Saint Thomas Aquinas

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Proper View of the Crusades

We have all heard it before, the attacks leveled against the Catholic Church and the crusades. Here is a proper response for those hecklers. Looking at the damage being done by Islam now in western society, it may be a good time to reflect on the past. 

1. We might refrain from treating this question of the Crusades. [1] We have only to read an impartial history to find the justification of these warlike expeditions which exhibit Christian society in all the splendor of religious heroism. Let us observe, however, that the end or motive of the Crusades was perfectly just, and that, so far from having the disastrous effects sometimes attributed to them, they were productive of the happiest results. 
A. The Crusades had an end which was just, generous, and civilizing. Mohammed had inspired his followers with the ardor of proselytizing by the sword. Their fanaticism had conquered Spain and, though arrested by the valiant sword of Charles Martel, meditated the conquest of the East and the destruction of civilization. The Emperors of Constantinople appealed to the Christians of the East to protect the last bulwark of Europe, and the Church added her exhortation to this pressing appeal. After Sylvester II and Sergius IV had made a generous appeal in behalf of the Christians of the Holy Land, St. Gregory VII wrote to the Emperor in 1074: "The Christians beyond the sea who are suffering unheard-of outrages, and are daily massacred like sheep, have sent to me in their great need, beseeching me to help our brethren by every means in my power in order that the Christian religion may not, God forbid, be completely annihilated in our time." 
In answering the appeal made by Urban II and Peter the Hermit in the Council of Clermont (1095) the Christian princes felt confident they were obeying the will of God. Hitherto they had only defended themselves; now they decided to carry the war into the heart of Islamism, which it was their right and their duty to do, for all the religious and social rights of European nations were threatened by the Mohammedans. Was Europe to await quietly the shame and scourge of slavery; was every Christian nation to allow itself to be oppressed, instead of forming with all the others a holy league against the enemies of the Cross? "When we blame these enterprises," says the learned de Guignes in the Memoires de l'Academie des inscriptions et des belles-lettres  (t. lxviii.), "it is because we have not sufficiently reflected upon the state of the times. The Mussulmans had taken possession of Syria, and had made themselves masters of Africa, of Spain, and of all the islands of the Mediterranean, whence they continually insulted the inhabitants on the shores of Italy. Through Spain and Corsica they entered and ravaged the southern provinces, and pillaged all the vessels they encountered. Constantinople was a powerful barrier to them; should they succeed in their attempt against it, all Europe would be endangered and run the risk of falling into their power. Attacking them in the centre of their empire would reduce their strength and deal them a blow from which they could never recover." 
B. The Crusades, it is true, did not completely accomplish the end for which they were undertaken, but we may say with Count de Maistre, "Though each one failed, yet all succeeded."  To judge these vast enterprises we must take them as a whole, without stopping at the abuses and faults which are the result of human passions, and which are to be found in all wars. Mgr. Pie, in the panegyric on St. Louis, enumerates among the happy results of the Crusades:  1st. The Moslem conquest of Constantinople and the subjugation of the East retarded four hundred years. 
2d. The saving of the West and of Christian civilization from the brutalizing rule of Islamism. The Ottoman power, which for centuries threatened to swallow up everything, was so weakened and received such a mortal blow that it continued to exist only through the indulgence of Christianity.

3d. The people of Europe were delivered from the evils which they brought upon themselves by the dissension and incessant wars of prince with prince, lord with lord, city with city. The passion for combats with which the knights were filled found noble vent: ceasing to fight among themselves, Christian warriors united their efforts against the common enemy. 
4th. The condition of the people was improved; serfs and vassals were freed by thousands; the commons acquired rights and privileges which curbed the arbitrary and tyrannical power of the lords. 
5th. Agriculture, science, and the arts also reaped great advantages. Who does not know that these expeditions paved the way for the beautiful age of Leo X and Louis XIV?
6th. They were likewise productive of much spiritual good. "Can the Christian," exclaims Mgr. Pie, "confine his gaze to the present and forget the grand horizon which opens beyond the tomb? Ah! what matters it to me, a man of the next life, what matters it to me that the Crusades are judged wrong according to the cold and tardy computations of our modern calculators, when the holy Abbot of Clairvaux assures me that he learned from Heaven that this employment of the mammon of iniquity secured to thousands of Frenchmen the imperishable treasures of supreme beatitude?
The losses of the terrestrial country were soon forgotten, and the heavenly country was enriched forever. Men of time, you speak to me of numbers; and I, a priest of eternity, I know but one number which interests me and which is worthy of my attention, the eternal number of the elect."  All these advantages largely compensated for the checks which the Crusaders suffered in consequence of dissensions and rivalries among themselves and the perfidy of the Greeks. 
Fr. W. Devivier, SJ
Edited by Bishop S.G. Messmer, DD, DCL
Bishop of Green Bay, Wisc.
Imprimatur, 1903

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Council of Trent: Original Sin

This will be the first in a series of posts that I will make concerning the Church's dogmatic teachings from the Council of Trent. As I have stated before, Trent is the Council that we should be most concerned with today in the Church since it specifically binds us in its doctrinal definitions contained in its decrees and canons. The definitions of Trent in its decrees and canons are binding on all Catholics, and those who would obstinately oppose its doctrinal definitions would be guilty of heresy. One who opposes defined doctrine cannot be pleasing to God. "That our Catholic faith, without which it is impossible to please God, may, errors being purged away, continue in its own perfect and spotless integrity, and that the Christian people may not be carried about with every wind of doctrine."

Trent gave its formal decree on the doctrine of 'Original Sin' in its fifth session. The doctrine of original sin is important for any Catholic to understand. If we get it wrong it severely cripples one's understanding of man, his relationship to God and the need for a divine savior. Man's fallen nature separates him from God's friendship. This reality is founded upon a historical reality revealed to us by God in Sacred Scripture, through Christ's one and only Church. Among other things, the book of Genesis gives us an historical account of God's creation narratives and the fall of Adam, which accounts for the sinful state of mankind.

