BREAD OF LIFE

BREAD OF LIFE
 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. (john 6: 50)
I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood; you have no life in you. (John 6: 53)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

WE BELIEVE IN THE VIRGIN BIRTH

The Catholic Understanding of the Virgin Birth

The Apostle's Creed states that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. This concept is also found in the infancy stories in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, which assert that the Blessed Virgin Mary, although pregnant with Jesus, was still a virgin before and after his birth. This doctrine has been termed the Virgin Birth. Above all, the doctrine of the Virgin Birth asserts that Jesus' conception and birth were miraculous and unlike any other: conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, Jesus had no earthly biological father. perpetual virginity Even after Jesus' birth, Mary still remained a virgin. The doctrine of the Virgin Birth is not only about biology, but the Catholic understanding has always recognized that, whatever the symbolism applied to the Virgin Birth, it was first a biological miracle. The Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ has been and remains today essential Catholic doctrine.

The Virgin Birth also points to the uniqueness of Christ. The Gospel writers were not ignorant: they knew that people were not normally born of virgins and they included the story of the Virgin Birth to express the uniqueness of Jesus as well as his miraculous origins. Christ's earthly life began in a miraculous way and ended in a miraculous way (the resurrection and ascension).

There is also symbolism of the Church in the Virgin Birth. Mary's virginity has been perceived as symbolic of the righteous remnant of Israel, the Church. Also, Mary's role as both virgin and Mother has been compared to the Church which creates new sons and daughters through baptism and who keeps the purity of the apostolic faith as pledged to Christ, her Spouse (1).

Many people today reject the Virgin Birth because they say it is impossible to believe in an age of modern science and think that the early Christians believed in it simply because they were ignorant. This attitude is quite unfair and even arrogant, because it assumes the early Christians were stupid. The early Christians may not have possessed all of our scientific knowledge, but, like us, they knew the Virgin Birth was not in the natural order of things. This is why it was a miracle. The eleventh council of Toledo (AD 675) wrote: "[The Virgin Birth is] neither grasped by reason nor illustrated by example. Were it grasped by reason it would not be wonderful; were it illustrated by example it would not be unique" (2).

The Virgin Birth has never been recognized as a natural possibility, but as a miracle fitting the birth of God himself. We can never prove the Virgin Birth in a scientific or historical manner (modernist criteria), but we believe it through faith, and through the collective witness of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches

There has been some recent debate over whether or not Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus, a doctrine known as "the perpetual virginity of Mary." Historically speaking, belief in Mary's perpetual virginity is strongly and decisively supported by witness of the universal Church from its earliest days to the present (including the original Protestant Reformers). Those referred to as Jesus' "brothers" were either cousins, other relatives, or step brothers.

It has only been questioned within Protestantism due to the influence of the Enlightenment on the Protestant churches. Catholics, the Orthodox, and many other Christians believe in the ancient witness of the Church, which trumps Western philosophical movements. Thus, the truth of Mary's perpetual virginity is, like the Virgin Birth, essential Catholic belief. As St. Augustine said: [Mary] remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to him, a virgin in carrying him, a virgin in nursing him at her breast, always a virgin (Serm. 186).

Monday, December 8, 2014

THE CATHOLIC RELIGION PROVED BY THE PROTESTANT BIBLE

ANSWERS TO 25 QUESTIONS ON THE

HISTORY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

WHICH COMPLETELY REFUTE THE " BIBLE ONLY " THEORY

ONE

Did Our Lord write any part of the New Testament or command His Apostles to do so? Our Lord Himself never wrote a line, nor is there any record that He ordered his Apostles to write; He did command them to teach and to preach. Also He to Whom all power was given in Heaven and on earth (Matt. 28-18) promised to give them the Holy Spirit (John 14-26) and to be with them Himself till the end of the world (Mat. 28-20).

COMMENT: If reading the Bible were a necessary means of salvation, Our Lord would have made that statement and also provided the necessary means for his followers.

TWO

How many of the Apostles or others actually wrote what is now in the New Testament? A Few of the Apostles wrote part of Our Lord's teachings, as they themselves expressly stated; i.e., Peter, Paul, James, John, Jude, Matthew, also Sts. Mark and Luke. None of the others wrote anything, so far as is recorded.

COMMENT: If the Bible privately interpreted was to be a Divine rule of Faith, the apostles would have been derelict in their duty when instead, some of them adopted preaching only.

THREE

Was it a teaching or a Bible-reading Church that Christ founded? The Protestant Bible expressly states that Christ founded a teaching Church, which existed before any of the New Testament books were written.

Rom. 10-17: So then faith cometh by HEARING, and hearing by the word of God.

Matt. 28-19: Go ye therefore and TEACH all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Mark. 16-20: And they went forth, and PREACHED everywhere the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

Mark 16-15: And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and PREACH the gospel to every creature.

COMMENT: Thus falls the entire basis of the "Bible-only" theory.

FOUR

Was there any drastic difference between what Our Lord commanded the Apostles to teach and what the New Testament contains? Our Lord commanded his Apostles to teach all things whatsoever He had commanded; (Matt. 28-20); His Church must necessarily teach everything; (John 14-26); however, the Protestant Bible itself teaches that the Bible does not contain all of Our Lord's doctrines:

John 20-30: And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book, etc.

