Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween: Fr. John Hardon


Its that time of year again. Here is what the late, great theologian Fr. John Hardon had to say about Halloween. Below are a few excerpts from the full article, which is linked below as well. I recommend reading it. The bold type is my emphasis. Enjoy!

From Fr. John Hardon's "The Real Meaning of Halloween"

The bottom line is that Halloween is a return of unqualified paganism into cultures where Protestantism has de-Catholicized a nation and removed one of the clearest signs of an authentic Catholic mentality, namely, the veneration of the Saints.

I have a short paragraph conclusion: Our responsibility. Halloween has become so built into our national culture that it is simply taken for granted. Almost nobody knows or seems to care about this return of a pagan custom into what was once a Christian nation. Our responsibility is to do whatever we can to restore Halloween. What am I saying? And I’m being taped, to top it off: To restore Halloween to its Catholic place in the Church’s calendar. How? Know the Saints. As John Calvin wrote and he is the genius behind Protestantism: there are no saints, there are no saints. To invoke the saints - this once so called Protestant confession after another - to invoke the saints is blasphemy!

Know The Saints: Promote Their Writings

Our Catholic responsibility: Know the Saints who we do believe in and at least, even one small book on the life of, either a saint or, of the saints, say, of the calendar year. Know the Saints. Promote the writings of the Saints. They have written extensively. Publicize the Lives of the Saints. This is not an exaggeration. Before my ordination, and it’s just as well I did not have a Xerox machine or some other way of making copies; I would write them out on little cards that I would, then, use as I have over the years - over 5,000 quotations from the saints before my ordination.

Use Halloween to Restore Saints in Our Lives And in History

And one last recommendation: Use the occasion of Halloween to restore Saints to their place in our lives and National History. And I thank you for the opportunity of speaking on Halloween, as Halloween really should be spoken of - as the Vigil of All the Saints. Thank you for listening. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Protestants Using Scripture To Deceive.


Saint Vincent of Lerins.


There is nothing new under the sun. The old tricks of heretics using Sacred Scripture to deceive people into swallowing a false gospel has been used since Christ established His Church. A great writing to read is Saint Vincent of Lerin's, Commonitorium, written in the 5th century. In it he covers Scripture and Tradition, as well as the authority of the Catholic Church. Chapter 25 however really gives us a perfect representation of the Protestant heretics. The great Saint warns us that the most crafty tool that heretics use to deceive people is the Sacred Scriptures. Unlike true Christians, who hold to the authentic interpretations of the Church, the Protestants twist and contort the Scriptures to their own destruction.

Using Scripture to deceive people like the "Reformer" does, is truly the most heinous act a person can ever commit. How many times have we heard the Protestant heretics cry, Scripture, Scripture, Scripture? They hail the authority of Scripture yet reject the authority of God and His Church, which can never be separated from Holy Writ. Let us not be surprised then that those who claim to be lovers of the Scriptures actually lie and deceive with them. There is no craftier or easier way to deceive people than to use the Scriptures as a tool do it with. Instead of humbly reading the Scriptures in Christ Jesus, we see them spend hours digging through the Scriptures like vultures in order to twist the Holy Scriptures from their true meaning. They do this in order to make their heresies more palatable to the unsuspecting tongue! Let us look at Chapter 25 of Saint Vincent's Commonitorium. If we read the Saint's writing, we can see how perfectly Protestantism falls into his description. Fear not, we have God, His Church, and His Saints to protect us from such villains. I bold typed the texts that caught my eye.


[64.] Here, possibly, some one may ask, Do heretics also appeal to Scripture? They do indeed, and with a vengeance; for you may see them scamper through every single book of Holy Scripture—through the books of Moses, the books of Kings, the Psalms, the Epistles, the Gospels, the Prophets. Whether among their own people, or among strangers, in private or in public, in speaking or in writing, at convivial meetings, or in the streets, hardly ever do they bring forward anything of their own which they do not endeavour to shelter under words of Scripture. Read the works of Paul of Samosata, of Priscillian, of Eunomius, of Jovinian, and the rest of those pests, and you will see an infinite heap of instances, hardly a single page, which does not bristle with plausible quotations from the New Testament or the Old.

