Saint Thomas Aquinas

Monday, May 31, 2010

Podcast Sermon Fr. James Fryar FSSP- Trinity Sunday

Yesterday's sermon by Father James Fryar FSSP from Christ the King, Sarasota, Florida. Listen here or download at Catholic Champion on iTunes.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Icon: Windows to Heaven- Book Recommendations

Many Catholics in the West are not familiar with the origin of the Sacred Image and its use throughout Christendom. There are some great books on the subject which will illuminate your understanding from both the historical and theological points of view. The five books below are all excellent reads and are sure to enrich your Catholic faith and your understanding of Sacred Images. All of the books are easily found on Amazon or other places on the net.

1. A History of Icon Painting.  - L. Evseyeva 
    This book is richly illustrated as it goes through the complete history of icon painting from different regions of Christendom. This is one of my favorite books since it contains scholarly text along with great full color illustrations of the icons. It is 280 pages of pure splendor!

2. The Educating Icon- Anton C. Vrame.
I like this book because it covers the basic theological foundations of the use of the icon in Christendom. It covers the basic history of icons as well as the triumph of Orthodoxy in the East over iconoclasm. Iconic catechesis is also focused upon in this 200+page book.


3. The Icons of Their bodies- Henry Maguire.
This heavy and scholarly work is a must have you really want to dive into the icon. It covers the reason icons are written the way they are, the theological symbolism they contain, as well the likeness of the Saints in which they represent. It also examines many icons in depth and explains the significance of them in detail. It is heavily illustrated with black and white images, and the book is over 200 pages.



4. Early Attitude Towards Christian Images- Steven Bigham
If you think that the early Christians were iconoclasts, think again! This well researched history of the use of the Christian image is a great apologetic work to derail the iconoclastic nature of the "Reformed" flavor of Protestantism. It is 224 pages of well documented evidence of why the use of the icon is not only fitting to Christianity, it is obligatory to true worship.

5. Hidden and Triumphant- Irina Yazykova
I am a couple of chapters into this new book and so far it has been a great read. It starts off with a brief history and explanation of the icon, then heads into the history of the the icon in Russia and how they were preserved from the scourges of the militant iconoclastic assault of communism. 


Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Desacralization of the Holy Eucharist: Final Part IV-Renewal and Pastoral Considerations

The Desacralization of the Holy Eucharist (Against the “New Theologians”) Final Part
By Matthew James Bellisario 2010

Renewal and Pastoral Considerations

    After reading my assessment concerning this desacralization of the Eucharist in the modern Church, it is no wonder that Mass attendance has declined by almost 50% since Vatican II. Before Vatican II there was 65 to 75% Mass attendance. It has now dwindled to about 25 to 30%. (Index of Leading Catholic Indicators : The Church Since Vatican II) (12) It will be a challenge to restore Christ back to His rightful place in our liturgies. When this happens, the faithful will come back to Mass. It is important now to acknowledge changes that have taken place, and look forward to changes that will be coming, that will eventually return Our Savior to His rightful place in the Church and in the Mass.

    In July of 2007 Pope Benedict released his Apostolic Letter "Summorum Pontificum" which effectively reinstated the practice of Classical Roman Rite Mass, now called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Many bishops have followed the Pope's wishes by inviting groups like the ICK and the FSSP into their diocese to accommodate the ever growing demand for the Extraordinary Form. In Jan of 2008 Pope Benedict XVI removed the freestanding altar in the Sistine Chapel and celebrated the Novus Ordo liturgy ad-orientem on the original altar. Likewise, Bishops are starting to follow suit as Bishop Slattery in Tulsa has, following the Pope's example, returned to right orientation in the liturgy. The bishop stated in Sept 2009 (13), “Even before his election as the successor to St. Peter, Pope Benedict has been urging us to draw upon the ancient liturgical practice of the Church to recover a more authentic Catholic worship. For that reason, I have restored the venerable ad orientem position when I celebrate Mass at the Cathedral. This change ought not to be misconstrued as the Bishop “turning his back on the faithful,” as if I am being inconsiderate or hostile. Such an interpretation misses the point that, by facing in the same direction, the posture of the celebrant and the congregation make explicit the fact that we journey together to God. Priest and people are on this pilgrimage together.”

    It will take great effort and courage to return Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to his rightful place in the Mass. There will have to be an outright abolishment of this “new theology”, in light of the continuity that we must assent to regarding Vatican II, in light of the Church that lived and breathed this Sacred Mystery before the Council ever came to be. These changes will be the result of sound catechesis at the diocesan level. This sound catechesis, must be followed by the implementation of liturgical changes made by bishops who are willing to follow the Holy Father and take a stand for Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    We must also return without pause to sound philosophy in the Church, that of traditional Thomism. Pope Pius IX wrote about St. Thomas Aquinas extensively in Studiorum Ducem, "In a recent apostolic letter confirming the statutes of Canon Law, We declared that the guide to be followed in the higher studies by young men training for the priesthood was Thomas Aquinas... He alone enlightened the Church more than all other doctors; a man can derive more profit in a year from his books than from pondering all his life the teaching of others." Nothing less than this absolute return will regain stability to sacramental theology in the Church. The acceptance of modern philosophy has been disastrous for the Church, and it must be rejected at all cost for the salvation of souls! The “new theologian” is hopelessly lost in a state of subjective “reality” which can never be reconciled with the objective reality that Christ has given us in His Divine Revelation, promulgated by His Church. The “new theologian” is then at odds with the Church, and is her sworn enemy. As many have stated before, “the modern experiment has failed.” Pope Gregory IX, addressed to some theologians of his time: "Some among you, puffed up like bladders with the spirit of vanity strive by profane novelties to cross the boundaries fixed by the Fathers, twisting the meaning of the sacred text...to the philosophical teaching of the rationalists, not for the profit of their hearer but to make a show of science...these men, led away by various and strange doctrines, turn the head into the tail and force the queen to serve the handmaid." (Gregory IX Epist. ad Magistros theol. paris. July 7, 1223)

    It is now fitting to close with the words of the great theologian, Archbishop Fulton Sheen. “...the Mass is to us the crowning act of Christian worship. A pulpit in which the words of our Lord are repeated does not unite us to Him; a choir in which sweet sentiments are sung brings us no closer to His Cross than to His garments. A temple without an altar of sacrifice is non-existent among primitive peoples, and is meaningless among Christians. And so in the Catholic Church the altar, and not the pulpit or the choir or the organ, is the center of worship, for there is re-enacted the memorial of His Passion. Its value does not depend on him who says it, or on him who hears it; it depends on Him who is the One High Priest and Victim, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Calvary and the Mass) (14)
Bibliographical Notes
1. Thomas. Summa Theologica. Franklin Center, Pa.: Franklin Library, 1985. Print
2. Lang, Uwe Michael. Turning towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer. San Francisco: Ignatius, 2004. Print.
3. Benedict. The Spirit of the Liturgy. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius, 2000. Print.
4. Noll, Ray Robert. Sacraments: a New Understanding for a New Generation. Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 1999. Print.
5. Bausch, William J. A New Look at the Sacraments. Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 1983. Print.
6. Pope Paul VI, Lumen Gentium, 1964
7. Pope Paul VI, Presbyterorum Ordinis, 1965
8. Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, Dec 22nd, 2005,
9. Klein, Gregory L., and Robert A. Wolfe. Pastoral Foundations of the Sacraments: a Catholic Perspective. New York: Paulist, 1998. Print.
10. Canon II on the Eucharist, XIII Session Council of Trent1,1551
11. Reid, Alcuin. The Organic Development of the Liturgy: the Principles of Liturgical Reform and Their Relation to the Twentieth-century Liturgical Movement Prior to the Second Vatican Council. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius, 2005. Print.
12. Jones, Kenneth C. Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: the Church since Vatican II. Fort Collins, CO: Roman Catholic, 2003. Print.
13. Bishop Edward Slattery, Eastern Oklahoma Catholic,  2009
14. Sheen, Fulton J. Calvary and the Mass. New York: IVE, 2008. Print.

