Sunday, August 29, 2010

Podcast Sermon- Spiritual Leprosy

Here is the sermon that Fr. James Fryar, FSSP gave last week at Christ the King. Listen here or download it from iTunes.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Contraception and Abortion Have No Connection?

Most Protestants make the false claim that there is no real connection between using contraception and the acceptance of the act of abortion in our society. As we know most Protestants, not all, endorse the use of contraceptives. Those who do so, call it responsible family planning. They go against the very Biblical text given in Genesis 38, which had been traditionally interpreted as being an anti-contraceptive prohibition. This was even upheld by their Protestant forefathers, yet now they claim they have a right to reinterpret the Scripture passages to their own liking. The Catholic Church in her official teaching however has never bought into this modernist nonsense. Putting the whole Biblical argument aside, I want instead to point out the results of the promotion of the contraceptive mentality, and take a look how it has impacted our society. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Critical Investigation of Fr. Anthony Ruff and the "Pray Tell" Blog

I have recently visited the "Pray Tell" blog, which seems to be mostly run by a Benedictine priest, Fr. Anthony Ruff from St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota. Yes my friends, the home of liturgical demolition. There are many other contributors to the blog, but I will be focusing on some of the statements made by Fr. Ruff. The blog claims the following, "a blog that gives practical wisdom about prayer, sacraments, and the community of the faithful – in short, worship. Created especially for pastors, liturgists, musicians, and scholars..." The blog in my opinion however, is a perfect illustration of everything that has gone wrong in the Church for the last 40 years. It espouses liberal slants on just about everything concerning Catholicism. I went on the blog and left a few comments, but most of them were deleted within hours of posting them because of my engaging opposition to Fr. Ruff's liberal opinions on matters such as liturgy, theology and Thomism. 

I want to point out that this is not a personal attack on Father, but only a critical look at his writing and thoughts concerning Catholicism.

Monday, August 23, 2010

New Podcast Sermon- The Unjust Steward

Here is a great sermon that was recorded on July 18th, when Fr. Justin Nolan, FSSP last visited us in Sarasota, Florida. Download it for free on iTunes.

New Blog- Coalition for Thomism

I would like to draw your attention to a new blog group called the "Coalition for Thomism." I will be posting articles pertaining this particular subject of Thomism over on that blog along with other contributors. I will also link them under the sidebar of this blog under the Moral Theology Series. So far we have 3 contributors to the blog and hopefully more will be joining. If you agree with the premise that the blog is built upon, and you feel that you can make a contribution to the promotion of traditional Thomism, then send me an email. ( The inaugural post is quoted below. 

Welcome to the Coalition for Thomism blog page. Since the dawn of the 1960s, there has been a lack of focus on traditional Thomistic theology and philosophy throughout the Catholic Church. There have been many theologians that have conveniently used the label of “Thomist” to further their theological errors, yet retain little if any adherence to Thomistic principles. Instead many theologians in the Church have adopted modern philosophical principles which have ultimately sewn confusion among the faithful. As a result we now have theologians rejecting the foundational principles of the Natural Law which the Church has always held in high esteem to help determine proper moral theology. 

Instead we now have “New Natural Law” theorists and “New Theologians” that reject core Thomistic principles which tend to lead to erroneous theological errors such as the misunderstanding of human dignity, the misunderstanding of social justice issues such as the rash and misguided pursuit of the abolishment of the state’s right to exact Capital Punishment. Numerous other errors stem from the loss of these foundational Thomistic principles, among them the propensity for ambiguity, which allows more than one conclusion to be drawn in areas of theology where there should be no room for multiple conclusions, or the overemphasis of lesser principles and truths over foundational principles and truths. This problem of ambiguity can be seen in a majority of documents released over the past 40 years or so, some more so than others. 

Following the lead of Pope Leo XIII, this coalition strives to bring forth the renewal of traditional Thomistic philosophical and theological thought to the minds of Catholics so that we may dispel the confusion and ambiguity that plague the minds of the Catholic faithful today. In order to do this we will strive to bring forth discussions of crucial issues affecting the Church today, as well as promote the best traditional Thomistic sources available.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Joke of the Day. A Heretic Writes a Book on Heresy.

