Understanding the how’s and why’s of the need for our salvation in Christ is essential to our understanding of the truths of the Catholic faith

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by Doug Lawrence

For why did Christ, when as yet we were weak, according to the time, die for the ungodly? For scarce for a just man will one die: yet perhaps for a good man some one would dare to die. But God commendeth his charity (love) towards us: because when as yet we were sinners according to the time. Christ died for us.

Much more therefore, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son: much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Romans 5:6-10)

Life is a winner-take-all contest,
with one of only two possible outcomes:
Heaven or Hell.

Thanks to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary, we get to freely choose sides. But it is also one of those “negative default” situations. Do nothing and you lose big –
and you may lose, forever!

That’s because – very early in man’s history – due to the deliberate, grave sin of our first parents, who pridefully teamed up with Satan the Devil, against God – the first man traded away his birthright and freedom for a lie – and all of mankind (even children and little babies) became hopelessly and permanently enslaved to Satan, sin and death.

Adam and Eve in the Garden by Michelangelo

How can that be? Children of slaves are born into slavery and so are themselves slaves, with only their slavery and Adam’s Original Sin for their inheritance. The Evil One had long ago, successfully usurped virtually everything else!

Hence, every child born of Adam, the first man – and all the children of his descendants – are born tainted by sin, and already, in a very real way, “pledged” to Satan the Devil and subject to his evil dominion of sin, death and Hell.

Without God’s powerful, awesomely creative, loving, merciful, and very timely intervention, things would have remained that way forever – dooming every human being – body and soul – to a decrepit, temporal earthly existence, followed by death – and then an eternity of supernatural bondage and unimaginable suffering, in Hell.

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In the fullness of time, God sent his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, into the world, to redeem us. Incarnate of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jesus is a perfect and sinless man, in no way subject
to Satan, sin or death.

Having taken on human flesh, as well as a human soul,
Jesus Christ is true man. Yet Jesus never ceased to be God. 

Satan has power only over sinners.
so he had no power or authority at all
over Our Holy Lord, Jesus Christ.
(John 14:27-30)

Even though he had been warned (see Genesis 3:15) Satan plotted to do his worst, enlisting his minions to put Jesus on trial and wrongfully convict him of blasphemy and sedition, leading shortly to Jesus’ crucifixion and death, which was followed three days hence by his glorious and totally unprecedented resurrection from the dead – proving that Jesus is God, just as he claimed – and that he does indeed have power over Satan, death and Hell.

God permitted all of this, as part of his plan for our salvation:

Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him, in the midst of you, as you also know: This same being delivered up, by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you by the hands of wicked men have crucified and slain. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the sorrows of hell, as it was impossible that he should be holden by it. (Acts 2:22-24)

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As Satan had absolutely no right to disturb so much as a hair on Jesus’ head, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ became Satan’s ultimate undoing. Satan’s earthly power and dominion was destroyed and virtually all that Satan had earlier gained by Adam’s Fall was forfeit.

Today, Satan is still permitted to wander the earth, but is allowed to recruit “fresh” minions only by default (Original Sin and concupiscence, along with the deliberate and willful rejection of the Gospel) and through the vain deceits of the world and the flesh (this should be self-explanatory). But thanks to the saving work of Jesus Christ, Satan’s time of virtually unrestrained power and near total dominion has long been officially over!

For our part, Jesus’ flawless obedience to his Father’s will – as a man – even unto death on the cross – served as the perfect atoning sacrifice for the disobedience, pride and sins of all mankind.

Through Jesus Christ, God the Father supplied what fallen mankind could not (Genesis 22:8) in order to reconcile Heaven and Earth and declare the Divine Peace.

The risen Christ also became the official new and sinless head of all mankind – offering grace, peace, reconciliation and eternal life to all who would reject Satan and his works – and swear faithful allegiance to the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

This would typically be accomplished through the Sacrament of Baptism, which would also entail, among many other good things, full and faithful membership in the universal (Catholic) Church, which Jesus personally founded, for the purpose of our salvation –  and for the salvation of future generations, yet to come.

