Saint Thomas Aquinas

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Misunderstanding of Catholic Predestination


There are many people who do not know what the Catholic Church teaches on predestination. Many people avoid the subject because they are afraid of what they might learn about it. I have also heard Reformed apologists tell their audiences that the Catholic position denies God's sovereignty. They tell people that the Catholic position presumes that man chooses his own eternal destiny apart from the sovereignty of God. Catholics are often falsely called Semi-Pelagians, which is also not the case. I wanted to give a basic explanation of the Catholic position on predestination.

There are two basic concepts that must believed in order to hold a Catholic position. They combat the dire sins of presumption and despair. This subject cannot be elaborated on in one small blog post such as this one. There have been volumes written on this subject by great theologians that I am nowhere in the same league with, such as St Thomas, St Augustine, St. Bellarmine and the like. It is a mystery that will never be fully understood until we reach eternity. With that being understood, here is a very condensed summary of the Catholic teaching of predestination. I hope that there will be others who can come by to further expound on this post in the com-boxes.

Here are the two basic premises a Catholic must hold, as I understand them.

Premise one, God's predestination of efficacious and gratuitous grace.

1. Man cannot be saved without the efficacious and gratuitous grace given by God alone. The elect that God chooses are are not chosen because God foresees how the elect will respond to His grace, but because of His grace alone. The Council of Trent tells us that the gift of final perseverance cannot be obtained or merited, but it is given by God as a gift. Complete predestination, which includes first grace, as well as a series of graces up until glorification, is gratuitous and is chosen by God previous to foreseen merits. It is not based upon God's foreknowledge. Finally no man can boast of being better than another, because it is God's grace only that can elevate man to being better than another, not one's own choices or works. If we say that we choose or act better than another apart from God's grace, and as a result we are saved because of that choice or act, then we surely will be able to boast that we are better than another.

Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote, " It is impossible that the whole of the effect of predestination in general should have any cause as coming from us; because whatsoever is in man disposing him toward salvation, is all included under the effect of predestination; even preparation for grace."

Canon 20 Council of Orange.
"That a man can do no good without God. God does much that is good in a man that the man does not do; but a man does nothing good for which God is not responsible, so as to let him do it."

Even prayer is a gift from God.

Council of Orange Canon 3.
"If anyone says that the grace of God can be conferred as a result of human prayer, but that it is not grace itself which makes us pray to God, he contradicts the prophet Isaiah, or the Apostle who says the same thing, "I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me" (Rom 10:20, quoting Isa. 65:1)."

The Council of Trent tells us,

Chapter XIII
The Gift Of Perseverance

"Similarly with regard to the gift of perseverance, of which it is written:

He that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved, which cannot be obtained from anyone except from Him who is able to make him stand who stands, that he may stand perseveringly, and to raise him who falls, let no one promise himself herein something as certain with an absolute certainty, though all ought to place and repose the firmest hope in God's help."

Canon 1.
"If anyone says that man can be justified before God by his own works, whether done by his own natural powers or through the teaching of the law,[110] without divine grace through Jesus Christ, let him be anathema."


The second principal is the condemnation of predestination to evil, which concerns man's freewill and God's goodness and will to save all men.

2. God did not predestine anyone to evil, or to hell. The penalty of damnation is a result of man's final impenitence, not caused by God, but only permitted by Him. So when a man commits evil, he does so willfully. When man does good, he is helped by God's grace. God also in some way wills that all men be saved, but not all men will be saved. Man is saved by God's grace, and man is condemned by his own freewill. God did not remove freewill from man. If man had no freewill God's justice would mean nothing. Councils such as Thuzey, Trent and Quierzy affirm that God wills all men to be saved and that God does not predestine evil.

The Council of Quierzy.
"That some are saved is the gift of Him who saves... That some perish, is the fault of those who perish."

Man also can never presume that he is among the elect and that he will never lose his salvation or choose to freely commit evil.

Canon 16 of Trent.
"If anyone says that he will for certain, with an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance even to the end, unless he shall have learned this by a special revelation,[120] let him be anathema."

Man can also co-operate with God's grace. In other words man is not an inanimate object, but is able to freely co-operate with God's grace or even reject it. This however does not upset God's predestination to the elect. It is not as if man is thwarting God.

Canon 4 of Trent.
"If anyone says that man's free will moved and aroused by God, by assenting to God's call and action, in no way cooperates toward disposing and preparing itself to obtain the grace of justification, that it cannot refuse its assent if it wishes, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive, let him be anathema."


These two basic premises are what a Catholic has to work with. They seem to be contradictory at first glance, and they are indeed difficult to understand. There are a few different positions among Catholics on how to reconcile these two truths: God wills all men to be saved, (I Tim 2:4) and God predestines some to be saved. (Rom 8:29). Why God leaves some men to their own freewill destruction and chooses others to be saved is a mystery that none of us will know until eternity. We cannot know or understand the mind of God. These two truths should keep us on the boat, neither falling into despair, nor into presumption. No man can know for sure if he is predestined, and yet man knows that he should rely on God for everything, even prayer. God's sovereignty is never upset, and the fact that men can choose how they live and respond to God is never compromised. Somehow all of this falls into God's sovereign creation, a creation that he predestines, yet allows to remain free.

As I have warned, this is not an exhaustive look at this subject. It only lays down a bare minimum understanding of God's sovereignty in predestination, and God's will that man may be able to make free choices. We cannot deny God's predestination of the elect, and we cannot deny that God gave man freewill. I welcome those who would like to reconcile the two using various theological positions such as the Augustinian, Molinist or the Thomistic schools of thought, for example.

Credit where credit is due.

