Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Our Father among the Saints, John Chrysostom, and his view on the Holy Eucharist



I have witnessed some "Reformed" apologists lately proclaiming that none of the early Church Fathers would have had the mindset to even consider the doctrine of Transubstantiation. This being that when the priest or bishop at the Divine Liturgy consecrates the bread and wine, it literally becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Now we know that this is not just a carnal change in substance. This is the presence of the complete person of Jesus Christ's, body, blood, soul and His divinity being present after consecration. So it is not as we are taking literal bites out of his arm or leg in a mere carnal matter, but His complete person. On my Catholicchampion.com website I posted parts of his homilies on 2 particular Biblical texts, to see how he interpreted them. The 2 portions of his commentary are on the Gospel of John 6:55-69 and his commentary on 1st Corinthians 11:24-27. These 2 texts give us an excellent view on the doctrine of the Eucharist, in which every apostolic Church believes the same doctrine. These include the Catholic church, all of the Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Any Church that can be found to exist before the Reformation hold to the substance change. I wanted to post a few passages from his homilies here, and below I will give you a link to his full commentaries on these 2 passages of Sacred Scripture.

“What then, is not His flesh, flesh?” Most certainly. “How then saith He, that the flesh profiteth nothing?” He speaketh not of His own flesh, (God forbid!) but of those who received His words in a carnal manner.

For the Jews listened carnally, and with human reasonings, but the disciples spiritually, and committing all to faith

“What impieties?” say you. Why sayest thou, what impieties? Thou hast partaken of such a Table and when thou oughtest to be more gentle than any and like the angels, none so cruel as thou art become. Thou hast tasted the Blood of the Lord,

Is it not so, that at such times, immediately after Communion, drunkenness succeeds and contempt of the poor? And having partaken of the Blood,

And these things thou doest when thou hast enjoyed the Table of Christ, on that day on which thou hast been counted worthy to touch His flesh with thy tongue. What then is to be done to prevent these things? Purify thy right hand, thy tongue, thy lips, which have become a threshold for Christ to tread upon.

It seems to me Saint Chrysostom understood very well the idea of Christ being truly present in the Eucharist, that being the literal presence of His person. If we read the full text, we can see Saint John constantly telling his people that it is His Body, he says it is, “What then, is not His flesh, flesh?” Most certainly. “How then saith He, that the flesh profiteth nothing?” He speaketh not of His own flesh, (God forbid!). As I noted earlier he makes sure that they understand it is not in a mere carnal manner, but much more than that. He also makes the point on how he can be present in many places at once. He says, "have nothing carnal about them, are not subject to the laws of physical consequence, but are free from any such necessity,"
I encourage you to read these full texts. I think they speak for themselves. It seems quite clear to me that Saint John believed exactly what all of the apostolic churches believe, and have believed since the time of the apostles. I have the full text on his commentaries on these passages here. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The spirit of apologetics.....and 1st Corinthians Chapter 13




I wanted to take a moment to address the spirit in which apologetics is often engaged in. Often times in apologetics debates, discussions or exchanges we end up seeing a focus on the individuals themselves rather the arguments themselves. It is easy to get focused on personal insults or character attacks rather than staying focused on the argument themselves. I think most apologists have fallen into this trap at least once, including myself and for that I apologize.

In referencing James White in my videos or blog posts, I usually intend to refute his argument, and I for the most part try and stick to that mentality. In the future when referencing a particular individual, I will make it a point to stick only to the argument, and not the individual making the argument. Many times a refutation will end with an extra "jab" to add some extra pizazz to the article or video. We must sum this attitude up to a lack of humility and inflated egos. Hopefully no one in the apologetics world is in it only for the sake of winning debates, or the personal gratification of making someone look bad. The topics often addressed are very serious when it comes to Our Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation of people's souls are often at stake. This should be the focus of every apologist attempting to reveal the Truth of Our Lord to others.

As far as any arguments I have presented, I stand by every one of them, for I believe the facts speak for themselves. I addressed Mr White's argument in my last 3 videos to give people the complete facts and show that none of those particular arguments that Mr. White gave (tabernacle existence, elevation of the host, the term transubstantiation etc,) had any bearing on whether or not the Church believed in the Bread and Wine actually becoming the true Body and Blood of Christ in the Church earlier than the 12th century. In doing so I do not want to create an enemy of Mr. White, but only bring the Truth so that he and others will not be deceived and remain outside of Our Lord's beautiful Church. I hope that Mr. White, as well as other apologists, both Catholic, Protestant or otherwise, have similar intentions. I believe that every person who remains outside of his Church is missing what Jesus Himself wants you to have, mainly Himself in the truest sense.