The Desacralization of the Holy Eucharist: Part III The Community or Self Worship?

The Desacralization of the Holy Eucharist (Against the “New Theologians”) Continued
By Matthew James Bellisario 2010


The Communal Aspect of Liturgy, Or Self Worship?

    It has been commonplace for those who have been trying to change Catholic liturgical theology to take documents of the Church out of context. There are a few reasons for this tactic. One reason is that it makes it appear as if the Church Council documents endorse their “new theology.” It is made possible in my opinion by the less concrete language used in composing today's Church documents. Since the Second Vatican Council, Church documents are not written in the same style or format they were written in before. Instead of  laying out canons and decrees in a linear format, Vatican II opted for a more pastoral format, written in essay form. Therefore it is important that one has a strong foundation in the Sacramental theology that existed before the Council, in order to really understand the theology of the newer documents. Pope Benedict XVI has called this the hermeneutic of continuity.

    The Pope now asserts that there is no “new theology”, and that we must interpret the Vatican II documents in light of the declarations by the Church which came before them. It is important to quote the Holy Father at length regarding this proper hermeneutic principle. “Well, it all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or - as we would say today - on its proper hermeneutics, the correct key to its interpretation and application...On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call "a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture"; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the "hermeneutic of reform", of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God...The nature of a Council as such is therefore basically misunderstood. In this way, it is considered as a sort of constituent that eliminates an old constitution and creates a new one.” (Address to the Roman Curia, Dec 22nd, 2005) (8)

    It is here that we have most of our problems today. We have a rupture of theological continuity by today's “new theologians.” This has carried over into the attitude in which we celebrate the Mass. This is turn has effected the way we view all of the Sacraments. We have now turned our attention away from the Lord and instead, have turned it upon ourselves. We no longer kneel to receive the King of Kings on our tongues in a sign of reverence. We take Him on our hands as if we were eating a mere piece of bread, rather than receiving the actual Body and Blood of Our Lord. Instead of using precious vessels for Our Lord, we see glass dinner ware being used as if we were merely at a casual dinner, and not the Eternal Sacrifice. 

    The community is now turned in upon itself, rather than turned to the Lord. Liturgical abuse after liturgical abuse is the result of, not only the loss of the sacrificial theology of the Mass, but the lack of belief that Christ is truly present in the Sacrament by Transubstantiation. We see terms used by these “new theologians” which arouse suspicion as to their adherence to the dogma of Transubstantiation, like Transfinalization, and Transignification, which Karl Rahner and Edward Schillebeeckx invented. They often refer to the Body of Christ as mere “bread and wine” or as Fr. Gregory Klien writes in his book, referring to the Eucharist after the epiclesis and institution narrative have taken place as, “Christ is sacramentally present in the bread and wine.” (Pastoral Foundations of the Sacraments, page 89) (9) Yet we know by divine faith that after the consecration there is no longer bread and wine present, but only Our Lord. “If any one saith, that, in the sacred and holy sacrament of the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denieth that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood-the species Only of the bread and wine remaining-which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation; let him be anathema.” (Canon II on the Eucharist, Council of Trent) (10) Could we really act with these irreverent attitudes if we really believed that Christ was actually present on the altar? If we were standing at the foot of the cross as Our Lord was being crucified, would we be so casual in our actions? Would we act as if we were only at a community meal with a group of friends? I think not.

    Fr. Gregory Klein writes in his book, Pastoral Foundations of the Sacraments, page 86, the following, “Eucharist begins with the assembly, the people gather in the name of Jesus Christ. While the details of the environment in which the people gather, the occasion on which people gather, and the manner in which people gather are not unimportant, eucharist is about people.” This is the prevailing mentality that modern theologians have today. Pope Benedict XVI however sees this theological position as being in complete contradiction to the true meaning of the liturgy and the Eucharist. “For the Liturgy is not about us, but about God. Forgetting about God is the most imminent danger of our age. As against this, the Liturgy should be setting up a sign of God's presence.” (The Organic Development of Liturgy, page 13) (11) Without first starting with the vertical assent to God, we have no true community. The efforts of these “new theologians” is clear; take the focus off of Jesus and move it to the people.

    To drive our point home we now return to Fr. Klein's book. Here we see the subtle, yet clear effort to change the focus of the Mass. On page 83 he quotes known dissenter Fr. Richard P. McBrien, “The ancient custom of reserving the eucharist for the sick and dying gradually led to the practice of placing tabernacles in churches, often on the altar, and the custom of eucharistic devotion tended to overshadow the actual celebration of the eucharist.” It is clear that these “new theologians”  view devotion to God in the  Blessed Sacrament as being an obstruction to true “Eucharistic” celebration! We have only to look yet again to the brilliant theologian, Pope Benedict XVI, to learn the proper response to this false accusation of this supposed “overshadowing” of Eucharistic devotion. “Thus adoration is not opposed to Communion, nor is it merely added to it. No, communion only reaches its true depths when it is supported and surrounded by adoration. The Eucharistic Presence in the tabernacle does not set another view of Eucharist alongside or against the Eucharist celebration, but simply signifies its complete fulfillment. For this Presence has the effect, of course, of keeping the Eucharist forever in the Church... A church without the Eucharistic Presence is somehow dead, even when it invites people to pray.” (Spirit of the Liturgy, page 90) Here we see the stark contrast of Eucharistic theologies presented here. They both cannot stand! The “new theologian” sees Eucharistic devotion as being a burden which overshadows the celebration of the liturgy, and the authentic theologian views it as being essential to its celebration and to its completion.