The Council of Trent held between 1545 and 1563 was called to primarily address the heretical teachings of the pretended "Reformers." Few central doctrines were left untouched by the heretics. As we know one error often leads to many others. This is the reason that the council fathers at Trent had to deal with so many of the Church's core teachings. They did this with great study and deliberation. There has been no council in which so much time in study and deliberation on these core teachings took place in the history of the Church. There are some fundamental truths that we must adhere to have a firm grasp on this doctrine. The council fathers determined five definitions that would make up the decree concerning this doctrine. They are listed below in block quotations. Notice that each definition is sealed with an anathema, meaning that one would sever or cut oneself off from the unity of faith by denying the definition. If you would like to pull up the text for yourself, you can do so by clicking on this link.

1. The first definition is that the Genesis accounts of Adam and Eve are historical accounts. Although they are not written as a modern historian would write them, they are nonetheless historical accounts of actual events and actual figures. Adam and Eve were historical figures, not myths or names for a group of people representing humanity. Trent defines that sin came through the historical figure of Adam and that specific consequences followed.

If any one does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he had transgressed the commandment of God in Paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice wherein he had been constituted; and that he incurred, through the offence of that prevarication, the wrath and indignation of God, and consequently death, with which God had previously threatened him, and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam, through that offence of prevarication, was changed, in body and soul, for the worse; let him be anathema.
This historical event is important because God created Adam in a state of grace. When Adam sinned he lost this grace and incurred a separation from God and inherited death in both body and soul. Secondly it is also true that Adam not only effected himself but the entire human race from which we are all descended. This includes all of the consequences including the death of the soul.
If any one asserts, that the prevarication of Adam injured himself alone, and not his posterity; and that the holiness and justice, received of God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone, and not for us also; or that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has only transfused death, and pains of the body, into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul; let him be anathema:--whereas he contradicts the apostle who says; By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.
  Next Trent gives us the remedy for these deadly consequences, which is the reestablishment of grace, God's friendship, to all mankind through Jesus Christ, alone.
If any one asserts, that this sin of Adam,--which in its origin is one, and being transfused into all by propogation, not by imitation, is in each one as his own, --is taken away either by the powers of human nature, or by any other remedy than the merit of the one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath reconciled us to God in his own blood, made unto us justice, santification, and redemption; or if he denies that the said merit of Jesus Christ is applied, both to adults and to infants, by the sacrament of baptism rightly administered in the form of the church; let him be anathema: For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved. Whence that voice; Behold the lamb of God behold him who taketh away the sins of the world; and that other; As many as have been baptized, have put on Christ.
Notice that Trent defines the only means given to us by Jesus to establish this reestablishment of grace, which is through Baptism. The council fathers of Trent do not look for any exceptions to the divine command to go and baptize the entire world. The fathers at Trent did not look to accommodate other religions or look for politically correct ways to avoid offending others. They did not begin as many Catholics do today with an exception of invincible ignorance and the mere following of one's conscience in order to obtain salvation. They did not build a theology around an exception as many bankrupt theologians do today. The fathers understood the mandate give by Christ and the severe repercussions of being separated from God's grace and friendship.
If any one denies, that infants, newly born from their mothers' wombs, even though they be sprung from baptized parents, are to be baptized; or says that they are baptized indeed for the remission of sins, but that they derive nothing of original sin from Adam, which has need of being expiated by the laver of regeneration for the obtaining life everlasting,--whence it follows as a consequence, that in them the form of baptism, for the remission of sins, is understood to be not true, but false, --let him be anathema. For that which the apostle has said, By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men in whom all have sinned, is not to be understood otherwise than as the Catholic Church spread everywhere hath always understood it. For, by reason of this rule of faith, from a tradition of the apostles, even infants, who could not as yet commit any sin of themselves, are for this cause truly baptized for the remission of sins, that in them that may be cleansed away by regeneration, which they have contracted by generation. For, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
 Finally Trent finishes its decree concerning this dogma by expounding upon the effects of the Sacrament of Baptism.
If any one denies, that, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted; or even asserts that the whole of that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away; but says that it is only rased, or not imputed; let him be anathema. For, in those who are born again, there is nothing that God hates; because, There is no condemnation to those who are truly buried together with Christ by baptism into death; who walk not according to the flesh, but, putting off the old man, and putting on the new who is created according to God, are made innocent, immaculate, pure, harmless, and beloved of God, heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ; so that there is nothing whatever to retard their entrance into heaven. But this holy synod confesses and is sensible, that in the baptized there remains concupiscence, or an incentive (to sin); which, whereas it is left for our exercise, cannot injure those who consent not, but resist manfully by the grace of Jesus Christ; yea, he who shall have striven lawfully shall be crowned. This concupiscence, which the apostle sometimes calls sin, the holy Synod declares that the Catholic Church has never understood it to be called sin, as being truly and properly sin in those born again, but because it is of sin, and inclines to sin. 
Trent is sure to define the effects of Baptism clearly to combat combat the errors of the heretical notions of Baptism being only a symbol of one's commitment to Christ, or being merely one's profession of faith. Baptism in effect remits the deadly consequences of original sin, being the loss of original justice due to sin. It is also noted that concupiscence, or the inclination to sin remains, but man can with God's grace overcome it. We also notice here the reality of man's cooperation with God's grace being necessary.

These five definitions in this decree are infallible and indeed need to be believed in order to understand one's relationship with God. Only with this reality in mind do we see the necessity to evangelize those outside the Church. Obviously this decree does not cover every aspect of this teaching, but establishes a firm foundation for which to build upon.

