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January 22-24, 1999
SECTION ONE vol 10, no. 15
To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION TWO and SECTION THREE
Severed branches are hard to reattach to the trunk of the tree!
In this weekend's editorial we bring you a guide that proves the truths of the Catholic Church in the face of any argument Protestants may launch in trying to rationalize why they are mere "severed branches" no longer attached to the great tree known as the Roman Catholic Church whose roots stem deep into the soil of Apostolic Tradition, Doctrine and the Word all planted by Jesus Christ Himself. Though this is the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity we point out that unity can only come if non-Catholics initiate the reconciliation for we are more than willing to welcome the prodigal son back, but not on his terms. They have to be on Christ's terms as He has decreed. For this weekend's commentary The branch cannot bear fruit unless it remains on the Vine! , click on CATHOLIC PewPOINT.
The branch cannot bear fruit unless it remains on the Vine!
We're coming to the close of this special week designated as Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and we pray that, through the Grace of God and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, someday we all will be one. However, in the fervor of ecumenism we must realize that while reconciliation is possible with other religions, it is vital that if true unity is to evolve then it has to be on the part of those who were once members of the True Church and broke away. In other words, the Roman Catholic Church cannot compromise on her doctrines and dogmas. Sadly there have been, in the opinion of this editor and millions of conservative Catholics, too many concessions over the past thirty years where many cannot identify Catholic churches as belonging to Rome but more like the local Lutheran or Methodist edifices down the street. With new designs in architecture and "redecorating" there remain very few semblances of Catholicism in the house of God. Gone are so many of the aspects that identified a Roman Catholic church - from the Tabernacle being removed from the central focal point in the center of the sanctuary only to be replaced by the human sedentia to the extinction of the communion rail; from placing the Liturgy of the Eucharist on the same "importance level" as the Liturgy of the Word to turning the sanctuary into a stage for celebrating the "meal" rather than a sacred altar where a "sacrifice" takes place; from eliminating the icons and statues of Jesus and His Blessed Mother along with many saints to a sterile atmosphere where merely a non-corpus cross is displayed or a "resurrexix" replaces the crucifix which epitomizes the sacrificial nature of the the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; from replacing the powerful Prayer of Saint Michael the Archangel and prayers after Mass in favor of modern hymns more often heard in Protestant denominations to making the time of Holy Communion a "feel-good let's get-together because it's all about us" atmosphere at the Our Father and Kiss of Peace that, in many churches, takes a higher priority than the Consecration. Sadly, we have compromised too much!
We have often heard the phrase "A house divided cannot stand." That is exactly what developed from the ambitions of Martin Luther who seemingly had a better idea. Today there are so many offshoots of what he started that it boggles the mind. There is no authority, only the latest, most popular of the presbyters who, for the most part, go along with the political correctness line. Yet they swear by the Bible. Funny, you wonder if they really have read it. There are so many holes in their arguments as they quote this passage or that passage, because the problem is they take it all out of context. One could cite the Scriptures as condoning or condemning anything and everything if one takes words out of context. That's not what God intended. Also, non-Catholics swear by the Bible, dismissing Apostolic Tradition and the Sacraments while failing to remember that the "Bible" wasn't established per se until the mid fourth century. Before that everything had been handed down from Jesus to the Apostles to their disciples to generation after generation. Only through the fabric of the Church Christ founded was this preserved and perpetuated.
