What is a Catholic required to believe?

AlHeiitzCommunion

In the chaos that has followed the Second Vatican Council, it is necessary that the faithful have a correct understanding Papal Infallibility, as well as its limitations, lest the understandably confused or scandalized Catholic be led into error in one direction or the other.

The Charism:

Infallibility is a negative charism (gratia gratis data) that prevents the possibility of error.  It is not to be confused withinspiration, which is a positive divine influence that moves and controls a human agent in what he says or writes; nor is it to be confused with Revelation, which is the communication of some truth by God through means which are beyond the ordinary course of nature.  Infallibility pertains to the safeguarding and explanation of truths already revealed by God.  Since infallibility is only a negative charism, it does not inspire a pope to teach what is true or even defend revealed truths, nor does it “make the pope’s will the ultimate standard of truth and goodness” (2), but simply prevents him from teaching error under certain limited conditions.  During an address given at the First Vatican Council, Bishop Grasser, who was referred to as “the most prominent theologian at the Council”, said the following:

“In no sense is pontifical infallibility absolute, because absolute infallibility belongs to God alone, Who is the first and essential truth and Who is never able to deceive or be deceived. All other infallibility, as communicated for a specific purpose, has its limits and its conditions under which it is considered to be present. The same is valid in reference to the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff. For this infallibility is bound by certain limits and conditions…”

The conditions for Papal Infallibility were subsequently defined by the First Vatican Council as follows:

“We teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals”.

Here we see that the divine assistance is present only when a pope, (a) using his supreme apostolic authority (b) defines a doctrine, (c) concerning faith and morals, (d) to be held by the universal Church.  If any of these conditions are lacking, infallibility is not engaged and error is possible.

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Editor’s note: The first Vatican Council was never officially brought to a close, so technically, Vatican II was merely an extension of Vatican I. Yet those who ratified Vatican II never even mentioned the still open and unfinished Vatican I. If that sounds confusing to you, you have plenty of company.

We know that God is not the author of confusion. That leaves only two other choices: Man and/or the devil!

An interesting article on law and justice, particularly as it applies to the Catholic Church

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Moses receiving the Ten Commandments

The Catholic understanding of law that dominated the Western world for approximately a millennium and a half differs radically from the concept of law that emerged around the time of the Enlightenment. In fact the Catholic understanding, albeit a less precise articulation of it, traces its origins to the pre-Christian ancient world.[1]

God created not only the visible, tangible universe but also created law. The eternal law which is the rational plan of God for the universe is the first created law. As one medieval commentator expressed it, “God is himself law and therefore law is dear to Him.”[2] God did not create an unruly cosmos but one permeated with this eternal law which directs all of creation to its appointed end.

The summit of visible creation is Man. He is graced with a nature that reflects the Divine Nature itself. Man is thus called to participate in the eternal law and thus participate in God’s governance of creation. Not only does God entrust Man with the task of naming visible creatures, he is called to participate in the formation and promulgation of the laws by which Man himself will be ruled and guided to his due end. Just as a name brings greater specificity to an entity, so too Man’s participation in law will involve the task of particularizing the precepts of the eternal law.

Through his intellect, the point of contact with the eternal law, Man has the ability to come to know the most general legal principles, the precepts of Natural Law. These precepts command and forbid actions which conform to and obstruct, respectively, the attainment of Man’s natural and supernatural ends. Yet, these precepts are framed in general and universal terms. As a result of the Fall, Man’s participation in this process is afflicted by the wounds of sin and thus God promulgated an additional law, the divine law, to aid Man in his acquisition of knowledge of the primary precepts of law.

The Decalogue is the prime example of the divine law which did not alter the moral status of the operations specified in its ten precepts but which merely provided revealed knowledge of these precepts. Thus revelation and reason together provide Man with a means of knowing the fundamental precepts of the law which rules the universe.

Yet, the precepts of natural and divine law remain general in their formulation. They require further specification to be useful in guiding particular human action. It is to this task that Man has received a Divine call to participate. Ecclesiastical and secular authorities are commissioned by God to determine more particular principles and precepts of the divine and natural law to guide with greater specificity human action.

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Ecumenical Christian Scandal: The Paganization/Gnosticization of New Testament Bible Studies.

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Pagan Gnosticism Is Modernist Christian Babel

Given the institutions where I have taught during my professional life, it is appropriate to begin my overview of the Paganization/Gnosticization of NT Studies with a quote from J. Gresham Machen, speaking of the inroads of Liberalism into the American church at the beginning of the last century:

“The truth is that liberalism has lost sight of the very centre and core of the Christian teaching. In the Christian view of God as set forth in the Bible, there are many elements. But one attribute of God is absolutely fundamental in the Bible; one attribute is absolutely necessary in order to render intelligible all the rest. That attribute is the awful transcendence of God. From beginning to end the Bible is concerned to set forth the awful gulf that separates the creature from the Creator. It is true, indeed, that according to the Bible God is immanent in the world. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without Him. But He is immanent in the world not because He is identified with the world, but because He is the free Creator and upholder of it. Between the creature and the Creator a great gulf is fixed.