I pulled most of this information from Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange's book "Predestination." For more information on how theologians have tried to reconcile these facts you can start with the following internet sources.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12378a.htm

Canons of the Council of Trent. (See Canons Concerning Justification)

The first part of Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange's book. I would suggest buying the book and reading it. I would love to hear from those who have read Lagrange's book. Feel free to clarify anything I might have missed or anything that needs to be stated more clearly. This is certainly not an easy subject to examine.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Our New Healthcare Plan and the Zero-bam-a-budget!

I don't usually get involved in politics, but this subject is of the utmost importance. Take four minutes to check this video out.



If you want to learn about the big 0's budget plan you can go here.

Pope Benedict XVI: Humilty, the Church and Scripture


The Sacred Scriptures are a precious gift from God, which He has given to the Catholic Church to preserve and cherish until the end of time. That Church has always given great wisdom to help the faithful understand and contemplate the mysteries of the sacred text. Pope Benedict XVI has given us numerous homilies, books and documents that help explain how we should understand and approach the Sacred Scriptures. I wanted to share a few of these with you to contemplate on. I have bold typed the text which I found to be of particular importance.

The first quote is taken from a general audience in 2008. The general topic was Saint Gregory the Great. Here he gives us a glimpse into how the great Saint viewed Scripture. Notice how Saint Gregory avoided the pitfall of using Scripture as a prideful tool for the mere elevation of one's own knowledge. We can see how many have fallen into heresy using the Scriptures in this manner.


BENEDICT XVI

GENERAL AUDIENCE

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Gregory never sought to delineate "his own" doctrine, his own originality. Rather, he intended to echo the traditional teaching of the Church, he simply wanted to be the mouthpiece of Christ and of the Church on the way that must be taken to reach God. His exegetical commentaries are models of this approach.

He was a passionate reader of the Bible, which he approached not simply with a speculative purpose: from Sacred Scripture, he thought, the Christian must draw not theoretical understanding so much as the daily nourishment for his soul, for his life as man in this world. For example, in the Homilies on Ezekiel, he emphasized this function of the sacred text: to approach the Scripture simply to satisfy one's own desire for knowledge means to succumb to the temptation of pride and thus to expose oneself to the risk of sliding into heresy. Intellectual humility is the primary rule for one who searches to penetrate the supernatural realities beginning from the sacred Book. Obviously, humility does not exclude serious study; but to ensure that the results are spiritually beneficial, facilitating true entry into the depth of the text, humility remains indispensable. Only with this interior attitude can one really listen to and eventually perceive the voice of God.


The next text is taken from an address he gave in 2005 at Saint Peters square. Here the Holy Father talks a bit on Lectio divina. He emphasizes how one must read the Scriptures with the same Spirit who inspired them. Of course anyone residing outside the Church cannot be reading them with that same Spirit.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter's Square
Sunday, 6 November 2005

Among the many fruits of this biblical springtime I would like to mention the spread of the ancient practice of Lectio divina or "spiritual reading" of Sacred Scripture. It consists in pouring over a biblical text for some time, reading it and rereading it, as it were, "ruminating" on it as the Fathers say and squeezing from it, so to speak, all its "juice", so that it may nourish meditation and contemplation and, like water, succeed in irrigating life itself.

One condition for Lectio divina is that the mind and heart be illumined by the Holy Spirit, that is, by the same Spirit who inspired the Scriptures, and that they be approached with an attitude of "reverential hearing".



Likewise in 2008 the Pope again reiterated this same message.


BENEDICT XVI

ANGELUS

St Peter's Square
Sunday, 26 October 2008

One aspect very deeply reflected upon was the relationship between the Word and words, that is, between the Divine Word and the Scriptures that express it. As the Second Vatican Council teaches in the Constitution Dei Verbum (n. 12), a good biblical exegesis demands both the historical-critical and theological methods since Sacred Scripture is the Word of God in human words. This means that every text must be read and interpreted keeping in mind the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the Church and the light of the faith. If it is true that the Bible is also a literary work even the great codex of universal culture it is also true that it should not be stripped of the divine element but must be read in the same Spirit in which it was composed.


In 2005 the Pope pointed out that the Scriptures are not subject to man's personal interpretations. This is a crucial mistake that Protestants have fallen into. They have removed the Scriptures from the bosom of the Church. By doing so they now read them without the aid of the Holy Spirit that inspired them.

ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS
ORGANIZED TO COMMEMORATE THE 40th ANNIVERSARY
OF THE DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION
ON DIVINE REVELATION "DEI VERBUM"

Castel Gandolfo
Friday, 16 September 2005

The Church and the Word of God are inseparably linked. The Church lives on the Word of God and the Word of God echoes through the Church, in her teaching and throughout her life (cf. Dei Verbum, n. 8). The Apostle Peter, therefore, reminds us that no prophecy contained in Scripture can be subjected to a personal interpretation. "Prophecy has never been put forward by man's willing it. It is rather that men impelled by the Holy Spirit have spoken under God's influence" (II Pt 1: 20).


I will close with a more lengthy text from an address of Pope Benedict XVI to the Pontifical Biblical Commission. This should serve as a rule in which every Christian must follow in order to receive the Sacred Scriptures in the Spirit in which they were inspired. Those who reject these principals are outsiders, and they twist the Scriptures to their own destruction. We have witnessed this inside and outside the Church. We have had many "theologians" who have dissected the Scriptures as a science experiment and have thus lost their true meaning.

June - July 2009
Vol. XV, No. 4

Pope Benedict Addresses the Pontifical Biblical Commission
Inspiration and Truth of Scripture

In this regard the Council recalls first of all that God is the Author of Sacred Scripture: “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For Holy Mother Church relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the Books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself” (Dei Verbum 11).

Therefore since all that the inspired authors or hagiographers state is to be considered as said by the Holy Spirit, the invisible and transcendent Author, it must consequently be acknowledged that “the books of Scripture, firmly, faithfully and without error, teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the sacred Scriptures” (ibid. 11).