The Age of Enlightenment, which we call the "Age of Rationalism," raised its ugly head in the fifteenth century ushering in a more popular and easier theology reflected in rationalism which became the trademark of Protestantism. It was all so new and so strange! The agitation of the age broke in on the calm of religion. Men's minds were delirous with expectation. They were tired of the old. They must have something novel. As is man's nature, excitement looks for something extravagant. Why not have a new Christianity? An Augustinian monk in Erfurt, Germany presented just that and the world, thanks to the circulation of the Gutenberg Bible, drank in this new theology, tired of the old Christianity that had survived the ages. This man of course was Luther. Among the errors of Luther were these: that there is no supreme teaching power in the Church; that temporal rulers have the right to interfere in ecclesiastical matters; that the Bible is the sole guide to faith (Sola Scriptura); that every man should interpret the Bible according to his own mind; that faith is sufficient for salvation; that the priesthood does not imprint a special character on the soul of a man, and that everybody is or can be a priest, as a result; that Penance (Confession) is not a Sacrament, but a mere invention of the Church; that the Mass gives no special grace; that there is no Purgatory, etc.
In fact, there are so many heresies introduced by Luther and those who followed him that we have prepared a simple "paragram" below providing a ten-step rationale to guide all Catholics with non-Catholic freinds on origins and authority of the Church, showing the differences on the major points to better understand apologetically the truths of the Roman Catholic Church. It is adapted from Cardinal Gibbon's "Faith of our Fathers" series:
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
1. LINE OF PETER
Jesus gave pre-eminence to Peter over the other Apostles:
"I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven" (Matt 16: 19);
"Strengthen thy brethren" (Lk 22: 32); "Feed My lambs; feed My sheep" (John 21: 15-17).
1. LINE OF PETER
The Catholic Church gives the primacy of honor and jurisdiction to Peter and to his successors in an unbroken line all the way to our present pontiff Pope John Paul II, the 264th in the line of successors. Though there have been vacancies, the line was never broken.
1. LINE OF PETER
Other Christian communions deny Peter's supremacy over the other Apostles even though Christ's words are documented in the New Testament. Because of this denial, it stands to reason they will not accept the Popes and the fact the Sovereign Pontiff is the successor of Peter.
The Apostolic Church claimed to be infallible in her teachings as documented in 1 Thessalonians 2: 13, "When you heard and received from us the word of God, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but, as it truly is, the word of God."
The Church alone, of all Christian communions, claims to exercise the prerogative of infallibility in her teaching. For the pontiffs, in the succession of the line of Peter, are infallible in matters of faith and morals. We can believe with implicit confidence in their authority as established by Christ and His Church. This doctrine was made absolutely definitive on July 18, 1870 by the First Vatican Council.
Protestant churches repudiate the claim of infallibility, denying that such a gift is possessed by any teachers. The ministers advance opinions as embodying their private interpretation of the Bible. Their hearers are expected to draw their own conclusions from the Bible since they believe in the theory Sola Scriptura and discard tradition and good works, leaving a large void that cannot be accounted in the Bible or anywhere else.
Jesus enjoined and prescribed rules for fasting: "When thou dost fast, anoint thy head and wash thy face, so that thou mayest not be seen by men to fast" (Matt 16: 19). The Apostles fasted before engaging in sacred functions as outlined in Acts 14: 22.
The Catholic Church prescribes fasting to the faithful at stated seasons, particularly during the season of Lent. In addition, Religious Orders emphasize the need for penance and fasting in order to better commit their lives to God in service to Him. In her apparitions and messages Our Lady stresses the importance of fasting.
Protestants have no law prescribing fasts, though some may fast from private devotion. Some sects even try to ridicule fasting, although more and more realize the cleansing effects spiritually and morally of fasting and have been practicing it. Neither candidates for ordination nor the ministers who ordain them, are ever required to fast on such occasions.
The sacrament of Baptism was instituted by Christ at His Own Baptism and commanded at His Ascension when He said in Matthew 28: 19, "Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
The Apostolic succession establishes that the Church was charged to baptize and the sacramental grace of Baptism is a regenerative grace that helps those baptized to live well the supernatural life they have begun as children of God. Catholics realize the salvific nature of this Sacrament.
Though Protestants have baptism, it is not a sacrament. Yet it is definitely the most important ritual in the Protestant church which they call "Being born again" taking from the Bible Jesus' words in John 3: 5, "Unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
St. Peter and St. John confirmed the newly baptized in Samaria. "They laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit." This is recorded in Acts of the Apostles 8: 17.
