Friday, June 29, 2007

Condemnation Of The Protestant Theses On Predestination

"In opposition to this [Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin], the Council of Trent had been more explicit on these questions in formulating the revealed doctrine such as always taught by the Church. The principal definitions relative to the point at issue are found in the following canons of the sixth session.

Can. 4: ‘If anyone saith that man’s free will moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, no wise co-operates toward disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of justification; that it cannot refuse its consent, if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive, let him be anathema.’

Can. 5: ‘If anyone saith that, since Adam’s sin, the free will of man is lost and is extinguished; or that it is a thing with only a name, yea, a name without reality, a figment in fine, introduced into the Church by Satan, let him be anathema.’

Can. 6: ‘If anyone saith that it is not in man’s power to make his ways evil, but that the works that are evil God worketh as well as those that are good, not permissibly only, but properly and of Himself, in such a wise that the treason of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul, let him be anathema.’

Can. 17: ‘If anyone saith that the grace of justification is attained only by those who are predestined unto life; but that all others who are called, are called, indeed, but receive not grace, as being by the divine power predestined unto evil; let him be anathema.’

Can. 18: ‘If anyone saith that the commandments of God are, even for one that is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to keep; let him be anathema.’

In the eleventh canon, which is the counterpart of this last quoted canon, the Council of Trent has in mind two propositions of St. Augustine, whose doctrine the Protestnats appealed to in the following passages, though interpreting him in a wrong sense: ‘God does not command what is impossible, but in commanding advises you to do what you can, and to ask for what you cannot do.’ ‘God does not abandon those whom He has once justified by His grace, unless He is first abandoned by them.’ In saying that God never commands what is impossible, St. Augustine had equivalently affirmed that in a certain way He wills all men to be saved, in this sense that He wills to make it really possible for all to keep the commandments, and that no one is lost except through his own fault."

-Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange from his book Predestination.

Protestant Errors On The Doctrine Of Predestination

Part 3 of a 3 part series: Calvin

"He surpasses Luther and Zwingli in the force of his logical conclusions. The fundamental thesis of his doctrine is that some are freely predestined, and the rest are freely and positively damned. According to his theory, God urges man to sin, which is, however, freely committed, in the sense that there is no exterior influence compelling man to commit sin. There is no fatalism in this, says Calvin, but a mysterious and just will of God, although this is beyond man’s comprehension. On this point he writes: ‘We say, therefore, as evidently attested by the Scripture, that once for all God has decreed by His eternal and immutable plan, whom He willed to accept for eternal salvation and whom He willed to consign to eternal perdition. We say that this counsel, as regards the elect, has its foundation in God’s mercy, without any consideration of man’s dignity. On the contrary, admittance to eternal life is foreclosed to all those whom He wills to deliver up to eternal damnation; and this is the result of His secret and incomprehensible judgment, although it is according to strict justice.’ The corresponding Latin text does not differ from this except by the addition of ‘gratuitous’ to the word ‘mercy.’ It reads as follows: ‘The plan, as regards the elect, has its foundation in His gratuitous mercy.’ This doctrine admits, of course, a certain necessity of good works for the salvation of adults; but it does not acknowledge them to be meritorious.

The antilapsarians, who were disciples of Calvin, said that even before Adam’s sin was foreseen, God did not will to save all mankind. On the contrary, the infralapsarians said that, as a consequence of this foreseen sin, God does not will to save all mankind. Calvin, following up the stand taken by Wyclif, added that those who come under the sentence of reprobation are purified only externally by baptism, not receiving the grace of this sacrament. In the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, the predestined do not receive the body of Christ, but merely a divine power that emanates from Christ’s body present in heaven. The Church is invisible, consisting of the assembly of the predestined.

This Calvinist doctrine on predestination was not accepted by those of moderate views. One of their distinguished leaders since 1588 was James Harmensz, who was called Arminius. He was appointed in 1602 a professor in the University of Leyden, where the stern Gomar already held the same position. Arminius attacked Calvin’s and Beza’s system, on certain points attracting the attention of several Catholic theologians. Arminius’ theory of liberty aroused the anger of some, and he had to engage in a very spirited argument with Gomar, who defended the following thesis: God’s free good pleasure alone is the impelling antecedent cause of reprobation from grace and glory to a just damnation. This doctrine left no trace of the distinction between negative reprobation which permits sin, and positive reprobation which punishes it. This doctrine was imposed, however, by the Synod of Dordrecht. It maintained with the infralapsarians that at least after original sin God no longer wills the salvation of all mankind, and that Christ died only for the elect. This doctrine, which at first was optional among the Calvinists of the Low Countries, was later on made obligatory."

-Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange from his book Predestination.

Protestant Errors On The Doctrine Of Predestination

Part 2 of a 3 part series: Zwingli

"A sort of pantheism and fatalism is what Zwingli concludes from this teaching, as Bauer points out. According to his theory, creatures come from God as the instrument is to the artist. God is the cause of everything, even of evil and of sin. Sin is truly a transgression of the law, but man commits it of necessity. Even God does not sin in forcing man to sin, because there is no law for God. Original sin is the inclination to evil, to self-love; it is a natural malady not removed by baptism, as Luther had said. Instead of the Church, we have a democratic organization which includes only the elect."

-Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange from his book Predestination.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Protestant Errors On The Doctrine Of Predestination

Part 1 of a 3 part series: Luther

"Protestantism derived its notion of predestination from its preconceived theory of the consequences of original sin. According to its theory, man in a state of fallen nature no longer has the strength, even after justification, to resist temptation. We know that Luther was thus ensnared into the path of error. The observance of the divine law and resistance against unruly passions necessitated his making great efforts; as humble prayer was something unknown to him, he concluded that concupiscence, since the fall of man, cannot be overcome, and that the command, ‘thou shalt not covet,’ is impracticable, and that God has commanded what is impossible. Thus it is that, through lack of an interior justice, which seemed impossible to him, Luther set out in quest of an exterior justice; not recognizing the necessity of contrition and a firm purpose of amendment, he appealed from these to Christ and said in conclusion that man of himself is always weak, always in a state of sin; but that Christ’s justice covers the sins of sinners. Christ’s justice covers them and is imputed to them.

Continuing on this path of error, Luther rejected free will. Free will is dead, so he said. In consequence of this, the Christian’s faith is solely God’s work.. ‘He operates in us without our co-operation,’ and this faith is formal justification. ‘Faith is the formal justice, by reason of which we are justified. Faith is already the grace of justification.’ The nuptial robe is faith without good works. For salvation nothing more than faith is required. This is how Luther came to conclude one of the fundamental principles of his doctrine, so that he taught not only that eternal predestination is previous to foreseen merits, but also that good works performed or merits acquired in this life are not necessary for salvation. In proof of this he appealed to St. Paul’s epistles, falsely interpreting them, and to the teaching of St. Augustine, which he understood in the wrong sense. It would be a mistake, however, for one to believe that all Lutherans preserved intact Luther’s teaching on this point. Already in 1535, Melanchthon declared good works to be necessary for salvation. Something similar to this was taught by the Interim of Augsburg, and by that of Leipzig."

-Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange from his book Predestination.

A Scotist Before Scotus

"As St. Thomas says: 'Predestination presupposes election in the order of reason; and election presupposes love.' Here we see the application of two principles ignored by some later theologians. First of all we have this principle that God, in this case as always, wills the end before the means, and therefore He wills the predestined glory before willing them grace by which they will merit it. Duns Scotus is not, therefore, as some recently maintained, the first one to apply this principle here. St. Thomas writes on this point as follows: 'But nothing is directed towards an end unless the will for that end already exists. Whence the predestination of some to eternal salvation presupposes in the order of reason, that God wills their salvation, and to this belongs both election and love -love inasmuch as He wills them this particular good of eternal salvation- since to love is to wish well to anyone, as stated above (q. 20, a. 2, 3); election inasmuch as He wills this good to some in preference to others, since He reprobates some, as stated above (a. 3).'"

-Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange from his book Predestination.

Mediation Of Pre-Lapsarian Grace Through Christ

I recently read a great article by Robert Fastiggi of Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. It is called Aquinas and Suarez on the Mediation of Pre-Lapsarian Grace through Christ.

At the end of the article he comes up with three conlcusions:

1) The traditional Thomist position of Journet which maintains that pre-lapsarian grace was not mediated through Christ is an inference which goes beyond the actual texts of Aquinas.

2) Suarez's position that pre-lapsarian grace is most likely mediated by Christ is a position that can be logically developed from the Summa of Aquinas and other sources.

3) The traditional Thomist view that the Incarnation was contingent on the fall is not supported by ST 2-2, 2.7 where Aquinas takes a position quite similar to that of Scotus. Indeed, we might say that----at least in this passage---Aquinas was a Scotist before Scotus.

Ask A Father

Q: St. Ambrose, how do we know which is the True Church?
A: Where Peter is, there is the Church.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Whether A Man May Merit Anything From God?

Objection 1: It would seem that a man can merit nothing from God. For no one, it would seem, merits by giving another his due. But by all the good we do, we cannot make sufficient return to God, since yet more is His due, as also the Philosopher says (Ethic. viii, 14). Hence it is written (Lk. 17:10): "When you have done all these things that are commanded you, say: We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do." Therefore a man can merit nothing from God.

Objection 2: Further, it would seem that a man merits nothing from God, by what profits himself only, and profits God nothing. Now by acting well, a man profits himself or another man, but not God, for it is written (Job 35:7): "If thou do justly, what shalt thou give Him, or what shall He receive of thy hand." Hence a man can merit nothing from God.
Objection 3: Further, whoever merits anything from another makes him his debtor; for a man's wage is a debt due to him. Now God is no one's debtor; hence it is written (Rm. 11:35): "Who hath first given to Him, and recompense shall be made to him?" Hence no one can merit anything from God.

On the contrary, It is written (Jer. 31:16): "There is a reward for thy work." Now a reward means something bestowed by reason of merit. Hence it would seem that a man may merit from God.

I answer that, Merit and reward refer to the same, for a reward means something given anyone in return for work or toil, as a price for it. Hence, as it is an act of justice to give a just price for anything received from another, so also is it an act of justice to make a return for work or toil. Now justice is a kind of equality, as is clear from the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 3), and hence justice is simply between those that are simply equal; but where there is no absolute equality between them, neither is there absolute justice, but there may be a certain manner of justice, as when we speak of a father's or a master's right (Ethic. v, 6), as the Philosopher says. And hence where there is justice simply, there is the character of merit and reward simply. But where there is no simple right, but only relative, there is no character of merit simply, but only relatively, in so far as the character of justice is found there, since the child merits something from his father and the slave from his lord.

Now it is clear that between God and man there is the greatest inequality: for they are infinitely apart, and all man's good is from God. Hence there can be no justice of absolute equality between man and God, but only of a certain proportion, inasmuch as both operate after their own manner. Now the manner and measure of human virtue is in man from God. Hence man's merit with God only exists on the presupposition of the Divine ordination, so that man obtains from God, as a reward of his operation, what God gave him the power of operation for, even as natural things by their proper movements and operations obtain that to which they were ordained by God; differently, indeed, since the rational creature moves itself to act by its free-will, hence its action has the character of merit, which is not so in other creatures.

Reply to Objection 1: Man merits, inasmuch as he does what he ought, by his free-will; otherwise the act of justice whereby anyone discharges a debt would not be meritorious.

Reply to Objection 2: God seeks from our goods not profit, but glory, i.e. the manifestation of His goodness; even as He seeks it also in His own works. Now nothing accrues to Him, but only to ourselves, by our worship of Him. Hence we merit from God, not that by our works anything accrues to Him, but inasmuch as we work for His glory.

Reply to Objection 3: Since our action has the character of merit, only on the presupposition of the Divine ordination, it does not follow that God is made our debtor simply, but His own, inasmuch as it is right that His will should be carried out.

-St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica; Prima Secunda, Q. 114, a. 1.

Snipping Calvin's Tulip

The most common way Calvinist doctrines are expressed is through the acronym " TULIP." It is important to note that this acronym is by no means exhaustive. Reformed Protestants believe many more things than those which are expressed by TULIP. TULIP, far from being a thorough expression of the Reformed belief-system, is simply an easy-to-remember presentation of the five major doctrines that distinguish Calvinists from the other Protestant sects.

TULIP stands for the following doctrinal beliefs:

Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints

Total depravity is perhaps the most misunderstood of the five-points of Calvinism. Like most people who first hear the phrase "total depravity," my mind conjured up an image of a hardened criminal sitting on death row, awaiting his execution. I imagined a man so calloused by evil and sin that his every action was laden with evil intent and desire. Although this is how total depravity is commonly understood, it is quite inaccurate. Contrary to what the title might suggest, total depravity is not the belief that fallen human beings are as sinful as they possibly can be (a belief that would perhaps better be titled: utter depravity). Total depravity should be understood in terms of the "radical corruption" of human nature, or the " total inability" of the will to choose the good. A Calvinist believes that the effects of original sin are so great that man no longer has the ability to choose the good. He is bound to sin. He loves evil and darkness. He hates Truth and the Light. The Westminster Confession of Faith states that we have " wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto" (9.3).

Catholic Response: For a Calvinist to be truly consistent with this belief, he has to believe than even babies who die at birth are necessarily doomed to hell because of the depraved condition of their soul. It doesn't matter that they, themselves, never had the opportunity to commit any sins. All that matters is the fact that they are born radically corrupt. While many Calvinist squirm at this point and argue that God "makes exceptions" when it comes to those who die before the age of reason, they are still faced with the true gravity of their theology. It is impossible for God to punish someone unjustly. How, therefore, could God fully damn the soul of a stillborn child for sins he/she didn't commit? Such a position is indeed repulsive and contrary to the character of God.

In paragraph 405m the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that original sin is a "deprivation of original holiness and justice." However, it notes that "human nature has not been totally corrupted" (emphasis added). Original sin is the result of Adam and Eve's act of rebellion. We are un-graced because of the fall. We lack the sanctifying grace that we originally possessed. But we are not totally depraved. Because of Adam and Eve's sin, we lack our original status as covenantal family members with God (original justice). We have fallen from that original position of grace. We are now "dis-graced creatures." We have fallen from our filial position in God's covenantal family. We now transmit human life apart from the divine life for which human life was created. We impart a fallen nature to our children. However, we do not transmit Adam and Eve's personal sin. God does not look upon a newborn baby and see Adam and Eve's specific/personal sin. We are all implicated in Adam's sin, but we don't receive Adam's sin. We receive a wounded nature that is deprived of grace and inclined towards evil (concupiscence), but we do not receive a totally depraved nature. Thus, as the Catechism states, original sin is sin "contracted and not committed." We are born into a "state [of sin] and not an act" (#404).

