Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Catholic Examination of Conscience

Readers of this blog have on several occasions seen me extol St. Thomas More's Dialogue Concerning Heresies, a book that I would nominate as the finest work of Catholic apologetics in the English language.  This product of St. Thomas More's uncluttered mind is as lucid, good-humored and easy to read as it is devastating in its logic and precision, and it is no less timely and urgently needed now than when the saint penned the first edition in 1528.

The Dialogue Concerning Heresies is especially needed today by Catholics.  I wish I could make it required reading in every parish and every seminary.  Too many of us no longer think like Catholics.  Too many of us do not believe that there is such a thing as the True Church, let alone that that True Church is the Catholic Church.  Too many do not even care whether there is a True Church.  Too many Catholics are prepared to believe that the Church may lead them astray, and therefore they are free or even obliged to pick and choose which doctrines they will believe.  Indeed, too many Catholics deny, or are indifferent to, the existence of truth per se.  This is why Western Civilization in general, and America in particular, are teetering on the edge of the abyss.  

That many Catholics have abandoned Catholic thought becomes apparent in the light of the Dialogue, which dissects many heretical notions that many Catholics either accept as consistent with the Catholic faith, or don't find the least bit appalling.  Part 4, Chapter 2 of the Dialogue is a syllabus of Luther's errors.  It pays to go down this list of errors and ask oneself seriously whether one recognizes them as errors.  Here are just some of them, as set forth by Thomas More.  Each one is followed by the relevant citation to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which also contains Scriptural and patristic authorities.  Are you a Catholic who believes any of these propositions?  If you see anything here that you go along with, I beg you to make use of the citations to the Catechism and think about it.

A Catholic Examination of Conscience

He [Luther] first began...with indulgences and with the Pope's power, categorically denying either of them to be of any effect at all.  Indulgences: CCC at 1471-79.  The Pope's power: CCC at 880-884, 937; 

...he denied all of the Seven Sacraments except Baptism, Penance and the Sacrament of the Altar, saying straight-out that the rest are but fabricated things and of no effect.  CCC at 1113 et seq. Penance he says that there is no need for either contrition or satisfaction.  Also he says that no priest is needed for the hearing of confession, but that every man -- and every woman, too -- is as competent to hear confessions and give absolution, and do everything that a confessor is supposed to do, as is a priest.  CCC at 980-982; 1430-1470; 1480-84.

Item: He teaches that faith alone suffices for our salvation with our baptism, without good works.  He says also that it is sacrilege to attempt to please God with any works and not with faith alone.  CCC at 1815; see also the CCC on Penance and Indulgences above.

Item: That no sin can damn any Christian, but only lack of belief.  For he says that our faith swallows up all our sins, however great they may be.  See above, also CCC at 1033-37.

Item: He teaches that no one has free will, or can do anything with it, even if the help of grace is joined to it, but that everything we do, good and bad, we do nothing at all there in ourselves, but only allow God to do everything in us, good and bad, as wax is wrought into a statue or a candle by human hands, without doing anything itself thereto.  CCC at 1701-15.

Item: He says that God is as truly the author and cause of the bad will of Judas in the betraying of Christ as of the good will of Christ in the suffering of His Passion.  As for Matrimony, he says straight-out that it is no sacrament; and so says Tyndale, too.  God's goodness: CCC at 313, 385.  Matrimony: CCC at 1601 et seq.

Item: That every Christian man and every Christian woman is a priest.  CCC at 1536 et seq.

Item: That every man can consecrate bread into the Body of Christ....he goes on to say that every woman and child can consecrate bread into the Body of Our Lord.  CCC at 1322 et seq.; 1536 et seq.

Item: That the Host in the Mass is no oblation or sacrifice.  CCC at 1322 et seq.

Item: That the Mass with its canon in the form that is and always has been used in Christ's Church is a sacrilege and an abomination....he teaches that it is heresy to believe that there is not, in the Blessed Sacrament, real bread and real wine joined with the Body and Blood of Our Lord.  CCC at 1345 et seq.;  1376.

Item: Zwingli and Oecolampadius, pupils of Luther...teach that the Blessed Sacrament is not the real Body or Blood of Our Lord at all....[Luther] teaches also that the Mass avails no one, alive or dead, except only the priest himself.  CCC at 1345 et seq.

Item: He teaches that people should go to Mass as well after supper as before breakfast, and in their regular clothes, as they go all day, without candlelight or any other honorific ritual used therein.  See if this is consistent with CCC at 1322 et seq.

Item: He teaches that every man and woman should take the Holy Sacrament, and not refrain from touching It and handling It as much as they please.  See if this is consistent with CCC at 1322 et seq.