From the correct presentation of the divine inspiration and truth of Sacred Scripture certain norms derive that directly concern its interpretation. The Constitution Dei Verbum itself, after stating that God is the author of the Bible, reminds us that in Sacred Scripture God speaks to man in a human fashion and this divine-human synergy is very important: God really speaks to men and women in a human way. For a correct interpretation of Sacred Scripture it is therefore necessary to seek attentively what the hagiographers have truly wished to state and what it has pleased God to express in human words.

“The words of God, expressed in the words of men, are in every way like human language, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when He took on Himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men” (Dei Verbum 13).

Moreover, these indications, very necessary for a correct historical and literary interpretation as the primary dimension of all exegesis, require a connection with the premises of the teaching on the inspiration and truth of Sacred Scripture. In fact, since Scripture is inspired, there is a supreme principle for its correct interpretation without which the sacred writings would remain a dead letter of the past alone: Sacred Scripture “must be read and interpreted with its divine authorship in mind” (ibid. 12).

Three Criteria for Interpretation
In this regard, the Second Vatican Council points out three criteria that always apply for an interpretation of Sacred Scripture in conformity with the Spirit that inspired it.

First of all it is essential to pay great attention to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture: only in its unity is it Scripture. Indeed, however different the books of which it is composed may be, Sacred Scripture is one by virtue of the unity of God’s plan whose center and heart is Jesus Christ (cf. Lk 24:25-27; Lk 24:44-46).

Secondly, Scripture must be interpreted in the context of the living tradition of the whole Church. According to a statement of Origen: “Sacra Scriptura principalius est in corde Ecclesiae quam in materialibus instrumentis scripta”, that is, “Sacred Scripture is written in the heart of the Church before being written on material instruments”.

Indeed, in her Tradition the Church bears the living memory of the Word of God and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her its interpretation according to the spiritual meaning (cf. Origin, Homilae in Leviticum, 5,5).

As a third criterion, it is necessary to pay attention to the analogy of the faith, that is to the consistence of the individual truths of faith with one another and with the overall plan of Revelation and the fullness of the divine economy contained in it.

“Indispensable Reference Point” for Research
The task of researchers who study Sacred Scripture with different methods is to contribute in accordance with the above-mentioned principles to the deepest possible knowledge and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture. The scientific study of the sacred texts is important but is not sufficient in itself because it would respect only the human dimension. To respect the coherence of the Church’s faith, the Catholic exegete must be attentive to perceiving the Word of God in these texts, within the faith of the Church herself.

If this indispensable reference point is missing, the exegetical research would be incomplete, losing sight of its principal goal, and risk being reduced to a purely literary interpretation in which the true Author God no longer appears.

Furthermore, the interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures cannot only be an individual scientific effort but must always be compared with, inserted in and authenticated by the living Tradition of the Church.

This rule is decisive to explain the correct relationship between exegesis and the Magisterium of the Church. The Catholic exegete does not only feel that he or she belongs to the scientific community, but also and above all to the community of believers of all times. In reality these texts were not given to individual researchers or to the scientific community, “to satisfy their curiosity or to provide them with material for study and research” (Divino Afflante Spiritu 49).

The texts inspired by God were entrusted in the first place to the community of believers, to Christ’s Church, to nourish the life of faith and to guide the life of charity. Respect for this purpose conditions the validity and efficacy of biblical hermeneutics. The encyclical Providentissimus Deus recalled this fundamental truth and noted that, far from hindering biblical research, respect for this norm encourages authentic progress. I would say, a rationalistic hermeneutic of faith corresponds more closely with the reality of this text than a rationalistic hermeneutic that does not know God.

Inseparable Unity with Tradition
Being faithful to the Church means, in fact, fitting into the current of the great Tradition. Under the guidance of the Magisterium, Tradition has recognized the canonical writings as a word addressed by God to His People, and it has never ceased to meditate upon them and to discover their inexhaustible riches.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Reformers and Contraception


I have a question for all those "Reformers" out there. Do you agree or disagree with the following statements? It is a simple yes or no answer.

"It is a horrible thing to pour out seed besides the intercourse of man and woman. Deliberately avoiding the intercourse, so that the seed drops on the ground, is double horrible. For this means that one quenches the hope of his family and kills the son, which could be expected, before he is born. This wickedness is now as severely as is possible condemned by the Spirit, through Moses, that Onan, as it were, through a violent and untimely birth, tore away the seed of his brother out the womb, and as cruel as shamefully has thrown on the earth. Moreover he thus has, as much as was in his power, tried to destroy a part of the human race. When a woman in some way drives away the seed out the womb, through aids, then this is rightly seen as an unforgivable crime. Onan was guilty of a similar crime" (Calvin's Commentary on Genesis, vol. 2, part 16).

"[T]he exceedingly foul deed of Onan, the basest of wretches . . . is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her—that is, he lies with her and copulates—and, when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed. Accordingly, it was a most disgraceful crime. . . . Consequently, he deserved to be killed by God. He committed an evil deed. Therefore, God punished him" (Luther's Commentary on Genesis)

"the purpose of marriage is not pleasure and ease but the procreation and education of children and the support of a family.... People who do not like children are swine, dunces, and blockheads, not worthy to be called men and women, because they despise the blessing of God, the Creator and Author of marriage" (Luther quoted in Christian History, Issue 39, p. 24).

