Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Protestant Interpretation of 1 Jn. 5:17

Q: In regard to mortal and venial sins seen in 1 John 5:16-17, I was recently discussing this a friend who is Lutheran. He pulls out his NIV Bible and he reads the same verse and instead of it saying "There is a such thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say you can pray", it says something to the effect of "There is a sin that leads to death, about which I do not say you can pray", in which case he says it is referring to the sin against the Holy Spirit talked about in Mark's gospel. Is this biblical justification for mortal and venial sins now moot for me against anyone who carries an NIV Bible?

A: First of all we have to keep in mind that without a distinction between mortal and venial sins, we cannot have a proper concept of the Original sin of Adam.

Now, if we follow the logic of the translators of the NIV, then we need to be consistent and would have to translate 1 Jn. 5:17 also in the singular to read "but there is a sin which is not mortal." Following this logic, we have two singular sins. One leads to death (mortal). One does not. If they say that the one mortal is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, what do they claim is the one not-mortal sin? They would probably answer that it is absurd to say that there are only two possible sins, and they would be right. Hence the absurdity of their argument for the translation in the NIV and the absurdity of the logical conclusion that follows!

John 19:11 has Jesus say "...for this reason the one who handed me over to you had the greater sin." Jesus Himself makes a distinction in the degree of sins! We know that the "one who handed" Christ over was Judas. Judas certainly didn't blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. So how is it that he commits a greater sin? Because his sin is a mortal sin and Christ Himself makes a distinction between degrees of sin.

Also, Paul in 1 Cor. 6:9-11 states: "Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters..." If their were no distinction between sins, Paul's telling us of certain sins that cut us off from God (i.e. mortal) would be superfluous!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Red Sox Win World Series!

The Boston Red Sox win their second World Series in four years!

Mike Lowell was named the MVP of the series, but I think the ultimate MVP is manager Terry Francona who, ever since joing Boston in 2004, has given the Red Sox Nation two championships after an 86 year drought!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sancta Mater Ecclesia

“It is hard to imagine where the Gospel would have got to or in what state it would have reached us if, per impossible, it had not been composed, preserved and commented on within the great Catholic community—hard to picture the deformation and mutilation it would have suffered both as to text and as to interpretation….history speaks forcefully enough. There is no counting the number of aberrations which have been based upon an appeal to the Gospel, or the number of those who have, in consequence of them, toppled over into ‘atheistic and impious doctrines, or stupid and ridiculous beliefs.’

We owe our praise, therefore, to this great Mother of ours for the divine mystery which she communicates to us… This chaste Mother pours into us and sustains a faith which is always whole and which neither human decadence nor spiritual lassitude can touch, however deep they may go…This wise Mother steers us clear of sectarian excesses and the deceptive enthusiasm which is always followed by revulsion; she teaches us to love all that is good, all that is true, all that is just, and to reject nothing which has not been tested… She scatters the darkness in which men either slumber or despair or—pitifully—‘shape as they please their fantasies of the infinite.’ Without discouraging us from any task she protects us from the deceptive myths of the Churches made by the hand of man…she is initiated into His secrets and teaches us whatever pleases Him.”

-Henri De Lubac in The Splendor of the Church.

The Catholic Plenitude

“When the pope makes an act of doctrinal authority, this is no exterior yoke imposed by a particular man on a religious society in the name of his own intelligence, even though it might be that of a genius. He is defining the faith of the Church. He is in no way subject to her consent; yet the truth he translates into our language and renders precise is the truth by which she lives; the belief whose meaning he confirms is our belief—he analyzes its content, counters its potential weakening, and maintains its vigor. Thus, when we say to the Church, in the words which the Apostle used to Christ, who founded her: ‘To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life’, this is not in virtue of some fatigue of spirit, which seeks to place itself under an authority to escape the effort of thought and the labor of living; rather it is, as Newman put it, in virtue of a sense of coming to rest in the Catholic plenitude.”

-Msgr. Blanchet, at the Institut Catholique inaugural Mass, November 1950.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Limits Of Papal Infallibility

“[Infallibility] does not belong to the Roman Pontiff inasmuch as he is a private person, nor even inasmuch as he is a private teacher, since, as such, he is equal with all other private teachers and, as Cajetan wisely noted, equal does not have power over equal, not such power as the Roman Pontiff exercises over the Church Universal. Hence we do not speak about personal infallibility, although we do defend the infallibility of the person of the Roman Pontiff, not as an individual person but as the person of the Roman Pontiff or a public person, that is, as head of the Church in his relation to the Church Universal. Indeed it should not be said that the Pontiff is infallible simply because of the authority of the papacy but rather inasmuch as he is certainly and undoubtedly subject to the direction of divine assistance. By the authority of the papacy, the Pontiff is always the supreme judge in matters of faith and morals, and the father and teacher of all Christians. But the divine assistance promised to him, by which he cannot err, he only enjoys as such when he really and actually exercises his duty as supreme judge and universal teacher of the Church in disputes about the Faith. Thus, the sentence ‘The Roman Pontiff is infallible’ should not be treated as false, since Christ promised that infallibility to the person of Peter and his successors, but it is incomplete since the Pope is only infallible when, by a solemn judgment, he defines a matter of faith and morals for the Church universal.”

