An Open Letter To Non-Catholics
My Dear Friend,
More than likely, if you have
managed to keep your sanity in today's sad and sinful world, you may
have been scandalized even at what has been happening in the
Catholic Church. At the present time, she seems to have fallen prey
to all the snares of Satan set to trap not only the weakest of men
but also the most brilliant of theologians.
How is it,
you may well ask, that as a Catholic I can still profess allegiance
to my Church? With the help of our dear Lord, and that of His most
blessed Mother, I will try to explain. To begin with:
CATHOLIC CHURCH WAS FOUNDED DIRECTLY BY CHRIST
In the Old
Testament the Jewish Tabernacle was the work of God - not man. It
was God who drew up its plan, giving its exact dimensions,
stipulating the materials to be used in its construction, describing
its sacred furnishings and vessels for the service, and the
vestments and ornaments for the priests who would minister therein.
He gave it a suitable constitution, appointed its rulers, and
defined the extent of their power. (See Book of Exodus, chapters 25
through 31, entire Book of Leviticus; Book of Numbers, chapters 1, 3
through 8, and 17 and 18.) 50, since the Tabernacle of the Old
Law (which was but a shadow, a figure, of the
Church to come) was the work of God, surely the Church of the New
Testament (the substance, the reality) must
likewise be the work of God.
It is easily
shown that it was Christ Himself, not His followers, not even His
Apostles, who established the Church: Christ declared His
intention of founding a Church, by the institution of a living
authority, when He said to Simon Peter: "And
so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my
church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against
16:18). Now, if Christ intends personally to build His Church,
it is not to be the work of man. Christ Himself will therefore give
it all the necessary elements of a true social body, and,
consequently, a ruling authority. And, that there might be no room
for doubt, He added: "I will give you the keys
to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound
in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in
16:19). This authority was actually established and the
Church founded, when Our Lord after His resurrection said to Peter:
"When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said
to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me more than
these?' He said to him, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' He
said to him, 'Feed my lambs.' He then said to him a second time,
'Simon, son of John, do you love me?' He said to him, 'Yes, Lord,
you know that I love you.' He said to him, 'Tend my sheep.' He said
to him the third time, 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?' Peter
was distressed that he had said to him a third time, 'Do you love
me?' and he said to him, 'Lord, you know everything; you know that I
love you.' (Jesus) said to him, 'Feed my sheep.'" (John
21:15,17). Many also feel this was Christ's way of healing Peter
after Peter had denied him three times. He allowed him to affirm
himself three times. During His mortal life Christ Himself was the
visible head of the infant Church, but after His Resurrection the
office of visibly feeding the flock was to be discharged by another,
to whom Christ gave the necessary authority and office. And as the
followers of the Law of Moses under the Old Testament formed one
compact body, so too were the followers of Christ to be One Body: 'One
Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians
4:5). From the moment when first the Church, after the descent
of the Holy Ghost, appeared before the world, we find a compact,
fully organized society, with the apostles at its head. "Those
who accepted his (Peter's) message were
baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day. They
devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the
communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers."
It was by
the preaching of the apostles, it is true, that the faithful were
gained for the Church; but it was not the apostles who devised the
plan of this body, made baptism the condition of membership,
appointed the first supreme head, and invested him with authority.
It was Christ Himself who did all this, and by so doing founded the
Church. A "church of the future" is, therefore, no less absurd than
a Christian religion of the future, for the founder of the Christian
religion was at the same time the immediate founder of the Church.
Being outside the Church was considered by the early Church Fathers
as being a non-Christian. 'He is no Christian," says St. Cyprian
(died 258), "who is not within the Church of Christ" (Ep. ad
Antonian, 55, n.24).
ESTABLISHED A VISIBLE CHURCH
In the New
Testament we learn that Christ was visibly on earth but a very short
time; that the term of His public teaching comprised only three
years, which was occupied chiefly with the instruction of twelve
men, who, under a chief, were to constitute His first representative
corporate teaching body; they would be commissioned by the Son of
God: "All power in heaven and on earth has
been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."
28:18-19). And though Jesus would return to Heaven, He would not
be disassociated from His visible teaching body: "And
behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." (Matt.
28:20). If men employ every means in their power for the
perpetuation of their work, can we imagine that God left His great
work to drift along unguided and unprotected? If the Bible teaches
anything plainly it is the visibility of Christ's Church. It is
composed of rulers and subjects: "Keep watch
over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the holy Spirit
has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the church of God
that he acquired with his own blood." (Acts
20:28). Its members are admitted by a visible, external rite
(Baptism); they must hear, and obey: "Whoever
listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And
whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me." (Luke
10:16). Christ compares His Church only to things visible: a "flock"
21:15-17), "a sheepfold" (John
10:16), a "city seated on a mountain"
5:14), a "kingdom" (Matt.
13). He calls it "My Church" (Matt.
16:18), (not "Churches") "The
18:17). Fittingly, then, does this Kingdom of God upon earth
merit the designation of St. Paul: "The Church
of the living God" (1
Pope Pius XI
in an encyclical of January 6, 1928 on "Fostering True Religious
Unity" states: "The Church thus wonderfully instituted could not
cease to exist with the death of its Founder and of the Apostles,
the pioneers of its propagation, for its mission was to lead all men
to salvation without distinction of time or place. 'Going
therefore, teach ye all nations' (Matt.
28:19). Nor could the Church ever lack the effective strength
necessary for the continued accomplishment of its task, since Christ
Himself is perpetually present with it, according to His promise: 'Behold,
I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world'
28:20). Hence not only must the Church still exist today and
continue always to exist, but it must ever be exactly the same as it
was in the days of the Apostles. Otherwise we must say - which God
forbid - that Christ has failed in His purpose, or that He erred
when He asserted of His Church that "the gates
of hell should never prevail against it" (Matt.
times the word "Church" is found in the Old Testament, and in each
passage it means but one Church, one way of worshiping
the Lord before the coming of Christ. That was the Jewish Church -
the religion and the Law of Moses established by God. From no other
altars did God receive the sacrifice of prayer. They were all
abominations to Him. "He who turneth away his
ears from hearing the law, his prayer shall be an abomination"
28:9). In the New Testament, twenty-four times "the Church" is
mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, and you find but one Church
mentioned. Sixty-eight times St. Paul speaks of "the Church" in his
Epistles, everywhere meaning but the one Church of God. St. John
speaks of "the Church at Ephesus," "at Smyrna," "at Philadelphia,"
etc., but these were different dioceses. They all belonged to the
Catholic Church under Peter.
FOUNDED AN APOSTOLIC TEACHING BODY
appointed Apostles to carry on the work He had begun, He bade them
go and teach all nations, baptizing those who would believe, and
teaching them to observe whatsoever He had commanded. The Apostles
were sent, not as mere messengers, but as ambassadors bearing
Christ's authority and power, and teaching and ministering in His
name and person, so that in hearing them men were hearing Him, and
in despising them they were despising Him (Matt. 28:1&20; Luke
10:16). In order that they might carry out this commission, Christ
promised them the Spirit of Truth. "I will ask the Father, and he
shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you
forever. The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because
it seeth him not, nor knoweth him: but you shall know him, because
he shall abide with you, and shall be in you. He will teach you all
things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have
said to you" (John 14:16,17,26). Finally, He promised to be with
them, not for a few years or a generation, but for all days, thereby
indicating that the apostolic order should last beyond the lives of
its present members, even to the end of time. "Behold I am with you
all days, even to the consummation of the world" (Matt. 28:20). In
thus constituting the apostolic body, Christ was in reality
constituting His Church. The Church was no mere collection of
individual believers, but a definite organization, which was to be
the pillar and ground of truth: "I write these things to thee hoping
to come to thee shortly, but in order that thou mayest know, if I am
delayed, how to conduct thyself in the house of God, which is
the Church of the living God, the pillar and mainstay of the
truth" (1 Tim. 3:14,15). It was to be founded on a rock. "Thou
art Peter; and upon this rock I will build My Church" (Matt. 16:18).
The Church taken as a whole comprises teachers and believers, but
its essential constitution lies in the existence of a teaching
authority, guaranteed by Christ to be infallible. "Thou art
Peter; and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates
of hell shall not prevail against it, (Matt. 16:18).
Such was the original
constitution of the Church; and as the Church was to last for
all ages, it is natural to suppose that it should always continue to
exist according to its original constitution - that is to say, as an
apostolic teaching body. There are no signs that this organization
was a temporary expedient, to die out after a few years and leave a
totally different system in its place. He did not say to His
Apostles: "Lo! I am with you even to the end of your lives;"
but "Lo! I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the
world." So that those to whom He addressed Himself were to live
to the end of the world! What does this mean, but that the Apostles
were to have successors, in whom their rights were to be
perpetuated? Successors whom Jesus would ever assist by His presence
and uphold by His power. The work founded by a God,out of His
love for man, and at the price of His own precious Blood, must
surely be imperishable!
PETER IS MADE CHIEF SHEPHERD
OF CHRIST'S CHURCH;
THE POPES SUCCEED PETER
The unique place of primacy
Peter enjoyed among Jesus' apostles is especially evident from three
Bible texts: Matt. 16:1~19; Luke 22:31 sqq, and John 21:15 sqq. The
first passage tells us how our Savior changed Peter's name, by
calling him "Kepha," the Aramaic word for "rock," which in Latin is
"Petros," from which derives the English "Peter." So "Peter" means
"rock." (Formerly he had been known as "Simon.") By this symbolic
act, the Lord meant to designate Peter as the foundation of the
Church He intended to establish; Peter was to be the sign of
stability, permanence, and unity. In this same passage, moreover,
Peter is promised both the keys to heaven's Kingdom and the power to
bind and to loose. Luke 22:2~32 is the text relating a controversy
among the disciples. On this occasion Christ foretold that Peter was
about to be put to the test by Satan: "Simon, Simon, behold Satan
hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat" Luke
22:31). This test occurred, of course, at the hour of Calvary. "I
tell you, Peter . . . that the cock shall not crow today, until you
have three times denied that you know Me" (Luke 22:34). But the
prayer of Christ, said for Peter in particular, would save him, so
that he in turn might "confirm his brethren" in faith: "But I have
prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once
converted, confirm thy brethren" (Luke 22:32). Again, therefore,
Peter is the rock and bulwark of the faith. In John 21:15 sqq, Jesus
fulfills His pledge to give Peter the keys of heaven. This is the
beautiful passage in which Peter is made shepherd of Christ's
universal flock. The Acts of the Apostles show us how Peter
functioned in his role of chief shepherd. He is the primary
spokesman for the apostles; even though we read of Peter's "standing
with the Eleven," it is Peter who speaks. He is the principal
preacher, the pacesetter for apostolic endeavor. Read, for example,
Acts 1:1~26; 2:1440; 3:1-26; 4:8; 5:1-11; 5:29; 8:1~17; etc. That
Peter eventually went to Rome - clearly through the Spirit's
guidance - is the testimony of St. Ignatius of Antioch (died 107),
as well as several other ancient chroniclers. As early as the first
century, too, Pope St. Clement I, a successor of Peter in Rome (even
though St. John the Apostle still lived), demonstrates possession of
full responsibility for the whole Church in a dispute involving the
Corinthians. Tertullian and Hippolytus, both second Century
witnesses, acknowledged Peter as the first in the succession of
Bishops of Rome; St. Cyprian, in the third century, views the unity
of the Church as originating from Peter. And from the second century
on, the Bishop of Rome was asked for judgment in controversial
ecclesial issues. (St. Peter and St. Paul's relics are in St. John
Lateran Basilica in Rome.)
