February 10, 2000
volume 11, no. 29

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    Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

    Today Pat debunks the worn-out phrase used by dissidents trying to rationalize the "spirit of Vatican II" that "in the early Church it was done that way." They use this for advancing their agenda of women priests and deaconesses, for forcing changes that fly in the face of tradition and solid Church doctrine and rubrics, for watering down the Mystery of the Transubstantiation. He backs this up with excellent quotes from great saints and fathers of the Church who had to contend with the same tripe from earlier heretics who sought to change the Church to their way of thinking as well as the sage English Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton who authenticates why the Church has survived against these waves of opposition and indifference. He shows that today, with a revival of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Church is once again gaining strength rather than dying as so many liberals would infer. That is the gist of his column today, New ideas, old heresies.

    For past columns by Pat Ludwa, click on VIEW FROM THE PEW Archives   If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at

New ideas, old heresies


  • "So far as a man may be proud of a religion rooted in humility, I am very proud of my religion; I am especially proud of those parts of it that are most commonly called superstition. I am proud of being fettered by antiquated dogmas and enslaved by dead creeds (as my journalistic friends repeat with so much pertinacity), for I know very well that it is the heretical creeds that are dead, and that it is only the reasonable dogma that lives long enough to be called antiquated." --- G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), the English literary giant. From his Autobiography (1936)

    The thing about our faith is that it's tried and true. It has withstood the test of time. Other 'faiths' have come and gone. Some have been renewed and reworked, but remain the same dead creeds.

    There was a song which went, "Everything old is new again." The mantra of many dissidents is that something was done in the Early Church so it must be right and correct to do so again.

    For example, it's said that the idea of the priest facing the people for Mass was something that the Early Church did. Well the fact is that only four churches could be documented as doing so in the Early Church, and then, only after Christianity was no longer a capitol offense in the Roman Empire, so that Catholic worship could be public. Before that, Mass was held in whatever space they could. That is, the catacombs, someone's home, etc. The other problem with their analogy is that the Church stopped doing something for a reason, so to go back to it would be to say the Church was wrong for ending it.

    Some of these changes could be re-instituted with the proper education. For example, the Church used to have deaconess. But not in the sense we hear about them today. They were generally widows who assisted the priest with dealing with the women of their parish. They were present when a woman was given instruction, baptized, etc. It was done so that no impropriety could occur, or be accused. It was never an 'ordained' office. But when some of the 'deaconess' took upon themselves the duties and office which belonged only to the priest, the Church was forced to end the position of deaconess

  • "We completely reject the consecration of widows, whom they call deaconesses, from our region...."( The Council of Epaon, c. 517 AD)
  • "How wanton are the women of these heretics! they dare to teach,.to dispute, to carry out exorcisms, to undertake cures, it may be even to baptize." (Tertullian,"The Prescription of Heretics" 41)
  • "That woman who first through marvels or deceptions of the demons did many things to deceive the faithful,among other things...she dared to do this, namely that by an impressive invocation she feigned she was sanctifying bread, and offering a sacrifice to the Lord." (Firmilian, in "Epistle" 75.1-5 to Cyprian,tells of a woman who went into an ecstasy and came out a prophetess.)
  • "If women were ordained to be priests for God or to do anything canonical in the church, it should rather have been given to Mary....She was not even entrusted with baptizing...Although there is an order of deaconesses in the church,yet they are not appointed to function as priests, or for any administration of this kind, but so that provision may be made for the propriety of the female sex [at nude baptisms]. Whence comes the recent myth? Whence comes the pride of women or rather, the woman's insanity?" (St. Epiphanius, "Against Heresies" 79.304)

    Yet today, we hear that, supposedly, the Early Church had women priests and deaconesses.

  • "Divine law has excluded women from the sanctuary, but they try to thrust themselves into it." (St. John Chrysostom, "On the Priesthood", 3.9)

    But if we look at the Gnostics, who claimed to be Christian, we see female priests. St. Augustine, being at one time a Gnostic, was very familiar with them.

  • "They give such principality to women that they even honor them with priesthood." (St. Augustine, "On heresies" 27)

So, the Church ended the ministry of the deaconess, not because it was wrong, but because it was abused. Who would be the deaconess' today? The Nuns and Sisters!

    We see many of these re-invented 'creeds' coming back as a return to true Catholicism, Christianity. But the reality is far different. Monika Hellwig ( a contributor to Renew 2000), for example, says that "[Jesus saying this is My Body] more probably was intended to mean that His action of blessing, breaking, sharing and eating in such an assembly in His Name and memory was to be seen as the embodiment of the presence and Spirit and power of Jesus in the community."