-Bishop Vincent Gasser in his relatio at Vatican I, found in the book "The Gift of Infallibility."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Gospel Writers

“The first evangelist is Matthew, the publican, who was surnamed Levi. He published his Gospel in Judea in the Hebrew language, chiefly for the sake of Jewish believers in Christ, who adhered in vain to the shadow of the law, although the substance of the Gospel had come. The second is Mark, the amanuensis of the Apostle Peter, and the first bishop of the Church of Alexandria. He did not himself see our Lord and Savior, but he related the matter of his Master’s preaching with more regard to minute detail than to historical sequence. The third is Luke, the physician, by birth a native of Antioch, in Syria, whose praise is in the Gospel. He was himself a disciple of the Apostle Paul, and composed his book in Achaia and Boeotia. He thoroughly investigates the certain particulars and as he himself confesses in the preface, describes what he had heard rather than what he had seen. The last is John, the Apostle and Evangelist, whom Jesus loved most, who, reclining on the Lord’s bosom, drank the purest streams of doctrine, and was the only on thought worthy of the words from the cross, ‘Behold! thy mother.’ When he was in Asia, at the time when the seeds of heresy were springing up (I refer to Cerinthus, Ebion, and the rest who say that Christ has not come in the flesh, whom he in his own epistle calls Antichrists, and whom the Apostle Paul frequently assails), he was urged by almost all the bishops of Asia the living, and by deputations from many Churches, to write more profoundly concerning the divinity of the Savior, and to break through all obstacles so as to attain to the very Word of God (if I may so speak) with a boldness as successful as it appears audacious. Ecclesiastical history relates that, when he was urged by the brethren to write, he replied that he would do so if a general fast were proclaimed and all would offer up prayer to God; and when the fast was over, the narrative goes on to say, being filled with revelation, he burst into the heaven-sent Preface: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God: this was in the beginning with God.’”

-St. Jerome in his preface to Matthew's Gospel.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

St. Malachy And The Papal Prophecies

This question came in the mailbox today:

Q: "what is the Church's stand on St. Malachai's prophecies? if there is faith in these prophecies, i say "yikes", because after Benedict, the final pope in this civilization's history would be seated!"

A: St. Malachy was an Irish saint who supposedly made a prophecy that described all the popes from Celestine II to the final pope (being a total of 112 popes), who was to be named Peter the Roman. After this second pope to be named Peter, Christ would come again in Glory. There has been speculation by some that Benedict XVI is number 111, and thus the next pope will mean….THE END OF THE WORLD!

The Church has no official opinion on these prophecies. As with all private revelation, the Church emphasizes that not only must the utmost discernment go into their authenticity, but also into their interpretation as well. In my opinion, many have tried way too hard to find a way of connecting the descriptions of the future popes with each successive pope that sits in the Chair of Peter. It really is quite ridiculous. So ridiculous in fact, that it is said that Cardinal Spellman of New York, in 1958 before the Conclave that elected Pope John XXIII, in a tongue-in-cheek manner hired a boat filled with sheep and sailed up and down the Tiber in order to show that he was “pastor et nautor”, the description of the next pope in the prophecies!

The problems with this supposed prophecy are two fold (at least):

1) The 142nd Pope, Sergius IV, was born with the name of Peter. And guess where he was born….Rome! So, even before Malachy’s prophecy, there is already a “Peter the Roman.”

2) The last pope is supposed to be the 112th pope from Celestine II who was the 165th Pope. Benedict XVI is the 265th Pope. Unless my math fails me, there have only been 100 popes, so the next pope is only 101 from Celestine II. You only reach 112 with the next pope if you count anti-popes, who are not real popes to begin with!

For info on the speculation concerning Pope Benedict and Malachy’s prophecy, see this article.

For info on discerning private revelation see here.

The Pope Has Always Been Infallible

During the First Vatican Council, the most common objection against the definition of papal infallibility was that if it is so defined, there would no longer be a need for an ecumenical council. Bishop Gasser in his relatio on the definition answered this objection. Here is Fr. James T. O'Conner's take on his answer in his commentary on the relatio:

"Living as we do after the celebration of a Second Vatican Council, the objection seems to carry little weight, and, indeed, history has demonstrated that Gasser's reply was accurate. He said, in essence: papal infallibility is not a new doctrine; the Pope has always been infallible. We are simply about to define that truth. And, although, the Pope has always been infallible, ecumenical councils were held in the past and so will they be in the future. They have never been, he says, absolutely necessary, but they have always been the 'most solemn judgment' of the Church in matters of faith and morals, since they visibly manifest the union of the Pope with the other bishops in fulfilling their roles as teachers of the faith. As such, ecumenical councils will always remain necessary."

Gasser's relatio can be found in the book "The Gift of Infallibility" along with Fr. O'Conner's theological synthesis of papal infallibility. This is an excellent book! If anyone is struggling with the Dogma of Papal Infallibility, (whether Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant) they should get* this book as soon as possible. You might come away with a different view and you will definitely understand the dogma better!

*I just did a search for this on amazon in order to link to it and apparently it is out of print and not available for less than $90 (which I assure my wife is not the price I paid for it!). I'm sure your local library will have a copy though, so go get it!

As I Would Expect...

Eucharistic theology
created with
You scored as Catholic

You are a Catholic. You believe that the bread and wine are transformed by the priest and become the Body and Blood of Christ. Though the accidents, or appearance, of bread and wine remain, the substance has been changed. The Eucharist remains the Body and Blood of Christ after the celebration, and is reserved in the Tabernacle; Eucharistic devotions are proper. As the whole Christ is present under either species, you partake fully of the Eucharist even if you receive only one.













I came out as scoring Catholic, but Orthodox apparently scored equal measure. I think this is due to my confusion over one question that was ambiguously asked concerning whether the Holy Spirit brings about the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Only after the quiz did I realize that it was referring to the epiclesis; the point in which the Orthodox hold that the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood, rather than at the words of consecration. I took it as a general question referring to the animating principal of the change. If I had realized this, the Orthodox rating probably would have been a 75 instead of 100. Oh well.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Papal Primacy And Infallibility

"Salvation primarily depends upon guarding the rule of right faith. And since we cannot pass over the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who says, 'Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church,' what was said is confirmed by facts, because in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been preserved immaculate, and the holy doctrine has been proclaimed. Not wishing, then, to be separated from this faith and doctrine, we hope to merit to be in the one communion which the Apostolic See preaches, in which See is the full and true solidity of the Christian religion."

-Profession of Faith at the Fourth Council of Constantinople(869) which was taken from the formula of the profession of faith expressed in 517 by Pope Hormisdas.

