Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Sungenis / White Debate is on!

It appears that we will see Robert Sungenis debate James White the second week of September 2010 during a conference. Robert has reported that the debate will be on Calvinism, but the topics are not yet set. There were prior reports that Freewill/Predestination would be the point of debate, but now it is reported that more than one debate may occur. The location is reported to be James White's church in Sante Fe, NM.  I have been waiting a long time to see Robert debate James, and I intend to witness the debate in person.

This is the info I received from CAI.
In my emails on behalf of Dr. Sungenis to Dr. White, the response I received was an affirmative

1. Time: September 2010
2. Dr. White is willing to have more than one debate
3. It will be in Santa Fe, NM in Dr. White's church

That's all we have so far.

Laurence Gonzaga
CAI Media Director

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Saint Thomas Aquinas on the Eucharist: Transubstantiation

Below is an excerpt from Saint Thomas' Summa Theologica. In these two questions he deals with many of the common objections that Protesters today bring up concerning the Catholic teaching on the subject of Transubstantiation. The first question deals with whether or not Christ is truly present in His full person, or whether he is just present as in a figure or sign. He follows the standard format of his Summa by presenting objections to the Catholic teaching, and then refuting them one at a time. He answers some common objections that Protestants present today. The second one deals with the substance of the bread and wine after the consecration. Protestants often accuse Catholics of going against Scripture claiming that Christ is present at the right hand of the Father and thus He is not present on the altar after consecration. Saint Thomas makes short work of that argument. I have bold typed the texts that caught my eye. So many of these objections are right out of the Protestant handbook. Saint Thomas' writings are essential to really understand how to defend the Catholic faith from the common arguments of these heretics. 


Whether the body of Christ be in this sacrament in very truth, or merely as in a figure or sign?

Objection 1: It seems that the body of Christ is not in this sacrament in very truth, but only as in a figure, or sign. For it is written (Jn. 6:54) that when our Lord had uttered these words: "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood," etc., "Many of His disciples on hearing it said: 'this is a hard saying'": to whom He rejoined: "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing": as if He were to say, according to Augustine's exposition on Ps. 4 [*On Ps. 98:9]: "Give a spiritual meaning to what I have said. You are not to eat this body which you see, nor to drink the blood which they who crucify Me are to spill. It is a mystery that I put before you: in its spiritual sense it will quicken you; but the flesh profiteth nothing."

Objection 2: Further, our Lord said (Mat. 28:20): "Behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world." Now in explaining this, Augustine makes this observation (Tract. xxx in Joan.): "The Lord is on high until the world be ended; nevertheless the truth of the Lord is here with us; for the body, in which He rose again, must be in one place; but His truth is spread abroad everywhere." Therefore, the body of Christ is not in this sacrament in very truth, but only as in a sign.

Objection 3: Further, no body can be in several places at the one time. For this does not even belong to an angel; since for the same reason it could be everywhere. But Christ's is a true body, and it is in heaven. Consequently, it seems that it is not in very truth in the sacrament of the altar, but only as in a sign.

Objection 4: Further, the Church's sacraments are ordained for the profit of the faithful. But according to Gregory in a certain Homily (xxviii in Evang.), the ruler is rebuked "for demanding Christ's bodily presence." Moreover the apostles were prevented from receiving the Holy Ghost because they were attached to His bodily presence, as Augustine says on Jn. 16:7: "Except I go, the Paraclete will not come to you" (Tract. xciv in Joan.). Therefore Christ is not in the sacrament of the altar according to His bodily presence.

On the contrary, Hilary says (De Trin. viii): "There is no room for doubt regarding the truth of Christ's body and blood; for now by our Lord's own declaring and by our faith His flesh is truly food, and His blood is truly drink." And Ambrose says (De Sacram. vi): "As the Lord Jesus Christ is God's true Son so is it Christ's true flesh which we take, and His true blood which we drink."
I answer that, The presence of Christ's true body and blood in this sacrament cannot be detected by sense, nor understanding, but by faith alone, which rests upon Divine authority. Hence, on Lk. 22:19: "This is My body which shall be delivered up for you," Cyril says: "Doubt not whether this be true; but take rather the Saviour's words with faith; for since He is the Truth, He lieth not."
Now this is suitable, first for the perfection of the New Law. For, the sacrifices of the Old Law contained only in figure that true sacrifice of Christ's Passion, according to Heb. 10:1: "For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things." And therefore it was necessary that the sacrifice of the New Law instituted by Christ should have something more, namely, that it should contain Christ Himself crucified, not merely in signification or figure, but also in very truth. And therefore this sacrament which contains Christ Himself, as Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. iii), is perfective of all the other sacraments, in which Christ's virtue is participated.
Secondly, this belongs to Christ's love, out of which for our salvation He assumed a true body of our nature. And because it is the special feature of friendship to live together with friends, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. ix), He promises us His bodily presence as a reward, saying (Mat. 24:28): "Where the body is, there shall the eagles be gathered together." Yet meanwhile in our pilgrimage He does not deprive us of His bodily presence; but unites us with Himself in this sacrament through the truth of His body and blood. Hence (Jn. 6:57) he says: "He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me, and I in him." Hence this sacrament is the sign of supreme charity, and the uplifter of our hope, from such familiar union of Christ with us.
Thirdly, it belongs to the perfection of faith, which concerns His humanity just as it does His Godhead, according to Jn. 14:1: "You believe in God, believe also in Me." And since faith is of things unseen, as Christ shows us His Godhead invisibly, so also in this sacrament He shows us His flesh in an invisible manner.
Some men accordingly, not paying heed to these things, have contended that Christ's body and blood are not in this sacrament except as in a sign, a thing to be rejected as heretical, since it is contrary to Christ's words. Hence Berengarius, who had been the first deviser of this heresy, was afterwards forced to withdraw his error, and to acknowledge the truth of the faith.

Reply to Objection 1: From this authority the aforesaid heretics have taken occasion to err from evilly understanding Augustine's words. For when Augustine says: "You are not to eat this body which you see," he means not to exclude the truth of Christ's body, but that it was not to be eaten in this species in which it was seen by them. And by the words: "It is a mystery that I put before you; in its spiritual sense it will quicken you," he intends not that the body of Christ is in this sacrament merely according to mystical signification, but "spiritually," that is, invisibly, and by the power of the spirit. Hence (Tract. xxvii), expounding Jn. 6:64: "the flesh profiteth nothing," he says: "Yea, but as they understood it, for they understood that the flesh was to be eaten as it is divided piecemeal in a dead body, or as sold in the shambles, not as it is quickened by the spirit . . . Let the spirit draw nigh to the flesh . . . then the flesh profiteth very much: for if the flesh profiteth nothing, the Word had not been made flesh, that It might dwell among us."

Reply to Objection 2: That saying of Augustine and all others like it are to be understood of Christ's body as it is beheld in its proper species; according as our Lord Himself says (Mat. 26:11): "But Me you have not always." Nevertheless He is invisibly under the species of this sacrament, wherever this sacrament is performed.

Reply to Objection 3: Christ's body is not in this sacrament in the same way as a body is in a place, which by its dimensions is commensurate with the place; but in a special manner which is proper to this sacrament. Hence we say that Christ's body is upon many altars, not as in different places, but "sacramentally": and thereby we do not understand that Christ is there only as in a sign, although a sacrament is a kind of sign; but that Christ's body is here after a fashion proper to this sacrament, as stated above.

Reply to Objection 4: This argument holds good of Christ's bodily presence, as He is present after the manner of a body, that is, as it is in its visible appearance, but not as it is spiritually, that is, invisibly, after the manner and by the virtue of the spirit. Hence Augustine (Tract. xxvii in Joan.) says: "If thou hast understood" Christ's words spiritually concerning His flesh, "they are spirit and life to thee; if thou hast understood them carnally, they are also spirit and life, but not to thee."

Whether in this sacrament the substance of the bread and wine remains after the consecration?

Objection 1: It seems that the substance of the bread and wine does remain in this sacrament after the consecration: because Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iv): "Since it is customary for men to eat bread and drink wine, God has wedded his Godhead to them, and made them His body and blood": and further on: "The bread of communication is not simple bread, but is united to the Godhead." But wedding together belongs to things actually existing. Therefore the bread and wine are at the same time, in this sacrament, with the body and the blood of Christ.

