“The history of the world from the beginning is but the history of the struggle between the powers of the world, and of hell, against the souls which are humbly devoted to the divine action. In this struggle all the advantage seems to be on the side of pride, yet the victory always remains with humility. The image of the world is always presented to our eyes as a statue of gold, brass, iron, and clay. This mystery of iniquity, shown in a dream to Nabuchodonosor, is nothing but a confused medley of all the actions, interior and exterior, of the children of darkness. This is also typified by the beast coming out of the pit to make war, from the beginning of time, against the interior and spiritual life of man. All that takes place in our days is the consequence of this war. Monster follows monster out of the pit, which swallows, and vomits them forth again amidst incessant clouds of smoke. The combat between St. Michael and Lucifer, that began in Heaven, still continues. The heart of this once magnificent angel, has become, through envy, an inexhaustible abyss of every kind of evil. He made angel revolt against angel in Heaven, and from the creation of the world his whole energy is exerted to make more criminals among men to fill the ranks of those who have been swallowed up in the pit. Lucifer is the chief of those who refuse obedience to the Almighty. This mystery of iniquity is the very inversion of the order of God; it is the order, or rather, the disorder of the devil. This disorder is a mystery because, under a false appearance of good, it hides irremediable and infinite evil. Every wicked man, who, from the time of Cain, up to the present moment, has declared war against God, has outwardly been great and powerful, making a great stir in the world, and being worshiped by all. But this outward semblance is a mystery. In reality they are beasts which have ascended from the pit one after another to overthrow the order of God. But this order, which is another mystery, has always opposed to them really great and powerful men who have dealt these monsters a mortal wound. As fast as hell vomits them forth, Heaven at the same time creates fresh heroes to combat them. Ancient history, sacred and profane, is but a record of this war. The order of God has ever remained victorious and those who have ranged themselves on the side of God have shared His triumph, and are happy for all eternity. Injustice has never been able to protect deserters. It can reward them only by death, an eternal death. Those who practise iniquity imagine themselves invincible. O God! who can resist You? If a single soul has the whole world and all hell against it, it need have no fear if, by abandonment, it takes its stand on the side of God and His order. The monstrous spectacle of wickedness armed with so much power, the head of gold, the body of silver, brass, and iron, is nothing more than the image of clay; a small stone cast at it will scatter it to the four winds of Heaven. How wonderfully has the Holy Spirit illustrated the centuries of the world! So many startling revelations! so many renowned heroes following each other like so many brilliant stars! So many wonderful events!”—Fr. De Caussade SJ, Abandonment to Divine Providence, p. 66-68
The following is an unpublished article by Neil McCaffrey II (d. 1994, seen above right) on the power of an encyclical by Pope St. Pius X (above left.) I am good friends with Neil McCaffrey III, who kindly gave me copies of many of the treasures of his father’s writings. Below, you will find that most of the italicized words belong to Pope St. Pius X.
Breathes there a beleaguered Catholic today who hasn’t had recourse to Pius X’s epochal encyclical on Modernism? Pascendi Gregis was issued in 1907 – and I suggest that there isn’t a papal document extant that is more contemporary, or more consoling. It is directed against the Modernists who had surfaced in the Pope’s day – and their heirs all around us today.
Perhaps you’ve put off reading it because you find the mock-Ciceronian prose of latter-day papal documents impenetrable. Not to worry. Pius X writes directly, bluntly, sometimes with a bite that will make you blink. Hardly a page passes that you won’t want to mark, maybe memorize. To give you a sense of what’s in store, let me offer a handful of quotable passages. But I offer them with one caveat: for everyone here, there are literally a dozen more, just as choice in the encyclical. In fact, you’ll undoubtedly find at least a dozen that you like better than my own favorites.
Before quoting some of the Saint’s own words, let me cite parts of the encyclical wherein he quotes from other popes and councils. First, from a decree of Vatican I:
…that sense of the sacred dogma is to be perpetually retained which our Holy Mother the church has once declared, nor is this sense ever to be abandoned on the plea or pretext of a more profound comprehension of the truth.
He quotes from Singulari Nos, that neglected 1834 encyclical of Gregory XVI:
A lamentable spectacle is that presented by the aberrations of human reason when it yields to the spirit of novelty, when against the warning of the Apostle it seeks to know beyond what it is meant to know and when, relying too much on itself, it thinks it can find the truth outside the Catholic Church, wherein truth is found without the faintest shadow of error.