Item: He says that the Blessed Sacrament is ordained by God to be received, but not to be worshipped.  CCC at 1378.

...he teaches, against Scripture and all reason, that no Christian is or can be bound by any law made by human beings, nor is obliged to observe or keep any.  CCC at 532; 1897-1904; 2052-82. 

Item: He teaches that there is no Purgatory.  CCC at 1030-32.

Item: That all people's souls lie still and sleep till Judgment Day.  CCC at 1021-22.

Item: That no one should pray to saints, or attach importance to any sacred relics or shrines, or do reverence to any images.  CCC at 2683, et seq.

Item: He says that every other woman now living, if she has the same faith, can as rightly be prayed to as Our Lady, and profit us as much with her prayer.  CCC at 148-149; 484 et seq.; 721-726; 963 et seq.; 2673 et seq.

Item: He teaches that people should give no veneration to the Holy Cross that Christ died on.  He says that if he had it whole, or all the pieces of it, he would throw it in such a place as no sun should ever shine on it, to the end that it should never be found to be venerated more.  CCC at 616-618.

He teaches that no man or woman is obliged to keep and observe any vow they have made to God of virginity or widowhood or other chastity outside of marriage, but that they may marry as they please, their vow notwithstanding.  CCC at 1618-1620; 2101-03.

As long as this post is, it seems fitting to close with a reflection by St. Thomas More, from Part 1, Chapter 27 of the Dialogue, on why it is God's will that Christians submit to the authority of the Catholic Church.
...[I]t is the perpetual order which Our Lord has continued in the governance of good people from the beginning, that just as our nature first fell by way of pride to disobedience of God with the inordinate desire of knowledge like unto God's, so has God ever kept man in humility, bridling him with the knowledge and confession of his ignorance and binding him to the obedience of belief of certain things of which his own intellect would indeed think the contrary.  And therefore we are bound to believe not only against our own reason the points that God communicates to us in Scripture, but also what God teaches His Church outside Scripture, and (also against our own mind) to give diligent hearing, firm credence, and faithful obedience to the Church of Christ concerning the sense and understanding of Holy Scripture.  Not doubting that since He has commanded that His sheep be fed, He has provided for them wholesome food and true doctrine.  And that He has for that purpose to such an extent inspired the old holy theologians of His Church with the light of His grace for our instruction that the doctrine in which they have concurred and which has been assented to through many ages is the really true faith and right way to heaven, its having been put in their minds by the holy hand of Him "Qui facit unanimes in domo," Who makes the Church of Christ all of one mind [Psalm 68:7].

Monday, July 16, 2012

There Is a Hell

One blog I check out regularly, because of its educational value, is Charleston Thug Life.  The owners of this blog started it as a way of exposing the criminal element in the Charleston, South Carolina area by means of their own Facebook postings.  For those who live in the Lowcountry, CTL is a rich source of information on the criminal records of persons who feature prominently in front-page crime stories; for those who don't, it is still a valuable primer on subjects such as gang life, street slang and the illegal drug trade.  CTL has recently expanded its mission to include covering the problem of contraband in prisons, and in particular, publicizing the Facebook pages of inmates with cell phones.

Charleston Thug Life also has value as a manual on how not to live.  There, on the Facebook pages of gangbangers, all seven of the deadly sins are on parade.  The bangers love to post pictures of their guns; gigantic wads of cash from slinging dope; the dope itself; themselves, lazing around, or with their babymamas, or posing in their bathroom mirrors, showing off their teeth bling or their tats, flipping the bird and throwing gang signs, and -- worst of all -- their little kids doing all of the above.  Contrary to the claims of race hustlers that gangbanging is a legitimate response of minorities to oppression by whites, the bangers of whatever race are motivated simply by greed for money (a common slogan: "M.O.E.", Money Over Everything), love of violence, lust for sex, power and pleasure, disdain for work and hatred of authority.  

The Christian faith tells us that all of the foregoing are paving stones on the broad, smooth path to perdition.  Yet, if their Facebook pages are any indication, the bangers are often imbued by a certitude of eternal bliss in the next life, both for themselves and for their brothers in thughood.  They prattle about praying, and spew greeting-card platitudes about overcoming adversity -- the adversity that they brought upon themselves by doing exactly as they please, no matter whom it hurts, but which they blame on the "crackers" that put them behind bars.  Even the ones who have been found guilty of rape, murder and kidnapping think they have God's approval.  And when their fellow bangers stop bullets in the pursuit of M.O.E., they are now "in a better place," "getting their rest."