John 21-25: And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

COMMENT: How would it have been possible for second century Christians to practice Our Lord's religion, if private interpretation of an unavailable and only partial account of Christ's teaching were indispensable?

FIVE

Does the New Testament expressly refer to Christ's "unwritten word"? The New Testament itself teaches that it does not contain all that Our Lord did or, consequently, all that He taught.

John 20-30: And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book, etc.

John 21-25: And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written everyone, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written Amen.

COMMENT: Since the Bible is incomplete, it needs something else to supplement it; i.e., the spoken or historically recorded word which we call Tradition.

SIX

What became of the unwritten truths which Our Lord and the Apostles taught? The Church has carefully conserved this "word of mouth" teaching by historical records called Tradition. Even the Protestant Bible teaches that many Christian truths were to be handed down by word of mouth.

2 Thes. 2-15: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

2 Tim. 2-2: And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

COMMENT: Hence not only Scripture but other sources of information must be consulted to get the whole of Christ's teaching. Religions founded on "the Bible only" are therefore necessarily incomplete.

SEVEN

Between what years were the first and last books of the New Testament written? This first book, St. Matthew's Gospel, was not written until about ten years after Our Lord's Ascension. St. John's fourth gospel and Apocalypse or Book of Revelations were not written until about 100 A. D.

COMMENT: Imagine how the present-day privately interpreted "Bible-only" theory would have appeared at a time when the books of the New Testament were not only unavailable, but most of them had not yet been written.

EIGHT

When was the New Testament placed under one cover? In 397 A. D. by the Council of Carthage, from which it follows that non-Catholics have derived their New Testament from the Catholic Church; no other source was available.

COMMENT: Up to 397 A. D., some of the Christians had access to part of the New Testament; into this situation, how would the "Bible-only privately interpreted" theory have fitted?

NINE

Why so much delay in compiling the New Testament? Prior to 397 A. D., the various books of the New Testament were not under one cover, but were in the custody of different groups or congregations. The persecutions against the Church, which had gained new intensity, prevented these New Testament books from being properly authenticated and placed under one cover. However, this important work was begun after Constantine gave peace to Christianity in 313 A.D., allowing it to be practiced in the Roman Empire.

COMMENT: This again shows how utterly impossible was the "Bible-only" theory, at least up to 400 A. D.

TEN

What other problem confronted those who wished to determine the contents of the New Testament? Before the inspired books were recognized as such, many other books had been written and by many were thought to be inspired; hence the Catholic Church made a thorough examination of the whole question; biblical scholars spent years in the Holy Land studying the original languages of New Testament writings.

COMMENT: According to the present-day "Bible-only" theory, in the above circumstances, it would also have been necessary for early Christians to read all the doubtful books and, by interior illumination, judge which were and which were not divinely inspired.

ELEVEN

Who finally did decide which books were inspired and therefore belonged to the New Testament? Shortly before 400 A. D. a General Council of the Catholic Church, using the infallible authority which Christ had given to His own divine institution, finally decided which books really belonged to the New Testament and which did not.

Either the Church at this General Council was infallible, or it was not.

If the Church was infallible then, why is it not infallible now? If the Church was not infallible then, in that case the New Testament is not worth the paper it is written on, because internal evidences of authenticity and inspiration are inconclusive and because the work of this Council cannot now be rechecked; this is obvious from reply to next question.

COMMENT: In view of these historical facts, it is difficult to see how non-Catholics can deny that it was from the (Roman) Catholic Church that they received the New Testament.

TWELVE

Why is it impossible for modern non-Catholics to check over the work done by the Church previous to 400. A. D.? The original writings were on frail material called papyrus, which had but temporary enduring qualities. While the books judged to be inspired by the Catholic Church were carefully copied by her monks, those rejected at that time were allowed to disintegrate, for lack of further interest in them.

COMMENT. What then is left for non-Catholics, except to trust the Catholic Church to have acted under divine inspiration; if at that time, why not now?

THIRTEEN

Would the theory of private interpretation of the New Testament have been possible for the year 400 A. D.? No, because, as already stated, no New Testament as such was in existence.

COMMENT: If our non-Catholic brethren today had no Bibles, how could they even imagine following the "Bible-only privately interpreted" theory; but before 400 A. D., New Testaments were altogether unavailable.

FOURTEEN

Would the private interpretation theory have been possible between 400 A. D. and 1440 A. D., when printing was invented? No, the cost of individual Bibles written by hand was prohibitive; moreover, due to the scarcity of books, and other reasons, the ability to read was limited to a small minority. The Church used art, drama and other means to convey Biblical messages.

COMMENT: To have proposed the "Bible-only" theory during the above period would obviously have been impracticable and irrational.

FIFTEEN

Who copied and conserved the Bible during the interval between 400 A. D. and 1440 A. D.? The Catholic monks; in many cases these spent their entire lives to give the world personally-penned copies of the Scriptures, before printing was invented.

COMMENT: In spite of this, the Catholic Church is accused of having tried to destroy the Bible; had she desired to do this, she had 1500 years within which to do so.

SIXTEEN

Who gave the Reformers the authority to change over from the one Faith, one Fold and one Shepherd program, to that of the "Bible-only theory"? St. Paul seems to answer the above when he said: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Galations 1-8 - Protestant version ).

COMMENT: If in 300 years, one-third of Christianity was split into at least 300 sects, how many sects would three-thirds of Christianity have produced in 1900 years? (Answer is 5700).

