Saint Thomas Aquinas

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Building a Mustang With No Mechanical Knowledge: Helping James Swan and John Bugay Do Research

"Blueprints alone! Blueprints alone I say! "
By Matthew J. Bellisario 2010

Recently a Protestant named James Swan has made yet another feeble attempt to discredit the Catholic Church by pitting different Catholics against one another in their interpretation of a passage of Scripture. Swan and his pretended "Reformers" are always looking for ways to prove that there are as many divisions in Catholic doctrine as there is in Protestant circles. It is quite amusing to watch him and his friends like John Bugay, an ex-Catholic with a chip on his shoulder, hurl any insult and accusation they can muster up, no matter how inept, to try and take the attention off of their disunity of major tenets of Christian faith. In his latest post in which he posted over on another pretended "Reformer" James White's blog, he pits Pope Benedict XVI, Saint Thomas Aquinas and modern Catholic lay-apologist Robert Sungenis, against one another in their interpretation of Galatians 2:11-16, concerning the rebuke of St. Peter. 


First of all, we have to ask ourselves if this particular passage even has any significant doctrinal ramifications that concerns the Catholic faith. If we read the three interpretations that were given by each, none of them actually have any bearing on Catholic doctrine. We find Pope Benedict XVI telling us that St. Peter and Paul were not really in any disagreement, but the two taking two valid alternate views in which they opposed one another. Robert Sungenis opposes Pope Benedict's interpretation and says that St. Peter was rightly rebuked by St. Paul. Saint Thomas Aquinas mulls over the two different interpretations of Saint Jerome and Saint Augustine eventually agreeing with Saint Augustine. 

Again, we have to ask ourselves, what do these different interpretations actually prove? Does this in any way put Catholics in the same boat as the pretended "Reformers" when it comes to interpreting Scripture? In other words, what is Swan's intention in putting up this post? He tells us, "For all the talk about having an infallible authority, a Roman Catholic can still read this text however he wants to, even coming up with something similar to Jerome's interpretation." OK, and so this proves what? Does any of the interpretations upset any doctrine of the Catholic faith? If St. Peter was rightly rebuked, does it cause any credibility to the papacy? I think not. It seems that in St. Thomas' (13th century) time the passage was interpreted a variety of ways, as it is still done today. Yet no one thought anything of it because in the end it it did not really upset any formal doctrine to speak of. The official doctrine of the Church was still united in all major tenets of the one true faith as it is today. Yet the Protestants do not have this unity of faith.


How does this example of multiple interpretations of this passage compare with the division over Scriptural passages in Protestantism. Quite honestly, there is no comparison. The true Christian faith is a living faith past down from Christ through the apostles protected by the infallibility of the Holy Spirit. So Catholics do not have to worry about having different interpretations of some passages of Scripture. In fact, even God's written Word is a living Word when it lives within the body of the Church. Scripture is a living written source of God's Word, yet it is not isolated from the Holy Spirit from which it was given, in the Catholic paradigm of faith. For the pretended "Reformer" however, this disagreement over Scripture works in a completely different paradigm, allowing for their interpretations of every passage to dictate formal doctrine, yet there is no infallible guide given to them to arrive at any proper interpretation.


If we look at the Catholic faith, we see a faith being passed down and lived throughout the ages in an unbroken succession since the time of Christ. The written Word is an infallible product of this faith being lived out during the early years of the Church, which is written down for the Church by God, as a testimony to the true faith. For Catholics, baptism has always meant one thing, and nothing other than that one true definition has ever been accepted as formal teaching in the Catholic faith. The doctrine is not based on any one Bible verse or passage, but it is based on what was taught by Jesus and His apostles, and those that followed them, and so on. This is the case with all major doctrine of the true Christian Catholic faith. Likewise, there is only one authentic teaching of what happens in the liturgy, and what the function of priests are and so forth, and yet none of these doctrines are derived at from the sole proclamation of the Scriptures. These truths were taught well before one word of the New Testament was ever written, or even before they were made available to the vast majority of Christians, which was not the case for many centuries. Scripture is the origin of the true Christian faith, Jesus is! The Scriptures merely testify to many aspects of this faith in an infallible manner as it was being carried out in the first years of the Church. The Protestants however fight over all of these major points of the Christian faith. They disagree over baptism, they disagree over the Eucharist, the liturgy and every other core teaching of the faith.


So here we can see why Catholics can have a variety of interpretations of some passages of Scripture and still remain faithful to the true Christian faith, while the Protestant cannot accomplish the same with Scripture alone. The Protestant misuses the Scriptures for something God never intended them to be used for. God intended the Scriptures to be an infallible written testimony to the early Church showing the establishment of the Christian faith in the infancy of the Church. It is a basic blueprint for the Christian faith. There are many levels of interpretation that the Church arrives at to reaffirm and teach the Christian faith, yet the blueprint remains infallible. Some passages directly address certain doctrines, many indirectly, explicitly or implicitly, in either the Old or New Testaments. For the Protestant however, he has no context in which to interpret any passage of Scripture to arrive at any doctrine whether it is explicit or implicit, because they isolate it from Jesus' and His apostles' oral proclamation, which has accompanied it since the Church began. 