What needs to be understood is that there are serious consequences for denying any of these realities that Trent defines. For example, if one were to deny that Adam was a real person through which mankind lost friendship with God, what would be the necessity of reestablishing it through Christ? How would we explain man's propensity to sin? Mankind would instead stand in no need of a savior. The entire narrative of God's relationship with Israel and all of His covenants He made with His people would be mere fabrications built on sand. There would be no need of the Old Law or its fulfillment in the New through Christ. This decree should be the starting point for understanding the Church's teaching on original sin. This decree may seem elementary to some, but unfortunately there are many in the Church who have never read this decree and have no idea as to its importance. I will cover more of Trent's decrees and canons in upcoming posts.

The eighteenth general Council terminated at Trent, on the 4th of December, 1563, and was confirmed on the 26th of January following, by a Bull of Pius IV. It had been eagerly and urgently called for by the whole Church, but it was held under the most difficult circumstances, and amid innumerable obstacles. (Rev. A. Nampon, SJ)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Ten Years of Blogging!

The end of 2017 will be the centennial mark of the Catholic Champion blog. With now over 1140 posts, its been an interesting and often fun venture. The site has taken on different personalities of sorts over the years. The first four years or so the blog was oriented towards apologetics. I engaged in several debates in Protestant circles which allowed me to dig deep into the Catholic faith. Thus the majority of my earlier posts are focused on apologetic topics mostly aimed at combating the errors of Protestantism. After a several years of spirited exchanges with close minded anti-Catholic bigots such as James White, James Swan and an anonymous blogger calling himself  'Turretin Fan' I grew bored and tired of the same old nonsensical attacks and crippled arguments against the Church. Although I did receive some positive emails from Protestants who said they were thinking of converting, I decided to turn the blog in a different direction. The time I was spending in the apologetics realm was simply too draining and I began to realize there was another direction that was more important.

Being an avid reader I began to notice bad theological opinions in many of the newer Catholic books. I soon began to understand the errors of modernism. As I became immersed in the Latin Mass I began to learn about St. Thomas Aquinas. This was in large part to a couple of FSSP priests who were well versed in Thomism. I credit them as being the catalysts that drove me to study Saint Thomas. This opened a huge avenue for me to grow in my faith. As I studied Thomistic theology I began to see clearly the many errors that were being taught in the Church, and where these erroneous ideas were coming from. This prompted me to focus the blog on the traditional teachings of the Church and the reliable Catholic sources that I came across. The blog became a springboard for promoting traditional Thomistic material including books, videos and lectures.

Being a lover of the Dominicans the blog has also incorporated an orientation towards Dominican spirituality. Theology is not something that is an intellectual exercise alone, it must be aimed at deepening our love for God. So I like to throw in posts that give some insight into living the Catholic faith, taken again from time tested traditional sources.

Along the way I have posted about some of my experiences including pilgrimages I have taken. I was also fortunate enough to document the establishment and growth of the FSSP church, Christ the King in Sarasota, Florida. On the side bar you can see a chronology of Christ the King in the photographs I took. I feel privileged to have been a part of that. I still miss going to Mass there.

In ten years of writing I have learned a lot. Some of what I have written I regret the manner in which I wrote it, sometimes lacking charity. Despite my shortcomings, I have always had a desire to know and pass on the truth, and I hope that I have been able to do that successfully in most cases. While this blog is not as popular as others, I am grateful for those who stop by to read and comment. At a minimum I hope to continue in promoting solid Thomistic theological and spiritual material to my readers. Am I celebrating ten years of blogging? Not really, but I am grateful to be able to contribute in some way to this era of the Church, and I pray that it is a positive contribution. I hope to be starting a series on the Council of Trent soon, so stay tuned. May God bless and keep you!

Below are a few of my favorite articles over the years.

Save St. Thomas, Save the Church!

Transformation of a Building, Transformation of the Soul

Christ the King Photobucket

Seven Arrows Against Modernism

Pope Francis and "Immanentizing the Eschaton"

Keeping the Death Penalty Alive

Is the Catholic Church's Teaching on Contraception Infallible?

Ignorance, Conscience and Vatican II

Theology of the Icon

Blueprints Alone I Say!

Satan's Siege!

Invasion of the Soul Snatchers!

"It’s a Wonderful Life", or "Its My Life?"

Razing the Bastions

Our Lady of Good Success

Father James Gillis

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Edward Feser Interview On the Five Ways and Richard Dawkins Part I

Listen to this new interview with one of today's preeminent Thomistic scholars, Edward Feser. If you have not purchased any of his books, I would recommend starting off with these three! Enjoy!

The Last Superstition

By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed

Five Proofs of the Existence of God

Why The Council of Trent is Still the Preeminent Council of the Church

We hear day in and day out ad-nauseum about the Second Vatican Council. Bishops, priests and theologians bore us to tears harping on the same tiresome documents of Vatican II acting as if the Church started with the Second Vatican Council. Any Catholic who has studied the Church's theology and history ought to know that the documents of Vatican II hardly scratch the surface of our faith, and often times are written so poorly that they obscure the faith. The pastoral Council so called by Pope John XXIII himself brought nothing new in terms of theology and made no canonical pronouncements as the Councils before it had done. That is why we must must look back to the documents and Councils before Vatican II if we are to be fully immersed in our faith.

Although it is important to read and understand the First Vatican Council, I would argue that the preeminent Council for our time is still the Council of Trent. Trent is the most important Council the Church has had in over 500 years. The Council defined many dogmas that were under attack by the Protestant heretics. Thus what Trent defined solemnly is to be believed by every faithful Catholic, and nothing that goes against any of its canons or definitions can be accepted as orthodox. Trent defined many of the Church's theological doctrines very specifically including Transubstantiation, Justification, and all of the Sacraments.