Unconditional election is connected to the "Reformed view" of Predestination, and it builds upon their belief in total depravity. Because mankind is so radically corrupt, so thoroughly sinful, and so diametrically opposed to all things good (especially the ultimate Good: God Himself), man cannot even take the first step towards saving grace. In his book, Grace Unknown, noted Calvinist theologian R.C. Sproul presents the Reformed view of election as follows: "From all eternity God decided to save some members of the human race and to let the rest of the human race perish" (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1997, p. 141). Thus, the reason why some people "choose" to embrace God is because God chose them first. God's choice is " unconditional." His sovereign choice is not at all dependent upon any inherent good or merit he sees within us. A Calvinist would vehemently disagree with the belief that God merely "foreknows" who will come to saving faith, and thus bases His choice upon human decision. God isn't a celestial Santa Clause who looks down the corridor of time to see who's been "naughty or nice." He chooses us not because He sees any particular value or worth in some that is lacking in others. Rather it is only because of the mystery of His sovereign will that He chooses some and not others.

Catholic Response: Many Catholics are shocked when they discover that the Church actually permits one to hold a view similar to the Calvinist view. While the Church by no means enforces it as dogma, this is a legitimate doctrinal option for an orthodox Catholic. Generally speaking, those within the Church who embrace this view of predestination are called Thomists (i.e. people who follow the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas). The Thomists argue that God's love is the cause of all goodness, and thus no one would be better equipped to choose God (the "Ultimate Good") unless he were more loved by God. God's love infuses and creates goodness in things. Granted, God gives grace to all ("sufficient grace"), but to certain people He gives an "extra-measure" of grace that infallibly produces results ("efficacious grace"). I cannot (in-and-of myself) muster up enough "goodness" to embrace God. His special love and grace are necessary even in my initial decision to choose Him. Contrary to what one might think, it isn't a matter of God's efficacious grace or human free-will. Rather, it is a matter of God's efficacious grace and human free-will. It is only in and through God's grace that we can truly be free. Again, the Church does not teach that one must adhere to this view, but it is important to note that it is a legitimate option with the Church. (For an extensive treatment of this topic, I recommend that one read Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange's excellent book entitled Predestination (Rockford: Tan Books & Publishers, Inc., 1999)).

Limited atonement is the perhaps the most controversial of the "five-points of Calvinism." Limited atonement refers to the belief that Christ's death on the cross was only designed for those whom He had chosen to save (i.e. He only died for the predestined "elect"). Not surprisingly, this doctrinal affirmation has been the source of much controversy within Protestant circles. Many people feel that it undervalues the efficacy of Christ's death on the cross.

It is important to understand, however, that Calvinists are not questioning the infinite value of Christ's death. They agree that Christ's death is sufficient for all, and that it could theoretically atone for the sins of each and every person. What they don't believe is that Christ's death is efficient for all, and that it actually saves each and every person. They believe that because He has chosen a limited number of people to be saved. He will only die for that limited number of people. The argument runs something like this: 1) the purpose of Christ's death was to save people, 2) God only chose a set number of people to be saved, therefore 3) Christ only died for those whom He had chosen to save (the elect).

Catholic Response: Scripturally, the Calvinist position is difficult to hold. 1 Timothy 2:6 states that Christ "gave himself as a ransom for all." 2 Corinthians 5:15 says that Christ "has died for all." 1 John 2:2 says that Jesus is "the expiation for our sins, and not of ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." In light of these and many other passages in Scripture, the Calvinist understanding of limited atonement quickly crumbles. The Bible is emphatic about the fact that Christ's died for all men. The Catechism states that the Church "following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: 'There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer '" (#605).

While we must affirm the universality of Christ's death on the cross, it is interesting to note that there is a sense in which Christ's atonement is limited. While Christ died for the sins of all men, it is quite obvious that not all men have, in fact, received the full benefits of Christ's death (or else all men would be saved). Rather, Catholics believe that while Christ went to the cross with the intention of making salvation possible for all men, He did not, therefore, necessarily make salvation actual for all men (this would be the heresy of universalism). The salvific effect of the atonement is limited by those who receive (and those who do not receive) the benefits of Christ's saving death on the cross.

Irresistible grace can be summed up in the brief statement that " regeneration precedes (saving) faith." That is, Christ regenerates fallen human beings - making them spiritually alive - and gives them both the ability and the irrevocable desire to embrace Him. No one can resist God's efficacious call. It is impossible for someone to be regenerated by God and not embrace Him. Why? Well, building on the previous three "TULIP points," the Calvinist believes that regeneration so opens up the eyes of the sinner that he will not be able to refuse God's call. The offer of salvation is just so beautiful and attractive that no man will be able to reject it. A Calvinist does not believe that God drags people into heaven, kicking and screaming. Once a person is regenerated, there is nothing that could possibly prevent him from embracing His Savior. He enters the gates of heaven with inexpressible joy because that's the only place where his heart can find true rest and contentment.

Catholic Response: One of the crucial differences that exist between Catholics and Calvinists is their understanding of when and how regeneration occurs. For a Catholic, regeneration - spiritual re-birth - occurs at baptism. For the Calvinist, baptism is important, but it does not necessarily have regenerative powers: it is possible for someone to be baptized and not be regenerate (and vice versa).

It is interesting to note, however, that a Catholic does not have to disagree with the Calvinists about the existence of grace that is " irresistible" or "efficacious." As noted earlier, too many people reduce the issue to a matter of human free-will or divine grace, when it is really a matter of human free-will and divine grace. God is a God of love, and His love produces "irresistible" results in us: His chosen sons and daughters.

P is the final letter in the Calvinist's five-point TULIP, and it stands for perseverance of the saints. Perseverance of the saints is the belief that once God has begun a saving work within the life of a Christian, He will not let that person (ultimately) fall from grace. Sin and temptation are still very real in the lives of God's children, but it is impossible for a true Christian to renounce his faith. A Calvinist emphatically rejects the idea of mortal sin. Any person who is 1) truly chosen/elected by God, 2) truly saved by Christ's death on the cross, and 3) truly drawn to our Lord, will not forsake his salvation. He can't lose his salvation, nor will he want to. A Calvinist will admit that there are a lot of people who go through a " conversion experience" and later appear to fall-away from their faith. A Calvinist can only shrug when confronted with these unfortunate instances and say that the person was never truly saved in the first place.

Catholic Response: One of the most jaw-dropping verses for me as a Protestant was 1 John 5:16-17: "If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal." (emphasis added). How more obvious could the Biblical writer be about the existence of "mortal" sins? While all sins are evil and harmful to the sinner, there are sins which are fatal to the spiritual health of one's soul. It's a Biblical fact: some people do fall from grace. This is something that we have all seen experienced. Rather than causing us to despair, however, this should drive us to our knees in earnest prayer, asking our Lord to ever and always strengthen us in our battle with sin and temptation.

-Written by Chris Cuddy : excerpt Planet Envoy.


In the past couple of months two prominent Evangelicals, Francis Beckwith and Robert Koons, (re)converted to the Catholic Faith. They, as many other Protestants do, remarked that the Reformation stands and falls by the doctrine of Justification. They say that if Sola Fide is wrong, all of Protestantism is wrong. Beckwith and Koons rightfully discovered that Sola Fide was false and returned home to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Far from discrediting their paths back to the True Church, I feel that Sola Fide is not the primary issue. Rather it is secondary. For me, the issue that drives all the rest is the issue of authority.

The reason for this is rather simple and quite logical. If the Catholic Church is correct in her claim to teach infallibly and authoritatively, then logically all the other doctrines are a result of this claim. If Christ truly passed on His authority to the Church, which He did, then the Catholic Church truly teaches what is Truth. The Church’s authority comes from Christ and is protected by the Holy Spirit who leads Holy Mother Church into all truth. Thus, whatever the Church authoritatively declares about Justification, Salvation, and so forth, is none other than the truth. Also, if a person rejects the authority of the Catholic Church, they reject none other than Christ, from whom the Church’s authority flows!