Really?  This is an issue we have explored previously in this space, and it's worth going over again.  If you lead a life of dissipation, sling dope out of your taxpayer-subsidized Section 8 house, impregnate women you're not married to, cruise around town looking for trouble, smoke blunts and play video games all day, and teach your toddlers to throw gang signs, are you fulfilling God's will for your life?  And if your very last act on this earth is sticking up a gas station, or doing a home-invasion robbery, or gunning for rival gang members, or firing on police officers during a high-speed chase, is it really a better place you're headed for?  Would heaven really be heaven if you made it there as is?

Bulletin: every single one of us is going to die someday.  Every single one of us is going to appear before the highest tribunal of all, whose judgment is final and from which there is no appeal.  If we have been faithful to God and tried to serve Him and please Him in this life, and avoid the things that displease Him, we will go to heaven; if not, we will go to hell.  There is a hell, and damnation is forever and irremediable.  If you lead the thug lifestyle, you are on the one-way express train for hell.  The bling and the new car and the expensive athletic shoes will pass to new owners and do you no sort of good whatever.

So get off the train now, while you still can.  Go to confession, and turn your life around.  You will die as you have lived.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

"The Warning": Needs a Warning Label of Its Own

Read this instead.

I have, for the second time, just had my attention drawn to a website called "The Warning."  I will not link to it.  It purports to contain prophecies and revelations transmitted by God to somebody called "Maria Divine Mercy" to the effect that the end of the world will come in our lifetime.  What it actually is is a syllabus of errors of a major order regarding the Catholic faith.  Witness:

-- Absolution is possible without sacramental confession.  This website promises "total absolution and the power of the Holy Spirit" if a particular prayer is recited for seven days in a row.  (Also confuses the distinction between a plenary indulgence and absolution.)  God grants absolution through the priest in confession.  We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit through Baptism (CCC at 1265), and the increase of the Spirit's gifts and strength in Confirmation (CCC at 1303).

-- Paradise on earth.  This website says that the Second Coming of Christ will usher in a new earthly paradise for a thousand years.  Actually, what it will usher in will be the end of the world (CCC at 681).  Millenarianism is a heresy (CCC at 676).

-- God suffers in heaven.  The website says: "I am God of the Most High who, because of the free will I have given to all of My children, will have to suffer enduring pain until the New Paradise on earth evolves."  This is a tissue of absurdities.  God, being perfect, possesses perfect happiness in heaven and does not suffer.  Plus, this smacks of millenarianism. 

-- Promise of a seal.  A "seal of the living God" is promised upon the recitation of a prayer.  Once again, we are promised grace bypassing the Sacraments.  We already have a seal: the indelible characters of Baptism and particularly Confirmation (CCC at 1293-96).  The alleged "seal" promised to the followers of this seer purports to protect them from physical tribulations under Antichrist.  We all know from experience that the real seal on our soul conferred by the Sacrament of Confirmation does not protect us from temporal problems.

-- The Catholic Church has taught error.  The website claims that the Catholic Church has abandoned the true teachings of Christ, has taught that hell does not exist, and therefore she will be "cast aside" into the desert, and the "False Prophet" will amalgamate her with other, false religions.  Of course this is false (CCC at 869), and ought to alarm any knowledgeable Catholic.

-- The "True Church" will be built by the Jews and the followers of this seer.  This website identifies the two witnesses in the book of Revelation as the followers of this seer and the Jews.  After describing how they will be persecuted, the seer says: "Both will feel defeated but this will not be the case for you will form, along with all other religions, the one true Church – the New Jerusalem which will rise from the Ashes."  So, if that's the case, then the gates of hell DO prevail against the Church, and Christ is NOT with her all days until the consummation of the world.  Jesus, then, is a liar, and therefore not God.

These are just some of the glaring errors, gleaned from a cursory review of this website.  People, wake up.  "The Warning" is heretical, and these "revelations" are a fraud.  Do not be taken in.  Look to Scripture and Tradition to find out God's will for us, and don't waste your time on cockamamie "seers."

Friday, July 06, 2012

A Birthday in Heaven

Tonight, as I happen to be watching A Man for All Seasons, I have been reminded that, although St. Thomas More's feast is June 22d on the new calendar, the anniversary of his martyrdom is today, July 6th.

St. Thomas, who gave his life to vindicate the rights of St. Peter, died on the Utas of St. Peter -- the eighth day after the feast of Peter.  His headless body was buried in a mass grave in the church of St. Peter ad Vincula -- St. Peter in Chains.

Monday, July 02, 2012

If Only We'd Listened

This cartoon was produced by Harding College (now Harding University) in Searcy, Arkansas in 1948.  Ask yourself whether the evils warned against 66 years ago in this cartoon have not now come to pass.

We can't say we weren't warned.  If only we'd listened.

How's that snake oil tasting, Obamatons?