[65.] But the more secretly they conceal themselves under shelter of the Divine Law, so much the more are they to be feared and guarded against. For they know that the evil stench of their doctrine will hardly find acceptance with any one if it be exhaled pure and simple. They sprinkle it over, therefore, with the perfume of heavenly language, in order that one who would be ready to despise human error, may hesitate to condemn divine words. They do, in fact, what nurses do when they would prepare some bitter draught for children; they smear the edge of the cup all round with honey, that the unsuspecting child, having first tasted the sweet, may have no fear of the bitter. So too do these act, who disguise poisonous herbs and noxious juices under the names of medicines, so that no one almost, when he reads the label, suspects the poison.

[66.] It was for this reason that the Saviour cried, "Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing
, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." Matthew 7:15 What is meant by "sheep's clothing"? What but the words which prophets and apostles with the guilelessness of sheep wove beforehand as fleeces, for that immaculate Lamb which takes away the sin of the world? What are the ravening wolves? What but the savage and rabid glosses of heretics, who continually infest the Church's folds, and tear in pieces the flock of Christ wherever they are able? But that they may with more successful guile steal upon the unsuspecting sheep, retaining the ferocity of the wolf, they put off his appearance, and wrap themselves, so to say, in the language of the Divine Law, as in a fleece, so that one, having felt the softness of wool, may have no dread of the wolf's fangs. But what says the Saviour? "By their fruits you shall know them;" that is, when they have begun not only to quote those divine words, but also to expound them, not as yet only to make a boast of them as on their side, but also to interpret them, then will that bitterness, that acerbity, that rage, be understood; then will the ill-savour of that novel poison be perceived, then will those profane novelties be disclosed, then may you see first the hedge broken through, then the landmarks of the Fathers removed, then the Catholic faith assailed, then the doctrine of the Church torn in pieces.

[67.] Such were they whom the Apostle Paul rebukes in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, when he says, "For of this sort are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ." 2 Corinthians 11:12 The apostles brought forward instances from Holy Scripture; these men did the same. The apostles cited the authority of the Psalms; these men did so likewise. The apostles brought forward passages from the prophets; these men still did the same. But when they began to interpret in different senses the passages which both had agreed in appealing to, then were discerned the guileless from the crafty, the genuine from the counterfeit, the straight from the crooked, then, in one word, the true apostles from the false apostles. "And no wonder," he says, "for Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. It is no marvel then if his servants are transformed as the servants of righteousness." Therefore, according to the authority of the Apostle Paul, as often as either false apostles or false teachers cite passages from the Divine Law, by means of which, misinterpreted, they seek to prop up their own errors, there is no doubt that they are following the cunning devices of their father, which assuredly he would never have devised, but that he knew that where he could fraudulently and by stealth introduce error, there is no easier way of effecting his impious purpose than by pretending the authority of Holy Scripture.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Akathist Hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary


On my Theology of the Liturgy blog I have posted on the Akathist hymn to the Theotokos. As all Catholic liturgical prayers, they are steeped in authentic, orthodox, Catholic theology.

Turretin Fan Corrected by Paul Hoffer: St. Augustine, Merit and the Church

I had some time to catch up on my blog reading. You really have to read this great post by Paul Hoffer pertaining to merit, as it is taught by the Catholic Church, and in the theology of St. Augustine. Turretin Fan once again failed to represent Catholic teaching, and St. Augustine correctly. Mr. Hoffer composed a great response in a charitable effort to correct Mr. Fan.