Let me use a limited analogy here, and before I get attacked, I am not comparing Scripture directly here, but only in a limited analogous manner. I have the highest reverence for Sacred Scripture, and when it is read and interpreted within the body of the Church it is the Word of God. Yet when it is removed from the body of the Church, and it is isolated from its Composer, it becomes a stumbling block, since those who remain outside the Church twist it to their own destruction. With that in mind, let me continue on with my analogy. 

Modern Protestantism is equivalent to taking an illiterate pygmy from the jungles of the Amazon, standing him next to a pile of car parts, then handing him blueprints for a Ford Mustang,  and asking him to construct a Ford Mustang Fastback by using the prints alone. It is not going to happen. He might get the seats put in the frame so he can sit down comfortably, but he is never going to drive it out of the parking lot in one piece. You see, all of the information on how the car goes together is in the blueprint in one form or another. All of the parts, etc. But, without the knowledge of mechanics and engineers which had been handed down for ages to other car mechanics and engineers and so on, there is no way for the pygmy to reconstruct the car. The original pretended "Reformers" were in one way a bit better off than the modern pygmy form of Protestantism that comes from the Amazon, at least they had seen a car put together at one time. They actually rode in it! They however grabbed the blueprint from the real mechanics and engineers, told them they were idiots, and then went and constructed a half-assed monstrosity in which they and their successors have been sitting in the parking lot with for the past 500 years yelling out, "we have the blueprints!, we have the blueprints! Blueprints alone I say!" 

As the years go by, they do not get closer to putting the car together because the further time goes on they lose any real knowledge that was handed down to them by the real engineers and mechanics in the first place. They refuse to go to the source that has the knowledge, the Church, and instead rely on their own malformed abilities. Luther took the car parts, rebuilt a partial car close to being functional, yet it had no mirrors, no windshield or brakes on it. As time went by his followers kept ripping off parts thinking they could improve the car, and now they are sitting in the garage in a frame of a 67 Mustang going no where, waving the prints in our faces, still saying, "we have the blueprints!, we have the blueprints! Blueprints alone I say!" The real mechanics and engineers are looking at them saying to themselves, when are they going to connect the drive shaft that they ripped off back in 1751? While the pretended "Reformers" are busy trying to reconnect the drive shaft using the blueprints, the real engineers know what components go on first, and which can be put on in any order, not causing any malfunction to the car and so forth. They use the blueprints for their intended purpose, to help them keep the car running properly at all times.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Take Away Their Retirement!



It has been awhile since I have put up anything too controversial, so this is long overdue. Faithful Catholics are sick and tired of heretical, scandalous priests in the Church. It seems that there are so many that it is almost impossible for good bishops to control them all. They destroy the liturgy to their own amusement while Catholics have to suffer their awful sermons, bad jokes and liturgical abuses. Fortunately I attend an Eastern Catholic Church and a Latin Mass only parish 99% of the time, and I am surrounded by great priests. But there are occasions where I have to endure the scourges of apostasy outside of these sanctuaries, and it is enough to get me fired up.

I have a petition to all of the orthodox Catholic bishops of the world who want to straighten out this mess in their diocese. Hire a good canon lawyer, and then threaten these apostate priests with the loss of retirement. In fact, I think that all of the orthodox bishops in the Church should wake up tomorrow morning and make an example out of someone. Pick the Father Pfleger of your diocese and punt them out of the Church in the same manner in which we saw Satan get fired down out of heaven, like lightening. Make it clear that any disobedience concerning the Catholic faith by a priest will be met with a swift defrocking and a loss of all retirement from the Church. These disobedient priests should not be living off of the faithful's money, and those lay-heretics who oppose the removal of such priests can pack their bags and go with them. Remove the apostates and kick them to the curb, no refunds, no severance checks, just the hard concrete curb. Faithful Catholics are tired of paying for these charlatans to commit scandal, spread their heresies and mock Our Lord in the Mass with their hard earned money. What is going to happen to these priests in Italy who are living openly gay lifestyles while still celebrating Mass each day? Kick them to the curb already! Strongly worded letters do not work! Defrock them and take away their money!

I also think these bishops should have a diocesan wide meeting with their priests when this new translation comes out for the Novus Ordo liturgy. They should make it crystal clear that the first dissident priest that opens their pie-hole about having to use the new translation is going to be kicked to the curb with no retirement. Enough is enough. Take away their money and I think that we will suddenly see a change of heart among the clergy. In fact, if I was the bishop I would hang pictures of these examples up in every parish office to remind them what happens when they open their pie holes. When they see the Fr. Pflegers of the world living in stained card board boxes under dingy bridges, eating out of rusty dented trash cans, maybe then the rest will straighten out. It won't take long to get them in line with this new radical plan of attack. Threaten to take away their plush condos, clubbing money and their retirement! You would only lose a few priests, and maybe be forced to sell off a few airplane hangars that sadly pass for churches now a days, and the problem would be solved.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bishop John Bura Visits St. Petersburg FL. Video

I put up a post a few weeks ago back in June, pertaining to the visit of Bishop John Bura to Epiphany of Our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church in St. Pete, of which I am a member of. A friend of mine from the parish just finished a nice little video on the visit, and I wanted to share it with you.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Apostolic Succession According to Pope Clement I

Even before the last apostle died we have another written record outside of Scripture from Saint Clement I regarding the authority that was passed down from the apostles in a form of succession. In fact, in Saint Clement's letter to the Corinthians he is concerned that some of these successors are being removed unjustly from their positions of authority in the Church. Many modern scholars are now dating this letter as early as 70-75AD, and not later than 96AD, (St. Clement was martyred in 100AD) so it is a very early document which gives testimony to apostolic succession. Saint Clement is said to have known St. Peter, St. Luke, Barnabas and even St. Paul personally, and he even traveled with them on several occasions. After St. Peter and his first two successors, Linus and Cletus were martyred, he was appointed Bishop of Rome and the 3rd successor of Saint Peter (The 4th Pope). I quoted below a part of the document that pertains to apostolic succession, but I also would suggest that you read the entire document. It is a great resource to use for a variety of subjects pertaining to the validity of the Catholic faith.