Westminster Annotations (1657); Calvinist
Commentary on Gen. 38.9 (by John Ley of the Westminster Assembly) - "...in that there is a seminal vital virtue, which perishes if the seed be spilled; and by doing this to hinder the begetting of a living child, is the first degree of murder that can be committed, and the next unto it is the marring of conception, when it is made, and causing of abortion: now such acts are noted in the scripture as horrible crimes, because, otherwise many might commit them, and not know the evil of them: it is conceived, that his brother Er before, was his brother in evil thus far, that both of them satisfied their sensuality against the order of nature, and therefore the Lord cut them off both alike with sudden vengeance; which may be for terror to those Popish Onanites who condemn marriage, and live in sodomitical impurity, and to those who, in marriage, care not for the increase of children, (which is the principle use of the conjugal estate) but for the satisfying of their concupiscence."


The Protestant scholar Charles Provan listed over a hundred Protestant founders or leaders in every denomination (Lutheran, Calvinist, Reformed, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, Evangelical, Nonconformist, Baptist, Puritan, Pilgrim) who condemned the use of contraception, calling it a sinful act (Provan, 1989 The Bible and Birth Control). Why the sudden change in Protestant Biblical interpretation over the last 70 years or so? If the Protestant is so steeped in God's word, why does he now accept a sinful practice that is condemned in the Sacred Scriptures, one that all Protestant forefathers taught against as well? We can chalk it up to another example of the disunity in Protestantism, and the wholesale rejection of God's Church.

The further in time the Protestants move away from the Church, the further out in left field their teachings get. We can also look at the acceptance of divorce, homosexuality and women clergy in Protestantism as other examples among many. I find it interesting how all of these "Reformed" apologists are ready to come out and attack Catholics on various teachings, yet they will run like their head is on fire when they see this one coming at them. (See another previous post on this subject. Where were their rebuttals?) Where is the "ready defense" that they are supposed to be able to give for their beliefs when it comes to their acceptance of such a disgraceful and wretched sin, as their forefathers called it?

It is not a far fetch to blame the success of Margaret Sanger's evil operation, "Planned Parenthood", on the Protestants' acceptance of the use of artificial contraception. She needed the favor of the major Protestant denominations to gain support in her endeavors to popularize contraception, and eventually abortion. Of course most Protestants are against the sin of abortion, but they are not in full agreement on this either! This is amazing to me! Just look at the Protestant pastor Peter Ruckman who said the following on one of his videos on You Tube. Listen to the audio here.

"You don't want to get hung up on those things. Some of the brethren get so hung up on this thing, 'abortion is murder, abortion is murder', they show you pictures. Well they're trying to prove, they're trying to prove the thing looks like a person that is a person. That's what Darwin taught. You gotta watch that business. You can take an embryo of an animal and prove it looks like an embryo of a person. That doesn't make it a person. You gotta watch that business. You go around start prove that thing is a person before that thing is born, then you got that matter of salvation. And the first thing you know you'll be up there at the Catholic hospital dumpin' water on them so they don't go to limbo. You gotta watch that kind of stuff. Now I'll grant you the child is an organism, I'll grant you that. But they're a lot of organisms. I'll grant you the child may be alive in the sense of animal life, I'll grant you that. I'll grant you it's an embryo, I'll grant you that. But if you talking about a living soul see, I read my bible there's no living soul till the Lord breathed in his nostrils the breath of life."


When we look at Protestantism, and what it has become today, it is only a shadow of what it once was. Protestantism was a horrible monstrosity when it was invented some 500 years ago, and it has only gone steadily downhill into the moral cesspool since then. They all now reject core moral Biblical teachings that all of their forefathers once strongly held. So much for Protestants believing the "core" teachings of the Scriptures. We can see that this is not the truth. They can't even agree on the Scriptures in regards to abortion and divorce, let alone contraception!

The fact is that Protestants do not agree on core moral principles as many of them claim. Only the Catholic Church has stood tall among the moral wasteland of the secular culture. The Catholic Church has never wavered on her teachings regarding faith and morals. The Catholic Church has never accepted divorce, abortion, contraception, homosexuality, etc, like the Protestants have, and it never will. Choose the real Church, not an imaginary one, folks.

Finally I would like to close with the popular "Reformed" apologist James White's disclaimer on birth control from his website. His statement seems to be in stark contrast to what his forefathers thought about the subject.

Disclaimer:

We receive many requests for information that are not relevant to the focus of Alpha and Omega Ministries. We need to emphasize very strongly that it is not our purpose to take the place of the local New Testament Church. Questions about eschatology, church discipline, faith healing, birth control, which translation one should use or how one might interpret a particular parable are not considered "apologetic" in nature. We believe that these issues are more appropriately addressed by the pastor and elders of your own Bible believing church.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Podcast: Contraception, The Church's Official Teaching.


My latest podcast episode addresses the Catholic Church's teaching on the use of artificial contraception. This is my longest and most detailed episode yet. It clocks in at just under an hour. I used the Church's many official documents and statements regarding contraception as my sources to investigate the Church's official teaching on the matter. You can get it on Itunes. Just search in the Itunes store for Catholic Champion. Enjoy.

Get Itunes for Mac and Windows here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Precepts of the Church Podcast Series: Episode II- Confession


I have posted the latest Podcast episode on the precepts of the Catholic Church. This one deals with the second precept, confession. You can download it on Itunes. Just go to the Itunes store and search for Catholic Champion. You can subscribe or download the episodes of your choice. If you don't have Itunes you can download it here for free. Enjoy!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Psychopaths: Criminology and Theology


I have been reading some books on psychopathy lately. I have just begun classes for my criminology degree and I thought that psychopathy and theology would be an interesting topic to write on. The fact that some people can appear to have no conscience whatsoever is certainly something that is worthy of studying, and plugging into the theological realm. The mentality of the psychopath is a mysterious phenomenon that is not easily explained in theological terms.