This is something I realized as an Anglican. The issue of authority is key. Once I realized that the authority of Christ resides with the Catholic Church, I had no choice but to become Catholic! Christ said to Peter, "You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church." Christ also told Peter to feed His sheep. Our Lord did not say to Saint Augustine of Canterbury that He would build His Church upon him. Nor did He say likewise to Henry VIII or to Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, or Charles Wesley (John Wesley never left the Anglican Church) for that matter! We can easily see the effects with Anglicanism and the other mainline Protestant denominations of a false claim to authority.

The Catholic Church is the only entity given authority to it by Christ. For the Catholic Church is none other than the fulfillment of the Davidic Kingdom and Jesus Christ is none other than the heir to the Davidic throne who’s reign shall have no end. The Kingdom is the Church! This can not be stressed enough. Christ restored the Davidic Kingdom in the Church and made Peter His Prime Minister (an office which is successive). And like all of the Prime Ministers in the Davidic Kingdom, Peter has the highest authority second only to the King himself, who in the Kingdom of the Church is Christ! Our Lord Christ the King gave Peter the Keys to the Kingdom. The Keys represent the authority of the Kingdom. Like the office of Prime Minister (the Pope), the Keys are also successive. When the See of Peter (the See of the Prime Minister) speaks on matters of Faith and Morals, he speaks with the authority of Christ!

This is an essential reality for our separated brethren to understand. In leaving the Church, they leave the Kingdom! This may sound drastic, and it is. All the more reason why it is of the utmost necessity for our separated brethren to come Home. To once again be united in the Kingdom of God which is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

The Council Of Trent On Original Sin

That our Catholic faith, without which it is impossible to please God,[1] may, after the destruction of errors, remain integral and spotless in its purity, and that the Christian people may not be carried about with every wind of doctrine,[2] since that old serpent,[3] the everlasting enemy of the human race, has, among the many evils with which the Church of God is in our times disturbed, stirred up also not only new but also old dissensions concerning original sin and its remedy, the holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same three legates of the Apostolic See presiding, wishing now to reclaim the erring and to strengthen the wavering, and following the testimonies of the Holy Scriptures, of the holy Fathers, of the most approved councils, as well as the judgment and unanimity of the Church herself, ordains, confesses and declares these things concerning original sin:

1. If anyone does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he transgressed the commandment of God in paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice in which he had been constituted, and through the offense of that prevarication incurred the wrath and indignation of god, and thus death with which God had previously threatened him,[4] and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil,[5] and that the entire Adam through that offense of prevarication was changed in body and soul for the worse,[6] let him be anathema.

2. If anyone asserts that the transgression of Adam injured him alone and not his posterity,[7] and that the holiness and justice which he received from God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone and not for us also; or that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has transfused only death and the pains of the body into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul, let him be anathema, since he contradicts the Apostle who says:
By one man sin entered into the world and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.[8]

3. If anyone asserts that this sin of Adam, which in its origin is one, and by propagation, not by imitation, transfused into all, which is in each one as something that is his own, is taken away either by the forces of human nature or by a remedy other than the merit of the one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ,[9] who has reconciled us to God in his own blood, made unto us justice, sanctification and redemption;[10] or if he denies that that merit of Jesus Christ is applied both to adults and to infants by the sacrament of baptism rightly administered in the form of the Church, let him be anathema; for there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.[11]

Whence that declaration:Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sins of the world;[12] and that other:
As many of you as have been baptized, have put on Christ.[13]

4. If anyone denies that infants, newly born from their mothers' wombs, are to be baptized, even though they be born of baptized parents, or says that they are indeed baptized for the remission of sins,[14] but that they derive nothing of original sin from Adam which must be expiated by the laver of regeneration for the attainment of eternal life, whence it follows that in them the form of baptism for the remission of sins is to be understood not as true but as false, let him be anathema, for what the Apostle has said, by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned,[15] is not to be understood otherwise than as the Catholic Church has everywhere and always understood it.

For in virtue of this rule of faith handed down from the apostles, even infants who could not as yet commit any sin of themselves, are for this reason truly baptized for the remission of sins, in order that in them what they contracted by generation may be washed away by regeneration.[16]

For, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.[17]

5. If anyone denies that by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted, or says that the whole of that which belongs to the essence of sin is not taken away, but says that it is only canceled or not imputed, let him be anathema.

For in those who are born again God hates nothing, because there is no condemnation to those who are truly buried together with Christ by baptism unto death,[18] who walk not according to the flesh,[19] but, putting off the old man and putting on the new one who is created according to God,[20] are made innocent, immaculate, pure, guiltless and beloved of God, heirs indeed of God, joint heirs with Christ;[21] so that there is nothing whatever to hinder their entrance into heaven.

But this holy council perceives and confesses that in the one baptized there remains concupiscence or an inclination to sin, which, since it is left for us to wrestle with, cannot injure those who do not acquiesce but resist manfully by the grace of Jesus Christ; indeed, he who shall have striven lawfully shall be crowned.[22]

This concupiscence, which the Apostle sometimes calls sin,[23] the holy council declares the Catholic Church has never understood to be called sin in the sense that it is truly and properly sin in those born again, but in the sense that it is of sin and inclines to sin.

But if anyone is of the contrary opinion, let him be anathema.

This holy council declares, however, that it is not its intention to include in this decree, which deals with original sin, the blessed and immaculate Virgin Mary, the mother of God, but that the constitutions of Pope Sixtus IV, of happy memory, are to be observed under the penalties contained in those constitutions, which it renews.[24]

1. Heb. 11:6.
2. Eph. 4:14.
3. Gen. 3:1 ff.; Apoc. 12:9; 20:2.
4. Gen. 2:17.
5. Heb. 2:14.
6. Cf. II Synod of Orange (529), c. I. Denzinger, no. 174.
7. See 1 Cor. 15:21 f.; II Synod of Orange, c.2. Ibid., no. 175.
8. Rom. 5:12.
9. See 1 Tim. 2:5.
10. See 1 Cor. 1:30.
11. Acts 4:12.
12. John 1:29.
13. Gal. 3:27.
14. Acts 2:38.
15. Rom. 5:12.
16. C.153, D.IV de cons.
17. John 3:5.
18. Rom. 6:4; C.13, D.IV de cons.
19. Rom. 8:1.
20. Eph. 4:22, 24; Col. 3:9f.
21. Rom. 8:17.
22. See II Tim. 2:5.
23. Rom. 6-8; Col. 3.
24. Cc. 1, 2, Extrav. comm., De reliq. et venerat. sanct., III, 12.

On The Corruption Of The Good Of Nature

Whether the entire good of human nature can be destroyed by sin?

Objection 1: It would seem that the entire good of human nature can be destroyed by sin. For the good of human nature is finite, since human nature itself is finite. Now any finite thing is entirely taken away, if the subtraction be continuous. Since therefore the good of nature can be continually diminished by sin, it seems that in the end it can be entirely taken away.

Objection 2: Further, in a thing of one nature, the whole and the parts are uniform, as is evidently the case with air, water, flesh and all bodies with similar parts. But the good of nature is wholly uniform. Since therefore a part thereof can be taken away by sin, it seems that the whole can also be taken away by sin.

Objection 3: Further, the good of nature, that is weakened by sin, is aptitude for virtue. Now this aptitude is destroyed entirely in some on account of sin: thus the lost cannot be restored to virtue any more than the blind can to sight. Therefore sin can take away the good of nature entirely.