    Once again we see that Christ Himself is the target here. He is the One who has been moved away from the people in the churches today. No longer can we find the tabernacle in the Church on a side altar (most side altars have been chiseled out of the older churches by those in authority who have succumbed to this same mentality) or on the main altar, because they want Him uncrowned, dethroned, and moved into a side closet where He is no longer the focus of our worship or devotion. This “new theology” has infiltrated many Catholic parishes in our age. Personal emotional preferences have become the standard in which we celebrate liturgy. Hence we reflect back on the bad philosophy that is holding up this “new theology” that I presented in the beginning of this essay. How else can we explain the tolerance of such shenanigans as liturgical dance, which has been condemned by the Holy See? We do not have to look hard to find horrible music used in today's liturgy, which is not fitting to what is actually happening in the Mass. These acts of disobedience are numerous, even spilling over into the sacrament of Holy Orders. “New theologians” such as Ray R. Noll are still heretically calling for women to the priesthood. (Sacraments a New Understanding for a New Generation, page 168) I could quote Pope Benedict XVI ad nauseam on all of these issues, yet for these dissidents it is akin to the voice of St. John the Baptist crying in the wilderness, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Instead of heeding the call to repent, they instead cry out, “I will that forthwith thou give me in a dish, the head of John the Baptist.” (Mark 6:25)   

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Desacralization of the Holy Eucharist:Part II The Historical Deconstruction

The Desacralization of the Holy Eucharist (Against the “New Theologians”) Continued
By Matthew James Bellisario 2010


The Historical Deconstruction of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

    The first deconstruction of the Mass was based on a supposed return to the early Church. The scholars of the day thought they could recreate the early Church as if they had an infallible time machine, that was able to enlighten them as to how the early Church practiced the liturgy. This was one of the vehicles that the “new theologians” used to try and overthrow Christ from His rightful throne in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. No longer would there be an altar, but a table. Instead of the burial shroud, which the altar linens represented, we now had table cloths, as if we were attending a Sunday afternoon picnic, rather than coming to worship Christ as He gives Himself in a total sacrifice to God the Father for the forgiveness of our sins. Suddenly we have the priest facing the people rather than facing God, which we must admit was never promulgated by the Council itself, but by those who later took it upon their own initiative to turn their faces away from God. They took the focus off of Christ and His sacrifice to God the Father, and turned it upon the community itself. U.M. Lang's Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer (2) rightfully says, “There is nothing in the Council text about turning altars towards the people; that point is raised only in postconciliar instructions.” I share in Pope Benedict XVI's view on the orientation of the priest, which has nothing to do with facing toward or away from the people, but oriented with the people towards God, usually facing East if possible. This has been the standard practice of every documented Liturgical Rite since Christianity left the catacombs and the house churches up until the time period extending beyond the Second Vatican Council. It must be noted that there was no functioning Liturgical Rite in any of the 27 Rites of the Church, East or the West that celebrated the liturgy “facing the people,” before Vatican II. Now only the Novus Ordo and the Maronite Rites, follow such norms.

    Pope Benedict XVI says that the liturgical orientation of the priest together with the people facing God has existed from the beginning, and that liturgical orientation is not really an option. “Despite all the variations in practice that have taken place far into the second millennium, one thing has remained clear for the whole of Christendom: praying towards the East is a tradition that goes back to the beginning... a common turning to the East during the Eucharistic Prayer remains essential. This is not a case of something accidental, but of what is essential. Looking at the priest has no importance. What matters is looking together at the Lord. It is not now a question of dialogue, but of common worship, of setting off towards the One who is to come. What corresponds with the reality of what is happening is not the closed circle, but the common movement forward expressed in a common direction for prayer.” (The Spirit of the Liturgy, Cardinal Ratzinger) (3) It is my position then that the Pope  has understood this movement from priest to presider, priest to social worker, priest to community leader as being a crippled theology that has been introduced into the Church over recent years. Unfortunately many today reject what the Pope says with the an attitude of pure rebellion.

    Historical inaccuracies have also promulgated mass abandonment to Church hierarchy. Suddenly the battle cry for many after the Council became, “We are Church”. Clergy and laity alike abandoned the authority of Christ given to St. Peter in the passing on of His keys to the Church. The Church suddenly turned into a democracy where major tenets of the faith could be ignored or abandoned all together. Historians thought they could reinvent the Church by going back to the “pure” state of the early Church, which we must admit, only existed in the unbalanced figments of their crippled imaginations. Suddenly everything before Vatican II became the rigid, stagnant Church of Trent, which was to be rejected all together in favor of the “new theology.” We can see this attitude displayed in Ray R, Noll's book, Sacraments a New Understanding for a New Generation.(4) In his chapter on the Eucharist he openly downgrades the sacrificial aspect of the Mass by saying that it was a one sided approach. He paints a gradual development of the sacrificial aspect of the Mass, claiming that it went off the rails in the middle ages and was only brought back into proper perspective in light of Vatican II. Yet Noll never proves this premise. Noll uses one quote by St. Justin Martyr, who lived in the middle of the second century, as being a supposed first step to this wrongfully assumed long developing theology of sacrifice. He quotes noted liberal scholar William Bausch who states that when this sacrificial aspect took hold, it was only then that there became a “priesthood” instead of a leader who presided over a “meal.” (page 52) I must point out that Bausch is a well known dissenter from Catholic teaching. We have only to look at his book titled, A New Look at the Sacraments (5) to find his heretical attitude towards the priesthood, “In the early church, "significantly, there is no mention of anyone having the power 'to offer sacrifice', which would have been a foreign concept at this point," and “The crucifixion and death of Jesus replaced forever the need for any sacrifice or priesthood so "there was no reason for early Christianity to think in terms of priests.” (pages 246 and 249) It is precisely this movement from sacrifice to meal, priest to presider, that we begin to remove the crown from Our Beloved Savior.

    We can refute this line of thinking from the Sacred Scriptures themselves which date from the first century. If we look to Saint Paul in the book of Hebrews chapter 10 verses 10-12 we read, “10 We have an altar, whereof they have no power to eat who serve the tabernacle. 11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the holies by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. 12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered without the gate.” There is no denying the sacrificial nature of St. Paul's words in reference to Christ in the Eucharist. We can also see St. Paul draw a similar comparison in 1 Corinthians, 10:14-21 when he draws comparisons to Christ's sacrifice to the sacrifice the pagans were offering in his time.

    We can also put forth historical evidence to prove that not only was the sacrificial aspect of the Mass not slow in developing, it was an integral part of the early Eucharistic theology. Pope Clement I wrote around 80Ad, "Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and holily have offered its sacrifices.”  (Letter to the Corinthians 44:4–5 ). Ignatius of Antioch wrote in 110AD, "Make certain, therefore, that you all observe one common Eucharist; for there is but one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one cup of union with his Blood, and one single altar of sacrifice (Letter to the Philadelphians 4) Saint Irenaeus wrote in 189AD, "He took from among creation that which is bread, and gave thanks, saying, ‘This is my body.’ The cup likewise, which is from among the creation to which we belong, he confessed to be his blood. He taught the new sacrifice of the new covenant, of which Malachi, one of the twelve [minor] prophets, had signified beforehand: ‘You do not do my will, says the Lord Almighty, and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure sacrifice; for great is my name among the Gentiles, says the Lord Almighty’ [Mal. 1:10–11]. By these words he makes it plain that the former people will cease to make offerings to God; but that in every place sacrifice will be offered to him, and indeed, a pure one, for his name is glorified among the Gentiles" (Against Heresies 4:17:5 [A.D. 189]). Although I could go on ad nauseam to prove my point, I will conclude with St. Cyprian of Carthage writing around 253 AD,  "If Christ Jesus, our Lord and God, is himself the high priest of God the Father; and if he offered himself as a sacrifice to the Father; and if he commanded that this be done in commemoration of himself, then certainly the priest, who imitates that which Christ did, truly functions in place of Christ" (Letters 63:14 [A.D. 253]).