Objection 2: Further, there ought to be conformity between the sacraments. But in the other sacraments the substance of the matter remains, like the substance of water in Baptism, and the substance of chrism in Confirmation. Therefore the substance of the bread and wine remains also in this sacrament.

Objection 3: Further, bread and wine are made use of in this sacrament, inasmuch as they denote ecclesiastical unity, as "one bread is made from many grains and wine from many grapes," as Augustine says in his book on the Creed (Tract. xxvi in Joan.). But this belongs to the substance of bread and wine. Therefore, the substance of the bread and wine remains in this sacrament.
On the contrary, Ambrose says (De Sacram. iv): "Although the figure of the bread and wine be seen, still, after the Consecration, they are to be believed to be nothing else than the body end blood of Christ."

I answer that, Some have held that the substance of the bread and wine remains in this sacrament after the consecration. But this opinion cannot stand: first of all, because by such an opinion the truth of this sacrament is destroyed, to which it belongs that Christ's true body exists in this sacrament; which indeed was not there before the consecration. Now a thing cannot be in any place, where it was not previously, except by change of place, or by the conversion of another thing into itself; just as fire begins anew to be in some house, either because it is carried thither, or because it is generated there. Now it is evident that Christ's body does not begin to be present in this sacrament by local motion. First of all, because it would follow that it would cease to be in heaven: for what is moved locally does not come anew to some place unless it quit the former one. Secondly, because every body moved locally passes through all intermediary spaces, which cannot be said here. Thirdly, because it is not possible for one movement of the same body moved locally to be terminated in different places at the one time, whereas the body of Christ under this sacrament begins at the one time to be in several places. And consequently it remains that Christ's body cannot begin to be anew in this sacrament except by change of the substance of bread into itself. But what is changed into another thing, no longer remains after such change. Hence the conclusion is that, saving the truth of this sacrament, the substance of the bread cannot remain after the consecration.
Secondly, because this position is contrary to the form of this sacrament, in which it is said: "This is My body," which would not be true if the substance of the bread were to remain there; for the substance of bread never is the body of Christ. Rather should one say in that case: "Here is My body."
Thirdly, because it would be opposed to the veneration of this sacrament, if any substance were there, which could not be adored with adoration of latria.
Fourthly, because it is contrary to the rite of the Church, according to which it is not lawful to take the body of Christ after bodily food, while it is nevertheless lawful to take one consecrated host after another. Hence this opinion is to be avoided as heretical.

Reply to Objection 1: God "wedded His Godhead," i.e. His Divine power, to the bread and wine, not that these may remain in this sacrament, but in order that He may make from them His body and blood.

Reply to Objection 2: Christ is not really present in the other sacraments, as in this; and therefore the substance of the matter remains in the other sacraments, but not in this.

Reply to Objection 3: The species which remain in this sacrament, as shall be said later (A[5]), suffice for its signification; because the nature of the substance is known by its accidents.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Defending Aquinas from the Heretics: Sola Scriptura

Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is one the greatest Catholic dogmatic theologians the world has ever seen. His Summa Theologica, Summa Contra Gentiles and Catechism are among the finest works of Catholic theology ever produced. Although his writings were long despised by Protestants of the past, his writings are now being cradled in the arms of heretics, who seek to twist his writings into heresy in an effort to support their false doctrines, such as Sola Scriptura. Saint Thomas was a Catholic, he believed Catholic teaching, and his writings prove him as such. In rational times there would be no need for me to point this out, but since we have a severe depletion of rational thinking and understanding in our current culture, I think it is worth my time to write this so that people who are seeking God's Church won't be mislead by the malicious rants of the heretics.

There are some self proclaimed "Reformed" theologians who have tried their best to turn Saint Thomas into a proponent of Sola Scriptura. For instance, the anonymous Turretin Fan has tried on more than one occasion to do this, and has been refuted time and time again. Yet his efforts to hijack Saint Thomas' writings in his attempt to spread his false gospel have not ceased. He has once again irresponsibly misquoted and misinterpreted Saint Thomas' Summa Theologica.

Turretin Fan writes,
I've previously noted Aquinas' apparent [FN1] view of the primacy of Scripture (link) as well as other comments from Aquinas on themes generally related to Sola Scriptura (link). The following quotation, however, comes close to expressing not only the material sufficiency of Scripture, but also the formal sufficiency of Scripture.

Thus in Holy Writ no confusion results, for all the senses are founded on one — the literal — from which alone can any argument be drawn, and not from those intended in allegory, as Augustine says (Epis. 48). Nevertheless, nothing of Holy Scripture perishes on account of this, since nothing necessary to faith is contained under the spiritual sense which is not elsewhere put forward by the Scripture in its literal sense.
- Aquinas, Summa Theologica, First Part, Question 1, Article 10

Let's take a look at this quote, shall we? My first question is, where does Saint Thomas ever say that Scripture is formally sufficient in all Christian doctrine in this passage? You guessed it, he doesn't. If we go back and actually read his Summa from the beginning we can see that Saint Thomas uses a clear distinction between Divine Revelation, Sacred Scripture and Sacred Doctrine. Article 10 that Turretin Fan quotes from is dealing with Scripture, and the senses in which Scripture can be interpreted in regards to articles of the faith within Scripture. Thomas clarifies that in Scripture itself, there is nothing necessary to the faith which is not put forward in the literal sense. However, Saint Thomas never says that all necessary doctrine, or divine revelation is found in Sacred Scripture alone. This type of reading into a text is simply erroneous and irresponsible. This text refers to Scripture and how other senses of Scripture do not thwart the ability of Scripture to convey things necessary to the faith in the literal sense. It has nothing to do with the sufficiency of Scripture by itself in relation to the the rest of Divine Revelation, and we can see this from the text itself. If actually we read Saint Thomas' writings at length, rather than cutting and pasting like TF does, we can clearly see that he was not a proponent of Sola Scriptura.

We can prove that saint Thomas believed that Divine Revelation came not just through Scripture, but in the Church's decrees, united under the Chair of Peter, and in her Tradition of the Fathers, oral Kerygma, etc. Saint Thomas did not fall under the fallacious reasoning of the Protester, who seeks to separate Scripture from the Church, more specifically the Church built upon Saint Peter.

1. Saint Thomas believed in the papacy, and believed in the Church as being united in faith under the Chair of Peter. He believed the Church united to Peter was free from error.

"This is as if He said: "They shall make war against thee, but they shall not overcome thee." And thus it is that only the Church of Peter was always firm in faith. On the contrary, in other parts of the world there is either no faith at all or faith mixed with many errors. The Church of Peter flourishes in faith and is free from error. This, however, is not to be wondered at, for the Lord has said to Peter: "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren."[34]
(Catechism of Thomas Aquinas, 9th article)

2. Saint Thomas believed in apostolic succession, and the Divine Revelation that is passed on from them in succession to those who would follow them.

"By these seven Sacraments we receive the remission of sins,[14] and so in the Creed there follows immediately: "the forgiveness of sins." The power was given to the Apostles to forgive sins. We must believe that the ministers of the Church receive this power from the Apostles; and the Apostles received it from Christ; and thus the priests have the power of binding and loosing. Moreover, we believe that there is the full power of forgiving sins in the Church, although it operates from the highest to the lowest, i.e., from the Pope down through the prelates.[15]"
(Catechism of Thomas Aquinas, 10th article) 

3.Saint Thomas beleived that not everything the Church teaches is given to us in Sacred Scripture, he explicitly speaks about this in his Summa Theologica,

But those things that are essential to the sacrament, are instituted by Christ Himself, Who is God and man. And though they are not all handed down by the Scriptures, yet the Church holds them from the intimate tradition of the apostles, according to the saying of the Apostle (1 Corinthians 11:34): "The rest I will set in order when I come."(Summa Theologica III, Question 64, article 2)

4. Continuing on in the Summa we can also see Saint Thomas never viewed the Church and Sacred Scripture as being separate entities. In fact, we can see that he viewed the Church's apostolic teaching, along with the Scriptures, as being one and unified. We can also see, based on Saint Thomas' explanation of the papacy above, that he does not view the Church as being only an invisible spiritual communion, but those united to the Chair of Peter. The below passage taken in context with the above  proves that Saint Thomas viewed the Church, her Oral Kerygma, and Sacred Scripture as being inseparable. He never viewed the Church as being an invisible communion, united by believers of Sacred Scripture alone.