To condemn those who sneer at the church of yesterday and genuflect before the spirit of change, he cites the condemnations of two general councils, including Nicea II:
For Catholics nothing will remove the authority of the second Council of Nicea where it condemns those who dare, after the impious fashion of heretics, to deride ecclesiastical traditions, to invent novelties of some kind…or to endeavor by malice or craft to overthrow any one of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church…
As befits the head of a Church grounded in tradition, Pius X often invokes his predecessors. But most of the encyclical is original with him. Does this passage strike you as dated?
It remains for us now to say a few words about the Modernist as reformer. From all that has preceded, it is abundantly clear how great and how eager is the passion of such men for innovation. In all Catholicism there is absolutely nothing on which [Modernism] does not fasten. They wish philosophy to be reformed, especially in the ecclesiastical seminaries. They wish the scholastic philosophy to be relegated to the history of philosophy and to be classed among obsolete systems, and the young men to be taught modern philosophy which alone is said to be true and suited to the times in which we live….Dogmas and their evolution, they affirm, are to be harmonized with science and history. In the Catechism no dogmas are to be inserted except those that have been reformed and are within the capacity of the people.
Regarding worship, they say, the number of external devotions is to be reduced, and steps must be taken to prevent their further increase….They cry out that ecclesiastical government requires to be reformed in all its branches, but especially in its disciplinary and dogmatic departments. They insist that both outwardly and inwardly it must brought into harmony with the modern conscience, which now wholly tends toward democracy; a share in ecclesiastical government should therefore be given to the lower ranks of the clergy, and even to the laity, and authority which is too much concentrated, should be decentralized. The Roman Congregations, and especially the Index and the Holy Office, must be likewise modified.
The Pope calls Modernism “the synthesis of all heresies,” then goes on to analyze why people succumb to it. He finds three reasons, but one stands out:
It is pride which exercises over the soul incomparably greater power to blind it and lead it into error, and pride sits in Modernism as in its own house, finding sustenance everywhere in its doctrines and lurking in its every aspect. It is pride which fills Modernists with that self-assurance which puffs them up with that vainglory which allows them to regard themselves as the sole possessors of knowledge, and makes them say, elated and inflated with presumption, We are not as the rest of men, and which, lest they should seem as other men, leads them to embrace and to devise novelties even of the most absurd kind.
What must the hierarchy do when they confront this spirit? The Pope addresses the bishops of his day in impassioned words; how many of their successors are now heeding them?
It will be your first duty to resist such victims of pride, to employ them only in the lowest and obscurest offices. The higher they try to rise, the lower let them be placed, so that the lowliness of their position may limit their power of causing damage. Examine your young clerics most carefully…when you find the spirit of pride among them, reject them for the priesthood without compunction. Would to God that this had always been done with the vigilance and constancy that were required!
It is worth noting that the papal Saint made no exceptions for a shortage of priests, or any other reason. No, his order is delivered in the imperative, with no hedging: “reject them without compunction.” Period. We can be sure that Pius was not indifferent to shortages of priests; but he was a saint, not a clerical bureaucrat. He understood that God is not thwarted by (temporary) shortages.
The Pope pauses to note the hatred that Modernists pour on the orthodox. Anyone who has seen today’s breed in action will have to conclude that nothing has changed:
There is little reason to wonder that the Modernists vent all their bitterness and hatred on Catholics who zealously fight the battles of the Church. There is no species of insult which they do not heap upon them, but their usual course is to charge them with ignorance or obstinacy. When an adversary rises up against them with an erudition and force that render him redoubtable, they seek to make a conspiracy of silence around him to nullify the effects of his attack. This policy towards Catholics is the more invidious in that they laud with an admiration that knows no bounds the writers who range themselves on their side, hailing their works (which exude novelty on every page) with a chorus of applause.
For them the scholarship of a writer is in direct proportion to the recklessness of his attacks on antiquity, and of his efforts to undermine tradition and the ecclesiastical magisterium. When one of their number falls under the condemnation of the Church the rest of them, to the disgust of good Catholics, gather round him, loudly and publicly applaud him, and hold him up in veneration as almost a martyr for truth. The young, excited and confused by all this clamor of praise and abuse, some of them afraid of being branded as ignorant, others ambitious to rank among the learned, and both classes goaded internally by curiosity and pride, not unfrequently surrender and given themselves up to Modernism….