On the contrary, Augustine says (Enchiridion xiv) that "evil does not exist except in some good." But the evil of sin cannot be in the good of virtue or of grace, because they are contrary to it. Therefore it must be in the good of nature, and consequently it does not destroy it entirely.

I answer that, As stated above (A[1]), the good of nature, that is diminished by sin, is the natural inclination to virtue, which is befitting to man from the very fact that he is a rational being; for it is due to this that he performs actions in accord with reason, which is to act virtuously. Now sin cannot entirely take away from man the fact that he is a rational being, for then he would no longer be capable of sin. Wherefore it is not possible for this good of nature to be destroyed entirely.

Since, however, this same good of nature may be continually diminished by sin, some, in order to illustrate this, have made use of the example of a finite thing being diminished indefinitely, without being entirely destroyed. For the Philosopher says (Phys. i, text. 37) that if from a finite magnitude a continual subtraction be made in the same quantity, it will at last be entirely destroyed, for instance if from any finite length I continue to subtract the length of a span. If, however, the subtraction be made each time in the same proportion, and not in the same quantity, it may go on indefinitely, as, for instance, if a quantity be halved, and one half be diminished by half, it will be possible to go on thus indefinitely, provided that what is subtracted in each case be less than what was subtracted before. But this does not apply to the question at issue, since a subsequent sin does not diminish the good of nature less than a previous sin, but perhaps more, if it be a more grievous sin.

We must, therefore, explain the matter otherwise by saying that the aforesaid inclination is to be considered as a middle term between two others: for it is based on the rational nature as on its root, and tends to the good of virtue, as to its term and end. Consequently its diminution may be understood in two ways: first, on the part of its rood, secondly, on the part of its term. In the first way, it is not diminished by sin, because sin does not diminish nature, as stated above (A[1]). But it is diminished in the second way, in so far as an obstacle is placed against its attaining its term. Now if it were diminished in the first way, it would needs be entirely destroyed at last by the rational nature being entirely destroyed. Since, however, it is diminished on the part of the obstacle which is place against its attaining its term, it is evident that it can be diminished indefinitely, because obstacles can be placed indefinitely, inasmuch as man can go on indefinitely adding sin to sin: and yet it cannot be destroyed entirely, because the root of this inclination always remains. An example of this may be seen in a transparent body, which has an inclination to receive light, from the very fact that it is transparent; yet this inclination or aptitude is diminished on the part of supervening clouds, although it always remains rooted in the nature of the body.

Reply to Objection 1: This objection avails when diminution is made by subtraction. But here the diminution is made by raising obstacles, and this neither diminishes nor destroys the root of the inclination, as stated above.

Reply to Objection 2: The natural inclination is indeed wholly uniform: nevertheless it stands in relation both to its principle and to its term, in respect of which diversity of relation, it is diminished on the one hand, and not on the other.

Reply to Objection 3: Even in the lost the natural inclination to virtue remains, else they would have no remorse of conscience. That it is not reduced to act is owing to their being deprived of grace by Divine justice. Thus even in a blind man the aptitude to see remains in the very root of his nature, inasmuch as he is an animal naturally endowed with sight: yet this aptitude is not reduced to act, for the lack of a cause capable of reducing it, by forming the organ requisite for sight.

-St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica; Prima Secunda, Q. 85, a. 2.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Necessity Of Grace

Whether man can wish or do any good without grace?

Objection 1: It would seem that man can wish and do good without grace. For that is in man's power, whereof he is master. Now man is master of his acts, and especially of his willing, as stated above (Question [1], Article [1]; Question [13], Article [6]). Hence man, of himself, can wish and do good without the help of grace.

Objection 2: Further, man has more power over what is according to his nature than over what is beyond his nature. Now sin is against his nature, as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii, 30); whereas deeds of virtue are according to his nature, as stated above (Question [71], Article [1]). Therefore since man can sin of himself he can wish and do good.

Objection 3: Further, the understanding's good is truth, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. vi, 2). Now the intellect can of itself know truth, even as every other thing can work its own operation of itself. Therefore, much more can man, of himself, do and wish good.

On the contrary, The Apostle says (Rm. 9:16): "It is not of him that willeth," namely, to will, "nor of him that runneth," namely to run, "but of God that showeth mercy." And Augustine says (De Corrept. et Gratia ii) that "without grace men do nothing good when they either think or wish or love or act."

I answer that, Man's nature may be looked at in two ways: first, in its integrity, as it was in our first parent before sin; secondly, as it is corrupted in us after the sin of our first parent. Now in both states human nature needs the help of God as First Mover, to do or wish any good whatsoever, as stated above (Article [1]). But in the state of integrity, as regards the sufficiency of the operative power, man by his natural endowments could wish and do the good proportionate to his nature, such as the good of acquired virtue; but not surpassing good, as the good of infused virtue. But in the state of corrupt nature, man falls short of what he could do by his nature, so that he is unable to fulfil it by his own natural powers. Yet because human nature is not altogether corrupted by sin, so as to be shorn of every natural good, even in the state of corrupted nature it can, by virtue of its natural endowments, work some particular good, as to build dwellings, plant vineyards, and the like; yet it cannot do all the good natural to it, so as to fall short in nothing; just as a sick man can of himself make some movements, yet he cannot be perfectly moved with the movements of one in health, unless by the help of medicine he be cured.

And thus in the state of perfect nature man needs a gratuitous strength superadded to natural strength for one reason, viz. in order to do and wish supernatural good; but for two reasons, in the state of corrupt nature, viz. in order to be healed, and furthermore in order to carry out works of supernatural virtue, which are meritorious. Beyond this, in both states man needs the Divine help, that he may be moved to act well.

Reply to Objection 1: Man is master of his acts and of his willing or not willing, because of his deliberate reason, which can be bent to one side or another. And although he is master of his deliberating or not deliberating, yet this can only be by a previous deliberation; and since it cannot go on to infinity, we must come at length to this, that man's free-will is moved by an extrinsic principle, which is above the human mind, to wit by God, as the Philosopher proves in the chapter "On Good Fortune" (Ethic. Eudem. vii). Hence the mind of man still unweakened is not so much master of its act that it does not need to be moved by God; and much more the free-will of man weakened by sin, whereby it is hindered from good by the corruption of the nature.

Reply to Objection 2: To sin is nothing else than to fail in the good which belongs to any being according to its nature. Now as every created thing has its being from another, and, considered in itself, is nothing, so does it need to be preserved by another in the good which pertains to its nature. For it can of itself fail in good, even as of itself it can fall into non-existence, unless it is upheld by God.

Reply to Objection 3: Man cannot even know truth without Divine help, as stated above (Article [1]). And yet human nature is more corrupt by sin in regard to the desire for good, than in regard to the knowledge of truth.

-St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica; Prima Secunda, Q. 109, a. 2.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Year Of Saint Paul

Pope Benedict XVI will proclaim a year dedicated to the memory of St. Paul, beginning on June 28, the Vatican liturgical office has announced.

The Pope will inaugurate a year devoted to the "Apostle to the Gentiles," marking the 2000th anniversary of his birth, at a Vespers at the Roman basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. The service will be held on June 28, the eve of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. [Source]

Quote Of The Day

"The absence of sex isn't hell, but the abuse of sex may send you there."

