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Protestantism Led Us Here

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The current state of the world is terrible and getting worse. We all see this every day. What we often miss, however, is the overall tide of history, the movements of men and nations that are beyond the scope of our day-to-day, or even a single lifetime. In truth, nearly all of our present difficulties can be tied to the abandonment of the Church, which began with the rise of protestantism. Allow me to explain.

When the Church was in power across Christendom, we had what I would refer to as a “culturally complete” system in place. Our philosophy, religion, morality, worldview, culture, government, and economies were all in alignment and part of a system (Christendom) that could answer any criticism and inform every element of our lives. Yes, there were many immoral people, as there always has been, but sin was publicly recognized and frowned upon. Christendom had the character of a sustainable civilization, so long as its people upheld its moral and spiritual guidelines.

Naturally, after a time, they did not. The appearance of the archheretic Martin Luther threw this system into disarray; there were many people who didn’t care for the Church and Christendom because it limited their ambitions and restrained their actions. Luther — whose religious views were patently absurd, losing every public debate he ever had, but who was himself politically savvy — played into this desire, and allowed various temporal rulers the opportunity to shrug off the Catholic Church. A new mode of thinking, that of private interpretation, took hold, and soon there were a hundred other contenders in the religious sphere.

But protestantism wasn’t and isn’t a complete system. At its heart is a rejection of any public spiritual authority, for any recognition of this would inevitably point to the Church and thereby defeat their heresy. This means that any religious doctrine one holds to can only be the product of private interpretation (despite the Bible warning directly against this). To sustain this claim, the individuals must grant to themselves the power once held by the apostolic authority, namely the guidance of the Holy Ghost in interpreting Christian doctrine. Thus the individual becomes the final arbiter of all doctrine.

That these people are not guided by the Holy Ghost should be laughably self-apparent; there are some 30,000 different protestant sects today, which equates to an average of about one new sect a week for the last five hundred years. There is nothing even vaguely resembling agreement among them, and the Holy Ghost, being God, can only inspire Truth. So the consequence of this is that everyone becomes their own pope, their own spiritual authority, and lacking any sort of divine inspiration, this inevitably leads to a thousand different doctrines based upon personal preference.

But Christendom, at the time, had been a complete system where religion played a public role (as it should). Matters of private interpretation directly led to differences in public policy, which then led to violence. Protestantism sparked the Religious Wars, where the Western world battled within itself for a century before finding any sort of stability. That stability was the Peace of Westphalia, and the peace that it brokered would have profound implications. The religion of the ruler would be the religion of his lands, meaning that Christendom as an ideal had been abandoned. Each state would have its own defined borders and its own selected faith, and this right would not be questioned. While it had become a matter of simple necessity at the time, it meant that private interpretation (even when this rightly aligned with the Church) was granted international, official recognition. The state was the product of the belief of its rulers, and nothing more.

Private interpretation, however, can’t be a complete system or be defended against external attacks. When new modes of thinking entirely abandoned Christ, only the Church could mount a proper defense against them, yet half of Europe had abandoned Her. These areas (and even those of Christendom which still held to the Church but had populations with little or no loyalty to Her) became infected with new ideas, chief among these being secularism. Religion had, after all, caused a century of warfare, and private interpretation meant that no one could argue that his or her ideas were actually superior to anyone else’s. So why not leave religion in the purely personal sphere? State policy could be the product of what we all would agree upon.

Of course, a practical agnosticism in the public sphere meant a philosophical agnosticism took hold as well, even in those who still claimed to have religious faith. So secularism spread, while a newfound faith in science led people to think that the universe could be understood purely through observable phenomenon. And with the “shackles” of religion thrown off, who knows what new heights humanity could achieve? Perhaps, they thought, we could form a new society. This unshackled power, the State, could be used to reshape man. Without Christianity directing political thought, there was no longer any belief in Original Sin and the fallen state of man. So what says that man cannot become perfect, then? And if he can become perfect, yet is not, what is preventing him except present social conditions?

Thus was born progressivism, the idea that humanity as a whole could be reshaped into a new form. The subtler forms of this became liberalism, the more extreme, socialism and communism. Blaming social conditions meant also blaming the philosophical underpinnings of those conditions (as they were not inevitable according to them): rulers were to blame, and above all Christianity and the Church. They were to blame for man’s misery, because mankind had been limited by its “false” doctrines of Original Sin, the God-given right of rulers to rule, the belief in the inevitability of sin and poverty and death. The Church and King didn’t merely identify these things, they reasoned — they caused them.

Of course, absolute liberty of ideas meant that countless permutations of philosophy and organization of society could be arranged. Those driven by practicality and greed created an unrestrained, usurious capitalism; those driven by a belief in power and order became fascists; those who believed in utopianism became socialists; and so on. Any claim of distinction, of one idea or culture or moral code being superior to another, had to be abandoned completely.

These notions infected even the Church, leading to the modernist heresy and eventually the new sect of the Novus Ordo church. Even those distinctions found in natural law were now questionable. Why should men only marry women? Why should men not be women? Why can’t I marry a goat if I “truly love” it? Who says I should listen to the king or president or parliament? Who says I don’t have a right to your money, or that children can’t consent to sex, or that incest is wrong, or that drugs are bad? Who says children must obey their parents, that theft is immoral, that lying is evil?

So civilization ends in utter disarray, having lost faith in even the most obvious truths. Subjectivism means that no one can claim that anything is true, leaving mankind in the basest hedonism. For centuries, the Church restrained this, and even as She weakened, the cultural and moral impact She had had on civilization remained, until each generation questioned ever more fundamental truths. At last we have come to the final fruition of the abandonment of the Church, which began in Luther. We stare into the abyss and abandon ourselves to it. There are no evils which cannot be construed as good.

What hope is there then? As always, there is the hope of eternity. As always, there is the hope of the Church. Many now staring into the abyss are horrified, and rightly so, by what they see. So they turn back. If enough have preserved their moral instinct, and are inspired by the grace of God to return to their Mother, then civilization can still be saved.