Patristic Bliss

On Monday I received the complete 38 vols. of the Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers series! It is wonderful to have the Fathers available at my fingertips. I originally ordered the set of books from a company on Amazon called EducationMedia. This was a very bad idea!

A Warning to all who purhcase anything through Amazon Marketplace: NEVER ORDER FROM "EDUCATIONMEDIA"!

If you do so, you will end up paying for books that you will never receive. (I filed for a refund with Amazon, so I should get my money back)

Instead, if anyone wants to order the same series of the Church Fathers, I would highly recommend ordering them from They were $15 cheaper than the total price from educationmedia.

St. Basil Is Great!

This dialogue took place in 371 AD after St. Basil refused Modestus' insistence that he adhere to the Arian Creed of Rimini:

What, do you not fear my power?

Basil: What could happen to me? What might I suffer?

Modestus: Any one of the numerous torments which are in my power.

Basil: What are these? Tell me about them.

Modestus: Confiscation, exile, torture, death.

Basil: If you have any other, you can threaten me with it, for there is nothing so far which affects me.

Modestus: Why, what do you mean?

Basil: Well, in truth confiscation means nothing to a man who has nothing, unless you covet these wretched rags, and a few books: that is all I possess. As to exile, that means nothing to me, for I am attached to no particular place. That wherein I live is not mine, and I shall feel at home in any place to which I am sent, Or rather, I regard the whole earth as belonging to God, and I consider myself as a stranger or sojourner wherever I may be. As for torture, how will you apply this? I have not a body capable of bearing it, unless you are thinking of the first blow that you give me, for it will take me sooner to the God for Whom I live, for Whom I act, and for Whom I am more than half dead, and Whom I have desired long since.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I Find It Highly Amusing.....

....that Origen, the master of the spiritual sense, took Jesus' words about the eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven literally.

It's almost as amusing as Fundamentalists who take all of the Bible literally, except when Christ says "This is my body"...."This is my blood."

It's Funny Because It's True...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Priesthood Before Christ (Non-Levitical)

“The most general concept of priesthood is centered in the notion of sacrifice. According to this concept, anyone who puts aside from his own use something he wishes to consecrate to the divinity is considered a priest. This is the original meaning of the expression sacrum facere.

Holy Scripture provides several instances of natural priesthood, one of which is the case of Abel, the ‘just man,’ whose sacrifice is commemorated daily in the Mass (Gn. 4:4). Natural priesthood is most often exercised by the leaders of a people in an act of public worship to obtain blessing for them. This office naturally falls, then, to the head of a family and to the qualified representatives of an ethnic group or clan.

Later, the sacrificial offering became the privilege of kings. Melchisedec, the high priest, was king of Salem (Gn. 14:18). The Babylonian and Assyrian leaders took pride in their priestly dignity; among the titles of honor attributed to them, that of priest was of exceptional importance. In Egypt, Pharaoh called himself ‘priest of all the gods,’ the qualified mediator between the divinities and his people. It is also true that, with the exception of a few cases, these priest-kings chose certain curates to replace them in the sacerdotal functions. In the organization of the tribes, as we read in Sacred Scripture, each family formed a small ceremonial community whose head was usually its priest. Thus, we see Abraham (Gn. 12:8, 15:8-17), Isaac, after the death of his father (Gn. 26:25), Jacob (Gn. 33:20), and Job (Jb. 1:5) offering sacrifices to the Almighty. It is to be expected that the Israelites would keep this usage in Egypt; it is also likely that the example of a privileged priestly caste, such as existed there, would influence them. This latter probability is enhanced by the fact that Joseph allied himself to the priestly nobility of the country of the Pharaohs by his marriage to Aseneth, daughter of Putiphare, priest of On (Heliopolis) (Gn. 41: 45).

Even under the Mosaic Law the ancient custom of authorizing the heads of families and of clans to fulfill the office of priest or of choosing replacements persisted. We see this in the example of Micha (Jgs. 7:5) who conferred the priestly investiture on one of his sons. But the sequel to that narration shows that this privilege of the Levites was recognized, since Micha subsequently invested an itinerant Levite and accounted himself of more worth in the eyes of God for having done so: ‘Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, since the Levite has become my priest’ (Jgs. 17:13).

The privilege of the royal priesthood was maintained in Israel for a long time. David exercised it in transferring the holy ark to Sion. He donned the priestly vestment (2 Sm. 16:14; 16:20); he offered sacrifices (2 Sm. 6:13, 17) and blessed the people (2 Sm. 6:18)—all functions reserved to the priests (Nm. 6:22-27; Lv. 9:22-23; 3:10; 18:7). His sons were priests (2 Sm. 8:18), that is, substitutes for their father in the sacerdotal offices. Solomon, in his turn, filled the ministry with authority (3 Kgs. 3:4, 14; 8:14-15; 30:55). Besides this, he appointed and removed the priests, considering them his functionaries (3 Kgs. 2:26-27; 35). The custom continued under Jeroboam I (3 Kgs. 12:33) and Achaz (4 Kgs. 5:12ff.). The sacerdotal reform which took place under Josias (640-609 B.C.) put an end to this privilege of the kings. At that time the cult was centralized at Jerusalem (Dt. 12:1-14; 4 Kgs. 23), an innovation indeed, which was not yet in effect under the Judges (Jgs. 6:28, 13:16 ff.), nor even under Solomon (3 Kgs. 3:4).”

-Clement Dillenschneider, C.SS.R. in Christ the One Priest and We His Priests.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Materially Sufficient?

Some well known theologians such as Pope Benedict XVI, John Henry Newman, and Matthias Scheeben (not to mention the Fathers of the Church) posit that Scripture is materially sufficient. This means that Scripture contains, whether explicitly or implicitly, all that is needed for salvation. It must be noted clearly that this is not the Protestant view of Scripture. Protestants hold that Scripture is formally sufficient, meaning that not only does it contain all that is needed for salvation, but that what is revealed is so clear and obvious that anyone can interpret without any guidance from an outside source such as the Church. Formal sufficiency is of course false. As Dei Verbum 12, paragraph 3 states: “Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written.” Theologians who hold for material sufficiency affirm the above, while Protestants who hold for formal sufficiency deny it.

