Catholic Church

More on discerning the true Church from the false church

Ego sum cum Papa semper (Saint George Preca).

Some points:

  1. Those who speak against the Pope – run away from them. It is the Pope who has been appointed by the Son of the Living God, and God Himself, to be His Vicar and the visible head of the Church on earth. Not you or anyone else. See previous post;
  2. Those who would speak against their bishops, especially publicly, in terms of the Faith and its practice – a failure of basic charity, to begin with. The Church is a hierarchy and is run by a hierarchy. It is not a democracy or ‘run by committee’ or even by popular vote. There is a reason for that. The bishops are shepherds, leaders – your leaders – no matter their personal failings and foibles. They are your spiritual fathers; respect them as fathers. Dislike them and/or their various preferences all you want, but you do not have the right to disrespect them (let alone mock them) by virtue of their role/office that is permitted, if not appointed, by God. In mocking them, you are doing nothing less than mocking Christ and perpetuating His Passion;
  3. Those who create, or attempt to create, division, chaos and disorder in the Mystical Body of Christ. This is never from the Holy Spirit, even if done in the name of allegedly defending the Catholic Faith. The Mystical Body is not made up solely of Catholics – has never, in fact, been comprised solely of Catholics, as though it’s one’s favorite political party. The Mystical Body of Jesus Christ is made up of every single individual who has been validly baptized (in terms of form and matter) and of every person who has been baptized by desire (cf. Lumen Gentium). It is not you or your likings that determine who is part of the Church, but God. Those who would claim otherwise are going directly against the Constitution on the Church and against the desires of the very God they so profess to worship above all else;
  4. Those who claim that the Extraordinary (Tridentine) Form of the Mass is “superior” to the Ordinary Form (Novus Ordo). Both forms are equal in terms of sacramental grace, validity and liceity, despite the differences in perceived reverence and personal preferences. You do not get “more Jesus” in the former than in the latter. To say otherwise is a lie;
  5. Those who would claim that they are The Remnant Faithful in the Church. No one but God knows the entirety of who is, or is not, part of the remnant. To claim otherwise is to attempt to arrogate for oneself – like Lucifer – the very role, seat and omnipotence of God.

The mind of the Catholic Church on capital punishment – From Blessed Paul VI through Pope Francis

YOU SHALL NOT KILL

Pope Blessed Paul VI

“Go out into the world and make every effort possible in every way to restore the dignity of man, and all that it implies! I stand foursquare with modern theologians who hold that prudentially and historically capital punishment does not fit into the greater contemporary theological awareness of the worth of each individual on earth” (Speech to the Bishops at closing of Vatican Council II, Vatican City, 1965).

Note: Paul VI removed capital punishment from the fundamental law of Vatican City in 1969.


Pope Saint John Paul II

“On this matter there is a growing tendency, both in the Church and in civil society, to demand that it be applied in a very limited way or even that it be abolished completely. The problem must be viewed in the context of a system of penal justice ever more in line with human dignity and thus, in the end, with God’s plan for man and society. The primary purpose of the punishment which society inflicts is “to redress the disorder caused by the offence”.46 Public authority must redress the violation of personal and social rights by imposing on the offender an adequate punishment for the crime, as a condition for the offender to regain the exercise of his or her freedom. In this way authority also fulfils the purpose of defending public order and ensuring people’s safety, while at the same time offering the offender an incentive and help to change his or her behaviour and be rehabilitated.  (more…)

On Islam according to the Catholic Church – From Lumen Gentium to today

Istanbul,_Hagia_Sophia,_AllahIslam is one of the three monotheistic religions in which the worship of the One, Indivisible God prevails, together with Christianity and Judaism. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the God of Jesus Christ (His only-begotten and divine Son), Mary and Joseph – is also the God of Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael. To claim otherwise is a lie. God the Creator is Allah and Allah is God the Creator. Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in the culture of the Maltese people where the God of Christianity – the God of Catholicism, to be precise – is referred to as Alla in the Maltese language.

