Every day we present a short point that helps bring into focus the treasures of the Roman Catholic Church that comprise the great Deposit of Faith.
It is no secret that over the past thirty years fewer and fewer know their Faith and it shows with the declining number of vocations, parish participation and attendance at Holy Mass. We have the new Catechism of the Catholic Church but for the common man, the one brought up on sound bites and instant gratification, it is more of a text book and that in itself prompts them to shy away from such a tome. So what's a loyal Catholic to do in evangelizing to fellow Catholics and understand their Faith? Our answer: go back to basics - to the great Deposit of Faith. We have the Baltimore Catechism which, for unknown and ridiculous reasons, was shelved after Vatican II. We have the Holy Bible but there are so many newer versions that the Douay-Rheims and Confraternity Latin Vulgate in English versions, the ones used for so long as the official Scriptural text authorized by the Church, seem lost in a maze of new interpretations that water down the Word. This is further complicated by the fact there are so few Douay-Rheims editions in circulation though it is available on the net at
DOUAY-RHEIMS BIBLE. We have so many Vatican documents available at the Vatican web site and other excellent Catholic resource sites that detail Doctrine, Dogma and Canon Law. We have the traditions, and the means of grace but how do we consolidate all these sources into one where it is succinct and easy to understand? We have the perfect vehicle. It is called "My Catholic Faith", now out of print, that was compiled by Bishop Louis Laravoire Morrow and published by My Mission House. This work ties in Scriptural references, the Sacraments, Dogmas, Doctrines, Traditions, Church documents, Encyclical and Papal decrees to clearly illustrate the Faith in simple, solid and concise terms that all can understand and put into practice. We will quote from this work while adding in more recent events and persons when applicable since the book was written in the late forties during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII. We also quote from the Catholic Almanac published by Our Sunday Visitor for the Roman Curial offices.
Nothing in Holy Mother Church's teaching has changed and therefore we feel confident that these daily "points of enlightenment" will help more Catholics better understand their faith, especially those who were not blessed with early formation of the faith in the home and their parish school. Regardless of where any Catholic is in his or her journey toward salvation, he or she has to recognize that the Faith they were initiated into at the Sacrament of Baptism is the most precious gift they have been given in life.
THE INFALLIBILITY OF THE CHURCH
Jesus Christ commanded all men to listen and to obey the Church, under pain of damnation. If His Church can teach error, then He is responsible for the error, by commanding all to obey. Jesus sent forth His Apostles with full powers to preach His Gospel: “As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you,” “Make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” “Preach the Gospel to every creature.”
- a. Christ said: “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). A just God could not command men under penalty of damnation to believe what is false. So the teaching of Catholic Church must be infallibly true.”
He said: “You shall be witnesses for Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the very ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Since it was physically impossible for the Apostles to preach to the whole world, the mission must have been intended also for their successors to the end of time, our Catholic Bishops and Priests.
- b. Christ said: “If he refuse to hear even the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican” (Matthew 18:17). “He who hears you hears Me; and he who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects him who sent Me” (Luke 10:16).
He said, “And whoever does not receive you, or listen to your words go forth outside that house or town, and shake off the dust from your feet. Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gommorrah in the day of judgment than for that town” (Matthew 10: 14-16).
No Christian denies that the Apostles were infallible. In fact, in the first century, they were the only authority in the Church. The Bible was not completed till the end of that century, not within reach of all.
But God loves the Christians of today as much as He did the primitive Christians. We have as much need of unerring teachers as they. The Apostolic Church of the late 20th century must therefore be as infallible as the Church of the Apostles in the first century.
An infallible Bible is no use without an infallible interpreter. History has proved this, in the multiplication of the innumerable denominations that deny the infallibility of the Church. By infallibility, the faithful know exactly what to believe and what to do in order that they may be pleasing to God and save their souls.
It is a great blessing that, in the midst of the ever changing views of men and the conflict of human opinion, there is one voice crying out in unerring tones: “Thus saith the Lord.”
It is historical fact that the Catholic Church, from the twentieth century back to the first, has not once ceased to teach a doctrine on faith or morals previously held, and with the same interpretations; the Church has proved itself infallible.
It is also a historical fact that not one Pope, whatever he was in his private life, has ever taught error.
“The Scribes and the Pharisees have sat on the chair of Moses. All things, therefore, that they commanded you, observe and do. But do not act according to their works.” By obeying the Pope, every Christian can live as Christ commanded, in any age.
True, some high rulers of the Church have gravely sinned. Nevertheless, enemies of the Church have exaggerated even the lack of impeccability. In the long line of Popes the vast majority led virtuous lives. Many of them are honored as saints and martyrs. The enemies of the Church can bring charges against only five or six Popes. Most of the charges are calumnies or exaggerations. But even if the charges were true, they prove nothing against infallibility.
Of the Sovereign Pontiffs that have succeeded Peter, 84 are canonized Saints, of whom 32 were martyrs. However holy the Pope, he regularly goes to confession to a priest. No Pope ever considers himself above the laws of the Church and of God. In fact, the Pope considers himself the "servant of the God's servants."
The Church cannot change its teachings on faith and morals. But it may restate the doctrines more clearly and completely. Year after year the Church proclaims the same unchanging doctrines. Her doctrines need no reform, for they are of Divine origin, the work of the Incarnate God. No Pope or general Council in almost two thousand years has annulled or revoked a single decree of faith or morals enacted by a previous Pope or Council. This is history.
Monday: The Infallibility of the Church part three