    I firmly state that it is therefore an act of intellectual dishonesty to lobby for a gradual development of the Catholic priesthood, and the gradual development of the Eucharistic Liturgy as being sacrificial in nature. It is firmly rooted in Biblical and Patristic Tradition from the earliest days of the Church. We must also realize that we do not depend upon historical sources alone for the truths of our faith, less we fall into the same errors of the “new theologians”. No, we listen to the Church herself through which Christ speaks. The Vatican II documents hold the same sacrificial aspect to the liturgical celebration in very explicit wording. Chapter Two of Lumen Gentium (6) states, “Taking part in the Eucharistic sacrifice, the source and summit of the Christian life, they offer the divine victim to God and themselves along with it.” Pope Paul VI wrote in his declaration Presbyterorum Ordinis (7) the following, “In the mystery of the Eucharistic sacrifice, in which priests fulfill their principal function, our redemption is continually carried out.”


(Stay Tuned for Part III)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Desacralization of the Holy Eucharist: Part I-Introduction

The Desacralization of the Holy Eucharist (Against the “New Theologians”)
By Matthew James Bellisario 2010




    Introduction

    Since the Second Vatican Council we have witnessed the widespread desacralization of the sacraments in the Catholic Church. There has been great dissent within the Catholic Church by scholars who proclaim themselves to be a part of a “new theology.” We could examine each sacrament and how the infiltration of this “new theology” has in effect caused this mass desacralization. For example, baptism is often taught to new catechumens as being only a sacrament of the community, while completely neglecting the Church's long defined irreformable teaching on original sin. This leads them to question the Church's baptism of infants, as well as the effects that the Sacrament itself has on the soul. Despite the benefit we would receive from studying how each sacrament has been effected in recent years, our point of focus must first start with the treatment of the Divine Savior Himself, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We must focus our attention as to how Christ Himself has been treated by these “new theologians” of the modern age. In order for us to understand what has happened to the rest of our sacramental theology, or loss of in recent years, I believe we must first start with Christ.

    Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote regarding the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the following, “Since the whole mystery of our salvation is comprised in this sacrament, therefore is it performed with greater solemnity than the other sacraments.” (Summa Theologiae, Tertia Pars, Q83, A 4) (1) Over the last 40 years or so there has been a drastic change in attitude towards Our Lord in this most Holy Sacrament. No longer is Christ the King of our Church, He has become Christ the social worker, Christ the psychologist, or Christ the revolutionary. In many parishes the Mass in its celebration no longer reflects what is actually happening in the Divine Liturgy. It no longer reflects Who it is that we receive in the Sacrament. We know in reading the Gospel of St. John, and by the infallible interpretation of this passage by the Church, that Christ gives us Himself in complete Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist. “For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him” (John 6:56-57) No longer do we bow down to give God the glory, honor and worship due to Him in the liturgy or in the Sacrament. Instead we now turn to ourselves as the primary focus of “liturgy.”

    It is easy to blame this turbulent upheaval of Eucharistic theology on the Second Vatican Council. Upon close examination however, we can see that this deconstructive attitude was alive and working behind the scenes well before the Council. We may even trace the rebellious roots back to the Protestant revolt of the 16th century and the following years of the so called “Enlightenment.” No, it was not the Council itself that spawned this desacralization, despite some who attended the Council who wanted this to happen; it was the Council that would be the victim of this “new theology.” It is the Council that would be hi-jacked by these “new theologians.” 

    The era after the Council became the era of learned scholars who suddenly knew more than Christ and the collective Magisterial Church of the past 2000 years. The arrogant “scholars” of the modern age sought to recreate their own vision of what the early Church was, and they tried to recreate how this early Church supposedly celebrated the liturgy of the Eucharist. In short, they tried to recreate God and the Church in their own image. This heavy reliance on historical criticism became a recipe for disaster. The mentality of modernism had now penetrated the minds of those inside the Church. This problem can also be attributed to the faulty philosophy of Descartes, Kant, Rousseau and later Nietzsche and others. They defined a “reality” where suddenly everything shifted away from objective truth; instead rationalism and subjectivism became the norm for determining “truth.” No longer was truth defined by the mind conforming to the object, but the object being conformed to the subjective perspective of the mind. This inferior philosophy was later mutated and carried into Protestantism by men like Soren Kierkegaard and Frederick Schleiermacher who taught that emotionalism was superior to rationalism. Catholicism did not escape these philosophical deficiencies. Thomistic philosophy was abandoned to deficient philosophers like Maurice Blondel who introduced his, “nouvelle théologie” in which freedom, action and emotion became the most important functions of religion. This outlines the foundation upon which the decline of  faith in modern society, and now sadly that decline in the Church is built upon.


Above: Maurice Blondel

(Stay tuned for Part II)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Early Evidence of the Eucharistic Sacrifice

It is common for Protestants to claim that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, or what is also know in the East as the Divine Liturgy, was a product of the middle ages. They claim that there was no sacrificial aspect to Christian worship. However if we look to the Scriptures and the early Church Fathers we see plainly that the Sacrificial aspect of the Liturgy was well understood. If we look to Saint Paul in the book of Hebrews chapter 10 verses 10-12 we read, “10 We have an altar, whereof they have no power to eat who serve the tabernacle. 11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the holies by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. 12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered without the gate.” There is no denying the sacrificial nature of St. Paul's words in reference to Christ in the Eucharist. We can also see St. Paul draw a similar comparison in 1 Corinthians, 10:14-21 with the sacrifice the pagans were offering in his time. 


We can also put forth more historical evidence to prove that not only was the sacrificial aspect of the Mass not slow in developing, it was an integral part of the early Eucharistic theology. Pope Clement I wrote around 80AD, "Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and holily have offered its sacrifices.” (Letter to the Corinthians 44:4–5 ). Ignatius of Antioch wrote in 110AD, "Make certain, therefore, that you all observe one common Eucharist; for there is but one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one cup of union with his Blood, and one single altar of sacrifice (Letter to the Philadelphians 4) Saint Irenaeus wrote in 189AD, "He took from among creation that which is bread, and gave thanks, saying, ‘This is my body.’ The cup likewise, which is from among the creation to which we belong, he confessed to be his blood. He taught the new sacrifice of the new covenant, of which Malachi, one of the twelve [minor] prophets, had signified beforehand: ‘You do not do my will, says the Lord Almighty, and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure sacrifice; for great is my name among the Gentiles, says the Lord Almighty’ [Mal. 1:10–11]. By these words he makes it plain that the former people will cease to make offerings to God; but that in every place sacrifice will be offered to him, and indeed, a pure one, for his name is glorified among the Gentiles" (Against Heresies 4:17:5 [A.D. 189]). 