THE FIRST EPISTLE OF CLEMENT TO THE CORINTHIANS (70AD-96AD)
In 1996, as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI 
supported a date of A.D. 70, 
and by 2002 most scholars a date earlier than 96, 
some agreeing with the A.D. 70 date. 
(From Catholic Encyclopedia.)
 
1Clem 19:1
   The humility therefore and the submissiveness of so many and so
great men, who have thus obtained a good report, hath through
obedience made better not only us but also the generations which were
before us, even them that received His oracles in fear and truth.

1Clem 19:2
Seeing then that we have been partakers of many great and glorious
doings, let us hasten to return unto the goal of peace which hath
been handed down to us from the beginning, and let us look
steadfastly unto the Father and Maker of the whole world, and cleave
unto His splendid and excellent gifts of peace and benefits.
 

1Clem 41:4
Ye see, brethren, in proportion as greater knowledge hath been
vouchsafed unto us, so much the more are we exposed to danger.

1Clem 42:1
   The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus
Christ; Jesus Christ was sent forth from God.

1Clem 42:2
So then Christ is from God, and the Apostles are from Christ. Both
therefore came of the will of God in the appointed order.

1Clem 42:3
Having therefore received a charge, and having been fully assured
through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and confirmed in
the word of God with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went
forth with the glad tidings that the kingdom of God should come.

1Clem 42:4
So preaching everywhere in country and town, they appointed their
firstfruits, when they had proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops
and deacons unto them that should believe.

1Clem 42:5
And this they did in no new fashion; for indeed it had been written
concerning bishops and deacons from very ancient times; for thus
saith the scripture in a certain place, I will appoint their
bishops in righteousness and their deacons in faith.

1Clem 43:1
   And what marvel, if they which were entrusted in Christ with such a
work by God appointed the aforesaid persons? seeing that even the
blessed Moses who was a faithful servant in all His house recorded
for a sign in the sacred books all things that were enjoined upon
him. And him also the rest of the prophets followed, bearing witness
with him unto the laws that were ordained by him.

1Clem 43:2
For he, when jealousy arose concerning the priesthood, and there was
dissension among the tribes which of them was adorned with the
glorious name, commanded the twelve chiefs of the tribes to bring to
him rods inscribed with the name of each tribe. And he took them and
tied them and sealed them with the signet rings of the chiefs of the
tribes, and put them away in the tabernacle of the testimony on the
table of God.

1Clem 43:3
And having shut the tabernacle he sealed the keys and likewise also
the doors.

1Clem 43:4
And he said unto them, Brethren, the tribe whose rod shall bud, this
hath God chosen to be priests and ministers unto Him.

1Clem 43:5
Now when morning came, he called together all Israel, even the six
hundred thousand men, and showed the seals to the chiefs of the
tribes and opened the tabernacle of the testimony and drew forth the
rods. And the rod of Aaron was found not only with buds, but also
bearing fruit.

1Clem 43:6
What think ye, dearly beloved? Did not Moses know beforehand that
this would come to pass? Assuredly he knew it. But that disorder
might not arise in Israel, he did thus, to the end that the Name of
the true and only God might be glorified: to whom he the glory for
ever and ever. Amen...

1Clem 44:1
   And our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would
be strife over the name of the bishop's office.

1Clem 44:2
For this cause therefore, having received complete foreknowledge,
they appointed the aforesaid persons, and afterwards they provided a
continuance, that if these should fall asleep, other approved men
should succeed to their ministration. Those therefore who were
appointed by them, or afterward by other men of repute with the
consent of the whole Church, and have ministered unblamably to the
flock of Christ in lowliness of mind, peacefully and with all
modesty, and for long time have borne a good report with all these
men we consider to be unjustly thrust out from their ministration.

1Clem 44:3
For it will be no light sin for us, if we thrust out those who have
offered the gifts of the bishop's office unblamably and holily.

1Clem 44:4
Blessed are those presbyters who have gone before, seeing that their
departure was fruitful and ripe: for they have no fear lest any one
should remove them from their appointed place.

St. Alphonsus de Liguori: The Immaculate Conception of Mary.

 Saint Alphonsus was one of the greatest Marian theologians of the Church. This is a brief excerpt from his work "The Glories of Mary" taken from the first discourse in the second part. It is worth giving it a read to see how he proves the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.


