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Interests: Traditional Catholic, a student of the Œcumenical Councils, and a lover of the monastics and ascetics. I love number theory, real analysis, church history, music theory, sacred polyphony, pocket billiards, weightlifting and languages.I am happily married with five children. Nobody has ever accused me of having too much tact.
Expertise: Research scientist/mechanical engineer in the development of structural software, aware of his own disturbingly morbid intoxication with the writing and compiling of code. I am a lazy engineer; instead of doing any actual work, I instead write algorithms for my own use all year round, using cryptic interfaces shrouded in esoteric nomenclature. So not only do I never have to do any given task more than once, I always appear completely indispensable.
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|Omnia tempus habent et suis spatiis transeunt universa sub cælo|
When the change of seasons came at the end of summer, it hit me rather hard. Harder than it ever has in recent memory. And whilst this is probably due to a number of reasons, the one I can think of as having the most to do with it is air conditioning.
You see, last winter, my previous car – a 1999 Honda Civic – was destroyed in a car accident that was not my fault. But the accident itself was so curiously crafted by fate that had any officer seen the results thereof (a smashed hood on my car and a scraped bumper on hers) he would immediately have assigned fault to me.
So the woman who had charged across three lanes of traffic at a forty-five degree angle saw that she had perhaps done something wrong and agreed to let me pay her the small sum of money to cover the minor repairs on her bumper in lieu of waiting for a policeman to arrive. Incidentally, as fate would also have it, she worked across the street from me, and so gave me a ride to my office and I had the car towed to my mechanic.
My mechanic is one of those guys who almost always can make something work for very little money. His invoice totals are always lower than his estimates, and he is known as one of the few completely honest mechanics in town. He runs a tight ship; his reputation is pristine. My throat dropped into my stomach when I heard him hesitate and then calmly tell me in his deep, southern voice, “David, it’s ugly.”
These are not the kind of words that Billy normally said. And if he did, things were bad. So I sold him the car for $450 for salvage and went to buy a new car of my own. And since I was not going to be getting an insurance cheque for this, the new car would have to come completely out of our savings. Not wanting to spend any more than I absolutely had to, I jumped on Craig’s List and sought out the lowest of the low-cost, early-model cars.
Finally, I stumbled upon a perfect beauty: the quintessential model for A‑B transportation. Nothing could outdo this car in sheer simplicity. The ride was a 1987 Honda CRX, owned and tweaked for an entire year by a Kampuchean mechanic-to-be who was a good bit younger than the car itself. It had no radio, no rear wiper, no back seats, and most importantly, no air conditioning.
None of that bothered me though because this car drove. And man, did it drive. The kid who owned it had turned this little machine into a low-flying hot-rod, and as far as I could tell, this car was a dream come true. So inasmuch as it was the beginning of a new era, it was just as much the end of the old.
No more radio.
No more CDs in the car.
No more smooth rides with cruise control.
And no more A/C.
Throughout the rest of the winter and springtime, this posed no problem, but when summer came upon us, my tune changed a little. I did not mind the lack of music. I used the time driving to think or to pray. The switch back to a 5-speed was a welcome change as well: you know, feeling more connected to the road and all. The lack of air conditioning had me squirming for a bit, though.
But it did not take long before my body was acclimated to the new weather patterns. I rode everywhere with my windows down, and the sunroof open. I buzzed all my hair off, and left work with my gym clothes already on so that I would not dirty my office clothes. And after a while, I started to enjoy the summertime.
No matter how early I left in the morning, the air was always humid and warm. Even leaving the house at six with the sun still down, still the air was still warm when I would leave. I got used to this, and planned for it. Indeed, it had become a part of my internal programming.
And then it happened. It was not just sooner than I expected, it was also more dramatic.
I gathered my lunch, my gym bag, stepped over to the door, blessed myself with holy water, and opened the door and stepped into the black morning. And I shivered. After four months of warm mornings with short-sleeved shirts, I did not ever give a thought that maybe summer might come to an end. But it did. It ended, and it ended fast.
Being of strong European stock, I actually enjoy cooler weather more than I enjoy warmer weather. But I was not upset by the cool air on my face; I was shocked into the realisation that the summer was over, and the change of season, whilst being more than welcome in terms of temperature, brought me face-to-face with my own mortality.
I am now thirty years of age, which means that if I am fortunate, in ten years my life will be more than half-way over.
Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun
Ten years ago, I was driving around Atlanta with my friends watching movies, studying all through the wee hours of the morning at Waffle House, going to shows, trying to make it through advanced math, and most importantly, trying to figure out the best ways to purchase and store up large quantities of cigarettes and alcohol. I blink my eyes and suddenly I am married with five children, eight years engineering experience, and I am a Catholic. Does anybody care to tell me what happened? I am afraid that when I blink again, my children will all be married, I will be trying to get my pension payments, and I will still be stubbornly avoiding the doctor.