Although I could go on ad nauseam to prove my point, I will end with St. Cyprian of Carthage writing around 253 AD, "If Christ Jesus, our Lord and God, is himself the high priest of God the Father; and if he offered himself as a sacrifice to the Father; and if he commanded that this be done in commemoration of himself, then certainly the priest, who imitates that which Christ did, truly functions in place of Christ" (Letters 63:14 [A.D. 253]). I firmly state that it is therefore an act of intellectual dishonesty to lobby for a gradual development of the Eucharist as a sacrifice. It is firmly rooted in Biblical and Patristic Tradition from the earliest days of the Church.

A Few Thoughts From the Church Fathers on Sacred Tradition

Here are a few thoughts from the Church Fathers to ponder as you start your week.



Saint Basil the Great


"Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or enjoined which are preserved in the Church some we possess derived from written teaching; others we have delivered to us in a mystery by the Apostles by the tradition of the Apostles; and both of these in relation to true religion have the same force"
Holy Spirit 27



"In answer to the objection that the doxology in the form 'with the Spirit' has no written authority, we maintain that if there is not other instance of that which is unwritten, then this must not be recieved. But if the great number of our mysteries are admitted into our constitution without written authority, then, in company with many others, let us recieve this one. For I hold it apostolic to abide by the unwritten traditions. 'I praise you,' it is said, 'that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances as I have delivered them to you;' and 'Hold fast the traditions which ye have been taught whether by by word, or our Epistle.' One of these traditions is the practice which is now before us, which they who ordained from the beginning, rooted firmly in the churches, delivering it to their successors, and its use through long custom advances pace by pace with time. If as in a court of Law, we were at a loss for documentary evidence, but were able to bring before you a large number of witnesses, would you not give your vote for our aquittal? I think so; for 'at the mouth of two or three witnesses shall the matter be established'. And if we could prove clearly to you that a long period of time was in our favour, should we not have seemed to you to urge you with reason that this suit ought not to be brought into court against us? For ancient dogmas inspire a certain sense of awe, venerable as they are with hoary antiquity"
Holy Spirit 71


Saint Gregory of Nyssa

"It suffices for proof of our statement that we have a tradition coming down from the Fathers, an inheritance as it were, by succession from the Apostles through the saints who came after them."
C. Eunomius 4:6


Saint Athanasius

"But after him (the devil) and with him are all inventors of unlawful heresies,who indeed refer to the Scriptures, but do not hold such opinions as thesaints have handed down, and receiving them as the traditions of men, err,because they do not rightly know them nor their power"
Festal Letter 2

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Is the Church Getting Tougher on Heretics?

Over the years many Catholics have gotten away with rejecting the Church's teachings in public forums with little or no formal opposition from the Church. Heretics in the Church have been able to get away with doing whatever they want despite the Church's clear teaching on such issues as abortion, contraception and woman's ordination. One lady however had a rude awakening before she recently lost her battle with cancer. Janine Denomme of Chicago is reported to have been ordained against the Church's clear teaching on the matter, and as a result she was refused a Catholic burial. This has caused an apparent uproar in the media. Yet would the media make a big deal out of a lady being kicked out of a Mosque for not wearing her head covering? I seriously doubt it. This exercise in authority is something we have not seen the Catholic Church do very often in recent times. This however should send out a clear message to those who think they can betray the Church to her face and expect to be given all of the privileges the Church offers.

An excerpt from the article reads,

"Archdiocese Canon lawyer Smilanic said the Cardinal had no choice. Janine knew that when she took her vows a month before she died. Her longtime partner, Nancy Katz, said that Janine was also aware that she risked being denied a formal church funeral.

"I don't think she believed the church would lack a pastoral sensibility," said Katz. "And what she said to me as we talked about her funeral wishes, 'I can't imagine having my funeral anywhere but my parish.' And yet she knew that there was a risk involved with heeding her call for ordination."
Here we see that she knew the risk she was taking in betraying the Church. Even someone who was this close to death still stood firm in their opposition to the Church, and went ahead with being "ordained" despite the Church's repeated warnings and pleadings to those who seek to do such things. It is apparent that being buried in good standing with the Church was not as important to her as her personal crusade to push the impossibility of woman's ordination. It is plain that the pastoral thing to do here is to not allow people to openly defy the Church and not receive the consequences that come with it. Hopefully it will cause others to think twice about doing this sort of thing, so their souls will not be put at risk of eternal damnation. We can only hope Janine's soul was not lost because of this obstinate rejection of Church teaching.

Unfortunately this kind of response should have been applied to many heretics who have betrayed the Church by openly defying her teachings and moral commandments. We all know that Ted Kennedy should have not been allowed to be buried in the Catholic Church after publicly spitting in the face of the Church for decades over crucial moral questions such as the support of abortion. There are countless others who have gotten away with open dissent to the detriment of other souls who imitated their behavior. Hopefully this will set a new trend with other bishops throughout the world.

Catholic and Russian Orthodox Moving Closer

The relations between the Russian Orthodox and the Catholic Churches have been growing closer in recent years, primarily since the election of Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican is having a day of celebration for Russian spirituality and culture this week. The Vatican will also be publishing a book by the Patriarch of Moscow Krill, titled Liberty and Responsibility in the Search of Harmony. The dialog has gone positively in both directions. In 2009 one of Pope Benedict's books was welcomed in Russia by the Orthodox Patriarch. The unity between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches is certainly important for evangelizing the torn Protestant world struggling to survive in its doctrinal uncertainty. 


While as we know, the Catholic Church is the true Church founded on Christ, the Orthodox can be considered Churches in the truest sense, separated by a few doctrinal differences, and in my opinion a host of exaggerated perceived differences. Yet their priesthood and apostolic succession has remained in tact with the validity of their Sacraments including the Eucharist, which in my opinion has been the reason why they remain as close to Catholic unity as they have. The Eucharist and the Sacraments have been the ultimate difference between their doctrinal uniformity and the Protestant deluge of doctrinal upheaval experienced since the pretended "Reformation"  which has now produced the likes of homosexual "bishops", women "priests", their love affair with artificial contraception, the invention of many doctrinal forms of Justification and Sanctification, the many opinions of what Baptism really is, etc. This has all come about by the selfish abuse of the Sacred Scriptures. 


Recently there have been others signs of dialog between Moscow and Rome when Metropolitan Filaret met Cardinal Severeino in Turin, Italy when they both visited the Shroud of Turin. In 2009 the Pope met the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos and the Pope met Patriarch Bartholomew in 2006. It is my hope that there will come about some great theological discussions in the future between the two. As the two grow closer it will undoubtedly cause many Protestants to gravitate towards the true Church where one can find doctrinal certitude concerning Divine Revelation. When one starts to actually study the history of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches in any depth and realizes the historic certainty of the priesthood, apostolic succession and the Real Presence of the Holy Eucharist, an honest person seeking the Truth could never remain a Protestant. Let us pray for the unity of the Church.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

World's Plan to Attack Pope Backfires

With all of the media attacks against the Pope over the past several months it seems that there efforts have been thwarted as over 150,000 strong appear in St. Peter's Square in the rain to support the Pope's efforts to clean up the scandal in the Church. 