SEVENTEEN

Since Luther, what consequences have followed from the use of the "Bible-only" theory and its personal interpretation? Just what St. Paul foretold when he said: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears." 2 Timothy 4-3 (Protestant edition). According to the World Christian Encyclopedia and other sources, there are 73 different organizations of Methodists, 55 kinds of Baptists, 10 branches of Presbyterians, 17 organizations of Mennonites, 128 of Lutherans and thousands of other denominations.

COMMENT: The "Bible-only" theory may indeed cater to the self-exaltation of the individual, but it certainly does not conduce to the acquisition of Divine truth.

EIGHTEEN

In Christ's system, what important part has the Bible? The Bible is one precious source of religious truth; other sources are historical records (Tradition) and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

COMMENT: Elimination of any one of the three elements in the equation of Christ's true Church would be fatal to its claims to be such.

NINETEEN

Now that the New Testament is complete and available, what insolvable problem remains? The impossibility of the Bible to explain itself and the consequent multiplicity of errors which individuals make by their theory of private interpretation. Hence it is indisputable that the Bible must have an authorized interpreter.

2 Peter 1-20: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

2 Peter 3-16: As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Acts 8-30: And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Isaias, and said, understandest thou what thou readest? 31. And he said, How can I except some men should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

COMMENT: Only by going on the supposition that falsehood is as acceptable to God as is truth, can the "Bible-only" theory be defended.

TWENTY

Who is the official expounder of the Scriptures? The Holy Spirit, acting through and within the Church which Christ founded nineteen centuries ago; the Bible teaches through whom in the Church come the official interpretations of; God's law and God's word.

Luke 10-16: He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.

Matt. 16-18: And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Mal. 2-7: For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.

COMMENT: Formerly at least, it was commonly held that when individuals read their Bibles carefully and prayerfully, the Holy Spirit would guide each individual to a knowledge of the truth. This is much more than the Catholic Church claims for even the Pope himself. Only after extended consultation and study, with much fervent prayer, does he rarely and solemnly make such a decision.

TWENTY-ONE

What are the effects of the Catholic use of the Bible? Regardless of what persons may think about the Catholic Church, they must admit that her system gets results in the way of unity of rule and unity of faith; otherwise stated, one Faith, one Fold and one Shepherd.

COMMENT: If many millions of non-Catholics in all nations, by reading their Bible carefully and prayerfully, had exactly the same faith, reached the same conclusions, then this theory might deserve the serious consideration of intelligent, well-disposed persons-but not otherwise.

TWENTY-TWO

Why are there so many non-Catholic Churches? Because there is so much different interpretation of the Bible; there is so much different interpretation of the Bible because there is so much wrong interpretation; there is so much wrong interpretation because the system of interpreting is radically wrong. You cannot have one Fold and one Shepherd, one Faith and one Baptism, by allowing every man and every woman to distort and pervert the Scriptures to suit his or her own pet theories.

COMMENT: To say that Bible reading is an intensely Christian practice, is to enunciate a beautiful truth; to say that Bible reading is the sole source of religious faith, is to make a sadly erroneous statement.

TWENTY-THREE

Without Divine aid, could the Catholic Church have maintained her one Faith, one Fold, and one Shepherd? Not any more than the non-Catholic sects have done; they are a proof of what happens when, without Divine aid, groups strive to do the humanly impossible.

COMMENT: Catholics love, venerate, use the Bible; but they also know that the Bible alone is not Christ's system but only a precious book, a means, an aid by which the Church carries on her mission to "preach the Gospel to every living creature" and to keep on preaching it "to the end of time."

TWENTY-FOUR

Were there any printed Bibles before Luther? When printing was invented about 1440, one of the first, if not the earliest printed book, was an edition of the Catholic Bible printed by John Gutenberg. It is reliably maintained that 626 editions of the Catholic Bible, or portions thereof, had come from the press through the agency of the Church, in countries where her influence prevailed, before Luther's German version appeared in 1534. Of these, many were in various European languages. Hence Luther's "discovery" of the supposedly unknown Bible at Erfurt in 1503 is one of those strange, wild calumnies with which anti-Catholic literature abounds.

COMMENT: Today parts of the Bible are read in the vernacular from every Catholic altar every Sunday. The Church grants a spiritual premium or indulgence to those who read the Bible; every Catholic family has, or is supposed to have, a Bible in the home. Millions of Catholic Bibles are sold annually.

TWENTY-FIVE

During the Middle Ages, did the Catholic Church manifest hostility to the Bible as her adversaries claim? Under stress of special circumstances, various regulations were made by the Church to protect the people from being spiritually poisoned by the corrupted and distorted translations of the Bible; hence opposition to the Waldensians, Albigensians, Wycliff and Tyndale.

COMMENT: Individual churchmen may at times have gone too far in their zeal, not to belittle the Bible, but to protect it. There is no human agency in which authority is always exercised blamelessly.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

CONFESSION

Are all of our sins—past, present, and future—forgiven once and for all when we become Christians? Not according to the Bible or the early Church Fathers. Scripture nowhere states that our future sins are forgiven; instead, it teaches us to pray, "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matt. 6:12).

The means by which God forgives sins after baptism is confession: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Minor or venial sins can be confessed directly to God, but for grave or mortal sins, which crush the spiritual life out of the soul, God has instituted a different means for obtaining forgiveness—the sacrament known popularly as confession, penance, or reconciliation.