Original sin indeed corrupts the nature of man, and has removed the original grace with which man was created. We know that sin entered the world by the sins of Adam and Eve, and since that time, even nature itself has been corrupted. How does the psychopath fit into the scheme of original sin? Is the person born with a defect in the brain that hinders the person from having any emotions or compassion for others? Did these people become worse and worse over time by committing sins that twisted them into committing even more heinous acts? Did childhood abuse twist these people into the monsters that we hear about on television? The psychopath Jeffrey Dahmer once said, “My consuming lust was to experience their bodies. I viewed them as objects, as strangers. It is hard for me to believe a human being could have done what I've done.” How did this man become this hardened and twisted? These are all questions that I don't really have definite answers to. But I think this is a topic worth examining. I may raise more questions than I end up answering, I am afraid.

I believe that those who do not have the grace of God in their lives, which elevates and gives their souls a supernatural character, are left to their own selfish desires. All of us are damaged goods in one way or another, and we are all selfish. The psychopath, however, falls into a unique class. They have no remorse for the things they do. Certainly only God can give us true remorse, but even a pagan can feel bad or guilty by a crime they have committed. A psychopath, on the other hand, actually brags about lying and swindling people out of their money, for example. They pride themselves on preying on 'weak' individuals. Jane Toppan, a serial killer, is quoted, "That is my ambition, to have killed more people - more helpless people - than any man or woman who has ever lived." The psychopath also has no real emotions. The serial killer Richard Ramirez said "Even psychopaths have emotions, then again, maybe not." How do we attempt to explain these people? Are they mentally ill? Are they possessed by the Devil? Maybe a combination of the two? Richard Ramirez also once said, "You maggots make me sick. I will be avenged. Lucifer dwells within all of us!" As we know Ramirez was involved in satanism.

Maybe we can learn something about these individuals by looking at the actions of people who are not considered to be 'psychopaths', yet exhibit a similar behavior in one or two areas of their moral belief system. For instance, the abortionist has no feelings or emotions for the baby that he murders. The politicians who promote abortion on demand have no conscience as to the grave evil they support. Yet the rational moral person cringes at such actions. These people are blinded into thinking that the baby is not a real person, or that if it is a real person, it doesn't really feel anything. Some say the life is not worth anything because it has no rational faculties that can be seen or understood by modern science. But isn't this moral sickness similar to that of a psychopath? Yes these abortionists are people that are blinded, possibly ignorant, or maybe even willfully evil. But could we not possibly classify the psychopath into these categories as well? Can the acceptance of such sins on a large scale help to explain these unique individuals?

Is the acceptance of abortion by people a minor case of psychopathy? Can we connect these dots of immorality and blindness and come up with a concept of how the psychopathic mind works? Does someone who continues to live a lie long enough become callous to emotion and human empathy? Are these people born with a propensity, an extreme gravitational pull toward some perverted form of self satisfaction that will not even yield to human compassion? Certainly there is always more at work than meets the eye. For the Catholic believer we know that there is more at play than just genetics, childhood upbringing, or their social circumstances and the like. There is a contest between good and evil. There is a battle for souls going on. The mystery of predestination and man's freewill is certainly at play in these individuals just as in any other human being. Yet they seem to always fall on one side of the extreme, usually never to recover. Even those who claim to be converted to Christ are usually found out to be lying. Consider the chilling words of Dr H.H Holmes "I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing..I was born with the evil one standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the world, and he has been with me since."

We can continue to ask more questions. Can repetition of serious sin lead these people deeper into immorality so that they cannot even rationalize what is good or evil? The question remains as to why some people are capable of being rehabilitated, and some seem to be so far gone that there is no hope for them. Has a psychopath ever been brought back from their sadistic mentality by the grace of God? Can a person who has lost a sense of all morality, all sense of guilt, and all compassion ever be brought back? I think if we are true believers then we believe that no man is too far gone for the reach of God. There is indeed quite a mystery as to how these people come to be, and commit such heinous acts. If anything, it should serve as a warning to all humanity. A warning that calls all men to trust in God alone, and not in themselves. It is also a warning to take the evil presence of the devil seriously. None of us should take sinful actions lightly. I would be interested in the opinion of any practicing Catholics who are in this field, who may be able to elaborate more on this particular issue. In the future I will write more on these subjects and try to tie in the subjects of criminology and theology. I have not witnessed many people delve into this particular area of study. Until then, maybe this will give you some things to ponder.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Helping James Swan Do Research Part II: The Denial


James Swan has now responded to my previous post on baptism and exorcism. For a guy who has posted, or allowed his buddies to post, over 200 posts on Catholicism in the past few years, refuting its teachings on an average of four to five posts a month, you would think that he would understand the faith he is willfully rejecting on his public blog. Those are just the ones listed under Catholicism. There are numerous other remarks about the beliefs of Catholics littered throughout his posts. Now he claims that I am misrepresenting him in an unfair manner. He wrote,

Contrary to your latest blog article, I have never claimed to be an expert on Romanism. Search my blog if you will, you'll never find this. Also note, and you'll have to take my word for this, I have more Catholic websites saved in my favorites folder than Protestant. I tend to buy Catholic books as well- to the suspicion of many in my church.

I wrote this to point out, I'm not an expert, but I do my best to be a learner. Sure I have books that are written against Roman Catholicism, but I have more that are in favor of Roman Catholcism. I can't be accused of not seeking to find out what the other side is saying.

So Matthew, if you'd like to continue presenting a false picture of me that I claim to be an expert on Romanism, you will greatly diminsh the view I have of you.


Well let's take a stroll through with ghost of James Swan's past, shall we? Let's see what someone who is now claiming not to be an expert on Catholicism had to say about Catholicism in the past, and let the reader decide if my assessment is true. I didn't post every link to the posts, but you can just cut and paste them in the search engine of his blog and find them quite easily.

"I would argue that Rome, as it expresses herself in the decrees of Trent, does not teach the Gospel. This does not mean individual Roman Catholics are not Christians- I assume many are, this despite the official teachings of Rome."