A "Reformed" Protestant and His Vibe, Confirms The 66 Book Canon


A few days back I commented on a guy who calls himself Turretin Fan. He is a "Reformed" apologist who spends a great deal of his time on the internet attacking Catholics, and the Catholic Church with lame charges. One of his followers that frequently leaves comments on his blog site, recently commented as to why he thinks that he knows why the 66 book Biblical Canon is the correct one. It is truly one of the most absurd arguments ever recorded on the blogosphere. It is all about the emotional feeling, or the vibe he gets when he reads the Protestant 66 book canon. We should also note that Turretin Fan posted the writing on his blog after moderating it, and never thought to correct the poor guy on the matter. Maybe TF agrees with him on the matter, who knows? Here is what he had to say. There is not much I need to write about it. I just wanted to share with you yet another example of how misinformed and spiritually bankrupt these people are. I know that I poke a little fun at these guys, but we really need to pray for them. The guy who wrote this comment on Turretin Fan's blog calls himself Natamllc. I added my comments in between parentheses in bold type.

What makes these 66 Books of Scripture the Sacred Writ is the Fruit of the Spirit of God that comes with them.

It is the Spirit of God that manifests His Own Fruit by His Spiritual Presence upon the hearts of His Children. And it is this Self same Presence and Anointing that rests upon these 66 Books too.

I have a St. Joseph's Bible which has the additional writings. For me, I just find my spirit going cold reading it. I wonder why?

(We have to wonder what spirit is moving him. It certainly isn't a holy one, that is for sure. I can just imagine the earliest Fathers of the Church passing books back and forth asking each other, "How does this one feel to you?", the other one answering, "Its kind of cold, lets throw this one out!")

I can make this assertion as to why with the Words of the 66th Book of the Bible, which itself bears out the "Fruit" of the Sacredness and completeness of the Writings:::>

Rev 22:18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,
Rev 22:19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

(Does he not realize that this particular passage refers to the Book of Revelation? Also, he doesn't realize that if we are to apply this to the whole Biblical Canon, he is the one breaking what was written in Rev 22:18. Removing 7 books from the Canon based on how you feel apparently doesn't qualify for this guy.)

Since God is Living and Active and and has Emotion and He manifests His Own Fruit Sovereignly and since I am continually eating and drinking the Fruit of His Living and Active Word, daily, I find His intimate Presence is not with me when reading the St. Joseph texts of 73 books though His intimate Presence is always with me when reading any number of Translations of the Bible containing only the texts of the 66 Books, I have to conclude He is expressing His Emotions by His Presence making it clear which Bible He wants me reading.

(God reveals what His Divine Revelation is, by people's emotions? I wonder if the early Church did the emotion test on each book to determine which books were and were not Scripture? Does Scripture tell us to follow our emotions to determine what truth is, and what it is not? What about Proverbs 28:26 "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool," But for this guy, it is all about him and his emotions, which he thinks are coming from God when he reads Scripture. He determines the Canon of God's Holy Writ by how he feels about it when he reads it. This poor man really needs prayer. When he reads the complete Bible he just doesn't get that warm fuzzy feeling like he does when he reads the abbreviated one. We can all imagine what state the Church would be in if we all went on how we felt about things, and ran the Church on our emotions. I also find it funny that he tells us that it makes no difference as to what translation he uses as long as it contains the 66 books in it! I guess as long as the title page says the name of the book on it, and the table of contents matches, you are good. It doesn't matter that the translation is no where near the original text in meaning or in textual accuracy. As long as it has 66 books in it, its fine with this guy. He is getting the vibe man, its all good. We can hear the Beach Boys singing now, "Good, good, good, good vibrations.....")

But whoever walks wisely will be delivered.

(We can see that a person who is going to try and determine the Biblical Canon by how they "feel" about it, is not walking wisely. He is simply delusional.)

You shall know them by their fruit.

(We can see the fruit that the "Reformers" have left in their wake over the last 500 years or so, and there is no good fruit to be found. But as long as they feel good about it emotionally, then its good enough for them. I'm picking up bad vibes man. Pray for these guys.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Splendor in Miami Lakes!

The Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Miami Lakes, Florida, recently had more iconography work done in their church. I had the pleasure of visiting the church this past weekend and I took a few pictures to share with you. The woodwork and iconography on the iconostasis is stunning. But what really caught my eye was the dome. The Pantokrator ("Almighty" or "All-powerful") gazing down is certainly breathtaking. I also love the Theotokos in the apse, which is also quite a site to behold. This church is certainly a testimony to the use of sacred images as prescribed by the Seventh Ecumenical Council. The Church in her unity, with one voice, anathematized those who would dare to condemn the use of sacred images in the Church.