This sacrament is rooted in the mission God gave to Christ in his capacity as the Son of man on earth to go and forgive sins (cf. Matt. 9:6). Thus, the crowds who witnessed this new power "glorified God, who had given such authority to men" (Matt. 9:8; note the plural "men"). After his resurrection, Jesus passed on his mission to forgive sins to his ministers, telling them, "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. . . . Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (John 20:21–23).

Since it is not possible to confess all of our many daily faults, we know that sacramental reconciliation is required only for grave or mortal sins—but it is required, or Christ would not have commanded it.

Over time, the forms in which the sacrament has been administered have changed. In the early Church, publicly known sins (such as apostasy) were often confessed openly in church, though private confession to a priest was always an option for privately committed sins. Still, confession was not just something done in silence to God alone, but something done "in church," as the Didache (A.D. 70) indicates.

Penances also tended to be performed before rather than after absolution, and they were much more strict than those of today (ten years’ penance for abortion, for example, was common in the early Church).

But the basics of the sacrament have always been there, as the following quotations reveal. Of special significance is their recognition that confession and absolution must be received by a sinner before receiving Holy Communion, for "[w]hoever . . . eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Cor. 11:27).

The Didache

"Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life. . . . On the Lord’s Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure" (Didache 4:14, 14:1 [A.D. 70]).

The Letter of Barnabas

"You shall judge righteously. You shall not make a schism, but you shall pacify those that contend by bringing them together. You shall confess your sins. You shall not go to prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of light" (Letter of Barnabas 19 [A.D. 74]).

Ignatius of Antioch

"For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of penance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ" (Letter to the Philadelphians 3 [A.D. 110]).

"For where there is division and wrath, God does not dwell. To all them that repent, the Lord grants forgiveness, if they turn in penitence to the unity of God, and to communion with the bishop" (ibid., 8).

Irenaeus

"[The Gnostic disciples of Marcus] have deluded many women. . . . Their consciences have been branded as with a hot iron. Some of these women make a public confession, but others are ashamed to do this, and in silence, as if withdrawing from themselves the hope of the life of God, they either apostatize entirely or hesitate between the two courses" (Against Heresies 1:22 [A.D. 189]).

Tertullian

"[Regarding confession, some] flee from this work as being an exposure of themselves, or they put it off from day to day. I presume they are more mindful of modesty than of salvation, like those who contract a disease in the more shameful parts of the body and shun making themselves known to the physicians; and thus they perish along with their own bashfulness" (Repentance 10:1 [A.D. 203]).

Hippolytus

"[The bishop conducting the ordination of the new bishop shall pray:] God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . Pour forth now that power which comes from you, from your royal Spirit, which you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and which he bestowed upon his holy apostles . . . and grant this your servant, whom you have chosen for the episcopate, [the power] to feed your holy flock and to serve without blame as your high priest, ministering night and day to propitiate unceasingly before your face and to offer to you the gifts of your holy Church, and by the Spirit of the high priesthood to have the authority to forgive sins, in accord with your command" (Apostolic Tradition 3 [A.D. 215]).

Origen

"[A final method of forgiveness], albeit hard and laborious [is] the remission of sins through penance, when the sinner . . . does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord and from seeking medicine, after the manner of him who say, ‘I said, "To the Lord I will accuse myself of my iniquity"’" (Homilies on Leviticus 2:4 [A.D. 248]).

Cyprian of Carthage

"The apostle [Paul] likewise bears witness and says: ‘ . . . Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord’ [1 Cor. 11:27]. But [the impenitent] spurn and despise all these warnings; before their sins are expiated, before they have made a confession of their crime, before their conscience has been purged in the ceremony and at the hand of the priest . . . they do violence to [the Lord’s] body and blood, and with their hands and mouth they sin against the Lord more than when they denied him" (The Lapsed 15:1–3 (A.D. 251]).

"Of how much greater faith and salutary fear are they who . . . confess their sins to the priests of God in a straightforward manner and in sorrow, making an open declaration of conscience. . . . I beseech you, brethren, let everyone who has sinned confess his sin while he is still in this world, while his confession is still admissible, while the satisfaction and remission made through the priests are still pleasing before the Lord" (ibid., 28).

"[S]inners may do penance for a set time, and according to the rules of discipline come to public confession, and by imposition of the hand of the bishop and clergy receive the right of Communion. [But now some] with their time [of penance] still unfulfilled . . . they are admitted to Communion, and their name is presented; and while the penitence is not yet performed, confession is not yet made, the hands of the bishop and clergy are not yet laid upon them, the Eucharist is given to them; although it is written, ‘Whosoever shall eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord’ [1 Cor. 11:27]" (Letters 9:2 [A.D. 253]).

"And do not think, dearest brother, that either the courage of the brethren will be lessened, or that martyrdoms will fail for this cause, that penance is relaxed to the lapsed, and that the hope of peace [i.e., absolution] is offered to the penitent. . . . For to adulterers even a time of repentance is granted by us, and peace is given" (ibid., 51[55]:20).

"But I wonder that some are so obstinate as to think that repentance is not to be granted to the lapsed, or to suppose that pardon is to be denied to the penitent, when it is written, ‘Remember whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works’ [Rev. 2:5], which certainly is said to him who evidently has fallen, and whom the Lord exhorts to rise up again by his deeds [of penance], because it is written, ‘Alms deliver from death’ [Tob. 12:9]" (ibid., 51[55]:22).