Muslims worship the same God as Christians and Jews do, even though some, in all three religions, may take intense issue with this fact. Profound misunderstandings and misconceptions abound these days about the religion of Islam. Thus, let us see what the  Catholic Church says about Islam.  (more…)

The Magisterium of the Catholic Church – 3

Papal Infallibility

According to the declaration of Vatican Council II, the issue of infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine of faith and morals, extends as far as the deposit of Revelation extends, which must be religiously guarded and faithfully expounded. And this is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their faith, by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals. And, therefore, his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment. For then the Roman Pontiff is not pronouncing judgment as a private person, but as the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the charism of infallibility of the Church itself is individually present, he is expounding or defending a doctrine of Catholic faith. The infallibility promised to the Church resides also in the body of Bishops, when that body exercises the supreme magisterium with the successor of Peter. To these definitions the assent of the Church can never be wanting, on account of the activity of that same Holy Spirit, by which the whole flock of Christ is preserved and progresses in unity of faith.

But when either the Roman Pontiff or the Body of Bishops together with him defines a judgment, they pronounce it in accordance with Revelation itself, which all are obliged to abide by and be in conformity with, that is, the Revelation which as written or orally handed down is transmitted in its entirety through the legitimate succession of bishops and especially in care of the Roman Pontiff himself, and which under the guiding light of the Spirit of truth is religiously preserved and faithfully expounded in the Church. The Roman Pontiff and the bishops, in view of their office and the importance of the matter, by fitting means diligently strive to inquire properly into that revelation and to give apt expression to its contents; but a new public revelation they do not accept as pertaining to the divine deposit of faith (Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, §25).

The Magisterium of the Catholic Church – 2

The Magisterium of the Reigning Pope and Papal Indefectibility

The Pope has what is known as his own ordinary magisterium (#4 above), his own teaching authority, and this by divine appointment (Mt 16:18–19). This is separate from, and in addition to, any pronouncements he might make ex cathedra (#1 above).

The Magisterium of the Catholic Church is neither external to the Pope nor separate from him (#1 through #6 above). In fact, for the teaching authority of the bishops throughout the world to be valid and authentic, it necessarily has to be in communion with the Pope.

The Magisterium is neither external to the Pope nor optional with regard to its acceptance and the subjection to it by all the Catholic faithful, because it is the Pope who

  1. by divine appointment, has supreme and full authority over the universal Church, including, but not limited, to the Catholic Church itself; and
  2. is the Supreme Guarantor, the Supreme Witness, of the Faith by virtue of (a) the charism of truth and (b) the charism of a faith that never fails (Lk 22:32) granted to him, and to him alone, by God as an intrinsic part of the privileges of his office as the Vicar of Christ.

Assistance is given by God to the Pope when the latter exercises his ordinary magisterium: Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a “definitive manner,” they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful are to adhere to it with religious assent which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it (The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article IX, paragraph §4:892).

Public statements by the Pope that do not qualify as ordinary and universal magisterium also have an authority that Catholics are not free to dismiss. They are required to give such teachings religious submission in accordance with the declaration of Vatican Council II as follows: Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking (Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, §25).

As evidenced in Sacred Scripture, Christ said, I say to you, “You are Peter and on this  Rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven. Whatsoever you shall bind upon the earth, it shall be bound also in Heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose upon the earth, it shall be loosed also in Heaven” (Mt 16:18-19). Thus, Saint Ambrose said, Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia, ibi Deus [Where there is Peter, there is the Church and there is God], because it is Peter – the Pope – who is the Rock, the Guarantor of the Faith, and this by divine appointment. Christ Himself prays to the Almighty Father for the Pope.