THE APOSTOLIC TEACHING BODY
CONTINUES TO THE PRESENT DAY
Passing through the ages, we
find the same Apostolic system of teaching. Down to the sixteenth
century, there existed in Christendom no other than this idea. The
Bishops were looked upon as successors of the Apostles, and their
unanimous teaching under the Pope was regarded as absolutely
trustworthy - as truly representing the doctrine of Christ. The
Church as a whole could not possibly fall into error - this was
guaranteed by the promises of Christ: "The gates of hell shall not
prevail against it" (Matt 16:18); and those who claimed scripture in
support of new doctrines, and against the prevailing doctrine of the
Church, were regarded as heretics and rebels against Christ, and
against His authority delegated to the Church.
THE CHURCH CAME TO BE KNOWN
AS THE "CATHOLIC" CHURCH
The following is quoted from
the book "Outlines of European History" by James Breasted and James
Robinson, copyright 1914, which was used as a textbook at Classen
Public High School in Oklahoma City in the 1930's. (So it is not a
Catholic school history book.): "It was not until about the
third century that Christians came to call their Church Catholic'
(meaning 'universal'). The Catholic Church embraced all true
believers in Christ, wherever they might be. To this one universal
Church all must belong who hoped to be saved" (page 308). And then
it quotes St. Cyprian (died 258) as follows: "whoever separates
himself from the Church is separated from the promises of the
Church... He is an alien, he is profane, he is an enemy; he can no
longer have God for his father who has not the Church for his
mother. If any one could escape who was outside the Ark of Noah, so
also may he escape who shall be outside the bounds of the Church."
(Note: Breasted & Robinson's text errs, however, as to the date the
Church came to be called "Catholic." St. Ignatius of Antioch (died
107) called the Church "Catholic" in his writings.)
So until the Sixteenth Century
when Martin Luther broke away from the Catholic Church, the
overwhelming majority of Christians were Roman Catholics.
Protestant rebellion continues to be in fact what its adherents call
it today - a protest, and themselves Protest-ants, Protestants. A
protest against what? Against Christ's divinely constituted
teaching authority in the world
Church - and the substitution of the Bible, interpreted by each
individual, in its place. This ran counter to the almost unanimous
conviction of Christendom for fifteen hundred years!
THE CAUSES OF THE PROTESTANT REBELLION?
had been a gradual relaxation of discipline, which had weakened
authority and opened the way to many scandals and unpunished abuses
in the ranks of the clergy. "At the close of the Middle Ages and
dawn of the new era, the Papacy had been too eager in the pursuit of
humanistic aims, had cultivated too exclusively merely human ideals
of art and learning, and at the same time had become entangled in
secular business and politics, and was altogether too worldly" (Grisar,
"LUTHER", V. p.427). Moreover, in Germany at this time the Bishops
were mostly younger sons of princely or noble houses who were quite
unfitted for their spiritual work. And as for the lower clergy,
secular and religious, while many were zealous to diffuse religious
knowledge by catechetical teaching, sermons, instructive
publications and educational work in the elementary and middle
schools, many others were quite neglectful of these sacred duties.
were abuses in the Church then, as there are today, and as there
always will be. But "Blessed is he who shall not be scandalized in
Me" (Luke 7:23). Christ did not guarantee His Church from scandal,
but from error: "When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He
will teach you all truth" (John 16:13). There were scandals
in the Church even while Jesus was with it. Judas was a
thief, a traitor, and a suicide; Peter, the head, swore to a
falsehood; James and John quarreled over supremacy; St. Peter and
St. Paul were at variance over circumcision, and St. Paul
excommunicated one of the faithful for unspeakable lust. The Church
is made up of men, not angels. The triumph of the
Church is not in being composed of sinless mortals, but in supplying
sinful men with means to carry on the struggle against their vicious
tendencies. But Jesus by His divine power granted that His Church,
even though composed of weak and sinful men, would never teach
error. The Church may have needed house cleaning in the
sixteenth century, but the way to clean house is not to dynamite it.
A child may have a very dirty face and yet be absolutely pure in
body and soul. "I am black but beautiful," sings the Church to all
men in the words of Solomon (Canticles 1:4); that is, although the
Catholic Church, the very Body of Jesus Christ in time and space,
may appear to the eyes of men as it were black and contemptible; but
inwardly, that is, in its faith and morals, fair and beautiful in
the eyes of God.
heal a diseased member of the body by cutting it off. Cut away a
member of the body from the heart's blood, and it dies. The spark of
life animating the body does not follow the severed member. The
spark of life remains with the body, and the severed member begins
to disintegrate and decay. This is precisely what happened to the
followers of the revolution of the sixteenth century, as we shall
soon see. "It follows that those who are divided in faith and in
government cannot be living in one and cannot be living the life of
its one divine Spirit" (Encyclical of Pope Pius XII, "The Mystical
Body of Christ").
can form by themselves a congregation or church, claiming that they
follow the teachings of Christ. Christ did not say: "Thou art Luther
and upon this rock I will build my Church" (or "Thou art Calvin,
Knox, King "Among you there will be lying teachers who will bring in
Henry VIII," etc.). Numberless are the false churches, destructive
sects . . . and many will follow . . . "(2 Peter 2:1,2)... "and by
pleasing speeches, and good words, seduce the hearts of the
innocent" (Romans 16:18). "In the last times, some shall depart from
the faith, giving heed to spirits of error and doctrines of devils .
. . " (1 Tim. 4:1-2); "For there shall be a time, when they will not
endure sound doctrine: but according to their own desires, they will
heap to themselves teachers, having to themselves itching ears: and
will turn away their hearing from the truth" (2 Tim. 4:34)."They
received not the love of truth that they might be saved. Therefore
God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying" (2
Thess. 2:1~11). "There is a way that seemethjust to a man,
but the ends thereof lead to death" (Proverbs 14:12).
THE RAPID SPREAD AND ESTABLISHMENT OF PROTESTANTISM
How was it
possible that the Revolution became so widespread in such a short
period of time, and that whole nations gave up the faith of their
forefathers? One cause which greatly contributed to the defection
was that the civil rulers in Germany, Scandinavia, England, and
elsewhere, took advantage of the disorder, seeing in the rebellion a
coveted opportunity of gaining absolute control over the people and
of confiscating the property of the Church; and they gave to the
leaders of the rebellion a support without which the revolt
everywhere would have failed utterly.
traitorous political ambition of France helped set up Protestantism
permanently in Europe. It was Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642), Prime
Minister and real ruler of France under Louis XIII, who, to ensure
the political victory of France in Europe, took the side of the
Protestant princes of Germany against the Catholic Emperor,
Ferdinand II, at the most critical moment of the Thirty Years' War
between the forces of Protestantism and Catholicism. Cardinal
Richelieti hired the Protestant military genius, Gustavus Adolphus,
for five tubs of gold, to enter the war against the Catholics. The
defeat of Ferdinand made impossible his dream of a Europe united
again as one family by the Faith, so close to realization but for
the treachery of the French Cardinal.
cause was the popular unrest and love of novelty, which
characterized the sixteenth century, and the discontent and evil
elements that are present at all times in every society.
Furthermore, the recent invention of printing enabled the
Protestants to circulate their teachings, thus confusing and
deceiving the minds of simple folk.
the Protestant revolt, all serious-minded Catholic men and women
were convinced that a purification of the Church in her hierarchy
and in her members was needed. Not the Catholic religion, as
the Protestants maintained, but the people who professed that
religion required reformation. "Men must be changed by religion," as
one of the champions of True Reform remarked, "not religion by men."
Our Lord told us not to be scandalized when we see "cockle and wheat
in His Church" (Matt. 13:2-3O). But why blame the Church for bad
Catholics? All the bad Catholics in the world are not the Catholic
Church. The Catholic Church holds the "deposit of Faith," spoken of
by St. Paul (1 Tim. 6:2O~21). The bad Catholics are bad not because
of being Catholic, but because they neglect their Catholic duties
and disgrace their exalted condition. "The Church is a perfect
body, composed of imperfect men. This is the mystery of
faith which is a stumbling block to those outside it" (St.
So the first
goal of the counter-reformation was the purification of the Church
in her hierarchy, and in her members. The spread of error by
Protestants, who attacked the Divine Constitution of the Church and
her fundamental doctrines, also imposed upon the Catholic leaders
the duty of setting forth in unmistakable and authoritative terms
the true doctrine of Christianity contained in Scripture and
Tradition. For this purpose, an ecumenical council was convened (The
Council of Trent, the Nineteenth Council of the Church) in the year
1545. The Council set up a vast program to restore religious
discipline, revive Faith, and check the spread of Protestantism by
defining dogmatically the doctrines under attack and censuring the
errors of the rebellion.
There is no
better proof for the divine origin and guidance of the Church than
the fact that she not only survived the great Protestant Revolt of
the Sixteenth Century, but emerged from the conflict rejuvenated and
prepared to meet new ones.
to the teachings of the "reformers":
APPOINTED BY CHRIST TO TEACH MANKIND THE TRUE RELIGION -THE CHURCH
OR THE BIBLE?
Divine Savior sent His Apostles throughout the world to preach the
Gospel to every creature, He laid down the conditions of salvation
thus: "He who believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he who
believeth not shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16). Here, then, our
Blessed Lord laid down two absolute and universal conditions - Faith
and Baptism. What is this Divine Faith which we must have in order
to be saved? It is to believe, upon the authority of God,
"all things whatsoever" (Matt: 28:20) He has revealed. Therefore if
a man would be saved he must profess the true Religion. Now
if God commands me under pain of damnation to believe what He has
taught, He is bound to give me the means to know what He has taught.
What is this means?" "The Bible," say the Protestants. But we
Catholics say, "No, not the Bible, but the Church of God." For if
God had intended that man should learn his religion from the Bible,
surely God would have given that book to man. But He did not do so.
Christ sent His apostles throughout the earth and said: "Go ye
therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to
observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt.
28:19,20). Christ did not say, sit down and write Bibles, and then
let every man read and judge for himself Since the sixteenth century
we have seen the result of such thinking in the founding of hundreds
of religions by men, all quarreling with one another about the
interpretation of the Bible. Jesus never wrote a line of scripture
nor did He command His Apostles to do so, except when He directed
St. John to write the Apocalypse (Book of Revelations 1:11), but
ordered them to "teach all nations" (Matt. 28:19). In Matt. 18:17,
He does not say, "He who will not read the scriptures," but "he who
will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the
publican." The Apostles never circulated a single volume of
scripture, but going forth, preached everywhere ()&ark 16:20). It is
true that our Lord said on one occasion, "Search the Scriptures for
in them ye think ye have eternal life, and the same are they that
give testimony of me" (John 5:39). This passage is quoted by
Protestants in favor of private interpretation but proves nothing of
the kind. Our Savior speaks here only of the Old Testament,
because the New Testament was not yet written. He addressed, not the
Apostles, but the Pharisees, and reproaches them for not admitting
His Divinity, clearly known and shown by the prophets of the Old
established by Christ existed about 65 years before St. John wrote
the last book of the Bible. During these years how did the people
know what they had to do to save their souls? Was it from the Bible
they learned it? No, because the Bible as such was not yet composed.