It seems to be though, that material sufficiency would be extremely easy to disprove. All one would have to do is show a part of the deposit of the faith that isn’t contained at least implicitly in Scripture and material sufficiency ceases to exist. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and cannot come up with anything not implicitly contained in Scripture. Thus, I am forced to hold for material sufficiency.

Can anyone out there think of any part of the deposit that is not contained in Scripture explicitly or implicitly?

1,000 Posts (plus 1)

That last post was my 1,000th post!


What a great way to celebrate, by quoting Matthias Scheeben. Go read his stuff now (if you can find it...)!

It's been a little over two years since I started blogging. What a journey! I'll see you at the next 1,000th......

Oh yeah,.....and I love being Catholic!

The Two Divine Missions And The Communication Of Grace

“In the outpouring of supernatural, filial, divine love, of caritas into our hearts, the interior outpouring of the love between the Father and the Son that is consummated in the Holy Spirit is continued because it is reproduced. So we can say not only that the love is given to us and is poured out upon us, but that the Holy Spirit Himself is given to us and poured out upon us in this love. We should do even better to say that the habit and act of charity, poured forth by the Holy Spirit, come into our heart by the very fact that He Himself, the torrent of divine love, is given and drawn to our soul.

Similarly in the conferring of supernatural divine light and the reflection of the divine nature upon our soul, in the impress of the supernatural likeness of God, the eternal splendor of the Father is irradiated over us, and His consubstantial image, the Son of God, is imprinted in our soul and is reborn in us by an imitation and extension of the eternal production. Thus God’s Son Himself in His divine and hypostatic character is lodge in the creature as the seal of the creature’s likeness to God. By the impress of this seal the creature is made conformable to the Son Himself, and by fellowship with the Son he receives the dignity and glory of the children of God.

The application to the creature of the divine love-flame flaring up in the Holy Spirit by the enkindling of a similar flame, and the reflection upon the creature of the divine glory shining in the Son by the irradiation of a similar splendor: these two images give us a striking illustration of the two divine missions as prolongations of the eternal processions and their entrance into the creature. These images become still more striking if we combine them with the image of the stamp of the seal imprinted by God upon the soul in the spiritual kiss wherein He so pours forth the light of His countenance and the sigh of His heart that the soul is illuminated and transfigured by His light, and inflamed and animated by His breath.

In the case of the Holy Spirit especially the outer procession as a prolongation of the inner is most fittingly expressed by saying that the Father and the Son breathe Him into the creature. This is the exalted sense in which the Fathers expound the words of Genesis: ‘And the Lord God...breathed into his face the breath of life.’

The statement just made would suffice in itself to enable us to perceive a true mission of the divine persons (Son and Holy Spirit) in the communication of grace. In this communication the Son and the Holy Spirit, as distinct from the Father and from each other, are present in the creature by virtue of a defining image impressed by each of them, an image which is so vivid and perfect that it infinitely surpasses the symbol. They are both so closely connected with this image that they dwell in it, not only as regards our way of conceiving the matter, because of the relation of similarity, but really, with their substance and personality. This is so far the general reason that as God they are everywhere present, and also because, even if they were not already present everywhere in substance for that general reason, they have to be present in so perfect an impress and effluence of their most intrinsic, personal perfections and origins, just as the seal must be present in its counterpart. Indeed, unlike the material seal after an impression has once been made, they cannot even be thought of as removed from immediate contact with the impression, for the latter, which has existence only from them, also has existence only in them.”

-Matthias J. Scheeben in The Mysteries of Christianity.

One Universal Authority

Whether In The Church There Can Be Anyone Above The Bishops?

Objection 1: It would seem that there cannot be anyone in the Church higher than the bishops. For all the bishops are the successors of the apostles. Now the power so given to one of the apostles, namely Peter (Mat. 16:19), was given to all the apostles (Jn. 20:23). Therefore all bishops are equal, and one is not above another.

Objection 2: Further, the rite of the Church ought to be more conformed to the Jewish rite than to that of the Gentiles. Now the distinction of the episcopal dignity and the appointment of one over another, were introduced by the Gentiles. as stated in the text (Sent. iv, D, 24); and there was no such thing in the Old Law. Therefore neither in the Church should one bishop be above another.

Objection 3: Further, a higher power cannot be conferred by a lower, nor equal by equal, because "without all contradiction that which is less is blessed by the greater [Vulg.: 'better']"; hence a priest does not consecrate a bishop or a priest, but a bishop consecrates a priest. But a bishop can consecrate any bishop, since even the bishop of Ostia consecrates the Pope. Therefore the episcopal dignity is equal in all matters, and consequently one bishop should not be subject to another, as stated in the text (Sent. iv, D, 24).

On the contrary, We read in the council of Constantinople: "In accordance with the Scriptures and the statutes and definitions of the canons, we venerate the most holy bishop of ancient Rome the first and greatest of bishops, and after him the bishop of Constantinople." Therefore one bishop is above another.

Further, the blessed Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, says: "That we may remain members of our apostolic head, the throne of the Roman Pontiffs, of whom it is our duty to seek what we are to believe and what we are to hold, venerating him, beseeching him above others; for his it is to reprove, to correct, to appoint, to loose, and to bind in place of Him Who set up that very throne, and Who gave the fulness of His own to no other, but to him alone, to whom by divine right all bow the head, and the primates of the world are obedient as to our Lord Jesus Christ Himself." Therefore bishops are subject to someone even by divine right.