But first we must stare long and hard into that utter darkness, without definition or distinction, where every evil is entertained as a good. We will fall headlong into madness until we see where it leaves us, and finally, finally, we will realize that abandoning our God and His Church was our undoing. Those of us who have preserved the Faith must pray and wait patiently, preserving the gifts of God so that, when the day of return comes, the Way, the Truth, and the Life can once again be seen.

The Evil Doctrines Found in Islam

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It is common in the media, post 9/11, to hear statements about Islam being a “religion of peace.” There are even false reports that state that, for instance, “Islam” means “peace” (when in fact it means submission – peace in arabic is salam). The number of popular misconceptions about Islam today is daunting, some even held by Muslims, but there are a few which are absolutely essential for a Westerner to understand, because much of what Islam teaches is incompatible with Western thought (not to mention morally repugnant).

I feel the need to note here that just because Islam itself teaches these things does not mean that each individual Muslim believes it or acts upon it. Much as there are many Jews who do not follow Mosaic Law, and many Christians who follow none of the teachings of Christ, there are many Muslims who do not hold to these things, would find them abhorrent, and/or are living lives largely compatible with the West as it currently stands. Nonetheless they are beholden to a religion that teaches horrid things; the Muslims who are faithfully following Muhammad are the Wahabbists and their ilk.


An important thing to know when understanding Islam is what’s called “imitatio Muhammadi” (in Latin anyways). It is the notion that Muhammed was, and is, the most perfect example of what a man should be. This is similar to how Christians regard Christ (though without the notion of Incarnation), in that if a Christian learned that Christ did a particular action, he would immediately assume that it is moral and good. So the actions of Muhammed, by themselves, impose moral principles on Islam, which have been almost universally upheld by Islamic scholars throughout the centuries. Keep this in mind.
One should also note that there are, in fact, TWO sources of Islamic doctrine: the Quran is the most important, but there are also what are called Hadith, which are oral testimonies from Muhammad’s followers about his teachings and conduct.

1. Muhammad had sex with a 9 year old girl when he was 53. The story of Aisha, Muhammad’s favorite wife, is widely known in the Islamic world. They were engaged when she was 6, and consummated the marriage when she was 9. Iran on account of this considers 9 to be the age of consent. This is, quite simply, child molestation.

2. Muhammad raped his captors, and allowed his followers to do the same. For proof of this, see: http://www.faithfreedom.org/Articles/sina/safiyah.htm . In the particular story cited in the link, Muhammad killed the woman’s family, and took the seventeen year old to bed (at age 57) the very same day.

3. Islam not only promotes slavery, but explicitly teaches that men can rape their slaves: “And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess” (Sura 4:24).

4. Islam also explicitly teaches that its followers should engage in jihad (which IS about warfare, not inner struggle, as some claim), for instance in Sura 9:29: “You shall fight against those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His messenger have prohibited, nor do they abide by the religion of truth – among those who received the scripture – until they pay the due tax, willingly or unwillingly.”
The “due tax” mentioned is called the jizyah, and is a tax required by Islam for unbelievers to pay Muslims to prevent themselves from being killed or exiled and robbed. This is only one of many, many examples that show the violent nature of Islam. Muhammad himself engaged in warfare constantly, and broke treaties with allies at his convenience when he had built a strong enough force to conquer them.

5. The religion of Islam has never spread except by either conquering or outbreeding other populations.

6. There are certain ahadith that state unequivocally that a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s. Examples: http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/Quran/010-women-worth-less.htm

These are only a few of the many reasons why Islam and Western thought are not compatible.

Islam is sometimes included as an “Abrahamic religion” alongside Judaism and Christianity. This is false; Islam has no ties, ethnically or culturally, with the intellectual legacy of Abraham. The notion that Arabs are the descendants of Ishmael was a later adaptation used by Muslims to tie their religion to Judaism and Christianity for the purpose of gaining conversions.
The Ka’ba – the main site of Islamic worship and the place toward which Muslims pray 5 times daily – was claimed by Muhammad to be the site of a temple Abraham constructed, which is plainly false and has no historical basis whatsoever. Rather the Ka’ba was a pagan shrine. The only shared elements between Islam and the Judeo-Christian beliefs and history are borrowings from Muhammad.
For instance, Allah is not the generic word for God in Arabic; rather, it is the proper name of a pagan deity from pre-Islamic Mecca. When Muhammad proclaimed Allah to be the one God, it would be akin to an ancient Roman proclaiming that Zeus was God. It was the adaptation of a polytheistic (or possibly henotheistic) system to a monotheistic framework. He was also known as Hubal, the moon god, whose symbol was the crescent moon (which is where Islam gets the symbol from).
Allah had 3 daughters in the pagan system, at one point Muhammad even proclaimed their divinity, effectively renouncing monotheism, but later retracted the claim, stating it was Satan who made him say it (look up the Satanic Verses). Almost all of the particular religious practices of Islam today are in fact directly borrowed from the pagan religion of pre-Islamic Arabia.

Ample proof exists to demonstrate how different Islamic thought is, and why, by Western and Christian standards at the very least, extremely immoral.

Has the Antichrist Come Yet? An Essay on Paul VI

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Paul VI, the second antipope of this great apostasy going on in our day and one of the primary architects of the robber’s council of Vatican II, caused incomprehensible damage to the Church, both as to the spread of its pure doctrine and to the hierarchy (virtually eliminating it in one stroke by forcing all his modernist followers, bishops and priests, to acknowledge and accept Vatican II’s teaching and the subsequent blasphemies that followed).

Now, we know that there will be many antichrists until the coming of Christ, as anyone who is opposed to Christ and His Church is an antichrist. And the damage that Paul VI and those involved with him caused to the Church is almost completely unparalleled in the Church’s history. This has led some to the conclusion that he was the Antichrist predicted by Scripture; however, by carefully looking at Church teaching, this can be unequivocally shown not to be the case.