They knew it precisely as we know it, from the teaching of the
Church of God. The New Testament writings were not gathered together
and declared to be divinely inspired until late in the fourth
century. Moreover, these witnesses were Catholics, and accepted the
Scriptures as divinely inspired because their Church declared them
to be so. Protestants hold that the writings, known as the Sacred
Scriptures, are inspired. But it is on the Catholic Church's word
that they hold this truth! They take for granted that followers of
the Catholic Church transcribed and translated the original writings
without making any errors, that they never altered a line, that they
preserved them until the sixteenth century in their original purity
and integrity. Unless they grant all this, they cannot logically
appeal to the Scriptures as divine authority. Thus Protestants are
breaking away from their theory of "Nothing but the Bible" and
basing their arguments on Tradition, or on the authority of the
Catholic Church, which, on principle, they repudiate!
religion existed before the Old Testament was written, just as the
Christian Church existed before the New Testament was written. Peter
converted three thousand before the first word of the New Testament
was put on paper. Paul had converted hundreds of Romans,
Corinthians, Galatians and Thessalonians before he wrote his
epistles to those congregations; and all the Apostles were dead, and
millions had died Catholic martyrs, before St. John wrote the last
part of the New Testament. Until the end of the first century the
"Word of God" could have been delivered only by word of mouth.
APOSTLES REGARDED THE NEW TESTAMENT
Apostles seem to think it an important matter to leave us their
recollections of Christ's life and character, but they make no
pretense of giving us a complete written account of His teaching.
They show no signs of regarding it as a duty to leave behind them
full written particulars. St. John himself declares the
impossibility of writing anything like an exhaustive account of all
that Christ did (John 21:25). As far as we can gather, nearly all
the Apostles were dead or dispersed before half the New Testament
was written. None of the Apostles ever saw the Gospel of St. John,
except the author himself. Only St. John lived long enough to have
seen the whole series which made up the New Testament; but there is
no evidence to show that he actually did see it. The only clear
reference made by one Apostle to another Apostle's writings is that
of St. Peter, who tells us how hard St. Paul's epistles were to
understand, and how some had wrested them to their own destruction
(2 Peter 3:16). Scripture was regarded as a witness to
the Church's teaching, not as a sole and adequate Rule of Faith to
be substituted in its place.
USED THE SCRIPTURES
In the Acts
of the Apostles 17:2, we are told that St. Paul reasoned with the
Thessalonians on three Sabbath days "out of the Scriptures," and in
verse 11, Paul says that Bereans "searched the Scriptures." Verse 2
implies that St. Paul used the Bible and verse 11 that the Bereans
had it; but this was not the NewTestament, for very little of
it had been written at that time. Bead verse 3, and it will be clear
That he was appealing to the prophetic writings of the Old
testament, showing them that Christ was to suffer and to again. He
didn't prove from the Scriptures that Christ ad already suffered.
The same applies to verse 11.
CHRISTIANS WERE NOT "BIBLE" CHRISTIANS
various parts which now make up the New Testament were carefully
treasured and read in the local churches where they had been
received, but it was only by degrees that copies were spread to
other places and the whole came to be circulated throughout
Christendom. It was late in the fourth century before the present
New Testament writings were gathered together into one book. It was
this late in the Christian era before the Catholic Church declared
which of the many doubtfully inspired writings scattered throughout
the world were really inspired.
EARLY CHRISTIANS RECEIVED THEIR FAITH
in the New Testament many references to Christian doctrine as
derived from oral teaching. The Thessalonians are told to "hold
fast the traditions which they had been taught, whether by word
or by epistle" (2 Thess. 2:15). Timothy, who had been ordained
Bishop of Ephesus by St. Paul is instructed to "Hold fast the form
of sound words which he had heard from his teacher among many
witnesses"; "to continue in the things learnt" (that is, "the gospel
which was committed to his trust"), "knowing from whom he had learnt
them," "and to commit the same to faithful men who shall be able to
teach others" (1 Tim. 1-11; 4:11-16; 6:20; 2 Tim 1:6, 13; 2:2, 3:10,
14; 4:2, etc.) - all of which certainly stands in favor of the
Catholic doctrine of apostolic authority in a line of successors,
for an oral transmission of Faith, and against the Protestant idea
of substituting the Bible as the sole and adequate guide to
salvation. The Bishops were universally regarded as the
authoritative successors to the Apostles responsible for the
preservation of Christian doctrine. The New Testament was not
completed until 65 years after Peter and Paul and most of the other
Apostles were dead; many of their immediate successors had been
martyred, and it is likely that the third or fourth successors of
the several Apostles were converting souls without the Bible when
St. John completed his writings. In fact, the whole Roman Empire was
Christian, at least ten million people remained true to Christ and
suffered a martyr's death, and the Church was enjoying her golden
age, before anybody ever saw the New Testament bound up into one
volume. For four centuries people received their faith only by
hearing it preached in Catholic churches.
Protestants enter the Protestant religion through family ties or
evangelistic services - not by Bible reading. Very few people are
led to embrace this or that religion by "searching the Scriptures."
Nine times out of ten, they enter a religion first, and do their
Bible reading afterwards.
was not given from Heaven like the Ten Commandments were - as the
Christian's sole rule of faith; and Christ did not write the New
Testament; and the Apostles were not ordered to write it as a
textbook. "Tradition is also a rule of faith; for "Faith
cometh by hearing"(Rom 10:17).
SCRIPTURE INHERENTLY CLEAR?
Episcopal minister reads the Bible in a prayerful spirit and says it
is clear and evident that there must be "bishops." The Presbyterian,
a sincere and well-meaning man, deduces from the Bible that there
should be no bishops, only "Presbyters." A number of religions hold
that baptism by immersion is correct, while others approve of
baptism by sprinkling. Next comes the Unitarian who calls them all a
pack of idolaters, worshiping a man for a God, and he quotes several
texts from the Bible to prove it. So we have here a number of
denominations understanding the Bible in different ways. What then,
if we bring together 500 denominations all differing? One says there
is no hell; another says there is. One says Christ is God; another
says He is not, etc. Is baptism necessary for salvation? Must
infants be baptized? Are good works necessary, or is faith alone
sufficient? The correct answer to these questions is surely
essential, but zealous Bible readers do not agree concerning them.
Is anyone foolish enough to believe that the changeless and eternal
Holy Spirit is directing those five hundred denominations, telling
one Yes and another No; declaring a thing to be black and white,
false and true, at the same time? If the Bible were intended as the
guide and teacher of man, would St. Peter have declared that "In the
scriptures are things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and
unstable wrest to their own destruction" (2 Peter 3:16)?
contrary, the Bible itself declares that it contains many passages,
the meaning of which is not clear. Read Acts 8:27-35; Luke 24:25-27;
2 Peter 3:16. Moreover, if the Bible is the Protestants' authority
for everything, how is it that they cannot quote the Bible in favor
of the "private judgment" theory? Not only can it not be found, but
you will find this declaration in the holy book: "No prophecy of
Scripture is made by private interpretation" (2 Peter 1:20). St.
Paul warned Titus not to concede to anyone the right of private
judgment (Titus 8:9-11). In "RATIONALISM IN EUROPE," Vol. II, p.
174, states: "It has been most abundantly proved that from
Scripture, honest and able men have derived and do derive arguments
in support of the most opposite opinions." And from "The London
Times" of January 13, 1884: "England alone is reputed to contain
some 700 sects, each of which proves a whole system of theology and
morals from the Bible"
MAJORITY OF CHRISTIANS DID NOT HAVE THE BIBLE BEFORE THE FIFTEENTH
Not only was
the Bible not the Christian's written Rule of Faith during the first
four centuries, but it was not during the next thousand years, for
the simple reason that there was no widespread use of paper to print
on until the thirteenth century, and the moveable type printing
press itself was not invented until the year 1450, more than one
thousand years after the true canon of the Bible (the collection of
books which were considered inspired) was determined. Without the
printing presses, it was impossible to distribute Bibles by hundreds
of thousands. It required several years of work, distributed over
many hours of the day, to produce onecopy of the Bible. Every page
had to be handmade, with pen upon parchment. Who copied these Bibles
by hand? In most monasteries, from the early centuries, the daily
occupation of many thousands of monks consisted in copying the
scriptures for the benefit of the world. Some excellent specimens
exist, one of them now being displayed at the Congressional Library,
in Washington, D.C. A copy of the manuscript-Bible was usually
placed on a large table in church, where the people who could read
might have the benefit of it. Some Protestant Churches spread the
falsehood that the Catholic Church chained the Bible so that people
might not learn anything from it. That is an anti-Catholic fable.
The thick cover of the Bible was chained to the table (or podium) so
that no one might steal the valuable work. In those days a Bible
would have cost over $10,000.00. The Bible was displayed in the
church, wide open, precisely that it might he read. Not one in
50,000 had a Bible. Would our Divine Lord have left the world for
1500 years without that hook if it were necessary to man's
salvation? Most assuredly not. But suppose everyone had Bibles? What
good will that book be, even today, to the one-half of the people of
the world who cannot read?
PROTESTANTS TOOK OUR BIBLE, THEIRS
press was invented 65 years before Luther's revolt; and according to
Hallam, a Protestant historian, the Catholic Bible was the first
hook ever printed. In 1877 there were exhibited hundreds of old
Bibles, at South Kensington, England; it was called the “Caxton
Exhibition," and among them were nine German editions of the Bible,
printed in Germany before Luther was horn; and there were more than
one hundred editions of the Latin Bible, the very thing Luther is
pretended to have "discovered." This disproves the popular lie about
Luther finding the Bible at Erfurt in 1507. Many Protestant
historians have repudiated this charge. To name a few: Dr. McGilfert
in MAN LUTHER AND HIS WORK, page 273, says: "If Luther was ignorant
of the Bible, it was his own fault. The notion that Bible reading
was frowned upon by ecclesiastical authorities of that age is quite
unfounded." And Dr. Preserve Smith in LIFE AND LETTERS OF MARTIN
LUTHER, page 14, writes: "The book was a very common one, there
having been no less than one hundred editions of the Latin Vulgate
published before 1500, as well as a number of German translations."
And Murzel in HISTORY OF GERMANY, Vol.11, p.223, says: "Before the
time of Luther, the Bible had already been translated and printed in
both High and Low Dutch."
SET UP A SUPREME COURT
Constitution of the United States was written, its writers did not
leave it to the people to interpret as they saw fit. They knew
better than that. They set up a Supreme Court for that purpose. And
do you think that the all-wise God would be less careful in a matter
of even greater importance where the salvation of millions of
immortal souls is at stake? Most assuredly not. He, too, set up a
"Supreme Court," to guide and teach His people, and to interpret the
law for them. In the Old Testament, God chose Moses to deliver His
people, the Israelites, from the Egyptians, and to rule over them
during their 40 years of wandering in the desert towards the
promised land. In the Book of Numbers, Chap. 27, verses 12-23, as
the time of his death approaches, Moses asks God to "provide a man
that may be over this multitude and may lead them out, or bring them
in: lest the people of the Lord be as sheep without a shepherd. And
the Lord said to him: Take Joshua- a man in whom is the Spirit - and
put thy hand upon him ... and thou shalt give him precepts in the
sight of all... that all the congregation of the children of Israel
may hear him... he and all the children of Israel with him, and the
rest of the multitude shall go out and go in at his word."