A word about sacraments:

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Sacraments are defined as Christ-instituted, outward signs of a certain spiritual reality: divine grace being infused directly into a human soul. Since each of the sacraments was personally instituted by Jesus Christ, each sacrament constitutes nothing less than an intimate, personal encounter with Almighty God.

For those seeking a “relationship” with God – this is the ultimate and absolute best way to do it – personally recommended by none other than our Holy Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

There are seven sacraments – each intended to provide whatever is spiritually necessary for every faithful Catholic, at various stages of human existence. In no particular order, they are: (1) Baptism, (2) Reconciliation, (3) Holy Eucharist, (4) Confirmation, (5) Holy Orders, (6) Matrimony and (7) Anointing of the Sick.

These grace-giving sacraments are administered by the Catholic Church, which is the God-designated, primary earthly ministry of his divine grace – primarily through the work of duly ordained bishops and priests – the men who constitute the ranks of the Catholic Ministerial Priesthood.

The only exception to this is the sacrament of baptism, which can be administered by just about anyone, with due concern for proper form, matter and intention, of course.

A word about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass:

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The Holy Mass makes present for us, in this time and this age, the one time, once for all, perfect and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, at Calvary.

When Jesus Christ – body, blood, soul and divinity – under the appearance of ordinary bread and wine – becomes truly present for us on the altar – we are wonderfully empowered to collectively and personally offer Jesus up to God the Father – for our sins and the sins of the whole world.

Presented with this totally acceptable, holy and spotless sacrifice, Our Father in Heaven is always pleased, so he responds in love, and all graces flow.

Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of all Catholic worship – and the Holy Mass – centered on Jesus Christ – acts to constantly replenish the “well” of supernatural grace – obtained for us by the sufferings of Christ –  which is regularly poured out on behalf of sinners – much as Jesus’ precious blood was poured out for many, some twenty centuries ago, so that sins could be forgiven and the world might be redeemed and reconciled.

The next time you’re at Mass, pay particular attention the words leading up to the “Great Amen”. That’s the “sweet spot”. Of course, personally receiving Jesus Christ, in the Holy Eucharist, is also pretty sweet!

Fulfilling an ancient Bible prophecy:

For most of the last two thousand years, a Holy Mass has been celebrated for the glory of God and for the salvation of souls, in many nations, all around the world – every hour of every day – every day of every year – 24/7 & 365.

For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a perfect offering: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 1:11)

Jesus IS the perfect and eternal sacrifice for the sins of the world. Wherever Jesus is, his atoning sacrifice is also truly present. That’s why we can truly say that the Holy Mass IS a genuine sacrifice – with Jesus Christ presiding as  perfect victim, High Priest, Savior, God and King.

If we Catholics attempted to worship God in any other way, offering a sacrifice other than Jesus Christ, our Holy Redeemer – we would probably be wasting our time – and his!  That’s why Catholics remain obligated to attend Holy Mass every Sunday – and on designated Holy Days. 

Saint Paul reminds us, in the words of Jesus Christ, that God’s grace is sufficient:

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.  (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Saint Paul also reminds us:

Therefore as by the offence of one [judgment came] upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [the free gift came] upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:18-21)

Forty Days after his glorious resurrection from the dead, Jesus ascended back to Heaven, where he was enthroned – body and spirit – at the right hand of God the Father – as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (1 Tim 6:15, Rev 17:14, Rev 19:16)

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Doing so, Jesus made permanent and eternal all that he had accomplished for us during his earthly existence. There was no going back, nor could there ever be any chance of another human Fall From Grace! The battle between good and evil had been definitively won by Jesus Christ – and it was all over, except for the fighting!

O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory? The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law. But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:55-58)

By divine mandate and through his supernatural protection, Jesus empowered his Holy Church to remain behind on earth – supernaturally preserved from destruction – serving as his primary channel of divine grace – for us – and for all the souls yet to be born.

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  (Matthew 16:18-19)

Grace is a totally gratuitous (absolutely free) gift from Almighty God – a share in his own divine life – obtained for us by Jesus Christ, on the cross at Calvary, at great personal cost – yet offered to us freely, in the spirit of love and eternal friendship, so that we might choose to cast off the shackles of eternal death and claim our rightful inheritance with God in Heaven, as adopted sons and daughters.