I thought this was quite amusing. I ran across this book in the store the other day. Just how much worse can things get when heretics are writing books on the history of heresy in the Church? Hopefully he will look in the mirror one day and realize...."oh no I am a heretic!" Maybe its a joke.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

iMass is Here! Download the iMass App.

It is here! Father James Fryar, FSSP has just finished his new iTunes app called iMass! It is a new iTunes application that allows you to view the Latin Mass every day on your iPhone, iPod or iPad.  Go to the iTunes store and do a search, and for just $1.99 you can have the Latin Mass right in your pocket. Features include a copy of the 1962 missal, and the app updates each day between 10AM and 11AM with the latest stream.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Historical Supplement I - St. Chrysostom and “Upon This Rock”

Historical Supplement I - St. Chrysostom and “Upon This Rock”
By Matthew J. Bellisario 2010
Before I move on to the next part of this series, I wanted to further examine Matthew 16:18, which is the foundational text often looked upon to support the Catholic teaching of the papacy. As I have shown in the last part, there is no question as to how this passage fits in with the general view of St Peter throughout the New Testament regarding St. Peter’s leadership. We saw how St. Chrysostom viewed the passage in regards to Peter’s special position among the apostles. But I wanted to supplement the earlier post by taking a closer look at how St. John Chrysostom viewed the passage in more detail. Since for the sake of brevity I quoted only a small portion of his commentary and I wanted to go back and take a closer look, since many Protestants often quote an earlier part of the commentary as somehow being an “Ace in the hole” in refuting the Catholic claim to the rock referring to Peter. St. Chrysostom mentions Peter’s faith in an earlier part of the commentary, and taken in isolation it may seem as if the great Saint is taking a contrary position to the Catholic meaning.  

It must be noted that there can be many levels of meaning in regards to Sacred Scripture, and the Fathers often had more than one interpretation, and they often had very in depth explantations of Scripture passages such as this one. Since I used Saint Chrysostom in the prior part, I wanted to give you an example of how he viewed the passage in totality, or at least as much as he gave us in reference to this particular passage. I would recommend that you site down and read through his entire commentary instead of taking my word for it. I mentioned prior that St. Chrysostom did not view this profession of Peter to mean that it was only a profession based on St. Peter’s faith alone, but that it was on St. Peter himself as well, and it is a fact that St. Chrysostom viewed Peter as being given a special authority among the apostles by this passage. We read earlier in his commentary on Matthew 16:18, “And I say unto you, You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church;” that is, on the faith of his confession. Hereby He signifies that many were now on the point of believing, and raises his spirit, and makes him a shepherd.” This commentary is significant, because St. Chrysostom here does not separate Peter’s faith from his person as being appointed the shepherd among the apostles. So yes, Jesus was referring to Peter’s faith, but not only Peter’s faith, for he further ties Peter to being made a shepherd by Jesus to this passage as well. He continues on to explain further how Christ first gives Peter alone the ultimate authority to bind and to loose, that which would be extended to the other apostles later. “Do you see how He, His own self, leads Peter on to high thoughts of Him, and reveals Himself, and implies that He is Son of God by these two promises? For those things which are peculiar to God alone, (both to absolve sins, and to make the church in capable of overthrow in such assailing waves, and to exhibit a man that is a fisher more solid than any rock, while all the world is at war with him), these He promises Himself to give; as the Father , speaking to Jeremiah, said, He would make him as “a brazen pillar, and as a wall;” Jeremiah 1:18 but him to one nation only, this man in every part of the world.” 

It is worth stopping at this point to note the typology or prefigurement St. Chrysostom sees between the authority and the guidance given to Jeremiah in the Old Testament, to that which was later given to St. Peter, except in an even higher manner. It is a special authority given only by God Himself. I think it is worth pulling from Jeremiah chapter 1 a bit further to communicate the type of authority that St. Chrysostom is comparing to Peter from that being quoted from in Jeremiah. I quote here from verses 16-19. “And I will pronounce my judgements against them, touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have sacrificed to strange gods, and have adored the work of their own hands. Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak to them all that I command thee. Be not afraid at their presence: for I will make thee not to fear their countenance. For behold I have made thee this day a fortified city, and a pillar of iron, and a wall of brass, over all the land, to the kings of Juda, to the princes thereof, and to the priests, and to the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee, and shall not prevail: for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee.” There can be no question as to the authority that Christ is conferring upon Peter as Peter being the foundation of the Church in this passage of Matthew, according to St. Chysostom’s interpretation. By the mere fact that St. Chrysostom compares these two passages has significant value in how the passage of Matthew should be interpreted correctly. There is no doubt that St. Chrysostom views Peter as being given a unique authority and mission from Jesus. He also confirms that Peter’s faith as well a Peter himself is what the Church would be built upon, and he solidifies this by comparing this passage with that of Jeremiah where Jeremiah is given the task to the fortifies city which would not be prevailed against, which is directly compared to Pater and the Church which Jesus builds upon him, which hell would not prevail against. 