And in the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses was repeating and expounding
to the Israelites the ordinances given on Mt. Sinai, with other
precepts not expressed before. In Chapter 17, verses &12, he states:
"If thou perceive that there he among you a hard and doubtful matter
in judgment... and thou see that the words of the judges within thy
gates do vary: arise, and go up to the place, which the Lord thy
God shall choose. And thou shall come to the priests of
the Levitical race, and to the judge that shall be at that time. And
thou shalt ask of them. And they shall shew thee the truth of the
judgment. And thou shalt do whatsoever they shall say, that preside
in the place, which the Lord shall choose, and what they shall teach
thee, according to His law. And thou shalt follow their sentence:
neither shalt thou decline to the right hand nor to the left hand.
But he that will be proud, and refuse to obey the commandment
ofthe priest, who ministereth at that time to the Lord thy God
(i.e., the high priest), and the decree of the judge: that man shall
die . . ." And the footnote, Douay Bible, to this Ordinance states:
"Here we see what authority God was pleased to give to the church
guides of the Old Testament, in deciding without appeal, all
controversies relating to the law, promising that they should not
err therein; and surely he has not done less for the church
guides of the New Testament."
up that teaching organism called "the Church," with St. Peter and
his successors as Chief Shepherd (that is, "high priest"), to be His
official Custodian and interpreter under the New Law. And He
promised to safeguard the Church from error. Read John 1:14; 14:6; 1
John 5:20; John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13; John 8:32; 17:17; 2 John 1:3.
To that Church alone, and not to any bookor private
individual did He say "Teach ye all nations ... I will be with
you" (Matt. 28:20). And "He who will not hear the Church, let
him be to thee as the heathen and the publican" (Matt. 18:17).
CATHOLIC CHURCH URGES ITS MEMBERS TO READ THE BIBLE
"At a time
when a great number of bad hooks . . . are circulated among the
unlearned..., the faithful should be excited to the reading of the
Bible; for this is the most abundant source which ought to be left
open to every one to draw from it purity of morals and of doctrine"
(Pope Pius VI, 1778). And Pope Leo XIII, elected in 1878, did much
to promote the reading of the Holy Scriptures. He founded a
congregation for the advancement of biblical studies; he addressed a
letter to the whole Church on the subject of the reading and study
of Holy Writ; and he granted special blessings to those who devoutly
read the Holy Scriptures daily. The Church authorities at the Synod
of Oxford, in 1408, forbade the laity to read unauthorized
versions of the Scriptures. In other words, she forbade them to
accept as Scripture what really was not Scripture. For example, the
Albigensians of the thirteenth century made a translation of the
Bible, which would square with their erroneous teachings. (See
Hallam, MIDDLE AGES, Chapter IX). And Sir Thomas More says "Wycliffe
took upon himself to translate the Bible anew. In this translation
he purposely corrupted the holy text, maliciously planting in it
such words as might, in the reader's ears, serve to prove such
heresies as he 'went about to sow.' " (EVE OF THE REFORMATION,
Gasquet, Chapter VIII). The Lollards changed the text still more,
and made the Bible support the anarchy which they later preached
OF THE PROTESTANT ENGLISH BIBLE
New Testament" was published under King Henry VIII; the "Bishop's
Bible" in 1568; "The King James" or "Authorized Version" in 1611;
"The Revised Version" in 1881. Each of these was brought out
because the previous one was found to contain errors. (Read
"History of the Reformation of the Church in England," by J. H.
Blunt, Ch. I). Zwingli, writing to Luther, in commenting on his
translation of the Bible into German, says: "Thou dost corrupt the
word of God; thou art seen to be a manifest and common corrupter and
perverter of the Holy Scriptures; how much are we ashamed of thee!"
(Vol. II, DE SACRAMENTS, p.412). Here are some of his typical
corruptions: "Wherefore, brethren," St. Peter commands us, "labor
the more, that by good works you may make sure your vocation and
election" (2 Peter 1:10); But Luther omitted the words "By good
works." "We account a man to be justified by faith" (Romans 3:28).
Luther added the word "alone." Calvin's translations of the
Scriptures were equally faulty. A Protestant authority says: "Calvin
makes the text of the gospel to leap up and down; he uses violence
to the letter of the gospel, and besides this, adds to the text."
(See Molinaeus' TRANSLATION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, Part XI, p.110).
In his APOLOGY, Sec. 6, Mr. Burgess, a Protestant, says of the
English Protestant version: “How shall I approve, under my hand, a
translation which has many omissions, many additions; which
sometimes obscureth, sometimes perverteth the sense, being sometimes
senseless, sometimes contrary?"
prohibition of the Catholic Church against Bible reading had
reference to the reading of faulty translations of the Scriptures.
Such faulty translations are not surprising, as the devil, too,
quotes the Scriptures dishonestly: In Matthew 4:1-11, we read: "At
that time, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, to be
tempted by the devil... Then the devil took Him up into the holy
city, and set Him upon the pinnacle of the temple, and said to
Him: if thou
be the Son of God, cast thyself down. For it is written: That he
hath given his angels charge over thee.
read in the 9Oth Psalm; but there the prophecy was not spoken of
Christ, but of the just man; so the devil has quoted
the Scriptures dishonestly. As Satan changes himself into an angel
of light, and even from the Holy Scriptures prepares snares for
Christians, so now he uses the testimonies of Scripture itself not
to instruct, but to deceive.
CATHOLIC BIBLE CONTAINS MORE BOOKS THAN THE PROTESTANT BIBLE
Why? For the
same reason that it contains any of the writings within its covers.
As already explained, and no man in this world can refute it, the
writings which the Protestants accept as inspired, they know to be
so only on The authority of the Catholic Church. The
Protestant Bible omits the following seven books from the Old
Judith, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Tobias, Wisdom, and the two books of
the Machabees. (Luther originally threw out 11 entire books!) These
books are inspired Sacred Scripture, and for twenty centuries, from
the compilation of the Old Testament canon by Esdras and Nehemias in
430 B.C., until the rebellion of the Protestants in the Sixteenth
Century, they were accepted by the faithful as God's revelation to
His people. They are still in the Catholic Bible.
Most of the
Protestant and Catholic versions of the Bible have the same books in
the New Testament. But the New Testament contains writings which
were not written by the Apostles. Luke and Mark were not Apostles at
all, and even Paul was not one of the original twelve. How could it
possibly be proved, outside the Catholic Church's authority, that
Mark's and Luke's writings were inspired? And how could one,
rejecting this Church's authority, account for the omission of
gospels written by St. Bartholomew and St. Thomas, and the acts of
St. Andrew, who wereapostles? Of these, several were regarded
by certain of the Fathers as part of Scripture, and were publicly
read in local Churches, while others in the second and third
centuries classed them as doubtfully inspired. Likewise, the Epistle
to the Hebrews, Revelations, James, Jude, 2nd Peter, and 2nd and 3rd
John were at first called into question in some parts of the Church.
CONTENTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT WERE DETERMINED
collections of reputed inspired writings in different parts of
Christendom in the second, third, and fourth centuries varied
considerably, and it was at Church Councils at Hippo and Carthage
(held between 393 AD) that a list of authentic books was agreed
upon. Pope Innocent I, and afterwards Pope Gelasius (A.D. 494),
confirmed this list, and for the first time the New Testament was
capable of being bound up into one book as we have it now. How was
this question settled after so long a dispute? Purely and simply by
an appeal to the traditions existing in local churches where each
document had been preserved, and by the authoritative verdict of the
Church, judging according to those traditions. Hence, the
reliability of the Bible depends wholly on the authority of the
Roman Catholic Church! Protestants, in accepting the New
Testament as it stands, are acknowledging the authority of the
Catholic Church in the fourth and fifth centuries, and some of them
have candidly admitted this in writing. (See preface to Revised
Version of Protestant Bible.)
ARE THE PROTESTANT CHURCHES?
Lutheran Church was founded in the year 1517 by Martin Luther, a
former priest of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Church of England (Anglicanism) was founded by
King Henry VIII in 1534 when he threw off the authority of the Pope
and proclaimed himself the head of the Church in England, because
the Pope refused to declare invalid his marriage with Queen
The Presbyterian denomination was begun in 1560 by John Knox
who was dissatisfied with Anglicanism.
The Episcopalian denomination was begun in 1784 by Samuel
Seabury who was dissatisfied with Presbyterianism.
The Baptist church was launched by John Smyth in Amsterdam,
Holland in the year 1606.
The Methodist church was launched by John and Charles Wesley
in England in 1744.
The Unitarians were founded by Theophilus Lindley in London,
The Jehovah's Witness Church was developed in 1872 by Charles
The founder of The Salvation Army is William Booth, who quit
the Anglicans, and then the Methodists, and set up his own version
of Christianity in 1787. His own son, Ballinger, quit The Salvation
Army and did the same for himself in 1896.
Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy began the Christian Scientist religion in 1879,
basing it upon an outright denial of Original Sin and its effects.
The Mormon church, the Seventh-Day Adventists, the
Church of Christ, The Church of the Nazarene, or any of
the various Pentecostal Churches, etc. are also among the
hundreds of new churches founded by men within the past 150
years or so.
Catholic Church was founded by God-made-man, Jesus Christ, in
the year 33 A.D. He said: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will
build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against
it... Feed my lambs; feed My sheep" (Matt. 16:18,19; John 21:15,17).
He also said: "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who
gathers not with me scatters" (Matt.12:30).
Protestant Revolution was begun by Martin Luther, a Catholic priest,
who, led astray by private judgment, set himself against the Faith
held for 1500 years. He decided that all Christians before him had
been in error. Is it possible to believe that Jesus founded a
Church to mislead the world, and then after 1500 years approved of
over 500 contradictory churches founded by men? But, you may
say, the Protestant Church is the Church of Christ, purified of
error, and only this purified form dates from Luther. I answer that
you must choose between Luther and Christ. Jesus said His Church
would never teach error (John 14:26); Luther says it did teach
error. If Luther is right, Christ is wrong; if Christ is right,
Luther and all his followers are wrong.
chief errors are contained in the following propositions: (1) There
is no supreme teaching power in the Church. (2) The temporal
sovereign has supreme power in matters ecclesiastical. (3) There are
no priests. (4) All that is to be believed is in the Bible. (5) Each
one may interpret Holy Scripture as he likes. (6) Faith alone saves,
good works are superfluous. (7) Man lost his free will by original
sin. (8) There are no saints, no Christian sacrifice, no sacrament
of confession, and no purgatory.
are some significant excerpts from Luther's writings and lectures,
as compared with the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Taken from
the hook CHRIST VS. LUTHER, edited by R. A. Short, copyright 1953 by
the Bellarmine Publishing Company, Mound, Minn.)
- On Sin
the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication . . .
murder . . . and suchlike. And concerning these I warn you, they who
do such things will not attain the Kingdom of God" (Galatians
boldly but believe more boldly. Let your faith be greater than your
sin. . . Sin will not destroy us in the reign of the Lamb, although
we were to commit fornication a thousand times in one day" (Letter
to Melanchton, August 1, 1521, Audin p.178).
do not be drunk with wine, for in that is debauchery" (Eph. 5:18).
"Keep thyself chaste" (I Tim. 5:22).
do I sit soaked in wine? ... To be continent and chaste is not in
me" (Luther's diary).
- On Good
"What will it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but
does not have works? As the body without the spirit is dead, so
faith without works is dead also" (James 2:14,26).
that says the Gospel requires works for salvation, I say, flat and
plain, is a liar" ("able Talk, Weimer Edition, II, p.137).
not be liars against the truth. This is not the wisdom that descends
from above. It is earthly, sensual, devilish" (James 3:1~15). "Do
not lie to one another" (Col. 3:9). "The Lord hateth... a lying
tongue... a deceitful witness that uttereth lies. . . "(Proverbs
6:1&17). "A thief is worse than a liar, but both of them shall
inherit destruction" (Ecclus. 20:27).
lie in case of necessity, or for convenience, or in excuse, would
not offend God, who is ready to take such lies on Himself" (Enserch
Conference, July 17, 1540).
"Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another, committeth
adultery against her. And if the wife shall put away her husband,
and be married to another, she committeth adultery" ~ark 10:11-12).
to divorce, it is still a moot question whether it is allowable. For
my part, I prefer bigamy" (DeWette, Vol.2, p.459).
- On Free
to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It were better for
that man if he had not been born" (Matt. 26:24). "Let no man say
when he is tempted, that he is tempted by God; for God is no tempter
to evil" (James 1:13).
"Judas' will was the work of God; God by His almighty power moved
his will as He does all that is in this world" (De Servo Arbitro -
Against man's free will). Accosted on all sides by charges of
heresy, even by many of his former associates in the Protestant
movement, Luther found refuge in this, the strangest of all his
beliefs. No man is accountable for his actions, Luther taught, no
matter how evil. Not even Judas!
Such are the
teachings of the first so-called "reformer" of Christ's Church! If
Luther was a man divinely inspired or called in an extraordinary
manner, why did God permit him to fall into so many absurdities in
points of doctrine?
finally brought himself to indulge the pleasing delusion that the
Catholic Church was the detestable kingdom of Antichrist . . . that
he himself was John the Evangelist... "(From the book LUTHER, P.65).
So you see
the heresies, divisions, confusion, etc. resulting from the private
interpretation of the Scriptures. Unless there is a church
in the world, from the days of our Lord, which declares unmistakably
(infallibly) who Jesus is, and what He taught, He might just as well
have revealed nothing!
DID ESTABLISH SUCH A CHURCH, AND IT IS THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Christ left us and ascended into Heaven, He gave His powers to the
Church He had founded: "All power has been given Me by My Father; go
then" (in virtue of this power that I delegate to you) "teach all
nations to keep My commandments. He who hears you, hears Me; he who
despises you, despises Me" (Matt. 28:1&20; Luke 10:16). 50 the
Church is invested with the authority of Jesus Christ; she speaks
and commands in Our Lord's name. The difference between Protestants
and Catholics lies in the attitude of dependence on and of obedience
to the living authority of the Church, which teaches and governs in
the name of Christ. The Catholic accepts the Church's doctrines, and
regulates his conduct according to those doctrines, because he hears
in the Church, and her head the Sovereign Pontiff, the voice of
Christ. The Protestant admits a certain truth because he "discovers"
it, or imagines himself to do so, by his personal lights. Claiming
the right of private interpretation (despite 2 Peter 1:20; 3:16) and
reading the Bible according to his reason alone, he takes or leaves
what he will. Each one then, keeping his faculty of choosing,
becomes his own sovereign pontiff. The Protestant admits; the
Catholic believes. As soon as the Church speaks, the Catholic
submits in all obedience as to Christ Himself. St. Isidore
(Archbishop, Doctor, and Saint) stated: "We, as Catholics are not
permitted to believe anything of our own will, nor to choose what
someone has believed of his. We have God's apostles as authorities,
who did not themselves of their own wills choose anything of what
they wanted to believe, but faithfully transmitted to the
nations, the teachings of Christ." In the Old Testament God spoke to
the Israelites from the midst of the two Cherubim atop the Ark of
the Covenant: "There will I give orders, and will speak to thee over
the propitiatory, and from the midst of the two Cherubim, which
shall be upon the Ark of the Testimony, all things which J will
command the children of Israel... "(Exodus 25:22). Today He speaks
to us through the Catholic Church. She, alone, speaks with His
CATHOLIC CHURCH CLAIMS TO BE INFALLIBLE IN HER TEACHINGS
In order to
keep His Church in the truth, Christ sent His Spirit - the Spirit of
Truth (John 14:17). "When the Spirit of truth is come, He will teach
you all truth" (John 16:13); "He will teach you all things, and
bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you"
(John 14:26). (So nothing of what the divine Word spoke to men is to
be lost)! "He will abide with you forever; and He shall be in you"
(John 14:16,17). It is by the Holy Spirit, then, that the Church is
ever to possess the truth, and nothing can rob her of it; for this
Spirit, who is sent by the Father and the Son, will abide
unceasingly with and in her.
Spirit is the principle of the Church's life. He makes Himself
responsible for her words, just as our spirit is responsible
for what our tongue utters. Hence it is that the Church, by
her union with the Holy Spirit, is so identified with truth, that
the apostle did not hesitate to call her "the pillar and ground of
the truth" (1 Tim. 3:14-15). Consequently, the Church has to
be infallible in her teaching; for how can she be deceived herself,
or deceive others, seeing it is the Spirit of Truth who guides her
in all things and speaks by her mouth? He is her soul; and when the
tongue speaks, the soul is responsible. The man who does not
acknowledge the Church to be infallible, should, if he be
consistent, admit that the Son of God has not been able to fulfill
His promise, and that the Spirit of truth is a Spirit of error. He
thought he was but denying a prerogative to the Church, whereas, in
reality, he has refused to believe God Himself It is this
that constitutes the sin of heresy. Want of due reflection may hide
the awful conclusion; but the conclusion is strictly implied in his
In the year
52, all the Apostles came together at Jerusalem, under St. Peter, to
talk over the affairs of the Church. This was the first Council of
the Church, and the story of it is told in the Acts of the Apostles,
Chapter 15. The Councils are an Apostolic institution, and the
Apostles, when they instituted them, acted under the commission they
received from Christ; otherwise they could not have published the
decisions of their Council with the words, "It seemed good to the
Holy Ghost and to us" (Acts 15:28).
spoke with unerring authority, and their words were received not as
human opinions, but as Divine Truths. "When you have received from
us the word of God, you received it not as the word of men,
but as the word of God" (1 Thess. 2:13).
IS NOT INFALLIBLE IN ALL HIS ACTS
President of the United States does not always act as President. No
one would attribute presidential authority to his views on hunting,
or yachting, or on drama. Even when he presides over a white House
function he is not always using his presidential prerogatives. No
one would attach the full authority of the United States Government
to the remarks he makes to a deputation of Presbyterians, Jews, or
Catholics. Even when speaking in a cabinet meeting, or making his
official speech at the opening of Congress, he does not intend to
throw the full weight of his authority into his utterances. It is
only when signing an Act of Congress or a treaty with some foreign
nation that the full and highest exercise of his presidency comes
into play. Then, and then alone, does he act as ruler of the
Country, committing the Government to the deed, and binding the
whole nation. As it is with the President of the United States, so
it is with the Pope. In his private acts as a Christian or Bishop,
or in his jurisdiction of the government of the Church, he might
make a mistake or fail in prudence. Therefore, the Bishop of Rome,
the Pope, can make a mistake - unless he is speaking under
certain conditions. These conditions are: (1) when he is speaking
"ex cathedra" (from the Chair of Peter); and (2) manifests his
intention of defining a doctrine (3) of faith or morals (4)
officially binding the whole Church. At such a time the Pope's
teaching is infallible; that is, at such a time he is assisted,
watched over, by the Holy Spirit so that he does not use his
authority and his knowledge to mislead the Church. The Pope is not
inspired; he receives no private revelations; he does not carry in
his mind the whole of Christ's teaching as a miraculous treasure on
which to draw at will. He has learned the faith as we learned it,
from his catechism and from his study of theology. If he wishes to
know the two sides of a dispute he must examine it as we must. When
preparing to make a definition in his office of supreme teacher, he
first gives the matter to his theologians. They examine the sources
of the doctrine in Holy Scripture and Tradition. These sources are
called "The Deposit of Faith." The "Deposit of Faith" preserved by
the Catholic Church includes: (1) Doctrines clearly taught in the
Bible; (2) Doctrines obscurely taught in the Bible, and requiring
the authority of the Church to decide their true interpretation; (3)
Doctrines not mentioned in the Bible at all, for example: the
abrogation of the Jewish Sabbath, with the obligation of observing
Sunday instead; the practice of eating meat with blood, which was
forbidden for a time by the Apostles (Acts 15:20). The "Deposit of
Faith" is the body of truth divinely proclaimed by Our Lord through
His Apostles for our belief. These truths of Revelation were
complete at the death of the last Apostle - St. John - who died in
the year 99 A.D. These truths, which we must believe in order to be
Catholics, were all given to us by that time. The dogmas (doctrines)
of the Church never can suffer change. They are today precisely what
they were at the beginning of the Church. There are no new
doctrines, and there can be no modification of old ones. "The
doctrine of faith which God revealed," says Vatican Council I
(1869-1870), "is proposed, not as a mere philosophical discovery to
be elaborated by human minds, but as the Divine Deposit delivered
by Christ to His spouse (the Church) to be by her faithfully
guarded and infallibly declared." whenever a heretic challenged some
revealed truth of the Faith, it became necessary for the Pope,
either alone or together with his Bishops in Council, to re-express
in more exact language the doctrine under attack, so that never
again could there be any doubt about its meaning. This
was done by definition. This does not mean that a new dogma is ever
added to the Faith, or that something is added to an old dogma. It
means merely that doubt or confusion has been cast on a doctrine,
and it has become necessary for the Pope to remove the doubt and
confusion. The theologians will find the doctrine stated either
explicitly or implicitly in the "Deposit of Faith," and it is the
truth either way. A doctrine is explicitly expressed when it
is brought out definitely in words, openly, plainly. A dogma is
implicitly expressed when it is hinted at but not specifically
definition of a doctrine is the more precise expression of the
doctrine. Its purpose is to clarify. In other words, a
definition is the last word on the subject. Papal definition
precludes any further interpretation of a dogma. The Church has
taught from its beginning that no matter how much a doctrine may be
developed or meditated upon, never, never can its meaning in any way
be changed. Pope Leo XIII in his Encyclical "Testem Benevolentiae"
of January 22, 1899 stated: " . . . That sense of the sacred dogmas
is to be faithfully kept which Holy Mother Church has once declared,
and is not to be departed from under the specious pretext of a more
profound understanding" (Const. de Fid. cath. c. iv.).
A formula is
generally used when a doctrine on faith or morals is defined ex
cathedra, such as: "The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes,
professes and preaches...," or "We declare, say, define, and
pronounce. . ." This lays great emphasis upon the statement, as did
our Lord's "Amen, amen I say to you. . ." Note the formula in the
proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception: " ... We
declare, pronounce and define: the doctrine that maintains that the
most Blessed Virgin Mary in the first instant of her conception...
was preserved free from all stain of original sin . . . is a
doctrine revealed by God and therefore must be firmly and constantly
held by all the faithful . . .
So, when the
Pope comes finally to the act of definition -when, acting in his
highest official capacity of teacher of the Universal Church, he
defines a point of faith or morals, with the intent of binding the
whole Church - then we believe, by virtue of Christ's promise, that
the decision will be infallibly right.
The Pope is
also infallible when he teaches the Church as head of all his
Bishops in assembly (in Council). An Ecumenical or General Council
is a Council summoned by the Pope. It is made up of Bishops of the
whole world, and other high-ranking prelates with a right to vote.
Its decrees are not binding until approved by the Pope. Only its
doctrinal decrees, when they are confirmed by the Pope, are
infallible. (Vatican Council II was a PastoralCouncil, not a
Doctrinal Council, and thus, none of its decrees are in themselves
infallible.) The Pope is also infallible when he acts singly, by
himself, as the head of the Church -provided he makes it clear that
he is speaking ex cathedra (from the Chair of Peter) in defining a
dogma, of faith or morals, for the whole Church.
