March 7, 2011
vol 22, no. 66
Just Following The Catechism
Lent is not only for prayer, penance, almsgiving and self-mortification, but also to share our holy Faith in all its fullness with others. Yes, call it proselytization or evangelization if you will, that's what the Apostles, Fathers, Saints, Doctors and true Popes always called it because Christ said just that in the Gospel of St. Mark and St. Matthew to go into the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. The tenets on which Jesus built His one, true and only Church upon the Rock of Peter and the very truths handed down through the evangelic traditions are found in every Catechism, a compilation of the truths and traditions we must follow and passed down and approved by the infallible, perennial Magisterium of the Church. If we are to proselytze the holy Faith especially to those who have been dumbed down by VaticanTwo-speak, they need to understand the uncompromising truths of the Catechism that all were taught before the Apostasy, words which leave no room for innovation, novelty or placating man, but rather fulfilling God's holy Will. If we cling to Catholic truth, we might wake up a few asleep in their Novus Ordo community comfort zones. Converting Catholics to true Catholicism. If we can do that, we can say we really accomplished something during Lent.
"The old catechisms all make it clear that there is only one saving Church, and they describe and document that Church in sufficient detail for any honest inquirer to be able to identify, by applying due diligence, the traditionalist Catholic Church as being alone that Church of all history. Let Frank read Sacred Scripture, all the Fathers and Doctors and Popes and Councils and saints and historic (that is, pre-Vatican II) theologians and catechisms, and what he must inevitably find is that they all directly and exclusively to us traditional Catholics alone. Accept no substitutes."
Recently, something I had written was challenged by a rather irate reader. I had mentioned that "The traditional Catholic avoids the Novus Ordo and instead attends a Tridentine Latin Mass at some supposedly 'forbidden' chapel because that is precisely what every pre-Vatican II Catechism teaches that he is supposed to do in order to save his soul." To this, my unfriendly correspondent responded, "Where does it say in any pre-Vatican II Catechism to go to chapels unrecognized by the pope..."
Where? I'll show you where. But I'm going to get around to that in my own way. Let me tell you a story:
A man walked into the rectory of a Novus Ordo priest with whom he had scheduled an appointment. The following is the conversation that ensued:
"Yes, that's me."
"Come right on in. Thank you for being on time for your appointment. How can I help you?"
"Um, Father... um - should I call you 'Father'?"
"Father Bob is OK, if you want to get formal, or you can call me Bob, whichever makes you comfortable."
"Well then, 'Bob' it is, I guess. So let me get down to business, Bob. First, I must give you some background on my life story. I am the second of four brothers raised in a Protestant (Baptist) family, and one thing we were taught was to respect the Bible, to read it, and to love our Lord Jesus Christ.
As a child, I simply accepted all that was presented to me as being what the Gospel was all about. I used to have such expectations that I actually thought that if I kept coming to church as much as possible I might find Jesus Christ there literally, paying a visit to this particular flock of His. That hope made everything that went on there take on the character of something most holy and sacred. I truly felt that I was in the house of God, and why shouldn't God at least occasionally pay a visit to His own house? Of course, as I grew older I learned about how He is in Heaven, and that such visits don't occur, at least not anything like that, and I began to read the Bible a great deal. I never stopped reading the Bible as it still gives me much enrichment every time I read it, as I always find something new in it, even in things I've read a hundred times.
In my late teens, it dawned on me that the Christianity described in the Bible actually had rather little resemblance to the Christianity that I had seen around me in my Baptist church all my life. The Bible contains so many things that were so obviously a part of the spiritual lives of the early Christians and which were not any part of my life, or the lives of any of my friends and family, as devout Baptists. A cursory visit to several other Protestant denominations simply showed more of the same. Something in me wanted to get closer to Jesus Christ, even if I could not see Him in physical person, as had the Apostles of old. But at least, it seemed to me, there somehow ought to be a church out there somewhere that had been around since the beginning, that knew all of these things in the Bible and what they meant, and how they could be lived in our lives today. This put me on what I think you could call a quest.
Fairly early on in that quest, it occurred to me that perhaps there might be other historical records of what happened next, of how Christians lived in those times, of how they understood the Bible. As you know, the New Testament ends with a powerful and thriving church that knows our Lord Jesus Christ, and that knows what it believes and what it is doing and where it is going, one that was determined to preach the Gospel clear to the ends of the earth. I soon learned of the early Fathers, and after wasting some time boring myself with various commentators on them, soon realized that the best thing to do was to simply begin reading them at length, their own writings, that is, rather than any mere commentary on them. I wanted to get as close as I could to the primary sources.