This Council is also important for its Thomistic underpinning which its definitions and canons were built upon. Many modern theologians have claimed that the Church has never favored one particular theological "school" but this is a myth. The Church has favored the theological principles of St Thomas Aquinas both formally and informally in papal documents, Catechisms and in its definitions in general Councils. This is true of Trent. Romanus Cessario, OP writes in his recent work ‘The Achievement of Thomas Aquinas and His Interpreters’, “… as the presence of Thomists in influential positions at the Council of Trent suggests, anyone who wanted to exegete the main dogmatic definitions contained in the Decrees of the Council would have had to consult Aquinas, especially his Summa theologiae.”

As we know all of the popes for almost 100 years before the Second Vatican Council warned the Church that if the teaching of Thomas was dispensed with in the seminaries, the Church would fall into ruin. After Vatican II the modernist theologians were given pride of place. They have obscured the clear teachings of Thomas with their theological fantasies based in the modern crippled philosophies of Hegel, Kant, Heidegger and others. If we are to reorient ourselves back to reality and pull our gaze away from the fantasy-land of modernism, we must look back to Trent. Since Trent's definitions are rooted in Thomas, it is a good place to start. The time has come to stop this charade of presenting the few documents of Vatican II as the "be all, end all" expressions of our faith. The Council of Trent and the Catechism of Trent is where you will find the heart of Catholic teaching and it would do the Church well for theologians, priests, bishops and laity to start delving back into its rich presentation of our faith.

The Council of Trent

The Catechism of the Council of Trent

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Edward Pentin on the State of the Vatican Today

If you want an inside view on what is going on in the Church this video is a must watch!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Cardinal Burke Gives Lecture on Modernism, Apostasy and Fatima

Here is the full text of a recent lecture given by Cardinal Burke on the state of the Church today. Burke quotes Aquinas and encyclicals such as  E Supremi, and  Pascendi Dominici Gregis to explain what we are facing today. I am happy to see a prince of the Church turn to the warnings and solutions of the popes prior to Vatican II. 

Apostasy is distinguished from heresy, the other grave sin against the faith. Father Dominic Prümmer, O.P., in his classic manual of moral theology, defines apostasy as the “total defection from the Christian faith formerly willingly received.” Apostasy is the total defection from the Catholic faith, whereas heresy is the denial of one or another article of the faith. Whereas heresy, depending upon the manner in which it is embraced, can lead to apostasy, that is, to the total abandonment of the faith, apostasy, at its root, is a total drawing away from the life of faith.
One thinks, for example, of how the Church has suffered from the persistent heretical doctrines of Modernism, as treated by Pope Saint Pius X in his first Encyclical Letter, E Supremi, of October 4, 1903.
Pope Saint Pius X courageously identified a poisonous way of thinking which had been plaguing the Church for some centuries and which continues to plague the Church in our time. 
Excerpts from “Fatima 100 Years Later: A Marian Call for the Whole Church”
The Buckfast Abbey Conference Centre
Buckfast, Devon, England
12 October 2017

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Fr. Romanus Cessario: Lumen Civitatis

I recommend this video for a Thomistic explanation on the Catholic faith and the Sacraments. The issue of communion for the divorced and remarried is also discussed. Thank God we still have good Thomistic theologians!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Protestant Revolt: Should Catholics Commemorate 500 Years of Divorce and Heresy?

It is my opinion that the most detrimental destruction to the Sacrament of Marriage over the past 500 years has been the result of the Protestant revolt. Unfortunately the horrific event of the revolt is about to celebrated by the Protestants as well as many ignorant Catholics. Some Catholic churches and Cathedrals are being opened to Protestants so they can celebrate their 500 years of heresy within their walls. This would make the Saints of old cringe in horror! We have entered a new era of an open door policy to the horrors of Protestant error. The assault on marriage today by numerous clergy in the Church reeks of the Protestant acceptance of divorce. 

The consequences of divorce are numerous. While the separated spouses seek to enjoy life with a new "partner" children are left in the dust of loneliness, confusion, anger, resentment, guilt and often times deep depression. Divorce has been the catalyst for countless confused and lost souls. God created marriage first for procreation and the education and raising of children. The bond from the Sacrament of matrimony implies an obligation to one another and a right to one another's body. This is clear from Sacred Scripture and unanimous testimony of the Church Fathers, Saints and papal statements. For example, the Ecumenical Council of Florence states clearly,
"The seventh is the sacrament of matrimony, which is a sign of the union of Christ and the church according to the words of the apostle: This sacrament is a great one, but I speak in Christ and in the church. The efficient cause of matrimony is usually mutual consent expressed in words about the present. A threefold good is attributed to matrimony. The first is the procreation and bringing up of children for the worship of God." (Session 8—22 November 1439)
Thus it seems rational that when the marital bond is broken it is the children who often suffer the most. Children from divorced marriages often find themselves also later in life committing the same mistake of their parents. As we know, sin begets sin! In our modern culture with a divorce rate well over 50%, we see that many of our children are like rudderless ships on a stormy sea, giving themselves over to many types of vice looking for worldly things to give their lives meaning. They are becoming violent, distant and often isolated. They are more likely to post pictures and contact friends on pathetic social media applications such as Facebook rather than developing social skills in person to person contact. As a result they form few lasting bonds with others, and their relationships with their family members often grow cold. Often their view of the Catholic faith grows cold as they see the hypocrisy in their own families, which are the source of scandal. It is no mystery then that revolt against the teachings of Christ is corrupting the youth in our age.

The secondary end or purpose of marriage is the bond of mutual assistance and a remedy for concupiscence. The spouses help one another to live holy lives by mutual correction, encouragement and help one another in moral and material matters. By the very fact that marriage is indissoluble it offers the spouses a glimpse into the eternal bond with God. As the couple remains faithful to one another they also overcome their weakness in concupiscence.  "...if they do not contain themselves, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to be burnt. But to them that are married, not I but the Lord commandeth, that the wife depart not from her husband." (1 Cor 7:9-10)  Thus the companionship, the unitive bond and mutual help is often strengthened as a result of the first end, the begetting of children, but can obviously exist without children. However, when the spouses separate and enter into an unlawful union with someone who is not their spouse, they then heap grave consequences upon their heads and their children by committing the mortal sin of adultery.