As a result of all this, Christians are justified before God (credited with righteousness – see Genesis 15:3-6) through faith in Jesus Christ.

Faith itself is a positive response to God’s grace and his call. (John 6:44)

Sanctification (becoming holy) is also a critical function of God’s grace – since God is holy and no one/nothing less than holy can live up to Heavenly standards. (Leviticus 11:45)

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The primary manifestation of our willing acceptance of God’s grace and our voluntary cooperation with his will is the Cardinal Virtue known as Faith, which is typically accompanied by two other Cardinal Virtues: Hope And Charity (Love).

Once a Christian is initially justified and sanctified before God through grace and Faith, the order of priority typically reverses – with Charity moving to the front – leaving  Hope solidly in the middle, and Faith acting as a  bulwark, keeping everything rightly ordered, balanced and in its’ proper place.

For baptized, faithful Christians, it works pretty much like this:

Love God. Love your neighbor. This is Practical Charity.

Love works no ill to his neighbor:
therefore love [is] the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:10)

Responding to God’s grace, through Love
we keep all God’s Commandments.

Giving freely of ourselves in Faith,
while constantly striving to cooperate with his grace,
we Hope to merit eternal life. 

All should take note

… without faith [it is] impossible to please God: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.  (Hebrews 11:6)

Hebrews 11:1-40 is probably the greatest litany of faith ever written. Look it up and read it for yourself.

A constant teaching of the Catholic Church, from the earliest days, is: Outside the Church There Is No Salvation. That’s because full, faithful and active membership in the Catholic Church is the divinely-designated, Christ-instituted, “ordinary” means of obtaining  the necessary measure of God’s saving grace, for all those alive here on earth.

When God gives us a gift, he expects us to use it, in the spirit in which it was given. Jesus Christ instituted the Catholic Church for the purpose of our salvation – for the care of souls – for the common good of all mankind – for teaching, sanctifying and rightly governing –
with power and authority – in his holy name.

Jesus never founded or authorized any other church! To the contrary:

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gave to me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
(John 17:21-23)

A synthesis of all damnable heresies:

According to the personal opinions of many of today’s highly placed religious leaders and politicians, as well as a fair number of “regular” Catholics and even some Catholic clerics  – God is love and love conquers all – so there’s no need to worry about Jesus, church, grace, truth, commandments, life, death, Heaven or Hell, one’s personal religious beliefs/affiliation – or much of anything else.

“Just BE nice,” they say!

To the contrary,
in accordance with settled Catholic dogma (and common sense)
salvation by any other means,
other than a lifetime of full, faithful, active membership
in the Catholic Church – the only Church that Jesus Christ
ever personally founded, authorized,
supernaturally empowered and eternally guaranteed –
is likely to require a great miracle.

And miracles continue to be very, very rare!

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The sacred scriptures rightly remind us:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  (John 3:16-18)

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.  (Hebrews 11:6)

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, [even] by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.  (Acts 4:10-12)

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Of course, God is sovereign, merciful,
loving, all-knowing  and all-powerful,
so he might decide to save anyone – of any faith – or no faith at all –
for any reason – or for no reason at all!

In such an event, salvation would still be obtained
only by the divine application of that saving grace
which was obtained for us by Jesus Christ,
on the cross, at Calvary.

So it is possible that non-Catholics, non-Christians, and virtually anyone might be saved – but is that likely?

  Let’s focus on the definition of the word “might”:

might 2  (mt)

aux.v. Past tense of may

1.

a. Used to indicate a condition or state contrary to fact: She might help if she knew the truth.
b. Used to indicate a possibility or probability that is weaker than may: We might discover a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
2. Used to express possibility or probability or permission in the past: She told him yesterday he might not go on the trip.
3. Used to express a higher degree of deference or politeness than may, ought, or should: Might I express my opinion?

The Bottom Line

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There is no substitute for a lifetime
of fervent prayer and practical religious study
combined with full, faithful and regular participation
in all of the work, worship, sacraments and devotions
of the Catholic Church. 