Christ, Who is God, declared the true Church to be indefectible. The Pope is, thus, himself indefectible in terms of the Faith and what is needed to be saved precisely because the Church is indefectible. This is true not just when the Pope teaches ex cathedra under the charism of infallibility, but also when he teaches non-infallibly as part of his ordinary magisterium. The Guarantor of the Faith can never fall into the grave sins of apostasy, heresy or schism, because he is safeguarded from doing so by the prevenient grace of God – operating grace (not cooperating grace). Throughout the entire history of the Catholic Church, in which resides the fullness of the Church that was established by Christ while still on earth, no canonically-elected Pope has ever fallen into any one of these three sins or combination thereof while reigning as Pope, despite repeated and apparent claims to the contrary, precisely because of this ongoing gift of prevenient grace. The above-referenced gift of grace, which has been granted to Peter and each one of his successors until the end of all time, is not provided by God for the personal benefit of the Pope. It is provided for the benefit of humanity so that the ark of salvation which is the Church never fails and the gates of Hell do not prevail.

The true Church, therefore, can easily be discerned as being where the Pope is, in accordance with Saint Ambrose’s declaration, because it is the Pope and no one else who has been granted the divine gifts of the charism of truth and the charism of a faith that never fails.

The Magisterium of the Catholic Church – 1

The Nature of the Magisterium

The Magisterium of the Catholic Church is its authority to establish and teach the genuine and correct tenets of the Catholic Faith. That authority is vested uniquely in the reigning Pope and the bishops in communion with him worldwide. Together with Sacred Scripture and Tradition, the Magisterium is one of the three pillars upon which the Catholic Faith rests and by which it has been and keeps on being transmitted through generations.

Six levels exist to the Magisterium, the teaching authority, of the Catholic Church. The first five of these levels require as a minimum the religious assent of the Catholic faithful. The six levels consist of:

  1. Pronouncements of the Pope that are made ex cathedra (extraordinary magisterium);
  2. The Bishops in communion with the Pope, defining doctrine at a General Council (extraordinary magisterium);
  3. The Bishops in communion with the Pope and together with him, proposing definitely, dispersed, but in agreement (ordinary and universal magisterium);
  4. The Pope himself (ordinary magisterium);
  5. The Bishops in communion with the Pope (ordinary magisterium); and
  6. Theologians (magisterium cathedrae magistralis).

According to the declaration of Vatican Council I, all those things are to be believed with divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the Word written or handed down, and which the Church, either by a solemn judgment or by her ordinary and universal teaching magisterium, proposes for belief as having been divinely revealed (Dei Filius, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chapter III). Not everything contained in the statements of the ordinary magisterium is infallible. However, according to the declaration of Vatican Council II, the Catholic Church holds that infallibility is invested in the statements of its universal ordinary magisterium as follows:

Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim Christ’s doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held. This is even more clearly verified when, gathered together in an ecumenical council, they are teachers and judges of faith and morals for the universal Church, whose definitions must be adhered to with the submission of faith (Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, §25). Such teachings of the ordinary and universal magisterium are not given in a single, specific document. They are teachings upheld as authoritative, generally for a long time, by the body of bishops.

 

Discerning the true Church from the false church

1024px-Pope-peter_pprubens

The question was asked, “How does one discern the true Church from the false church?” The answer is simple. Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia, ibi Deus. Because Peter, the Vicar of Christ, the Pope, has been granted by God the special grace of a faith that will never fail, no matter his personal sinfulness and whatever the usual naysayers might claim, where there is Peter, there is Christ, there is the true Church, and there is God.

Signs of the times – Pope Francis

pope-francis-21152349-2-402

Just as when the fullness of time had arrived, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, heard the people screaming without abatement toward Him, “Crucify Him, crucify Him! He is a blasphemer, crucify Him!” so that the pathway to the Kingdom could be reopened for all humankind, so now does the Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis, the Head of the visible Church on earth, hear the rabid Judases within the Catholic Church similarly scream, “Crucify him, crucify him! He is a heretic, crucify Him!” Only in this way, through his Passion in the fullness of our time, shall the coming of the Kingdom on earth arrive.

Like the Master, the servant. Pray for Pope Francis that he remains strong in the face of his adversaries who are many, filled with hatred, and ruthless in their raging pride.