Those who live in a state of adulterous relations have been forbidden from receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist. (Familiaris Consortio, 84) Being that the bond of marriage is indissoluble no man can break that bond, not even the Church.
...whatever marriage is said to be contracted, either it is so contracted that it is really a true marriage, in which case it carries with it that enduring bond which by divine right is inherent in every true marriage; or it is thought to be contracted without that perpetual bond, and in that case there is no marriage, but an illicit union opposed of its very nature to the divine law, which therefore cannot be entered into or maintained."
And if this stability seems to be open to exception, however rare the exception may be, as in the case of certain natural marriages between unbelievers, or amongst Christians in the case of those marriages which though valid have not been consummated, that exception does not depend on the will of men nor on that of any merely human power, but on divine law, of which the only guardian and interpreter is the Church of Christ. However, not even this power can ever affect for any cause whatsoever a Christian marriage which is valid and has been consummated, for as it is plain that here the marriage contract has its full completion, so, by the will of God, there is also the greatest firmness and indissolubility which may not be destroyed by any human authority.
(Casti Connubii 31st day of December, of the year 1930)
The Church's teaching here is clear, either there is no marriage, or there is an indissoluble marriage. There is no in between state. If a declaration of nullity is declared then no marriage existed, and this must be decided by the Church authority and no one else including the spouses themselves. Pope Leo the Great famously demanded that a women who thought her spouse had died in war who married another man demanded that she return to her true spouse once he returned and was found to be alive. He also said that the women would have to return to her true spouse and sever herself from the unlawful marriage under the pain of excommunication. (Sacra Theologiae Summa IVB, 213)

Martin Luther being the madcap he was, creating his own religion at will famously decried, "Matrimony not only is thought to be a sacrament with no support of Scripture, but the tradition on which it is claimed to be a sacrament is nothing but a mockery." (De Captivitate Babylonica Ecclesiae) It is also known that Luther thought polygamy was morally acceptable. This made Luther more akin to the pagans that to the Christians. What part of Christ's words, "So they are no longer two but one" did he miss? Did Christ say the three or four are now one? I think not. Like minded charlatans such as Calvin also denied that Christ established marriage as a sacrament. Being deceitful fools they were unable to see meaning of Matthew 19:3-6 and Ephesians 5:22-32. As a result of these mountebanks the Sacrament of Marriage was destabilized and the Protestant tradition of adultery spread like wildfire everywhere the population fell prey to their malicious heresies.

Luther helped create the snowball that would grow larger and larger by those who followed him. In 1522 Luther brilliantly decided that divorce was acceptable under certain conditions, and that one could marry another if infidelity or abandonment occurred. He also foolishly wanted these decisions to be held in the hands of the secular governments. As a result others such as Zwingli in Zurich established divorce courts and concocted divorce laws. Zwingli also decided that other reasons could also justify divorce and remarriage. This madcap theological invention has thus lead many to commit grave sinful acts of adultery yet thinking they are following Scripture. We all know the tale of the impious adulterer Henry VIII who started his own Church, founded directly on his vice of adultery.  This degenerate tradition is one that continues on in all of its retrograde glory in the Anglican Church. Protestantism then did not make the family stronger as many historians have claimed, it has weakened the state of marriage as a result of its heretical theological claims.

What a scandal it is then to see bishops of our Holy Church celebrating the impious madness of the the pretended reformers. What an abomination it is to see our clergy participating in Protestant worship! How can they allow Protestants to celebrate or commemorate their revolt in our churches and cathedrals? This is a madness that papal statements have condemned. As faithful Catholics we also must condemn these actions within our proper boundaries within the Church. Most of us can choose where we go to Mass and where we give our money and time. We can all petition God and the Saints for these sacrilegious acts to stop. We can inform our fellow Catholics of the perennial teachings of the Church with charity and clarity. Finally we can tell our Protestant neighbors about Christ and His one and only Church, the Catholic Church. As Catholics we do not harbor ill will towards Protestants today, but we long for their return to the Church and the renunciation of the errors of their heresiarchs. Although for many their culpability today is not the same as their founders, we do not want to confirm them in their error nor pretend that all is well. Why pretend that Luther, Calvin and others were upstanding men and thus falsely communicate the idea that we endorse their harmful doctrines?  This would be an act of cruelty. Nor would it be an act of charity to lead Catholics to believe their malicious errors.

For these reasons then the Church teaches:

 The 1917 Code of Canon Law " It is not permitted at all for the faithful to assist in any active manner at or to have any part in the worship of non-Catholics." (Canon 1258)
"Is it permitted for Catholics to be present at, or to take part in, conventions, gatherings, meetings, or societies of non-Catholics which aim to associate together under a single agreement everyone who, in any way, lays claim to the name Christian? In the negative!... It is clear, therefore, why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics, There is only one wav in which the unity of Christians may be fostered, and that is by furthering the return to the one true Church of Christ those who are separated from her. " (Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos)
"How does a Catholic sin against faith? A Catholic sins against Faith by Apostasy, heresy, indifferentism and by taking part in non-Catholic worship."(Catechism of the Council of Trent)
"If any ecclesiastic or layman shall go into the synagogue of the Jews or to the meeting-houses of the heretics to join in prayer with them, let them be deposed and deprived of communion If any Bishops or Priest or Deacon shall join in prayer with heretics, let him be suspended from Communion"
(Third Council of Constantinople.)
"I will not pray with you, nor shall you pray with me; neither will I  say 'Amen' to your prayers, nor shall you to mine"
(Saint. Margaret Clitherow before she was pressed to death by the Protestant heretics.)