So I began reading, beginning with the Epistles of Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius, and Justin Martyr. To my amazement they pick up almost exactly where the Bible leaves off, at least historically, and clarified much as to what the early Christians believed and how they lived, specifically as Christians. With this my dissatisfaction with the Baptist church only deepened, and it soon dawned on me that the other denominations really had little better to offer, maybe stronger in some areas, but weaker in others, and nobody had anything like what I saw in the Ancient Fathers, or even in the Bible, which was now opening up to me in ways I had never imagined possible. Just reading these great writers made me closer to my Lord Jesus Christ as I began to see more of what it had really meant in those early days to have been His disciple.
After that, my reading simply continued on into the further fathers, Irenaeas, the Shepherd of Hermas, Theophilus of Antioch, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian, Lactantius, the 'Apocryphal' books of the New Testament, Augustine, John Chrysostom, Eusebius, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Jerome, Cyril, Basil, Ambrose, Leo and Gregory the Great, the early Councils, and much more. Finally, I even began to read the Doctors, and believe it or not I actually got as far as Thomas Aquinas before I finally realized that it was time to start putting what I had learned into practice. From the beginning, I saw in them an extraordinary sacramentalism, a sense of what was and was not Christian, and even something of a clear and organized chain of command, all of which I saw virtually nothing of in my Baptist church, but on reading my Bible again I could see that this too all runs through the core of it, though I did not recognized it before, exactly as it does through all of these later works.
What I realized was that I needed to become a Catholic (though I did not think to call it by that name at the time), some sort of what I called at the time a kind of 'Universal Church' to myself, and at that point finally ceased my connection with the Baptists. The need for this 'Universal Church' still strikes me as incredible and yet incredibly true. But with that decision I began praying at home and reading other works of all sorts, but finding the classical Catholic theologians and saints and even papal writings to be most clearly in accord and continuity with what I had come to know in the Bible and in the Fathers that I had been reading for all those years. At the end I found all of that teaching and wisdom so wonderfully distilled into the simple presentations of the classical catechisms, of which you can see I have brought with me four: The Catechism of the Council of Trent, the Baltimore Catechism, My Catholic Faith by Most Reverend Louis LaRavoire Morrow, S.T.D., and A Course In Religion by Fr. John Laux, M.A. I have come to realize that the 'Universal Church' that I had been seeking was what all the ancients knew as the 'Catholic Church' and now it is that which I wish to join, in order that I may get as close to Jesus Christ as humanly possible in this life, to taste Him in the Eucharist, and to follow and live his life as closely as possible in my own life.
So now, my question for you is this: Where do I find this Catholic Church?"
"Well, Frank, that's a most interesting testimony. And you have come to the right place. You really didn't have to go through all that reading; you could have just come here in the first place and saved yourself a great deal of trouble."
"Well, that's what I had hoped when I first came here last Sunday. But I have to tell you, that is not what I found here. When I showed up, instead of a Mass as I expected there was this absurd 'service' which was a total mockery of God and all that Faith is about. I wouldn't even dignify it with the word 'Mass' at all, it was so horrible."
"Things have changed, to be sure, but this is still the same Church and the same Mass."
"Bob, I don't see how you can look at me with a straight face and say that. Look at this (opening up Section 140 of this 1956 edition of 'My Catholic Faith') and this (opening up the relevant pages of 'The Sacraments' by Fr. John Laux), see; and look at what is said in the Mass, as documented in detail by Fr. Laux. It says,
- "I will go to the altar of God; to God Who is the joy of my youth. Our help is in the same of the Lord; † Who made Heaven and earth,"
Introibo ad altare Dei. Ad Deum Qui laetificat iuventutem meam. Adiutorum nostrum † in nomine Domini. Qui fecit coelum et terram.
- "I confess to almighty God, to blessed Mary ever virgin, to blessed Michael the archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy apostles Peter and Paul, to all the saints, and to you, Father, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed: through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech the blessed Mary ever virgin, blessed Michael the archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy apostles Peter and Paul, all the saints, and you, Father, to pray to the Lord our God for me,"
Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beatae Mariae semper Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Ioanni Baptistae, sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, omnibus Sanctis, et tibi Pater: quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelum Archangelum, beatum Ioannem Baptistam, sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos, et te Pater, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.
- "Receive, O Holy Trinity, this oblation offered up by us to Thee, in memory of the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and in honor of blessed Mary ever a Virgin, of blessed John the Baptist, of the holy Apostles Peer and Paul, of Thy Saints whose relics are here, and of all Thy Saints, that it be to them for an increase of honor and to us of salvation; and may they whose memory we celebrate on earth vouchsafe to intercede for us in heaven. Through the same Christ our Lord,"
Suscipe sancta Trinitas, hanc oblationem, quam tibi offerimus ob memoriam passionis, resurrectionis, et ascensionis Iesu Christi Domini nostri: et in honorem beatae Mariae semper Virginis et beati Ioannes Baptistae, et sanctorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, et istorum, et omnium Sanctorum: ut illis proficiat ad honorem, nobis autem ad salutem: et illi pro nobis intercedere dignentur in Coelis, quorum memoriam agimus in terris. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum.