I answer that, Wherever there are several authorities directed to one purpose, there must needs be one universal authority over the particular authorities, because in all virtues and acts the order is according to the order of their ends (Ethic. i, 1,2). Now the common good is more Godlike than the particular good. Wherefore above the governing power which aims at a particular good there must be a universal governing power in respect of the common good, otherwise there would be no cohesion towards the one object. Hence since the whole Church is one body, it behooves, if this oneness is to be preserved, that there be a governing power in respect of the whole Church, above the episcopal power whereby each particular Church is governed, and this is the power of the Pope. Consequently those who deny this power are called schismatics as causing a division in the unity of the Church. Again, between a simple bishop and the Pope there are other degrees of rank corresponding to the degrees of union, in respect of which one congregation or community includes another; thus the community of a province includes the community of a city, and the community of a kingdom includes the community of one province, and the community of the whole world includes the community of one kingdom.

Reply to Objection 1: Although the power of binding and loosing was given to all the apostles in common, nevertheless in order to indicate some order in this power, it was given first of all to Peter alone, to show that this power must come down from him to the others. For this reason He said to him in the singular: "Confirm thy brethren" (Lk. 22:32), and: "Feed My sheep" (Jn. 21:17), i.e. according to Chrysostom: "Be thou the president and head of thy brethren in My stead, that they, putting thee in My place, may preach and confirm thee throughout the world whilst thou sittest on thy throne."

Reply to Objection 2: The Jewish rite was not spread abroad in various kingdoms and provinces, but was confined to one nation; hence there was no need to distinguish various pontiffs under the one who had the chief power. But the rite of the Church, like that of the Gentiles, is spread abroad through various nations; and consequently in this respect it is necessary for the constitution of the Church to be like the rite of the Gentiles rather than that of the Jews.

Reply to Objection 3: The priestly power is surpassed by the episcopal power, as by a power of a different kind; but the episcopal is surpassed by the papal power as by a power of the same kind. Hence a bishop can perform every hierarchical act that the Pope can; whereas a priest cannot perform every act that a bishop can in conferring the sacraments. Wherefore as regards matters pertaining to the episcopal Order, all bishops are equal, and for this reason any bishop can consecrate another bishop.

-St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Supplement, Q. 40, a. 6.

Reason #3,987,242 Why Women Cannot Be Priests

Whether The Female Sex Is An Impediment To Receiving Orders?

Objection 1: It would seem that the female sex is no impediment to receiving Orders. For the office of prophet is greater than the office of priest, since a prophet stands midway between God and priests, just as the priest does between God and people. Now the office of prophet was sometimes granted to women, as may be gathered from 4 Kings 22:14. Therefore the office of priest also may be competent to them.

Objection 2: Further, just as Order pertains to a kind of pre-eminence, so does a position of authority as well as martyrdom and the religious state. Now authority is entrusted to women in the New Testament, as in the case of abbesses, and in the Old Testament, as in the case of Debbora, who judged Israel (Judges 2). Moreover martyrdom and the religious life are also befitting to them. Therefore the Orders of the Church are also competent to them.

Objection 3: Further, the power of orders is founded in the soul. But sex is not in the soul. Therefore difference in sex makes no difference to the reception of Orders.

On the contrary, It is said (1 Tim. 2:12): "I suffer not a woman to teach (in the Church),* nor to use authority over the man." [*The words in parenthesis are from 1 Cor. 14:34, "Let women keep silence in the churches."]
Further, the crown is required previous to receiving Orders, albeit not for the validity of the sacrament. But the crown or tonsure is not befitting to women according to 1 Cor. 11. Neither therefore is the receiving of Orders.

I answer that, Certain things are required in the recipient of a sacrament as being requisite for the validity of the sacrament, and if such things be lacking, one can receive neither the sacrament nor the reality of the sacrament. Other things, however, are required, not for the validity of the sacrament, but for its lawfulness, as being congruous to the sacrament; and without these one receives the sacrament, but not the reality of the sacrament. Accordingly we must say that the male sex is required for receiving Orders not only in the second, but also in the first way. Wherefore even though a woman were made the object of all that is done in conferring Orders, she would not receive Orders, for since a sacrament is a sign, not only the thing, but the signification of the thing, is required in all sacramental actions; thus it was stated above (Q[32], A[2]) that in Extreme Unction it is necessary to have a sick man, in order to signify the need of healing. Accordingly, since it is not possible in the female sex to signify eminence of degree, for a woman is in the state of subjection, it follows that she cannot receive the sacrament of Order. Some, however, have asserted that the male sex is necessary for the lawfulness and not for the validity of the sacrament, because even in the Decretals (cap. Mulieres dist. 32; cap. Diaconissam, 27, qu. i) mention is made of deaconesses and priestesses. But deaconess there denotes a woman who shares in some act of a deacon, namely who reads the homilies in the Church; and priestess [presbytera] means a widow, for the word "presbyter" means elder.

Reply to Objection 1: Prophecy is not a sacrament but a gift of God. Wherefore there it is not the signification, but only the thing which is necessary. And since in matters pertaining to the soul woman does not differ from man as to the thing (for sometimes a woman is found to be better than many men as regards the soul), it follows that she can receive the gift of prophecy and the like, but not the sacrament of Orders.

And thereby appears the Reply to the Second and Third Objections. However, as to abbesses, it is said that they have not ordinary authority, but delegated as it were, on account of the danger of men and women living together. But Debbora exercised authority in temporal, not in priestly matters, even as now woman may have temporal power.

-St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Supplement, Q. 39, a. 1.

It is important to note here the Sacramental aspect of the priesthood that Aquinas stresses. This is one of the main things feminist theologies neglect in their advocacy of a women priesthood. In order for a Sacrament to be validly conferred, there must be valid matter. Women do not constitute valid matter.

Transformation In Christ

"Christ is formed in us in an ineffable manner, not as a creature in creatures, but as uncreated God in a created nature, transforming that nature to His own image by the Spirit, and transferring the creature, that is, ourselves, to a dignity higher than that of a creature."

-St. Cyril of Alexandria

Whether The Priesthood Of Christ Was According To The Order Of Melchisedech?

Objection 1: It would seem that Christ's priesthood was not according to the order of Melchisedech. For Christ is the fountain-head of the entire priesthood, as being the principal priest. Now that which is principal is not . secondary in regard to others, but others are secondary in its regard. Therefore Christ should not be called a priest according to the order of Melchisedech.