-Frank Pate

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Teaching Of The Church On Grace And Predestination

The quote below comes form Garrigou-Lagrange’s book Predestination. I know the quote is a bit long, but it is immensely worth the read! I truly feel that if Protestants read this book and properly understanding the vital importance and correct meaning of Grace and its effect on nature as well as a proper understanding of Predestination, they would convert to the Catholic Church in a heartbeat!

Protestants need to be exposed to the gems that are the books of Garrigou-Lagrange, Scheeben, and Ratzinger (Pope Benedict). If they do, they will see that the Catholic view of these matters makes a lot more sense and are a lot more in line with Scripture and revelation. (Then after they convert, if they could turn their fellow Catholics on to these authors, that would be great!)

Without further ado:

"As for the controversies of the ninth century in connection with predestination, we must by all means quote the decisions of the councils of Quierzy (853), Valence (855), Langres, Toul, and finally Thuzey. From these divers texts it follows: (1) that God wills in a certain way to save all men; (2) that there is no such thing as predestination to evil, but that God decreed from all eternity to inflict the penalty of damnation for the sin of final impenitence, a sin which He foresaw and in no way caused but merely permitted.

From the canons of the above-mentioned councils we see the meaning and scope of these two propositions. Predestination to evil is clearly excluded in the first canon of Quierzy. As for predestination to eternal life, it is viewed as a grace, a special mercy as regards the elect whom God by His grace has predestined to life, and to eternal life. The second canon reads: ‘Our will, aided by prevenient grace and concomitant is free to do what is good; and our will, forsaken by grace, is free to do what is evil.’ These latter words indicate that sin does not happen without God’s permission, who justly allows it to happen in one, while mercifully preserving another from it. This truth is brought out more clearly in the following canon, and what is of essential significance is that portion which states: ‘Almighty God wills without exception, all men to be saved, though not all are saved. That some are saved, however, is the gift of Him who saves; if some perish, it is the fault of them that perish.’ This canon is taken from the writings of St. Prosper. From this third canon of Quierzy we see that, if the will to save is universal, it is not equally so for all, as the Pelagians wanted it to be. It is efficacious only as regards the elect, and that in virtue of a special gift; but there is no predestination to evil. The two aspects of the mystery are affirmed in plain language, but we fail to perceive the mode of their intimate reconciliation. The fourth canon of Quierzy affirms that Christ died for all men.

The third Council of Valence (855) insisted more strongly on the gratuity of predestination to eternal life in so far as it is distinct from simple foreknowledge, for this latter also extends to evil. According to the declarations of this council, the least good and the least punishment that is justly inflicted, never occur without a positive and infallible decree from God, and no sin is committed, and nowhere by preference, without His foreknowledge and permission.

We know that after the Council of Langrea (859), the discussions concerning predestination between Hincmar, the great opponent of Gottschalk, and the Church of Lyons, were terminated at Thuzey in the year 860. The synodal letter, approved in this council, contains the following affirmations. (1) Whatsoever the Lord pleased He hath done in heaven and on earth. For nothing is pleased to do, or justly permits to be done. This means that all good things, whether easy or difficult to accomplish, whether natural or supernatural, come from God, and that sin does not occur, nor in this one rather than in the other, without His divine permission. Countless consequences evidently are included in this absolutely general principle of predilection. The other assertions of this synodal letter are derived from this general principle. They are as follows: (2) God wills all men to be saved and no one to perish.... nor after the fall of the first man is it His will forcibly to deprive men of free will. (3) That those, however, who are walking in the path of righteousness, may continue to do so and persevere in their innocence, He heals and aids their free will by grace. (4) They who go far from God, who is desirous of gathering the children of Jerusalem that wills it not, will perish. (5) Hence it is because of God’s grace that the world is saved; and it is because man has free will that the world is judged. (6) Adam, through willing what is evil, lost the power to do what is good.....Wherefore the whole human race became a mass of perdition. If no one had been rescued from it, God’s justice would not have been to blame. That many are saved, however, is due to God’s ineffable grace. This last statement repeats what SS. Augustine and Prosper said. Thus at the end of these conferences of the ninth century, the bishops, assembled in council at Thuzey, rejected absolutely the theory of predestination to evil and affirmed God’s universal will to save, as Prosper had done. God never commands the impossible, but He wills to make it possible for all to fulfil His precepts and obtain salvation. That is what all the bishops assembled in this last mentioned council affirmed with SS. Augustine and Prosper. But they do not deny, on that account, the other aspect of the mystery, to wit: the absolute gratuity of predestination, of true predestination as opposed to reprobation.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This teaching of the Church was confirmed both by the decisions of the Council of Trent against the errors of Protestantism and by the condemnation of Jansenism. The Church again declares that man, though having contracted the stain of original sin, is free to do good by the aid of grace, consenting to co-operate with it, though at the same time he can resist it. From this it follows that God predestines no one to evil; but He wills, on the contrary, the salvation of all men; and Christ dies for all, although all do not receive the benefit that is the fruit of His death, ‘but only those to whom the merit of His passion is communicated.’ In the case of adults good works are necessary for salvation., and, in the order of execution, heavenly glory is the reward granted at the end of their probation for meritorious acts.

It is likewise declared against Jamsenism that Christ did not die only for the predestined, or only for the faithful; that there is a grace which is truly sufficient, and which makes the fulfillment of God’s precepts possible for all those on whom these precepts are imposed. The Church, quoting the words of St. Augustine, says again in refuting the Protestants and Jansenist: ‘God commands not impossibilities, but, by commanding, both admonishes thee to do what thou art able, and to pray for what thou art not able to do.’ She also says that ‘God does not abandon the just without previously having been abandoned by them.’ It is only mortal sin that deprives them of sanctifying grace, and they are deprived of certain actual graces necessary for salvation only because they resisted sufficient graces. God does not permit us to be tempted beyond our powers of resistance; the grace of conversion is offered to sinners, and only those are deprived of it who, failing in their duty, refuse it, this being something which God permits, but of which He is by no means the cause. The Church, however, though affirming that God by a sufficient grace makes the fulfilment of His precepts possible for all, none the less affirms the efficacy of grace that actually is productive of good works. The Council of Trent declares that ‘God, unless men be themselves wanting His grace, as He has begun the good work, so will He perfect it, working in them to will and to accomplish.’

What are we to conclude then from the teaching of the Church against the conflicting heresies of Semipelagianism and predestinarianism, heresies that were renewed by Calvinism and Jansenism?

To sum up: Against Semipelagianism, we must say that the Church affirms particularly three things: (a) The cause of predestination to grace is not the foreknowledge of naturally good works performed, nor is it due to any preliminary acts of the natural order that are supposed to prepare for salvation. (b) Predestination to glory is not due to foreseen supernatural merits that would continue to be effective apart from the special gift of final perseverance. C) Complete predestination, which compromises the whole series of grace, is gratuitous or previous to foreseen merits. And St. Thomas understands this to mean that ‘whatsoever is in man disposing him towards salvation, is all included under the effect of predestination.’ In a word: ‘that some are saved is the gift of Him who saves.’

Against predestinarianism and the doctrines of Protestantism and Jansenism that revive it, the Church teaches: (a) God wills in a certain way to save all men and He makes the fulfilment of His precepts possible for all; (b) There is no predestination to evil, but God has decreed from all eternity to inflict eternal punishment for the sin of final impenitence which He foresaw, He being by no means the cause of it but merely permitting it.

We see that the teaching of the Church against these conflicting heresies may be summed up in these profound words of St. Prosper, which the Council of Quierzy makes its own. Against Pelagianism and Semipelagianism the council says: ‘That some are saved, is the gift of Him who saves.’ Against predestinarianism it says: ‘That some perish, is the fault of those who perish.’ Holy Scripture expressed the same thought in these words: ‘Destruction is thy own, O Israel; thy help is only in Me.’"

