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FRI-SAT-SUN      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!




 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).
 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.
 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.
 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).
 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.
 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.
 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."
  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.
 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.
 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."
  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.
 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!

Michael Cain, editor

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


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

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January 22-24, 1999 volume 10, no. 15 DAILY CATHOLIC