Objection 2: Further, the priesthood of the Old Law was more akin to Christ's priesthood than was the priesthood that existed before the Law. But the nearer the sacraments were to Christ, the more clearly they signified Him; as is clear from what we have said in the SS, Q[2], A[7]. Therefore the priesthood of Christ should be denominated after the priesthood of the Law, rather than after the order of Melchisedech, which was before the Law.

Objection 3: Further, it is written (Heb. 7:2,3): "That is 'king of peace,' without father, without mother, without genealogy; having neither beginning of days nor ending of life": which can be referred only to the Son of God. Therefore Christ should not be called a priest according to the order of Melchisedech, as of some one else, but according to His own order.

On the contrary, It is written (Ps. 109:4): "Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech."

I answer that, As stated above (A[4], ad 3) the priesthood of the Law was a figure of the priesthood of Christ, not as adequately representing the reality, but as falling far short thereof: both because the priesthood of the Law did not wash away sins, and because it was not eternal, as the priesthood of Christ. Now the excellence of Christ's over the Levitical priesthood was foreshadowed in the priesthood of Melchisedech, who received tithes from Abraham, in whose loins the priesthood of the Law was tithed. Consequently the priesthood of Christ is said to be "according to the order of Melchisedech," on account of the excellence of the true priesthood over the figural priesthood of the Law.

Reply to Objection 1: Christ is said to be according to the order of Melchisedech not as though the latter were a more excellent priest, but because he foreshadowed the excellence of Christ's over the Levitical priesthood.

Reply to Objection 2: Two things may be considered in Christ's priesthood: namely, the offering made by Christ, and (our) partaking thereof. As to the actual offering, the priesthood of Christ was more distinctly foreshadowed by the priesthood of the Law, by reason of the shedding of blood, than by the priesthood of Melchisedech in which there was no blood-shedding. But if we consider the participation of this sacrifice and the effect thereof, wherein the excellence of Christ's priesthood over the priesthood of the Law principally consists, then the former was more distinctly foreshadowed by the priesthood of Melchisedech, who offered bread and wine, signifying, as Augustine says (Tract. xxvi in Joan.) ecclesiastical unity, which is established by our taking part in the sacrifice of Christ [*Cf. Q[79], A[1]]. Wherefore also in the New Law the true sacrifice of Christ is presented to the faithful under the form of bread and wine.

Reply to Objection 3: Melchisedech is described as "without father, without mother, without genealogy," and as "having neither beginning of days nor ending of life," not as though he had not these things, but because these details in his regard are not supplied by Holy Scripture. And this it is that, as the Apostle says in the same passage, he is "likened unto the Son of God," Who had no earthly father, no heavenly mother, and no genealogy, according to Is. 53:8: "Who shall declare His generation?" and Who in His Godhead has neither beginning nor end of days.

-St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III. Q. 22, a. 6.

The Natural Priesthood

The priesthood is as old as the first man. God instituted the “original covenant of royal-priestly primogeniture” from the very beginning.[i] He created the world in six days and on the seventh he rested. The Sabbath is set up by God as a holy day of rest. It is the climax of creation; God’s covenant with mankind. When we celebrate the liturgy, we celebrate this covenant that God has made with man. In fact, all of creation is oriented towards this divine liturgy of the divine covenant. That is why we work six days out of the seven. The whole week leads up to this one day, so that each week is a sort of new creation. With this in mind, it is no surprise that Adam, the first man, was a priest. His priesthood, however, is not the same as the kind we know now, nor was it like the priesthood of the Levites. Adam’s priesthood was a natural one. The actions that Adam was to do in the Garden of Eden, “keep” and “till”, are priestly actions also proscribed for the Levitical priests in their duties in the temple. Eden was a primordial temple.[ii] Scott Hahn explains that “the basis for the patriarchal religion was the natural family order, most especially the patriarchal authority handed down from father to son—ideally the firstborn—often in the form of ‘the blessing.’”[iii] He also points out that “at this point in salvation history, family and church are coextensive—houses are domestic sanctuaries, meals are sacrifices, hearths are altars—all because fathers and their (firstborn) sons are empowered as priests by nature.”[iv] The “domestic church” existed way before Christianity.

So, in Genesis, we see the natural priesthood passed down from Adam to Seth[v] down to the time of Noah. When God causes the flood starting the world over with Noah and his family, we see Noah performing the same priestly actions as Adam did in the garden.[vi] The natural priesthood goes on and Shem inherits his father’s blessing and so on. Then, we reach chapter 14 of Genesis and seemingly out of nowhere comes this mysterious “Melchizedek king of Salem [who brings] out bread and wine” and he is also “priest of God Most High.”[vii] This is the first instance in the Bible where a person is referred to as a priest. But he is not just any priest. He is a “priest of God Most High.” Melchizedek also blesses Abram. But who is this Melchizedek? Who made him a priest? More importantly, where did he get this blessing that he gives to Abram?! For, a person cannot give a blessing without first receiving one. The answers to these questions can be found in St. Ephrem the Syrian’s Commentary on Genesis: “Melchizedek is Shem[viii], who became a king due to his greatness; he was the head of fourteen nations. In addition, ‘he was a priest.’ He received this from Noah, his father, through the rights of succession.”[ix] Shem/Melchizedek passes the blessing he received from Noah onto Abram who was promised to be blessed by God back in chapter 12 . The priesthood continues on this way up to the time of Moses and the Exodus.