A new season is here. The old one has ended. So too my season here with this blog is ended. Xanga was kind of a cool place, for a little while. I have made many friends here. I love all the people with whom I interact here. I am thankful to God for the wonderful relationships I now have thanks to this little site. I think specifically of all my Catholic friends who have come here and have helped me defend the faith, my Protestant brothers with whom I have shared so many good discussions, and even those Orthodox people that continue to confound me.
For a while, Xanga was it. You had Paleocrat and Konfederado (Mr_Orthodox! ha, those were the days!), Kriegerwulff and Daveyh8, Br. Dominic and Ebrulf, Servitus, mister_jargon and on_bleeker_street, vanwedgeworth, dasack, katieluther, tskerritt, anselm_the_presbyterian, and others. There was a time when this place was magical. I am tempted to quote Hunter Thompson, but I will not. Wait, yes I will.
There was madness in any direction, at any hour. You could strike sparks anywhere.
There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right–that we were winning. And that, I think, was the handle. That sense of inevitable victory over the forces of old and evil. Not in any mean or military sense–we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. We had all the momentum. We were riding the crest of a high, and beautiful wave.
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look west. And with the right kind of eyes, you can almost see the highwater mark--that place where the wave finally broke, and rolled back. – Hunter Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Xanga truly was a magical place and as much as it pains me to say it, the magic is gone.
Xanga has spent so much time trying to make itself like a ghastly hybrid of Facebook, Myspace, and Blogspot, and frankly I just want a place to write. So I have found a new place for myself at davehodges.wordpress.com. Things will not be any different there; I still intend to write sporadically if I write at all. And I hope to stay in touch with many of you in the mean time. But the endless internet discussions are over. And I cannot stay here any longer. It just is not the same here any more, and I think the exodus that many of you have taken already is both the cause and effect of this loss of magic.
For all of those that left positive feedback and encouraged me to keep writing even when I thought it was a lost cause, I thank you. For all of those who left negative feedback and encouraged me to keep writing even when it was a lost cause, I thank you. And for all of you seekers who wanted nothing more than an explanation of what I believe, thank you for the interest. To all who are reading this now, you are mortal. You will die one day. And what matters after you are dead is not how much money you made, what kind of house you lived in, nor who liked you the most. What will matter is the state of your soul, and how you spent the years that God gave you. Ask yourself frequently, “Is what I am doing now helping me along my pathway to salvation, or hindering me?” Times and seasons come and go, and your life is but a vapour of air, it is gone as soon as it starts. I hope this thought stays with you as I leave here, and I hope that it goes with me wherever I go.
For those of you who knew me when this blog started, you know what I mean when I say, “What a long strange trip it’s been.”
Stay the course, keep the faith, and last but not least, Happy Truckin’. Dave Hodges
In many of my various discussions regarding the Roman Catholic
Church, I end up arguing points with folks from all backgrounds, including
everybody from the not-so-distant “Orthodox” to fundamentalist Baptist and
everybody in between. Few of these people still hold to the original doctrines
espoused by the so-called Reformers, but some do, and talking with them is
always interesting. In one of my recent discussions, I came across a nice
fellow who believed (along with the rest of the RPCNA) that the Pope is
Antichrist, and more specifically, the man of sin represented in St. Paul’s
second epistle to the Christians in Thessalonica. He posed a challenge for me,
to wit: that I prove from Holy Writ alone that the Pope – or, the succession of
Popes – is not the “man of sin” spoken of therein. This alone, he explained,
was his reason for rejecting the Catholic Church. The following post is based
on my response to his challenge.
Hic est antichristus qui
negat Patrem et Filium
It must be said from the
outset that I cannot prove to anybody that the Pope, or that all the collective
bishops of Rome are not the singular “man of sin” mentioned in the Scriptures. The
reason for this is the same reason that nobody can prove to me that he is (or
they are), based on the Scriptures alone. One can offer his private opinion and
I can offer mine, but at the end of the day, each man retains the prerogative
of whom or what he will believe in terms of an interpretative scheme and why.
Since I have no control over that, whether or not I have proven anything,
always resides with the listener and with him alone. I might reverse the
challenge and make my opponent “prove” that the Church that Jesus established
was actually the many thousands of Protestant sects which would appear many
hundreds of years later; at the end of the day, I would be the sole judge of
whether or not he had proven this satisfactorily.