What efforts do they not make to win new recruits! They seize upon professorships in the seminaries and universities, and gradually make of them chairs of pestilence. In sermons from the pulpit they disseminate their doctrines, although possibly in utterances which are veiled. In congresses they express their teachings more openly. In their social gatherings they introduce them and commend them to others. Under their own names and under pseudonyms they publish numbers of books, newspapers, reviews…It is also a subject of grief to us that many others who, while they certainly do not go so far as the former, have yet been so infected by breathing a poisoned atmosphere as to think, speak, and write with a degree of laxity which ill becomes a Catholic. They are to be found among the laity, and in the ranks of the clergy, and they are not wanting even in the last place where one might expect to meet them, in religious communities. If they treat of biblical questions, it is upon Modernist principles; if they write history, they carefully, and with ill-concealed satisfaction, appear to cast a stain upon the Church.
Under the sway of certain a priori conceptions they destroy as far as they can the pious traditions of the people, and bring into disrespect certain relics highly venerable from their antiquity. They are possessed by the empty desire of having their names upon the lips of the public, and they know they would never succeed in this were they to say only what has always been said by all men. Meanwhile it may be that they have persuaded themselves that in all this they are really serving God and the Church. In reality they only offend both, less perhaps by their works in themselves that in all this they are really serving God and the Church. In reality they only offend both, less perhaps by their works in themselves than by the spirit in which they write, and by the encouragement they thus give to the aims of the Modernists.
Pius understood that it wasn’t enough for a pontiff to instruct and even exhort. (What, after all, would we say of a parent who periodically quoted the tenets of the moral law to his children, pleaded for their obedience, but refused ever to discipline them?) The Pope knew that words weren’t enough. He must act. Pius X did just that; and I think we may see in his determination one mark of that heroic sanctity that earned him the saint’s crown. He certainly laid it on the line to the bishops:
We exhort and abjure you to see to it, in this most grave matter, that no one shall be in a position to say that you have been, in the slightest degree, wanting in vigilance, zeal, or firmness.
Plain enough? Yet the Pope doesn’t stop there. He has a program. He acts. He “strictly ordains that scholastic philosophy be made the basis of the sacred sciences”; and, following Leo XIII and indeed the whole of Catholic tradition, all the arts and sciences are to “serve [theology] and want upon it after the manner of handmaidens.”
But that’s still not all. This saintly Pope understands that there must be sanctions aimed at those who rebel against Catholic teaching – sanctions that…are to be kept in view whenever there is a question of choosing directors and professors for seminaries and Catholic universities.
Anyone who in any way is found to be tainted with Modernism is to be excluded without compunction from these offices, whether of government or of teaching, and those who already occupy them are to be removed. The same policy is to be adopted towards those who openly or secretly lend countenance to Modernism either by extolling the Modernists and excusing their culpable conduct, or by carping at scholasticism and the Fathers and the magisterium of the Church, or by refusing obedience to ecclesiastical authority in any of its depositaries; and towards those who show a love of novelty in history, archaeology, biblical exegesis; and finally towards those who neglect the sacred sciences or appear to prefer the secular to them. In all this question of studies, Venerable Brethren, you cannot be too watchful or too constant…Equal diligence and severity are to be used in examining and selecting candidates for Holy Orders. Far, far from the clergy be the love of novelty!
Next come a series of papal edits that give liberals the shakes. What would their soul brothers in the American Civil Liberties Union make of all this?
It is also the duty of the Bishops to prevent the writings of Modernists, or whatever savors of Modernism or promotes it, from being read when they have been published, and to hinder their publication when they have not. No books or papers or periodicals whatever of this kind are to be permitted to seminarists or university students. The injury to them would be not less than that which is caused by immoral reading – nay, it would be greater, for such writings poison Christian life at its very fount. The same decision is to be taken concerning the writings of some Catholics, who, though not evilly disposed themselves, are ill-instructed in theological studies and imbued with modern philosophy, and strive to make this harmonize with the faith, and, as they say, to turn it to the profit of the faith. The name and reputation of these authors cause them to be read without suspicion, and they are, therefore, all the more dangerous in gradually preparing the way for Modernism…We order that you do everything in your power to drive out of your dioceses, even by solemn interdict, any pernicious books that may be in circulation there.