PART THE SECOND.
DISCOURSES ON THE PRINCIPAL FEASTS OF MARY.
MARY'S IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
But I consider the opinion that Mary did not contract the sin of Adam as certain: and it is considered so, and even as proximately definable as an article of faith (as they express it), by Cardinal Everard, Duval (De Pecc. q. ult. a. 7), Raynauld (Piet. Lugd. erga V. Imm. n. 20),Disc. Thomist. De Imm. Conc.), Viva (P. 8, d. 1, q. 2, a. 2), and many others.  I omit, however, the revelations which confirm this belief, particularly those of St. Bridget, which were approved of by Cardinal Turrecremata, and by four Sovereign Pontiffs, and which are found in various parts of the sixth book of her Revelations (Rev. l. 6, c. 12, 49, 55). Lossada (
  
            But on no account can I omit the opinions of the holy Fathers on this subject, whereby to show their unanimity in conceding this privilege to the divine Mother.

            St. Ambrose says, "Receive me not from Sarah, but from Mary; that it may be an uncorrupted Virgin, a Virgin free by grace from every stain of sin" ("Suscipe me non ex Sara, sed ex Maria, ut incorrupta sit Virgo, sed Virgo per gratiam ab omni integra labe peccati"—In Ps. cxviii. s. 22).   

            Origen, speaking of Mary, asserts that "she was not infected by the venomous breath of the serpent" ("Nec serpentis venenosis afflatibus infecta est"—In Div. hom. 1).  

            St. Ephrem, that "she was immaculate, and remote from all stain of sin" ("Immaculata et ab omni peccati labe alienissima"—Orat. Ad Deip.).  

            As ancient writer, in a sermon, found amongst, the words of St. Augustine, on the words "Hail, full of grace," says, "By these words the angel shows that she was altogether (remark the word 'altogether') excluded from the wrath of the first sentence, and restored to the full grace of blessing" ("Ave 'gratia plena!' Quibus verbis ostendit ex integro iram exclusam primae sententiae, et plenam benedictionis gratiam restitutam"—Serm. 123, E. B. app.).  

            The author of an old work, called the Breviary of St. Jerome, affirms that "that cloud was never in darkness, but always in light" ("Nubes illa non fuit in tenebris, sed simper in luce"—Brev. In Ps. 77).
            St. Cyprian, or whoever may be the author of the work on the 77th Psalm, says, "Nor did justice endure that that vessel of election should be open to common injuries; for being far exalted above others, she partook of their nature, not of their sin" ("Nec sustinebat justitia ut illud Vas electionis communibus lassaretur injuriis; quoniam, plurimum a caeteris differens, natura communicabat, non culpa"—De Chr. Op. De Nat.)

            St. Amphilochius, that "He who formed the first Virgin without deformity, also made the second one without spot or sin" ("Qui antiquam illam virginem sine probro condidit, ipse et secundam sine nota et crimine fabricatus est"—In S. Deip. et Sim.)

            St. Sophronius, that "the Virgin is therefore called immaculate, for in nothing was she corrupt" ("Virginem ideo dici immaculatam, quia in nullo corrupta est"—In Conc. Oecum. 6, act. 11).  

            St. Ildephonsus argues, that "it is evident that she was free from original sin" ("Constat eam ab omni originali peccato fuisse immunem"—Cont. Disp. De Virginit. M.).

            St. John Damascene says, that "the serpent never had any access to this paradise" ("Ad hunc paradisum serpens adytum non habuit"—In Dorm. Deip. or. 2).      

            St. Peter Damian, that "the flesh of the Virgin, taken from Adam, did not admit of the stain of Adam" ("Caro Virginis, ex Adam assumpta, maculas Adae non admisit"—In Assumpt.).  

St. Bruno affirms, "that Mary is that uncorrupted earth which God blessed, and was therefore free from all contagion of sin" ("Haec est incorrupta terra illa cui benedixit Dominus, ab omni propterea peccati contagione libera"—In Ps. ci).  

St. Bonaventure, "that our Sovereign Lady was full of preventing grace for her sanctification; that is, preservative grace against the corruption of original sin" ("Domina nostra fuit plena gratia praeveniente in sua sanctificatione, gratis scilicet praeservativa contra foeditatem originalis culpae"—De B. V. s. 2).  

St. Bernardine of Sienna argues, that "it is not to be believed that he, the Son of God, would be born of a Virgin, and take her flesh, were she in the slightest degree stained with original sin" ("Non est credendum, quod ipse Filius Dei voluerit nasci ex virgine, et sumere ejus carnem, quae esset maculate ex aliquot peccato originali"—Quadr. s. 49, p. 1).  

St. Laurence Justinian affirms, "that she was prevented in blessings from her very conception" ("Ab ipsa sui conceptione, in benedictionibus est praeventa"—In Annunt.).  

The Blessed Raymond Jordano, on the words, Thou hast found grace, says, "thou hast found a singular grace, O most sweet Virgin, that of preservation from original sin" ("'Invenisti gratiam;' invenisti, O dulcissima Virgo! gratiam coelestem; quia fuit in te ab originis labe praeservatio"—Cont. de V. M. c. 6).  And many other Doctors speak in the same sense.

But, finally, there are two arguments that conclusively prove the truth of this pious belief.