"The reason of this is that the species of every habit depends on the formal aspect of the object, without which the species of the habit cannot remain. Now the formal object of faith is the First Truth, as manifested in Holy Writ and the teaching of the Church, which proceeds from the First Truth. Consequently whoever does not adhere, as to an infallible and Divine rule, to the teaching of the Church, which proceeds from the First Truth manifested in Holy Writ, has not the habit of faith, but holds that which is of faith otherwise than by faith. Even so, it is evident that a man whose mind holds a conclusion without knowing how it is proved, has not scientific knowledge, but merely an opinion about it. Now it is manifest that he who adheres to the teaching of the Church, as to an infallible rule, assents to whatever the Church teaches; otherwise, if, of the things taught by the Church, he holds what he chooses to hold, and rejects what he chooses to reject, he no longer adheres to the teaching of the Church as to an infallible rule, but to his own will. Hence it is evident that a hereticarticle of faith, is not prepared to follow the teaching of the Church in all things who obstinately disbelieves one ; but if he is not obstinate, he is no longer in heresy but only in error. Therefore it is clear that such a heretic with regard to one article has no faith in the other articles, but only a kind of opinion in accordance with his own will." (Summa Theologica II, Question 5, Article 2)

5. Saint Thomas believed that in order to understand the Scriptures, one had to be united to that same Church, which is united under Peter. Clearly above we see that Saint Thomas held to the unity of the Chair of Peter, and his definition of the Church most certainly includes the papacy. Below he explicitly tells us that one cannot be outside of this Church and understand the Scriptures correctly. This is a great testimony to oral Tradition. 

"On the other hand faith adheres to all the articles of faith by reason of one mean, viz. on account of the First Truth proposed to us in Scriptures, according to the teaching of the Church who has the right understanding of them. Hence whoever abandons this mean is altogether lacking in faith."
 (Summa Theologica II, Question 5, Article 2)

6. Saint Thomas believed that the veneration of images, relics and the Saints was in accordance with Christian teaching based on Oral Kerygma, not Sacred Scripture. In fact, he teaches that there are different levels of worship, and he expounds upon the much rejected teaching of the "reformed" Protesters, concerning latria. The fact that Saint Thomas writes that this oral unwritten tradition is led by the Holy Ghost, proves that Saint Thomas was certainly not a proponent of Sola Scriptura. It proves that he believed the the Holy Spirit handed down teachings not found in Sacred Scripture.

"The Apostles, led by the inward instinct of the Holy Ghost, handed down to the churches certain instructions which they did not put in writing, but which have been ordained, in accordance with the observance of the Church as practiced by the faithful as time went on. Wherefore the Apostle says (2 Thessalonians 2:14): "Stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word"--that is by word of mouth--"or by our epistle"--that is by word put into writing. Among these traditions is the worship of Christ's image. Wherefore it is said that Blessed Luke painted the image of Christ, which is in Rome." (Summa Theologica III, Question 25, Article3 )

7. Saint Thomas believed in the authority of the Church to implement fasts, as well as give dispensations on fasting according to her authority.
"The justice of man does not destroy the order of the Church, but rather completes it. But as long as the order remains, obedience of an inferior to a superior precept remains. Therefore, through justice, a man is not absolved who does not keep the fast, and who ought to preserve the other precepts of God's Church." (IV Sententiae d. 15, q. 3)

My argument is, that anyone who writes extensively on the theology of the Catholic Church long enough, can eventually be misquoted and misinterpreted by the heretic. The fact is, Saint Thomas was no more a proponent of Sola Scriptura than Pope Benedict XVI. (See my earlier article to understand how the Protester operates in this fashion.) To promote such a lie is irresponsible scholarship, and is also intellectually dishonest. The simple fact is, Sola Scriptura is not an authentic Christian doctrine, it is not upheld in Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition, and it is not upheld by the Saints of the Church, including Saint Thomas. Saint Thomas correctly saw Christ as being the ultimate authority, who gave us a Church united under the Chair of Peter to serve His Divine Revelation, which is promulgated in the two forms of Scripture and Oral Kerygma.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from Christ the King, Sarasota, Florida!

This morning at 12AM Fr. James Fryar, FSSP, said Christ the King's first Christmas Mass, lit only by candle light. It was a beautiful liturgy and every pew was full. Prior to the Mass Father blessed the infant Jesus in the outside manger, and Christmas carols were sung by all.

Christ is born! Let us give thanks! Deo gratias!

Father James Fryar before the manger.

Father Fryar gives the blessing.

 Father Fryar and the congregation sing carols.

The altar lit by candle light.

Father Fryar at the altar.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Wisdom of Saint Pio

Saint Padre Pio is one of my favorite Saints, and I often ask for his intercession. He was a very holy and humble man, and his words are very rich in advice concerning the spiritual life. The great Saint's eyes were always fixed on Jesus, and ours should be as well. Here are a few quotes to think about as you go about your day.

In all the events of life, you must recognize the Divine will. Adore and bless it, especially in the things which are the hardest for you.

Prayer is the best weapon we possess. It is the key that opens the heart of God.

Don't allow any sadness to dwell in your soul, for sadness prevents the Holy Spirit from acting freely.

Our present life is given only to gain the eternal one and if we don't think about it, we build our affections on what belongs to this world, where our life is transitory. When we have to leave it we are afraid and become agitated. Believe me, to live happily in this pilgrimage, we have to aim at the hope of arriving at our Homeland, where we will stay eternally. Meanwhile we have to believe firmly that God calls us to Himself and follows us along the path towards Him. He will never permit anything to happen to us that is not for our greater good. He knows who we are and He will hold out His paternal hand to us during difficulties, so that nothing prevents us from running to Him swiftly. But to enjoy this grace we must have complete trust in Him.

Keep your eyes fixed on Him who is your guide to the heavenly country, where He is leading you. What does it matter to you whether Jesus wishes to guide you to Heaven by way of the desert or by the meadow, so long as He is always with you and you arrive at the possession of a blessed eternity?

Don't consider me too demanding if I ask you once again to set great store by holy books and read them as much as you can. This spiritual reading is as necessary to you as the air you breathe.

Don't worry about anything.

What God wants from you is always right and good. May He be blessed forever. Let us get to work; in Heaven we'll have no other duty than the fulfillment of God's will. Let us strive to bless the Lord when we are the object of humiliations and contempt. Let us bless Him in our spiritual trials and our heartbreaks, for all is ordained by God with great wisdom.
Whenever you are seized by melancholy, let your thoughts dwell on that fateful night on which the Son of God began the work of redemption in the solitude of Gethsemane and offer your own sufferings to the Divine Father, along with the sufferings of Jesus.

Source: Padre Pio Devotions

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Newsflash! Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II move towards Sainthoood!

VATICAN CITY —  Pope Benedict XVI moved two of his predecessors closer to possible sainthood Saturday, signing decrees on the virtues of the beloved Pope John Paul II and controversial Pope Pius XII, who has been criticized for not doing enough to stop the Holocaust. Read story here.

Read EWTN's online library articles on Pope Pius XII here.

The fight rages on to save Cleveland's landmark Polish churches.

St. Casimir's in the diocese of Cleveland, Ohio, continues to fight for her survival. The parish has now formed a blog in an effort to get people behind the cause to save the beautiful church and its Polish Catholic community. They have written to bishop Lennon of Cleveland, Cardinal George, Papal nuncio Archbishop Sambi, as well as Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, who is in charge of giving St.Casimir’s their extension to remain open while the case is reviewed.Visit the parish blog to join your prayers and letters to the effort of saving these Catholic communities, and the great Catholic heritage that goes along with them.

St. Casimir blog
St. Casimir main website
Letters to the bishops.
The history of St. Casimir's

Friday, December 18, 2009

Genesis 38 and the Sin of Onan. Ambiguous? Redux

Since this post has been the center of attention for some time, I have resurrected it so we can have free posting.  Maybe some others can contribute to the conversation. Keep the language as clean as possible please.

The Accepted Definition of Onanism from the Oxford Dictionary.

Onanism: Coitus interruptus, unnatural sexual intercourse or masturbation. In the Jewish tradition, onanism is associated with the biblical figure Onan who was condemned by God for spilling his seed ‘on the ground’ (Genesis 38. 7–10).