Secondly, proving that a
singular Pope (the text does say “man” and not “men”) is the man of sin is not
enough to disprove the claims of the Catholic Church since the Pope’s being
Antichrist is certainly within the realm possibility. But more to the point,
proving that the Pope is Antichrist is not enough, in itself, to demonstrate
the claims of Protestantism. There are so many heretical sects (ones that even all
mainstream Protestants would consider heretical) that are also in stark
opposition to the Roman Catholic Church. The claim that the Pope is Antichrist
could be accepted by Coptic Christians, Eastern Orthodox, Mohammedans, Mormons,
Children of God, Swedenborgians, as well as many rural fringe charismatic sects.
Thirdly, there is a
constant refrain that I hear regarding a great singular apostasy which is
prophesied by St. Paul, and this apostasy is always accepted – prima facie – to be the corruption of the Roman Church. Yet history
records hundreds of apostasies, all of which most Christians would also
consider apostasies, to wit: Marcionism, Nestorianism, chiliasm, Donatism,
Montanism, Eutychianism, &c. Demonstrating that an apostasy in fact took
place does not prove de facto that
“the apostasy” was that of the Roman Catholic Church. And the truth is that neither
does it prove that Protestantism is the true religion. One must keep in mind
that there are hundreds of current Restorationist Christian sects, all of which
claim the exact same thing: that a great apostasy occurred within the Church, from which apostasy the Church would not recover for many centuries.
Saying that the Catholic
Church began the apostasy is not enough to make the greater case – it must also
be demonstrated that whatever sect you happen to hold is the true one. And
there are thousands upon thousands of sects, all claiming to be the true restoration
of the Church – the same Church which was destroyed or corrupted in the Roman Church.
Let me name a few of them: Iglesia Ni Cristo, the Boston Church of Christ, the Church of God of
Prophecy, the House of Yahweh, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists,
the Campellites and the Millerites, and Luz del Mundo. All of these sects make
the exact same claims as the Reformed Protestant, yet possess completely
different doctrinal standards. In the grand scheme of things, what is one more
sect amongst so many? For me even to give weight to one particular brand of Restorationist
Christianity, I then would have to evaluate every single sect that was ever
born of men. Why? Because if the Church fell once, she can fall again, and the
brand of Christianity that one accepts now may well undergo its very own
apostasy down the road, requiring yet another Reformation, where everything previously
thought to be true is shown actually to be false – based on the Bible alone, of
course, or which ever books were decided still belong therein.
Specifically, what makes
the claim of the Lutherans valid, but not that of the Mohammedans, Mormons, or
Millerites? If one can entertain that the entire Church fell and nobody saw it
happen, then I can maintain that any other particular sect did fell as well and
then we would have to investigate the claims of every single Joe Schmoe who
came along with yet a new reading of the Scriptures. And why would we have to
do this? Precisely because we would believe in a Church that is capable of
teaching error. There would be no pillar or bulwark of the truth – just we,
alone in the desert with our Bibles, yet without anybody to tell us how to read
them. This is, ultimately, the scenario being presented to me. All Protestants will
vehemently deny it, but there really is no way out of this. If a Reformation
can come along and undo everything before it – or even ninety per cent – then
another Reformation can come along and undo everything that the first one did.
And now, given all the
aforementioned caveats, I will attempt to deal with the text at hand. The claim
is that St. Paul said that this Man of Sin would sit in the temple of God (i.e. the
church). Yet just because the Pope sits in the Church does not automatically
make him the culprit here. All Protestants – indeed, all men of Christian
persuasion – can be said to “sit in the temple of God” as well.
Next, it is said that “he would
claim to be God on earth.” Yet many, many men have made this foolish claim. And
not many of these men who have made this claim have been Catholics, let alone
the Pope. There is no such teaching of the Catholic Church that the Pope is God
on earth. The teaching is that he is the Vicar of Christ, which is hardly the
same thing. He in a very real sense fills the same office as the Old Testament
prophet who would speak to kings and say, “Thus saith the Lord.” The prophet
was not claiming to be God on earth, but he did indeed act as God’s mouthpiece
on earth. God uses mouthpieces all the time. Sometimes they are asses, and
sometimes they are angels. But they are all God’s mouthpieces without taking
away from His ultimate Deity.
Finally, it is claimed
that this man of sin – the Pope, as the theory goes – “leads the apostasy, a
falling away from the truth within the church.” But there were numerous
accounts of these kinds of things, as I said above – why single out the
Catholic Church, especially when Protestants by and large accept many of the
dogmas that were taught by the Popes and the Catholic Church – even after this apostasy
supposedly took place?
The Scriptures tell us
specifically what the teaching of Antichrist would be, and no Pope has ever
taught what the Scripture says that Antichrist would teach, to wit: that Jesus
is not the Christ, denying the Father and the Son (cf. I John II:xxii). If a
culprit is to be found for this teaching, there are many people who did this in
the early days of the Church, and I have already named a few of them.