I find it quite disgusting that Protestant apologists like James White, who frequently cite the earlier passage of St. Chrysostom as somehow being contradictory to the Catholic Church’s claims of papal authority, completely ignore the entire context of which St. Chysostom is speaking. They see that St. Chrysostom talks about Peter’s faith, and then they stop at that point claiming there is some contradiction to the claims of the Catholic Church without ever looking to see what the great Saint further explains in relation to Peter and the authority given to him by Christ. Now we continue on with St. Chrysostoms’s commentary which I posted on the prior part to see how it all ties together. “I would fain inquire then of those who desire to lessen the dignity of the Son, which manner of gifts were greater, those which the Father gave to Peter, or those which the Son gave him? For the Father gave to Peter the revelation of the Son; but the Son gave him to sow that of the Father and that of Himself in every part of the world; and to a mortal man He entrusted the authority over all things in Heaven, giving him the keys; who extended the church to every part of the world, and declared it to be stronger than heaven.” Again we see there is no doubt that Peter, the mortal man in which Chrysostom names here has been entrusted with the authority over all things in Heaven, and extending to the entire Church in every part of the world. This should give you pause to stop and think the next time you see a Protestant try and use this text against the claims of the Catholic Church. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

History of the Catholic Church II- The Foundation of the Chair of Peter

History of the Catholic Church II- The Foundation of the Chair of Peter
By Matthew J. Bellisario 2010
If we are to understand the Christian faith today, we must understand the form and the instruments that Jesus Christ Himself chose to use to proclaim His Gospel throughout the world. Only then will we be able to recognize the true Church today. For there are many “churches” that claim to be that of Christ’s, but they all cannot be authentically so, for they all proclaim their own version of the gospel to be the true gospel. So we will examine the form, the instruments and the historical setting Our Lord chose to use to initially proclaim His Gospel, and then we will examine at how this Gospel continued, and continues to be preached throughout the world.
The time and place that Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ came into the world was not by chance. God specifically chose exactly when to take on a human nature in the person of Jesus Christ; come into the world as one of us, preach the Gospel and build His only Church. He chose a time when the Roman Empire was the so called “light” of the world. A time when there was still a strong Hellenistic presence among the Jews in Jerusalem. It was the unique time in history when Christ was able to preach the Gospel to the Jews and the greatest Gentile empire on the earth. The Gospel was preached to the chosen Jews, and all of the great secular groups of Gentiles including those of the Romans, the Greeks and the Egyptians. We have Our Lord initially preaching in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, and then the apostles being sent in his name and by his authority into the known world by Our Lord. “He that receiveth you, receiveth me...” (Matthew 10:40) They went into places such as Alexandria, Antioch, Corinth and Rome. The apostles passed on their authority given to them by Christ, and eventually orderly hierarchies were formed in each of these apostolic Churches, based on this same authority.

In these places where these great Churches were established, the Church would be recognized in what is known as the four sees, where these Churches would be headed, those of Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch and Rome. Soon after Constantine came into power in the early 4th century, there would be a fifth see established in Constantinople known now as the Byzantine Church, which would eventually be recognized as the “New Rome.” This pentarchy was expressly recognized in the records that we have from the Emperor Justinian in Constantinople in the mid sixth century, and has since been the foundation of the major Churches of Christians throughout the world. The primary and unifying chair of all of these churches however was that of the see of Peter, and had been from the beginning.