In opposition to common modern Protestant interpretations, I propose that Genesis 38 condemns contraceptive acts, and that all Protestant denominations who refuse this interpretation are not in accord with the consistent and ancient Christian or Jewish interpretations of this Biblical text. This in fact puts them at odds with Sacred Scripture and this Biblical moral teaching.

The text, (Douay Rheims)
6 And Juda took a wife for Her his firstborn, whose name was Thamar. 7 And Her, the firstborn of Juda, was wicked in the sight of the Lord: and was slain by him. 8 Juda, therefore said to Onan his son: Go in to thy brother's wife and marry her, that thou mayst raise seed to thy brother. 9 He knowing that the children should not be his, when he went in to his brother's wife, spilled his seed upon the ground, lest children should be born in his brother's name. And therefore the Lord slew him, because he did a detestable thing.

I want to address the text of Genesis 38:6-10 in light of the traditional Christian teaching on the sin of Onan. The teaching of classical Judaism as well as that of Christianity until the 1930s, viewed the sinful act of Onan as interrupting the conjugal act. It is this act of interruption which he was slain for. All Christians up until the 1930s interpreted this text as referring to Onan's punishment of death by his act of “coitus interruptus.” (Coitus interruptus is Latin for ‘interrupted intercourse.) In the 1930's the Protestants gave way to the secular culture, while the Catholic Church remained standing tall among the moral ruin of the age.

The question I have presented to Protestants today are; why do you now go against your own forefathers interpretations of Genesis 38 in regards to coitus interruptus? Why do you go against 2000 years of consistent Christian interpretation? One reason I propose that they reject this interpretation is that they would have to conclude that the only Church left teaching the correct interpretation would be the Catholic Church. Of course the Protestants could not live with such a conclusion. There are others who just want to enjoy the conjugal act without the natural consequences of their actions. Many of them view the conjugal in a selfish manner with no regard for the two natural elements of the act; the unitive and the procreative. I also want to say that there are some Protestants who do uphold the correct teaching of this passage and do not engage in contraceptive acts. So I am not addressing all Protestants, just the majority.

There are many hecklers that come to my site to heckle me and the Catholic Church's teachings. Not one of them even attempted to answer my proposed questions on this subject. In fact I have posted on this topic numerous times, and these hecklers always choose to ignore them and they instead attack the Catholic church on some other issue instead of defending their own moral beliefs and Biblical interpretations. Where is the "ready defense" that they are always hailing as their battle cry when it comes to condoning contraception? The one person who did respond, resorted to weak argumentation, as I will soon demonstrate. I must note I am not writing this to heckle B.J. Bracker. I simply wanted to address his arguments in a blog post that he wrote, which I promised to do on my blog. He kindly responded to an earlier post of mine on this subject. I am glad that he took the time to give his thoughts on the text of Genesis 38. That is much more than anyone else has been willing to do in Protestant circles. B.J. concluded in his post that the text of Genesis 38 was “ambiguous”. I want to start with his conclusion and then work backwards addressing his reasons for coming to this conclusion.

B.J.'s conclusion:
“In the end, I’m forced to conclude that the text is not clear enough to specify a particular sin as “The Sin” that caused Onan’s death. It seems likely that it was some combination of greed, selfishness, deception, lust, and disobedience. Since coitus interruptus is not specifically stated as the reason, and it was neither a capital offense nor an offense discussed elsewhere in the Old Testament, it seems unlikely that this was the cause.

Therefore, I conclude that Genesis 38 is ambiguous about Onan’s sin at best and points to sins other than coitus interruptus at worst. It is, thus, unreasonable to use this text as proof against contraception.”

So according to B.J., he seems to think that God has left us without a clear reason as to why He struck Onan dead in this particular text of the Old Testament. My position is that Our Lord intended to teach us a lesson in this text like he always does in the pages of Scripture. I also propose that He did not intend to present us an impossible riddle in this passage. I will affirm that the Church held an unambiguous interpretation of this passage for centuries, up until the Reformers rebelled in the 1930s. Lets first look at B.J.'s arguments.

B.J. starts out by quoting the text of Genesis 38:1-11 using the English Standard version. I don't know what compelled him to use this particular translation. Maybe he can clarify as to why he chose this translation. From this text he concluded the following.

“Now, the rules for Levirite Marriage were not handed down until the time of Moses. Thus, technically, Onan was obligated to fulfill a law here, but the fact that his father encourages this practice puts a large burden on Onan. Interestingly, Judah does not command Onan to take Tamar as a wife. He only commands that they produce offspring.”

By doing some research, I have concluded that the complete text of verse 8 is omitted in the newer Protestant translations like the NIV and the ESV. I am sure we could debate this further, but I don't want to get off of the topic. In the end it doesn't really change the reason Onan was killed. I propose that we know that Onan was married to Tamar by looking at other Biblical translations, “ ...therefore said to Onan his son: Go in to thy brother's wife and marry her...” (Douay-Rheims), “And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.” (King James), “8 And Judas said to Aunan, Go in to thy brother’s wife, and marry her as her brother-in-law,” (English Translation of the Greek Septuagint). So I disagree on this particular conclusion. Onan was married to Tamar, and then he committed an act for which he was killed. Either way Onan's act of contracepting is the reason for his death, as we shall see. It is however worthy to note that Church Fathers like St. Augustine as well as the early Reformers also thought that Onan was married. We can conclude this from their writings. So they must have been using a Biblical translation in accordance with those that I have chosen to use.

B.J. follows with this: “Still, the text does not say that this was Onan’s motivation. All that we are told is that Onan’s action was evil in God’s sight. Therefore, God kills him, just as he had killed Er, Onan’s older brother.”

Ok, lets look at the text to see what action brought the wrath of God upon Onan. It really does not matter what his motivation is for doing sinful act. The text says, “when he went in to his brother's wife, spilled his seed upon the ground, lest children should be born in his brother's name. And therefore the Lord slew him, because he did a detestable thing.” The action of Onan spilling his seed upon the ground to avoid procreation was followed up with “therefore the Lord slew him because he did a “detestable thing.” Now just using simple rules of grammar we can see that the object, the “detestable thing”, is connected with the sentence that comes before it, which is the spilling of the seed. We can also look at the Hebrew word "shichet", which more accurately means "to act perversely", and not “spilled" as it is commonly interpreted. This meaning is supported by Hebrew Biblical scholars. (Miguens) This also points to Onan's sin as being the contraceptive act of Onan, and not any of the other proposed acts that Onan committed. Onan acted perversely and was killed for it.

B. J. gets sidetracked looking for a reason as to why Onan did what he did. In the end it doesn't really matter. It was the act of contracepting itself for which he was condemned.

B.J. wrote, “There are also multiple possibilities for Onan’s Sin. Greed is a prime suspect. In not fulfilling his duties, he guarantees the firstborn’s share for himself. This is potentially coupled with selfishness. In failing in his duties, he leaves Tamar without a lineage and without someone to care for her.” All of this elaboration misses the point of the actual act that Onan committed for which he was killed. B.J. did go on to give some personal reasons as to why he thought Onan may have been killed.

“Onan also directly disobeys a command from his father. This showed rebellion, pride, selfishness, and disrespect. Although the Law would come later, in some circumstances, disobedience was worthy of death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). The details of Onan’s situation do not directly correlate to Deuteronomy 21, but the point is that Onan’s dishonoring and disobeying his father was serious and potentially deadly.”

The fact that Onan rebelled against his father was obviously not the reason that God condemned him. There is no precedence for this. Onan had no obligation to follow the order of his father as far as the conjugal act went. In looking at the text, if he did disobey his father, the act of his disobedience would not be connected with the “detestable thing” that he is condemned for. Secondly if he was married as the more reliable texts tell us he was, he would have had no obligation to follow his father's request anyways. If he was married, he obviously obeyed at least a portion of his father's request, to marry. After that Onan would have been able to act as he pleased with his wife. This conclusion of B.J.'s is not a tenable one. Once Onan married, the act of not fulfilling the proper sexual act as requested by his father would not have been the sin. It is the lack of not fulfilling the proper end of the conjugal act itself, not any disobedience to his father. It was a disobedience to God's divine law.

B.J. then elaborates a bit on the Levirite Marriage laws, none of which carry the penalty of death. So I do not see any relevance to these points that he makes as being of any consequence to the reason Onan is killed. The only rational conclusion B.J. is left with is the sin of coitus interruptus. He reluctantly states the following,

“Or it could have been coitus interruptus. This is the only place in the Old Testament that describes such an act, and Onan’s death occurs shortly thereafter. Thus, it is not unreasonable to see this as a possibility, and I do not want to disregard it outright.”