Encyclical or Allocution is not an instrument of definition.
These documents may speak on the subject of a doctrine of the Church
though; and, if so, what is expounded by the Pope in them does
demand consent if they reiterate Catholic doctrine. (The
value of Tradition is such that even the Encyclicals and other
documents of the ordinary teaching of the Sovereign Pontiff are
infallible only when the teachings are confirmed by Tradition.)
There actually have been times in the history of the Church when
the Pope, speaking unthinkingly and from his first hasty judgment
(and not ex cathedra), has erred in a matter of doctrine. Pope John
XXII made just such a mistake, and it was the people who discovered
it, and called it to his attention. He investigated the matter,
acknowledged his misconception, and corrected his statement. The
Holy Ghost will not allow error in Faith or morals to be officially
taught by the Church!
were the original teachers of the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ.
Their teachings were regarded as holy and unchangeable. They
insisted on unity of Faith among the Christians, and on a full
acceptance of every single dogma of the Faith. St. James in his
Epistle, Chapter 2, Verse 10, states: "And whosoever shall keep the
whole law, but offend in one point, is become guilty of
all" And the footnote to this verse, Catholic Douay Bible,
states: "That is, he becomes a transgressor of the law in such a
manner, that the observing of all other points will not avail him to
salvation; for he despises the lawgiver, and breaks
through the great and general commandment of charity, even by one
mortal sin. For all the precepts of the law are to be considered as
one total and entire law, and as it were a chain of precepts, where,
by breaking one link of this chain, the whole chain is broken, or
the integrity of the law consisting of a collection of precepts. A
sinner, therefore, by a grievous offence against any one precept,
incurs eternal punishment." Thus, anyone who refused to accept all
the doctrines of the Church, was immediately excommunicated, called
a heretic, and shunned by the faithful. "A man that is a heretic,
after the first and second admonition, avoid: knowing that he that
is such a one is subverted and sinneth, being condemned by his own
judgment" (Titus 3:1~11). A doctrine or a dogma of the Church, then,
is a truth which has been revealed by God, and must be believed by
all. One cannot choose one and disregard another. To say that we
approve some, and disapprove others, is to presume to stand in
judgment of the truths of God.
IN THE CHURCH
have often arisen and still arise because of this, that disgruntled
minds will quarrel, or disloyal troublemakers will not keep the
unity. But these things the Lord allows and endures, leaving man's
freedom unimpaired, so that when our minds and hearts are tested by
the touchstone of truth, the unswerving faith of those who are
approved may appear in the clearest light. This is foretold by the
Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul when he says: 'There must be
also heresies, that those approved may be manifest among you' (1 Cor.
11:19). Thus are the faithful proved, thus the faithless discovered;
thus too even before the day of judgment, already here below, the
souls of the just and unjust are distinguished, and the wheat is
separated from the chaff" (St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, 249-258,
on "The Unity of the Catholic Church" from the book ANCIENT
CHRISTIAN WRITERS, page 52).
out from us but they were not of us. For if they had been of us,
they would no doubt have remained with us. "(1 John 2:19).
St. Cyprian "the devil saw that the worship of idols was abolished,
and the heathen temples emptied (after Christianity was
flourishing), he thought of a new poison, and led men into error
under cover of the Christian religion and the poison of false
doctrine . . . "The subtle and wicked doctrine which opened the way
for the succession of heresies which were soon to harass the Church
in the East, was an attack on the Divinity of Our Lord, Jesus
Christ. Anus, a priest of Alexandria, Egypt in the Fourth Century,
declared that the second person of the how Trinity was not equal
with the Father; which was to say, that the nature which Jesus
possessed in the Godhead from all eternity was not divine: Christ
was not God! Arianism spread like wildfire in spite of its
condemnation by the Council of Nicea in 325. Cardinal Newman
conservatively estimated that eighty per cent of the
Bishops of the Catholic Church followed Arius into heresy. "The
whole world groaned to find itself Arian," St. Jerome complained.
Lucifer did not stop there. The plan unfolds with startling clarity
in the heresies which immediately follow. Around the year 360,
Macedonius, then Bishop of Constantinople, denied the Divinity of
the Holy Ghost. In 428, Nestorius, also Bishop of Constantinople,
threw all subterfuge to the winds and declared openly that Mary was
not the Mother of God. He did this by making Jesus out to be not one
person but two persons! In 451 the Abbot Eutyches, of
Constantinople, said that Christ had only one nature - the divine -
instead of two - the divine and the human; thus making Jesus out to
be not true man, and therefore, not the fruit of Mary's womb.
Christendom rocked upon its foundations. It was torn and bleeding
and wounded. But Lucifer, in the end, had raged in vain. For, as is
always God's way in times of great stress in His Church, God raised
up strong men and how women who, fortified by grace, came to her
defense. These were the spiritual children of Heaven's Queen, the
Blessed Virgin Mary, who, when the interests of her Divine Son and
His Mystical Body are imperiled, is ever terrible as an army set in
battle array. And so a veritable host of champions of the Faith
arose - men who were so carried away with the love of God and ardor
for the Faith that they became saints: The renowned St. Athanasius,
who did battle against Anus (With so many of the faithful having
followed Anus into heresy, it seemed for a time that it was "Athanasius
against the world"); St. Gregory Nazianzen, who valiantly waged war
against Macedonius; St. Cyril of Alexandria, who, with inimitable
courage, held out against Nestorius; and Pope St. Leo the Great,
who, in the name of Peter, vanquished Eutyches. Pope Leo XIII in his
Encyclical Letter on the "Unity of the Church" (June, 1896), stated:
"The Church . . . regards as rebels and expelled from the ranks of
her children all who hold beliefs on any point of doctrine different
from her own. The Arians and the Eutychians certainly did not reject
all Catholic doctrine: they abandoned only a certain portion of it.
Still, who does not know that they were declared heretics and
banished from the bosom of the Church? In like manner were condemned
all authors of heretical tenets who followed them in subsequent
ages. There can be nothing more dangerous, than those heretics who
admit nearly the whole cycle of doctrine, and yet by one word,
as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith
taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic tradition." St.
Augustine notes that other heresies may spring up, to a single one
of which, should anyone give his assent, he is by that very fact cut
off from Catholic unity; and St. Thomas Aquinas asserts that anyone
who denies a single article of faith is by that very fact
excommunicated. "Now I recall to your minds, brethren, the gospel
that I preached to you, which also you received, wherein also you
stand, through which also you are saved, if you hold it fast, as
I preached it to you . . . "(1 Cor. 15:1-2).
THE GREAT HERESIES WERE STARTED BY MEN WHO HELD HIGH ECCLESIASTICAL
Anus was a
priest, Nestorius a patriarch, Eutyches an abbot, Luther a monk (a
priest in a monastic order), and Jansenius a bishop. They are like
comers of false money who put into circulation worthless metal in
the place of the pure gold of truth. They are murderers of souls,
for they take men away from the road that leads to eternal life, and
tempt them into that which leads to eternal death. It is of them
that our Lord says: "Woe to them by whom scandals come" (Matt.
18:7), and again, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the
clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Matt.
Catholics who place obedienceabove doctrine and follow
their Bishops and Priests into heresy disobey God, cut themselves
off from the Church, and forfeit their right to the kingdom of
Heaven. The Church holds that this is misguided and sinful
obedience. The people should withstand false doctrines; what is
more, they should admonish the heretical shepherds. Blind obedience
leads to hell: "If the blind lead the blind, both fall into
the pit" (Matt. 15:14)
What is now
called the Greek Orthodox Church was once a part of the Holy Roman
Catholic Church, but the people of the East continued to be obedient
to their bishops even when those bishops had shown themselves to be
heretical and had broken with the successor of St. Peter.
How, it will
be asked, could the people possibly know the truth under the
circumstances, if their bishops and priests did not know it? The
answer is that their bishops and priests didknow it - just as
they know it today - but they deliberately chose heresy over truth
for the material advantages it would bring them. Their object was
not to spread the faith in its purity, but to satisfy their own evil
inclinations, their pride, their sensual desires, or their love of
money or popularity. Their religious teaching was only a cloak for
their vices. In any and all events they did not truly love Jesus
Christ for Jesus says, ~'He who loves Me keeps My words" (John
could the people know that they should not trust their shepherds?
Was it not touching that they should obey? The answer is "No"! The
lukewarm, indifferent, and those who were lazy in their faith did
not recognize heresy, even when it affected them and their eternal
destiny. They did not deserve to know, because they did not
desire to know. In days like ours, when error is so
pretentious and aggressive, every one needs to be completely armed
with sound knowledge, since an important part of the fray must be
borne by the laity, and woe to them if they are not well prepared.
"Therefore My people are led away captive because they had not
knowledge" (Is. 5:13).
Loyola, in the first of six volumes of the Spanish editions of his
letters to the Society of Jesus in Portugal, says: "Obedience is not
blind, inasmuch as it clearly sees the nature of the superior's
command or desire and also sees that sin is excluded. Hence blind
obedience always sees that the command is morally good." And again,
"We should entirely conform our will and judgment to that of the
superior, wherever no sin is discerned."
Aquinas in his SUMMA THEOLOGICA, Secunda Secundae, Question 104,
Article 5, denotes three kinds of obedience: "Accordingly we may
distinguish a threefold obedience; one, sufficient for salvation,
and consisting in obeying when one is bound to obey; secondly,
perfect obedience, which obeys in all things lawful; thirdly,
indiscreet obedience, which obeys even in matters unlawful
(Moreover), it is written (Acts 5:29): "We ought to obey God rather
than men.' Therefore superiors are not to be obeyed in all things."
In THE BOOK
OF DESTINY - AN INTERPRETATION OF THE APOCALYPSE, by Father H. B.
Kramer (Imprimatur January, 1956), Father Kramer states that "Satan
will probably, through the evil world powers of the time, enforce
the acceptance of unchristian morals, false doctrines, compromise
with error. Through false doctrines and principles, Satan will
mislead the clergy. Satan can vent more malice against the Church
indirectly through bishops and priests than by his own power." And
St. Pius X said: "A holy priest makes a holy people, and a priest
who is not holy is not on useless, he is harmful to the world."
THERE NOT BEEN A FEW POPES WHO HAVE BEEN WICKED?
have been. An elective monarchy, the Papacy attracted the ambition
of worldly ecclesiastics and, for a time during the Middle Ages,
became a prize for which rival monarchs intrigued, each trying to
secure it for his own minion. Hence we find that there have been
some few Popes incompetent and even wicked. Disastrous schisms have
also occurred from time to time. (Schism is the action whereby one
separates oneself from the Catholic Church by refusing to recognize
the authority of the Pope.) The year 1054 is the date when the
Eastern Christians (Near East) when into schism. This schism still
exists - Greek Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Church, etc. In
1378 the Great Western Schism occurred in the Church, rival
claimants to the Papacy sundering its unity. This schism endured
until 1415. Any one of these schisms, any one of these Popes - if he
had held a secular throne and were equally unfit for his office -
would have brought the most powerful dynasty crashing to the ground.