The acclamations after the Seventh Ecumenical Council 787.

The holy Synod cried out: So we all believe, we all are so minded, we all give our consent and have signed. This is the faith of the Apostles, this is the faith of the orthodox, this is the faith which hath made firm the whole world. Believing in one God, to be celebrated in Trinity, we salute the honourable images! Those who do not so hold, let them be anathema. Those who do not thus think, let them be driven far away from the Church. For we follow the most ancient legislation of the Catholic Church. We keep the laws of the Fathers. We anathematize those who add anything to or take anything away from the Catholic Church. 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.

The Bible is Like a Pizza?? Avoid the Noid! Turretin Fan Vs Common Sense




The absurd arguments from the "Reformers" these days just get loonier as they realize they have no real truth to offer anyone. Their arguments are absurd, yet they hail themselves as intellectual geniuses. This guy who has chosen to title himself, "Turretin Fan" is now comparing the Bible to a pizza. What next, the Church to Little Caesars? You have to wonder when this guy will finally get a clue. How many times does this guy have to be refuted before he packs up and goes home? I guess we have to give him an A for persistence, but yet another F in substance. Here is what he wrote in reference to a comment I made about the Biblical Canon. As we know the Bible did not come with a table of contents to tell us what books are supposed to be in it. It took a long period of time for the Church to develop the New Testament, for example. The Catholic Bible has 73 books in the canon, while the Protestants rejected 7 of them giving them only 66 books. We know that true Christians look to Christ, His Church and the Holy Spirit to give us authentic oral and written Divine Revelation. The Catholic Church of course is Christ's Church who is able to recognize God's written Word for what it is. Turretin Fan however has another solution to the Biblical Canon. He says since it exists, then we know what it is. The only problem with his argument is, he doesn't know what it is.

Turretin Fan wrote the following,
"If you have "the Bible" you can deduce the canon. To say that "The Bible doesn't tell you what the Canon is," is rather like saying that the Pizza doesn't tell you what its ingredients are. Well, there may not be a list of ingredients on the side, but if you have the pizza you can write your own list of ingredients."


This is laughable. I can't believe anyone would make such an argument and take themselves as seriously as this guy takes himself. So I guess this guy thinks that the Bible fell out of the sky with gold ribbon tied to it telling us, "This is the Bible." This guy doesn't realize that the "Bible" he is using doesn't contain all of the books that the Church has recognized as being Scripture. So now he compares the Scriptures to a pizza. Just when you think you have seen it all. So I guess if someone walks up to you and hands you a "Bible", you should just take their word for it that it is God's Written Word, right? So I guess if the pizza guy were to walk up to Turretin Fan's house with a pizza box that contained only half of a pizza in it, he would be perfectly happy. Hey, its a pizza, its not a whole one, but who cares, its a pizza.

This guy is too absurd to take seriously. I really cannot devote anymore time to his lunacy. Maybe Turretin Fan should get a job delivering pizzas rather than aggravating people on the internet with his lame arguments. I wonder if his customers would be happy with half of a pizza in the box? I think he would have some angry people on his hands. He would quickly be labeled "the Noid!" We know that the Bible has 73 books in it because Christ tells us so through His Church. If the Noid comes up to you telling you that it has only 66 books, then it obviously isn't a complete Bible, or if we want to use this guy's analogy, it isn't a whole pizza, despite what the box says. It is my recommendation to "Avoid the Noid!" Trust Christ and His Church!



Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pope Benedict Makes A Wise Move For Unity With Anglicans


Many news agencies around the world have picked up on today's press release from the Vatican concerning the Anglican Church today. So far the official Apostolic Constitution that explains what exactly the Vatican is going to allow has yet to be released. That however has not kept these news agencies and private blogs from forming their own opinions about the issue. The official press release is found here on the Vatican website. I recommend reading that instead of these crazy news articles. From what the press release says, this action will not be much different from what has happened in the past with smaller groups of Anglicans coming into communion with Rome. The press release tells us that an Apostolic Constitution will allow a certain structure to be put in place for Anglican clergy and their churches to come into full communion with Rome.