Jesus said in the 6th chapter of Saint John, "53 Jesus replied to them: In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person. 57 As the living Father sent me and I draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will also draw life from me. 58 This is the bread which has come down from heaven; it is not like the bread our ancestors ate: they are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever. 59 This is what he taught at Capernaum in the synagogue."

All of this being said, the point I am making here is that if we have not true love for one another as Christ and His apostles have commanded, then we are not fulfilling our obligations as Christians. If we are not in this for the right reasons, then no matter how good of an argument we may give, people will not listen to it. If anyone has facts that they can present to counter my arguments then I welcome them, for I have confidence that God always will let the truth come to the top so that those who have eyes to see and ears to hear will recognize it. I will leave this post with a quote from Sacred Scripture that most apologists could use stuck their computer screen for a humble reminder.

1st Corinthians Chapter 13

1 Though I command languages both human and angelic-if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.

2 And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains-if I am without love, I am nothing.

Friday, May 23, 2008

How serious did the early Church take divine, or holy images?


I wanted to contrast a well known reformer, John Calvin with what the Church teaches on Holy Images. First we will look at Calvin's personal opinion on the matter, and then we will look at how the Church addressed those like him nearly 800 years before Calvin was born.

John Calvin, “If the authority of the ancient church moves us in any way, we will recall that for about five hundred years, during which religion was still flourishing, and a pure doctrine thriving, Christian Churches were commonly empty of images. Thus, it was when the purity of the ministry had somewhat degenerated that they were first introduced for the adornment of churches.(Calvin, Institutes 1.11.13).


Lets contrast what the ancient Church really says,

Decree of the Seventh Ecumenical Council of the Church, where the whole of Christianity decided on this issue. Just how serious did they take this issue? How many times can they fit an anathema into one declaration?

551

We anathematize the introduced novelty of the revilers of Christians. We salute the venerable images. We place under anathema those who do not do this. Anathema to them who presume to apply to the venerable images the things said in Holy Scripture about. idols. Anathema to those who do not salute the holy and venerable images. Anathema to those who call the sacred images idols. Anathema to those who say that Christians resort to the sacred images as to gods. Anathema to those who say that any other delivered us from idols except Christ our God. Anathema to those who dare to say that at any time the Catholic Church received idols.

Visit catholicchampion.com for a full article on this subject. We will also see that ancient Christians well before the 6th century used Holy Images, contrary to what Calvin says.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

James (Everything is a medieval invention of Rome) White and his antics on Rome, and relics.


Once again James White has not done his research on the veneration of relics. Here is an excerpt from his article on his website.

White says, "Modern Rome, and its apologists, is truly an enigma. On the one hand you have the liberalism found throughout the scholarship of Rome. Inclusivism at best, universalism at worst, is the watchword of the day. On the other hand you still have the worst of medieval superstition in many lands, and Rome's apologists have the gall to try to stick all of this under one grand banner of "Mother Rome."



First of all once again the veneration of relics is not a medieval superstition. This seems to be the catchphrase White loves to throw out at every teaching that he disagrees with Catholics on. In my recent videos I demonstrated how faulty his reasoning was on the Holy Eucharist, the Mass, the elevation of the Host and the existence of tabernacles in the ancient Church. Now once again I will prove that White once again has left himself wide open for correction, which I am more than willing to do.

Is the veneration of relics a medieval invention? I think not. Otto F.A. Meinardus in his work on Coptic Christianity points out the fact that Christians from all over the known world made pilgrimages to the Church of Saint Mark at Bucolia at the time of the seventeenth Patriarch of Alexandria Peter I who lived in the year 311. (Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity, 1999 Meinardus) In Egypt the dead bodies of saints were not buried but retained for veneration in the houses (Vita Antonii magni, xc.; ASB, ii. 120-141).It also a known fact the the relics of Saint Mark were rescued when the Muslims invaded in the 7th century. We can also see a veneration for relics of the Saints in the catacombs.

The universal faith of the Church concerning the pious veneration of holy relics was confirmed by the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod in its decrees: "Our Lord Jesus Christ granted to us the relics of Saints as a salvation-bearing source which pours forth varied benefits on the infirm. Consequently, those who presume to abandon the relics of the Martyrs: if they be hierarchs, let them be deposed; if however monastics or laymen, let them merely be excommunicated."

The 7th ecumenical council also declared in canon 7

The divine apostle Paul said: The sins of some people are manifest, those of others appear later. Some sins take the front rank but others follow in their footsteps. Thus in the train of the impious heresy of the defamers of Christians, many other impieties appeared. Just as those heretics removed the sight of venerable icons from the church, they also abandoned other customs, which should now be renewed and which should be in vigour in virtue of both written and unwritten legislation. Therefore we decree that in venerable churches consecrated without relics of the holy martyrs, the installation of relics should take place along with the usual prayers. And if in future any bishop is found out consecrating a church without relics, let him be deposed as someone who has flouted the ecclesiastical traditions.