A crowd estimated by the Vatican at 150,000 filled St. Peter's Square on Sunday in a major show of support for Pope Benedict XVI over the clerical sex abuse scandal.

Such large crowds are usually reserved for major holiday Masses and canonizations, not for Benedict's brief Sunday blessings from his studio window. The crowd interrupted Benedict frequently with applause and shouts of "Benedetto!" and the pontiff himself strayed from his prepared remarks to thank them again and again.

"Thank you for your presence and trust," he said. "All of Italy is here."

Rome's center-right Mayor Gianni Alemanno was in the crowd, along with other pro-Vatican Italian officials.

"We want to show our solidarity to the pope and transmit the message that single individuals make mistakes but institutions, faith and religion cannot be questioned," Alemanno told Associated Press Television News. "We will not allow this."




Read the entire article here. 

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The World is Everything and God is Nothing

If you want to get spiritually motivated, then the sermons of St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars, will most certainly do the trick. For those Catholics who have long been removed from the Church, as well as those in the Church who pay more attention to the world than to God, this little gem should be a wakeup call! It is certainly easy to get wrapped up in the things of the world and find our spiritual life slipping. Let us do more for God and less for the world. 

The World is Everything and God is Nothing


If people would do for God what they do for the world, my dear people, what a great number of Christians would go to Heaven! But if you, dear children, had to pass three or four hours praying in a church, as you pass them at a dance or in a cabaret, how heavily the time would press upon you! If you had to go to a great many different places in order to hear a sermon, as you go for your pastimes or to satisfy your avarice and greed, what pretexts there would be, and how many detours would be taken to avoid going at all. But nothing is too much trouble when done for the world. What is more, people are not afraid of losing either God or their souls or Heaven. With what good reason did Jesus Christ, my dear people, say that the children of this world are more zealous in serving their master, the world, than the children of light are in serving theirs, who is God. To our shame, we must admit that people fear neither expense, nor even going into debt, when it is a matter of satisfying their pleasures, but if some poor person asks them for help, they have nothing at all. This is true of so many: they have everything for the world and nothing at all for God because to them, the world is everything and God is nothing.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Cool Multimedia Concept for Studying the Bible.

When I was at the James White debate last Friday I ran across a display of a new product called the Glo Bible. Now I will say right off that it is not a Catholic product. Aside from that fact however, I think that the concept is a great one, and the time and work that went into the product is quite astounding. If only we had a Catholic version of this! Imagine the cool stuff you could include in such a product. 3 D Catholic church images and videos, encyclicals and Church Father's writings that pertain to Scripture, maps, etc. Check out the videos about it here. Are there any Catholics who would be willing to put in the effort and capital to produce a similar product? How about the Vatican? Can anyone contact the Pope and see if he can get the ball rolling? What do you think?

Book Recommendation: Rediscovering Aquinas and the Sacraments

There is a great book on the market dealing with St. Thomas and the Sacraments. It clocks in at around 140 pages, so its not too intense, but it does give an entry level examination of each of the Sacraments in light of St. Thomas. Each chapter is penned by a different theologian, which include Matthew Levering, Cardinal Dulles, and Romanus Cessario, among others.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI and the Condemnation of Torture.


It seems that the word torture today is often tied to government actions such as the former Bush administration and its policies. Many Catholics today are confused as to what the definition of torture actually is, and if and when it is permissible. Some Catholics fail to draw proper distinctions when dealing with moral issues such as torture or the death penalty, and many tend to either completely endorse such actions or completely reject them. They seem to think that if you are against abortion, or for the dignity of the human person, then the death penalty should be out rightly condemned, or that acts of physical or mental violence should not be permitted under any circumstances. The problem with many Catholic apologists today is that many do not take the time to think their positions through and draw distinctions for each circumstance. Many often read one quote from a document or an audience and immediately draw their own conclusions. I want to address one specific instance in this article.

The most common errors of Catholic apologists today is to play the "quote the Pope" card. You quote a Pope as an ultimate authority, when the Pope was possibly not speaking as an ultimate authority. For example many people quote Pope Benedict XVI in a public audience to a commission for the World Congress when he said, "...I reiterate that the prohibition against torture “cannot be contravened under any circumstances...” as if that were a dogmatic statement condemning all torture. Catholic apologists should know that this was not a dogmatic statement, and they should know better than to take a quote like this one out of context. For one, we can go back into history and find other Popes saying something entirely different. What we end up with is an appeal to opposing authorities. For example, Pope Innocent IV openly endorsed torture during the Inquisition. Does that mean that Catholics should have endorsed torture under any circumstances back during the Inquisition? Of course not. We need to think these things through before we go off making any definitive pronouncements on such things.

We have to draw distinctions if we are to make any sense of these moral dilemmas. There are certain times that someone can be put to death, and certain times where it is immoral. The same goes for when physical or mental violence can be used on a person. I think it would be a gross misunderstanding to take Pope Benedict's comment to mean that all physical or mental violence towards anyone for any reason is condemned in all circumstances. It is obvious that putting someone in solitary confinement for long periods of time would be considered torture. Yet the State has the right and duty at times to punish someone in such a fashion to keep the moral order of society and to protect society. The same goes for the death penalty. The State has the right to punish by Capital Punishment for the sake of the moral order of society, as long as it used proportionately. 

I want to take a look at this statement made by Pope Benedict XVI where he talks about prisons and the issue of torture. The misuse of this quote has gone far enough. Many Catholic apologists have used this little quote as their tagline on their blogs to completely condemn torture of any kind in any circumstance. (example) Yet, if we look at the entire context of the quote you will see that the Pope is using torture in a limited context. Since torture is defined as using some sort of physical or mental means to coerce the will, we should realize that the Pope is not condemning it all circumstances. The proof however is seen in the entire context of the quote.
"Prisoners easily can be overwhelmed by feelings of isolation, shame and rejection that threaten to shatter their hopes and aspirations for the future. Within this context, chaplains and their collaborators are called to be heralds of God’s infinite compassion and forgiveness. In cooperation with civil authorities, they are entrusted with the weighty task of helping the incarcerated rediscover a sense of purpose so that, with God’s grace, they can reform their lives, be reconciled with their families and friends, and, insofar as possible, assume the responsibilities and duties which will enable them to conduct upright and honest lives within society."
Here the Pope is referring to prisoners being rehabilitated by the civil authorities. But there is one interesting caveat he uses, "insofar as possible." So here we can see that the Pope is not talking in an absolute as far being able to rehabilitate prisoners. Let us continue.