Aphraahat the Persian Sage

"You [priests], then, who are disciples of our illustrious physician [Christ], you ought not deny a curative to those in need of healing. And if anyone uncovers his wound before you, give him the remedy of repentance. And he that is ashamed to make known his weakness, encourage him so that he will not hide it from you. And when he has revealed it to you, do not make it public, lest because of it the innocent might be reckoned as guilty by our enemies and by those who hate us" (Treatises 7:3 [A.D. 340]).

Basil the Great

"It is necessary to confess our sins to those to whom the dispensation of God’s mysteries is entrusted. Those doing penance of old are found to have done it before the saints. It is written in the Gospel that they confessed their sins to John the Baptist [Matt. 3:6], but in Acts [19:18] they confessed to the apostles" (Rules Briefly Treated 288 [A.D. 374]).

John Chrysostom

"Priests have received a power which God has given neither to angels nor to archangels. It was said to them: ‘Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose, shall be loosed.’ Temporal rulers have indeed the power of binding; but they can only bind the body. Priests, in contrast, can bind with a bond which pertains to the soul itself and transcends the very heavens. Did [God] not give them all the powers of heaven? ‘Whose sins you shall forgive,’ he says, ‘they are forgiven them; whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.’ What greater power is there than this? The Father has given all judgment to the Son. And now I see the Son placing all this power in the hands of men [Matt. 10:40; John 20:21–23]. They are raised to this dignity as if they were already gathered up to heaven" (The Priesthood 3:5 [A.D. 387]).

Ambrose of Milan

"For those to whom [the right of binding and loosing] has been given, it is plain that either both are allowed, or it is clear that neither is allowed. Both are allowed to the Church, neither is allowed to heresy. For this right has been granted to priests only" (Penance 1:1 [A.D. 388]).

Jerome

"If the serpent, the devil, bites someone secretly, he infects that person with the venom of sin. And if the one who has been bitten keeps silence and does not do penance, and does not want to confess his wound . . . then his brother and his master, who have the word [of absolution] that will cure him, cannot very well assist him" (Commentary on Ecclesiastes 10:11 [A.D. 388]).

Augustine

"When you shall have been baptized, keep to a good life in the commandments of God so that you may preserve your baptism to the very end. I do not tell you that you will live here without sin, but they are venial sins which this life is never without. Baptism was instituted for all sins. For light sins, without which we cannot live, prayer was instituted. . . . But do not commit those sins on account of which you would have to be separated from the body of Christ. Perish the thought! For those whom you see doing penance have committed crimes, either adultery or some other enormities. That is why they are doing penance. If their sins were light, daily prayer would suffice to blot them out. . . . In the Church, therefore, there are three ways in which sins are forgiven: in baptisms, in prayer, and in the greater humility of penance" (Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed 7:15, 8:16 [A.D. 395]).

NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors. Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004

IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827 permission to publish this work is hereby granted. +Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004

Monday, November 24, 2014

IMPLICIT REPENTANCE

Baptism Provides Sanctifying Grace

Through the sin of Adam and Eve, the human race lost sanctifying grace. Baptism remedies this loss by providing sanctifying grace. However, another effect of original sin, the tendency toward personal sin, remains. Every valid Baptism provides the gift of sanctifying grace. The purpose of Baptism is to remedy the loss of sanctifying grace, a loss caused by original sin. Any Baptism that does not provide sanctifying grace is not a Baptism at all.

Baptism Forgives All Sin

What if an adult seeking Baptism has committed an actual mortal sin prior to Baptism? He cannot go to confession before he has been baptized. However, in the reception of the Sacrament of Baptism, he is forgiven from all past sins from which he is repentant. Notice, though, that there is no requirement that he confess or even call to mind his sins at the time of Baptism. He is forgiven by the grace of the Sacrament and by the choice of his own free to repent. His free will is necessary for his forgiveness from personal sin, just as it is necessary in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

But what if an adult seeking Baptism has committed an actual mortal sin and is not repentant?

Some misguided theologians have claimed that, in this case, Baptism does not forgive his sin, and that he receives the Sacrament validly, yet without receiving sanctifying grace. They claim that he has the character or mark of Baptism on his soul, but without any fruitfulness (i.e. to no avail) until he confesses his past actual mortal sins. Baptism is the one and only remedy for the effect of original sin whereby we lack sanctifying grace. Yet this claim takes that gift and moves it to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as if that Sacrament could in any circumstance remedy the stain of original sin. This entire concept of a fruitless or ineffective Baptism is heretical. For the Church has always taught, as a truth essential to salvation, that Baptism forgives all sins.

True doctrine on this point is that an adult Baptism is only valid if the adult, of his own free will, accepts the Sacrament of Baptism. His acceptance constitutes an implicit repentance from all past sins, mortal and venial, objective and actual. Thus Baptism forgives all sins, just as the Church has always taught, and actual mortal sin is only forgiven through repentance, just as the Church has always taught. Even though an individual might be unrepentant up to the very moment of his adult Baptism, and even though such a refusal by him to repent is unwise and imprudent and sinful, if and when he accepts the Sacrament of Baptism he has then acted with his free will in a manner that constitutes a real and full implicit repentance and all his past sins are forgiven him at the very moment of his Baptism, by the power of that Sacrament.