Please share this Thanksgiving message of grace and salvation
with your friends and family.

A short but comprehensive review of the Catholic Faith (PDF)

Further study

The Vatican II document Nostre Aetate states neither what recent Popes nor today’s Jews often claim it does.

Abraham and Isaac Laurent de La Hire, 1650

by Doug Lawrence

Reading this, try to keep in mind that the Tribe of Judah (a.k.a. “The Jews”) comes from the stock of Abraham – the Father of Our Faith – and not the other way around!

The segment of the Vatican II document Nostre Aetate specifically dealing with the relationship of the Catholic Church to the Jews: 

4. As the sacred synod searches into the mystery of the Church, it remembers the bond that spiritually ties the people of the New Covenant to Abraham’s stock.

Thus the Church of Christ acknowledges that, according to God’s saving design, the beginnings of her faith and her election are found already among the Patriarchs, Moses and the prophets. She professes that all who believe in Christ-Abraham’s sons according to faith (6)-are included in the same Patriarch’s call, and likewise that the salvation of the Church is mysteriously foreshadowed by the chosen people’s exodus from the land of bondage. The Church, therefore, cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in His inexpressible mercy concluded the Ancient Covenant. Nor can she forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles.(7) Indeed, the Church believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles. making both one in Himself.(8)

The Church keeps ever in mind the words of the Apostle about his kinsmen: “theirs is the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the law and the worship and the promises; theirs are the fathers and from them is the Christ according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:4-5)*, the Son of the Virgin Mary. She also recalls that the Apostles, the Church’s main-stay and pillars, as well as most of the early disciples who proclaimed Christ’s Gospel to the world, sprang from the Jewish people. *(This passage was badly misinterpreted in the original 1994 edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and was, after some controversy, later corrected by the U.S. Catholic bishops, in a secret ballot.)

As Holy Scripture testifies, Jerusalem did not recognize the time of her visitation,(9) nor did the Jews in large number, accept the Gospel; indeed not a few opposed its spreading.(10) Nevertheless, God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues-such is the witness of the Apostle.(11) In company with the Prophets and the same Apostle, the Church awaits that day, known to God alone, on which all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and “serve him shoulder to shoulder” (Soph. 3:9).(12)

Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is thus so great, this sacred synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues.

True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ;(13) still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ.

Furthermore, in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel’s spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.

Besides, as the Church has always held and holds now, Christ underwent His passion and death freely, because of the sins of men and out of infinite love, in order that all may reach salvation. It is, therefore, the burden of the Church’s preaching to proclaim the cross of Christ as the sign of God’s all-embracing love and as the fountain from which every grace flows.

5. We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God. Man’s relation to God the Father and his relation to men his brothers are so linked together that Scripture says: “He who does not love does not know God” (1 John 4:8).

No foundation therefore remains for any theory or practice that leads to discrimination between man and man or people and people, so far as their human dignity and the rights flowing from it are concerned.

The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion. On the contrary, following in the footsteps of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, this sacred synod ardently implores the Christian faithful to “maintain good fellowship among the nations” (1 Peter 2:12), and, if possible, to live for their part in peace with all men,(14) so that they may truly be sons of the Father who is in heaven.(15)

Read the entire document

A Few Scriptural highlights:

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren… (Matthew 1:1-2)

I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living… (Matthew 22:32)

As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever… (Luke 1:55)

Blessed [be] the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy [promised] to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham… (Luke 1:68-73)

Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw [it], and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am… (John 8:53-58)

The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let [him] go… (Acts 3:13)

Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed… (Acts 3:25)

And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so [Abraham] begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac [begat] Jacob; and Jacob [begat] the twelve patriarchs… (Acts 7:8)

Men [and] brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent… (Acts 13:26)

What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath [whereof] to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness… (Romans 4:1-5)

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, [was] not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law [be] heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, [there is] no transgression. Therefore [it is] of faith, that [it might be] by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all… (Romans 4:13-16)

I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, [of] the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to [the image of] Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace… (Romans 11:1-5)

Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, [saying], In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, [it is] evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though [it be] but a man’s covenant, yet [if it be] confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, [that] the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance [be] of the law, [it is] no more of promise: but God gave [it] to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then [serveth] the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; [and it was] ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not [a mediator] of one, but God is one. [Is] the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye [be] Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise… (Galatians 3:6-29)

Editor’s note: Despite all the flowery prose, along with certain modernist errors and omissions contained in the Nostre Aetate document, there exists a world of difference (as well as the practical hope of eternal salvation) between a Jewish person who is merely a naturally born child of God, still steeped in Original Sin, not yet redeemed from eternal slavery to Satan, sin and death – and a faithful, baptized Catholic Christian who is a living Temple of the Holy Spirit, a member of the Church, an adopted child of God, a Citizen of Heaven and co-heir with Jesus Christ to all the gratuitous promises of God.

The purpose of genuine Evangelization is to reach out in love to all the unbaptized, without exception, and to freely offer them God’s wonderful gift of salvation and grace, according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not to falsely patronize and mislead them!

The rational logic of Nostre Aetate must also work both ways: Just as  what happened at Christ’s passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor (exclusively) against the Jews of today – neither can the horrors of the Holocaust be charged against all non-Jews, without  distinction, then alive, nor against non-Jews (especially Catholics) of today.

The simple fact remains that there is no basis for unjust discrimination against the Jewish people, or against any individual Jewish person. Our Christian faith calls us to love God and to love our neighbor, with very few exceptions.

There is however, a tremendous distinction between the beliefs and practices of various forms of modern Judaism, loosely defined as Jewish Naturalism, and the authentic beliefs and practices of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church of Jesus Christ – differences so great as to be irreconcilable by anyone other than God, himself. 

Due largely in part to their continued denial and rejection of Jesus Christ as God, Messiah and Savior and their emphasis instead, on justification under the Law (attempting to keep the Ten Commandments and all the other ordinances and statutes of the old, Mosaic Law) today’s Jews have much in common with the Muslims, as Muslim Sharia Law is essentially nothing more than a regional/national variation of the old, Mosaic Law – which never has been capable of saving a soul. For if that were the case, there would have been no need for Jesus Christ, our Holy Redeemer, to take on flesh, live, suffer, die and rise again, as our propitiation for sin, according to the will of God the Father.

Contrary to the novelties of the last fifty years, these very substantial differences in beliefs are  not something we Catholics would want to gloss over, condone, or celebrate – although friends may be able to agree to disagree on such matters.

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, [even] by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:10-12)

A Reflection on the Modern Error of Preaching Mercy without Repentance

judgmentsisenh

There are of course many ways of describing the pastoral, liturgical and theological struggles of our day. But one very simple way of describing current problems that touches on all these areas is simply this:  that a presumptive attitude of mercy without repentance is both taught and widely held by far too many modern Catholics, and other Christians. (Editor’s note: And evidently – certain Roman Catholic Popes.)

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A close brush with death and hellfire – and the importance of little “small-minded” rules

aerobat

Before

crash

After

– All for want of a little, small-minded rule

by Doug Lawrence

I had successfully reached the ripe old age of eighteen years and I had a private pilot license, several long-distance over water flights , and well over one hundred hours of flying time dutifully recorded in my pilot log book. I was at the peak of my physical powers, had excellent hand-eye coordination and was well on my way to obtaining a commercial pilot license and certified flight instructor rating. There was however, one realm of flight that I had yet to master – aerobatics – “stunt flying” – and that would soon be remedied.

A spiffy new aerobatic trainer had recently arrived at our local field (Midway Airport, in Chicago) and is was a thing of beauty. With it, along with an as yet undetermined amount of expert instruction, I was reasonably certain that I would soon master the art of looping, rolling – and all the other major departures from straight and level flying.

A cool fall morning soon presented itself, so I arranged to take a day off from work, rendezvoused with my favorite aerobatics instructor, “strapped on” the hot little Cessna 150 Aerobat and was shortly winging my way westward – and upward – to the local practice area.  Four hours later I had been quite properly introduced to all the basic aerobatic maneuvers, including a totally optional – but very impressive – “short” landing technique that used only a couple of hundred feet of runway – instead of the usual six hundred feet or more, typically required.