The first of these is the universal concurrence of the faithful.  Father Egidius, of the Presentation (De Imm. Conc. l. 3, q. 6, a. 3), assures us that all the religious Orders follow this opinion; and a modern author tells us that though there are ninety-two writers of the order of St. Dominic against it, nevertheless there are a hundred and thirty-six in favor of it, even in that religious body.  But that which above all should persuade us that our pious belief is in accordance with the general sentiment of Catholics, is that we are assured of it in the celebrated bull of Alexander VII, Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum, published in 1661, in which he says, "This devotion and homage towards the Mother of God was again increased and propagated, . . . so that the universities having adopted this opinion" (that is, the pious one) "already nearly all Catholics have embraced it" ("Aucta rursus et propagate fuit pietas haec et cultus erga Deiparam. . . . ita ut, accedentibus plerisque celebriorbus academiis ad hanc sententiam, jam fere omnes Catholici eam amplectantur").  And in fact this opinion is defended in the universities of the Sorbonne, Alcala, Salamanca, Coimbra, Cologne, Mentz, Naples, and many others, in which all who take their degrees are obliged to swear that they will defend the doctrine of Mary's Immaculate Conception.  The learned Petavius mainly rests his proofs of the truth of this doctrine on the argument taken from the general sentiment of the faithful (De Inc. l. 14, c. 2).  An argument, writes the most learned bishop Julius Torni, which cannot do otherwise than convince; for, in fact, if nothing else does, the general consent of the faithful makes us certain of the sanctification of Mary in her mother's womb, and of her Assumption, in body and soul, into heaven.  Why, then, should not the same general feeling and belief, on the part of the faithful, also make us certain of her Immaculate Conception?

The second reason, and which is stronger than the first, that convinces us that Mary was exempt from original sin, is the celebration of her Immaculate Conception commanded by the universal Church.  And on this subject I see, on the one hand, that the Church celebrates the first moment in which her soul was created and infused into her body: for this was declared by Alexander VII, in the above-named bull, in which he says that the Church gives the same worship to Mary in her Conception, which is given to her by those who hold the pious belief that she was conceived without original sin.  On the other hand, I hold it as certain, that the Church cannot celebrate anything which is not holy, according to the doctrine of the holy Pope St. Leo (Ep. Decret. 4, c. 2), and that of the Sovereign Pontiff St. Eusebius: "In the Apostolic See the Catholic religion was always preserved spotless" ("In Sede Apostolica, extra maculam semper et Catholica servata religio"—Decr. Causa 24, q. 1, c. 1, c. In sede).  All theologians, with St. Augustine (S. 310, 314, Ed. B), St. Bernard (Epist. 174), and St. Thomas, agree on this point; and the latter, to prove that Mary was sanctified before her birth, makes use of this very argument:  "The Church celebrates the nativity of the Blessed Virgin; but a feast is celebrated only for a saint: therefore the Blessed Virgin was sanctified in her mother's womb" ("Ecclesia celebrat Nativitatem Beatae Virginis; non autem celebratur festum in Ecclesia, nisi pro aliquot Sancto: ergo Beata Virgo fuit in utero sanctificara"—P. 3, q. 27, a. 1).  But if it is certain, as the angelic Doctor says, that Mary was sanctified in her mother's womb, because it is only on that supposition that the Church can celebrate her nativity, why are we not to consider it as equally certain that Mary was preserved from original sin from the first moment of her conception, knowing as we do that it is in this sense that the Church herself celebrates the feast?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Book and DVD Recommendation: Where Did the Bible Come From?

There is a great book and DVD set produced by Real Catholic TV that every Catholic household should own, it is called "Where Did the Bible Come From?" The compact book is 100 pages and is a companion to the 3 DVD set that covers the subject of the Biblical Canon and its place in the Catholic Church. The first  2 DVDs, a well produced documentary covering the Biblical Canon and the interpretation of Sacred Scripture within the Church is full of great information. The 3rd DVD is an actual lecture given by Michael Voris called "Why Does Bible History Matter?" In it Michael throws down a challenge to all those who reject the Catholic Church. He also addresses many popular Protestant fallacies such as their belief of the self authenticating Scriptures, etc. All 3 DVDs are about an hour long. If you want a great solid overview of this particular subject I cannot recommend it enough.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Church Before the New Testament

The Church Before the New Testament
(The Impossibility of Sola Scriptura)
By Matthew J. Bellisario 2010
Most people today do not often reflect on the actual time period of the Church before the New Testament was written down and recognized. The average Christian reads the Bible as if it has existed in its present form since the foundation of the Church. This however is not true. The average Protestant that I run into in my travels acts as if they believe in the Gospel only because the Bible in its current form exists. They assume it is the Word of God, yet they have no idea why, and they assume it contains everything that they need to know in order to live the Gospel and receive eternal salvation. What they fail to realize is that Christianity for the greater part of its existence was not spread by using the New Testament as an exclusive evangelization tool. In fact, it was the preaching of the “Word” that made millions of converts over the known world. 

The 27 books of the New Testament were written over a period of about a 60 or 70 year span, and they were not all recognized as being Scripture right away in every church. They were gradually recognized as such as they were used in the early liturgies of the Church. They were accepted based on apostolic origin and oral testimony of those charged with proclaiming the Gospel. For example, the book of Romans was written by Saint Paul around the year 57 or 58AD. The first Gospel was written around the year 60 to 70 AD. (Visit this link for a compilation of opinions on the dating of the New Testament Books.) Saint Paul and his companions however traveled the world preaching the Gospel with no written New Testament books to back up their claims to the Gospel. In fact, all St. Paul had was the Old Testament which was written in Greek, known as the Septuagint, and his interpretations were accepted by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, given to him by the authority passed down to him through the apostles. If you recall, even after Our Lord called him, he still went to have hands laid upon him to receive the apostolic authority and gifts of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 9:17-19) Only then was he “sent.” How was Saint Paul able to convert people without a Bible? The answer is simple, he did so by the authority of the apostles which were given authority to preach the Gospel from Christ Himself. 