But isn’t all that hopelessly out of date? What would enlightened types say if they saw bishops behaving that way? The Pope, it seems, had anticipated the public relations problem – or what the spiritual writers used to call the temptation to human respect:
We will…that the Bishops, putting aside all fear and the prudence of the flesh, and despising the clamor of evil men, shall – gently by all means, but firmly – each do his own part in this work…Let no Bishop think that he fulfills this duty by denouncing to us one or two books, while a great many others of the same kind are being published and circulated. Nor are you to be deterred by the fact that a book has obtained elsewhere the permission which is commonly call the Imprimatur, both because this may be merely simulated, and because it may have been granted through carelessness or too much indulgence or excessive trust placed in the author, which last has perhaps sometimes happened in the religious orders.
Finally, leaving nothing to chance, local option, ecumenism, or public relations, the Pope spells out still more specifically the steps that must be taken to defend Catholic doctrine and protect the faithful. Again he addresses the hierarchy, and again he doesn’t hesitate to give them their marching orders:
Of what avail, Venerable Brethren, would be all our commands and prescriptions if they be not dutifully and firmly carried out?…We decree, therefore, that in every diocese a council of this kind, which we are pleased to name the “Council of Vigilance,” be instituted without delay….They shall watch most carefully for every trace and sign of Modernism both in publications and in teaching, and to keep it from the clergy and the young they shall take all prudent, prompt and efficacious measures. Let them combat novelties of words, remembering the admonitions of Leo XIII: It is impossible to approve in Catholic publications a style inspired by unsound novelty which seems to deride the piety of the faithful and dwells on the introduction of a new order of Christian life, on new directions in the Church, on new aspirations of the modern soul, on a new social vocation of the clergy, on a new Christian civilization, and on many other things of the same kind.
Does this give you the flavor? It does; but it’s only a taste. To get the full impact of a Pope who speaks – and acts – as one having authority; who cares nothing about his reputation among the worldly, and everything about the souls of his flock, you must read the whole, great document.
Read it now.
—Neil McCaffrey Sr.
“Act bravely, my brethren; take courage and trust in the Lord. The time is fast approaching in which there will be great trials and afflictions; perplexities and dissensions, both spiritual and temporal, will abound; the charity of many will grow cold, and the malice of the wicked will increase. The devils will have unusual power; the immaculate purity of our Order, and of others, will be so much obscured that there will be very few Christians who obey the true Supreme Pontiff and the Roman Church with loyal ears and perfect charity.
“At the time of this tribulation a man, not canonically elected, will be raised to the Pontificate, who, by his cunning, will endeavour to draw many into error and death. Then scandals will be multiplied, our Order will be divided, and many others will be entirely destroyed, because they will consent to error instead of opposing it.
“There will be such diversity of opinions and schisms among the people, the religious and the clergy, that, except those days were shortened, according to the words of the Gospel, even the elect would be led into error, were they not specially guided, amid such great confusion, by the immense mercy of God….
“Those who persevere in their fervor and adhere to virtue with love and zeal for the truth, will suffer injuries and persecutions as rebels and schismatics; for their persecutors, urged on by the evil spirits, will say they are rendering a great service to God by destroying such pestilent men from the face of the earth…
“Some preachers will keep silent about the truth, and others will trample it under foot and deny it. Sanctity of life will be held in derision even by those who outwardly profess it, for in those days Our Lord Jesus Christ will send them, not a true Pastor, but a destroyer.”
—Works of the Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi, published in 1882 by the London-based Catholic publishing house R. Washbourne, 1882, pp. 248-250.
Myth 1: Catholic means universal, as in what all Catholics believe in the 21st century.
Truth: Catholic is that which is believed everywhere, always and by all.
Many people believe that the term “Catholic” means universal in Latin. This is true, but the Greek root of this word is even older:
As you can see, Catholic means “according to the whole.” By whole, that means everything in the Bible and oral tradition (2 Thess 2:15.) It means the fullness of the truth. The modern myth is that “Catholic” means universal—but only today. The problem with this definition is that it falls short of the original Patristic definitions of Catholic. The fifth century monk St. Vincent of Lérins taught: “Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believedeverywhere, always, by all (quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est.)”—St. Vincent of Lérins, Commonitorium 4. Thus, Catholic doesn’t mean that quasi-deposit of the faith which is believed universally in an isolated époque of history, but rather the common teaching of the Popes and Fathers and saints of the 2nd century and the 8th century and the 13th century and the 17th century, and every century of the Magisterium.