The Holy Catholic Church has prepared us for these wicked times through various means, both through private prophecies that describe current events and, more importantly, through public prophecy (that is, Scriptural prophecy which we are obliged to believe). Private prophecy, however strongly demonstrated to be true, however consistent with events, no matter how accurate – I speak here of those which are most well-known and attested for, such as Fatima et. al. – are never required to be believed. Only the Church’s infallible teachings must be believed, and those were completed with the Apostles (though elaborated and more firmly described by subsequent infallible pronouncements). Public prophecy, however, since it is Scripturally based, must be believed by all Catholics.

Before explaining why Paul VI cannot be the Antichrist, however, it is important to understand the nature of the Church’s infallible teaching. The Church’s teachings are divided into two groupings: the Solemn Magisterium and the Ordinary Magisterium. The Solemn Magisterium consists of those beliefs which the Church, through the infallible authority of the Pope, has proclaimed as “De Fide,” that is, of the Faith itself.

The Ordinary Magisterium, however, can be taken in two ways (which can make things somewhat confusing). When speaking doctrinally, one refers to the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium, which is a source of Church teaching and which is also infallible. When one speaks only of the Ordinary Magisterium, on the other hand, that refers to the jurisdictional and canonical elements of the Church, or those beliefs which are strongly believed but by no means infallible. In this short essay, I will be referring exclusively to the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium, and so for the sake of clarity I will simply call it the Universal Magisterium.

If the Solemn and Universal Magisterium each are infallible, then what distinguishes them? Well, when the Pope defines, either independently or through Council, a dogma, then it belongs to the Solemn Magisterium. The Universal Magisterium, contrarily, consists of a few different things: a belief in which the opposite of it has been condemned (like when the Pope condemned the idea of the Virgin Mary not being Immaculately conceived, in the 17th century, but before it was proclaimed solemnly in the 19th), or, more importantly in this case, a belief which was universally proclaimed by the Church Fathers as an interpretation of Scripture and the Faith, or is required to be followed by all Catholics.

In the Papal Encyclical Providentissimus Deus, Pope Leo XIII taught this:

 

Moreover, the literal sense [of the Scriptures] itself frequently admits other senses, adapted to illustrate dogma or to confirm morality. Wherefore it must be recognized that the sacred writings are wrapt in a certain religious obscurity, and that no one can enter into their interior without a guide; God so disposing, as the Holy Fathers commonly teach, in order that men may investigate them with greater ardor and earnestness, and that what is attained with difficulty may sink more deeply into the mind and heart…His teaching, and that of other Holy Fathers, is taken up by the Council of the Vatican, which, in renewing the decree of Trent declares its “mind” to be this — that “in things of faith and morals, belonging to the building up of Christian doctrine, that is to be considered the true sense of Holy Scripture which has been held and is held by our Holy Mother the Church, whose place it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the Scriptures; and therefore that it is permitted to no one to interpret Holy Scripture against such sense or also against the unanimous agreement of the Fathers. …Wherefore the first and dearest object of the Catholic commentator should be to interpret those passages which have received an authentic interpretation either from the sacred writers themselves, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost (as in many places of the New Testament), or from the Church, under the assistance of the same Holy Spirit, whether by her solemn judgment or her ordinary and universal magisterium — to interpret these passages in that identical sense, and to prove, by all the resources of science, that sound hermeneutical laws admit of no other interpretation. …The Holy Fathers “to whom, after the Apostles, the Church owes its growth — who have planted, watered, built, governed, and cherished it,” the Holy Fathers, We say, are of supreme authority, whenever they all interpret in one and the same manner any text of the Bible, as pertaining to the doctrine of faith or morals; for their unanimity clearly evinces that such interpretation has come down from the Apostles as a matter of Catholic faith. …This unanimity is not destroyed by the silence of some of the foremost Fathers, and is sufficiently guaranteed by the consentient voice of the principal patristic writers living at any critical period, or by the agreement of commentators living at various times; but the unanimity is destroyed is some of the Fathers openly deny the correctness of the interpretation given by others.

 

It is clear from this encyclical from His Holiness Leo XIII that, when it comes to understanding matters of the Faith, particularly in the case of Scripture, the continual teaching of the Church and the unanimous teaching of the Holy Church Fathers must be followed as infallible. And it must follow that, if the Church is a sure guide of our salvation, She cannot err even in Her ordinary Magisterium when such things are binding on all Catholics. This or that bishop may fall into sin and error, but the Church as a whole cannot guide us away from God.

This brings us to the main question: what did the Church Fathers, then, teach us about the coming of Antichrist, and what details did they reveal through their unanimous interpretations that would aid us in determining who the Antichrist was/is/will be?

Those things which we know, as a matter of Faith, to come at the end of the world are what could be called “De Fide Eschatology.” These are things which, through the Church Father’s understanding of Scriptures (the Universal Magisterium), and the Solemn Magisterium, we know must come to pass in the end times.

First, in consulting the Church Fathers’ understanding of the coming of Antichrist, we see that they speak of specific events that lead up to his rise to power. From numerous quotes from the Church Fathers (and a few other sources), we begin to see a clear picture of what circumstances surround the coming of Antichrist. It is important to note that these selections from various Fathers are merely samples which express the unanimous views held by the Church Fathers (a fact which can be easily demonstrated), but to preserve the reader from having to droll through every single quote on the matter, a mere handful will suffice to demonstrate the points. Much of these interpretations relate to prophecies given in the Books of Daniel and Apocalypse, but also in others.

Through these means, we can construct a list of attributes or requirements which must be fulfilled both in the person of Antichrist and in the events that precede him. We can then compare this list to the life of Paul VI and see if it is possible that he was the Antichrist.

 

St. Ephraem: “Then the Lord from his glorious heaven shall set up his peace. And the kingdom of the Romans shall rise in place of this latter people, and establish its dominion upon the earth, even to its ends, and there shall be no one who will resist it. After iniquity shall have subsequently multiplied, and all creatures have become defiled, then Divine Justice shall appear, and shall wholly destroy the people, and coming forth from perdition, the Man of Iniquity shall be revealed upon the earth, the Seducer of men, and the disturber of the whole earth… And when the Son of Perdition has drawn to his purpose the whole world, Enoch and Elias shall be sent that they may confute the evil one.”