Saint Paul died around 68AD by the hands of the brutal Nero in Rome, as did Saint Peter. So Saint Paul and Saint Peter spent almost their entire lives preaching with no New Testament letters to even refer to. In fact, they were primary contributors to the New Testament Canon. People were converted from hearing the oral preaching of the Gospel based on their authority to proclaim it, not because the Bible alone said so. The New Testament was a written testimony to some of what was being handed down in the early Church, and was used to further testify to the Gospel that was being preached orally. No place in the early Church do we see a shift away from this apostolic preaching to a sole reliability on the New Testament Scriptures. They merely become part of the same Church which produced them, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. 

The entire New Testament was written down by 100AD. Saint John’s Gospel being one of the last to be penned. In the early second century the Church unanimously recognized the four Gospels as being Holy Writ, yet they were not mass produced for everyone to retain their own copies, and the Gospel at this time was proclaimed orally by the authority of those who had maintained the apostolic authority that was handed down to them from the apostles. We can see this fact in a variety of Church Father writings, which give us a witness to such a reality. But even more importantly, we see this practiced in all of the ancient apostolic Churches as far back as we have written testimony, and it continues in actual practice in the same churches today. The same apostolic succession is maintained today by the Catholic Church. As more of the New Testament books were recognized in the churches across the known world, they were gradually collected together to form a New Testament canon. 

Even around the year 200 however, certain books were not yet universally recognized as Sacred Scripture. Such books include the books of Hebrews, Revelation, I and II Peter, II John and James for example. The Church however functioned well making converts by preaching the Gospel with authority. The Protestant fallacy of Sola Scriptura was an impossibility for the entire early Church. Even once the New Testament canon was settled, which was around the end of the fourth century, the Christians did not have mass produced Bibles to use as an evangelization tool. It was the preacher sent by Christ’s authority, given through the apostles, within the Church that Christ founded, that won over converts. It would be interesting to see how the average pre-convert Protestant of today would have faired living in the year 150 in the early Church. Of course they would have had no idea as to the modern man-made doctrine of Sola Scriptura, but it would be interesting to transport Billy Graham back to that time and see how he would have reacted. The Catholic would have believed the Gospel based on Christ's authority given to the preacher through the apostles. They would have accepted their interpretation of the Old Testament as well as everything Christ taught and passed on to them. The Protestant however would have been searching the Old Testament until they were blue in the face trying to interpret it for themselves, fighting Saint Paul or one of the Church Fathers over what it meant, and protesting to their "additions" to the Old Testament Scriptures. 

Would the modern Protestant have believed Saint Irenaeus' peaching of the Gospel on the streets of Lyons? Would they have insisted that he produce for them the entire New Testament before they believed the Gospel? When Saint Irenaues preached, “It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church,who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times...” would they have listened? And when he clearly spoke of the Church in Rome, would they have mocked him as they mock the Catholic Church today? “We do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority — that is, the faithful everywhere...” 

The Catholic Church continues on preaching and proclaiming the Gospel today with the same authority as the apostles and early Christians did, except that it also now has the written testimonies of the Scripture of the New Testament to give an additional witness to this apostolic Gospel. If Protestants reject those who have this authority now, what makes them so sure they would have accepted it back then? To take the Scriptures out of the bosom of the oral preaching authority of the Church, which they have always been intimately united to, is an error of the gravest matter. Simply put, Sola Scriptura was never an accepted or proclaimed doctrine of any true Christian, and it is clearly an invention of the pretended “Reformers” of the 16th century. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I've Gone E-Reading!

With the growing number of books surrounding me in my living quarters I have devised an ingenious plan to curb my book buying! I've gone digital! I purchased the PRS-600 Sony E-Reader. With all of the free out of print books available on the Net now, I figured that I could expand my written sources beyond what I would be able to do with hard copies of books, and I also hope to be able to keep myself busy with many of these hard to get texts and curb my book buying for awhile, before I have to start using the shelves in my refrigerator to store them! The Sony will read several formats including PDF, DOC, and EPub, and I believe you can convert other files types over for use on it as well. I have not tried that as of yet, I am too busy hunting the Net for books! It will also play audio books as well, but I don't see it replacing my Ipod for that task. Here are two great places on the Net to find out of print Catholic books.

The Internet Archive

Project Gutenberg

Pope Benedict XVI Celebrates The Latin Mass in Private?

I just was told about this German news article by a friend of mine concerning Pope Benedict XVI and his private use of the Latin Mass. We have heard repeatedly rumors that Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the Latin Mass in private, and it seems that this German news article confirms the same. I am not sure what type of tabloid it is, but apparently Bishop Fellay of the SSPX has said that Pope Benedict says the Latin Mass in private, but staunch opposition to the Latin Mass by the bishops of the world keeps him from doing so in public. I used Babelfish to translate the title of the news article and it translates, "An Italian bishop wants to drop out of the church, if the Pope publicly in the old person celebrates rite - bishop Bernard Fellay in a lecture reported." The article continued to explain, "During a priest conference in Italy a clergyman that its bishop had threatened, to leave the Church if the Pope celebrates publicly in the Old Rite." Below is part of a translation of the article that was sent to me.