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Could It Be....?

I ordered Garrigou-Lagrange's book Predestination yesterday and had it shipped overnight. The tracking of the package claims that it was dropped off at my doorstep a little before noon today, however it is nowhere to be found. Do you think it could have been predestined not to show up today.......

Lucky for me, I am borrowing someone else's copy!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Grace And The Middle Ages

"There are...two movements in the Christian world. The movement by which it ascends to God is but the result of the movement by which God descends into it, and this is the first movement. And the more it yields to this movement by which God gives Himself to it, the more the movement is awakened in it by which it gives itself to God. For grace has a vivifying effect, and is not, as Luther thought, a mantle cast over a dead person. The creature, profoundly stirred to act, arises from sleep and becomes all vigilance and activity. In its final stage this activity is one of pre-eminence, of loving contemplation, and of superabundance. But at the same time it is also a moral, ascetic, practical, and militant activity....

A time came when man took this second movement for the first. In the age of anthropocentric humanism, which is Pelagianism in action, man forgot that God is the first Mover in the act of love, as He is the first Cause of being. Man acted as if the creature owed its advancement to itself and not to the operation of the divine plenitude in it. When these conditions prevailed, the Christian world, laboring under the triple ferment of the Renaissance, of rationalism, and of its contrary Jansenist or Protestant tendency (which, as it seeks to nullify man’s efforts as regards the supernatural, in the same degree seeks to exalt them in the natural order), was inevitably doomed to disintegration.

Even though as Christians we remain truly loyal and obedient to all that has been revealed, since grace is something hidden, the movement by which we ascend to God, that is, our indispensable effort to attain spiritual perfection, may veil from our eyes the descending movement and the gift of uncreated love in us. Then is struck a discordant note, increasing in volume, between life as we Christians should live it and our consciousness and interpretation of it. Religion tends to become less and less existential; it is swept away by appearances, and we live but a superficial life. We shall always believe in grace, but we shall act as if it were but the pediment of an edifice, and as if, even without it, on the chance supposition that it did not operate, things would still be the same, because of precautions taken by human aids and conditions deemed to be sufficient. When such periods occur, which act as counter currents to grace, should we be astonished at their anemia?

To be sure, the Middle Ages were not such a period. The enormous activity manifested during that period, though it may deceive the historian, did not deceive the period itself. The Middle Ages knew that this great and constructive work was but the mask cloaking an invisible mystery of love and humility. Those ages obeyed the law of the incarnation, which continued to accomplish its effects in them....Medieval Christianity knew in a practical way that the Word came down and was made flesh, that the Holy Spirit, following this movement, also comes down. Medieval Christianity opened the world of knowledge to the stream which coursed through it gradually. Thus the world was enabled to know the order of wisdom, and for a time experienced in itself the realization of the peaceful encounter and harmony of the three wisdoms: the infused, the theological, and the metaphysical."

-Jacques Maritain in Science and Wisdom, quoted in the preface of Garrigou-Lagrange's Predestination.

Question Of The Day

If Protestants will believe that the Eternal Word, the Second Person of the Trinity has become man, why is it so hard for them to believe that Christ can give us His Body and Blood under the form of bread and wine? Especially when the fact that Christ does so is in the Bible!

"I speak as to sensible men; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread." (1 Cor 10:15-17)

"For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died." (1 Cor 11:23-30)

Judeo-Christian Dialogue

"'I'm not offended when Christians eat pork,' says Jacob Neusner. At least not usually. The brilliant--and none too patient--Jewish scholar does recall a religion conference where so much of the other white meat was served that he was reduced to a diet of hard-boiled eggs. One day on the food line something snapped, and he rhymed aloud, 'I hope you all get trichinosis/And come to believe in the God of Moses.' A fellow conferee instantly replied, 'And if we don't get such diseases/Will you believe in the God of Jesus?' Neusner cackles. 'That's an example of the right way to do Judeo-Christian dialogue," he says. "If religion matters, and it does, then it's not honest to be indifferent to the convictions of others.'"

Hat tip to Chris Cuddy.

The Bible Is The Model Of All Theology

"There can be no doubt that contemporary theology needs a bridge. Following the trend in secular acedemia, theology has fragmented into many isolated disciplines, each working in isolation from all the others -the condition Jacques Barzun describes as 'specialism'. Thus, dogmatic theologians often assume they have nothing to learn from biblical scholars. Exegetes, for their part, give scant consideration to the insights of systematic and dogmatic theologians. To many scholars, these disciplines are almost contradictory: doctrine is the 'opposite' of Scripture.

Yet, amid the many varities of theological experience, the author of this volume sees a profound unity. His synthesis will, perhaps, strike readers as novel; but it is actually a recovery of the great Catholic tradition, not only of the Scholastics and the Fathers, but of the Apostles themselves.

For, though the divisions are deep, they are not very old. They reach back, rather, to the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation. Whenever heresies arise, the Church must treat dogma in a way that does not give due proportion to the whole truth. Instead, theologians must emphasize precisely the points that heretics deny. For example, because the Protestant reformers emphasized faith sometimes at the expense of works, post-Reformation Catholic theology has tended to emphasize works more than faith. Because Protestants preached 'Scripture alone' apart from tradition, Catholics have had to emphasize sacred tradition to a greater degree than before.

All this was necessary, in a remedial way. Yet its lingering effect has been to produce a theology that majors in relatively minor points. After all, tradition itself teaches the primacy of Scripture, and Catholic authorities from Saint Paul onward have taught the priority of faith over works. In classical theology, faith and works, Scripture and tradition, all receive their due, because all belong to one essential reality, whose archetypal expression is in the Word of God."

-Scott Hahn in the foreword to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's book Many Religions-One Covenant: Israel, the Church and the World.

Renewed Hope For The State Of Europe

“The Orthodox way passes through spirituality, penance, fasting, the study of the texts of the Fathers of the Church…the sense of the sacred and above all, the Divine Eucharist: these are our spiritual weapons and we desire to fight together with the sister Church of Rome to transform European society, which is anthropocentric, into a Christocenctric society.”

-His Beatitutude Chrsysostom II, speaking this Saturday at the joint declaration with Supreme Pontiff Of The Universal Church Pope Benedict XVI (emphasis added).

Saturday, June 16, 2007

An Early Father's Day Present.....

....For Me! That's right, Laura and I are expecting our first child due December 21, 2007! We had our first ultrasound today and here are our baby's first pictures!:

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ask A Father

Q: Origen, what is a “Gospel”?
The gospel….is a discourse containing a report of things which, with good reason, make the hearer glad whenever he accepts what is reported, because they are beneficial. Such a discourse is no less gospel should it also be examined with reference to the hearer’s attitude. The gospel is either a discourse which contains the presence of a good for the believer, or a discourse which announces that an awaited good is present.

All the definitions which we have already mentioned fit those books entitled the gospels. For each gospel brings cheer with good reason. Each is a composition of declarations which are beneficial to the one who believes them and does not misconstrue them since it produces a benefit in him. Each gospel teaches about the saving sojourn with men of Christ Jesus, “the firstborn of every creature,” a sojourn which occurred on account of men. But it is also clear to everyone who believes, that each gospel is a discourse which teaches about the sojourn of the good Father in his Son with those who are willing to receive him.