In order to demonstrate this unifying chair and authority of Saint Peter, given to us in the form of the papacy, we will need to prove that 1: Saint Peter was the head of the apostles by the authority given to him by Jesus, and he was the unifying leader among them. 2: Saint Peter passed on this authority to his successors. 3: Saint Peter’s successors have continued in succession to this present day. It is important to note that we do not believe that Saint Peter or his immediate successors wore tiaras, red slippers and lived in the Vatican as the popes occupying the “Chair” of primacy in later years would do. We also recognize that although Saint Peter and his successors always retained infallibility in regards to faith and morals, and exercised an authority over the one true Church, that it was not always exercised in the same manner of form throughout the ages. For example, St. Peter never penned a document titled an “encyclical” as more modern popes titled such documents. These types of documents however would develop out of the root authority that the chair of Saint Peter had always had. Likewise there would develop a college of Cardinals and different offices in which the authority of Peter could be carried out in mass across several continents at one time, etc. Several factors would play into this development of form in which the “Chair’s” authority would be carried out throughout the Church. The Church coming out from under persecution by the liberation of Christianity allowed by the emperor Constantine, along with the later waxing and waning of the churches and political bodies in Rome and other cities such as Constantinople and Jerusalem would all play their part, as well as many other factors. As the Church pressed on through the sands of time it would have to adjust how it would exercise its leadership, and the manner in which the papal primacy has been exercised has varied from time to time. The root authority of Peter however has been present in the Church from its foundation, and it is this fact that we will prove. 
The Primacy of St. Peter
In this essay we will tackle the first of the proofs for the existence of the Chair of Saint Peter. The first being that Saint Peter was the head of the apostles by the authority given to him by Jesus, and he was the unifying apostle among them. There are many proofs as to the primacy of Saint Peter among the apostles in Sacred Scripture. Due to considerations for length of the text, I will only focus on the most obvious of them. I will also refer regularly throughout this essay to one of my favorite Saints and early Scripture scholars, my brother in heaven, Saint John Chrysostom, for commentary on various Biblical verses. 

There is a special relationship between Jesus and Peter, and a special relationship between Peter and the rest of the apostles. This is a persistent theme that we see throughout the New Testament. It is important to look at Scripture as a whole and not in isolated passages, as if each stands on its own apart from the others. We must draw from the following passages a central theme in which they are all tied together as if they are woven together in a grand tapestry. First we will start with the central passage that is often referred to in defense of the papacy, and then we will see how its theme reoccurs in principle throughout the other New Testament passages I will present. It was Saint Peter to whom Jesus said, “thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.” Jesus did not say that the Church would be built upon Peter and the other apostles, or that the rock that it would be built upon was only Christ, or that the rock was only Peter’s faith, Jesus simply said that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church. There is no question as to what the rock in the passage refers to. It is Saint Peter that Jesus is talking about. 

But it must also be stated that there is also a mystical type of language being used here that makes Saint Peter almost as if he is one with Christ the “Rock.” The very name given to Simon, “Rock” is significant, and was not a random nickname given to him by Jesus. (John 1:42) Just the fact that Jesus actually changed his name denotes a particular authority, since we see that when God gives a new name to someone it usually corresponds to some form of authority. Granted this in and of itself does not prove that Peter has an authority over the whole Church, but just as God changed the names of Abram to Abraham to denote him as the father of nations, and He changed Sara to Sarah to denote a motherhood over nations, so too an authority is given to Simon, named Peter. The name “Rock” however is significant in giving us a clue as to the type of authority was given to to him. For we know that this symbolic language of the name “Rock”, was always used in the Old Testament Scriptures to denote God, “The Lord is my rock, and my strength, and my savior,” for example. (II Kings 22:2- or 2 Samuel 22:2 for Protestants) We also see a similar example in reference to Jesus Himself in 1 Corinthians 10:4. In Matthew 16:18, Christ makes Peter one with Himself as the “Rock.” Therefore we can say that Christ who is the “Rock” names Simon the “Rock” which Jesus in turn builds the visible Church upon. I think it is also worthy to note that no other apostle was given a new name, save for that of Saul, who was not one of the twelve. It is this Petrine foundation that everything depends upon, since it is the foundation which hell will never prevail against, and the foundation which has the ultimate authority to bind and loose. 