*Bishop Fellay says, " the Holy Father celebrates the old Mass privately" and that an Italian Bishop has said he will leave the Church if he celebrates it publicly. Bishop Fellay said this in a speech at the 2010 priestly ordinations.* (Kreuz.net) Pope Benedict XVI. And his secretary George Gaenswein celebrate the old Mass. This is according to the General Superior of the Society of Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, in a speech in the 8th of July in the Brazilian city of Bahia..

This celebration will not be done because of inner-Church resistance against the old Mass.

Msgr Fellay also mentioned in his talk an example of the battle against the Roman Rite.

At a priest conference in Italy reported a priest, that his bishop had threatened to leave the church if the Pope ever publicly said the old Mass.

Msgr Fellay: "The Bishop leads a war against the old Mass." Simultaneously, he sees a line of good Bishops and priests, At least the heart is in the right place said Bishop Fellay about Benedict XVI., that he has a Catholic heart and loves tradition, but suffers from a progressivist understanding.

Benedict XVI. is trying to save the Vatican Council at any price.

The Bishop also said that part of the Roman Curia and the neoconsevative led State-Secretariat have torpedoed traditional initiatives of the Pope.

As an example the Bishop described the traditionally restored Trappist Abbey of Mariawald in the German Alps. The Pope had already permitted them to retirn to the old discipline and liturgy. Actually the secretary of State has intentionally set the Decree aside.

Indeed the Bishop sees also that there are a great number of Prelates in the Curia who are well-disposed to the Societ Pius X. In the Cathedral of St. Peter's there are 20 old Masses celebrated daily.

*Three Examples for the Decline*

Finally, Msgr Fellay illustrated the decline of the Church since the Vatican Council with a few examples.

He cited a chancellor of the Diocese of Trier. He has made known that 80% of the priests in the diocese deny the real presence of Christ in the Host.

In the Diocese Langres in north-east France every priest is entrusted with 60 parishes.

In the United States the number of religious men and women have shrunken to 10% of their original numbers.




 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Catholic- Robert Sungenis Debates "Reformed"- Protestant Matt Slick

Listen here to a radio debate (more like a spirited discussion) between Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis and a "Reformed" apologist Matt Slick. You can also watch it over on Robert's site, and the links are there as well.  I have never heard a guy do as much dancing around the arguments as this guy Matt Slick did. Among the highlights, Sungenis called Slick out on in his use of Greek on some Scripture passages, such as Luke 1:28. You can hear the frustration in Slick's voice as he keeps getting refuted over and over again. It is even more evident when you watch it. Slick also could not give any coherent reason as to why he even believed the Bible was God's written Word, and he also had no clue as to how the priesthood worked in the Old Testament.

Sungenis corrected Slick when he accused Catholics of "working" their way into heaven. Slick demonstrated that he did not understand the Catholic teaching regarding faith and works. Yet, how can one reject the Catholic Church when one doesn't even understand what it teaches? Sadly this is what many people do. They reject the Catholic Church without understanding her core doctrines. Finally Slick, out of frustration decided to make false comparisons between Catholics and Mormons as well as other cults. If you really want see how bankrupt Protestantism is, take an hour and listen to this first debate. Even though the debate was quite spirited, they both were able to keep it clean and respectful.

Matt Slick invited Robert to come back on the show again to continue their discssion. Here is that radio debate, where they continue on discussing topics on Catholicism, such as justification. Again, Sungenis did a great job of making a strong case for the Catholic faith. There are some dead spots and audio cuts in the second discussion.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Real Catholic TV: An Investment In Your Faith



Whenever I come across something on the Internet pertaining to the Catholic faith that I find to be worthwhile, I share it with you. I recently subscribed to the premium pay site of Real Catholic TV. I have spent hours now watching the hundreds of videos that are available on the website, and I must say that overall I am impressed by the quality and information of the videos that are made available for only $10.00 a month. If you can, I would cut 10 bucks off of your cable bill and get this subscription instead.


Just to give you an idea of what types of programing you can find on this site I will share with you a video here, as well as give you a list of others available on the site. You will have many hours of solid Catholic TV that your whole family can watch together.


Some videos available
5 Entire Seasons of the One True Faith, which includes 13, 1 hour episodes on almost every topic you can think of pertaining to the Catholic faith today. Some topics covered are, The Church, The Mass, Purgatory, The End Times, Abortion, Hell, the Crusades, Faith and Works, Liberalism, Cafeteria Catholics, Protestantism, and the list goes on.


There are also Basic Training Courses that cover Church History, the End TImes, Spiritual Combat, Apologetics and Biblical Topics. These particular series are many hours, and the Church History course by itself is 15 hours. To put it simply, there are tons of videos for you to watch on this site for the price of a couple of Starbucks coffees.


Here is a video that I enjoyed from Season 6 of "The One True Faith" on the subject of Protestant Error. Check it out, and if you like it give a subscription a try. I think that you will learn quite a bit from the videos, and not only that, Michael Voris is a great no-nonsense type of speaker and he tends to get you fired up about the Catholic faith. Give it a try and let me know what you think. 