But he then follows this with the following disclaimer,

“Yet, as I have shown above, there are plenty of sins that Onan has committed, some of which may merit death, and the combination of them all might demand it. The problem is that the text does not specify the particular sin or sins that cause God to kill Onan. It is ambiguous. To hone in on the contraceptive act alone is to say more than the text says.”

I believe that the text is very clear on what act Onan was condemned and killed for. None of the other reasons that B.J. listed were crimes or sins punishable by death. We also cannot conclude that a combination platter of sins was the reason in which God killed him. In the text it specifically says it was one particular, “detestable thing”, not a combination of sins as B.J. suggests.

Finally B.J. is left with one more escape clause in his bag. He proposes the following:

“Now all the examples in Leviticus 15 are involuntary, but Onan’s action was voluntary. The peculiar thing, however, is that if self-inflicted semen loss (coitus interruptus, masturbation, etc.) was a capital offense, it seems odd that the Old Testament omits any such law, while including proscriptions for nocturnal emissions. Hence, if one argues that refusing Levirite duties is not punishable by death, then one must also argue that neither is coitus interruptus or masturbation.”

B.J. makes a false conclusion here by proposing that the Old Testament omits such a law and therefore he makes a connection with the Levirite duties as absolving Onan for being killed for the spilling of his seed. First of all we know in the text of the Old Testament that not fulfilling the Levirite Marriage laws were not punishable by death. We also know that Onan was killed for the act of spilling his seed. The two are not de facto, equivalently related in their levels of offense to God. In fact we see a very different reaction by God to each act. Was this law omitted from Jewish law? No it was not. In fact the classical Jews have always taught that contraceptive acts were sinful based on this Biblical text. The Biblical interpretation of Genesis was clear to them as to what act condemned Onan. It was the act for which Onanism is named, which I listed at the beginning.

Here are some examples of the consistent interpretations of this text within the Christian tradition. The early Church Fathers saw no ambiguity in the text as B.J. has proposed. The traditional interpretation of this passage is a divine condemnation of the contraceptive act. For example the great Saint Jerome directly connected Onan's spilling of his seed as the act for which he was killed. It was not ambiguous to him.

"But I wonder why he [the heretic Jovinianus] set Judah and Tamar before us for an example, unless perchance even harlots give him pleasure; or Onan, who was slain because he grudged his brother seed. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children?" (Saint Jerome Against Jovinian 1:19 [A.D. 393])

Saint Augustine also directly referenced Onan in connection with this particular sinful act.
“Intercourse even with one's own legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where conception of the offspring is prevented. Onan, the son of judah, did this and the Lord killed him for it.”

It appears that even St. Augustine believed Onan was married according to this text as well, to which I made reference earlier. There are several others I could quote to prove my point throughout the ages of Christian history. But I would also like to look at the early Protestant Reformers as well. It is a fact that even the founding “Reformers” interpreted Genesis 38 in this tradition as well. They saw no ambiguity in the text.

John Calvin (1509 - 1564); Commentary on Gen. 38:8-10 --
Besides, he [Onan; C.P.] not only defrauded his brother of the right due him, but also preferred his semen to putrify on the ground, rather than to beget a son in his brother’s name. The Jews quite immodestly gabble concerning this thing. ...The voluntary spilling of semen outside of intercourse between man and woman is a monstrous thing. Deliberately to withdraw from coitus in order that semen may fall on the ground is doubly monstrous. ...This impiety is especially condemned, now by the Spirit through Moses’ mouth... If any woman ejects a foetus from her womb by drugs, it is reckoned a crime incapable of expiation and deservedly Onan incurred upon himself the same kind of punishment, infecting the earth by his semen, in order that Tamar might not conceive a future human being as an inhabitant of the earth.

Martin Luther (1483 - 1546); Commentary on Gen 38: 8 - 10 --
… the exceedingly foul deed of Onan, the basest of wretches, follows. when he went in to his brother’s wife, he spilled the semen on the ground, lest he should give offspring to his brother. and what he did was displeasing in the sight of the lord, and he slew him also.

Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed. ... He was inflamed with the basest spite and hatred. ... Consequently, he deserved to be killed by God. He committed and evil deed. Therefore God punished him. … That worthless fellow refused to exercise. He preferred polluting himself with a most disgraceful sin to raising up offspring for his brother. Therefore Onan, unwilling to perform this obligation, spilled his seed. That was a sin far greater than adultery or incest, and it provoked God to such fierce wrath that He destroyed him immediately.

John Wesley (1703 - 1791); Commentary on Gen. 38:7 --
The next brother Onan was, according to the ancient usage, married to the widow, to preserve the name of his deceased brother Er that died childless. This custom of marrying the brother’s widow was afterward made one of the laws of Moses, Deut. 25:5. Onan, though he consented to marry the widow, yet to the great abuse of his own body, of the wife he had married and the memory of his brother that was gone, he refused to raise up seed unto his brother. Those sins that dishonour the body are very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile affections. Observe, the thing which he did displeased the Lord -- And it is to be feared, thousands, especially of single persons, by this very thing, still displease the Lord, and destroy their own souls.

I am afraid this leaves B.J. in total opposition to the constant interpretation of the Church over the past 2000 years. He is also in opposition to his Protestant forefathers who read no ambiguity into the Biblical text either. The text itself, as well as the consistent Christian and Jewish interpretations of it, proves that it is not ambiguous. It also proves that those who oppose this interpretation are clearly going against Sacred Scripture as interpreted in the Christian tradition. This would include almost all major Protestant denominations today. Where does the evidence point? Does it point to B.J.'s position that this text is just too ambiguous to understand? Or is it more likely that the many theologians, including his own Protestant forefathers, over the course of 2000 years got it right? They read the text as it is plainly written. Amazingly none of them ever made a reference as to the ambiguity of the text of Genesis 38.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Great Marian Theologians

Above: Saint Alphonsus Liguori

The Blessed Virgin Mary is indeed God's most glorious creature! It is true that the graces the world had long awaited came through her precious womb. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ came to set the captives free by taking on His human nature through the glorious Theotokos. The coming of Our Lord was something so special and so highly regarded by the Saints of the Church that they sought to praise God in His divine plan through many writings of devotion. Devotions to God and his Blessed Mother have been a source of great spiritual strength for Christians throughout the history of Christianity. Of course the praises to the Blessed Mother are ultimately aimed at Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Anyone who reads the writings of the Saints with any honesty would be foolish to accuse them of idolatry. It is a sad state of affairs that the Protesters of the 16th century sought to tear down God's divine plan of salvation, and rebel against the rightful honor and praise due to God and His most precious Mother. The heretic only seeks to tear down the Blessed Mother, yet she only seeks to lead their souls to her son, so they might be saved.

The Protester is ignorantly amazed and wrongfully horrified that Christians of the true faith honor and give praise to the Theotokos. The Protester's faith had become so damaged after their rebellion from the Church, that they took on the nature of the devil, who hates the Blessed Mother because of the role God chose for her in salvation. They were so blinded by their own pride that Godly actions had ceased to appear Godly to them. Instead what is good appears bad to them, and what is bad appears good. Their blindness leads them to attack God's chosen plan of salvation. I as a Christian of the true faith am grateful to those Saints who came before me, who wrote of their devotions to the Theotokos, and shared the importance of her role in God's plan of salvation. I would like to honor these great Marian theologians and their writings on this blog post, in celebration of the Advent season. All Christians of the true faith await the coming of Our Lord. Let us pray for the poor souls who remain separated from the true faith.
Matthew J. Bellisario

The Coronation of the Virgin. Fra Angelico.

 Here are some beautiful Marian quotes to meditate on.
"It was fitting that the she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped when giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father, It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God." John of Damascene, Dormition of Mary (PG 96,741), (ante A.D. 749).

"A Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and a Virgin she remains." Peter Chyrsologus, Sermon 117 (post A.D. 432). 