"Judicial and penal institutions play a fundamental role in protecting citizens and safeguarding the common good (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2266). At the same time, they are to aid in rebuilding “social relationships disrupted by the criminal act committed” (cf.Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 403). By their very nature, therefore, these institutions must contribute to the rehabilitation of offenders, facilitating their transition from despair to hope and from unreliability to dependability. When conditions within jails and prisons are not conducive to the process of regaining a sense of a worth and accepting its related duties, these institutions fail to achieve one of their essential ends. Public authorities must be ever vigilant in this task, eschewing any means of punishment or correction that either undermine or debase the human dignity of prisoners. In this regard, I reiterate that the prohibition against torture “cannot be contravened under any circumstances” (Ibid., 404)"
Lets start at the beginning of this paragraph. The Pope in the first sentence acknowledges that the State has a fundamental role in protecting citizens and safeguarding the common good. This is the right and duty of the State to keep the moral order. One of the responsibilities of the State is also to try and rehabilitate the offenders, but notice the caveat that was already given, "insofar as possible." So the Pope is obviously not condemning the incarceration of certain prisoners who are not able to be rehabilitated. Then the Pope goes on to address specifically a punishment or correction which undermines the dignity of the human person. This is where we need to pay attention! It is only then that the Pope says, "In this regard, I reiterate that the prohibition against torture cannot be contravened under any circumstances." This is very important. Because the Pope is not condemning all torture here. He is condemning torture which specifically undermines the dignity of the human person.

Of course, the definition of what and when this happens is very obscure, and I have yet to come across a very detailed definition of what violates this dignity, and what exact circumstances it falls under. It doesn't mean that we stretch the limits to find out what they are, but it would seem that there are certain instances where torture could be used that would not violate this dignity, otherwise the Pope would have never used the exact wording that he chose to use in the above statement. I think that by using reason and common sense we can determine what may or may not be acceptable circumstances.

Punishment and self defense by the State authorities are two possible reasons that physical or mental coercion may be used. For example, the State has the authority to carry out the death penalty in order to restore the moral order and to institute punishment fitting to the crime. I think that we can make some distinctions that would allow for torture under certain circumstances as well. One instance would be for the State to carry out punishment to restore the moral order. To deny this is to deny imprisonment, which would be physical and mental torture. The State is incarcerating a person against his or her will to either punish or to rehabilitate them. This falls into the working definition of torture. To deny this use is to let every criminal on death row go free. But I think we could argue that this is not done in order to violate their human dignity. 

Another reason would be for self defense. The State can carry out physical or mental violence to stop a violent act against innocent people. This would mean however that all other forms of coercion have been exhausted, before physical coercion could be used. This would include an appeal first to the criminal's intellect to get the offender to co-operate, then only moving up the chain to physical coercion as the initial coercion of the intellect fails. There are a few facts that must be established for the State to do this however. First the apprehended person must be materially cooperating in an active offense against innocent lives. You can't just guess that someone may have information regarding some attack, you have to have a certainty that they are materially cooperating with such an attack. For example, a man who is pulled over by the police has an abducted girl in his car. There is another girl missing to whom the criminal admits to having tied up somewhere in a basement to which he will not disclose the location to the police. The State could then, using the proper chain of coercion begin to force the will of the criminal to give them the location of the abducted girl. This would not be a violation of the moral law. This would be an act of self defense. The criminal's will is set to carry out an aggression against an innocent person to which he does not have a right to do. So in this case, such an act of mental or physical coercion would not violate the person's dignity any more than a police officer using a baton to force a thug to cease assaulting an innocent girl on a street corner. Once again, we must clarify each circumstance. 

So as we make distinctions, we can see where there are not always absolutes to these types of moral questions. There are some instances where torture cannot be used under any circumstances, such as to gain a confession, or for the sole intention of stripping a person of his dignity as a human being, or to seek revenge on a person. These would be immoral to do. However, for the purpose of punishment, or the purpose of self defense, the State can use physical or mental violence to either restore the moral order, or defend innocent life when that life is in immediate danger by an unjust aggressor. To argue against this using the above quote from Pope Benedict XVI would be a gross misunderstanding of his intended statement. 

Before I close this article, I must reiterate that this not an endorsement of various government policies or individuals. It is not a call for people to go out and play Jack Bauer. This is an objective look at Pope Benedict's statement which I believe is being taken out of context. I look forward to further dialog on the subject if anyone wants to rationally discuss it. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