This program is from RealCatholicTV.com

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Micheal Voris: On the Opposition to the Latin Mass

Check out this video by Michael Voris, who sums up why there is such an opposition to the Latin Mass by so many priests and bishops today. If video does not show on here go to this link.



This program is from RealCatholicTV.com

Saturday, July 10, 2010

New Podcast: The Veneration of the Saints

Have you as a Catholic been called an idolater by giving veneration to the Saints? As promised, I have completed a podcast addressing this topic. It is just over an hour long and it is a detailed summary of the 4 part series I have posted on this blog. I also added as a few more thoughts on why we as Catholics revere the Saints, and why we should not shun this right belief. You can listen here or download for free on iTunes, just search for Catholic Champion in the iTunes Store.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Last Anchorite-Video Series

I ran across this cool movie series on YouTube while searching through videos on the Byzantine Church. The series is about a modern day anchorite living desert monasticism today. I have been reading about monasticism lately and this video series caught my attention.



New Churches in Russia Put Icons in High Demand



The embedding is disabled on this video. Just click on the YouTube link to view the video.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

An Apology to Mark Shea. Revised (Why Liturgical Abuse Matters)

Retraction: My apologies to Mark Shea on this post. I misread his quotation from a reader of his where he used two indentations in the quote making it appear as if he was replying to the reader, when in actuality it was the reader's indentations that were left in the quote, and Mark Shea later responded to the reader halfway down the page. My mistake and my apologies to Mark. So I revised the post to retract my misrepresentation of him. 
Matthew J. Bellisario

I wonder if a fellow Catholic would give the Pope a slice of stale pizza and a flat RC Cola if the Holy Father visited their house tomorrow? It seems so based on the attitude many Catholics have for the Mass. I ran across a post put up today by the Catholic "apologist" Mark Shea. Some unfortunate person sought liturgical advice from Mark regarding liturgical music. Mark makes a few comments on what he feels to be going over the line in such matters. For the most part the post was quite a bore, but one portion that his reader wrote caught my attention, and it really shows the ineptitude that we have stirring in the Catholic world today.

"As in everything Liturgical these day, it seems one must try to be as generous as possible, assume the best intentions, and allow for simple incoherence by people who are not thinking too clearly. So bad music, intentions that don’t intend anything, priests ad libs that don’t actually make any sense – these, and other like them I can live with, and have for decades." A Catholic Reader-
See entire post here.

So here is the basic attitude many Catholics have for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. People who have no idea what they are doing regarding the liturgy is no problem for them. Bad music and priests ad libbing during the liturgy, no problem either! They can live with it, and so should you! After all, he has for decades folks, whats your problem? Should we have a problem with abuses that Holy Mother Church has been opposing for years, like bad music and ad-libbing priests?

In case we have forgotten, the problem is that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is present at each and every  Mass! That is why we should not just "live with it." In case Catholics are wondering, it is almighty God to whom we are giving due worship to in the Mass. It is not a social function where anything goes as long as I get the Eucharist, which is the constant attitude many Catholics have today. If the general churchgoer on Sunday never says anything about these abuses then the abuses will not stop. And if one is content to "live with it", that he means he really could care less about it. This lackadaisical mentality is why the liturgical abuses have been going on for decades. Its because people like "the reader" can "live with it." If the priest makes up his own words, no problem. I mean after all, its only the Mass right? Its only the most sacred act of worship that has ever occurred on the planet. Christ is being crucified before our very eyes, offering Himself, the pure sacrifice to the Father for us miserable sinners, why not tolerate bad music and ad-libbing! If the music, words or the actions of the priest  don't even come close to the liturgical context of the Holy Sacrifice, just deal with it! Why be a stickler on such things? I think you get my point. I am not saying that we should jump out of our pews every time something happens. But I am saying that we should do our best to oppose such actions in the liturgy as best and as charitable as we can. We should not just "live with it."

I know, I'll be labeled a Rad Trad by many for expressing my concern about how we give honor and worship to God in the liturgy. I would however rather be a "rad-Trad" than one who can just live with ad-libbing priests, bad music, and people running the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass who have no clue as to what is happening! Unfortunately its no problem for many Catholics today.

Pope Urban VII said he following in 1634. Perhaps those with this "I can live with it" mentality should think about his words.

"If there is anything divine among man's possessions which might excite the envy of the citizens of heaven (could they ever be swayed by such a passion), this is undoubtedly the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, by means of which men, having before their eyes, and taking into their hands the very Creator of heaven and earth, experience, while still on earth, a certain anticipation of heaven.

How keenly, then, must mortals strive to preserve and protect this inestimable privilege with all due worship and reverence, and be ever on their guard lest their negligence offend the angels who vie with them in eager adoration!" 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Christ the King Says Farewell To Fr. Venette on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

After a brief stay in Sarasota, FL, Father Howard Venette, FSSP, will be heading up to Atlanta to pastor the FSSP parish of St. Francis DeSales. Father Venette had been saying Mass in Ocala, FL. on Sundays for the Latin Mass community there, as well as helping out around Christ the King in Sarasota. It has been a pleasure having him around and he will be missed. Here are some pictures that I took from the Mass on the Feast of St. Peter and Paul where he participated as deacon the evening before his departure, alongside Father James Fryar, FSSP. Below is the sermon that Fr. Fryar gave that day, and you can get it on iTunes as well. Just search the store for Catholic Champion and subscribe for free.