Myth 2: Church History is like a pendulum that swings back and forth between conservative and liberal.
Truth: Church history is politically unstable, but dogmatically quite stable, except for two unique doctrinal crises in Church history. Even in these periods, the Magisterium remains untouched.
I graduated from a Jesuit high school and a Jesuit University and then I had another several years of Jesuit spiritual direction in seminary. I owe the Jesuits a lot, at least the true sons of Ignatius. But one of those false-sons of Ignatius tuaght us at some point in high-school that Church history is like a pendulum that swung back and forth between “conservative” and “liberal.”
For perhaps a decade, I promoted this odd teaching.
But as I started reading Church history, I never found a century when the pendulum went to “the left.” I found that St. Ignatius of Antioch (1st century) taught the same thing about salvation outside the Church as St. Alphonsus Liguori (18th century) as St. Theresa of Avila (16th century) as, yes, even every liberal’s favorite mascot, St. Francis of Assisi. Before that, I would happily remind people in my high-school days that “St. Francis of Assisi said that we should preach the Gospel always; use words if necessary.”
Well, then I found out that St. Francis of Assisi believed words to be so necessary to the preaching of the Gospel for the salvation of Muslims that he actually went to Muslim lands to preach to the Sultan the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church:
Thus, there was no pendulum swing to “the left” as we had been taught. It was always on the right, with every saint teaching that “No one comes to the Father except through me.”—John 14:6. In other words, if everyone’s favorite ecumenical mascot St. Francis of Assisi wrote “woe to those who die in mortal sin,” then there are no saints of the left-leaning pendulum. If St. Therese of Lisieux fasted as a child from not only food, but also water to save the criminal Pranzini as he approached the gallows, then who are all these Methodist-sounding saints before, say, 1950? When, before our odd modern times did the pendulum swing to the left? Was it in the 8th century? Or the 16th century? Who are these mysterious ecumenical saints of the 2nd century or the 13th century or the 18th century? Who are the saints of the pendulum leaning left and away from traditional Catholicism? I never found any. Write me if you do.
The only explanation is that we don’t have a pendulum swing. We have solid and normal and beautiful Catholicism for 20 centuries, all except the Arian crisis and the current modernist crisis.
Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan names the crises of the Church here including:
1) The Arian heresy, about which I podcasted here yesterday.
2) The Dark Century of the Roman Mafia
3) The Great Western Schism
4) Today’s Anthropocentric Crisis that Bp. Athanasius describes as “doctrinal, moral and tremendous liturgical anarchy.”
Notice that there have been four great crises in Church History, but see that exclusively number two and number three refer mostly to politics of the Church, not much doctrine. But the first crisis (the Arian crisis) and today’s crisis (the anthropocentric crisis) is doctrinal first. That means that essentially, these are about the only times in history when nearly all Catholics have almost globally and entirely diverted from Catholic Deposit of the Faith on matters “doctrinal, moral and liturgical” as His Excellency has pointed out. Indeed, we have a pretty unbroken tradition of what was taught always and at all times in an Apostolic manner, except for two unique crises when dogmatic relativism ruled even the hierarchy.
It is no wonder that our liturgy is so different from every single century, either.
The most recent shocker of this new mis-narrative in Catholic Church history is that certain modernists now belabor orthodox Catholics for being “Pelagians” for simply taking the Gospel seriously, while simultaneously teaching that a “good” atheist can go to heaven by his deeds. That is the true definition of Pelagianism, for the Bible and the Church have always taught that a man can not be saved by his good works, without the blood of Jesus Christ. 1
So, put it all together, and you can see that there is no pendulum swing. Catholicism was Catholicism in every century ubique, semper, et ab omnibus except the 4th century and the 20th century. St. Athanasius taught in that first crisis that the only way back to the source is to see what Christ and the Apostles taught in unbroken Magisterial authority in faith and morals, unbroken in a straight stream (with only slight diversions of style and discipline) for every century before his own.
Mary, the destroyer of all heresies, will lead us back to Her Son Jesus, and the beliefs of her dear and earliest Christians.