"I am convinced the Roman Catholic Church denies the gospel, so I would never promote this author’s work in a church bookstore."

"I do not believe that the Roman Catholic Church preaches the Gospel, thus by extension, I do not agree with those who devote their lives to defending her."

"Right before the seminar, my wife leaned over to me and asked, “Are these people here our brothers and sisters in Christ?” I whispered back, “No…and maybe.” I said this because my opinion is that Rome denies the heart of the Gospel and so therefore does not officially teach the “Gospel.”


Would someone who does not even understand the basic Baptismal Rite of the Catholic Church be able to make such claims with any credibility? Would such a person who claims to know so much about the Council of Trent not know that the Council of Trent's teachings explain the exorcism before baptism in great detail? How can Swan tell us he is rejecting the Catholic faith based on Trent, and yet not even understand that the Rite of Baptism is preceded by an exorcism?

The infant is brought to the door of the church by the sponsors, where it is met by the priest. After the godparents have asked faith from the church of God in the child's name, the priest breathes upon its face and exorcises the evil spirit.

The Exorcism

The exorcism comes next in order. It consists of words of sacred and religious import and of prayers, and is used to expel the devil, to weaken and crush his power.

The Salt

To the exorcism are added other ceremonies, each of which, being mystical, has its own clear signification.

(Catechism of Trent)


Not only does Swan miss this, but he also misses it in the new Catechism.

1237 Since Baptism signifies liberation from sin and from its instigator the devil, one or more exorcisms are pronounced over the candidate.


James Swan quotes the Encyclopedia of the Catholic Church ad nauseum on his blog attempting to refute Catholics and their beliefs with it, yet it never occurred to him to read the section on Baptism to see what it is that he is vehemently rejecting. Let's quote from the favorite source of Swan.

The infant is brought to the door of the church by the sponsors, where it is met by the priest. After the godparents have asked faith from the Church of God in the child's name, the priest breathes upon its face and exorcises the evil spirit.


Swan, with his multitude of posts attempting to lead others to reject the Catholic Church, has to live up to the consequences of his actions. James Swan is telling people not to accept the Catholic faith. He is rejecting the Catholic faith as well as telling people that he understands the Council of Trent. He tells his readers that he rejects the Catholic Church based on the Council of Trent. Remember his quotes like, "In another words, even after Trent made its decree on Justification, Catholics were confused as to how to interpret it! He is so knowledgeable on Trent's doctrine, yet he does not even know about Trent's teaching on baptism. He quotes the Catholic Encyclopedia over and over again giving his readers the impression that he knows the Catholic faith, to which he devotes an incredible amount of time to, yet he doesn't read the Catholic Encyclopedia to even learn about the elementary teaching on baptism. Now he is upset that I am calling him on his self-proclaimed knowledge on the subject. Cry me a river.

I will leave you with this final quote by Mr. Swan to give you an idea on how highly Swan views his writings on Catholicism. All of these posts. It took him four hours to classify all of them for his readers, and yet he still does not understand the Catholic Baptismal Rite and teaching on baptism. This is an amazing feat indeed, being that this was like three years ago!

I was amazed by how many entries I’ve done on Roman Catholicism in this past year. I never think that I’ve written that much on anything except Martin Luther, but this link proves that I’ve done much more. Go ahead, give it a look. The page took about 4 hours to put together.

James Swan Sunday, November 26, 2006


PS. You can add another one to the list. He just posted another one on Predestination and Mary. We all have to wonder when he will learn his lesson. Oh well.

Helping James Swan Do Research. St. Cyril, the Church and Exorcism


I have been blogging over on Beggars All lately discussing some of the texts written by Saint Cyril of Jerusalem on the Church and Sacred Scripture. During the course of discussion James Swan readily admits that there are some things that the Saint believed that he does not. He points out that St Cyril believed in exorcising catechumens before they entered the Church. He tells me that he was not. (Which is no surprise) Then he arrogantly questions me if I had been exorcised before I came into the Church. He wrote, "I admit I didn't go through an exorcism before I entered my church. Did you? It seemed quite a standard practice for Cyril. Go ahead and read it in Cyril's writings for yourself." Of course, I responded that I had been exorcised. It is also standard practice for Catholics. He acts as if I, or other Catholic readers would be surprised to learn of such writings from the great Saint.

One thing is certainly clear, James Swan does not understand Catholicism or the Sacraments, otherwise he would never have made such a statement. This is why, although it can be beneficial for other readers who are seeking the truth, to write against false teachings such as these; conversing with someone like Swan for his benefit is not really worth my time. It is apparent that Mr. Swan has not done any real research on Catholicism. He has not genuinely examined the Catholic Church or its teachings. How else could someone not know about something that is so elementary pertaining to the Catholic faith and its Rite of Baptism? Lets look at what Mr. Swan wrote in context.

I wrote, "The fact is St Cyril did not believe what you believe." (Referring to the Church as being the sole teacher of all doctrine, which St Cyril wrote)
James replied,
"That's true. After reading through a chunk of Cyril recently, I admit I didn't go through an exorcism before I entered my church. Did you? It seemed quite a standard practice for Cyril. Go ahead and read it in Cyril's writings for yourself."


I have the Saint's writings for myself, and it is exactly what the Catholic church does and has done for the better part of 2000 years. But for Mr. Swan, it is a shock. Does the Catholic Church exorcise neophytes who enter into the Church? Of course she does, just like Saint Cyril did back in his day. Part of the Baptismal Rite consists of the person being exorcised. This is Catholicism 101. But not for the experts on Catholicism like James Swan, who oppose Catholicism with all of their will, yet do not even understand something this elementary. For him this is a monumental discovery. Let us look at the exorcism prayers of the Church that are used today.

Part of the Baptism in the Eastern Rite, which I am a part of, the following exorcism prayers are prayed upon the candidate before the actual baptism, both infants and adults.