Finally a nice passage explaining what relics are, from Father Sophrony's book We Shall See Him As He Is, he writes:

"Through His incarnation the everlasting Logos of the Father gives us to partake of His Blood and His Flesh in order thereby to pour into our veins His eternal Life, that we may become His children, flesh of His Flesh, bone of His Bone (cf. John 6:53-57)."

In Holy Relics, therefore, we do not see dead bones — far from it. In Holy Relics we see the result of communion with the Lord, the result of sharing the very Life of the Most High God (cf. Rom. 9:5) — communion with Him Who is Self-Life, Life Itself (autozoe). United with Christ, then, though we pass through "the valley of the shadow of death" (Ps. 23:4), we pass from death to Eternal Life. This is the point at which the created meets the uncreated, the point at which earth meets "heaven face to face," and the point at which we created, mortal human beings are transfigured by Him into Divine Life.

Thus are the perfect. Thus are the saints. Thus are they whose very bones have preserved grace to the end. Holy Relics are the earthly remains of those who have been taught by none other than Christ Himself to love their enemies even unto death, the death of the Cross, which is His glory, and which by grace becomes their glory too. Love for enemies is not a moral injunction, it is the fundamental criterion for the Christian way of life. This is Salvation. Yea, this is theosis.

Truly, then, "in this world there is nothing more difficult than to be saved." But as we begin to perceive Salvation as theosis, so too do the dry bones seen by the Prophet Ezekiel begin to receive Life:"

We Shall See Him As He Is, translated by Rosemary Edmonds (Tolteshunt Knights, Essex: Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist, 1988), p. 193


White then ends his attack on the Church with this statement. I quote, "And then be reminded: Rome remains as much of an opponent to the gospel of grace as she has ever been. "

Hey James, make that all of the Oriental Churches, all of the Orthodox Churches, or any Church for that matter that can be historically traced back before the "Reformation". Once again it is painfully obvious that you, and those like you are the real opponents to the Gospel.

Some early Christian writings on free-will and co-operating with God's grace.


It is a fact that the Eastern Orthodox, the Oriental Orthodox and the Catholic Churches all believe and teach that we as human beings have free-will in choosing to reject or co-operate with God's grace. Here are few early Christian writers that contribute to this line of thought. I also find it interesting how we see from the early desert fathers, and all later forms of monasticism the very same spiritual teachings. We do not see any of these monastic Saints interpret the foreknowledge of God in Romans to the extreme position of John Calvin or any of the "Reformers". The only Saint I can find even remotely coming close to this line of thinking (Calvinsim) is Saint Augustine.



St. Justin Martyr (100-165) writes in his first Apology, 43,

"So that none may infer what we have said about the events we have described. ..the penalties and punishments, and the good rewards are given according to each man's action. If this not so, but all things happened in accordance with fate, nothing would be left us. For if it is destined that one man should be good and another wicked, then neither is the one to be praised, nor the other blamed."

St. Irenaeus,(C200)

This expression of our Lord, "How often would I have gathered thy children together,and thou wouldest not, (Matthew 23:37) II , set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free agent from the beginning, possessing his own power, even as he does his own soul, to obey the behests of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will towards us is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. In man, as well as the angels, He has placed the power of choice...so that those who had yielded obedience might rightly possess the good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves. On, the other hand, they who have not obeyed, shall, with justice, be not found in possession of the good, and shall receive condign punishment : for God did kindly bestow on them what was good;... (Against the Heresies, IV, 37, I).

SAINT JOHN CASSIAN, (370-435)
These two, namely, grace and free will, although they seem opposed, in fact are
complementary ...Were we to deny the one or the other, we would appear to have
abandoned the Faith of the Church (Conversations with the Desert Fathers, 18).

BARDAISAN of Syria (c.154-222). Fragments

" 'How is it that God did not so make us that we should not sin and incur condemnation?'if man had been made so, he would not have belonged to himself but would have been the instrument of him that moved him . . . And how, in that case, would a man differ from a harp, on which another plays; or from a ship, which another guides: where the praise and the blame reside in the hand of the performer or the steersman . . . they being only instruments made for the use of him in whom is the skill? But God, in His benignity, chose not so to make man; but by freedom He exalted him above many of His creatures."