Since there are many who think that this interpretation is a modern invention of the Roman West, I think that it is important to see what a voice from the East had to say, that of Saint John Chrysostom. He had this to say on this particular passage of Matthew 16:18. “For the Father gave to Peter the revelation of the Son; but the Son gave him to sow that of the Father and that of Himself in every part of the world; and to a mortal man He entrusted the authority over all things in Heaven, giving him the keys; who extended the church to every part of the world, and declared it to be stronger than heaven.” This is quite a significant statement by Saint John, in that he recognizes that Jesus was referring directly to Saint Peter here, not just his faith, or just Jesus alone. Nor does he endorse any of the modern interpretations of heretics who deny that Jesus was referring to Saint Peter at all. St. Chrysostom also views Peter as being the authority to whom which the other apostles would receive a likewise authority, yet only by extension. To St. Chrysostom, the passing of authority in this passage form Jesus to Peter is unmistakable. 

A certain supremacy is given to St. Peter by Our Lord, even though a similar authority would also be given to the other apostles. But their authority would be a similar grafting into St. Peter in much the same way St. Peter’s authority was grafted into and derived from Christ’s. St. Peter is given the heavenly grace to recognize Jesus for who He is in Matthew 16:13, “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God” and the rest of the apostles followed. We continue to see this focus on Peter in John 21:11-17, “He saith to him: Feed my lambs.” Notice, Jesus did not say this to all of the apostles, nor did Jesus says that he would pray for all of the apostles when he said, “And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.” Although Saint Peter fell into denial during the arrest of Jesus, Peter did persevere by the fact that Jesus prayed for him to do so, and as a result he, in a sense, was reinstated by Jesus in John 21. Saint John Chrysostom confirms this interpretation in his commentary on the passage, “He was the chosen one of the Apostles, the mouth of the disciples, the leader of the band; on this account also Paul up upon a time to enquire of him rather than the others. And at the same time to show him that he must now be of good cheer, since the denial was done away, Jesus puts into his hands the chief authority among the brethren...” So we see how the other apostles are later confirmed in their faith by Saint Peter. Saint Leo wrote, “in Peter, the fortitude of all the others is secured, and the help of divine grace is ordered in such a way, that the firmness which is granted to Peter through Christ is conferred by Peter upon the apostles.”  We also see a similar direct comparison and grafting of St. Peter into Jesus as the shepherd in the Gospel of St. John. In John 10:7-16 Jesus is the shepherd who later makes Peter the shepherd in John 21. Yet there is only one flock. In John 10:16 Jesus says, “and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.” The inseparable bond between Jesus and St. Peter is also unmistakable here.

We shall now briefly visit a few more of the highlights of St. Peter in the Gospels before we move on to the early Church in the book of Acts. It is Saint Peter that is the spokesmen at the Transfiguration of Christ, “And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Rabbi, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.” (Mark 9:4) It is St. Peter in Matthew 18:21 who asks Jesus after being told he will be given authority to bind and loose, “Lord, how often shall my brother offend against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” Peter is always the first in the list of the disciples and is frequently referred to as, “Peter and those with him.” (Mark 1:36 and Luke 9:32) 
 In Mark 16:7 the angel who proclaims Jesus’ resurrection mentions Peter by name to be told of His resurrection. Peter is the one to walk on water, and no other. (Matthew 14:29) The other apostles often defer to Peter to speak for the entire group. This can be seen in Luke 5:8, Matthew 15:15 and Luke 12:41 among other places. Although it has been mentioned many times before, it is important to note that St. Peter is mentioned more times in the New Testament than all of the other apostles put together. In addition to these, there are countless other references to the unique person of St. Peter in the Gospels which establish a clear leadership position of St. Peter. Finally, it is also important to understand that St. Peter is not called to this position as if he were in charge of a mere human organization, like a CEO. Jesus promised the guidance of the Holy Spirit for an infallible guide. This gift would be clearly given to St. Peter and the Church in the acts of the apostles. (Acts 2)

As we move on to look at the early Church in the Acts of the apostles we see that Saint Peter immediately exercises his authority over the Church when he personally calls for the 12th seat of the apostleship to be filled, which was previously occupied by the traitor Judas. Saint John Chrysostom rightly says of Saint Peter’s authority in his commentary on Acts 1:15, “Both as being ardent, and as having been put in trust by Christ with the flock...” So it was here that we see St. Peter preserving the original number of the Apostolic College. 