All this was, I thought,  a bit like flying a “magic carpet” – and really not all that difficult to do!

I dropped my instructor off, filled up with gas and headed back out, to practice. The weather was changing and the wind speeds near the ground were kicking up, but conditions at altitude still looked pretty good. Only now, I no longer had the calm voice of experience sitting next to me. I would instead, have to rely on known,  tried and true, well established procedures and techniques in order to safely execute all the various maneuvers, I even brought along a “cheat sheet” with  both text and handy diagrams.

Two and a half hours later, fully “wrung out” – dog tired – and more than a bit “queasy” – I was ready to head back home. Besides, a nasty cold front was pushing through, dropping the temperature by twelve to fifteen degrees, generating some low clouds and a bit of rain, along with strong, gusty northwest winds. It was high time to get back on the ground!

The late afternoon air traffic at Midway was already pretty heavy, landing on runways 31 left and 31 right, which was almost directly aligned with the prevailing wind direction – providing me with a solid ten knot headwind component – something which would certainly enhance that “short landing” technique I had earlier practiced. I figured I would give that another  try – and see how quickly I could get the airplane down – and stopped.

Now well into my final approach – engine power reduced and wing flaps deployed – it appeared as though I was making almost no forward progress – which was weird, as well as a bit scary. I don’t think I had ever flown so slowly in my entire flying career. But things were otherwise, looking very good – right up until I ran into some unexpected and fairly severe low level turbulence.

Correcting for the wind and the gusts with engine power was my only remaining option. I was almost there – about one hundred feet off the ground and right over the big, white numbers, painted on the runway. Then, it felt like “the bottom suddenly dropped out”. One moment, I was happily flying along. The next, the airplane was plunging, like the proverbial  stone.

I quickly added full power. The plane’s nose pitched sharply down. I could see those big, white runway numbers now – getting even bigger – filling up the windscreen.  My vision narrowed. I sensed a strong, metallic taste in the back of my throat. Time seemed compressed. There was nothing else I could do. Then everything went “black”.

Some time later, I regained consciousness, still securely strapped into the cockpit, still looking straight down – the plane’s nose vertically stuck into the ground like a big lawn dart – smack-dab in the middle of runway 31- and right on the numbers.

Aerobatic seat belts are stoutly constructed and designed to keep the pilot securely in place, even when upside down. This belt system had done its job. The airplane had one other useful feature – a handy little grab ring/ripcord – with a steel cable, leading to a pull-pin that allowed the pilot to quickly jettison the entire entry door, in case of urgent necessity.

Things were also starting to get a bit toasty as flames began to penetrate the cockpit and quickly climb up both sides of the doomed aircraft. There should have been at least eight or ten gallons of fuel remaining in the plane’s wing tanks, and I didn’t want to still be sitting there when that went up. It was definitely time to go, so I yanked on the rip cord. The pilot’s side door fell away and I scrambled out and down and off to the side of the runway. A few seconds later, with a big “whoosh” and a “bang” – the fuel tanks exploded and the little plane was instantly and totally engulfed. The fire department arrived a bit later and swept up what was left of the flaming debris – a bit of the tail, along with the pretzeled propeller, still attached to the now very well-done engine.

It wasn’t pretty. I lost a few personal items to the flames and would have a whopping insurance deductible to pay, but I had no reason to complain. Except for a few minor bruises, I was physically unharmed – praise God!

After a short but very pertinent discussion with a local FAA official, my flight instructor appeared, asking me what had happened. I told him I did the landing just as we had practiced, earlier in the day – only this time, something went wrong – at the very last minute. Exactly what – I did not know.

Then we got a similar airplane – one that hadn’t crashed and burned, as yet – and went back up to do some more flying – even attempting the exact same landing – this time, with much better results. Everything went flawlessly. We figured out exactly what went wrong, too. It had something to do with a “little rule” that my instructor had somehow forgotten to mention – probably because the morning’s weather conditions were so calm and so clear.