[i].Hahn, Scott, “Priesthood in the Old Testament.” in Russell Shaw, ed., Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine. (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1997), 525.
[ii].Wenham, Gordon J, “Sanctuary Symbolism in the Garden of Eden Story.” in R.S. Hess and D. S. Tsumara, eds., I Studied Inscriptions From Before The Flood: Ancient Near Eastern, Literary, and Linguistic Approaches to Genesis 1-11. (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1994), 401. Cf. Numbers 3:7-8, 8:26, 18:5-6.
[iii].Hahn, Scott, “Priesthood in the Old Testament”, 524.
[v].The firstborn was to receive the blessing from the father passing on authority and priestly duties. This is not always the case, however. As we see in Genesis, the sin of the firstborn can cause the blessing to bypass him and fall to a younger brother.
[vi].Genesis 9.
[vii].Genesis 14:18.
[viii].Shem is the first righteous firstborn we meet in the Bible. It is also important to note that Melchizedek is not a name, but a title meaning “king of righteousness.” Cf. Hebrews 7:2.
[ix].Quoted in Gadenz, Pablo, “The Priest as Spiritual Father”, in Scott Hahn & Leon J. Suprenant, Jr. ed., Catholic for a Reason. (Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Publishing, Inc., 1998), 218. For more on Shem/Melchizedek Cf. Hahn, Scott Walker, Kinship By Covenant: A Biblical Theological Study of Covenant Types and Texts in the Old and New Testaments. (PhD dissertation, Marquette University, 1995), 153-159, 171-181, 568-593.

Monday, October 08, 2007

New Feature

I have just added to my sidebar, a way of contacting me in order to ask any theological, apologetical, etc. type of questions.

Now I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I do have access to quite a bit of resources (I've been building up a pretty good theological library, not to mention resources at Franciscan's library) and know where to find answers to tough (or not so tough) questions. So, in efforts to build up and assist the Church in her efforts at educating the People of God (which means both clergy and laity), if any of my four readers out there have a question they are stumped on, send me an email and I might be able to help!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Reasons To Remain

“Many are the considerations which keep me in the Catholic Church—the assent of nations—her authority—first established by miracles—cherished by hope—extended by charity—strengthened by lapse of years; the succession of pastors from the chair of Peter, to whom the Lord committed the care of feeding his flock down to the present bishop; lastly, the name itself of Catholic.”

-St. Augustine

Why Can't Non-Catholics Receive Communion At Mass?

This is one of the most common questions I get asked by non-Catholic family members and friends. This is always the first objection raised to my converting to Catholicism. "Catholics don't allow non-Catholics to receive the communion. Why is that? I can go to any Protestant church and receive communion. Why do Catholics exclude Protestants?"

The main reason that non-Catholics cannot receive Communion at Mass is simply because they are not in "communion" with us. It would be a lie for them to receive the Eucharist, which by doing so states that they believe all that the Catholic Church teaches. If they do in fact believe all that the Catholic Church teaches, then they should join the Catholic Church! Most non-Catholics however do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ and rather believe that the Eucharist is merely a memorial act of remembrance. If that is all they believe, then they can easily obtain that in their ecclesial communities. To receive the Eucharist in the Catholic Church is to enter into a covenant (every time we receive) with Christ and profess, "Yes, Lord, I believe that this truly is your Body,Blood, Soul, and Divinity." It makes no sense for a non-Catholic who doesn't believe this to receive communion. In fact, in their view, if they do make this act without truly believing, it would amount to idolatry and blasphemy. Yet, we as Catholics know for certain by Faith that it is the Body and Blood of Our Lord and we are mindful of what St. Paul said to the Corinthians that if they eat and drink the Body and Blood in an unworthy manner (i.e. without reverence and belief), they eat and drink judgment upon themselves (1 Cor11:27-30). So above all, it is out of concern for the welfare of our separated brethren that we do not permit them to take Communion at Mass. We do not wish that they eat and drink judgment upon themselves! Likewise, the Catholic Church also does not want Catholics who do not follow Church teaching to receive Communion. The Church is concerned with the welfare of souls both inside and outside of her communion.

I find it very curious though that non-Catholics are always so concerned about receiving Communion in the Catholic Church. If the Eucharist is just a symbolic memorial they can easily get that at their own parish, as I stated above. Yet it seems like there is a longing within them for something more. Inside they know that the Eucharist in the Catholic Church is more than just a memorial. There is something substantial to it. They desire it (as they naturally should), but when they can't have it they grow angry and bitter. I truly believe that this is the work of the Holy Spirit moving them from within ever closer to this precious gift that Christ left us of His own Body and Blood. They may not consciously believe that Christ is truly present, but subconsciouly they know the truth. Christ is calling out to them in the Eucharist and beckoning them to union with God which only He can bring. This union He brings in the most definitive way by offering us His own flesh and blood for our spiritual food. Christ truly enters into us. We feast upon this Glorious Lamb of God who gives us life and takes away the sins of the world! Unless we partake of Christ's flesh and blood, we have no life in us. This truly is a hard saying, yes, but to whom else shall we go? For it is Christ alone who has the words of eternal life. And He has expressly told us that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood abides in Him, and He in them.
Abide in Christ and join His Mystical Body, which is His Catholic Church!

Bridal-Maternity Of Mary

“Contrary to most modern feminism, Mary, as bridal-mother, reveals that our fundamental stance in relation to God and divine revelation is that of being actively receptive. She is the New Eve, the consort of the New Adam, who does the opposite of the first Eve in that she does not initiate (take the fruit) but is actively-receptive in response to the angelic visitor. Her ‘fiat’ is at the core of redeemed humanity. This Marian response is to be the response of the Church in all her members because Mary, as John Paul II notes, ‘is the representative and the archetype of the whole human race: she represents the humanity which belongs to all human beings, both men and women.’ History has proven time and time again that where there is a failure to understand and appreciate the role of Mary in Ecclesiology and Christology, the view presented of Christ and His Church will be askew, if not altogether distorted. In many theological circles this is what has happened today. For this reason Jon Saward’s critique of certain brands of ecumenism could not be more accurate: ‘A Mary-less Christology has become a Christianity without Christ.’”

-Fr. Donald Calloway, M.I.C. in his article "Bridegroom Christology: Salvation as Nuptial Drama" published in the Aug-Sept. 2003 issue of Homiletic & Pastoral Review.

Vatican To Publish Documents On Suppression Of Knights Templar

The Vatican is planning publication of a book on the suppression of the Knights Templar, based on material from the Vatican Secret Archives.