 In Acts 2:14, Saint Peter calls for those around him to hear his words as the Holy Spirit descended upon him and the apostles he declared, “Ye men of Judea, and all you that dwell in Jerusalem, be this known to you, and with your ears receive my words.” Thus St. Peter is the first to preach the Gospel. In Acts 3:6-8 St. Peter heals the crippled man and he walks. Then Peter preached to the multitude and many were converted. We can see his authority again being exercised when he judges Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5. We also see a repeated pattern of the apostles taking after Peter and often receiving only later what Peter receives first. Catholic theologian J. Michael Miller C.S.B. writes, “A certain structure is evident in these texts: what is first given to Peter is then shared with the others.”
What is generally considered to be the first Council of the Church, Saint Peter in Jerusalem makes the judgement on circumcision and no one after he makes this final judgement speaks anything else concerning the matter. “And when there had been much disputing, Peter, rising up, said to them: Men, brethren, you know, that in former days God made choice among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.” (Acts 15:7) So we see that St. Peter was quite active in the early leadership of the Church, and his leadership was not anywhere challenged. It is also important to recognize that St. Paul went specifically to see St. Peter on his way to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. (Galatians 1:18) It is quite apparent that St. Paul also recognized how important it was to go and visit St. Peter. I refer again to J. Michael Miller, “By making his visit to Jerusalem, the Apostle to the Gentiles recognized the desirability of having Peter’s authority confirm his work of evangelization.” 
Some who oppose the unifying chair of St. Peter will surely bring up the case where St. Paul withstands St. Peter to his face in Galatians 2:11-14, as if this somehow topples the supremacy of St. Peter among the apostles. Galatians 2:11 reads, “But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” What was he to be blamed for? Saint Peter was apparently rebuked for not eating with the Gentiles for the fear of looking bad to the Jews. But what is interesting is that Saint Chrysostom seems to think that this rebuking was done for the sole purpose of benefitting the Jews who were still attached to the works of the law, “I resisted him to the face,” imply a scheme for had their discussion been real, they would not have rebuked each other in the presence of the disciples, for it would have been a great stumbling block to them. But now this apparent contest was much to their advantage;...On account of their vehement attachment to the Law, he calls the present proceeding “dissimulation,” and severely rebukes it, in order effectually to eradicate their prejudice. And Peter too, hearing this joins in the feint, as if he had erred, that they might be corrected by means of the rebuke administered to him.” Saint John then goes on to say in regards to the passage, “But when I saw that they walked not uprightly unto the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all: If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as the Jews do, how dost thou compel the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” Chrysostom says the following, “Neither let this phrase disturb you, for in using it he does not condemn Peter, but so expresses himself for the benefit of those who were to be reformed by the reproof of Peter.” According to Saint Chrysostom, it seems then that St. Peter allowed himself to be chastised for not eating with the Gentiles for the benefit of the Jews around him who were prejudiced against the Gentiles. Even if we are to ignore St. Chrysostom’s interpretation and favor a more scathing interpretation this passage, it would still not present any useful evidence to refute Saint Peter’s role as leader of the apostles. Had St. Peter genuinely grown cold towards the Gentiles, or had succumbed to the pressures of the Jews in relating with the Gentiles, this would in no way jeopardize his role as the leader of the apostles, since even the pope can err in matters of personal acts of morality. It would be no different than John Paul II going to pray with the Buddhists, and then being rebuked for scandalizing Catholics for doing so. It does not fall into any official proclamation of faith or morals concerning the Catholic faith. So we see that this passage of Scripture not a problem for St. Peter’s primacy. 

In summary we can readily see that St. Peter was put in a place of primacy among the apostles by Jesus, and that he had a special relationship with Jesus that the other disciples did not have. This is readily witnessed throughout the New Testament, and it is attested to by one of the great theologians of the 4th century, that of Saint John Chrysostom. This essay has provided ample proof that Saint Peter was the head of the apostles by the authority given to him by Jesus, and he was the unifying leader among them. We can therefore move on to proof number two in the next essay. 