The “small-minded little rule” that might have saved me and my airplane

“When landing in turbulent conditions, add half the steady-state wind speed plus half the gust velocity to the standard approach speed. Minimize the use of wing flaps – and don’t try anything fancy!”

Now he tells me!

Pope Francis on “small-minded rules” and the Catholic Church

True story. Photos simulated.

Unexpected resistance to “The New Evangelization”

Once upon a time on a sunny Saturday afternoon during the New Springtime following the Second Vatican Council, a well-meaning Catholic man worked up the courage to invite his Methodist neighbor to join him for Holy Mass.

After Mass the following morning, while enjoying coffee and donuts in the multi-purpose room (sponsored by the Knights of Columbus), the Methodist talked about how at home he felt and how comfortable the entire “service” was for him.

The Catholic wasted little time in seizing the opportunity to suggest that perhaps his neighbor might wish to avail himself of the unity for which Our Lord prayed by converting to the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

The Methodist, unfazed, wiped a dollop of Bavarian cream from his chin and replied, “Thanks for the offer, friend, but as you know, I am validly baptized. In other words, I received the Holy Spirit just as you did in your baptism, and it’s the Spirit that brings us into intimate union with Christ, so that He is the principle of the Church’s unity. Clearly I am not lacking in unity!”

Disarmed but not discouraged, the new evangelist laid hold of the big guns, firing back, “Yes, but the Catholic Church is the solitary means of salvation established by Christ.”

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The writings of ecumenical theologians often suffer from “significant silence” on key points of Catholic doctrine that interfere with their ecumenical designs.

• Outside the Church there is no salvation: The Council of Florence teaches infallibly “The Most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, heretics, and schismatic can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire ‘which was prepared for the devil and his angels,’ (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her…” [29];

This doctrine has been infallibly defined three times and taught continually throughout the centuries by the ordinary magisterium, such as the repeated papal condemnations of religious indifferentism in the 19th Century, and by Pius XII’s Humani Generis. There is nothing cruel or “anti-semitic” about this dogma, as it has been taught by the Church since the time of Christ and flows from the words of Our Lord Himself: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:16).

• Catholic Doctrine Cannot Change: It is the very nature of reality itself that objective truth cannot change. Thus what the Council of Florence defined is infallibly true for all time. Even a Pope cannot alter it. [30] And Vatican II, which is only a pastoral Council that formally defined nothing, cannot change doctrine at all. [31] Further, Vatican I formally stamped out any idea of an “evolution of doctrine” when it taught that we are bound to believe Catholic doctrine “in the same meaning and in the same explanation” of what the Church always taught without change. Vatican I further taught infallibly, “The meaning of Sacred Dogmas, which must always be preserved, is that which our Holy Mother the Church has determined. Never is it permissible to depart from this in the name of a deeper understanding.” [32]

• The Old Covenant is Superseded by the New: Thus one can no longer speak of Jews as having their own covenant with God, or exercising some sort of fidelity in light of the fact of their once-held status as the Chosen People. [33]

The eminent theologian Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton explains the perennial Catholic teaching on this matter that the word “Church” has one meaning. It is the Kingdom of God on earth; the people of the Divine Covenant, the true Israel of God, the one social unit outside of which salvation cannot be found. Prior to the coming of Christ, this ecclesia, this people of the Divine Covenant had been the people of Israel. But when they rejected Our Lord Jesus Christ, they lost their status as the true Israel of God. Modern-day Jews cannot truly be considered sons of Abraham, since they have forsaken the Faith of Abraham in regard to Jesus Christ our Redeemer. [34]

Thus, to speak as if today’s Jews have no need to convert is contrary to Scripture, contrary to the infallible Catholic doctrine of the centuries, and a supreme lack of charity. Jews, as well as all non-Catholics, need to be told in Christ-like charity, and with no bitterness, that it is crucial for them to accept Christ and His Catholic Church as the one and only means established by God for salvation.