To be sure, Machen does mention Gnosticism, but he does define the essence it religious belief. Gnosticism, which builds on the common pagan notion of humanity as divine. Plato taught that the soul “was immortal by its very nature.” This notion is integrated into Jewish thinking by Philo, and developed by later Gnosticism as the alien “divine spark” within humanity.

Hans Jonas defines Gnosticism as radically dualistic–a dualism between man and the world, “an anthropological acosmism.” “The essence of man is knowledge, of the self and God.”

As the famous Messina Colloquium on Gnosticism in 1966 clearly recognized, “the idea of divine consubstantiality” is a defining notion of Gnosticism. Such a notion effectively eliminates the uniqueness and transcendence of God.

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What should be a warning to all: A study of St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings about the workings of the devil.

As already noted, the devil is always ready to make provocative suggestions to us, to work on our prejudices, our sexual weaknesses, our temperamental flaws, our developed habits of sinfulness of some type or degree, to weaken or destroy our vocation as spouse or religious or cleric, even attempting to turn our virtues against us. Nevertheless, our free will and therefore our responsibility and thus culpability remain more or less in each instance.

A question remains why God allows the devil–that angel who himself first sinned against God and is doomed to eternal punishment to tempt man to sin–to roam the earth in search of others to join him in his rebellion. This is a mystery as much as the existence of sin is a mystery, the mystery of iniquity. By his sin the devil lost nothing of his native or natural capabilities, especially his free will. Although by his sin he is no longer capable of turning back to God, yet for God’s purposes he is still free, as he was with our first parents, to influence inferior creatures. Thus “it belongs to the domain of the divine majesty, to whom the demons are subject, that God should employ them to whatever purpose he wills” (ST II-II:96:2:3).

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O ye of little faith (here’s a shot in the arm)

Never one to simply collapse under pressure or discouragement I took up the challenge to assemble the Biblical evidence as to Jesus’ Divinity. It is remarkably rich and consistent throughout all the New Testament Books as you shall see. In this article I give the scripture citations for the most part but cannot include most of the texts in the article since they are so numerous that they would eclipse the article itself. Perhaps at some point in the future I will publish a version with all the citations spelled out. For now, let these suffice to show forth a glorious Scriptural affirmation of the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is Lord.

1. Clearly this is a dogma of the Faith (de Fide). The divinity and divine Sonship of Jesus is expressed in all the creeds. This is perhaps most clearly stated in the Athanasian Creed (Quicumque):”…we believe and confess that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is God and man. He is God begotten of the substance of the Father before all ages and man born in time of the substance of His Mother. He is Perfect God and perfect man.”

2. There are many passages in the Old Testament that express the qualities of the coming Messiah, among them are some very exalted titles:

  • a prophet – (Dt. 18:15,18)
  • a priest – (Psalm 109:4)
  • a shepherd – (Ez 34:23ff)
  • King and Lord – (Ps 2; Ps 44; Ps 109; Zach 9:9)
  • a suffering servant – (Is. 53)
  • the Son of God – (Ps 2:7; 109:3)
  • God with us (Emmanuel) – (Is 7:14; Is 8:8)
  • Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Father of the world to come, Prince of Peace – (Is 9:6)
  • Eternal King – (Dan 7:14)

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Cheap publicity: Vatican refuses admission to man wearing a skirt.

“I didn’t know till I reached the Vatican that the dress code requires shoulders and knees to be covered. Mine were covered, though I was in a skirt, but when I said I wasn’t Scottish, the person at the gate wouldn’t let me through,” he said. The person seemed to be a priest – he was in a white buttoned smock.

“I was thrilled to be at the Vatican, I’m Roman Catholic, named after the Roman Caesar, I was in his city, my work deals with the Pieta, I was wearing Roman-inspired clothing, thinking in this visit, destiny completes itself.”

Clearly, it was not to be. The person at the gate pointed to his skirt, and said, ‘You cannot go in. If you argue, I’ll call the police.”

Link

Editor’s note: JPII may have apologized to Galileo, but it’s nice to see the Vatican refusing to cave in to “space cadets” like this guy, whose “destiny” was obviously “completed” quite differently than he had imagined.

Only two options: Jesus Christ was either God … or he was a bad man.


Unbelievers almost always say he was a good man, not a bad man; that he was a great moral teacher, a sage, a philosopher, a moralist, and a prophet, not a criminal, not a man who deserved to be crucified. But a good man is the one thing he could not possibly have been according to simple common sense and logic. For he claimed to be God. He said, “Before Abraham was, I Am”, thus speaking the word no Jew dares to speak because it is God’s own private name, spoken by God himself to Moses at the burning bush. Jesus wanted everyone to believe that he was God. He wanted people to worship him. He claimed to forgive everyone’s sins against everyone. (Who can do that but God, the One offended in every sin?)