The release reads, "this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony." So it appears that everything will still run through Rome, though there will be a structure provided for them so they can use their liturgies and so forth. We also see that none of the heretical teachings will be accepted, such as the ordination of women, etc, since obviously the Church can never change such teachings. So all the Anglican clergy will have to submit to every teaching the Catholic Church teaches. Also not everything that they entertain in their Anglicanism will be retained, only that which falls in line with Catholicism. The release stated, "Insofar as these traditions express in a distinctive way the faith that is held in common, they are a gift to be shared in the wider Church." There are some reports trying to use this information to disrupt relations with such groups as the SSPX who the Vatican is also trying to work with for full communion. I doubt this move will be of any consequence to these talks that are about to begin with them. Pope John Paul II did a similar move on a much smaller scale back in 1982. I await the new Apostolic Constitution that will explain this proposed Anglican structure.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Iconoclastic worship is self-centered worship.


Until my new blog, "The Theology of the Liturgy" becomes better known, I will put up a post here referring you to new posts that I put up on that blog. I created the new blog to compile information and articles specifically dealing with liturgical worship in the Church. My latest blog post takes a look at iconoclasm, and its effects on Christian worship. I think its time we tear down the hideous 70s paneling and give God the glory He deserves!


Picture from 'coldbrightday.blogspot.com'

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bishop Frank J. Dewane Makes First Confirmations at Christ the King, Sarasota Fl.




On October the 14th at 6:30PM, Bishop Frank J. Dewane made another historical moment in the Diocese of Venice, Florida. He confirmed seven at the Chapel of Christ the King in Sarasota; a chapel which was given by the bishop for the sole purpose of celebrating the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. The confirmations were followed by a low Mass, celebrated by Fr. James Fryar FSSP. The chapel is run by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, and has been growing steadily since its inception in April of this year. We give thanks to Bishop Dewane for all of his help and support! Here are a few photos from the event.

Fr. Brian Austin FSSP and Fr. James Fryar FSSP converse in the sacristy before the event.


"The Most Illustrious", Bishop Frank J Dewane processes to the altar.

















Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Podcast Sermon: Fr James Fryar on Scandal.


Visit iTunes and download the latest sermons by Fr. James Fryar FSSP, as well as other Catholic Champion podcast episodes. Go to the Itunes store and then search in the top right hand box for Catholic Champion. You can subscribe or just download the episodes that interest you. If you don't have iTunes then you can download it here for Windows or Mac OS.




Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Church Alone, and All That! A Brief Explanation of the Catholic Church.


Many Protestants try and force Catholics into admitting a false doctrine of “Sola Ecclesia.” Protestant apologists desperately try to pit the Scriptures against the Catholic Church, as if the two somehow oppose each other. Of course this comes from a misconception of Catholic Ecclesiology. The Catholic Church does not hail itself as a ruler over the Scriptures. In fact the Church serves the Sacred Scriptures, and the Church preserves Holy Writ from erroneous interpretation. But, in order for us to understand this, we need to take a look at Christ Himself, and how He decided to communicate His Divine Revelation to us. This is crucial to understand. Because if we assume something wrong in the beginning, then the error is all the more destructive in the end. Using my limited knowledge and talents, I will attempt to explain the definition of the Catholic Ecclesial structure. I have used the document titled Dei Verbum to help me along in this venture. This is by no means an exhaustive explanation. It is intended not to make one an expert on the subject, but to merely inform the reader as to the basic role and nature of the Church.