Moreover, the Papacy was threatened with another and, perhaps,
greater, danger -the danger arising from ordinary human infirmity -
for the Pope as a teacher, when not exercising his gift of
infallibility, is liable to the errors of common men as we have
already shown. We may, indeed, admit that, in the long history of
the Papacy, there have been errors of policy, weaknesses, and
wickedness, which would have cost a temporalmonarch his
these weak or bad Popes, the opponents of the Papacy conclude that
the Papacy itself cannot be a Divine institution. But there were
some very bad men among the high priests of the Old Law too,
and yet no one contests their office of high priest as a Divine
institution. The successors of St. Peter are frail human beings,
just as St Peter himself was, since the Primacy does not
confer the prerogative of sinlessness or bravery. If among the 266
Popes who have ruled the Church up to our time, there were some
whose lives were scandalous, God no doubt permitted this in order to
show that He Himself rules the Church through the Popes; for
not one of these so called "bad Popes" taught a single false
doctrine or promulgated an ecclesiastical law that is morally
CATHOLIC CHURCH HAD MANY SAINTLY PONTIFFS?
The first 56
Popes were proclaimed saints. The first 31 of these were martyred
for the Faith, yet the Papacy went on. This was a miracle of
miracles! The Catholic Faith was completely spread in the early ages
of Christianity by the shedding of the blood of martyrs. From the
year 33 to the year 306, there were eleven million Catholics
martyred for the Faith. There have been 266 Popes in unbroken
succession from St. Peter to Pope John Paul II. A total of 90 of
these have been declared saints. For the last century and a half the
throne of Peter has been occupied the majority of the time by great
men, and by good men, by several geniuses, and by one canonized
saint. The names and glories of Venerable Pius IX, Leo XIII, St.
Pius X and Pius XI especially stand out. The humble Pope St. Pius X
was elected to the Papal throne in 1903, died in 1914, and was
canonized a saint in 1954. After his election he fearlessly entered
every department of life in order to "renew all things in Christ."
At his first consistory on November 9, 1903, he said: "We are
convinced that many will resent our intention of taking an active
part in world politics, but any impartial observer will realize that
the Pope, to whom the supreme office of teacher has been entrusted
by God, cannot remain indifferent to political affairs or separate
them from the concerns of Faith and Morals. One of the primary
duties of the Apostolic Office is to disprove and condemn erroneous
doctrines and to oppose civil laws which are in conflict with the
law of God, and so to preserve humanity from bringing about its own
Pope Pius XI
(reigned 1922-1939) will be remembered for his official documents on
the evils of Communism. He wrote 9 official documents on the
subject. In 1937 his renowned Encyclical on "Atheistic Communism"
was widely acclaimed in all free nations. It is an excellent summary
of Marxism-Leninism. In it he stated that: "The all too imminent
danger" of our own days is "Boishevistic and Atheistic Communism,
which aims at upsetting the social order and at undermining the very
foundations of Christian civilization." He characterized it as a
satanic scourge," carrying on throughout the world "diabolical
propaganda." To this day, Russia continues to spread her errors
throughout the world.
OF GOD IS SEEN IN THE MIRACLE OF THE CHURCH'S STABILITY
durability of the Catholic Church is the marvel of her enemies. It
is only the hand of God that could have brought her safely through
such perils, which have proved fatal to merely human institutions.
Often death seemed to have come upon her, but, sustained by her
Divine vitality, she cast off disease as a garment, and rose from
her bed of sickness. She is like the house or which Christ
speaks in the gospel: "And the rain fell and the floods came, and
they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a
rock" (Matt. 7:25). Often have her children heard the demons'
exultant cry that, at last, she was overwhelmed in the wave of
death. But the tempest passed, and day broke anew, and the eyes of
men beheld her still firmly fixed as of old on the rock of Peter,
triumphant amid the wreckage of her enemies.
not," says the Protestant writer Macaulay (Essay on Ranke's
'History of the Popes'), "and there never was on this earth, a work
of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman
Catholic Church. The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday,
when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we
trace back in unbroken series from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in
the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth;
and far beyond the time of Pepin, the dynasty extends. . The
republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of
Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of
Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains . . . Nor do we see any sign
which indicates that the term of her long domination is approaching.
She saw the commencement of all the ecclesiastical establishments
that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is
not destined to see the end of them all. It is not strange that, in
the year 1799, even sagacious observers should have thought that, at
length, the hour of the Church of Rome was come. An infidel power
ascendant, the Pope dying in captivity, the most illustrious
prelates of France living in a foreign country on Protestant .... .
But the end was not yet. Anarchy had had its day. A new order of
things rose out of the confusion . . . and amidst them emerged the
ancient religion. The Arabs have a fable that the Great Pyramid was
built by antediluvian kings, and alone, of all the works of men,
bore the weight of the flood. Such as this was the fate of the
Papacy. It had been buried under the great inundation; but its deep
foundations had remained unshaken; and, when the waters abated, it
appeared alone amidst the ruins of a world that had passed away. The
Republic of Holland was gone, and the Empire of Germany, and . . .
the House of Bourbon, and the parliaments and aristocracy of France.
Europe was full of young creations, a French empire, a kingdom of
Italy, a Confederation of the Rhine. Nor had the late events
affected only territorial limits and political institutions. The
distribution of property, the composition and spirit of society had,
through a great part of Catholic Europe, undergone a complete
change. But the unchangeable Church was still there."
summarize the argument as follows: (1) The Papacy, the foundation on
which the Church is built, is the only institution which has
survived all the vast social and political changes and revolutions
in the life and government of Europe since the days of the Roman
Emperors. (2) It has survived in spite of persecution, and political
intrigue; in spite of heresy and schism among its subjects, in spite
of the worldliness and the weakness or incompetency of some of the
Popes. Such a survival is miraculous. The Papacy and the Church over
which it presides must, therefore, be the work of God. "The Ark of
the Church may be swept by the waves, but it can never sink because
Christ is there" (St. Anseim).
OBEDIENCE DUE THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
In the book
"AN EXPOSITION AND DEFENSE OF ALL THE POINTS OF FAITH DISCUSSED AND
DEFINED BATHE SACRED COUNCIL OF TRENT," by St. Aiphonsus Maria
Liguori, he states:
which is not one in its doctrine and faith can never be the true
church. Hence because truth must be one, of all the different
churches only one can be the true one, and out of that church there
is no salvation. Now, in order to determine which is this one true
church, it is necessary to examine which is the church first founded
by Jesus Christ. For, when the first is ascertained, it must
be confessed that this alone is the True Church, which, having been
once the True Church, must always have been and must forever be. For
to this first Church has been made the promise of the Savior that
the gates of hell should never be able to overturn it (Matt. 16:
entire history of religion, we find that the Roman Catholic Church
alone was the first church, and that the other false and heretical
churches afterwards departed and separated from her . . . The
innovators themselves do not deny that the Roman Church was the
first which Jesus Christ founded. However, they say that the Roman
Church was the true Church until the fifth century, or until it fell
away because it had been corrupted by the Catholics. But how could
that Church fail which St. Paul calls the pillar and ground of truth
(1 Tim. 3:15)? No, the Church has not failed, and according to the
promise of Christ it could not fail. But, pressed by this argument,
the innovators have invented an answer: they say that the visible
church has failed, but not the invisible church. But
these doctrines are diametrically opposed to the Gospel. The
innovators have been several times challenged to produce a single
text of Sacred Scripture which would prove the existence of the
invisible church, which they invented, and we are unable to obtain
any such text from them. How could they adduce such a text when,
addressing His Apostles whom He left to the world as the propagators
of His Church, Jesus Christ said: 'You are the light of the world. A
city seated on a mountain cannot be hid' (Matt. 5:14). Thus He has
declared that the Church cannot help but be visible to everyone...
Were the Church at any time hidden and invisible, to whom would men
have recourse in order to learn what they are to believe and to do?
It was necessary that the Church and her Pastors be obvious and
visible, principally in order that there might be an infallible
judge to resolve all doubts and to whose decision everyone would
necessarily submit. Otherwise there would be no sure rule of faith
by which Christians could know the true dogmas of faith and the true
precepts of morality, and among the faithful there would be endless
disputes and controversies. 'And Christ gave some apostles, and
others pastors and doctors, that henceforth we be no more children
tossed to-and-fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine'
can we learn from false teachers when, in consequence of separating
from the Church, they have no rule of faith? How often did Calvin
change his opinions on the Eucharist! And, during his life, Luther
was constantly contradicting himself: on the single article of the
Eucharist, he fell into 33 contradictions. A single contradiction is
sufficient to show that they did not have the Spirit of God: 'He
cannot deny Himself (II Tim. 2:13). In a word, take away the
authority of the Church, and neither divine revelation nor natural
reason itself is of any use, for each may be interpreted by every
individual according to his own caprice. Do they not see that from
this accursed liberty of conscience has arisen the immense variety
of heretical and atheistic sects? I repeat: if you take away
obedience to the Church, there is no error which will not be
CAN BE SAVED?
enter by the narrow gate: for many, I say to you, shall seek to
enter, and shall not be able" (Luke 13:24).
great prophet, who foretold the coming of Our Lord, and the glorious
establishing and perpetual flourishing of the Church of Christ, said
the elect shall be as few as the forgotten ears of corn remaining on
the stalks after the harvesting. Or as few as the bunches of grapes
left on the vines after the pickers have finished their work. Or as
few as the olives that remain after the shaking of the olive tree.
Or as two or three berries on the top of a bough (Isaias 17:5). And
"They that remain of the trees of his forest shall be so few that
they shall easily be numbered, and a child shall write them down" (Isalas,
10:19). The Cure' d'Ars (St. John Marie Vianney), a poor parish
priest in France, who was canonized by Pope Pius XI, in 1925, used
these texts from Isaias in his sermons over and over, in order to
help his people to realize how few are saved. He used them not only
as applying in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament as well,
for all time. As a result, the Cure' d'Ars won hundreds of souls to
into other statements from Scripture on the fewness of the saved, it
might be well here to say a few words about Holy Scripture and its
interpretation. Holy Scripture, having God for its author ("inspired
of God" 2 Tim 3:16), is free from all error. Pope Leo XIII in his
encyclical "Providentissimus Deus" dated November 18, 1893 stated
that "All of the books that the Church accepts as sacred and
canonical, in their entirety, and together with all their parts,
were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit... By its very
nature inspiration not only excludes all error, but makes its
presence as utterly impossible as it is for God, the supreme truth,
to be the author of any error whatever. Vatican Council I made the
unqualified statement that the books of the Old and the New
Testament... have God for their author. This is the ancient and
continuous belief of the Church; a belief, too, that was solemnly
defined in the Councils of Florence and Trent and finally reaffirmed
and more fully explained in Vatican Council I... With His
supernatural power, God so stimulated and moved men to write, and so
assisted them in their writing, that they properly understood and
willed to write faithfully and express suitably with infallible
truthfulness all that He ordered, but nothing more. Otherwise, God
would not be the author of Sacred Scripture in its entirety... For
this reason the Fathers and Doctors were convinced that the divine
writings, precisely as written by the sacred writers, were free from
And Our Lord
Himself declared: "Scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35).
Scripture is to be interpreted literally. Pope Leo XIII calls
attention in his encyclical "On the Study of Holy Scripture" to "the
rule so wisely laid down by St. Augustine - not to depart from the
literal and obvious sense except only where reason makes it
untenable or necessity requires." And on June 30, 1909, the Biblical
Commission under Pope St. Pius X gave this response concerning the
historical character of the first chapters of Genesis. Emphasis is
placed on the literal sense of the passage, which may not be called
"In particular, may one question the literal historical sense when
these . . . chapters . . . treat of facts that touch on fundamental
points of the Christian religion?"
