Why can’t priests marry?
Back in the day I asked my dad this very question and he boiled it down to a simple point that my five-year-old mind could understand: priests are married to the Church. Again, priests act in persona Christi and both Saint Paul and Saint John speak of Church as the bride of Christ but the relationship is probably best recognized Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Let’s do some math: L = H + W. L is for LOVE, H is for HUSBAND and W is for WIFE so if HUSBAND = CHRIST [PRIEST] and WIFE = CHURCH [CHURCH] then a priest loves the Church as a wife and is thus married to her. Oh, and then there is this passage from the Saint Paul:

This is one of the base points for the discipline of Clerical celibacy at the ordination of unmarried men. Wikipedia says this of clerical celibacy:

Clerical celibacy is the discipline by which some or all members of the clergy in certain religions are required to be unmarried. Since these religions consider sinful deliberate sexual thoughts, feelings, and behavior outside of marriage, clerical celibacy also requires abstension from these.[1] In the Latin Catholic Church, clerical celibacy is mandated for bishops and, as a general rule, for priests and for deacons who intend to become priests. In Eastern Christianity, celibacy is mandatory for all bishops and for any priest who has been ordained while unmarried or who has lost his wife.

Now, there are married priests in the Church, even in the Latin Rite. This is because there is a difference between discipline and doctrine. Disciplines can, in theory, be changes. That said, strong evidence in the Deposit of Faith (Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition) make this highly – extremely – unlikely.


The Faithful Want Progress
If you are faithful and want progress then seek to adhere to the teachings of the Church, which is the sole authorized, visible representative of Christ on Earth. “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke 10:16).

Any person who wants to truly progress in their faith need only follow the Word, which means accepting Jesus Christ, His Church and the Sacraments He left for us: Baptism, Reconciliation, Communion, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick. A little Eucharistic Adoration and a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother doesn’t hurt either.

Oh, on splits and divisions. John the Baptist said this of Jesus and what Our Blessed Lord will do with the wheat and the chaff:

“His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”  (Luke 3:17)

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Responding to "Liberalism in the Catholic Church"

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keysImage via Wikipedia
EMBLEM OF THE PAPACY: TRIPLE TIARA AND KEYS

First I would like to note that the following comment came from a friend on Facebook who was responding to my own endorsement of “Liberalism in the Catholic Church” a fine post on the Called to Communion website. The author of the post begins:

Catholicism is a religion of truth, not opinion. This truth is a divinely revealed truth, not simply one we make up as we go along. Be that as it may, it is no secret that the Catholic Church is beset by certain elements that reject the revealed truth of the faith. It is a spirit that seeks to overturn revealed truth in favor of modern capitulations. It is an idea that the revealed truth is ‘outdated’ and needs to be revised because modern man is, well, modern. This spirit is often called ‘Liberalism.’

He goes on to quote the famous Anglican convert and Blessed John Cardinal Henry Newman who defines liberalism in religion as:

Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining force and substance daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy. Devotion is not necessarily founded on faith. Men may go to Protestant Churches and to Catholic, may get good from both and belong to neither. They may fraternize together in spiritual thoughts and feelings, without having any views at all of doctrine in common, or seeing the need of them. (Blessed John Henry Newman’s Roman Address of 1879 as quoted in “Letters to a Young Catholic” by George Weigel)

In my posting or commenting on this article on Facebook (how it ended up there I am not exactly sure but whatever) I simply stated that the author’s observations were on point and liberalism of this sort and absolute Truth do not get on well.
My friend, whom I believe is a baptized Catholic and knew well back in the dark days of my youth stated the following:

There are some sticky issues here. Why can’t women lead? Why can’t priest marry? These are not biblically inspired rather they are tradition. The article is right— liberalism and tradition do not mix. Some of the faithful want progress while others want a return (or more entrenched) to traditionalism. The Church is about community and this ‘split’ causes conflict and division. However, by dismissing the opinions of liberals (and saying it is all their fault), the Church loses some of its essence as well.

For me none of these issues are sticky and the Church’s response, as usual, more that just Biblical it follows in the line of Sacred Tradition, which is that part of the Deposit of Faith verbally passed on from the Apostles themselves. Let me get the meat.


Why can’t women lead?
The issue here is not whether women can lead or not it is why is it that women cannot be ordained priests? To address the actual text, women have, can and do lead. Take a look at our mothers, nuns, bulk of teachers and catechists and most importantly the role of women in Salvation History – most importantly Our Lady. The manner in which our Creator designed us is to function as a complementary pair. That is to say that each gender has a role but work in unity to accomplish the goal.

Now, when thinking in terms of why women cannot be ordained, this is simpler to address. Jesus is a man – a male. And every validly ordained priest acts in the person of Christ when they are celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, etc. (Oh, and there is the fact that there is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit who is the spouse of the Blessed Virgin as a woman cannot impregnate a woman.) Add to this the fact that Jesus Himself did not select any woman (His Mother surely would have been at the top of the list) to share in His priesthood in this ministerial fashion and the case is closed. Not so for liberals.

Religious liberals in the Church wrongly identify the nature of the Church, her authority and the essence of the ministerial priesthood by somehow getting the idea that the Church can change something that is part of the Deposit of Faith. No where in the Church’s over 2,000-year history can anyone see that a woman was ordained a priest. This is a fact of life and cannot be changed but by God Himself.


Why can’t priests marry?
Back in the day I asked my dad this very question and he boiled it down to a simple point that my five-year-old mind could understand: priests are married to the Church. Again, priests act in persona Christi and both Saint Paul and Saint John speak of Church as the bride of Christ but the relationship is probably best recognized Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Let’s do some math: L = H + W. L is for LOVE, H is for HUSBAND and W is for WIFE so if HUSBAND = CHRIST [PRIEST] and WIFE = CHURCH [CHURCH] then a priest loves the Church as a wife and is thus married to her. Oh, and then there is this passage from the Saint Paul:

This is one of the base points for the discipline of Clerical celibacy at the ordination of unmarried men. Wikipedia says this of clerical celibacy:

Clerical celibacy is the discipline by which some or all members of the clergy in certain religions are required to be unmarried. Since these religions consider sinful deliberate sexual thoughts, feelings, and behavior outside of marriage, clerical celibacy also requires abstension from these.[1] In the Latin Catholic Church, clerical celibacy is mandated for bishops and, as a general rule, for priests and for deacons who intend to become priests. In Eastern Christianity, celibacy is mandatory for all bishops and for any priest who has been ordained while unmarried or who has lost his wife.

Now, there are married priests in the Church, even in the Latin Rite. This is because there is a difference between discipline and doctrine. Disciplines can, in theory, be changes. That said, strong evidence in the Deposit of Faith (Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition) make this highly – extremely – unlikely.


The Faithful Want Progress
If you are faithful and want progress then seek to adhere to the teachings of the Church, which is the sole authorized, visible representative of Christ on Earth. “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke 10:16).

Any person who wants to truly progress in their faith need only follow the Word, which means accepting Jesus Christ, His Church and the Sacraments He left for us: Baptism, Reconciliation, Communion, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick. A little Eucharistic Adoration and a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother doesn’t hurt either.

Oh, on splits and divisions. John the Baptist said this of Jesus and what Our Blessed Lord will do with the wheat and the chaff:

“His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”  (Luke 3:17)

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