Every Catholic Bishop, as a successor of the Apostles, likewise imposes hands on baptized persons in the Sacrament of Confirmation, by which they receive the Holy Spirit.
No demonination performs the ceremony of imposing hands as a Sacrament for they do not have the sacramental gifts, though some Evangelicals invoke the Holy Spirit.
The Apostles were empowered by Jesus to forgive sins: "Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them" (John 20: 23) and in 1 Cor 7: 10-11, "God hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation."
The Bishops and Priests of the Roman Catholic Church, as the inheritors of the Apostolic prerogatives, profess to exercise the ministry of reconciliation, and to forgive sins in the name of Jesus Christ.
Protestants affirm on the contrary, that God delegates to man no power of pardoning sin. For a group so bent on holding the Bible up as the final authority, they fail to truly realize what Scripture says and means and mock confession.
7. THE EUCHARIST
Jesus and His Apostles taught that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ: "Take and eat; this is My body...All of you drink of this, for this is My blood." (Matt 26: 28) "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not the sharing of the blood of Christ? And the bread that we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord?" (1 Cor 7: 10-11).
7. THE EUCHARIST
The Catholic Church teaches, with our Lord and His Apostles, that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ under the appearances of bread and wine. Catholics believe in Transubstantiation. By His death He gained for us the merit, and through the Mass, applies to us that merit and reward of His bloody death through the unbloody oblation at Mass.
7. THE EUCHARIST
The Protestant churches condemn the doctrine of the Real Presence as idolatrous, and say that, in partaking of the communion, we receive only a memorial of Christ. They totally deny the Transubstantiation, considering it merely a symbolic act for Christ died only once and it should not be repeated. They fail to realize the Apostles were carrying out what Jesus requested at the Last Supper.
8. ANOINTING THE SICK
Regarding the importance of the Sacrament of the sick, St. James said in James 5: 14: "Is any one among you sick? Let him bring in the presbyters of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Our Lord."
8. ANOINTING THE SICK
One of the most ordinary duties of a Catholic Priest is to anoint the sick in the Sacrament of the Sick, formerly called Extreme Unction. If someone is sick they're careful to call in the priest to anoint them with oil in Jesus' name.
8. ANOINTING THE SICK
No such Sacrament as that of anointing the sick is practiced by any Protestant denomination, notwithstanding the Apostle's injunction. There are some Pentecostal groups who anoint their sick members but it does not carry sacramental gifts.
On the union of man and woman in the Sacrament of marriage, Jesus said: "Whoever puts away his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if the wife puts away her husband, and marries another, she commits adultery." (Mark 10: 11-12). And again St. Paul reiterates Our Lord's words when he says in 1 Cor 7: 10, "To those who are married, not I, but the Lord commands..."
Literally following the Apostle's injunction, the Catholic Church forbids the husband and wife to divorce unless proof can be amply provided that they were never married in the eyes of the Church. This is called Annulment, a tough and long, tedious process which the Church's Marriage Tribunal undergoes to deter easy divorce. In addition, if a couple separates, neither of them can marry again until an annulment is approved.
The Protestant churches, as is well known, have so far relaxed this law of the Gospel as to allow divorced persons to remarry, and many are lured to these churches because of this liberal thinking where they can rationalize what they are doing is alright. They continue to live in sin not realizing the ultimate consequences. Now even some sects are recognizing same-sex unions in their liturgies condoning a sin which is totally against God's law.
10. CHASTITY AND THE PRIESTHOOD
Our Lord recommended not only by word but by His example, to souls aiming at perfection, the state of perpetual chastity. St. Paul also exhorted the Corinthians in 1 Cor 7: 38 by counsel and by his own example to practice the very same virtue: "He who gives his virgin in marriage does well, and he who does not give her does better."