Be rebuked and depart ... Be afraid, come forth, and depart from this His created image ... Depart to thy own Tartaros ..." "O Satan ... through us His unworthy servants command thee and all the power which worketh with thee to remove thyself from him who hath been sealed in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, our True God....

"Banish from him every evil and unclean spirits hidden and lurking in his heart, the spirit of error, the spirit of evil, the spirit of idolatry and all covetness ... May the Lord rebuke thee, O Satan..."


In the Latin Rite we also have the same type of exorcism prayers. For example at Christ the King in Sarasota, when a person is baptized, the following ritual is administered by the priest. I just witnessed a baptism done exactly like this a few months ago.

Part I: In the Narthex of the Church:
The Questioning, the Exsufflation, The Sign of the Cross, The Imposition of Hands, The Imposition of Salt

Part II: Admission into the Church Building:
Exorcism, The Sign of the Cross, The Imposition of Hands, The Admission into the Church, The Credo and Pater

Part III: In the Nave:
The Solemn Exorcism, The Ephphetha, The Renunciation of Satan, The Annointing

Part IV: At the Font:
The Profession of Faith, Baptism, The Annointing with Chrism, The White Linen Cloth, The Lighted Candle, The Last Words of Good Will


The text of the prayers for the exorcism are as follows,

Priest: I exorcise thee, unclean spirit, in the name of the Father + and of the Son, + and of the Holy + Spirit, that thou goest out and depart from this servant of God, N. For He commands Thee, accursed one, Who walked upon the sea, and stretched out His right hand to Peter about to sink. Therefore, accursed devil, acknowledge thy sentence, and give honor to the living and true God: give honor to Jesus Christ His Son, and to the Holy Spirit; and depart from this servant of God, N. because God and our Lord Jesus Christ hath vouchsafed to call him (her) to His holy grace and benediction and to the font of Baptism.


Now we look to Saint Cyril of Jerusalem and how he viewed baptism and exorcism. Once again it falls in line with Catholic teaching. James Swan claims he has read many of the writings of the Saint, yet he can't grasp the similarities between what the Catholic Church teaches and the Saint's teachings.

7. We may not receive Baptism twice or thrice; else it might be said, Though I have failed once, I shall set it right a second time: whereas if you fail once, the thing cannot be set right; for there is one Lord, and one faith, and one baptism : for only the heretics are re-baptized , because the former was no baptism.

9. Let your feet hasten to the catechisings; receive with earnestness the exorcisms : whether thou be breathed upon or exorcised, the act is to you salvation. Suppose you have gold unwrought and alloyed, mixed with various substances, copper, and tin, and iron, and lead: we seek to have the gold alone; can gold be purified from the foreign substances without fire? Even so without exorcisms the soul cannot be purified; and these exorcisms are divine, having been collected out of the divine Scriptures. Your face has been veiled , that your mind may henceforward be free, lest the eye by roving make the heart rove also. But when your eyes are veiled, your ears are not hindered from receiving the means of salvation. For in like manner as those who are skilled in the goldsmith's craft throw in their breath upon the fire through certain delicate instruments, and blowing up the gold which is hidden in the crucible stir the flame which surrounds it, and so find what they are seeking; even so when the exorcists inspire terror by the Spirit of God, and set the soul, as it were, on fire in the crucible of the body, the hostile demon flees away, and there abide salvation and the hope of eternal life, and the soul henceforth is cleansed from its sins and has salvation. Let us then, brethren, abide in hope, and surrender ourselves, and hope, in order that the God of all may see our purpose, and cleanse us from our sins, and impart to us good hopes of our estate, and grant us repentance that brings salvation. God has called, and His call is to you.

Procatechesis (Prologue)


So there we have it. Not only did Saint Cyril not believe in Sola Scriptura, but he also believed the same teaching on baptism and exorcism that the Catholic Church today believes. It is not too surprising since Saint Cyril was a member of the very same Catholic Church that gave him his exorcism prayers and baptismal Rite that gave us ours. Hopefully this helps Mr Swan and his understanding of the Baptismal Rite of Catholicism.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Servants to the State= The Destruction of the Family.


I posted a powerful sermon over on my CatholicChampion.com website recently. If you want to understand how our society is moving away from a family oriented society, to an individualistic society, then I encourage you to take 15 minutes and listen to this sermon. Today's hedonistic, selfish culture can easily be explained by this moving away from family disposition, that pervades our minds. The selfish reliability on contraception and abortion is a telling statistic. Even a majority of "Christians" are falling into this trap of individuality, and selfishness. It is time that we re-examine what it means to live the good life. Is it our individual personal good that is our priority, or is it our families?

Listen to the sermon here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Christ's Eternal Sacrifice (Misunderstanding the Mass)


The "Reformed" apologist Turretin Fan has posted some reasons on why he thinks that the Mass of the Catholic Church must be understood as re-sacrificing Christ, contrary to what the Church has taught throughout her history. Once again we see what happens when you look at the eternal sacrifice of Christ with spiritual blindness, and true ignorance of the Catholic faith.

Turretin Fan wrote,
c) One of our complaints about the Roman masses is that they don't claim to represent the sacrifice of Christ, but actually to involve the sacrificing of Christ. The Lord's Supper does illustrate for us the death of Christ: it is the true icon of his body and blood, which was shed for many for the remission of sins. The historical event of the cross, however, is complete. It is finished. It cannot be repeated or continued.

Let us look and see if Turretin Fan is accurate in this statement. Can Turretin prove from Scripture that the sacrifice of Christ is merely a historical event that was completed within time, and not eternally forever? Scripture tells us that the sacrifice is eternal, and that it is proclaimed until he comes again.

Cor 11:23-29
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.