 

First, St. Ephraem here establishes that a latter Roman Empire must arise (a fact reiterated, again, in numerous interpretations of Scripture by the Fathers), which shall extend farther than any before it. This prophecy can by no means refer to any of the various incarnations of the Roman empire which have preceded modern day, because none of them extended themselves to the lengths described here (a point which shall be addressed again soon). Also, we note that Enoch and Elias, the Two Witnesses spoken of in Apocalypse, must come to oppose him. Here, then, we have our first two facts:

 

  1. Antichrist shall arise after a final Roman Empire.
  2. He shall be opposed by the Two Witnesses, Enoch and Elias.

 

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Note: He states specifically that this is not a matter of private prophecy from himself, but given from Apostolic Tradition.) “…since the true Christ is to come a second time, the adversary makes use of the expectations of the simple, and especially of those of the circumcision [Jews]; and he brings in a certain man who is a magician, and who is quite expert in sorceries and enchantments of beguiling craftiness. This one shall seize the power of the Roman Empire, and shall falsely style himself Christ. By the name of Christ he shall deceive the Jews, who are expecting the Anointed, and he shall seduce the gentiles by his magical illusions.

This aforementioned Antichrist is to come when the times of the Roman Empire have been fulfilled and the end of the world is drawing near. There shall rise up together ten kings of the Romans, reigning in different parts, perhaps, but all reigning at the same time. After these there shall be an eleventh, the Antichrist, who obey the evil power of magic shall seize upon the Roman Power. Of the kings who reigned before him, three shall be humbled, and the remaining seven he shall have as subjects under him… He shall display against all men and especially against us Christians, a spirit that is murderous and most cruel, merciless and wily. For three years and six months only shall he be the perpetrator of such things. Now these things we teach not of our own ingenuity… that this kingdom is that of the Romans, has been the tradition of the Church’s interpreters.”

 

This most informative explanation by St. Cyril points out that Antichrist shall arise from the Jews, and though them shall initially claim himself to be the Messiah. He will also use all manner of false miracles to deceive virtually everyone into accepting his claim. It is also shown that at the time of his rise to power, there shall be ten Roman kings, three of whom he shall conquer, after which the other seven shall submit. He will then murder Christians especially, but be cruel to all, but the total length of these events will only be 3 1/2 years (as the Scripture states repeatedly). Finally, he notes that specifically this element of a preceding Roman kingdom is a matter of Church tradition, not personal opinion.

 

  1. Antichrist shall rise to power through the Jews.
  2. He will claim to be the Messiah (thereby denying the true Christ explicitly).
  3. At that time there shall be ten Roman kings, and after he conquers three of them, the other seven submit, giving him dominion over the entire world.
  4. He will use magic and perform false miracles.
  5. He will murder Christians.
  6. His reign will last 3 1/2 years.
  7. Antichrist’s reign shall consist of temporal, military, and political power.

 

St. John Chrysostom: “In the same way as those kingdoms which existed before the Roman Empire were destroyed (the Babylonian by the Persian, the Persian by the Greek, and the Greek by the Roman), so will the Roman Empire be destroyed by Antichrist. This will happen when the Roman Empire shall have been divided into ten kingdoms.”

 

Again, through St. Chrysostom, we see these same facts concerning the Roman Empire which precedes him and which shall be divided into ten kingdoms.

 

St. Jerome: “Therefore, let us state what all the ecclesiastical writers have passed down: At the consummation of the world, when the Kingdom of the Romans has been destroyed, when ten kings shall have divided the territory of the Romans between themselves, an eleventh shall rise to a small kingdom, who when he shall have overcome three of the ten kings, i.e., the kings of the Egyptians, of the Africans, and of the Ethiopians, and consequently as we learn more manifestly – whom he shall have killed, the other seven kings shall submit their necks to the victor [the Antichrist]… Nor do we think him to be the Devil or a demon (as some others do), but one of mankind in whom Satan shall dwell totally…his mouth uttering great boasts, for he is the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition, such that he will seat himself in the Temple as if he were God. (2 Thess. 2:15)”

 

St. Jerome makes a special note to show that he has received these beliefs from tradition, and not from personal opinion. Again we see the same information, namely that a grand Roman Kingdom will be divided into ten parts, and conquered by Antichrist.

 

St. Hippolytus: “The Saviour came into the World in the circumcision, and he [Antichrist] will come in the same manner…The Saviour raised up and showed His holy flesh like a temple, and he will raise a temple of stone in Jerusalem…”Dan,” he says, “is a lion’s whelp; “and in naming the tribe of Dan, he declared clearly the tribe from which Antichrist is destined to spring. For as Christ springs from the tribe of Judah, so Antichrist is to spring from the tribe of Dan…And under this was signified none other than Antichrist, who is also himself to raise the kingdom of the Jews. He says that three horns are plucked up by the root by him, viz., the three kings of Egypt, and Libya, and Ethiopia, whom he cuts off in the array of battle. And he, after gaining terrible power over all, being nevertheless a tyrant, shall stir up tribulation and persecution against men, exalting himself against them… By one week, therefore, he meant the last week which is to be at the end of the whole world of which week the two prophets Enoch and Elias will take up the half. For they will preach 1,260 days clothed in sackcloth, proclaiming repentance to the people and to all the nations…Scripture says “I will send to you Elias the Tishbite before the day of the Lord, the great and notable day, comes; and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, lest I come and smite the earth utterly.” These, then, shall come and proclaim the manifestation of Christ that is to be from heaven; and they shall also perform signs and wonders, in order that men may be put to shame and turned to repentance for their surpassing wickedness and impiety. For John says, “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.”
…And he did great wonders, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceives them that dwell on the earth by means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast, saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast which had the wound by a sword and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he caused all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand or in their forehead; and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast; for if is the number of a man, and his number is six hundred threescore and six.”…For he will act with vigour again, and prove strong by reason of the laws established by him; and he will cause all those who will not worship the image of the beast to be put to death.”