Some Catholics are making the case that we are not really celebrating the Reformation but "commemorating" it. They claim we are commemorating reconciliation with them and that we are recognizing the great achievements of the Reformation. What achievements would those be? What reconciliation? Finally, many Catholics are justifying common prayer together with the Protestants claiming that the prayers are prepared in order to be applicable to both Catholic and Protestant beliefs. This however can never be justified. Just because there is nothing in the prayers that are against Catholic beliefs does not justify a participation with those who are not of the same believing, worshiping community, the Church.

Father Thomas Crean, OP explains,
Now to consider the second alternative : a proponent of ecumenical worship might well accept that such worship was not formally Catholic, yet go on to argue that it remains nevertheless untouched by pre-conciliar strictures against forbidden communicatio in sacris. Such strictures, he might say, apply only to those forms of non-Catholic worship which manifest adherence to a non-Catholic religion. Ecumenical worship, he might add, may indeed not express adherence to the Catholic religion; yet nor does it express adherence to a non-Catholic religion – for it does not express adherence to any religion. It is precisely designed to allow different Christians to worship God together without expressing adherence to a common understanding of Christianity. It is therefore legitimate.
Such a view is plausible; but is it tenable ? Can there really be a public, divine worship which manifests adherence to no definite religion ?
Let us consider what a human being, whatever his religion, seeks by engaging in a religious act. He is seeking to put himself or to maintain himself in a right relation with the Deity: that is what makes his act religious. He is not seeking merely to express certain convictions about God, as someone might do by filling in a questionnaire – he is seeking to come into the presence of God, and to be ‘ordered’ to God as God Himself wills. So by engaging in a given religious act, a person expresses his desire to be in a right relationship with God by means of it. But now let us assume that the religious act in question is a public act, i.e. the act of a community. By engaging in this essentially public act, the person would now be expressing his desire to be in a right relationship with God in or by means of this community. For since it is the community which is the subject of the religious act in question, by becoming a part of the acting community, he signifies that it has, for him, the power to perform a properly religious act, that is, to put him in a due relation to God. He may not in fact believe this – but it is what his act, as such, signifies.
Common worship need not imply a complete agreement on all matters concerning God and man. Thus within the Catholic Church, a Scotist and a Thomist may happily worship together. But if the foregoing reasoning is correct, common worship does imply an agreement that the community which thus worships together is a community in which God wills to be worshipped, and which is able to put one in a due relation with Him. In this sense, common worship does imply a common religion.
The Catholic, however, believes that it is in the visible Catholic Church, and only there, that God wills to be worshipped and that he can save his soul. He does not believe that any other community can bring him into a right relationship with God or maintain him in such a relation, except the Church. By engaging in ecumenical worship, therefore, he would seem to be in a contradictory position; he would be manifesting a religious commitment to a community which he believes has for him no salvific power, no power to put him in a due relationship with God. His act, as a public religious act, implies that he attributes such a religious power to the community; his faith forbids him to believe this. For he believes that if he left the Catholic Church, even to engage in exclusively ecumenical worship, he would lose his soul.

For a detailed explanation of the illegitimacy of Catholics participating in non-Catholic forms of worship I recommend the Dominican theologian Thomas Crean's article,  'Praying With Non-Catholics — Is it Possible?'

Should Catholics then be engaged in anyway shape or form in commemorating or celebrating the Protestant revolt? Should we be causing scandal by allowing them to pray in our churches? Should we pray in common with them as if our difference in beliefs do not matter? I think the answer is clearly no, we should not. We should be working to bring the Protestants back into the Church, not by acting as if our commonalities are the most important reality, but by making it clear that their existence outside the unity of the one Catholic Church is the true topic of concern. This is what true charity consists, willing the good of the other, not obscuring the good of the other. We cannot expect to win souls over to the Church while pretending to honor or commemorate division, or even give the appearance of such.
We must mention another fruitful cause of evil by which the Church is afflicted at present, namely: Indifferentism, that vicious manner of thinking which mushrooms on all sides owing to the wiles of malicious men, and which holds that the eternal salvation of the soul can be obtained by the profession of any faith, provided a man's morals be good and decent ... Let them beware who preach that the gates of Heaven are open to every religion! Let them seriously consider the testimony of the Savior that some are against Christ because they they are not with Christ, that they scatter who do not gather with Him, and therefore without doubt they will perish in eternity unless they hold to the Catholic faith and observe it whole and inviolate. (Pope Gregory XVI)
 This shameful font of indifferentism gives rise to that absurd and erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be maintained for everyone. It spreads ruin in sacred and civil affairs, though some repeat over and over again with the greatest impudence that some advantage accrues to religion from it. "But the death of the soul is worse than freedom of error," as Augustine was wont to say.21 When all restraints are removed by which men are kept on the narrow path of truth, their nature, which is already inclined to evil, propels them to ruin. Then truly "the bottomless pit"22] is open from which John saw smoke ascending which obscured the sun, and out of which locusts flew forth to devastate the earth. Thence comes transformation of minds, corruption of youths, contempt of sacred things and holy laws..
(Pope Gregory XVI, On Liberalism and Religious Indifferentism)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Mosaic Covenant Revoked Or Fulfilled? Aquinas Answers

We often hear many theologians today claiming that the Jewish Mosaic covenant was never revoked. Most theologians making this claim then go on to assume that this means the Jews can continue to practice the Jewish religion and obtain salvation by doing so. For example, Cardinal Kasper sends the wrong message in his 2002 reflection concerning the Church's relations with the Jews, "This does not mean that Jews in order to be saved have to become Christians; if they follow their own conscience and believe in God’s promises as they understand them in their religious tradition they are in line with God’s plan, which for us comes to its historical completion in Jesus Christ." Statements like these only provide the Jews with an out to becoming Christians. An interesting observation is that the Jews today no longer even  practice what the Jews practiced in the time of Christ. That being said, neither the Jews today nor those of Jesus' time exempt from the New Covenant.

