Tag Archives: Church Crisis

Two Modern Myths of Ancient Church History

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.


  1. 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.

Heresy Podcast: 4th century Arians vs. St. Athanasius

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.
Amen.

Doctrine: Why We Can’t Crack

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.


  1. 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.”

  2. 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.