The Most Precious Blood of our redemption can be applied via perfect contrition in an extraordinary way through faith and love without baptism, like that which was given to the thief at the foot of the cross, but the ordinary way of salvation is the free gift of baptism, “for it is baptism that now saves you.”—1 Peter 3:21 and the works necessary for salvation described extremely clearly in Matthew 25. ↩
This podcast considers the heresy of Arius and how St. Athanasius (featured image on blog, feast day 2 May) promoted the faith that is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. That Christ is homoousian (of one substance or one in being) with the Father is the true and orthodox view. Heterodox or heretical views include homoiousian (that the Son is of a similar substance to the Father but not the same) and homoian (that the Son is similar to the Father, in all things, without speaking of substance) and heteroousian (that the Son is of a different substance from the Father, that is, created, as Arius wrongly taught.) But again, the orthodox teaching is that God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are homoousian or one in being as found in the Athanasian Creed, below in both English and Latin below.
Athanasian Creed in English:
Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is all One, the Glory Equal, the Majesty Co-Eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.
The Father Uncreate, the Son Uncreate, and the Holy Ghost Uncreate. The Father Incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost Incomprehensible. The Father Eternal, the Son Eternal, and the Holy Ghost Eternal and yet they are not Three Eternals but One Eternal. As also there are not Three Uncreated, nor Three Incomprehensibles, but One Uncreated, and One Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not Three Almighties but One Almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not Three Gods, but One God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not Three Lords but One Lord. For, like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say, there be Three Gods or Three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father, and of the Son neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is One Father, not Three Fathers; one Son, not Three Sons; One Holy Ghost, not Three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore or after Other, None is greater or less than Another, but the whole Three Persons are Co-eternal together, and Co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting Salvation, that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man.
God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the substance of His mother, born into the world. Perfect God and Perfect Man, of a reasonable Soul and human Flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood. Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but One Christ. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into Flesh, but by taking of the Manhood into God. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by Unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one Man, so God and Man is one Christ. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into Hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into Heaven, He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire. This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.
Symbolum S. Athanasii
Quicúmque vult salvus esse, *
ante ómnia opus est, ut téneat cathólicam fidem:
Quam nisi quisque íntegram inviolatámque serváverit,
absque dúbio in aetérnum períbit.
Fides autem cathólica haec est: *
ut unum Deum in Trinitáte, et Trinitátem in unitáte venerémur.
Neque confundéntes persónas, *
neque substántiam seperántes.
Alia est enim persóna Patris, alia Fílii, *
alia Spíritus Sancti:
Sed Patris, et Fílii, et Spíritus Sancti una est divínitas,
aequális glória, coaetérna maiéstas.
Qualis Pater, talis Fílius, *
talis Spíritus Sanctus.
Increátus Pater, increátus Fílius, *
increátus Spíritus Sanctus.
Immènsus Pater, imménsus Fílius, *
imménsus Spíritus Sanctus.
Aetérnus Pater, aetérnus Fílius, *
aetérnus Spíritus Sanctus.
Et tamen non tres aetérni, *
sed unus aetérnus.
Sicut non tres increáti, nec tres imménsi, *
sed unus increátus, et unus imménsus.
Simíliter omnípotens Pater, omnípotens Fílius, *
omnípotens Spíritus Sanctus.
Et tamen non tres omnipoténtes, *
sed unus omnípotens.
Ita Deus Pater, Deus Fílius, *
Deus Spíritus Sanctus.
Et tamen non tres dii, *
sed unus est Deus.
Ita Dóminus Pater, Dóminus Fílius, *
Dóminus Spíritus Sanctus.
Et tamen non tres Dómini, *
sed unus est Dóminus.
Quia, sicut singillátim unamquámque persónam Deum ac Dóminum confitéri christiána veritáte compéllimur: *
ita tres Deos aut Dóminos dícere cathólica religióne prohibémur.
Pater a nullo est factus: *
nec creátus, nec génitus.
Fílius a Patre solo est:*
non factus, nec creátus, sed génitus.
Spíritus Sanctus a Patre et Fílio: *
non factus, nec creátus, nec génitus, sed procédens.
Unus ergo Pater, non tres Patres: unus Fílius, non tres Fílii: *
unus Spíritus Sanctus, non tres Spíritus Sancti.
Et in hac Trinitáte nihil prius aut postérius, nihil maius aut minus: *
sed totae tres persónae coaetèrnae sibi sunt et coaequáles.