Now what would we think of a person who went around making these claims today? Certainly not that he was a good man or a sage. There are only two possibilities: he either speaks the truth or not. If he speaks the truth, he is God and the case is closed. We must believe him and worship him. If he does not speak the truth, then he is not God but a mere man. But a mere man who wants you to worship him as God is not a good man. He is a very bad man indeed, either morally or intellectually. If he knows that he is not God, then he is morally bad, a liar trying deliberately to deceive you into blasphemy. If he does not know that he is not God, if he sincerely thinks he is God, then he is intellectually bad — in fact, insane.

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Jesus, God Man

Jesus working with Saint Joseph

In the very first chapter of his Gospel, the apostle John tells us nearly everything we need to know about Jesus, the God Man.

To avoid confusion: We are speaking here primarily of the Apostle John, not John the Baptist. The Baptist was a prophet and the cousin of Jesus, six months his senior. King Herod beheaded John the Baptist a short time after the baptism of our Lord.

The Baptist is a primary figure in the first chapter of the Gospel of John, so people often get the two mixed up. The Apostle John, known as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, became the last of the Apostles, the sole survivor, elder “churchman” and the world’s only remaining eyewitness for Christ.

He spoke of his closest friend, a marvelous, Spirit-filled man who was God Himself, come down from heaven in the flesh, to save mankind: Jesus, the Lamb, the risen Christ. John spoke also of their mother, Mary. After all, it was Jesus Himself, who, moments before He died, entrusted His mother to John’s care (and empowered His mother to care for all of us.)

John 19:25 – 27  Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.

Many who heard him believed. John was powerful in the Holy Spirit.

The Romans didn’t like what he preached, so they tried to kill him by boiling him in oil, but John emerged from the ordeal unharmed. Not willing to risk the public embarrassment of another failed execution, they sent him into exile on the Aegean island of Patmos. From his meager base there, John worked tirelessly to share his unique, personal knowledge of Jesus with the budding Church.

One of the original Twelve (the only one with the courage to stand at the foot of the cross) and a Bishop personally ordained by Jesus, John’s authority and credentials were unquestionable. Those who were able would come to visit from all over the known world. Wouldn’t you?

The Epistles of St. Ignatius tell us much about what John’s friend and disciple, St. Polycarp, learned at John’s side. The Church (then, already known as “Catholic”) benefited immensely from these living links with the last Apostle.

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Prayer doesn’t change God’s mind. Prayer helps us to understand God’s will, and then act accordingly.

Watch the video

Honey, if you ever leave me, I’m going with you …

The Scripture says that a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife (Gen 2:24).

Now “cling” is a strong word. It means to stick like glue. Notice that a man does this. Boys run around and play the field, but a man looks for a wife and, finding her,  leaves his parents and clings to her. This is what a man does. He works hard to preserve union with his wife. He seeks to understand her needs and to provide, to be affectionate, affirming and encouraging. He confirms her authority over the children and teaches them to respect her.

Too many men today are passive husbands and fathers. But the Scriptures place on the man the first obligation to cling to his wife. When a marriage is in trouble it is usually the wife who calls me. This is already a sign of trouble since the Lord says that clinging is the essential role the man. If there is trouble he should be the first to notice it and to work to restore proper union with his wife.

It is true today that many men have little recourse if a wife simply wants to leave, no-fault divorce is too easy and is hard to fight . But of course the question is what did he do when he first saw trouble, first saw the unity of his marriage threatened.

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Please explain the idea of FREE-WILL

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Q: Please explain the idea of FREE-WILL.

I am a believer in God, but the concept of Free-will makes no sense—it is unexplainable?

A: This is an example of limited predestination, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

“Jesus handed over according to the definite plan of God”

599 Jesus’ violent death was not the result of chance in an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances, but is part of the mystery of God’s plan, as St. Peter explains to the Jews of Jerusalem in his first sermon on Pentecost: “This Jesus [was] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.”393 This Biblical language does not mean that those who handed him over were merely passive players in a scenario written in advance by God.394

600 To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of “predestination”, he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace: “In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”395 For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness.396

Note the two different “threads” that operate in the above statement.

God does what only God can do, knowing all and seeing all, from eternity.

Man does whatever he chooses, but in the end, God’s will always prevails, because God is more than capable of taking into account all the feeble and ill considered actions of mankind.

Those who deny free-will are more in line with Calvin’s discredited theory of  “double predestination” which makes life meaningless, salvation unnecessary, judgment a joke, and the concept of a redeemer essentially superfluous.

Why do humans have the fundamental belief that we are the end result of creation and therefore own the earth?

Q: Why do humans have the fundamental belief that we are the end result of creation and therefore own the earth?

A: The Judeo-Christian belief system and the Bible both agree that God created all things for his own pleasure, that he created man, and that God gave dominion over the whole earth to him.

Genesis 1: 27-28  And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth.

Furthermore, the facts seem to prove it.

Better ask Al Gore where your thought process went off the track, since he might be the only one smart enough to figure it out for you.

Did Jesus Have A Soul?

Q: Does Jesus have a soul?

A: Jesus has a divine Spirit and a human soul (to go with his now glorified body).

He couldn’t have been God without the first.

He couldn’t have been man without the second.