The main problem with this
theory is that when I ask when it is that the Bishop of Rome became Antichrist,
nobody ever has a specific answer, yet St. Paul says that all this rumpus would
happen after a specific revolt followed by a singular revelation of a singular
man. Very well then, what was this specific revolt? In what year did it occur?
Who was the singular man, and whose identity was revealed of which the holy
text speaks? I ask this because these things cannot be identified, I find nothing
about the argument even remotely compelling.
Now the first great revolt
that happened after St. Paul wrote his letter to the church in Thessalonica was the Jewish-Roman
war, a great revolt, after which Nero took power (a. d. 66). He ruthlessly persecuted
Christians, had the temple destroyed, and most certainly did see himself as a
deity on earth. His megalomania was even observed by the heathen of his day.
And yet even after all of
this, there is nothing in the text to indicate that an office, or a succession
of popes is the singular “man of sin”. If one wishes to tell me which Pope it
was, or which it will be, then by all means let it be known.
However, identifying which
Pope it was will only present a whole new set of problems for the argument.
Should one decide that the
Pope in A.D. 66 (St. Peter) was Antichrist, then that would not look too
appealing, especially since he wrote some of the books of the Bible. If you
pick his successor, St. Linus, that does not bode well either, because St. Paul speaks
well of St. Linus in his epistle to the Romans.
Suppose it be St. Xystus –
and he did reign around the time of the revolt of Bar-Kochba – but actually he
did not do anything particularly man-of-sin-like. All we know that he did was
to codify certain parts of the Mass. For instance, he did say that all the
people have to recite the Sanctus together after the Preface. But that is
hardly the behaviour for which we are looking in order to identify Antichrist. Then
there is Pope St. Victor (A.D. 180), but he stood up for the deity of Christ
Himself, and actually excommunicated a priest for denying it. By St. John’s own
criterion, he fails to make the status of Antichrist.
One might go all the way
to Pope St. Sylvester (as many often do, supposing that his name was actually Constantine), but Sylvester
does not come after a large revolt. In fact, he and Constantine were around when
the Edict of Milan was passed, when Christianity was legalised. After that, there
is not a great deal to happen revolt-wise for a great season.
And I would be remiss if I
did not mention that nearly all Protestants (and especially the Reformed type) accept
the Œcumenical Councils at least up through the fifth century as being binding
for doctrinal orthodoxy. All this brings us pretty late in the game for this
great apostasy to have started.
And yet, in the mean
while, hundreds of real, bona fide, historically-recorded apostasies had already
occurred, but I am to ignore those. No, not just ignore them, but I am to side
with the Catholic Church and accept her rulings at those junctures against those heretics. The Church slowly moves
along, condemns Arius and Mani and Donatus – all well and good – but then at
some point everything changes. Some huge cataclysmic event happens (but nobody
notices) and suddenly the Pope is Antichrist, the Catholic Church is full of
errors, and all of this happens to occur whilst evading recorded history and without
sparking schism. Or even discussion. It just happened. And then all the events that
led up to it and resulted from it were just washed down the Memory Hole.
I am forever curious as to
where all the Bible-believing Christians were when this change took place. Did
they all just hop right along down the path of perdition behind the great Whore
None of it adds up. Even
so, I am willing to hear the various theories on this. I just cannot see how
this can make any sense when analysed with any depth whatsoever.
But at the end of the day,
the most obvious thing that sticks out is that the Scriptures say “man of sin”
and not “men of sin”. The desire to turn the word “man” into the word “men” has
a specific name I learnt in my Protestant high school systematic theology class:
Rescindentes verbum Dei per traditionem vestram
The Paleocrat, my good friend, brother in Christ,
and godfather of my youngest daughter, has been doing a series of posts on a
highly revered twentieth century Protestant apologist, Cornelius van Til. You
can find those posts on his website. For my many years as a Protestant, I
always greatly respected Cornelius van Til and found him to have discovered
some of the greatest defences of Christianity. Indeed, I still argue for the
Christian faith based on the general principles that he formulated.
But one aspect of van Til’s apologetic to which I
was never exposed was his specific set of arguments for Protestantism, over and
against the Catholic Church. I did not know anything about these at all until
my aforementioned acquaintance began doing a series on his discussions of the
Catholic faith. It was then that my opinion of him dropped considerably. Not
only was van Til’s scholarship incredibly poor, but what became apparent to me
so clearly was his absolute inability to articulate the teachings of the
Catholic faith in any intelligible way. It was as if he heard what Catholics
believed from B. B. Warfield, who learnt about Catholicism from C. H. Spurgeon,
who learnt about the Roman Church from Ellen G. White, &c.