If an adult receives the Sacrament of Baptism, but without consenting to the Sacrament of his own free will, then the Sacrament is not valid and his sins are not forgiven. Neither is the stain of original sin removed or affected at all, because he is an adult who has not consented to the Sacrament. If he is unrepentant from actual mortal sin, and he also refuses to consent to the Sacrament of Baptism, then he has rejected even implicit repentance and the guilt of that actual mortal sin remains. Forgiveness from sin requires repentance from sin, at least implicitly.

Confession and Implicit Repentance

The Sacrament of Baptism has a greater power than the Sacrament of Reconciliation to forgive sins. For Baptism can forgive original sin as well as personal sin. But even the Sacrament of Reconciliation can forgive sins through implicit repentance. For it often happens that a penitent goes to Confession without calling to mind every actual mortal sin. But if he is generally repentant from sin, and if he confesses the mortal sins that he remembers, even when such a Confession is deeply flawed, he is forgiven from all his sins, mortal and venial, objective and actual. But if instead, he is obstinately and deliberately unrepentant from actual mortal sin, then he is not forgiven by the Sacrament of Confession, for there is no repentance, explicit or implicit.

Extreme Unction and Implicit Repentance

Implicit repentance is also found in the Sacrament of Extreme Unction (the Anointing of the Sick). If a baptized Catholic Christian is unconscious and near death, and he has an unrepented actual mortal sin on his conscience, the priest can give him the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, and it is possible, depending upon the state of his soul and the final acts of his free will, that he may be forgiven from that mortal sin by means of implicit repentance and the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, even if he never awakens before he dies.

Mystical Baptism and Implicit Repentance

A valid Sacrament of Baptism can be received through non-formal means, namely through a mystical Baptism. Since Baptism forgives all sins, a mystical Baptism must also forgive all sins. And, in this case also, a person might not be explicitly repentant from each prior actual mortal sin. Even so, the full cooperation with God's grace found within mystical Baptism contains an implicit repentance on the part of each person receiving a mystical Baptism. Therefore, even a non-formal Baptism forgives all sins, even past actual mortal sins from which the person receiving a mystical Baptism is not explicitly repentant. On the other hand, it is not possible to receive a mystical Baptism without at least implicit repentance from past actual mortal sins.

Conclusion

Every valid Baptism forgives all sins, mortal and venial, objective and actual, even those from which the candidate for Baptism has not explicitly repented. The acceptance of the Sacrament of Baptism by an adult, of his own free will, constitutes, in and of itself, an implicit repentance sufficient to permit the Sacrament of Baptism to forgive all sins. Without this acceptance of the Sacrament of Baptism by the free will, the Sacrament of Baptism itself would not be valid and the individual's sins would not be forgiven.

by Ronald L. Conte Jr.

November 5, 2006

Monday, November 17, 2014

CRY OF A LOST SOUL

And the Lesson that it Teaches

This unusual narrative recounts the revelations of a lost soul to a former acquaintance. It is a powerful record of the steps which led a young woman to lose her soul in Hell for all eternity.

Although it has several times been printed with imprimatur, this in itself does not guarantee the authenticity of the story.

An imprimatur merely indicates that the subject matter is free from error in faith and morals.

Is it true?

Obviously, it cannot be "guaranteed" because the only evidence is that of the girl herself.

It certainly may be true and its instructional qualities would pertain even if the story itself were not true.

In the July apparition at Fatima a vision of a Hell of fire was given to the three little children, and significantly, its existence was confirmed by the great public miracle on October 13th.

Yet Hell is little spoken of in the pulpits. Because of this, the special intervention of Heaven, may, as at Fatima, be necessary to restore this sobering doctrine to its important place in Christian dogma.

It is well to remember that the Hell spoken of here is the Hell which has a significant place in Catholic doctrine, the Hell described vividly by Christ Himself, the Hell seen in all its livid horror by the children at Fatima on July 13th, 1917.

The names of persons and places are omitted because of the nature of the story, plus the fact of its recent origin.

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Clara and Annette, both single Catholics in their early twenties, worked adjacent to each other as employees of a commercial firm in Germany. Although they were never very close friends, they shared a courteous mutual regard which led to an exchange of ideas and, eventually, of confidences. Clara professed herself openly religious, and felt it her duty to instruct and admonish Annette when the latter appeared excessively casual or superficial in religious matters.

In due course, Annette married and left the firm. The year was 1937. Clara spent the autumn of that year on holiday at Lake Garda. About the middle of September she received a letter from her mother. "Annette . . . is dead. She was the victim of an auto accident and was buried yesterday at Wald-Friedhof."

Clara was frightened since she knew her friend was not very religious. Was she prepared to appear before God? Dying suddenly, what had happened to her? The next day she attended Mass, received Holy Communion, and prayed fervently for her friend. The following night, at ten minutes after midnight, the vision took place. . .

"Clara, do not pray for me! I am in hell. If I tell you this and speak at length about it, do not think it is because of our friendship. We here do not love anyone. I do this as under constraint. In truth, I should like to see you to come to this state where I must remain forever."

"Perhaps that angers you, but here we all think that way. Our wills are hardened in evil - in what you call evil. Even when we do something 'good', as I do now, opening your eyes about hell, it is not because of a good intention."