- "Who the day before He suffered, took bread into His holy and venerable hands and, having lifted up His eyes to Heaven to Thee, God, His Almighty Father, giving thanks to Thee, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying: Take ye all and eat of this; FOR THIS IS MY BODY.
Qui pridie quam pateretur, accepit panem in sanctas, ac venerabilis manus suas, et elevatis oculis in Coelum ad te Deum Patrem suum omnipotentem, Tibi gratias agens bene, dixit, fregit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens: Accipite, et manducate ex hoc omnes. HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM.
- In like manner, when the supper was done, taking also into His holy and venerable hands this goodly Chalice, again giving thanks to Thee, He blessed it, and gave it to His disciples, saying: Take ye all and drink of this; FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD, OF THE NEW AND EVERLASTING TESTAMENT - THE MYSTERY OF FAITH - WHICH FOR YOU AND FOR MANY SHALL BE SHED UNTO THE REMISSION OF SINS. As often as ye shall do these things, ye shall do them in memory of Me,"
Simili modo, postquam coenatum est,
accipiens et hunc praeclarum Calicem in sanctas ac venerabilis manus suas: item tibi gratias agens,
benedixit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens: Accipite, et bibite ex eo omnes,
HIC EST ENIM CALIX SANGUINIS MEI. NOVI ET AETERNI TESTAMENTI: MYSTERIUM FIDEI: QUI PRO VOBIS ET PRO MULTIS EFFUNDETUR IN REMISSIONEM PECCATORUM. Haec quotiescumque feceritis, in Mei memoriam facietis.
...and so forth. And note also here throughout everything is done in Latin. Now, THAT is what a Catholic Mass looks like. Again, notice the dignity of the Catholic priest's vestments. And look at all of these accouterments to the Mass. In my studies I have come to learn of the significance of each and every one of them. That reflects and demonstrates true reverence and awe in the presence of God, as if one really believed God is present. Yet nearly all of that had no place in that service you did last Sunday."
"Well, we do it all sorts of ways. Perhaps next Sunday might be better."
"But couldn't you just do it as described in these Catechisms?"
"Well, I'd have to get permission..."
"Permission!? Why in the world would it require some special permission to do simply what every Catholic priest is expected to do? You should just be able to do it."
"There was a lot of changes made at Vatican II. Besides, there's another problem, and that is that I don't know any Latin."
"Latin is the fixed and unchangeable language of the Catholic Church, Bob. All of their official actions are done in Latin just so that the meanings will be perfectly preserved, not subject to the changes of a living language. How can anyone claim to be a clerical representative of the Church without having the least acquaintance with Latin?"
"I just didn't take the class when I was in seminary. They did offer it as an elective."
"An elective! And probably all in a single semester, too."
Bob nodded slightly in acknowledgment of that fact.
"How much of a foreign language would a person have been able to learn in only a single semester course, even if you had taken it? Maybe just enough to pronounce the words correctly and hopefully have something of an idea what you are saying when reciting a liturgy or other Latin prayers. What a waste.
Then again, Bob, despite what I saw last Sunday in that service of yours, in attempting to give your church yet another chance to redeem itself I attended the Introductory instructional Course you put on last night, as you may recall."
"Yes, I remember seeing you there."
"But look again at what sort of things one should teach in a first introductory class, since I did happen to come in right at the beginning of a new cycle for interested persons. What I did not see was any of the clear and solid basic instruction as one might find in, for example, the Baltimore Catechism, which starts out with such Divine simplicity and exactness, exactly where such instruction ought to begin, and where the Catholic Church would begin. See, it reads thus:
Q. Who made us?
- A. God made us.
- Q. Who is God?
- A. God is the Supreme Being, infinitely perfect, who made all things and keeps them in existence.
- Q. Why did God make us?
- A. God made us to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in heaven.
- Q. What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?
- A. To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and to serve God in this world.
- Q. From whom do we learn to know, love, and serve God?
- A. We learn to know, love, and serve God from Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who teaches us through the Catholic Church.
But that is not anything like what I heard in your class. Instead, what I heard was a bunch of meaningless blather about circles of family and unity and community and how important it is to protect the environment. And when it got to the question and answer period at the end, twice you spoke of a 'historical Jesus' quite different from the 'Jesus of Faith,' as if there could ever be any real distinction between them, and even once belittled a miracle of the Bible."