In order to understand the Church's relation to the Jews and the Old Covenant is to see the Old Covenant as being "fulfilled and transformed" in Christ. The Old Covenant is indeed special having come through the Jews, making the world ready for the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. Thus the Old Mosaic Covenant was not revoked, it was in effect absorbed, fulfilled and transformed when Christ came and established the New Covenant. Thus when Christ became incarnate, suffered, died, resurrected and established the New Covenant through His one and only Church, the Jew as well as the Gentile was obliged to enter into this Covenant. This is the only way made possible for the Jews to remain in a Covenant with God. 

One may ask, what about the Ten Commandments, aren't they absorbed and transformed along with the Jewish ceremonial laws? Aquinas distinguishes between the moral laws and ceremonial laws. The moral laws given by God are immutable, or unchangeable, but God Himself can and did change ceremonial laws to reflect a change in the covenants. Thus the old ceremonial laws were only imperfect prefigurements of what was to come through Christ. For example, God brought us the Sacrifice of Christ in the Mass thus making the old sacrificial ceremonial laws obsolete, and thus non-efficacious nor pleasing to God. In fact, the old ceremonial laws would now be an insult to God since Christ's sacrifice is perfect in Himself as God, while the old ceremonial laws were imperfect and only foreshadowing the perfect to come. Thus Thomas says it would be a mortal sin to practice these old ceremonies because it would demonstrate the sin of unbelief of what God had revealed through Christ. For example, one would not sacrifice a goat to God while believing that Christ was the perfect Sacrifice made present in the Mass. The old ceremony after the coming of Christ is simply contrasting belief in what God has revealed in the Incarnation of Christ. 

In reference to the Ten Commandments, were they also transformed or done away with? The answer is in a way they were transformed being that man is now given grace through Christ to live the Commandments in true charity. So the Commandments do not change in what they teach, they are now not mere suggestions or ideals, but they are now able to be lived in a perfected manner made possible through grace. Only with the coming of Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit in the Church through her Sacraments is this achievable. It is not achievable in any other way, including practicing variations of Judaism. It is interesting that Aquinas differentiates the Ten Commandments being written on stone while the other laws were given orally, demonstrating the unchanging Commandments of God and the eventual changing of the other laws. So while the Ten Commandments under the Old Law were necessary to direct the Jews to avoid evil, they lacked the means to orient the Jews on how to live virtuously in the love of God. It was possible then to obey the Commandments and still not love God and neighbor. Through the New Covenant the Commandments now are still to be followed but in a new spirit of grace and charity. 

In summary, the Old Covenant and the New Covenant have an intrinsic relationship. God gave the Jews the same Ten Commandments to give them a moral structure to aid their fallen nature in avoiding evil. The Old Law and its ceremonies are also important in understanding salvation history and the preparing for the coming of Christ. In this sense then we have a special relationship with what was given to us through the Mosaic Covenant. What is also important to understand is that Christ fulfilled and transformed the Mosaic Covenant effectively ending it by perfecting it, not merely revoking it. God Himself did this by giving us the New Covenant through Jesus Christ. So I think it is important to see this distinction between "revoking"and "fulfillment and transformation". Thomas Aquinas saw the Church, the Sacraments and everything that Christ offers through His Church as still carrying on in perpetuity the Old Covenant. It was not then revoked, but transformed into the New, thus making it obligatory for the Jews after His coming to enter into the New in order to still be a part of what was established in the Old. So it is necessary for the Jews today to convert to Catholicism if they are to have a covenantal relationship and inherit eternal. There is no way for them to receive eternal life through the practice of what they perceive to be Judaism. There is no need to discuss theological possibilities such as invincible ignorance. We are talking here of the objective necessity for the conversion of the Jews to Catholicism. 

Much of the information here was taken from Matthew Levering's book 'Christ's Fulfillment of Torah and Temple: Salvation according to Thomas Aquinas.' I highly recommend it! 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Evangelizing Those In The Church

"All the while unbelievers laugh; men of weak faith are shaken; faith is uncertain; souls are drenched in ignorance, because adulterators of the word imitate the truth. The mouths of true believers are dumb, while every blasphemous tongue wags free; holy things are trodden under foot..."
In many of today's homilies and talks given in Catholic parishes seem to follow the theme of the "New Evangelization." Of course this new evangelization has yet to really take place, since it is not aimed at converting anyone to anything other than what they already following. The reason for this I believe is that the old way of evangelization, that is the way of the apostles and the Church before the modern changes, had a method that worked, and those in power today don't want that "old way" taking place anymore. The Gospel was fist believed, it changed lives and caused people to live for Christ instead of themselves. They converted from the world and instead became living members of the Body of Christ. In turn the Gospel was passed along through the Church by living and preaching the Gospel to the world.

What is fundamental in all of this is the fact those who were preaching the Gospel, evangelizing those of the world, actually believed in the true Gospel that was passed on to them. They actually desired the good for another and wanted them to experience God as a living, believing member of the Church. If one is not a true believer they simply offer nothing in the way of evangelization. You know, its the old, "you can't give what don't have". The problem in the Church is today is that many involved in this "new evangelization" do not have anything to give. They do not believe what Christ taught, and they are not living members of the Church. If we do not start teaching people what Christ actually taught and passed down, and allow Christ to start living in us, there is nothing to pass down to anyone, other than the world! 

It is up to those who believe the perennial teaching of the Church, who have allowed the Holy Trinity to change them into living disciples to first convert those in the Church. This must start first with the bishops and priests who are true believers. They in turn can involve the faithful laity to help them in beginning to foster a true change in the Church. Those who claim to be Catholic and refuse to be converted by the Holy Trinity, which involves believing everything God teaches them through Divine Revelation, need to be removed from teaching positions in the Church. This can be done by the faithful bishops and priests first. There need be no heretical teachers in RCIA programs, or heretics giving lectures in any parishes. I know this goes against the modernist notion that we must include everyone with any opinion whatsoever. I know this will ruffle the feathers of the modernists who want to eliminate "rigidity"from the Church. The fact is,  this removal must happen if we are going to be doing any real evangelizing through the Church. This mentality that all opinions must be heard and synthesized into the Church is what is crippling it. The world has evangelized a large population of the Church thus those in the Church are not bringing anyone into the Church. 