"Do you still remember our first meeting four years ago at. . .? You were then 23 and had been there already half a year. Because I was a beginner, you gave me some helpful advice. Then I praised your love of your neighbor. Ridiculous! Your help was mere coquetry. Here we do not acknowledge any good - in anybody."

"Do you remember what I told you about my youth? Now I am painfully compelled to fill in some of the gaps."

"According to the plan of my parents, I should not have existed. A misfortune brought about my conception. My two sisters were 14 and 15 when I was born."

"Would that I had never existed! Would that I could now annihilate myself! Escape these tortures! No pleasure would equal that with which I would abandon my existence, as a garment of ashes which is lost in nothingness. But I must continue to exist as I chose to make myself - as a ruined person."

"When father and mother, still young, left the country for the city, they had lost touch with the Church and were keeping company with irreligious people. They had met at a dance, and after a year and a half of companionship they 'had' to get married."

"As a result of the nuptial ceremony, so much holy water remained on them that my mother attended Sunday Mass a couple of times a year. But she never taught me to pray. Instead, she was completely taken up with the daily cares of life, although our situation was not bad."

"I refer to prayer, Mass, religious instruction, holy water, church with a very strong repugnance. I hate all that, as I hate those who go to church, and in general every human being and everything."

"From a great many things do we receive torture. Every knowledge received at the hour of death, every remembrance of things lived or known is for us, a piercing flame. In each remembrance, good and bad, we see the way in which was present - the grace we despised or ignored. What a torture is this! We do not eat, we do not sleep, we do not walk. Chained, with howling and gnashing of teeth, we look appalled at our ruined life, hating and suffering. Do you hear? We here drink hatred like water. Above all we hate God. With reluctance do I force myself to make you understand."

"The blessed in heaven must love God because they see Him without veil, in all His dazzling beauty. That makes their bliss indescribable. We know this and the knowledge makes us furious. Men on earth, who know God from nature and from revelation, can love Him, but they are not compelled to do so. The believer - I say this with gnashing of teeth - who contemplates Christ on the cross, with arms extended, will end by loving Him."

"But he whom God approaches only in the final storm, as punisher, as just avenger, because he was rejected by Him, such a person cannot but hate Him with all the strength of his wicked will. We died with willful resolve to be separated from God. Do you now understand why hell lasts forever! It is because our wills were fixed for eternity at the moment of death. We had made our final choice. Our obstinacy will never leave us. Under compulsion, I must add that God is merciful even towards us. I affirm many things against my will and must choke the torrent of abuses I should like to vomit out."

"God was merciful to us by not allowing our wicked wills to exhaust themselves on earth, as we should have been prepared to do. This would have increased our faults and our pains. He caused us to die before our time, as in my case, or had other mitigating circumstances intervene. Now He shows Himself merciful towards us by not compelling a closer approach than that afforded in this remote inferno. Every step bringing us closer to God would cause us a greater pain than that which a step closer to a burning furnace would cause you."

"You were scared when once, during a walk, I told you that my father, a few days before my first Communion, had told me: 'My little Annette, the main thing is your beautiful white dress, all the rest is just make-believe.' Because of your concern, I was almost ashamed. Now I sneer at it."

"The important thing is that we were not allowed to receive Communion until the age of 12. By then I was already absorbed in worldly amusements and found it easy to set aside, without scruple, the things of religion. Thus, I attached no great importance to my first Communion. We are furious that many children go to Communion at the age of seven. We do all we can to make people believe that children have insufficient knowledge at that age. They must first commit some mortal sins. Then the white Particle will not do so much damage to our cause as when faith, hope, and charity - oh, these things! - received in Baptism, are still alive in their hearts."

"Marta K - and you induced me to enter "The Association of the Young Ladies." The games were amusing. As you know, I immediately took a directive part. I liked it. I also like the picnics. I even let myself be induced to go to confession and communion sometimes."

"Once you warned me, 'Anne, if you do not pray, you go to perdition.' I used to pray very little indeed, and even this unwillingly. You were then only too right. All those who burn in hell did not pray or did not pray enough."

"Prayer is the first step towards God. And it is the decisive step. Especially prayer to her who is the Mother of Christ, whose name we never pronounce. Devotion to her rescues from the devil numberless souls whom sin would infallibly give to him."

"I continue my story, consumed with rage and only because I have to. To pray is the easiest thing man can do on earth. And God has tied up the salvation of each one exactly to this very easy thing."

"To him who prays with perseverance little by little God gives so much light, so much strength, that even the most debased sinner will at the end come back to salvation. During the last years of my life I did not pray any more, so I lacked those graces without which nobody can be saved. Here we no longer receive graces. Moreover, should we receive them we would cynically refuse them. All the fluctuations of earthly existence have ceased in the other life. For years I was living far away from God. For, in the last call of grace I decided against God."

"I never believed in the influence of the devil. And now I affirm that he has strong influence on the persons who are in the condition in which I was then. Only many prayers, others and mine own, united with sacrifices and penances, could have snatched me from his grip. And even this only little by little. If there are only few externally obsessed, there are very many internally possessed. The devil cannot steal the free will from those who give themselves to his influence. But in punishment of their, so to speak, methodical apostasy from God, He allows the devil to nest in them."

"I hate the devil too. And yet I am pleased about him, because he tries to ruin all of you; he and his satellites, the fallen with him at the beginning of time. There are millions of them. They roam around the earth, as thick as a swarm of flies, and you do not even notice it. It is not reserved to us damned to tempt you; but to the fallen spirits. In truth every time they drag down here to hell a human soul their own torture is increased. But what does one not do for hatred?"