 

This long passage reiterates what we already know, but also informs us that the Two Witnesses, Enoch and Elias, shall themselves perform numerous miracles. Greater details are shown as to the methods of Antichrist concerning how he shall persecute and murder Christians, and the means by which he marks his disciples.

 

  1. The Two Witnesses who oppose him shall perform many miracles.
  2. Antichrist will require men to worship an image of the Beast (either himself or Satan), and those who refuse shall be put to death.
  3. All will have to receive a mark on their hand or forehead as a sign of allegiance, without which none can buy nor sell.

St. John Damascus: “Antichrist will not arise, however, in our temple, but in the former one, that of the Jews, for he will not come to us, but to the Jews initially… And he shall come in signs and lying wonders – sham ones and not real… And Enoch and Elias the Thesbite will be sent and they shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, that is to say, turn the synagogue to our Lord Jesus Christ and the preaching of the Apostles. And they will be destroyed by him.”

 

Here we see that the Two Witnesses shall bring the Jews back into the fold of believers, into the Catholic Church, by their preaching and miracles, and then be slaughtered by Antichrist.

 

  1. During the reign of Antichrist, the Two Witnesses convert the Jews to the Church.
  2. The Two Witnesses will eventually be killed by Antichrist (though as the Scripture tells us, they rise again.)

 

St. Remigius: “Take notice that the kingdom of France is predestined by God for the defense of the Roman Church, which is the only true Church of Christ. This kingdom shall someday be great among the kingdoms of the earth, and shall embrace all the limits of the Roman Empire, and shall submit all other kingdoms to its own scepter.”

 

St. Remigius reveals that the Roman Kingdom which is to precede Antichrist will come from France, and shall truly rule over all lands. Again, no king of France has ever ruled over a Roman Empire, let alone over the whole world, and so we know this must speak of future events.

 

  1. The Roman Kingdom which precedes Antichrist and which establishes peace will be ruled by the French, and shall be the singularly greatest power in the world.

 

St. Caesar of Arles: “When the entire world, and in a special way France, and in France especially the provinces of the North, of the East, and above all that of Lorraine and Champagne, shall have been laid waste by the greatest miseries and trials, then the provinces shall be comforted by a Prince who had been exiled in his youth, and who shall recover the crown of the lilies. This prince shall extend his dominion over the total universe. At the same time, by the will of God, a most holy man shall receive the Papacy, who will be most perfect in every spiritual perfection. This Pope will have with him the Great Monarch, a most virtuous man, who shall be an eminent leader of the holy line of French kings. This Great Monarch shall assist the Pope in the reformation of the whole earth. Many nations and their princes that are living in error and impiety shall be converted, and an admirable peace shall reign among men during many years, because the wrath of God shall be appeased through their repentance, penance, and good works. There will be one common law, only one Faith, one Baptism, one Religion. All nations shall recognize the Holy See of Rome and shall pay homage to the Pope. But after an extended period of time, fervor will cool, iniquity will abound, and moral corruption shall become worse than ever before, which shall bring upon mankind the last and worst persecution of Antichrist, and the end of the world.”

 

We see here more details concerning the aforementioned Roman Empire which shall be ruled by a French Monarch. First, the whole world shall suffer great miseries and trials, after which this French Prince (known in prophecy as the Great Monarch) recovers his kingdom and extends it over almost all the earth. Likewise, we see that a saintly Pope (known in other prophecies as the Angelic Pope) is elected, and through both the Monarch’s and the Pope’s efforts, the majority of the world shall be converted, and a period of peace, piety, and devotion to the Catholic Faith shall abound for a generation or so. Eventually, however, men fall back into their wicked ways, the Roman Empire breaks apart into ten kingdoms, and Antichrist comes.

 

  1. Before the Great Roman Empire is established, there will be great suffering across the entire world, particularly in parts of France.
  2. Afterwards, however, a holy Pope shall be elected who, with the Great Monarch, spread the Catholic Faith and restore the world to one of devotion and piety, for a generation.
  3. Eventually, fervor will cool, men return to their old wicked ways, and only then does Antichrist come to power.

 

Rabanus Maurus (Note: Not a Church Father, but a learned scholar of Church oral and Scriptural Tradition.): “Our principal Doctors agree in telling us, that towards the end of time, one of the descendants of the king of France shall reign over all of the Roman Empire; and that he shall be the greatest of the French Monarchs, and the last of his race. After having governed well his kingdom, he shall go to Jerusalem, and lay down his scepter and crown on Mount Olivet. This shall be the conclusion of the Roman and Christian Empire.”

 

Though not a Church Father per se, Rabanus Maurus was known as one of the wisest men of his time, especially regarding Church Tradition. His words confirm what the Church Fathers have repeatedly stated concerning the end times, and state also that the Roman Empire is dissolved (into ten kingdoms, as we know) after the death of the Great Monarch.

 

  1. The Roman Empire is dissolved into the ten kingdoms after the Great Monarch, the last French king, dies in Jerusalem, at which point there shall no longer be any more Christian empires.

 

St. Iranaeus: “The disciples of the Apostles say that they [Enoch and Elias] whose living bodies were taken up from this world, have been placed in an Earthly paradise, where they will remain until the end of the world.”

 

The Two Witnesses have been mentioned by name time and again by these prophecies as being Enoch and Elias, the Old Testament prophets who were taken up by God before their deaths. St. Iranaeus makes it explicit in his statement that it is, in fact, the original Enoch and Elias who are to come, and that this is not symbolic language.