"You consider that a valid complaint? Scholarship has made great progress since those primitive days that gave us the Baltimore Catechism, you have to allow for the progress of knowledge. Much has been learned of the Jesus of history which some of simplistic Faith might find rather shocking. The Grand Mythos of the Resurrection, for example, is actually a symbol of the resurrection of faith in our hearts. No literal or physical resurrection was ever intended to have been referred to in the sacred text."
"And there you just did it again, Bob, deny another Biblical miracle, indeed the greatest in the whole Bible. Cardinal Newman was also among my many readings, and he explained quite clearly how any 'development of doctrine' is not about changing any doctrine from one thing to another, but merely about casting the original teachings of the original Revelation given to the Church in the First Century into ever sharper and sharper relief. It is like focusing ever more and more clearly on those truths announced at the beginning, showing them to be ever all the more validly true than even imagined or believed to begin with. But what I saw in that class last night was all fuzz and blur, little more than vague aphorisms of stale contemporary political correctness, denials of what Catholics have always believed, and all having absolutely nothing to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Why couldn't you have just taught out of a real Catholic Catechism? They are easy enough to procure, and I don't doubt that many more in this class of yours (including myself) would have been much more likely to return next week for the second class if only you had, if only that had been what you were teaching. You therefore have a demonstrably different law of both prayer and belief, as I have just seen for each in your case. It is logical that the two go together, and therefore consistent that you would deviate from them both together as well. I really don't see what right you could possibly have to put the word 'Catholic' on the placard out in front of your church, or to list it in any directory under such category.
The Catechisms all make it quite clear that God authorized only one Church to bring His grace to souls, to forgive sins, and to guide and rule all into the ways of righteousness, and that we are to accept no substitutes, no schisms, no heresies, no other religions. They also describe God's Own Church in quite some considerable detail, far more than enough to ascertain that your church is not that Church.
But be all that as it may, my initial question stands. You seem like a nice fellow, one who should not mind doing a fellow being a small favor. Just tell me where I can find the Catholic Church as described in these catechisms and in all of documented history, please. If only you can do so I promise that I shall be grateful."
"That Church doesn't exist anymore."
"Well, there you go again, denying a doctrine. All of these catechisms and nearly 2,000 years of Church History teach quite infallibly that the Catholic Church will endure until the end of time, and that nothing, not even the 'gates of Hell,' could ever make it cease to exist. So clearly it has to exist, even though, despite the name on the placard, your church is not it."
"All right, I grant that things do look a little different these days. But things are not always what they seem. And I might point out that if you did find a place where it did look like what you seek it probably would be fake."
"You mean, something like a wolf dressed in sheep's clothing?
"Then answer me this, Bob: If you are a sheep, then why are you dressed in wolf's clothing? I can understand a fake church imitating the true one, but why in God's name would ever the true Church ever imitate a fake one? Obviously that would never happen. But there has to be the true Church, and it can only be as described in the catechisms, or at the very least, be among those that fit that description. Now, if you don't know where to find it then just say so, and I am sorry for having taken up your time."
"Frank, if there is one thing clear to me, it is that I cannot help you. I think you had better leave now."
Frank then left, still searching for that Church which must endure to the end of time. Can anyone doubt that if only Frank had inquired at any traditionalist chapel, he would have found that Church of all ages? Indeed, how long should it take for Frank to deduce that the real Church must clearly have been reduced to a rather small remnant, given the difficulties in tracking it down? We are indeed a remnant, but we alone possess the fullness of what it means to belong to the actual and historic Church that our Lord Jesus Christ founded all those centuries ago.
While the Mass probably shows most obviously the differences between he Roman Catholic and Novus Ordo beliefs, the same, to varying degrees, also goes for the remainder of all the same classical (pre-Vatican II) catechisms. The traditionalist Church continues to match the catechisms to a tee while the Novus Ordo diverges to a greater or lesser extent, from nearly everything contained in those catechisms.
The old catechisms all make it clear that there is only one saving Church, and they describe and document that Church in sufficient detail for any honest inquirer to be able to identify, by applying due diligence, the traditionalist Catholic Church as being alone that Church of all history. Let Frank read Sacred Scripture, all the Fathers and Doctors and Popes and Councils and saints and historic (that is, pre-Vatican II) theologians and catechisms, and what he must inevitably find is that they all directly and exclusively to us traditional Catholics alone. Accept no substitutes.
Griff L. Ruby
Griff's book is available from iUniverse.com Books for $26.95 or can be read on-line at www.the-pope.com We at The Daily Catholic strongly urge you to share it with all you can for that could be the gentle shove that moves your friends back to where the True Faith resides forever, rooted in the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church as Christ intended and promised.
Griff Ruby's STRAIGHT STUFF Monday, March 7, 2011,
Volume 22, no. 66