7. The first thing which kindles ardour in learning is the greatness of the teacher. What is greater than the Mother of God? What more glorious than she whom Glory Itself chose? What more chaste than she who bore a body without contact with another body? For why should I speak of her other virtues? She was a virgin not only in body but also in mind, who stained the sincerity of its disposition by no guile, who was humble in heart, grave in speech, prudent in mind, sparing of words, studious in reading, resting her hope not on uncertain riches, but on the prayer of the poor, intent on work, modest in discourse; wont to seek not man but God as the judge of her thoughts, to injure no one, to have goodwill towards all, to rise up before her elders, not to envy her equals, to avoid boastfulness, to follow reason, to love virtue. When did she pain her parents even by a look? When did she disagree with her neighbours? When did she despise the lowly? When did she avoid the needy? Being wont only to go to such gatherings of men as mercy would not blush at, nor modesty pass by. There was nothing gloomy in her eyes, nothing forward in her words, nothing unseemly in heracts, there was not a silly movement, nor unrestrained step, nor was her voice petulant, that the very appearance of her outward being might be the image of her soul, the representation of what is approved. For a well-ordered house ought to be recognized on the very threshold, and should show at the very first entrance that no darkness is hidden within, as our soul hindered by no restraints of the body may shine abroad like a lamp placed within. Ambrose, On Virginity II (A.D. 378).
"The Mother of God is our mother. May the good mother ask and beg for us, may she request and obtain what is good for us." Anselm, Oration 7(ante A.D. 1109)
"Mary is a woman who loves. How could it be otherwise? As a believer who in faith thinks with God's thoughts and wills with God's will, she cannot fail to be a woman who loves. We sense this in her quiet gestures, as recounted by the infancy narratives in the Gospel. We see it in the delicacy with which she recognizes the need of the spouses at Cana and makes it known to Jesus. We see it in the humility with which she recedes into the background during Jesus' public life, knowing that the Son must establish a new family and that the Mother's hour will come only with the Cross, which will be Jesus' true hour (cf. Jn 2:4; 13:1). When the disciples flee, Mary will remain beneath the Cross (cf. Jn 19:25-27); later, at the hour of Pentecost, it will be they who gather around her as they wait for the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14)." — Pope Benedict XVI (God Is Love) 

Pope John Paul II

Below are online sources to great Marian writings.

The Glories of Mary- St. Alphonsus Liguori

The Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary- St. Bonaventure

True Devotion to Mary- St. Louis De Montfort

Total Consecration-St. Louis De Montfort

The Rosary of the Virgin Mary- Pope John Paul II

Redemptoris Mater- Pope John Paul II

The Assumption- Titian

Worship of Man Instead of Worship of God.

The old saying goes, "Pictures speak a thousand words." These two pictures tell the story of the perversion of the liturgy by the "Reformers." In the Catholic and Orthodox liturgies, God is the center point of worship, while the pompous Protester parks himself in the center of the "church" as the primary focus of worship. One is an authentic liturgy, the other man made. Christ Himself is present in the apostolic liturgical tradition, while Christ is absent in the counterfeit. The authentic is Christ centered, the counterfeit, man centered. These pictures indeed speak a thousand words.

Above a Calvinist heretic parks himself in the center of the hall and presumes to bark out his own private opinions about the Scriptures.

Below, a Catholic priest offers honor and worship to Christ Himself who is at the center of the liturgy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Catholicism and Orthodoxy: The Eucharist Part II

Not the "what," but the "how."

It seems that the self proclaimed "Reformed" theologian who calls himself Turretin Fan has made some erroneous comments on his blog to my previous post. He mocked the fact that both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches believe that the wine and bread during the Divine Liturgy become the complete Christ on the altar after the consecration of the priest. I have already proven that the Orthodox believe that the elements of the bread and wine are actually transformed into Christ Himself in my earlier post. This means that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches believe that the same Christ is present in the same way in the Holy Eucharist. These beliefs between the two are essentially identical. The Orthodox simply stop at that particular point, while the scholasticism of the Latin Church attempts to explain the "how" in more detail. (Substance, matter, form, etc). This however does not change anything about what the Eucharist actually is, or what it is believed to be by both Churches. It is also interesting to note sacrificial aspect of the Eucharist within the Divine Liturgy, which also further expounds upon the common beliefs of the two Churches. Hopefully I can expound upon that in another post. Let us simply say the point of agreement is essentially as the Orthodox Metropolitan below wrote,

"...the bread truly, really and substantially becomes the very true Body of the Lord, and the wine the very Blood of the Lord." Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow

Turretin Fan however cannot seem to grasp these simple facts, and he seems to think that these are only similarities and nothing more. It seems that the more this great theologian thinks, the more confused he gets. Let me make it simple. This fact remains: the Catholic Church as well as every Orthodox Church believes that the complete Christ, not just His spiritual presence, is present on the altar after being consecrated by a validly ordained priest. This means that Turretin Fan is in complete opposition to every ancient apostolic Church in existence. This is just too much for Turetin Fan to take, so he has to resort to these poor confused arguments to make himself feel better about the whole situation. He responded here. No need to reprint it again on my blog.

Turretin Fan

Once again here is a basic Orthodox summary of what the Eucharist is believed to be.

"The Orthodox Church affirms that the bread and wine used in the Eucharistic celebration become the true Body and Blood of Christ, under the appearance of bread and wine (not merely symbols); however, it does not explicitly define how the bread and wine are transformed."
Source found here.

The Catholic Church likewise believes this to be true, (That the bread and wine become the true Body and Blood of Christ) but she further tries to explain how this mystery takes place. Therefore these common beliefs are more than mere similarities, as Mr. Fan is proclaiming. The point of disagreement among Orthodox and Catholics is not the "what" of the Eucharist, but the explanation of the "how."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Catholicism and Orthdoxy: The Eucharist

There has been some chatter on Protestant blogs recently about Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Of course the Protester loves to exaggerate the differences between the two Churches to take the focus off of their own Protestant disunity. There are many theological commonalities among the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The basic acceptance of the sacraments, and the definition of the sacraments are very similar. The teaching on the Eucharist and the liturgies are very close. Let us examine some points of agreement on the Eucharist in particular.

1) The Eucharist Defined

Both accept that Christ is fully present in the Eucharist in both his full humanity and full divinity after the consecration. Although the full explanation of transubstantiation as defined by the Catholic Church may not fully be adhered to among most Orthodox officially, the general acceptance of the term at its face value is accepted: that being that the bread and wine become, or are transformed into Christ Himself. The term itself simply means that the substance is changed. The Catholic Church has gone beyond that simple explanation to define philosophically what this actually means, by defining such things as the accidents and substance, etc.

The Eastern Churches simply never adopted that type of Latin, scholastic investigation. They simply accept the fact that it is fully Jesus Christ on the altar after the consecration. Archimandrite Alexander (Mileant) of the Russian Orthodox Church OUtside America writes, "While in other sacraments objects such as water or oil are only sanctified, in Holy Communion the objects of the Sacrament, bread and wine, are not only sanctified but actually transformed into the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. As a result, when a Christian receives Holy Communion, he receives Jesus Himself and joins with Him. So great is this mystery that no possible explanation can be found of how this happens, and one can only say with gratitude: "Thank You, my Lord!" There is no real point of disunity on this subject among most Orthodox theologians or churches concerning the Catholic teaching. It is a fact that the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic liturgies are largely the same liturgies (St. Chrysostom, St. James, St. Basil, etc) which profess this Eucharistic doctrine. The Greek Orthodox Church of America writes, "The Eucharistic gifts of bread and wine become for us His Body and His Blood." I personally believe that there is no point of contention on this doctrine, and the Catholic Church itself does not view it be one either.

2) The Matter

There are some Orthodox who still claim that the use of unleavened bread poses a serious problem to unity among the churches. We all remember reading about the incident of Cardinal Cerularius in the 11th century, who threw unleavened consecrated hosts into the streets of Constantinople in rebellion to the Latin practice. His sentiments however were not shared by the majority of the Eastern Church of that time. Although the East in general did not favor its use, most did not see it as a major point of controversy, and they most certainly did not see it as theological point that would split the Church.