Ita ut per ómnia, sicut iam supra dictum est, *
et únitas in Trinitáte, et Trínitas in unitáte veneránda sit.
Qui vult ergo salvus esse, *
ita de Trinitáte séntiat.
Sed necessárium est ad aetérnam salútem, *
ut incarnatiónem quoque Dómini nostri Iesu Christi fidéliter credat.
Est ergo fides recta ut credámus et confiteámur, *
quia Dóminus noster Iesus Christus, Dei Fílius, Deus et homo est.
Deus est ex substántia Patris ante saécula génitus: *
et homo est ex substántia matris in saéculo natus.
Perféctus Deus, perféctus homo: *
ex ánima rationáli et humána carne subsístens.
Aequális Patri secúndum divinitátem: *
minor Patre secúndum humanitátem.
Qui, licet Deus sit et homo, *
non duo tamen, sed unus est Christus. .
Unus autem non conversióne divinitátis in carnem, *
sed assumptióne humanitátis in Deum.
Unus omníno, non confusióne substántiae, *
sed unitáte persónae.
Nam sicut ánima rationális et caro unus est homo:
ita Deus et homo unus est Christus.
Qui passus est pro salúte nostra: descéndit ad ínferos: *
tértia die resurréxit a mórtuis.
Ascéndit ad coélos, sedet ad déxteram Dei Patris omnipoténtis: *
inde ventúrus est iudicáre vivos et mórtuos.
Ad cuius advéntum omnes hómines resúrgere habent cum corpóribus suis: *
et redditúri sunt de factis própriis ratiónem.
Et qui bona egérunt, ibunt in vitam aetérnam: *
qui vero mala, in ígnem aetérnum.
Haec est fides cathólica, *
quam nisi quisque fidéliter firmitérque credíderit, salvus esse non póterit.
This podcast is about the difference Divine Law, Ecclesial Law and Particular Law. This is the necessary interlude for forthcoming heresy podcasts from the fourth century onward.
A young priest with whom I was once a seminarian is now on Facebook like me. About a year ago, he posted the account of how he asked an old priest if young priests would save the Church. The old priest said “No, Jesus will save His Church,” or something like that. Of course, this post had a ton of “likes.” For one, it seemed so humble for a young priest to admit that we young priests would not “save” the Church. Secondly, it tapped our modern Catholic desire to prove to Protestants that we only look to for Jesus for salvation.
Both are true, and I have no problem with either motivating factor for a lot of “likes” for that. But it diverts readers from the fact that God always sends real saints in the flesh like St. Catherine of Siena to fix real crises in the Church. When we all sit back and say “Don’t worry, Jesus is going to take care of it” (as everyone always tells me), well, that sounds very trusting and even saintly, but it is not Catholic. It misses the teaching of the Mystical Body of Christ, namely, that from the very beginnings of Christianity, Christ came first in the head (the Incarnation as Jesus Christ) and then in the body (His saints and martyrs.) See here what the Holy Spirit teaches about His own Catholic Church as the Mystical Body of Christ:
“And [Christ] is the head of the body, the Church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent. For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross…Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.”—Col 1:18-20, 23.
Notice two things from that quote:
1) The Apostle Paul was so confident that he was a living and real extension of Christ in the world that Paul could go so far as to say under inspiration of the Holy Ghost: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the Church.”—Col 1:23. So what is lacking in Christ’s sufferings? Nothing except my participation. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was 100% propitiatory, of course. Evangelical Protestants and Catholics agree on this. But what most people miss in this quote is my participation in Christ’s redemptive act lived in the world in 2018 can actually be missing. And when we don’t participate in the sufferings of Christ, the Church enters a crisis. Now we have the greatest crisis of faith ever seen in the Catholic Church, but if we take the Bible literally, it is because we in the Mystical Body want Christ without the Cross. It’s right there in Col 1:23.