The Second Coming and false prophets in the Catholic Church

Christ3Some, even in the Catholic Church itself, are claiming openly that we are at the time of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This claim is demonstrably false.

First, no one knows the exact time of the end – the day and the hour – not even the Son; only the Almighty Father knows (Mt 24:36, Mk 13:32). Anyone who claims otherwise has either been deceived, is an outright liar, or is a drunk – or thinks he knows more than God and can revise Scripture.

Second, before the very time of the end, the era of peace – the era of the reign of Spirit, the era of the fourth stage of deification, the Kingdom of the Divine Will on earth – as described in Revelation 20 has to occur. It has not yet come. Only after that time period will the final battle take place, followed by the Second Coming of Christ in glory.

Third, the global illumination of all consciences as described in Joel 3:12 has not yet taken place. That illumination takes place before the Second Coming.

Fourth, as a consequence of the global illumination of consciences, all the various Christian denominations will unite under the aegis of the Catholic Church. All the schisms will be healed. Judaism and Christianity will also become united (CCC §674). This shall take place so that the light of the Gospel can reach all nations. It will take place before the final battle and the Second Coming. As we can see, none of that has yet occurred. Neither has the Great Persecution.

So, all of the above beg the question, “Where are we in salvation history?”

Ours, right now, is the time of the Third Passover – that time of the intermediate coming of Christ. What we are going through are the labor pains to usher in the era of peace, the era of the reign of the Father in the heart of the souls, the nous, of humanity. Here is a part from Saint Bernard of Clairvaux’s writings to clarify things for you about our present time:

At an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come . . . Do not just think about his first coming when he came “to seek and to save the lost;” think, too, of that other coming when he will come to take us with him . . . But there is a third coming between the two to which I have referred and those who know of it can rest in it for their greater happiness. The other two are visible but this one is not. In the first, “the Lord has appeared on earth and has spoken to us;” . . .  in the last, “all mankind shall see the salvation of God.” But the one that comes between them is secret; it is that in which the elect alone see the Savior within themselves and their souls find salvation. In his first coming, Christ came in our flesh and in our weakness; in his coming in the midst of time, he comes in Spirit and power; in his final coming, he will come in his glory and majesty (Saint Bernard, Sermons 4 et 5 for Advent).

This is the time of the coming of the Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven; the time we have all been praying for since Christ taught us the Our Father prayer. That is the time we are living in. Those who are expecting a manifest reign of Christ on earth are making the same error Judas Iscariot did when, at the time of the First Coming, he expected Christ to physically establish His kingdom on earth and overthrow Roman rule.

 

Is the death penalty just? – Response to a question

The question has been repeatedly asked, “Is the death penalty just?” Here is the response from the mind of the Church.

YOU SHALL NOT KILL

Pope Blessed Paul VI

“Go out into the world and make every effort possible in every way to restore the dignity of man, and all that it implies! I stand foursquare with modern theologians who hold that prudentially and historically capital punishment does not fit into the greater contemporary theological awareness of the worth of each individual on earth” (Speech to the Bishops at closing of Vatican Council II, Vatican City, 1965).

Note: Paul VI removed capital punishment from the fundamental law of Vatican City in 1969.


Pope Saint John Paul II

“On this matter there is a growing tendency, both in the Church and in civil society, to demand that it be applied in a very limited way or even that it be abolished completely. The problem must be viewed in the context of a system of penal justice ever more in line with human dignity and thus, in the end, with God’s plan for man and society. The primary purpose of the punishment which society inflicts is “to redress the disorder caused by the offence”.46 Public authority must redress the violation of personal and social rights by imposing on the offender an adequate punishment for the crime, as a condition for the offender to regain the exercise of his or her freedom. In this way authority also fulfils the purpose of defending public order and ensuring people’s safety, while at the same time offering the offender an incentive and help to change his or her behaviour and be rehabilitated. 

“It is clear that, for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent. In any event, the principle set forth in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church remains valid: ‘If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person’” (Encyclical, Evangelium Vitae ¶56, 1995).  (more…)