Saint Paul also tells us that when we partake of the Eucharist it is a sharing of the actual Body and Blood of Christ. This is directly associated with His eternal sacrifice.

1 Cor 10:16
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

We can also see that the Body that is being referred to in the Eucharist is the same as the Body that was given upon the cross. If one is to deny the literal Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist then they are also denying that same Body which was given upon the cross. The two cannot be separated, and so the sacrifice of the Eucharist is eternal. The same sacrifice is represented, or entered into, during the Mass.

Likewise Hebrews tells us that there is one sacrifice for the remission of sins, which is why the Church enters into that same eternal sacrifice every Divine Liturgy.

Heb 10:12
But this one (Jesus) offered one sacrifice for sins...

Heb 9:25-28
Not that he might offer himself repeatedly...

The Church has never taught that Christ re-sacrifices Himself in each Mass, which is what Turretin is trying to tell people on his blog. In fact Turretin Fan is grossly misrepresenting Catholic teaching when it comes to this topic. Turretin Fan is so caught up in his own intellect that for him, Christ's sacrifice is only a past historic event that happened around 2000 years ago. He has no faith to see the eternal sacrifice that Our Lord offered for us. He has no faith to see the divine nature of Christ, because if he did, he would never limit the sacrifice of Our Lord to a sliver of created time. Read the catechism, and what it teaches about Our Lord's sacrifice.

Catechism Section 1085
In the Liturgy of the Church, it is principally his own Paschal mystery that Christ signifies and makes present. During his earthly life Jesus announced his Paschal mystery by his teachings and anticipated it by his actions. When his Hour comes, he lives out the unique event of history which does not pass away: Jesus dies, is buried, rises from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Father "once for all." His Paschal mystery is a real event that occurred in our history, but it is unique: all other historical events happen once, and then they pass away, swallowed up in the past. The Paschal mystery of Christ, by contrast, cannot remain only in the past, because by his death he destroyed death, and all that Christ is -- all that he did and suffered for all people -- participates in the divine eternity, and so transcends all times while being made present in them all.

Catechism Section 1104
Christian liturgy not only recalls the events that saved us but actualizes them, makes them present. The Paschal mystery of Christ is celebrated, not repeated. It is the celebrations that are repeated, and in each celebration there is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that makes the unique mystery present.

This divine aspect of Our Lord and Savior's sacrifice is completely lost in the heretical mindset of the Calvinist. They only believe what they can see, touch and feel. For these Protestant "Reformers" to constantly misrepresent the Catholic faith is a travesty indeed. Below, I look at a few Church Fathers to see if they also viewed the Divine Liturgy as entering into the same eternal sacrifice of Our Lord in which the Eucharist becomes the Body and Blood of Christ offered up for us.

Saint Justin Martyr around the year 150 wrote,
For we do not receive these as common bread and common drink; but just as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have learned that the food over which thanks has been given by the prayer of the word which comes from him, [see 1 Cor 11: 23-26; Lk 22; 19] and by which are blood and flesh are nourished through a change, is the Flesh and Blood of the same incarnate Jesus.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem in his Mystagogic Catechesis wrote
In the Old Covenant there were loaves of proposition [the bread of the presence], but they being of the Old Covenant, have come to an end. In the New Covenant there is a heavenly bread and a cup of salvation that sanctify the body and soul. For as the bread exists for the body, so the Word is in harmony with the soul. Therefore, do not consider them as bare bread and wine; for according to the declaration of the Master, they are Body and Blood. If even the senses suggest this to you [viz. that they are only bread and wine], let faith reassure you. Do not judge the reality by taste but, having full assurance from faith, realize that you have been judged worthy of the Body and Blood of Christ.

St. Serapion of Thmuis in 339 writes,
Thus we offer bread, celebrating the likeness of His death and we implore You, O God of Truth, to reconcile us to all and have mercy on us through this sacrifice...

These are only a few snapshots of what the early Fathers through about the Divine Liturgy and the Eucharistic presence in the eternal sacrifice. The Catholic Church has always taught that the Divine Liturgy allows us to enter into the one eternal sacrifice of Christ, despite what the "Reformers" would have you believe.

Saint John Chrysostom writing in the fourth century sums up what Catholics believe about the Eucharist, the Divine Liturgy, and the one sacrifice that we enter into in every Catholic Church, every day.
"What then? Do we not offer daily? Yes, we offer, but making remembrance of his death; and this remembrance is one and not many. How is it one and not many? Because this sacrifice is offered once, like that in the Holy of Holies. This sacrifice is a type of that, and this remembrance a type of that. We offer always the same, not one sheep now and another tomorrow, but the same thing always. Thus there is one sacrifice. By this reasoning, since the sacrifice is offered everywhere, are there, then, a multiplicity of Christs? By no means! Christ is one everywhere. He is complete here, complete there, one body. And just as he is one body and not many though offered everywhere, so too is there one sacrifice" (Homilies on Hebrews 17:3(6) [A.D. 403]).

Monday, August 3, 2009

The New Overhauled CatholicChampion.com



I have just done some extensive work on my Catholic Champion main website. I have longer articles posted on it as well as many sermons from the FSSP priests in Sarasota, Florida. The website was the flagship of my apologetics work. I have however in recent times spent more time on the Catholic Champion blog, in an effort to put together as many resources for Catholics as possible. In the near future I will try to closely integrate the two sites so that it will be easier to find the information on Catholicism that you are looking for.

I will incorporate website links and blog links in tighter categories so it will be easier to navigate. It is my intention to provide as many reliable resources as possible pertaining to the Catholic faith, so that you can read and investigate the Catholic Church on your own. It is time consuming for many folks to search for reliable and orthodox Catholic material on the internet. It is my effort to provide a resource for people who want a convenient place to link to the Catholic online world. If you have any suggestions please drop by and let me know. This is always a work in progress.