"Deep down I was rebelling against God. You did not understand it; you thought me still a Catholic. I wanted, in fact, to be called one; I even used to pay my ecclesiastical dues. Maybe your answers were right sometimes. On me they made no impression, since you must not be right. Because of these counterfeited relationships between the two of us, our separation on the occasion of my marriage was of no consequence to me. Before the wedding I went to confession and communion once more. It was a precept. My husband and I thought alike on this point. Why not comply with this formality? So we complied with this, as with the other formalities."

"Our married life, in general, was spent in great harmony. We were of the same idea in everything. In this too, that we did not want the burden of children. In truth, my husband would have like to have one; no more, of course. In the end I succeeded in dissuading him even from this desire. Dresses, luxurious furniture, places of entertainment, picnics and trips by car and similar things were more important for me... It was a year of pleasure on earth, the one that passed from my marriage to my sudden death. Internally, of course, I was never happy, although externally at ease. There was always something indeterminate inside that gnawed at me."

"Unexpectedly I had an inheritance from my Aunt, Lotte. My husband succeeded in increasing his wages to a considerable figure. And so I was able to furnish our new home in an attractive way. Religion did not show its light but from afar off, pale, feeble and uncertain."

"I used to give free vent to my ill humor about some mediaeval representations of hell in cemeteries or elsewhere, in which the devil is roasting souls in red burning coals, while his companions with long tails drag new victims to him. Clara! One can be mistaken in depicting hell, but never can one exaggerate."

"I tell you: the fire of which the Bible speaks, does not mean the torment of the conscience. Fire is fire! What He said: 'Away from Me, you accursed one, into eternal fire', is to be understood literally. Literally! How can the spirit be touched by material fire, you will ask. How can your soul suffer on earth when you put your finger on the flame? In fact the soul does not burn; and yet what torture all the individual feels!"

"Our greatest torture consists in the certain knowledge that we shall never see God. How can this torture us so much, since on earth we are so indifferent? As long as the knife lies on the table, it leaves you cold. You see how keen it is, but you do not feel it. Plunge the knife into the flesh and you will start screaming for pain. Now we feel the loss of God. The lost Catholics suffer more than those of other religions, because they, mostly, received and despised more graces and more light. He who knew more suffers more cruelly than he who knew less. He who sinned out of malice suffers more keenly than he who sinned out of weakness. But nobody suffers more than he deserves. Oh, if that were not true, I should have a motive to hate!"

"My death happened this way . . ."

"A week ago - I am speaking according to your reckoning, because according to pain, I could very well say that it is already ten years that I am burning in hell - a week ago, then, my husband and I, on a Sunday went on a picnic, the last one for me. The day was glorious. I felt very well. A sinister sense of pleasure that was with me all the day long, invaded me. When lo, suddenly, during the return, my husband was dazzled by a car that was coming full speed. He lost control."

"Jesus, used frequently by some people of German language - escaped from my lips with a shivering. Not as a prayer, but as a shout. A lacerating pain took hold of the whole of me. (In comparison with the present only a trifle). Then I lost consciousness. Strange! That morning this thought had come to me in an inexplicable way: 'You could go to Mass once more', It seemed like the last call of Love."

"Clear and resolute, my 'NO' cut off that train of thought. You will know already what happened after my death. The lot of my husband and that of my mother, what happened to my corpse and the proceedings of my funeral are known to me through some natural knowledge we have here. What happens on earth we know only obscurely. But we know what touches us closely. I see also where you are living."

"I myself awoke from the darkness suddenly, in the instant of my passing. I saw myself as flooded by a dazzling light. It was in the same place where my dead body was lying. It was like a theater, when suddenly the lights in the hall are put out, the curtains are rent aside and an unexpected scene, horrible illuminated, appears. The scene of my life."

"My soul showed herself to me as in a mirror; all the graces despised from my youth until my last NO to God. I felt myself like an assassin, to whom his dead victim is shown during his trial at court - Should I repent? Never! - Should I feel ashamed? Never!"

"However, I could not even stand before the eyes of God, rejected by me. There was only one thing for me: flight! As Cain fled from the dead body of Abel, so my soul rushed from the sight of horror."

"This was the particular judgment: the invisible Judge said: 'Away from Me'. Then my soul, as a yellow brimstone shadow, fell headlong into the place of eternal torture."

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It is hoped that the above story will cause the reader to be most serious about the salvation of his soul. ("The greater part of men choose to be damned." St. Alphonsus Liguori) This is consistent with the teaching of the Holy Bible. "Enter by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who enter that way. How narrow the gate and close the way that leads to life! And few there are who find it." (Matt. 7:13, 14)

The Catholic Church is the one true Church. The history of all nations; of all people bear testimony that the Catholic Church is the oldest, the first, the one established by Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Now if you are really serious about saving your soul, you must adopt the Catholic Faith as there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. This has been defined dogmatically by three different popes, even before the Protestant church came into existence. You are urged to contact a Catholic Church where the traditions of the Holy Catholic Faith are being maintained. Call us at 502-425-9738 if you need help locating a traditional chapel in your area.

Promote the faith. Distribute this article. Pray and work for the salvation of souls. If we are responsible for the salvation of one soul, we also insure the salvation of our own. (St. James 5: 19-20)

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