2) Jesus is the head of the Mystical Body of Christ, but “Christ” includes the whole body of every baptized member, down to the smallest. Every time the littlest one suffers, it is still Christ suffering, as when we saw Jesus say to Saul while the latter was persecuting the Church: “And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said, ‘I am Jesus.’”—Acts 9:4-5a. In fact, St. Augustine went so far as to say: “If by Christ you mean both head and body, the sufferings of Christ are only in Christ.” Re-read that quote from St. Augustine a few times and let it sink in to get the Catholic idea of how we are all cells in the Mystical Body of Christ and that Jesus is the head and Mary is the neck (the mediatrix of all graces.) 1
Think how a modern Protestant or a modern Catholic would think it extremely arrogant if a modern pastor were to now claim that only Christ lived in that pastor: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”—Gal 2:20. But this is how the saving act of Christ continues on in the Church, by acting as loving and as bold as Christ in all our vocations. It is not to keep kowtowing backwards in doctrine for the sake of being “pastoral” that the Church will continue in the West.
We need a lesson from the East, from the Coptic Catholics and Chaldean Catholics and other Christians who balk at the threats of Muslims to abandon Christ, taking the knife the throat before capitulating to false-ecumenism.
St. Augustine taught something very profound on the mysteries of Christ’s Ascension and Pentecost. He wrote this: “And He [Christ] departed from our sight that we might return to our heart and find Him there. For He departed, and behold, He is here.”–St. Augustine. What St. Augustine means is that Christ went up at the Ascension, but He is now found on earth in His people after baptism and Pentecost. Thus, Christ saving the Church will happen through saints on earth, not a Protestant idea of a non-incarnate mystical body of Jesus just magically making things better at an emotional level. That idea is not Catholic. It’s not even Scriptural.
This is why St. Teresa of Avila wrote: “Christ has no hands but yours.” This includes the hands of bloggers. So, in a doctrinal crisis in the Church, it matters that no one ever capitulate on doctrine, no matter how high the price. The first Great Commandment (love God) comes before and flows into the second Great Commandment (love others.) That means that we must love God before neighbor. We must say the right thing, of course in charity, but always regardless of what we guess to be the unintended negative consequences at the pastoral level.
Without this rather-reckless philosophy, Jesus never would have made the Pharisees angry enough to crucify him. When Peter put Jesus’ own awesome ministry of teaching and miracles above of the cross, Peter was called a “Satan.” So also, we who work for the Catholic Church (cleric and lay alike) must do the right thing, regardless of consequences even at the ecclesial level. We can all be masters of our own deceit on what it means to be people-pleasing under the pretext of “pastoral.” We can all trick ourselves to say that cracking on doctrine for the sake of being pastoral will save souls.
It never will!2
The end doesn’t justify the means, and this includes sins of omission. If I fail to speak up for the truth in charity in a crisis in the Church for the sake of keeping the peace or keeping people in my pews or pleasing other clerics…I am sinning. I am literally sinning and harming the two primary missions of the Church: 1) The glory of God. 2) The salvation of souls.
Christ’s attitude to the Pharisees is all we need to assure us of this. Was it worth Christ angering the Pharisees that led to their jealousy that ended His ministry? Yes. We would never have the salvation of the cross if Christ had calculated in His sacred humanity the perfect way of pleasing everyone. Of course, the Son of God would never do this, but just realize you are called to be as bold if we take Catholic Ecclesiology to the extent of how St. Paul and St. Augustine saw the Mystical Body of Christ on earth.
Or really any saint: Christ has no hands but yours. This means writing the truth when it is not popular. You are making a difference. Priests, this means preaching the truth, even if it means losing your jobs. You can never commit a sin of omission for the sake of a future good, for the end doesn’t justify the means. Why can I write this so confidently?
Because I very much believe deep in my heart: God is always faithful.
An understanding of the redemptive suffering of the Mystical Body of Christ was inadvertently captured in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Professor X says: “It’s not their pain you’re afraid of. It’s yours, Charles. And as frightening as it can be, that pain will make you stronger. If you allow yourself to feel it, embrace it, it will make you more powerful than you ever imagined. It’s the greatest gift we have: to bear their pain without breaking. And it comes from the most human part of us: hope. Charles, we need you to hope again.” ↩
Even an elementary look at Church History would suggest that God is inspiring would-be saints to end this current crisis in the Church, but they/we are not responding to grace. Of course, I can not prove this, which is why it is only a footnote. The other option is that we are under such a heavy punishment from God for abortion and contraception and sacriligious communions that we are left “with no prophet” to guide us. This would be a sign of the Great Apostasy already upon us, so the first option is obviously a bit more cheerful, namely, that priests and bishops are not responding to the graces of boldness to end this crisis of modernism. ↩