10. CHASTITY AND THE PRIESTHOOD
Like Our Savior, the Catholic clergy bind themselves to a life of perpetual chastity, committing to being "Brides of Christ" and pure so they are better able to minister to the needs of the flock. Religious communities for men and women voluntarily consecrate their chastity to God through the solemn vow of Chastity, something not taken lightly.
10. CHASTITY AND THE PRIESTHOOD
All ministers of other denominations are permitted to marry. In fact, even divorced ministers are accepted. Far from encouraging the Apostolic counsel of celibacy to any of their flock, they more than insinuate that the virtue of perpetual chastity, though clearly recommended by Our Lord and St. Paul, is impracticable and therefore dismissed.
As you can see above there have been quite a few liberal assumptions, twisting of ideas and denials by the Protestants of what Christ intended. In fact, today the divisions and subdivisions of Protestantism are so well known that the denominations continue to multiply as soon as someone disagrees with another. This is not unity, this is division! Before the glorious day of all sharing in the one True Faith, there will be further persecution. Jesus has said as much in Sacred Scripture. Therefore, we must be strong. We must love and pray for those who do not understand, who have not been blessed with the gift of the True Faith. To uphold our faith catechetically and through example, we've presented the above "paragram" - to coin a word - to help Catholics arm themselves with the armor of truth as Saint Paul says in Ephesians 6: 11, "Put on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." In our friendly discussions with non-Catholics we must not get defensive but strive to seek the truth by tracing our roots. Can the Protestants trace the origin of their ministers to the Apostles? Can their church be proved the True Church by the possession of the four marks? Often non-Catholics criticize our Church for various devotional practices such as holy water, candles, the Rosary, etc. as if such practices belonged to the essentials of faith. For Catholics these are helping aids - merely a means to the end...a justifiable means and one we are proud and thankful for. We must remember that when discussing - not arguing religion - it is vital to persuade our non-Catholic friends to pray for the grace of God. For to become a member of Holy Mother Church is a gratuitous gift of God and one must humbly pray for it.
Finally, as we endeavor to work and pray for ecumenism without compromising, we must remember and convey to others Our Lord's words in John 15: 4-6, "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it remain on the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he shall be cast outside as the branch and wither; and they shall gather them up and cast them into the fire, and they shall burn." Time has continually proved the truth of what Jesus prophesied about schisms and their divisions. This is the reason for the fact that many religions change so often that they finally disappear. They cannot bear fruit for they are branches broken from the tree, and must wither and die as Jesus said simply because the branch cannot bear fruit unless it remains on the Vine!
Time to throw the bathwater out with the babykiller! part two
In her column this week, Sister Mary Lucy Astuto continues to tackle the issue of impeachment and dispels the myth that the country will suffer if the president is removed. She's more concerned that the country will suffer if he is not removed. Like so many million "unpolled" citizens Sister Lucy is steamed how the spinmeisters think they can do our thinking and exonerate a sinner while he continues to flaunt the sin, continues to advocate sins such as abortion. For Sister's column, Please bear with me - I need to vent some steam or I'll explode! , click on GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER
PLEASE BEAR WITH ME - I NEED TO VENT SOME STEAM OR I'LL EXPLODE!
I hope youíll bear with me if I write again about the Clinton trial. I have
to have a release of emotions somehow and writing what I think helps me "unload." What I write has nothing to do with politics but everything to do with morality, decency and our sanity.
I take care of my elderly mother who may have a few weeks left on this earth.
She weighs under 69 pounds and will be 92 years of age in May, if the dear Lord wills to let her
live that long. So itís pretty much she and I here day after day and she canít talk to me rationally anymore, so... I
Iíd like to express my views on three points.
It has been said:
1) we shouldnít overturn the election of a President voted into office
2) the polls say.....; and,
3) horrendous things will happen, if Clinton is removed from office.