Catholics believe that Christ alone is the author of our faith. It is He who communicates Himself, the Divine Word, to us through His Divine Revelation. Christ did not teach a doctrine per se, He taught Himself. We know this not because Scripture alone tells us so, but because it is so, as it has been proclaimed by the living Church, long before the New Testament was ever finished. The Church is the hand, or instrument of God, which is guided by the Holy Spirit. It is not just a visible hierarchy of bishops, priests and laymen. It is not just an invisible group of like-minded believers. It is the hand of God, guiding and proclaiming His Word, by His authority. The Church has a human, corporeal nature, and a spiritual nature, just as Christ has a human and divine nature. The then Cardinal Ratzinger, further expounds, “The Church is much more than an organization: it is the organism of the Holy Spirit, something that is alive, that takes hold of our inmost being.” (15 September 2001)

Yes, Scripture gives us a written testimony to this truth. But it is not this circular argument that the Catholic needs to prove this. Protestants try and force upon the Catholic a circular argument to explain this connection between the Church and Sacred Scripture. Even without this written testimony, this fact was still known to all believers. It is a fact that there was no New Testament canon for the better part of 300 years after Christ's ascension into heaven. The Church operated with the Old Testament Scriptures under the authority of the apostles, who conveyed the Gospel of Christ, the Word. This was done in an oral fashion. We call this the Oral Kerygma, or oral Tradition, some of which was later written down. The Holy Spirit guided the apostles to convey God's Word infallibly. Dei Verbum explains this historical fact,

“This commission was faithfully fulfilled by the Apostles who, by their oral preaching, by example, and by observances handed on what they had received from the lips of Christ, from living with Him, and from what He did, or what they had learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The commission was fulfilled, too, by those Apostles and apostolic men who under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing.”


As the document further explains, the Church spread from place to place under the authority of the apostles, they in turn passed down their apostolic authority to others who carried on proclaiming the same Word infallibly, by the same guidance of the Holy Spirit. This was clearly understood by Christians of the time. Read Saint Irenaeus (Adversus Haereses) for historical evidence. Every ancient Church claims this apostolic connection with Christ. That includes all Catholic, Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches. As the New Testament was written, their reading became part of the liturgical practices of different Christian communities. Not all of these communities however had every book. Some used books that would not end up in the canon like I Clement, and some even rejected some books that would later be accepted, like some of the non-Pauline Epistles.

As the New Testament was settled upon, the Church used them as a Written witness as to how the Church began, and how it operated in its infancy in various places. The Church also recognized the New Testament as an authority, since it is the written Word of God. The Church did not invent the Scriptures. God had given an Oral Kerygma, guided by His Holy Spirit to faithfully, and infallibly give Divine Revelation, and now he likewise had inspired His chosen authors to write infallibly His written Word, which we now know as the New Testament Scriptures. Many Protestants claim that the establishment of the New Testament replaced all need for Oral Kerygma, or oral Tradition. For the Protestant, the age of the apostles essentially died after this historic event. This however was never the case. The Church continued to operate under the same apostolic authority that Christ had instituted from the outset. Dei Verbum tells us, “And so the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved by an unending succession of preachers until the end of time.” Nowhere in Christian history do we see any group of Christians claiming that once the New Testament had been finished, that Oral Kerygma stopped, or the age of the apostles had died. The Church was still the same mouthpiece of God that she had always been. The Scriptures are the written Word of God, but the Oral Word never ceased to exist, as if it had been replaced by the written. The written Word of God also never mentions such an event taking place. This is a major problem for the Protestant, since there is no written, historical evidence that proves that any such event ever took place.



Instead the Scriptures give testimony to both an oral and written Word, as both being the normative wellspring of Revelation. Saint Paul spoke of this in 2nd Thessalonians. Dei Verbum echoes this thought, “Therefore the Apostles, handing on what they themselves had received, warn the faithful to hold fast to the traditions which they have learned either by word of mouth or by letter (see 2 Thess. 2:15), and to fight in defense of the faith handed on once and for all (see Jude 1:3)” The early writers of the Church also give testimony to the authority of the church, the authority of the Scriptures and the authority of Oral Tradition. The Church serves Christ the Word in His entirety, and never elevates herself above Christ. By her very nature she cannot do this, because she is just as much a part of Christ's Divine Institution as Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. They cannot be separated or placed above one another, just as the Holy Trinity cannot be separated or placed in a hierarchical pyramid above one another. Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are one in the same substance, which is that of Divine Revelation. Once again we look to Dei Verbum to explain.

“Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For Sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, while sacred tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity, so that led by the light of the Spirit of truth, they may in proclaiming it preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known. Consequently it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.(6)”


It is a mistake for Protestants to cry, “Sola Ecclesia!”, as if the Church were some human institution lording herself over God and His Scripture. Again, the then Cardinal Ratzinger quoting Romano Guardini, “To the extent that we look upon the Church as organization ... like an association ... we have not yet arrived at a proper understanding of it. Instead, it is a living reality and our relationship with it ought to be—life" The Church shares in the authority of God, nothing more. She is His servant and bride. The Church is the living entity that keeps us within the Body of Christ. This has been the traditional, and original understanding of the Church's structure and role. Hopefully Protestants will quit using the lame accusations of circular arguments, or viewing the Catholic Church as replica of worldly kingdoms and secular hierarchies to form their arguments. Again, I appeal to Dei Verbum to explain this.

“But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, (8) has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, (9) whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.”


For the Protestant, it is this living continuity with Christ that is missing. They have no living connection to Christ. They have removed His Written Word from His hands. This results in a false interpretation of the Church, and a false interpretation of the Scriptures. It denies the living development and renewal of the living Church. The Protestant tries to recreate the Church in their own image by reading the Scriptures and interpreting them outside of this living entity. They lack the very living organism that has guided believers since the time of Christ and His apostles. The development of the Church, and how she has reacted and proclaimed the Gospel throughout the ages is lost, and it is replaced with a figment of one's imagination. I will appeal a final time to Cardinal Ratzinger, who elaborates on the importance of a genuine Christian identity as being grafted into a living continuity with Christ.

“A body remains identical to itself over the course of its life due to the fact that in the life process it constantly renews itself...Whoever wants to attach himself solely to the literal interpretation of the Scriptures or to the forms of the Church of the Fathers imprisons Christ in "yesterday". The result is either a wholly sterile faith that has nothing to say to our times, or the arrogant assumption of the right to skip over 2,000 years of history, consign them to the dustbin of mistakes, and try to figure out what a Christianity would look like either according to Scripture or according to Jesus. The only possible result will be an artificial creation that we ourselves have made, devoid of any consistency. Genuine identity with the beginning in Christ can only exist where there is a living continuity that has developed the beginning and preserved the beginning precisely through this development” (Conference of Cardinal Ratzinger at the opening of the Pastoral Congress of the Diocese of Aversa (Italy) On the afternoon of 15 September 2001)




Of course we can move further into the theology of this Ecclesial body by explaining how Christ exercises His authority over His Revelation within His Church. We can examine how Christ works in the operation and life of the Church, within her liturgies, and in her apostolic hierarchy. This all of course presupposes an apostolic connection to Christ, in the office of the Bishop, which we touched upon earlier. The unifying element of Christ present in the Eucharist, is certainly an important element of the Church that we could touch on. This of course is what unites the Catholic and Orthodox Churches together in a very special way. Finally, we could also delve into the role of the Chair of Peter, and how the Pope is grafted into Christ in a special way. But this is all beyond the scope and intent of this post. Hopefully the information I have provided is able to get one familiar with the mindset of the Catholic Ecclesial structure. I regret not being able to delve into these areas, but due to the length of this post, I will have to save that for another time.



Finally we come to my conclusion. Understanding the basics of the Catholic Ecclesiastical structure is crucial in discussing doctrines like Sola Scriptura. If someone is using an entirely different definition of “Church”, while debating a doctrine like Sola Scriptura, much time will be wasted talking past each other. I will summarize the Church with an analogy that I like to use, although it is admittedly not a perfect one. If you have a glass of water with ice cubes in it, you have two forms of the same substance in the glass, water and ice. So it is with Scripture and Tradition. They are the same Divine Revelation, given to us in two different forms. The glass that holds the substance is Christ and His Church. Since that analogy is certainly lacking in completeness, I will close with a final word from Dei Verbum, to explain it in the words of the Church, and not my own.

“It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God's most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.”


Sources:
Dei Verbum

The Ecclesiology Of Vatican II-15 September 2001