Gueranger- The Papal Monarchy

Ratzinger-Called to Communion

Durras- A General History of the Catholic Church Vol I

Miller- The Shepherd and the Rock

Saturday, August 7, 2010

History of the Catholic Church- Introduction

History of the Catholic Church Series
Part I- Introduction
By: Matthew J Bellisario 2010

The Catholic Church is a divine institution built upon the foundation of Christ Jesus. This is not only supported by Scripture and Tradition, but also by the testimony of history itself. No human institution has ever existed as long the Catholic Church has existed. She has never shown the characteristics of human institutions, which always have a rise, a decline and a catastrophic fall. As great as such human institutions have been like the empires of Greece, Egypt, and Rome, none have remained intact in such a way as the Catholic Church has remained. Even the mighty Roman Empire with all of her resources could not stamp out the Church in her infancy, despite repeated persecutions to do so. Over thirty of the earliest Popes were killed for their faith. History saw the rise and decline of the Caesars of Rome, the Pharaohs of Egypt, the Czars of Russia, the Tudor Dynasty of England and so on. The sands of time have witnessed countless villains like Martin Luther, John Calvin and the like try to topple Christ’s Church, yet they all have fallen in defeat. Yes, the Catholic Church still presses on long after their crowns have toppled in the dirt off of their arrogant skulls. Long after their praises have fallen silent, the Church like an unsinkable ship still continues on to its destination, the port of heaven. Despite many trials such as the great Schism and the papacy of Avignon, many internal quarrels and apostates, the Church still survives. There is no other Church planted by Christ on the face of the earth other than the Catholic Church.

All other “churches” have fallen by the wayside and have splintered into quarrelsome sects changing their doctrines on the whims of men. We have to only look at the disintegration of the Anglican church, the Lutheran church and the various forms of the Reformed flavored churches to understand my point. What once was considered to be Biblical teaching by all major Protestant sects, such as the recognition of the immorality of contraception, there is now not one Protestant sect in whole, who has not given way to the modernist adoption of its accepted use. Although their founders such as John Calvin, Martin Luther and the like all viewed contraception as being immoral based on Scripture, few of their followers today share their Biblical interpretation. Since their faiths are based on nothing more than the mere opinions of men, it is no surprise that they continue to splinter as regular as the night follows the day. As the Gospel of St. Matthew tells us, “Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” (Matthew 15:13) So it is with those sects that have broken with the Catholic Church.

Since the time of Saint Peter, there has been an unbroken succession of bishops in Rome, giving the Church a direct connection with Christ Himself. In fact, there is not one bishop in the Catholic Church that cannot trace their succession back to one of the apostles, which all remain united to the one chair of St. Peter. Saint Augustine once wrote the following during the Donatist heresy, "If the lineal succession of bishops is to be considered with how much more benefit to the Church do we reckon from Peter himself, to whom, as bearing in a figure the whole Church, the Lord said: Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer it!” (To Generosus, Epistle 53:2, A.D. 400) There is no questioning the fact that Christ Himself sent His apostles with His authority, “He that receiveth you, receiveth me: and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me. (Matthew 10:40) We also see this fact demonstrated by the immediate successors of the apostles. Pope Clement I wrote around the year 98AD the following, “Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry...” (Pope Clement, Epistle to Corinthians, 42, 44 A.D. 98) It is this direct connection to the authority of Christ that the Catholic Church is built upon, and has continued on uninterrupted, guided by the Holy Spirit to this very day.

The Catholic Church is not built upon a particular interpretation of the Scriptures, for the Church gave us the Scriptures as a testimony to what she had preached by the authority of Christ from the beginning. It is not a democratic Church which changes with the corruption of human culture. The Catholic Church is built upon a living person, that is the living person of Jesus Christ. Without Him there is no Scripture, no Tradition, no Church and no Gospel. None of these particulars, that is, Scripture, Tradition, the preaching authority of the apostles and Christ Himself can be separated from one another and still retain the true Gospel in its intended form as Church on earth. For it is written that “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Tim 3:15)It is no surprise that even the media across the world pays close attention to what the Pope says and does, despite their open denial of his authority. Yet, does the media pay the same attention in regards to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Billy Graham, or any other other Protestant figure, or even any other religion as a whole? Just as the world has reluctantly recognized Christ by the very splitting of time itself in two, despite the secular world’s opposition to the Catholic Church, even it recognizes its authority and leadership among the Christianized world. With this in mind, it is here that we begin our journey into the history of the Catholic Church. 

This will be a multipart series, and when I am finished with it, I will follow it up with a Podcast on the subject. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Christopher Hitchens Calls Pope "Villain."