I was somewhat disappointed. I used to think of van
Til as a confused, but honest Christian apologist. Now, I hardly can consider
him anything other than yet another example of Protestantism’s endless supply
of ignorant revolutionaries. And amidst all his blunders about Catholicism,
comes this massive whopper of a statement that the Catholic Church “knows of no
absolute authority such as Protestantism has in its doctrine of Scripture.”
It is so incredibly laughable that a Protestant like
van Til could be so ignorant as to utter such nonsense. Has he never heard of
the infallibility of the Church? The immutability of Catholic dogma? The
universal jurisdiction of the Pope? The necessity of accepting the Church’s
dogmatic definitions under the pain of mortal sin and the loss of eternal
salvation? Has he seriously never encountered the authoritative statements
coming from the Magisterium of the Holy Roman Church?
But suppose that maybe he was only trying to make a
rhetorical statement. Maybe he is making a deeper statement about the
unchangeable nature of Scripture and its unbending rule in contradistinction to
his understanding of Catholic dogma which appears to him to be capricious and
based on the whims of men – subject to all forms of change depending on all
manner of circumstances. Indeed, maybe that is his point. But if we were to
press this issue, what would we find?
Well, for one, we would see that giving Scripture
alone this much authority does nothing to establish any sort of objective
system of morality or dogma. As if this even needed to be stated, one man’s
heresy is another man’s dogma, and they could both be looking at the exact same
texts when coming to their conclusions.
In the beginning of any apologetic discussion, the
more hard core Reformed Protestants will always try strongly to impress their
opponent regarding the absolute authority of the Scriptures and how expansive
and demanding it is. But at the end of a long discussion when the problems with
this model are pressed, he usually ends up making the ridiculous claim that
“the Church” is actually comprised of so many thousands of Protestant sects,
and that none of them actually have the full truth regarding the teachings of
Holy Writ. Indeed, when one accepts that none of these thousands of sects that
all supposedly comprise the Church agree on what the Scriptures principally
teach, he must then admit that one need not even interpret the Scriptures
correctly for salvation.
Some great authority indeed! “The Scriptures are the
only infallible rule!” the revolutionary shouts.
But at the end of the day, nobody cares about this
infallible rule, because it does not matter what anybody thinks the Scriptures
teach. Take the doctrine of Holy Baptism, which the Bible says is a basic,
rudimentary doctrine of the Christian faith (cf. Hebrews VI:ii). Do you believe
that you should baptise babies? Think they should wait until they are adults?
Should you use the Trinitarian formula? Use only the name of the Lord Jesus?
Should baptism be done by immersion or by sprinkling? Does baptism regenerate?
Should you confess your sins committed before baptism? Is baptism necessary for
salvation? Who can baptise validly, a minister only or a layman as well? What
is the function of baptism in the life and salvation of a soul?
The kicker to this is that the answer to any of
these questions could be whatever you want them to be and a Protestant will
say, “No big deal.” So the Scriptures are the only infallible rule, but it does
not matter what you think they actually say or mean. The only thing that
matters is if you believe that the Scriptures are the only authority. This is
tantamount to Parliament saying that every man may do whatever he wants as long
as he believes his actions have been warranted by British law.
* * *
defendant i stands before the bench
between the officers of the court.
judge: Sir, you have
been accused of robbing a pub at gunpoint. The law condemns such actions with
defendant i: I did no such
thing. And I care not what penalties the law may have. I’m innocent of all such
accusations. Besides, the law is just a human construct anyway.
judge: The court will
hear the testimonies of th– What have you said about the law?
defendant i: I only was
making a statement in passing, your Worship. I am innocent of the charges that
have been brought against me.
judge: Your questioning of the law shall not go unpunished. At this
point, I no longer care about the paltry robbery charges. If you were guilty,
you would have to pay a stiff fine, but a denial of the absolute authority of
the law is a capital offence.
defendant i: But I’ve
committed no crime!
judge: Your rejection
of the law as the only absolute authority is your crime. Off with his head!
defendant i is escorted out by the
officers of the court. defendant ii
approaches the bench.
judge: Sir, you freely
admitted to a constable that you murdered a man in cold blood.
defendant ii: Yes, your
Worship, I did. But I believe that the law allows me to do so with immunity.
judge: Ah, yes. Well,
you’ve a point, sire; I previously thought, based on your actions, that you
rejected the law altogether. It seems that you do in fact affirm the authority
of the law after all. You are free to go, good man.
defendant ii: God save the
* * *
It has always been somewhat of a stumper for me. The
Protestant will say that he is not a Catholic and believes the Catholic Church
to be a false Church because she teaches error, but then will go on tolerating
the most absurd errors in the world from every Protestant sect not his own (and
sometimes from his own as well) on the grounds that doctrines do not matter
anyway, provided that they believe the Bible is the sole authority. Some
authority indeed. The Word of God is nullified by their traditions.