When I hear media persons or Congressmen or Senators or anyone say that we
just shouldnít overturn the election of a President and especially one that has been voted into office
twice by the American people, I want to "puke" - pardon me for my frankness! The Lewinsky-Clinton affair was not known by the American people at election times. It is a serious question to take into consideration (and I hear no one on the news indicating this) that IF the Lewinsky-Clinton matter had been known to the American people at the time of the elections, MANY people may not have voted for Clinton. It is strange to me that the mind-set of people at the last two Presidential elections can be held as "proof" of retaining this President, when Americans did not have the "knowledge" at that time that they do now.
Furthermore, it was clearly OK with our founding fathers who wrote the
Constitution that overturning an election would be all right, given the President be guilty of high crimes or
misdeamnors. That is written right into the Constitution. So why the guf???? Every organization worth its salt has means whereby top officials can be removed under certain conditions. DAHHHH!
And polls? Arenít polls taken by human beings? As long as there are human
beings, thereís the possibility of shenanigans! I had heard of an abortionist doctor (who was
converted, thank God) who admitted to "tampering" with polls to favor the abortionist views. DAHHHH!
And woe be to our country, if Clinton is removed from office! Really? I
havenít heard anybody expound on what those horrendous things would be, have you? No one has enumerated
anything, of which Iíve heard. DAHHHH!! On the other hand, if a body has a cancer, perhaps the best thing
for the BODY is that the cancer be excised. If Clinton is removed from office, Iím still going to be breathing!
Probably even much easier. I know my soul will be more at peace.
If it is proven that Clinton committed perjury and yet the Senate does not
oust him, I shall be sad. Not because Clinton is Clinton, but because the Senate will show they donít mind
having a FELON as the President.
Letís pray for real moral justice. And while youíre at it, will you pray for
my mother, too? She was the best Mom. I donít ask God to keep her on this earth, but rather to take her
straight to Heaven when He calls her.
In my estimation, she deserves it!
God bless you!
For decades Cardinal Paulo Arns has spread the Franciscan spirit to his fellow Brazilians
We continue with this new series that debuted three weeks ago, bringing you on a regular basis three times a week the Princes of the Church. Our ninth red hat we feature, in alphabetical order is Sao Paolo's Archbishop emeritus Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns who has only two years of eligibility left with the Sacred Conclave. For more on Cardinal Arns, click on COLLEGE OF CARDINALS COLLECTION
9. Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, OFM
Born on the Feast of the Holy Cross in 1921, Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns comes from Franciscan stock, having been raised in a large family who taught the ideals of the humble, holy founder Saint Francis. He is one of five in his family who became a Franciscan, a brother who is a Franciscan brother and three sisters who became Franciscan nuns. After training in the Franciscan's seminary, Paulo was ordained on November 30, 1945. He was sent to the Sorbonne in France where he received a degree summa cum laude in the classical languages. In fact, it is believed this expert linguist speaks ten different languages. He held numerous teaching positions before being chosen Vice-Provincial of the Fransciscans in 1961. He also served as editor for the publication Sponsa Christi a monthly review for religious plus overseeing Brazil's publication center for the Franciscans. He was ordained titual bishop of Respetta and named auxiliary Bishop of Sao Paulo on July 3, 1966 by Pope Paul VI and elevated to Archbishop of Sao Paulo on October 22, 1970, an office he recently resigned in April last year because of his age, thus becoming the Archbishop emeritus of Sao Paulo. Paul VI bestowed the red-hat on him in the Consistory of March 5, 1973, giving him the titular church of St. Anthony of Padua in Via Tuscolana outside Rome.
A teacher all his life, he has never shown an interest in Curial affairs and also, because of his age, would not be considered by the Conclave in a papal election. He, along with all of us, is hoping he won't have to cast a ballot in the Sacred Conclave; he is two years from becoming ineligible to vote and that possibility of not voting before then also means the Pope is still alive and well.
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January 22-24, 1999 volume 10, no. 15 DAILY CATHOLIC