SAINT JEROME (c.347-420). Letters CXXXIII

"It is in vain that you misrepresent me and try to convince the ignorant that I condemn free-will. Let him who condemns it be himself condemned. We have been created endowed with free-will; still it is not this which distinguishes us from the brutes. For human free-will, as I said, depends upon the help of God and needs His aid moment by moment, a thing which you and yours do not choose to admit. Your position is that once a man has free-will he no longer needs the help of God. It is true that freedom of the will brings with it freedom of decision. Still man does not act immediately on his free-will but requires God's aid who Himself needs no aid." Against the Pelagians Book III, 10

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A close look at Eric Svendsen, another Reformed Apologist with no manners, and no scholarship..

Unfortunately we now have a slew of "apologists" who have little or no charity, or any respect for that matter, for anyone other than themselves. We see that there is no scholarship involved in their writings, and they hurl insults instead of actually debating a topic. One of them is Eric Svendsen. I want to point out what kind of unethical practices he engages in, in order to slander the Catholic faith. Here Eric Svendsen writes on Catholic teaching insulting a President of a Protestant university, and also manages to tell us Catholics including Archbishop Chaput what we really believe, instead of what the Church says we and the archbishop believe. Pay close attention to the language Svendsen uses to create an illusion so he can appeal to his followers, who many probably no little of what the Church actually teaches. The sad moral of this story however is not ignorance on Svendsen's part, but a malicious attempt to lead people away from the Catholic Church by distorting her teachings.

When I started reading his blog I thought he was truly ignorant of the Catholic faith. But upon further investigation it seems that he has engaged in this type of apologetics for quite awhile. Watch how he continually calls the President of CCU a fool over and over. Yes, we can all get a bit emotionally charged here and there, but isn't this well over the line? This is not the only instance where he engages in this sort of mudslinging either. Scroll down further to his post on Romans 1:21-25 Alive and Well in New Delhi, and Lest We Forget the Most Basic Truths to see more clear unprofessional Catholic bashing. Here is a copy of a complete article from Eric Sevensen's blog, it reads as follows, as printed on his own blog site. I wanted to post it here for easy reading. You be the judge. I have directed you to his own blog, so you can read it for yourselves. Enjoy!
(The original can be found at Svensen's blog site at
( http://ntrminblog.blogspot.com/ )


A Faux Orthodoxy

. . . or, better, "A Foe Orthodoxy." From my neck of the woods . . .

"Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Challenges CCU Students"

CCU, for those not from my neck of the woods, is "Colorado Christian University," an institution that used to be a sound evangelical voice in the world. They have purposefully watered down their statement of faith to ensure sola fide never becomes a litmus test for a true gospel: "We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential." Wow. Powerful. I wonder if anyone under the rubric of Christendom could be found who disagrees with that.

And so, CCU has invited the head Judaizer of Denver to exhort their theologically naive, unsuspecting youth . . .

"The archbishop was greeted warmly by all attending, and throughout his talk he held everyone’s quiet attention. . . . After chapel concluded, students asked the archbishop many questions on how to he felt they could best be used in today's times of so many challenging issues to Christianity."

So "Christians" (are they?) are now officially getting their guidance on how to live the Christian life from a man who embodies a gospel that condemns. Who is responsible for arranging this meeting? The article goes on to tell us . . .

"CCU President and former U. S. Senator Bill Armstrong has beeen aggressively bringing some of the best scholars and Christian authorities onto campus to speak to students and elevate campus commitment to open dialogue."

So, the head Judaizer of Denver now qualifies as a "Christian authority."

"When asked about the invitation to Archbishop Chaput to visit CCU, Armstrong stated, 'Archbishop Chaput embodies exactly what we want our students to hear and learn.'"

So the accountability for this shameful liaison lands squarely on the shoulders of Bill Armstrong, an extremely foolish man who naively thinks that a Judaizer embodies "exactly" what he wants Christian youth to hear and learn. Here, in his own words, is his explanation of that . . .

"He [the archbishop of Denver] believes deeply in the sanctity of life, the word in the Holy Bible, and the teachings of Jesus Christ. The mere speaking about Christian worldviews is not enough – we must live our lives to those principles and help transform the world in which we live."

He (the archbishop of Denver) also believes, O foolish CCU president, that a man is justified by the merits he earns through his own works. He also believes, O foolish CCU president, in a gospel that was specifically condemned by the Apostle Paul. He also believes, O foolish CCU president, that Mary and the saints ought to be venerated and looked upon as objects of prayer. He also believes, O foolish CCU president, that his church and pope are infallible. He also believes, O foolish CCU president, that Jesus is not the only road to salvation; that Muslims, Jews, and even good atheists are saved; that a piece of bread and a cup of wine are the objects of adoration and worship; . . . and on and on it goes.

Of course, none of those things will matter to a university that has abandoned its birthright. Even Esau recognized his error and sought his birthright back with tears. It is exceedingly doubtful that Bill Armstrong and CCU--or anyone who goes down that path--will have the biblical sense to rise even to the level of an Easu.