    This fits what Ulrich Zwingli taught, but not what the Church, through the Apostles and Early Church Fathers taught. It works fine for those who want to renew the heresy of Montanism and make the 'community' the focus of worship in the Mass instead of God, but it denigrates the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

  • "I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, Who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire His blood, which is love incorruptible." (IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH (110 AD Epistle to the Romans, 7:3)
  • "Take note of those who hold heretodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God...." (Ibid)
  • "They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in His goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes." (IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH ; Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, 6:2; 7:1)
  • "We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined." (JUSTIN MARTYR (148 AD)
  • "For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus." (JUSTIN MARTYR (148 AD) (First Apology, 66:1-20)
  • "If the Lord were from other than the Father, how could He rightly take bread, which is of the same creation as our own, and confess it to be His body and affirm that the mixture in the cup is His blood?" (IRENAEUS OF LYONS (180 AD) Against Heresies, 4:33:2)
  • "He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be His own blood, from which He causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, He has established as His own body, from which He gives increase unto our bodies. (Ibid)
  • "When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life--flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of Him?" (Ibid, 5:2)

    The Eucharist is no longer the Real Presence of Christ, but merely a symbol. Fr. Karl Rahner writes that the Eucharist is a "transfinalization" or "transignification" and claims the "meaning" of the bread changes after Consecration - a symbol - rather than the Bread really and truly changing into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Forget that this doesn't correspond with the teachings of the Scriptures, the Early Church Fathers, and was specifically condemned in the Pope Paul VI Eucharistic Encyclical Mysterium Fidei.

    Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx says the same thing. And Anthony Wilhelm writes that "When we say that the bread and wine 'become Christ' we are not saying that bread and wine are Christ ... What me mean is that the bread and wine are a sign of Christ present."

    All of this is done in the name of the 'spirit' of Vatican II, and they are teaching their errors to others as facts and authentic Christianity and Catholicism. Is it any wonder that a Time/Life poll showed that less than 50% of American Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ? Is it any wonder that many in the Church today think they are the teaching authority of the Church and can 'vote' on the truth?

    As one Web site points out (Our Lady's Warriors) they are more like Judas, than Christ. Just Undermine Doctrine And Spirituality. Their aim seems to be to destroy authentic Christianity/Catholicism in favor of a neo-gnostic, New Age, feminist theology. A false spirituality covered only with the fašade of Catholicism and Christianity.

  • "I look at the New Theology, however, and find that it is an old Theology, that it is even more than that - that it is something older and duller than Theology itself; that it is the dim and vague cosmogony which men required before they were intellectual enough to require Theology." (G. K. Chesterton;"Creed and Deed," The Illustrated London News, 2 February 1907)

    But the good news is that their agenda is failing. They're ranks are getting older and smaller. Recently the Pope has said that the ranks of the priesthood are beginning to grow; much to the consternation of those seeking women and married priests to 'address the shortage of priests'. Fr. Benedict Groeschel noted that the recent "Pro-Life March" in Washington DC, showed a significant increase in young Catholics returning to the true authentic teachings of the Church. Churches are returning to authentic Catholic architecture, tabernacles are finding themselves back as the focal point of the church rather than a side room. The sacred hymns of the Church are seeing a renewal instead of the bland, camp fire songs of dissident liturgists and music directors.

  • "I suspect that we should find several occasions when Christendom was thus to all appearance hollowed out from within by doubt and indifference, so that only the old Christian shell stood as the pagan shell had stood so long. But the difference is that in every such case, the sons were fanatical for the faith where the fathers had been slack about it. This is obvious in the case of the transition from the Renaissance to the Counter-Reformation. It is obvious in the case of a transition from the eighteenth century to the many Catholic revivals of our own time . . . Just as some might have thought the Church simply a part of the Roman Empire, so others later might have thought the Church only a part of the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages ended as the Empire had ended; and the Church should have departed with them, if she had been also one of the shades of night. (G. K. Chesteron; The Everlasting Man, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1925, pp. 250-252)

    Why this turn around? Are we getting better at defending the Church? Maybe, but I really feel that two other things are at work here.

  • First, the increase in Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. Over a thousand parishes have this ministry going on. 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Secondly, "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).

        Are we out of the woods yet? Far from it. Rather I suspect even greater efforts to undermine the Church. A cornered animal doesn't sit by and let itself go without a fight. But the fight was over even before it began.

    • "At least five times, . . . with the Arian and the Albigensian, with the Humanist sceptic, after Voltaire and after Darwin, the Faith has to all appearance gone to the dogs. In each of these five cases it was the dog that died. (G. K. Chesteton: The Everlasting Man, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1925, p. 254)
    • "I have said this to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
    • "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God" (Romans 14:11).

    Pax Christi, Pat


  • February 10, 2000
    volume 10, no. 29

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