We might dare say, then, that the Gospels are the first fruits of all Scriptures, but that the first fruits of the Gospels is that according to John, whose meaning no one can understand who has not leaned on Jesus’ breast nor received Mary from Jesus to be his mother also. But he who would be another John must also become such as John, to be shown to be Jesus, so to speak. For if Mary had no son except Jesus, in accordance with those who hold a sound opinion of her, and Jesus says to his mother, “Behold your son,” and not, “Behold, this man also is your son,” he has said equally, “Behold, this is Jesus whom you bore.” For indeed everyone who has been perfected “no longer lives, but Christ lives in him,” and since “Christ lives” in him, it is said of him to Mary, “Behold your son,” the Christ.

Solemnity Of The Most Sacred Heart Of Jesus

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has as its dogmatic foundation the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. On account of the hypostatic union, every part of our Lord's Human Nature is worthy of adoration. Hence, therefore, we adore His bodily Heart, beating in His Bosom. We alo honor the Heart of Jesus as a reminder, or symbol, of His love for us, and we are moved to make Him a return of love, because He has loved us and He is not loved by men. Love, consecration, and reparation are the characteristic acts of this devotion. In this form it is now solemnly approved by the Church.

On the feast of the Sacred Heart celebrated on the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi an act of reparation is prescribed for recitation in every church in the world. On the feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King, the last Sunday of October, an act of consecration of the human race is prescribed. Though this devotion was practiced by saintly souls before 1675, it is due to the apparitions of our Lord to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque in the Visitation Monastery at Paray-le-Monial that the feast of the Sacred Heart is now kept on the day assigned by Our Lord. In spite of much opposition the feast was allowed in 1765, and extended to the world in 1856; in 1929 it was raised to the highest rank. Special manifestations of the devotion are the Communion of Reparation on the first Friday of the month, and the Holy Hour in union with Our Lord in His Agony. [Source]

Content And Unity

Last night I was listening to a debate between a Catholic apologist and a Baptist apologist. The Baptist kept using Jn 6:39: "and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day" as a proof text for the Protestant belief of Once Saved, Always Saved.

Yet had the Baptist read all of John's Gospel, instead of taking random verses out of context to support his preconceived notions, he would have read Jn 18:7-9 where we see that it doesn't mean that at all! The context is the Pharisees and men coming to arrest Jesus:
"Again he asked them, 'Whom do you seek?' And they said, 'Jesus of Nazareth.' Jesus answered, 'I told you that I am he; so, if you seek me, let these men go.' This was to fulfill the word which he had spoken, 'Of those whom thou gavest me I lost not one.'"

It's amazing what you find when you read the Bible as a whole. You find that it is very Catholic....and for good reason!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ask A Father

Q: St. Cyril of Alexandria, why did John write his Gospel?
A: ....Since there was no slight disturbance in regard to these things[heresies] amongst them that had believed, and the ill of the scandal thereof was consuming like a plague the souls of the simpler (for some drawn away from the true doctrines by their prattle imagined that the Word was then barely called to the beginning of Being, when He became Man), those of the believers who were wiser being assembled and met together, came to the Disciple of the Savior (I mean this John) and declared the disease that was pressing upon the brethren, and unfolded to him the prattle of them that teach otherwise, and besought that he would both strenuously assist themselves with the illumination through the Spirit, and stretch forth a saving hand to those who were already within the devil's meshes.

The disciples grieving then over them that were lost and corrupted in mind, and at the same time thinking it most unnatural to take no forethought for those that should succeed and come after, betakes himself to making the book: and the more human side, the genealogy of the legal and natural Birth according to the flesh, he left to the other Evangelists to tell at fuller length; himself with extreme ardour and courage of soul springs upon the prattle of those who are introducing such things, saying, IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD.

Quote Of The Day

"But I think that those who are engaged on the Holy Scriptures ought to admit all writings that are honest and good and free from harm. For thus collecting together the varied thoughts of many and bringing them together into one scope and understanding, they will mount up to a good measure of knowledge, and imitating the bee, wise work-woman, will compact the sweet honeycomb of the Spirit."

-St. Cyril of Alexandria

Reason #3,987,241 Why Women Cannot Be Priests

From CNA:

To say that a woman cannot be a priest in no way detracts from her human dignity and her equality with men, says Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando.

The bishop addressed the ongoing debate on the status of women in the Church in a letter to the faithful yesterday.

“Too often, proponents of a ‘feminist narrative’ allege that Church teachings harbor an anti-woman bias,” he wrote, referring to the proposal that the all-male ordained priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church is the result of such a bias.

The bishop argued that Catholicism is far from being anti-woman and has “raised the dignity of women wherever it took root.”

He noted that pagans mocked Christians “precisely because women were treated as equals to men.”

“Pagan societies were hardly ‘pro-women’ – and this was true of civilizations of high culture like that of the Greeks and Romans as well,” he said. “Where the Gospel took root, however, the status of women improved.”

“That the Church only ordains men to the priesthood is not a comment on the status or state of women but a statement on the nature of the priesthood as instituted by Jesus Christ,” he stated, citing Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

Bishop Wenski also cited Pope Benedict XVI’s comments on his recent visit to Brazil. The Pope condemned the “chauvinistic mentality that ignores the ‘newness’ of Christianity in which the equal dignity and responsibility of women relative to men is acknowledged and affirmed.”

“Church teachings on the equal dignity of men and women give no aid or comfort to those who would hold for the ‘inferiority’ of women relative to men or to those would justify any discrimination or exploitation of women on such grounds,” Bishop Wenski elaborated. “As the Scriptures attest: every baptized person is fully entitled as a child of God.”

The bishop also admitted that women were not always treated with dignity nor given their due within the Church throughout history. “Believers have, in this as well as other areas, often failed to live in a way congruent to our beliefs,” he stated.

Patristic Melody

I found this great little song in the comments over at Singing In The Reign.

To the tune of "Supercalafragalisticexpialadocius"

...Um diddle diddle um diddle ay
Um diddle diddle um diddle ay

Superchristological and Homoousiosis
Even though the sound of them is something quite atrocious
You can always count on them to anathemize your Gnosis
Superchristological and Homoousiosis

Um diddle diddle um diddle ay
Um diddle diddle um diddle ay

Now Origen and Arius were quite a clever pair.
Immutable divinity make Logos out of air.
But then one day Saint Nicholas gave Arius a slap--
and told them if they can't recant, they ought to shut their trap!

[chorus] Oh, Superchristological and Homoousiosis...

One Prosopon, two Ousia are in one Hypostasis.
At Chalcedon this formula gave our faith its basis.
You can argue that you don't know what this means,
But don't you go and try to say there's a "Physis" in between!

[chorus] Oh, Superchristological and Homoousiosis...

Um diddle diddle um diddle ay
Um diddle diddle um diddle ay

Now freedom and autonomy are something to be praised,
But when it comes to human sin, these words must be rephrased,
For Pelagius was too confident that we could work it out--
And Augustine said *massa damnata* is what it's all about.

[chorus] Oh, Superchristological and Homoousiosis...

Heresies are arguments that you might find attractive,
But just remember in this case the Church is quite reactive.
So play it safe and memorize these words we sing together,
'Cause in the end you'll find, my friend, that we may live forever.

[chorus] Oh, Superchristological and Homoousiosis
Even though the sound of them is something quite atrocious
You can always count on them to anathematize your Gnosis
Superchristological and Homoousiosis

-Lyrics by Dan Idzikowski

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I have been away from the blogging for a bit. I apologize! I'm taking Greek this summer and I just moved so I had to wait until my internet was restored.....and now it is!

So for all (three) of you who read my blog and those who may have prayed a prayer to St. Anthony on this his feast day for my finding/return, I promise to post frequently between my memorization of Greek declensions and conjugations.