Those in the Church must be first be evangelized into living members of the Body of Christ if we are to make any progress. Only those who are true converts must be allowed to teach. For the laity, the best remedy is to pray often, visit the Sacrament of Confession often, attend the Latin Mass when possible, read Sacred Scripture, read theology books written before the modernists began to take over Catholic publishing (before the 1960s), read the papal encyclicals written before the 1960s, become familiar with Saint Thomas Aquinas and reliable Thomistic theologians, and finally begin to push for removing those in the Church who are obstinately rejecting the Church's perennial teaching. As more and more of us begin to learn the true faith and pass it to others in the Church we can then begin to bring those in the world into the Body of Christ. As long as we have obstinate defectors in the Church in high levels teaching heresy, we are not going to be evangelizing anyone. The world already has its disciples, they don't need a Church to convert them to something they already are, followers of the world. 

Saint Basil's letter to the Italians and Gauls could have been written yesterday for us as it was during the Arian heresy. The word "modernists" can be substituted for "Arius." The letter is sent to those in Church authority who have not succumbed to the heresy. 

To the Italians and Gauls

... we do beseech you to be roused both to zeal for the truth and sympathy for us. We implore you to put on bowels of mercy, to lay aside all hesitation, and to undertake the labour of love, without counting length of way, your own occupations, or any other human interests.
2. It is not only one Church which is in peril, nor yet two or three which have fallen under this terrible storm. The mischief of this heresy spreads almost from the borders of Illyricum to the Thebaid. Its bad seeds were first sown by the infamous Arius; they then took deep root through the labours of many who vigorously cultivated the impiety between his time and ours. Now they have produced their deadly fruit. The doctrines of true religion are overthrown. The laws of the Church are in confusion. The ambition of men, who have no fear of God, rushes into high posts, and exalted office is now publicly known as the prize of impiety. The result is, that the worse a man blasphemes, the fitter the people think him to be a bishop. Clerical dignity is a thing of the past. There is a complete lack of men shepherding the Lord's flock with knowledge. Ambitious men are constantly throwing away the provision for the poor on their own enjoyment and the distribution of gifts. There is no precise knowledge of canons. There is complete immunity in sinning; for when men have been placed in office by the favour of men, they are obliged to return the favour by continually showing indulgence to offenders.
Just judgment is a thing of the past; and everyone walks according to his heart's desire. Vice knows no bounds; the people know no restraint. Men in authority are afraid to speak, for those who have reached power by human interest are the slaves of those to whom they owe their advancement. And now the very vindication of orthodoxy is looked upon in some quarters as an opportunity for mutual attack; and men conceal their private ill-will and pretend that their hostility is all for the sake of the truth. Others, afraid of being convicted of disgraceful crimes, madden the people into fratricidal quarrels, that their own doings may be unnoticed in the general distress. Hence the war admits of no truce, for the doers of ill deeds are afraid of a peace, as being likely to lift the veil from their secret infamy. All the while unbelievers laugh; men of weak faith are shaken; faith is uncertain; souls are drenched in ignorance, because adulterators of the word imitate the truth. The mouths of true believers are dumb, while every blasphemous tongue wags free; holy things are trodden under foot; the better laity shun the churches as schools of impiety; and lift their hands in the deserts with sighs and tears to their Lord in heaven. Even you must have heard what is going on in most of our cities, how our people with wives and children and even our old men stream out before the walls, and offer their prayers in the open air, putting up with all the inconvenience of the weather with great patience, and waiting for help from the Lord.
3. What lamentation can match these woes? What springs of tears are sufficient for them? While, then, some men do seem to stand, while yet a trace of the old state of things is left, before utter shipwreck comes upon the Churches, hasten to us, hasten to us now, true brothers, we implore you; on our knees we implore you, hold out a helping hand. May your brotherly bowels be moved toward us; may tears of sympathy flow; do not see, unmoved, half the empire swallowed up by error; do not let the light of the faith be put out in the place where it shone first.
By what action you can then help matters, and how you are to show sympathy for the afflicted, you do not want to be told by us; the Holy Ghost will suggest to you. But unquestionably, if the survivors are to be saved, there is need of prompt action, and of the arrival of a considerable number of brethren, that those who visit us may complete the number of the synod, in order that they may have weight in effecting a reform, not merely from the dignity of those whose emissaries they are, but also from their own number: thus they will restore the creed drawn up by our fathers at Nicæa, proscribe the heresy, and, by bringing into agreement all who are of one mind, speak peace to the Churches. For the saddest thing about it all is that the sound part is divided against itself, and the troubles we are suffering are like those which once befell Jerusalem when Vespasian was besieging it. The Jews of that time were at once beset by foes without and consumed by the internal sedition of their own people. In our case, too, in addition to the open attack of the heretics, the Churches are reduced to utter helplessness by the war raging among those who are supposed to be orthodox.
For all these reasons we do indeed desire your help, that, for the future all who confess the apostolic faith may put an end to the schisms which they have unhappily devised, and be reduced for the future to the authority of the Church; that so, once more, the body of Christ may be complete, restored to integrity with all its members. Thus we shall not only praise the blessings of others, which is all we can do now, but see our own Churches once more restored to their pristine boast of orthodoxy. For, truly, the boon given you by the Lord is fit subject for the highest congratulation, your power of discernment between the spurious and the genuine and pure, and your preaching the faith of the Fathers without any dissimulation. That faith we have received; that faith we know is stamped with the marks of the Apostles; to that faith we assent, as well as to all that was canonically and lawfully promulgated in the Synodical Letter.