James White/Robert Price Debate: Price Narrowly Wins the Battle for the Bible


Friday night's debate between Dr. James White and Dr. Robert Price was if anything, quite entertaining. The title of the debate was, "Is the Bible True?" Price opened the debate with a 20 minute barrage of supposed inconsistencies in Biblical text by resorting to a historical critical deconstruction of the New Testament. Price insisted early that false accounts of what Jesus said and did are most certainly mixed in the New Testament Scriptures. He used the resurrection accounts and Jesus' mistaken identity to imply that Christ had never really rose from the dead, but that it was only a fabricated story that was made up later. The Gospel of Mark and 1 Corinthians were also targets for Price's historical deconstruction during the debate. White countered first by asking the audience to look for consistency in each of their presentations. White was quick to try and preempt any presuppositional attitude that Price came to the debate with, which was largely Price's proposal that any historical evidence from an era as far removed as the Biblical texts are removed, cannot possibly be reliable.
Dr. White criticized Price's principles of analogy, in which Price would apply a strict historical criticism to every piece of historical evidence brought forth. Dr. White rightfully proposed the question to Price as to what type of evidence would be sufficient to actually convince Price of the authenticity and reliability of the Bible. White later offered some explanations of some of the proposed inconsistencies in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 8:34-35) when Jesus asks his disciples to take up their crosses and follow Him, for example. Price remarked that this text was anachronistic and that the text was added by later Christians to the Gospel text for the sole reason of appealing to later Christians. Price argued that none of the disciples at the time would have had a clue as to what Jesus was talking about in reference to the cross, and so Price argued that the text must have been added at a much later date.
White countered that argument and successfully pointed out the fact that although His disciples may not have completely understood the passage at the time, it would not have been a complete stretch for Jesus to have made such a statement in the original setting that the Gospels place them in, since his disciples would have grasped the general concept that Jesus presented, just not the entire context which would obviously later tie into Jesus' own crucifixion. Price had a decisive advantage in the debate because it was his own material that was discussed for most of the debate. This advantage began to show during the cross examination period when White started to look like he was chasing a ghost as he tried to poke holes in Price's argument. Every time it appeared that White might have been going somewhere during the cross examination, Price would outmaneuver White with an elusive response to some proposed historical inconsistency that White was not always able to refute. One reason for this was the unstructured form that the cross examination was conducted in, which was not how it was really planned to go. It just ended up materializing that way, largely by Price’s ability to control that part of the debate. 
The cross examination period was really the deciding factor of the debate. As I just pointed out, it must be noted that it was not a very formal cross examination period, and it looked like more of an informal discussion period, with both debaters exchanging questions and answers quite casually. This format actually favored Price, and in the end Price looked very comfortable fielding most of the questions very quickly and many times he retorted with questions of his own that were directed right back White, to which White did not always answer. I was actually a bit surprised here, because it appeared to me that Price actually controlled this part of the debate, even when he was being questioned. Price pointed out the fact that St. Paul's conversion story was not recorded in any of St. Paul's letters at all, and only in the book of Acts. For Price, this was a point of contention for him because he could not understand how such an event would not have been recorded by St. Paul himself. He implied that the story was later made up and added to the book of Acts. White countered by claiming that St. Paul would not have had to repeat his own conversion story in letter, because it would already have been known to the Christian communities that he was writing to. Much of the exchange was each person's personal opinion of why the Biblical texts were written the way the were, Price trying to deconstruct and illustrate inconsistency, while White trying to offer reasonable objections as to how the the apparent contradiction could be reconciled.
To my surprise, Price actually forfeited his second cross examination period to ask White questions, and invited White to go ahead and ask his second round of questions instead. I can now see why Price opted out, since White in my opinion allowed Price too much leeway to ask questions back to him in the first round. Price probably realized it was more effective to counter White as he was being asked questions, rather than work from an offensive front. Once again this ended up working in Price's favor, since White had no choice but to try and pin Price down to illustrate some sort of inconsistency in Price's historical criticisms. White was partially successful when he was able to point out the selective method that Price used to actually determine what historical evidence he would allow to be accepted as credible evidence. Price only seemed to admit any type of historical evidence which would illustrate some inconsistency in the Biblical texts, while dismissing any historical evidence that would support the historical accuracy of the Biblical texts. For instance, Price brought up some external historical evidence that would seem to contradict one of Jesus' sayings pertaining to what could have and could not have been done on the Sabbath. White pointed out the fact that if Price could admit that historical evidence in to discredit the Bible, then why were not other historical accounts allowed to be used to reconcile the Biblical texts? In other words White did make the case that Price was using a double standard as to what credible historical evidence Price was allowing to be used. This alone however was in my opinion, not enough to totally derail the efforts of Dr. Price. Price came up with a few examples of how he has admitted in the past to actually reconciling apparent contradictions in the Bible from historical sources. He used that as an out to distract the from the fact that he cherry picked his historical sources to set up his arguments. 
Although Dr. White was able to point out some inconsistencies in Price's method of attack, in the end White never resolved his own position that the Bible was indeed true and reliable. At least that is what I thought his resolved position was supposed to be. White stressed at the beginning of the debate that he was going to avoid arguments from authority and try and stick to Price's actual written and presented material. To White's credit, he pretty much stuck to that format. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it was his ultimate downfall. Price kept White chasing him throughout the debate as if he was the Shaolin master toying with the apprentice, as the apprentice tried repeatedly to land the knockout spinning back kick that missed every time. Price often sat with his hands behind his head, sitting back in his chair relaxed as he fielded White's questions. As they say, it is hard to hit a moving target, and Price never stayed in the same place long enough to get pinned down. Much of White's effort was spent trying to chase down Price's erroneous accusations and little time was spent on resolving whether or not the Bible was indeed true and inerrant.
When someone will not accept anything as an objective truth, then it is hard to pin them down in a debate. When nothing can be trusted accept one's own senses in the here and now, then anything presented to them as historical evidence is going to be dissected and criticized to the point of skepticism, which was pretty much Price's consistent position. Price frequently made statements like (I am paraphrasing here), "we can't know for sure", or "I was not there, how do I know?", or "if this is as clear as God's Word can be, then we are all screwed", or finally "God would never hold us accountable for this type of obscure historical evidence that is presented in the Bible for or eternal salvation, etc." Every piece of evidence that White would present was easily dismissed by Price under the fallacious position that we just can't know anything for certain. White tried to reconcile the proposed inconsistencies that Price put forward, but it was like White was trying to plug 20 leaking cracks in a dam with his fingers and toes! Price actually said at one point, that he would need actual video footage of the miraculous events of the Bible to really believe them. He even had a hard time coming up with a set of circumstances that would allow him to believe that the Scriptures were indeed reliable as God's Word. When you are confined to such limited evidence, it is difficult to prove anything. I mean, if we had a court of law where nothing shy video footage is going to be admissible as evidence as to someone's wrongdoing against another, then its going to be hard to make a conviction in many criminal cases these days, no?
In the end, when you buy into a false philosophical worldview, which largely rejects anything objective, this is what you get. Price, like the tortured philosophers of Descartes, Kant, Rousseau and later Sartre, Nietzsche, etc, all in one way or another deny objective truth, and they allow rationalism and subjectivism to become the norm for determining their “truth.” In Price’s mind, nothing short of empirical proof will do and ultimately anything short of being at the actual event is going to convince him of anything, although he once admitted that one original manuscript by an eyewitness may convince him, or perhaps a video tape.  But then again couldn’t the video tape have been doctored? Price was also able to inject some humor into the debate which also helped him out, and it gave a lighter tone to the debate as a whole. The lighter mood of the debate worked better for Price's position than it did for White's. 
In my opinion, White's deficiency was that he did not consistently try and dismantle Price's philosophical method as a whole. White tried to show that Price was inconsistent, and that his outrageous historical demands were almost impossible to fulfill, but that was Price's whole argument to begin with. Price would admit that maybe some of the things accounted in the Biblical texts happened, and maybe they did not. So in the end Price was able to concede the possibility of some things being accurate, but he would never admit to the possibility of everything being accurate, which was the foundation of Price’s entire position. Price was able to dance around White throwing out historical criticisms which were intended to paint a negative light on any type of historical evidence that White brought forth to lend credibility to the Bible. In the end White failed to prove with any certainty that the Bible was indeed true, even though he managed to counter some of Price's accusations. Price was able to poke and prod White the entire evening using his crippled philosophy of phenomenology unchecked. In my opinion, the only way to have countered Price in this type of debate would have been to expose the error ridden philosophical premise that Robert Price argued from throughout the evening. Since White attempted to match Price blow for blow by focusing entirely on Price's material and structure during much of the debate, if I were to add up the scorecard at the end, I would say that Price ended up edging out White by the simple fact that White did not answer every single claim that Price brought forward. In other words, if Price can show one inconsistency that is not refuted then the whole credibility of the Bible is called into question.

Although White countered many of the challenges brought forth by Price, he never adequately proved that the Bible was handed down historically without error. This is where I think the Catholic position of an infallible Magisterium would have been a much better position to hold than one of Sola Scriptura. When all was said and done, Price was able to use his own material to make it appear that there were inconsistencies in the Bible more effectively than White was able to prove that the Bible was indeed the innerant Written Word of God. That being said, I do not think that anyone went away from the debate running into the arms of agnosticism or atheism as a result of Price's performance. If the debate was actually to debate whether or not the significance of the inconsistencies that Price had documented were a strict barrier to accepting Scripture as being inerrant, then White would have been the victor. But as it stands, the way the debate was presented, “Is the Bible True” I think that Price was able to edge out White.
After the debate was over I went up and introduced myself to White at his book signing table. He did not look very enthused to see me as he glanced a few times over to check my name tag before allowing me to approach the table. We exchanged a few words in jest. I told him that if he would quit calling me the "Catholic Champion" which is the name of my website, not my identity, that I would not refer to him as the "Alpha and Omega." In the end it was a good evening, and my friends and I enjoyed the debate.

Below are a couple of grainy photos from my buddy's iPhone.


Above: Me (Blue shirt) standing in line to meet Dr. White.

Above: The grainy photo of Turretin Fan that I promised! See him exiting the stage with his waiter's tray? I am just joking. I don't think TF was at the debate.