 

  1. The Two Witnesses will be Enoch and Elias, of the Old Testament, in the flesh, and not merely symbolically.

 

St. Augustine: “Behold, I will send to you Elias the Thesbite, before the great and signal day of the Lord come: and he shall turn the heart of the father to the son, and the heart of a man to his next of kin, lest I come and utterly smite the earth. It is a familiar theme in the conversation and heart of the faithful, that in the last days before the Judgment, the Jews shall believe in the true Christ, that is, our Christ, by means of this great and admirable prophet Elias, who shall expound the law to them. For not without reason do we hope that before the coming of our judge and Savior, Elias shall come, because we have good reason to believe that he is now alive. For, as Scripture most distinctly informs us, he was taken up from this life in a chariot of fire. When, therefore, he is come, he will give a spiritual explanation of the law which the Jews at present understand carnally. And shall thus, ‘turn the hearts of the father to the son,’ that is, the heart of the fathers to their children; …and the meaning is, that the sons, that is, the Jews, shall understand the law as the fathers, that is, the prophets, and among them Moses himself, understood it… that the Jews also, who had previously hated, should then love the Son who is our Christ.”

 

St. Augustine reinforces the point most vigorously which St. Iranaeus made above: namely, that it is the real Enoch and Elias, in the flesh, who shall return, and convert the Jews at the end of the world.

 

St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor: “The third demonstration arises from the coming of Enoch and Elias, who live even now and shall live until they shall come to oppose Antichrist himself, and to preserve the elect in the Faith of Christ, and in the end shall convert the Jews, and it is certain that this has not yet been fulfilled…But it is easily seen that by us, truly this is not a childish fantasy, but a most true concept, that Enoch and Elias shall personally return, and it is also seen that the contrary concept is either absolutely heretical, or a serious error very close to heretical.”

 

St. Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church and amongst the greatest theologians ever known, sternly establishes this point concerning Enoch and Elias as irrefutable, and labels the opposing belief as heresy or very near to it. This only makes sense, considering both the Scriptures testimony regarding them and the manner in which the Church has interpreted those Scriptures.

 

We have now a list of conditions, which must be met before we can state that the Antichrist has come and whether an individual is the Antichrist or not. Remember: this is based upon Church Tradition; Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical makes it clear that the universal testimony of the Church Fathers on these matters must be accepted as infallible.

Before we begin the analysis, however, it is important to distinguish to what degree these elements need to be believed – or rather, under what penalty disbelief in them falls. Disagreeing with the Universal Magisterium, while infallible, does not place one under pain of heresy, but only under pain of mortal sin (though that certainly is not a punishment one would hope to incur if one hopes to enter heaven). Denying, in whole or in part, the Scripture, however, is a crime against its De Fide nature as the Word of God, and consequently is an offense against the Solemn Magisterium and places one under pain of heresy.

This issue, however concern both: it is a matter of accepting the Universal Magisterium’s teaching, but in regards to the proper understanding of Scripture. Now, any fact which is intrinsically tied to a dogma, though not explicitly proclaimed by it, is known as a dogmatic fact. A dogmatic fact is something that cannot be denied without, logically, denying the dogma itself.

For instance, if one accepted the dogma that Christ is both true Man and true God, but then denied that Christ had a human soul, that would be a denial of a dogmatic fact (or rather would have been in the past, since the matter has been settled already, but hypothetically speaking). To be fully man, one must have both a body and a soul; therefore to deny that Christ had a human soul would be to deny that he was fully Man at all.

If one is ignorant of the implications of that dogmatic fact, then one is not guilty of heresy. But once someone is informed of the reality of their position, they are bound to then change their position on that dogmatic fact, under pain of heresy.

It is in this circumstance that we find ourselves in regarding the matter of Antichrist. A person may be ignorant of these facts, in which case they have committed no crime. If one proclaims to believe the Scripture, but then nevertheless denies the Church’s interpretation of it, they are denying a dogmatic fact. Once this is pointed out to them, they are then bound to accept the correct position, under pain of heresy.

Regarding Antichrist, to get back to the subject at hand, we have collected a number of points from the Church Fathers which we can use as a “screening test” of sorts to determine whether an individual is the Antichrist or not. Note that these points are not simply all of the actions or traits which the Antichrist shall bear – it is not meant to be exhaustive. However, the individual who is the Antichrist will, and must, fulfill each of the requirements listed. Here is the list, rearranged in chronological order:

 

  1. Before the Great Roman Empire is established, there will be great suffering across the entire world, particularly in parts of France. (This is the coming Chastisement, as a sidenote.)
  1. Afterwards, however, a holy Pope shall be elected who, with the Great Monarch, spread the Catholic Faith and restore the world to one of devotion and piety, for a generation.
  1. The Roman Kingdom which precedes Antichrist and which establishes peace will be ruled by the French, and shall be the singularly greatest power in the world.
  1. Eventually, fervor will cool, men return to their old wicked ways, and only then does Antichrist come to power.
  1. The Roman Empire is dissolved into the ten kingdoms after the Great Monarch, the last French king, dies in Jerusalem, at which point there shall no longer be any more Christian empires.
  1. Antichrist shall arise after a final Roman Empire.
  1. Antichrist shall rise to power through the Jews.
  1. He will claim to be the Messiah (thereby denying the true Christ explicitly).
  1. He will use magic and perform false miracles.
  1. He shall be opposed by the Two Witnesses, Enoch and Elias.
  1. The Two Witnesses will be Enoch and Elias, of the Old Testament, in the flesh, and not merely symbolically.
  1. At that time there shall be ten Roman kings, and after he conquers three of them, the other seven submit, giving him dominion over the entire world.
  1. Antichrist’s reign shall consist of temporal, military, and political power.
  1. His reign will last 3 1/2 years.
  1. He will murder Christians.
  1. Antichrist will require men to worship an image of the Beast (either himself or Satan), and those who refuse shall be put to death.
  1. All will have to receive a mark on their hand or forehead as a sign of allegiance, without which none can buy nor sell, or be killed.
  1. The Two Witnesses who oppose him shall perform many miracles.
  1. During the reign of Antichrist, the Two Witnesses convert the Jews to the Church.