Nolite dare sanctum canibus neque mittatis margaritas vestras ante porcos
I have not had much opportunity lately to
write, nor have I had occasion to do so since we have mined out so many
apologetic topics here. In fact, the myriads of equestrian corpses with post
mortum blunt trauma wounds are stacked so high that it is likely to drive
away all but the most determined apologist, Catholic or Protestant.
But recently, I have seen something come up
more than once which really drives me to ire and is something I have decided to
address. The broader topic is the Catholic practise of closed communion,
something that has been practised in the Church since the earliest days. And in
spite of the many objections often made by Protestants, the fact is that all
but the tiniest minority of Protestants practise it. Protestants will not
hesitate to bar Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mohammedans, &c. from their
table. True, most Protestants would allow fellow Protestants to commune with
them, but they all (with the exception of the extremely liberal Episcopalians)
draw the line somewhere.
Nevertheless, these same Protestants, when
confronted with the Catholic practise of closed communion, object vehemently,
insisting that all Christians should be allowed to take the Sacred Host at a
Catholic Mass. What is their reasoning? Most of them insist that we are all
part of the same religion and therefore should all share the same Sacraments.
Following this line of reasoning, all baptised peoples should be equally
admitted at everybody’s version of the Eucharist, be they Baptist, Methodist,
Episcopalian, Catholic, Orthodox, &c.
But from the earliest days of the Church,
there were many people who possessed valid baptisms who were denied the
Catholic Sacraments for their unreconciled public sins or their association
with hereticks or schismatics. The ancient teaching of One, Holy, Catholick,
and Apostolick Church is foundational to understanding this. Not everybody who
is baptised is automatically in the Church regardless of what he believes or
does. And despite what the Protestant and Catholic false œcumenists say, the
Catholic religion and the Protestant religion are not the same religion. As if
this needed demonstration, here are a list of things that the few Protestants I
have in mind most assuredly reject in the teachings of the Catholic Church:
- We declare, say, define, and
pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human
creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff. [Unam Sanctam]
- We declare, pronounce and define
that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first
instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the
Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of
mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been
revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by
all the faithful. [Fulgens Corona]
- We teach and define that it is a
dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra,
that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all
Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a
doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by
the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of
that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church
should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that
therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not
from the consent of the Church irreformable. [Pastor Æternus]
- There is one Universal Church of the
faithful, outside of which there is absolutely no salvation. In which
there is the same priest and sacrifice, Jesus Christ, whose body and blood
are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the forms of bread
and wine; the bread being changed (transsubstantiatio) by divine
power into the body, and the wine into the blood, so that to realize the
mystery of unity we may receive of Him what He has received of us. And
this sacrament no one can effect except the priest who has been duly
ordained in accordance with the keys of the Church, which Jesus Christ
Himself gave to the Apostles and their successors. [Fourth Lateran
- By the authority of our Lord Jesus
Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority,
we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that
the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the
course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.
[Constitution Munificentissimus Deus]
- An indulgence is a remission before
God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been
forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under
certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as
the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the
treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints. [Catechism of
the Catholic Church]
Now these doctrines are not mere side
issues. These doctrines are central to salvation, dogma, truth, and the person
of Christ. These are issues over which Catholics and Protestants disagree
substantially and cannot be brushed aside as irrelevant or unimportant. One
question immediately comes to mind. Why in the world would a Protestant who
denies such things vociferously even want to have Sacraments from a religion
who believed and taught all of these things, and taught that they must be
believed for salvation?
One such Protestant, Jon Amos, writes:
I tend to think as charitably as
possible of [Catholics]…to the extent that I try to forget that there are
actually Catholics out there, like you, who zealously cling to the worst and
most dangerous-to-body-and-soul of Catholic errors.
Of course, part of being a Catholic is
believing what the Catholic Church teaches. If I wanted to be a Protestant, I
would not have gone through the trouble of being reconciled to the Church.
According to Mr. Amos, however, the only truly faithful Catholics are
those who reject the Church’s teachings. For more on this, read his comment
Mr. Amos continues:
That said, my position is – and has
been for some time – that Holy Communion is what it is, regardless of what
Catholics say it is or believe it to be. And it’s for this reason that I
receive without hesitation whenever I go to a Catholic Mass (rare as that may
be). I know it’s against the rules, but the rules are against Jesus’s rules, so
screw them. I also know that there are probably folks there (including even
maybe the priest) who, like you, are wilfully committing idolatry, but that
doesn’t make the Mass idolatry, just as an idolater performing Holy Baptism
doesn't make the Baptism idolatry.