3) Apostolic Succession

The teaching of Apostolic Succession is not a point of contention among most Orthodox theologians either. There are some who have fallen into an almost Donatist mindset regarding Catholic succession. This is not however a popular opinion, and most Orthodox view the Catholic lines of apostolic succession to be most likely valid. They also agree on the definition of what apostolic succession is, and the need for the lines to exist in order for a church to be rightly defined as such. Of course, without a valid apostolic line, there can be no real consecrated Eucharist. Orthodox priest and professor Fr. Laurent Cleenewerck, the author of 'His Broken Body' sees the shared views of apostolic succession as a point of agreement among the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, "At this point in our discussion, let us simply affirm that both the Orthodox and Catholic Churches uphold and maintain this principle of apostolic succession, both as a teaching mechanism and as an institutional structure." (pages 53-55)

A Brief Catholic Summary

The Catholic Church teaches that Eucharistic communion with the Orthodox is possible in certain situations. In 2001 the Catholic Church composed a Lineamenta, which addressed the Eucharist and the Church. In it the Eastern Orthodox were addressed as well. "The Orthodox Churches and the ancient Eastern Churches share the same faith in the Eucharist, because they have true sacraments. Therefore, in certain cases, Eucharistic communion is possible.

There are indeed some theological points of contention between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, the teachings on the Eucharist is by and large not one of them.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Podcast Sermon: Hypocrisy

Here is another great sermon by Fr. James Fryar, FSSP from the Chapel of Christ the King in Sarasota, Fl. The sermon addresses the sin of hypocrisy, and how one can avoid it. Visit iTunes to subscribe to the Catholic Champion Podcast, or download the episodes of your choice.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Clerical Celibacy: Scripture Passages To Ponder.

Here are a few Scripture passages to ponder concerning clerical celibacy. Remember, this is a discipline in the Church that is in force predominantly in the Latin Rite, and even so, there are exceptions. It is clear that the higher calling for the priesthood is celibacy so they can focus on the things of God.  Saint Paul was clear in making that point. The Catholic Church has chosen to exercise this discipline in accordance with Scripture. No one is forced to remain celibate, just as no one is forced to be a priest.

Matthew 19: 11 Who said to them: All men take not this word, but they to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.

Matthew 19:28 And Jesus said to them: Amen, I say to you, that you, who have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of his majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting. 

1 Cor 1 Now concerning the thing whereof you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 But for fear of fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
6 But I speak this by indulgence, not by commandment. 7 For I would that all men were even as myself: but every one hath his proper gift from God; one after this manner, and another after that. 8 But I say to the unmarried, and to the widows: It is good for them if they so continue, even as I. 

32 But I would have you to be without solicitude. He that is without a wife, is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God. 33 But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

New Debate Blog:

For those interested in debating there is a new debate blog where you can challenge anyone to debate any topic or subject you choose! You simply submit your debate proposal and then see who shows up to debate you. If you like the idea for the blog then spread the word.  Check it out.

James Swan and the Authority of Dr. White.

James Swan has responded to an earlier post I made regarding the solicitation of money made by Catholic apologists. In his recent post he tries to justify why he thinks Dr. White should be able to solicit for handouts. Swan claims that Dr. White is called to preach the Gospel, and therefore he should be able to beg for money to continue his little apologetic business. Swan apparently doesn't like the emails he gets from some Catholic organizations. He doesn't like the way they word their requests for money, etc. Yet Swan overlooks White begging for money to keep his radio show on the air. If Swan doesn't like the emails he is getting, he can surely request to be taken off of the email list no? Posted below are my comments from my first post, and below each is what Mr. Swan responded with. I then retort below his comments.

I wrote,
James Swan took issue as to the need for Catholic Apologetic information. He wrote, "America isn't starving for information about anything. We're a culture over-stuffed with enough information that's only a mouse click away." If that is the case, then people do not need Alpha and Omega either. There is plenty of information on "Reformed" theology out there without James White and his apologetics business begging for money to keep his business going. In fact, why not just pick up a copy of the Bible? According to their religion, that is all one really needs no?

James Swan wrote,
Matthew is correct in this sense, the Word of God doesn't need any help in being effective. On the other hand, the same Word of God proclaims that there will be people called to preach, teach, and shepherd the flock against wolves. I am thankful for the ministry of Dr. White, who is a pastor, teacher, elder, and defender of the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Dr. White would probably be the first to tell you to buy a Bible, and become an active devoted member of a solid church. Your support should first go to your local church.

In comparison, the Roman Church claims to infallibly interpret God's revelation- thus the need for things like Catholic Answers seems a bit silly- unless Matthew is willing to admit the infallible interpreter needs to be fallibly interpreted. I find it a bit humorous that Rome's defenders attempt to paint Protestants as people who disrespect authority, leadership, and structure, and these same people declare themselves authoritative apologists, often not submitting their work to any higher Roman authorities for approval. They are functionally Protestant, but call themselves Roman Catholic, all the while saying Protestants don't respect authority.

My response,
Mr Swan, why do you think that God called Dr White to preach, teach and shepherd a flock? It is self evident that Dr. White meets none of the requirements of a preacher, teacher or shepherd. Those would be: 1. Valid apostolic succession. Read Sacred Scripture (Matt. 10:1,40) and Saints like St. Irenaeus (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Augustine, To Generosus, Epistle 53:2, etc) if you have any questions about this. 2. Profession to the one true Church of Christ united under the Chair of St Peter. See Sacred Scripture (Matt. 16, Matt. 17:26-27, Luke 22:31-32, John 21:15,17 etc) and the Saints (Clement of Rome, Pope, 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, 1,59:1, Irenaeus, Against Heresies,Optatus of Mileve, The Schism of Donatists, etc)for more on this. 3. Unity through the Sacraments, more specifically the Holy Eucharist. See Sacred Scripture (John 6, 1 Cor. 10:16, Luke 14:15, and the Saints (Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to Smyrnaeans, 7,1, Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor 2, etc) for more on this.

Dr. White is not apostolicly ordained, he is not united with the Church in her full unity of doctrine with the Chair of Peter, and he refuses to receive the entire sacrifice of Christ (Christ was fully human and fully divine, and so is the Eucharistic sacrifice) that is offered to him in the Eucharist. Therefore Dr. White can offer nothing in preaching or teaching the Gospel. It is also apparent that Swan doesn't understand the difference between teaching and preaching either, but that will have to wait for another time. As far as Catholic apologetics organizations go, there is nothing wrong with making more material available explaining and promoting the Catholic faith. This should not be confused with preaching.

Swan also responded similarly to another comment I made in my first post.

I wrote,
Finally, I thought this comment by Swan was amusing. Swan said, "Why not just go to the official Vatican website? Here you can get Rome's official answers, and not the interpretations of those answers by the largest apologetics organization in North America." I ask this question to Swan. Why do you and White pollute the Gospel with your writings, videos, ect? Why not promote on your websites for your readers to go to the store and buy a Bible so they can read it for themselves. They can get the Gospel from the pages of Scripture, rather than be subjected to someone like yourself or James White's interpretations of the Scriptures.

James Swan responded,
My answer above similarly applies. I have never advocated a "me and the Bible in the woods position." I strongly believe in the God ordained means of preaching and teaching. In the case of my writings, a careful read of the majority of blog posts I produce show that I spend more time with historical material than Biblical exegesis. This blog is nothing more than a fancy high school book report on Luther and the Reformation, it is not the work of an exegete or ordained minister...In regards to Dr. White's work, of all the resources he reccommends, the one he recommends most is Bible Works so people can have the necessary tools to get the most out of Bible study. Dr. White is also an ordained minister, and a qualified teacher, following those parameters set up by Scripture.

My response,
Once again, prove Dr. White is ordained and that he is a qualified teacher. As far as I am concerned he has no authority whatsoever to preach anything concerning the Scriptures. He doesn't confess the true faith given by Christ through His apostles, he refuses the Eucharistic sacrifice of Christ and the priesthood of Christ that goes along with it. In order to preach you must have valid apostolic succession. White fails in every requirement necessary to be taken seriously as a preacher, or even a teacher.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Swan/White-The "Reformed" Double Standard: Donations Please!

Over on James White's Alpha and Omega blog site, one of his henchmen by the name of James Swan is upset that Catholic apologists keep asking for donations to keep their organizations going. This is not the first time that White, or one of his lackeys have complained about this. Yet, it seems to me that there is a double standard going on here. In fact, what is so amusing is that just before Swan posted his post on Alpha and Omega complaining about Catholic apologists asking for money, White had just put up a post asking for money for one his friends who is an apologist that writes about Islam. Over the past several years I have seen White ask for donations several times, and yet that is perfectly OK to do. Granted I haven't received any internet emails from White asking for money, nevertheless, he begs for money all of the time on his blog. What is even harder for me to believe is that people actually keep spending their hard earned money to buy him computers and books all of the time, while he flies around the US and England spreading his false religion. Let us take a look at what White begged his readers for on his blog recently.