"The literal, historical sense may not be questioned."
above as a preface, following are additional proofs on the fewness
of the saved:
STATEMENTS FROM HOLY SCRIPTURE ON THE FEWNESS OF THE SAVED
called, but few are chosen" (Matt. 20:16).
is the gate and strait the way that leadeth to life; and few there
are who find it" (Matt. 7:14).
everyone who saith to me 'Lord, Lord' shall enter the kingdom of
Heaven, but he who doth the will of my Father who is in Heaven, he
shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven" (Matt. 7:21).
"And if the
just man shall scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and
the sinner appear?" (1 Peter 4:18).
STATEMENTS OF SAINTS OF THE CHURCH ON THE FEWNESS OF THE SAVED
(420 A.D.), Saint and Doctor of the Church: "Of a hundred thousand
sinners who continue in sin till death, scarcely one will be saved"
(Sermon 255, E.B. app.).
Chrysostom (407), the "golden-mouthed" Doctor of the Church, writing
about the salvation of bishops and priests, said: "I do not speak
rashly, but as I feel and think. I do not think that many priests
are saved, but that those who perish are far more numerous. The
reason is that the office requires a great soul. For there are many
things to make a priest swerve from rectitude, and he requires great
vigilance on every side. Do you not perceive how many qualities a
bishop must have that he may be apt to teach, be patient towards the
wicked, firm and faithful in teaching the word? How many
difficulties herein! Moreover the loss of others is imputed to him.
I need say no more... St. Thomas Aquinas (1274): "A select few are
to be saved" (Summa Theo. la, qu. 23, Art. 7, ad 3).St. Francis
Xavier (1552), the great apostle to India and Japan, said in his
Prayer for the Conversion of the Infidels: "Behold, 0 Lord, how to
Thy dishonor Hell is being filled with these souls . . . " (See
Father Francis Lasance's prayer book "With God" published by
Benziger Brothers, Imprimatur 1954).
Louis-Marie de Montfort (1716): "The number of the elect is so small
- so small - that were we to know how small it is, we should faint
away with grief. The number of the elect is so small that were God
to assemble them together, He would cry to them, as He did of old by
the mouth of His prophet, 'Gather yourselves together, one by one' -
one from this province, one from that kingdom."
STATEMENTS FROM SCRIPTURE ON NON-CHRISTIANS
(Mohammedans, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, etc.)
believeth in the Son hath life everlasting: but he that believeth
not the Son shall not see life: but the wrath of God abideth on him"
"I am the
way and the truth and the life. No man cometh to the Father but by
me" (John 14:6).
believeth in the Son of God hath the testimony of God in himself. He
that believeth not the Son maketh him a liar: because he believeth
not in the testimony which God hath testified of His Son. And this
is the testimony that God hath given to us eternal life. And this
life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life, He that hath not
the Son hath not life" (1 John 5:1~12).
there salvation in any other (than in the name of our Lord Jesus
Christ). For there is no other name under heaven given to men,
whereby we must he saved" (Acts 4:12).
answered: 'Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of
water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God"
STATEMENTS FROM SCRIPTURE ON NON-CATHOLICS
commissioned His Apostles to "go into the whole world and preach the
Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15), "teaching them to observe
all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:20). "He that
believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not
shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16). It is manifest from this that it
is not enough to believe in just the person of Jesus Christ;
we must also believe His doctrines and obey His words - those divine
truths He entrusted to His Church, among which are the seven
sacraments. All creatures are therefore obliged to become members of
Christ's Church for "He that believeth not shall be condemned" (Mark
16:16). And "If he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as
the heathen and the publican" (Matt. 18:17). That is, he is not to
be considered a Christian at all, and is therefore, according to
Christ's own judgment, outside the pale of salvation. Remember,
Christ established only one Church, and this one true Church
is of apostolic origin; and He said: "He that heareth you, heareth
me: and he that despiseth you, despiseth me~' (Luke 10:16).
speaking of those who were not yet joined in the communion of His
Church, but whom He foreknew would make a good use of the graces He
would give them for that purpose, says, "Other sheep I have who are
not of this fold, them also I must bring, and they shall hear
my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd" (John
10:16). Here he plainly declares that all those of His sheep, who
are not yet of His fold, must be brought to it, as a necessary
condition of their salvation. In consequence of this settled
disposition of the divine providence, no sooner did the apostles
begin to preach the gospel, than immediately "The Lord added daily
to the Church those being saved" (Acts 2:47, Greek
translation). This evidently shows that all who are not added to the
Church, are out of all hope of salvation. The same was true of all
souls from the time of the foundation of the Israelite religion to
the time of the establishment of Christ's Church, who were not
adherents of the Jewish Faith, for "Salvation is of the Jews,"
Christ said to the Samaritan woman (John 4:22). You mean to say that
in the Old Dispensation you had to believe in the Jewish Faith
in order to be saved? Yes! That's what Jesus said, didn't
He? And "He cannot deny Himself" II Tim. 2:13.)
CATHOLICS BE SAVED?
No! It is
not enough to be a Catholic to get to Heaven. One has to be a
good Catholic. "Many Catholics will be lost, because they are
only nominal, not practical, Catholics, and because they reject some
doctrines of the Catholic Church, especially such as oppose their
inclinations and passions. Remember, he who rejects even one
doctrine proposed to our Faith by the Church will certainly be lost
(James 2:10), even though he should lead a good life." (From THE
PULPIT ORATOR, Volume VI.)
said, "He who believes shall be saved" (Mark 16:16)~ But God said
many other things as well:
"If you love
me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15); and "If thou wilt enter into
life, keep the commandments" (Matt. 19:17).
blasphemeth the name of the Lord, dying let him die" (Lev. 24:16).
"Keep you my
Sabbath: for it is holy unto you. He that shall profane it, shall be
put to death. Everyone that shall do any work on this day shall die"
not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not
err: neither idolaters, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards,
nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God" (1
"A thief is
better than a man that is always lying: but both of them shall
inherit destruction" (Ecclus. 20:27).
fornicators nor adulterers . . . shall possess the kingdom of God"
(1 Cor. 6:9). "You have heard that it was said to the Ancients,
'Thou shalt not commit adultery.' But I say to you that anyone who
so much as looks with lust at a woman has already committed adultery
with her in his heart." (Matt. 5:27-28). "Keep thyself chaste" (1
Tim. 5:22). "Blessed are the clean of heart for they shall
see God" (Matt. 5:8).
not a more wicked thing than to love money, for such a one setteth
even his own soul at stake."(Ecclus. 10:10).
lie with a man as with a woman, both have committed an abomination.
Let them be put to death" (Lev. 20:13).
and I will show thee who they are, over whom the devil can prevail.
For they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God
from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to
their lust, as the horse and mule, which have not understanding,
over them the devil has power" (Book of Tobias, 6:1&22).
Mystical Body on earth, His Church ("He who hears you, hears Me" -
Luke 10:16), says:
"Each act of
marriage must be left open to conception" (Pope Pius Xl's Encyclical
"Casti Connubi", December 31, 1930).
says that the commandments of God are, even for one that is
justified and constituted in grace, impossible to observe, let him
be anathema" (Council of Trent, Canon 18 on Justification).
says that a man who is justified and however perfect is not bound to
observe the commandments of God and the Church, but only to
believe, as though the Gospel were a bare and absolute promise of
eternal life without the condition of obeying the commandments, let
him be anathema" (Council of Trent, Canon 20 on Justification).
although it is true that Catholics alone profess the true faith
"without which," as St. Paul assures us, "it is impossible to please
God" (Heb. 11:6); nevertheless, as St. James concludes: "Faith,
without good works, is dead" (James 1:22:27).
people say 'It is better to be a good Protestant than a bad
Catholic.' That is not true. That would mean at bottom that one
could be saved without the true Faith. No, a bad Catholic remains a
child of the family - although a prodigal; and however great a
sinner he may be, he still has the right to mercy. Through his
faith, a bad Catholic is nearer to God than a Protestant is, for he
is a member of the household, whereas the Protestant is not. And how
hard it is to make him become one!" (St. Peter Julian Eymard,
MERCY AND JUSTICE
wicked do penance for all his sins which he hath committed and keep
all my commandments and do judgment and justice, living he shall
live, and shall not die. I will not remember all his iniquities that
he hath done: in his justice, which he hath wrought, he shall live.
Is it my will that a sinner should die, saith the Lord God, and not
that he should be converted from his ways and live?
have said: The way of the Lord is not right. Hear ye, therefore...Is
it my way that is not right, and are not rather your
will I judge every man according to his ways... saith the Lord God.
Be converted, and do penance for all your iniquities: and iniquity
shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions,
by which you have transgressed, and make to yourselves a new heart
and a new spirit" (Ezechiel, Chapter 18), for "Wisdom will not dwell
in a body subject to sins" (Wisdom 1:4).
SALVATION IS THE PURPOSE OF LIFE!
world was made by God from the very beginning to be a world in which
salvation is the greatest challenge. Our Lord told His
Apostles: "Go forth and teach all nations." Tell them what they
should be looking for! The one effort which a man ought to be
making every moment of his life is toward the saving of his immortal
soul. Everything else would take care of itself - sanity, certitude,
vocation, employment, marriage, children - all would be beautifully
taken care of, if the saving of his immortal soul were the first aim
of every man. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His justice, and
all these things shall be added unto you" (Luke 12:31).
WE HAVE HERE
"NO ABIDING CITY" (From Lenten conferences given by Father Bede
Jarrett, 0.P., at Our lady of Victories, Kensington, England, 1932).
pilgrims - travelers; we have no lasting city here; we have no home.
We are urged to live, remembering that we are travelers. This will
help you to explain your life to yourself. As you look at your life,
perhaps it seems unsatisfactory. It has no apparent continual growth
in an orderly progressive fashion. True, for life is not really a
growing up, but a journey. You are a traveler rather than a growing
child. You are taking a journey to life eternal. People are
disappointed because they do not understand this.
always planning and designing for ourselves what one day we shall
do. As children we planned what we were to do when we had grown up.
In youth we planned for our middle years. As we grow older it is
always in the future that the great event, whatever it is, is to
happen. We plan, at last, to settle down in old age. We cannot
settle down. We never shall. We are pilgrims! . If you are to
go on a long pilgrimage you must accommodate yourself to others. So
life is an endless accommodating of ourselves to others. You say
when you begin: 'This is only for a short time; later on I shall be
able to organize my life as I want it.' That will happen truly, but
not here. No one here ever really has a chance of having
exactly what he wants. Only on the other side will you really have a
home. We belong to a great city, but the city lies over the far side
of the river. So live that you remember whence you came, and whither
you journey. Keep your eyes steadily fixed on the height towards
which you climb. Forget the things that are behind you. Strive
earnestly forward. Nothing here on earth can ever content us. We
get past one difficulty only to encounter another. That is right and
proper. Indeed, that is life! So do not expect to find here your
city - the thing perfectly worked out, complete, that you desire,
dream of, work for. Do not expect to be able to settle down for long
to enjoy your life. The danger that assaults us is the danger that
we might settle down. We are pilgrims on the march. Always beware of
comfort! Beware of being content with what you have! There - ahead -
is your comfort. Pilgrims, travelers, strangers, that is all we be!
We seek a city, whose maker and builder is God, a city that is God
Himself. We shall enter within it by His mercy. God Himself
shall be our home. Cannot you be grateful for the road, though it be
rough? It does all a road was ever made to do. It takes you