It is hardly even believable. This man
obviously has little respect for the Catholic faith, less respect for Catholics
who actually take their faith seriously, and finally, no respect for the laws
of the Church. Now I ask you, why would any such soul who had so much scorn for
the Catholic Church want anything to do with the Catholic Mass? Let us suppose
that Jon Amos is correct and that the Catholic Church teaches bad and dangerous
“body-and-soul” heresies, and that Catholics are idolaters as he believes.
Where does Jesus ever say that you should involve yourself in the rituals of
He does not believe what the Catholic
Church teaches, neither about herself, nor about the Sacraments, nor about
salvation, nor about anything. Yet he insists that the Catholic Mass is “Jesus’
meal” and that both he and every other soul on the planet are entitled to eat
it. Why does he even think it is the same religion as his? On a side note, I
wonder why he just does not become Catholic if the “faithful” Catholics reject
the Church’s teachings? Of course, I know why – he does not believe the
teachings of the Church and obviously acknowledges the folly of joining a
religion with which you do not agree. So why he continues to insist that the
Catholic Church is the same religion as his is beyond me. By his own words,
they are not even close.
If my church is celebrating the meal
that Jesus instituted for His whole church and you can’t receive with us, our
divisions are being deepened, not healed. Our Lord has given us this wonderful
sacrament - a meal that is (among many other things) powerfully, mysteriously
unifying, but, no, we know better than Him. What a shame. If it's Jesus’ meal
for all of His people, and if we recognize one another as brethren, we must be
able to commune together.
This is what continues to baffle me. The
Catholics do not think that you are part of His people, and historically
Protestants have denied that Catholics are part of His people. There is one
tiny minority here, a veritable church-of-one that has asserted his own
authority in all these matters, declaring that what he believes and only what
he believes are “Jesus’ rules” and that all others are guilty of dividing the
What the Catholics think of the Sacrament
is extremely different from what he thinks it is, yet he continues to insist
that they are really the same. And amidst all this inane double-talk is the
absurd claim that everything he is espousing is really Jesus’ teaching.
Yet Mr. Amos insists, against every
…if the priest won’t serve me, I’ll go
get in another line, mumbling to myself, “Bullshit. This is not your table,
man. This is Jesus’ table.”
One thing here is for sure: it is not your
table either, Mr. Amos. The priest who denies you the Sacred Host is merely
being faithful to his bishops and to his Church. By your theft of the Host, you
are not being faithful to anyone or anything other than your own precepts,
which have no place in the history of the Church and no place in Catholic
I do not expect you to become Catholic, or
to change your position on the Church, or anything else. But if the Catholic
Church does not allow you to receive her Sacraments because you are not
Catholic, the absolute very least you could do is show some decency and some
respect for the Church. Your ecclesial community probably does not allow its
own share of things in its liturgy. I would never dream of showing up to
disrupt your worship in any way, or do things contrary to what your sect
allows. I may not agree with anything which your sect does, but interfering
with another person’s religion is just rude.
Stealing the hosts may make you a
progressive in your own mind, but it does nothing to further Church unity. If
you want unity in the Church, pray for unity and encourage your bishops to seek
dialogue with the Catholic Church. Please do not profane Catholic Sacraments as
a means to unity. There are legitimate means to promote unity amongst
Christians. This is not one of them.
I originally hesitated to write this post because
the subject of the post is so sensitive and the one to whom I am responding in
this post is a man I love and cherish very much, my father-in-law, Rev. Steve
Schlissel from New York. If he does decide to read this, he should know that
this post is written by somebody who not only loves him dearly, but admires him
and looks up to him for many of his character traits. So whilst nothing is
intended to be given or taken personally, it is inevitable that some may see it
this way. Nevertheless, I write this with a spirit of charity and not
hostility. I do disagree with him vehemently, but that should say nothing of my
opinion of him personally.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedictus fructus ventri tui, Jesus
In a recent post on his blog, Rev. Schlissel writes
at length about the Roman Catholic “idolatry” of Mary. He asserts that if Mary
were to be included in the Godhead – a “Quadrinity” he calls it – that nothing
in all of Roman Catholic faith or practise would change. Either he is grossly
ignorant of the actual practise of the Church, or this is simply inflated
rhetoric. I cannot imagine him to be so ignorant of Catholic worship on this
matter, so I will assume that it is just rhetoric. And as a rhetorical device,
it conveys that he thinks that we honour Mary too much, and that is
understandable from his perspective, but for those who actually are ignorant of
Catholic practise, there are some things they ought to know.
The Mass, which is the highest form of worship for Catholic Christians,
has only one object: the Holy Trinity. In the Novus Ordo Missæ, Mary is
mentioned only twice: in the Confiteor (along with a list of other saints and
apostles) and in the Nicene Creed. Surely nobody could object to those things.