In his latest article in Vanity Fair, Christopher Hitchens, now dying from cancer, is upset that he may not live long enough to see the Pope die, whom he calls a "villain." It seems that despite his cancer, he still is not able to look at the Catholic Church objectively, but only with preconceived notions based on fiction perpetrated by the liberal media. It seems that no humility has yet to enter this man, despite the inferno that awaits him. When you read this article you get the sense that Hitchens arrogantly thinks that his hard work should earn him a future on this earth. Has he ever contributed anything to the human race worth noting? I think not. The fact is, in a few decades he will be forgotten, and the liberal band of morons that idolize him will attempt to keep his memory alive, and in the end they will lose and their cause will fall by the wayside like those liberal ideologists who came before them. If only Hitchens would realize that his suffering could mean something if he only recognized that God had created him for a real purpose, one other than for the purpose of going around the world leveling ad-hominem attacks against Christians, which would never hold up under real scrutiny. Let us Catholics continue to ask God to give Hitchens the grace to overcome his radical denial of Christ, and his radical hateful attitude towards anyone associated with Him.

" I had real plans for my next decade and felt I’d worked hard enough to earn it. Will I really not live to see my children married? To watch the World Trade Center rise again? To read—if not indeed write—the obituaries of elderly villains like Henry Kissinger and Joseph Ratzinger?"
Christopher Hitchens 2010
 Picture from Vanity Fair article. Please link to it above.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Catholic Treasures at The Ringling Museum of Art

If you ever visit Sarasota, Florida, there are two places you have to visit. The first is the Chapel of Christ the King, and the second one is the Ringling Museum of Art. I have had the pleasure of visiting the museum many times now, and I finally got around to taking some pictures. I took a visiting seminarian to the museum to show him some of the wonderful pieces of Catholic art that they have. The first room that you walk into really gets your attention. They contain the huge works from "The Triumph of the Eucharist", painted by Peter Paul Rubens. They are huge cartoons painted for the purpose of transferring the images onto giant tapestries, which eventually ended up in a Spanish monastery. I will eventually do a separate post on this cycle of paintings, since they have a lot of Church history behind them. John Ringling, though not a Catholic, spent a great deal of time in Europe, and he fell in love with European art. Thanks to his great love for the art, we now have one of the best private collections of Catholic art in the Southeast US. So, the next time you are in the area, be sure to check it out. Also, if you here on a Monday, the art museum is free. Below are a few pictures I took in the gallery.

Below: The Four Evangelists by Rubens.

Below: A close up from the Eucharistic Doctors- (Saint Jerome right, Saint Norbert left.) Rubens
Below: St. Vitus exorcising a demon from a man.
Below: 14th century Icon of the Theotokos and the Infant Jesus.
Below: Judith with the head of Holofernes. Francesco Cairo- This is one of my favorite pieces of work in the museum. The Carravagio-esque contrast gives this work a striking characteristic about it making you feel as if Judith is staring right at you from the nearby shadows.

Recommended Music Selections For Catholics

With the degradation of music in today's culture, you may be looking for some traditional Catholic music to listen to. Here are a few of my favorite CDs which I have loaded onto my iPod.

The Divine Liturgy-Capella Romana
If you want to listen to a wonderfully recorded Byzantine Liturgy in English, then this 2 CD set is for you. It also comes with an informative 40 page booklet. You can buy it here.

Chant Wars-Sequentia
This disc contains different forms of Medieval chant. It also has a nice 43 page book. You can learn more here, and it can be bought on Amazon.
Cycles of Grace- Fr. Apostolos Hill
This 2 CD set contains Byzantine hymns from the Great Feasts of the Eastern Church in English. Check it out here.

Fragments- Theatre of Voices
I love this CD! It has several different types of chant on it. Amazon used to have it on CD, and you can listen to samples of it there. It can be downloaded there as well. You will have to hunt to find the CD.

Monday, August 2, 2010

James White Cartoon

I was sent a link to this cartoon. I thought it was quite comical with the little pasted head of White on the cartoon. It was made by a Protestant, who apparently vehemently disagrees with Dr. White's brand of Protestantism. Although it represents the Calvinist position in a very oversimplified, inaccurate manner, I thought I would share it with you for some comic relief demonstrating the disunity of the Protestant sects. J. Oakely White: Hyper-Calvinism Today by null

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