20.The Two Witnesses will eventually be killed by Antichrist (though as the Scripture tells us, they rise again, after which Antichrist dies.)

 

From this list, it is absolutely clear that not only is Antipope Paul VI not the Antichrist – no one could yet be the Antichrist, because the prerequisite conditions proclaimed by the Church to necessarily take place have yet to occur.

When one sees such terrible devastation wrought against the Church by one mere man, it is tempting, and even seems logical, to assume that that man could be the Antichrist. But by Church teaching, it is certain: even if a man arises tomorrow who conquers Europe, carves the number 666 in his forehead and starts rounding up and shooting Christians, we know, as a matter of Faith, that that man is not the Antichrist.

Paul VI’s actions clearly make him an antichrist – he has committed terrible crimes against God and His Church, and was certainly a pawn of Satan used in an attempt to destroy God’s Church. But he does not fit any of criteria we know must be met for the Antichrist to come, and even if he did match some of them – even if he matched 19 out of 20 of them – he would not and could not be the Antichrist. I hope that this essay on the matter helps to clarify the issue for some of those who are confused on the matter. May God guide us and strengthen us, bring us to His Truth, and grant us life everlasting through the One, Holy, Roman, Catholic and Apostolic Church, through Jesus and Mary. Amen.

The End Times: What We Know

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Details of the End Times have been talked about since the very day Christ left us, no doubt. Most of this has been nothing more than pet theories and idle speculation, and this has largely discredited the idea that a rational assessment of it is possible. Nonetheless, this article will attempt to do just that, without any claims to certainty beyond the word of God and by presenting unambiguous and exceptional predictions which can be assessed in time to be absolutely correct or incorrect.

Moreover, the prophecies commonly known to the public are of the sort that are totally ambiguous and utterly garbled – Nostradamus in particular comes to mind. Whether he was an authentic prophet or not truly doesn’t matter on a practical level. His quatrains are ambiguous in the extreme, and even he admitted that they had been intentionally written cryptically and scrambled. He, and others like him, have done more harm than good in the public imagination, as most now believe that all prophecies bear the same character. This could not be further from the truth; numerous saints have provided prophecies that are exceedingly clear.

Any analysis of the End Times must, of course, begin with the Bible. Here are the absolute events of the End Times. They are either contained in Scripture or unanimously declared by the Church Fathers; as such they are not open to debate. Both cases make the articles binding on the faithful, and one must believe them to be a Catholic in good standing. The more obscure verses cited have been clarified by the unanimous interpretation of the Fathers, which leaves their meaning beyond doubt.

 

Events in order:

 

  1. The Gospel must be preached to the whole world; this will occur before the rise of the Antichrist. (Matt. 24:14; Mark 13:10)
  2. There will be a great falling away of the faithful called The Great Apostasy. (Matt. 24:10-12; 2 Thes. 2:3; 2 Tim. 3:1-9)
  3. A final Roman Empire will rise which will:
    • Be the last empire in the end times. (Dan. 7:23)
    • Be larger than any other empire in history. (Dan. 7:7)
    • Eventually be divided into ten kingdoms. (Dan. 7:24)
  4. The Antichrist will appear and will:
    • Rise to power via the Jews who herald him as the Messiah. (John 5:43)
    • Conquer three of the ten kingdoms & subject the other seven. (Dan. 7:24)
    • Reign for three and a half years. (Apoc. 11:2)
  5. The Two Witnesses will appear at the time of Antichrist’s reign, and will:
    • Be Enoch and Elias of the Old Testament. (Fathers)
    • Perform numerous miracles including a long drought. (Apoc. 11:5,6)
    • Convert many, including all the Jews. (Romans 11:25)
    • Be killed, resurrected and ascend to Heaven; AC dies. (Apoc. 11:7-13)
  6. The End of the World arrives; at that time:
    • There will be many disasters which end in the Conflagration. (2 Pt. 3:12)
    • Christ returns, the world changes, the dead rise & are judged. (Apoc. 20:12)
  7. Heaven and Hell for all eternity. (Apoc. 21:6-8)

 

Some of these events may occur in multiple senses; for instance, there may be multiple fulfillments of the  “Great Apostasy,” culminating in a final and total apostasy, or many waves of preaching to the whole world, etc. Nevertheless, they must be fulfilled, and all Catholics must believe them. They are also extraordinary and supernatural, meaning they will be easily identified.

There are details, however, that paint a clearer picture of these events – particularly those which lead up to Antichrist – which are revealed in private revelations. Catholics are not bound to believe these, but it would nonetheless be foolish to dismiss them when they come from multiple solid sources. Impressively, when one looks over such private prophecies, one finds that they not only agree with the framework presented in the Bible, but also with each other, even when given thousands of miles and hundreds of years apart.

Particularly, a number of specifics can be seen, and a framework can be devised when one consults these numerous sources. These then can be placed in the framework above, and one is left with a much more detailed interpretation of future events. It must be noted, of course, that while this is done with attention to detail and with multiple confirmations, it’s entirely possible that some of the details will be incorrect. Only God and His prophets can understand such things perfectly, and even the latter are sometimes at a loss to explain their own predictions (though a true prophet of God is never incorrect in what is revealed).

Below is one such attempt at a framework depicting future events, numbered in their relation to the above definite prophecies. Beyond that, each point will be examined in a bit more detail later, and two to five examples shown to provide a sample of the many prophecies predicting these events.