The Knights Templar, a religious order established in Jerusalem in 1118, grew in power during the Crusades, and became a formidable military and political force in Europe in the 12th and 13th century. In the early 14th century, under pressure from the French monarchy, Pope Clement V forcibly suppressed the order.

However, rumors about the secrets of the military order have been circulated for centuries, and the Knights Templar. The order has figured in a number of recent fictional works. The new work to be published by the Vatican Archives is unlikely to stem the curiosity of conspiracy theorists.

On October 25, the Vatican office of the Secret Archives will unveil the book Processus contra Templarios, containing "a previously unpublished and exclusive edition of the complete acts of the original hearing against the Knights Templar," the Vatican has announced. Containing reproductions of the original parchment documents, the book is "the most elaborate and important publication yet undertaken" by the Archives, the Vatican states. The book will be a special collector's edition, with only 799 copies produced. [Source]

Don't Knock The Fathers!

“[Mr. Pope] endeavors to bring the Holy Fathers into a qualified disrepute, as Luther did before him. When Luther found the authority of the holy Fathers strong against him, he said, ‘I care not if a thousand Chrysostoms, a thousand Cyprians, a thousand Augustines, stood against me. And let this be my creed, ‘I yield to no man.’’ Again, he says, ‘I, Dr. Martin Luther, as to those matters (articles of faith,) am and wish to be deemed obstinate, contumacious, and violent.’ Such was Luther’s confession that the Fathers were against him. When Luther found a great number of sects arising amongst the reformers—Calvin denying the real presence—Zuinglius saying, that THIS IS MY BODY, means ‘this REPRESENTS my body,’ he began to repent, and he threatened to return to Popery again, if they continued to raise such schisms. Mr. Pope should not endeavor to bring the Holy Fathers into disrepute. If he says that they were fallible, which I admit, yet he must allow that they are good and faithful witnesses of what was the Christian doctrine in their days. If I show, as I will, the infallibility of the church to be the doctrine of sixty Fathers at a time, when Mr. Pope will admit that the church was pure, then is it not evident that such doctrine must be true? If Mr. Pope answers in the negative, then he must contradict all Protestants who admit the authority of the first four councils—I do not include the council of Jerusalem.”

-Fr. Thomas Maguire in his debate against the Rev. Richard T.P. Pope, which took place at the lecture room of the Dublin Institution on April 19, 1827.

St. Paul's Message To The Gospel of Health And Wealth Crowd

"It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are bastards and not sons." (Hebrews 12:7-8)

As Fr. Swetnam says, that's the old time religion right there!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


"Protestants are not in the habit of examining the Roman Catholic religion. The very name of Popery is sufficient to frighten them -the basilisk does not appear half so dangerous in their eyes as Popery. And for my part I should not wonder at their thinking so, if Popery really were what they have been taught to believe it is."

-Fr. Thomas Maguire

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Infallibility Of The Church

“Mr. Pope is not the advocate of any church. I avow myself the child and champion of an infallible church. It remains for you to see whether the motives of credibility which attach me to that church are defensible—it remains for you to judge whether the doctrine, that Christ established a church upon earth, and endowed it with infallibility, be grounded upon scripture—be consistent with the primitive faith of Christianity—be agreeable to common reason and common sense. It is easy to perceive, that he who denies the necessity of bending to a spiritual authority, is establishing a principle latitudinarian and revolutionary in the strictest sense of the words. If there exists no spiritual authority upon earth, to which man is to yield obedience, I assert that every act of rebellion against the church and against the state is the admitted and unqualified right of every individual. If the principle of private judgment be founded upon the law of nature, or upon the positive law of God, there can be no limitation of the right. The law has made no exception, consequently every individual has a right (and there is no exception, either in religious or political matters) to set up his private judgment against the laws of the church and of the community. It was such principles that caused the revolution in England, and brought a king to the block. To similar principles we are to attribute the bloody scenes of the desolating revolution in France. Such principles have involved Germany in the darkest Atheism….Every thing in the scripture is explained away there, and the test of natural philosophy is absurdly applied to the miracles of our Redeemer. If the principle of private judgment be once recognized, then had the heretics of former days, Arius, Cerinthus, Manicheus, &c, as good a right to the exercise of private judgment as Mr. Pope, or any gentleman of the 19th century. If those heretics had a right to exercise it, upon what principle did the Catholic Church condemn them—cut them off as rotten members, and treat them, as Christ said those shall be treated who would not hear the Church, as heathens and publicans, and reprobates upon the earth? Mr. Pope, I suppose, recognizes the first four councils, and the Athanasian Creed—he must then admit that the church had a right to condemn Arius, Eutyches, and Manicheus, and every other heretic and heresy that appeared for the first four centuries of the Christian era. If he acknowledged the power in the church to condemn heresy in the first century, why not acknowledge it now?”

-Fr. Thomas Maguire in his opening remarks during the debate on April 19, 1827 against the Protestant, Richard T.P. Pope, as recorded in The Authentic Report of the Discussion, Which Took Place at the Lecture Room of the Dublin Institution Between the Rev. Thomas Maguire and the Rev. Richard T.P. Pope.

The Naming Of Guardian Angels By The Church Fathers

“It is interesting to take up one or the other of the expressions which designate the guardian angel and which make it easier to understand his role. He is called ‘guardian’ (phylax) or ‘guard’ (phrouros). There are also the terms ‘protector’ (prostates) and ‘superintendent’ (epimeletes) and ‘overseer’ (ephoros). Another name is ‘assistant’ (boethos). Particularly interesting is the name ‘shepherd’ (poimen). His guardian angel appeared to Hermas in the form of a shepherd. Basil calls his ‘herdsman’ (nomeus). Eusebius gathers the different names together and says: ‘Fearing lest sinful mankind should be without government and without guidance, like herds of cattle, God gave them protectors and superintendents, the holy angels, in the form of captains and shepherds. His First-Born Son is set above all of these.’”

Monday, October 01, 2007