DAILY CATHOLIC    FRI-SAT-SUN     January 22-24, 1999     vol. 10, no. 15

CATHOLIC PewPOINT

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SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO and SECTION THREE

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:

APOSTOLIC COMMAND

ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

PROTESTANT CHURCHES

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.
2.  INFALLIBILITY
 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."
2.  INFALLIBILITY
  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.
2.  INFALLIBILITY
 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.
3. FASTING
 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.
3. FASTING
  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.
3. 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.
4.  BAPTISM
 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."
4.  BAPTISM
 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.
4.  BAPTISM
 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."
5.  CONFIRMATION
 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.
5.  CONFIRMATION
  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.
5.  CONFIRMATION
 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.
6.  RECONCILIATION
 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."
6. 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.
6. RECONCILIATION
  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.
9.  MATRIMONY
 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..."
9.  MATRIMONY
 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.
9.  MATRIMONY
 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!

Michael Cain, editor


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

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