Even in the Traditional Latin Mass, Mary is mentioned only six times, once in
the Nicene Creed, and all other five times she is listed with groups of other
saints. She is absent from the Roman Canon, absent from any invocation of the
Holy Trinity, and absent from the Eucharistic liturgy altogether.
So to say that nothing would change if she were part of the
“Quadrinity” is utter nonsense. It would change so much of the Catholic
practise that I cannot even imagine where to start. Even the Rosary would have
to change since no longer would we be asking for Mary’s intercessions, but
rather praying the “Our Mother”.
His claim is that Catholics worship Mary, and in a sense this is
absolutely correct. There is a sense in which it is not correct, but that does
not take away from the fact that there is a sense in which it is. The word
worship means simply to render to that which is worthy. King David was
worshipped by one of his subjects in this passage from the Bible:
And going out he worshipped
the king, bowing with his face to the earth, and said: Wherefore is my lord the
king come to his servant? And David said to him: To buy the thrashing floor of
thee, and build an altar to the Lord, that the plague, which rageth among the
people, may cease. (II Kings XXIV:xxi)
Are we to understand that this man idolised David or
merely that he rendered the honour which was due to him? Clearly the latter is
the case. The virtuous woman is to be praised (Proverbs XXXI:xxx), and what
woman on earth possessed as much virtue as the Mother of God? Is it not fitting
then, to worship her the same way that Gabriel did when he saw her and called
her blessed amongst women?
Something here ought to be said about the Protestant’s understanding of
worship. A Protestant accuses a Catholic of idolatry because we honour Mary in
the same way that they honour God. Why is this? It is because for the
Protestant, his highest form of worship involves sitting on his posterior for
two hours whilst a man takes centre stage, and talks about his views of the
Bible for seventy-five minutes, followed by a song or two and maybe the passing
of a collection plate. And that is it. The Protestant will have no problem
telling you that he has no altar, no sacrifice, no incense, no nothing. Just a
long time of listening to a man in a business suit talk about his opinions. And
that is their highest form of worship.
Since we might honour Mary with things slightly more glorious and
substantially less boring than that, we are accused of idolatry. But the Mass,
the highest form of Catholic worship, is reserved for God alone, and for nobody
else. And it is a sacrifice on an altar to the Most High God – if anyone dared
to do this for Mary, he would be rightly accused of idolatry. But has any
Catholic ever done this? Ever? Not to my knowledge. Based on the anecdote
provided, I see no idolatry, only devotion and love.
Take a moment and look at a common way of honouring men in our culture.
Suppose a man serves for fifty years as a distinguished professor at a
prestigious academic institution, and upon his retirement, his fellows throw a
grand ball in his honour. One might imagine a time of socialisation in the main
hall, followed by the singing of the Alma Mater, a few short speeches by his
closest colleagues, a long keynote address, a time for a collection to his
charitable foundation, and ending with a round of “For He’s a Jolly Good
Fellow”. And all of this would be entirely appropriate for a man of great
accomplishments. And it differs little – if it indeed differs at all – from the
Protestant concept of worship.
So Rev. Schlissel has been to a May Crowning. What sacrifice was given
to Mary? None at all. Was she blessed and praised for her virtue? I should hope
so, as that would be a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Yet, notice the flurry
of criticism even when she is honoured as the Bible says that she should be
honoured. From whence does this irrational hatred of our Mother come?
So whilst he is shaking his
head wondering where we Romanists get off honouring the Blessed Mother, we
shake our own heads at the myriad displays of ahistorical belief and practise
within the Protestant sects.
Finally, regarding the Salve
Regina, one of his commentators said that the prayer was Christocentric. To
which he replied, “However, the veracity of your own claim about the
Christocentric nature of the Salve Regina is doubted. In support, I will
simply include the English translation in which Christ is incidental and at
best an indirect object.”
Hail, holy Queen,
Mother of Mercy,
our life, our
sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry,
poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send
up our sighs,
mourning and weeping
in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most
thine eyes of mercy
and after this our
show unto us the blessed
fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving,
O sweet Virgin Mary.
V: Pray for
us O holy Mother of God,
R: that we
may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Actually, the indirect object
of the central petition of the Salve Regina is the faithful, whilst the
direct object is Christ: “[Mary, subject] Show unto us [the faithful, indirect
object] the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus [direct object].” The prayer is
highly Christocentric. The entire purpose for Marian devotion is summed up
beautifully in this wonderful hymn: we follow Mary so that we may be led to
Christ, just as St. Paul said to the church in Corinth: “Be ye followers of me,
as I also am of Christ.” He followed Christ, and he hoped that others would
follow Him to reach the same goal. Is it such a stretch to see that our Blessed
Mother, like all mothers, functions to lead her children to Jesus?