Dec 3rd, 2009-

I will probably be looking for help in this area in the not too distant future myself, but for the moment, my MacBook is fully functional (as you can see on the video I will be posting, Lord willing, by the morning, from here in St. Louis). But Sam Shamoun, a tireless producer of in-depth material on Islam, needs a computer, and David Wood and Nabeel Qureshi of Acts 17 are attempting to put together some funds to get him one. So I thought I'd try to help by posting the widget David put together, that allows you to donate to the fund. This isn't a part of A&O, but I know some of my readers have been blessed by Sam's research and writing,...

Nov 17, 2009
Last year another ministry offered to pay for the video taping of the debates I did in London. They had likewise taped the debates in Southern California earlier in the year, and in Durham with Zulfiqar Ali Shah. We have received two of the eight debates (both with Osama Abdullah). However, they took too much on, and with the economic collapse of last fall, they have been unable to pay the videographers. After a lot of trying, I have been able to determine that we need to raise $500/debate for the four debates in London (I really don't have details on any of the others). Already today someone gave one video's worth ($500) since I mentioned this on the DL, so we are down to $1,500 to ransom the other three from the videographer. Yes, my new video camera and tripod is a lot cheaper, however, I have seen the finished product of the debates that have already been sent to us, and it is pretty impressive in quality, too. For those who know how much videography normally costs, this is pretty cheap. In any case, we have set up a donation item for anyone who would like to help us get the debates with Shabir Ally, Adnan Rashid, and Sami Zaatari that took place in London. To help out, click here.

Nov 10th, 2009

I am placing an item on the ministry resource list today that would truly add to the depth and breadth of a very important aspect of the library. Nothing sells today like Gnosticism. Atheists and secularists join with a wide range of Muslim apologists in utilizing any claim they can dig up from the Gnostic sources, and especially from Nag Hammadi, to promote their attacks upon the New Testament and the Christian faith in general. So when I saw a sale today that extends only till the end of the year on the 5,148 page authoritative Coptic Gnostic Library, which contains the complete texts of all of the Nag Hammadi codices, I was ecstatic. How often these very texts are cited, yet, one almost never has access to the original languages so as to check for editorial bias or to examine context. How vital that is in examining any other ancient text, and yet these oft-cited sources are almost always presented only in English translation in the flood of books that have come out promoting Gnosticism over the past few decades. This resource is normally tremendously expensive, listing just over $700.00. But till the end of the year, with a special discount code, it is obtainable for 50% off that price, which, given the rarity of the original language material, is actually reasonable for once! I have included the code in the description on the Ministry Resource List. There is another item on the list as well that is quite important, a resource that would provide the original language texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls along with textual variants! Once again, my deepest personal thanks to all who have helped our work in this important manner in the past.

Oct 21st, 2009
We've managed to do the DL on a shoestring for a very long time. Thanks to volunteers who know a great deal about computers and the net, and to the Lord's blessing of our equipment, we have almost never missed doing the program due to technical difficulties. But the reality is, we do the program for almost nothing with a minimum of equipment and cost.

Now, here is our current webcasting computer setup (that's me back there doing the DL). These two units have been crunching along for ages (in computer time), and every time I hear them fire up I can tell the Day of Disaster is not far away. Check out that box on the right---that's a 3.5 inch floppy drive! We've coaxed these two ancient boxes to perform beyond their capacities for quite some time now, and wisdom says it is time to replace them with a single computer capable of handling the entire task without melting down. So if you enjoy the DL, please consider helping us make sure we can keep it going without interruption. You can contribute toward the new DL computer unit here. Thanks for considering us in your stewardship!

Oct 14th, 2009
The Ministry Resource List continues to be a tremendous blessing to this apologist doing his best to bless the people of God. Last week I listed a very expensive volume, one of the earliest Shia pieces of literature to have come down to us, the Kitab al-qira'at of Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Sayyari. This new edition, with extensive introduction and notes, contains some of the earliest documentation of textual variation in the Qur'an. It just arrived today, and I wanted to provide a scan of what it provides...

Sept 19th, 2009
The irony of challenges is that in my experience, right as the pressure reaches maximum is when something else will come along that makes you realize your utter dependence upon God and your own self-limitations and incapacities. I would imagine we have been less impacted by the economic down-turn than most, simply because we do not have almost any "major" donors. Our support comes from people just like us who see the unique nature of this ministry and, after taking care of their duties to their local church, seek to help us as well. We don't have any high-flying Wall Street folks pouring money through our mailbox. So, when those high-fliers are getting shot down, that's not a major issue for us.

But $4 gas and $4 milk gets to everyone eventually, and so yes, we've felt it as well. Now unlike some, you won't be getting six copies of the same e-mail from me seeking to scare you into giving or all your children will end up in some kind of cult group. But we have new folks coming to our website and listening to The Dividing Line all the time, and since we almost never mention support and donations, sometimes they figure we are already "set." So let me explain that like most everyone else, we do what we do through the generosity of God's people. I take many very unpopular stands on tough topics, so it is hard to "market" a ministry like this in a compromising, frightened evangelical context. So we stay small so we can stay truthful. But even the smallest ministry needs support. So please remember us when you are considering your role in the support of Christ's kingdom. We are not a church, and we strongly believe that believers should support their local fellowship first before looking anywhere else. If that is all the Lord enables you to do financially, then would you please pray for us? And if, after doing what is right regarding the church, you choose to assist us in continuing our work in proclaiming and defending the Gospel, we would be deeply appreciative. We promise to use those funds to the glory of God and the furtherance of the kingdom of Christ. You can go here to help us as we move into this very challenging and exciting period of ministry and proclamation.

May 1st, 2009

Here is a sub-$300 solid-state (no hard drive) mini-laptop from Asus. If I install my Verizon software on this, along with Skype, and a decent microphone, I should be able to connect to our studios in Phoenix prior to the debate, and then...forget it, until the debate is over, anyway. The unit, since it is not running a hard drive, should have sufficient battery power to last through any debate, so I wouldn't have to be looking for power sources for it, and it is very small and light, making it easy to carry and get through security at airports. I could either keep it on my desk, or, have a fellow believer keep it in the audience (in front of the speakers). In any case, it would provide a cheap, but effective means of providing for on-site streaming of future debates and presentations.
So I have placed this unit on the Ministry Resources list. Lord willing, if God's people provide the unit (I've included a protective cover) then I should be able to test it out in June when I travel to New Jersey and New York.
I was sitting at gate B6 in the Indianapolis airport when I posted the above article. I turned off my computer, put it in my bag, and went down to a store down the way to buy some snacks for the flight home. When I got back to the gate, I pulled my BlackBerry and decided to see if I could get my wish list up with my browser. This was within ten minutes of posting the above article. When I got to the list, I discovered that the computer had already been purchased! Within ten, at most, fifteen minutes, after I posted the article! Rich already knew it when I called him before boarding my flight, and all we could say was, "God's people are good." I am truly thankful.

I think we can see that White has no problem begging for money to keep his little apologetics business going. While he flies around the globe plaguing the airwaves with his bad arguments, he begs people to buy him books, computers, etc. Look at that huge office in which he makes his videos. It doesn't look like he is in the poor house to me. Judging by his videos, it also doesn't appear that White is going without food.

James Swan took issue as to the need for Catholic Apologetic information. He wrote, "America isn't starving for information about anything. We're a culture over-stuffed with enough information that's only a mouse click away." If that is the case, then people do not need Alpha and Omega either. There is plenty of information on "Reformed" theology out there without James White and his apologetics business begging for money to keep his business going. In fact, why not just pick up a copy of the Bible? According to their religion, that is all one really needs no?

Finally, I thought this comment by Swan was amusing. Swan said, "Why not just go to the official Vatican website? Here you can get Rome's official answers, and not the interpretations of those answers by the largest apologetics organization in North America." I ask this question to Swan. Why do you and White pollute the Gospel with your writings, videos, ect? Why not promote on your websites for your readers to go to the store and buy a Bible so they can read it for themselves. They can get the Gospel from the pages of Scripture, rather than be subjected to someone like yourself or James White's interpretations of the Scriptures.