In doing this, one can readily adopt the gentle wording of the moral theologian Father Francis Connell who said in 1944 that Catholics need to be instructed to tell non-Catholics when asked that “we consider them deprived of the ordinary means of salvation, no matter how excellent their intentions.” [35]

• The Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms: Our Catholic Faith has always taught that all of mankind is divided into two Kingdoms. As Leo XIII teaches in Humanum Genus, from the time of Adam, mankind “separated into two diverse and opposite parts,” the one that holds steadfastly for truth, and the other of those that are contrary to virtue and to truth. “The one is the kingdom of God on earth, namely, the true Church of Jesus Christ; and those who desire from their heart to be united with it, so as to gain salvation … The other is the kingdom of Satan, in whose possession and control are all whosoever follow the fatal example of their leader and of our first parents, those who refuse to obey the divine and eternal law…” [36]

Every man on earth is part of one of these two kingdoms.
There is no third alternative.

Unfortunately – speaking in the objective order — all who are separated from the Church are part of the Kingdom of Satan, whether they recognize it or not. They are outside the reality of sanctifying grace, and membership in our Lord’s ecclesia.

Msgr. Fenton explains, “In rejecting the Redeemer Himself, the social unit [the old Jewish religious commonwealth] had automatically rejected the teaching God had given about Him. The rejection of this message constituted an abandonment of the Divine Faith itself. By manifesting this rejecting of the faith, the Jewish religious unit fell from its position as the company of the chosen people. It was no longer God’s ecclesia, His supernatural kingdom on earth. It became part of the kingdom of Satan.” [37]

Fenton continues, “At the moment of Our Lord’s death on Calvary, the moment when the old dispensation was ended and the Jewish religious association ceased to be the supernatural kingdom of God on earth, this recently organized society of Our Lord’s disciples began to be the supernatural Kingdom of God on earth, this recently organized society of Our Lord’s disciples began to exist as the ecclesia, or the kingdom.” [38]

Pretending modern-day Jews enjoy some of third alternative of fidelity to God is a rupture with the teaching of the Sacred Scripture and with Catholic doctrine of all time. The true doctrine of the Catholic Church throughout the centuries cannot be denounced as being somehow cruel or “anti-Semitic”, for to accuse God and His beautiful Divine Revelation as cruel is a manifestation of blasphemy.

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Judaism and the Catholic Church: before and after Vatican II

The key text of Nostra Aetate on this point is in the document’s fourth chapter:

Given this great spiritual heritage common to Christians and Jews, it is the wish of this sacred Council to foster and recommend a mutual knowledge and esteem… the Jews should not be presented as rejected by God or accursed, as though this follows from Scripture… The Church… deplores all hatred, persecution and other manifestations of anti-semitism, whatever the period and whoever was responsible.

Of course, no Catholic may favor the mistreatment of Jews or of anyone else. This is a given. What’s troubling, however, is the ambiguity contained in the phrase, “The Jews should not be presented as rejected by God or accursed, as though this follows from Scripture.”

This phrase lacks necessary distinctions.

Firstly, all of us are members of an “accursed race” – the human race. None of us are born Catholic, but enter this world stained with original sin as children of Adam and Eve. We are thus born, as Blessed Abbot Marmion explains, “enemies of God.” [5] The Psalms teach, “Indeed in guilt was I born and in sin my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 5:7) St. Paul affirms, “For we are by nature children of wrath.” (Eph. 2:3). We are all born as part of the Kingdom of Satan.

To be freed from this kingdom, we need to be “saved”. The eminent Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton explains, the process of salvation requires a transfer from the Kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom of God, according to the age-old doctrine of the Two Kingdoms,[6] is the Catholic Church, the one and only supernatural society established by Christ in which salvation can be found.

The process of salvation, as Fenton notes, is similar to being saved from a sinking rowboat wherein the individual is sure to perish, and being transferred to a sea-worthy ocean liner. This necessary transfer from the Kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of God requires Baptism and acceptance of the Jesus Christ and his Divine Revelation. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved. He who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:6) This teaching applies to all people on earth, whether they be Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or secular humanist.

We are all thus born as part of an “accursed race.” The only way to free ourselves from this curse, the only way out of the kingdom of Satan, is to leave the devil’s empire and transfer into Christ’s one true Church, and to keep oneself in the state of grace by means of prayer and the sacraments.

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