 

  1. The Gospel is preached to the whole world. (Note: this can be safely said to be at least partially fulfilled, and probably totally fulfilled. The earliest possible date for its total fulfillment would have to be in the 18th It may be fulfilled again in a different manner, but as it    belongs primarily to history, the prophecies examined will generally not consider the point.)
  2. There will be a great falling away of the faithful called The Great Apostasy.
  • 2a. The first fulfillment of this is currently taking place, in the Era of Decline and specifically the Eclipse of the Church, which began circa 1960. During this period, true Catholics will be almost non-existent and the hierarchy will be lost to corruption and heresy.
  • 2b. The consequences of this will be a Great Chastisement, which will eventually lead to
  • the creation of the final Roman Empire. It will last four years.
  • 2c. The Chastisement will begin with a revolution in France, which spreads rapidly to Italy and England, and likely many other places.
  • 2d. Russia then invades Europe, reaching as far as France, with the definitive battles taking place along the Franco-German border. Russia is forced into retreat by an alliance of nations, but the cost is high.
  • 2e. Near the end of this Chastisement, an event called the Three Days of Darkness occurs.
  • 2f. Immediately afterwards, the Angelic Pope is elected and begins the restoration.
  1. A final Roman Empire will arise.
  • 3a. It will be the last and largest empire, reigning over the Period of Peace.
  • 3b. It will be ruled by the Great Monarch, and shepherded by the Angelic Pope.
  • 3c. The Great Monarch will be the King of France, from the house of Bourbon-Parme.
  • 3d. He will reign for a generation (20-30 years), presiding over a period of great peace and a renewal of faith. Mass conversions will take place, including in England, Russia, and China.
  • 3e. At the end of his reign, Antichrist will be rising to power. He will die in Jerusalem, ending the Roman Empire forever, and his kingdom will be split into ten.
  1.   Antichrist will appear. An overview of his traits will be covered.

 

All of these points must be interpreted within the light of Scripture and Catholic dogma. The prophecies which reveal these will be posted from time to time, but can easily be found in many sources. I do not intend to give even the appearance of certainty for these events, but only to suggest that, from what I understand of Catholic prophecy, this is most likely our future. I hope that it will provide a useful framework to my fellow Catholics when reading prophecy, if they choose to do so.

Above all, remember always that living the Faith is infinitely more important than understanding future events; the goal should be to find comfort in the guiding hand of God’s providence, and not to seek beyond what we have a right to know. The post tomorrow will focus on Antichrist, and specifically why a particular claim (that Paul VI was Antichrist) cannot be true.

A Critical Analysis of Lumen Gentium

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To gain a better understanding of the teachings of Vatican II, and indeed any document, a point-by-point analysis of each doctrinal teaching is of beneficial. One can, of course, read through a document and gather the basic facts, but the reader may miss particulars.

The purpose of this article is to compile, using the document of Vatican II “Lumen Gentium,” and additional insight from those who follow it, a concise explanation of the teachings propounded by these individuals on the matter of salvation, and to compare it to the teachings of the previous Popes and Councils.

 

First, concerning sanctification outside the visible confines of the Church:

 

[Lumen Gentium] “8. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible confines… “14. {Protestants and schismatics} …these Christians are indeed in some real way joined to us in the Holy Spirit for, by his sanctifying power He is also active in them and He has strengthened some of them even to the shedding of their blood.”

It is quite clear from this document that, according to Vatican II, sanctification (that is, the removal of sin and growth in holiness) takes place outside the visible body of the Church, and those outside of it are sanctified in a particular way by the Holy Spirit from the shedding of their blood.

 

Point #1: Sanctification takes place outside the Church, particularly through the shedding of blood for the name of Christ.

 

Next, what does Vatican II say about salvation to those outside the Church in general?

[Lumen Gentium] “15. The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but who do not however profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter… who are sealed by baptism which unites them to Christ, and who indeed recognize and receive other sacraments in their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities… {God} is operative among them with His sanctifying power.”

Beyond this rather general statement in Lumen Gentium are more specific declarations on the matter, provided by other documents on the same subject. Lumen Gentium states that there is God’s sanctifying power in the Protestant churches, and another document states outright that they can be saved in these churches:

[Unitatis Redintegratio] “3. It follows that these separated Churches and Communities though we believe they suffer from defects already mentioned, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation…”

Point #2: Preservation of unity under St. Peter’s successor is not requisite for salvation.

Once again, Vatican II proclaims quite clearly that salvation is had in religious communities outside the Church, though usually it states that these are saved by means of the Church. However, here it says that God uses the other churches as means of salvation; to follow with what has been generally taught, however, the implication can be taken to be that these other communities are really bestowing the grace of the Holy Spirit through the Catholic Church to these other communities.

Point #3: Certain peoples called Christians who are not Catholics are saved in their non-Catholic communities by the Holy Spirit.

 

Now, what does Vatican II teach in regards to peoples who are in no way called Christian, such as Jews and pagans? Pagan, as a side note, means any religion besides that which was divinely revealed  (see “Catholic Encyclopedia, “Pagan” or “Infidel,” 1917) and therefore includes all other religions, such as Islam and Hinduism, and all other religions that in no way have Divine origin.

Here is what Lumen Gentium taught.

First, concerning the Jews:

 

[Lumen Gentium]16. Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways. There is, first, that people to which the covenants and promises were made, and from which Christ was born according to the flesh (cf. Rom. 9:4-5): in view of the divine choice, they are a people most dear for the sake of the fathers, for the gifts of God are without repentance (cf. Rom. 11:29-29). “

The Jews are dear to God, and that which they have, namely the Old Covenant, is not removed from them, and also that they are on a path toward salvation. One may think that much is not implied, but other references can demonstrate this:

 

[John Paul II, “Address to the Jewish Community in Mainz, West Germany,” Nov. 17, 1980]:  “The first dimension of this dialogue, that is, the meeting between the people of the Old Covenant, never revoked by God, and that of the New Covenant, is at the same time within our Church…”

And one can see clearly by the beginning of the next line that salvation for the Jews is implied, since it starts, “But the plan of salvation also includes the Muslims.” This teaching was also openly promulgated by the USCCB declaration on Catholic-Jewish Relations:

[“Reflections on Covenant and Mission,” 2002] “Thus, while the Catholic Church regards the saving act of Christ as central to the process of human salvation for all, it also acknowledges that Jews already dwell in a saving covenant with God.”

 

Vatican II has quite clearly demonstrated both by its own documentation and its succeeding statements that it believes that salvation is a real possibility for the Jews in particular, in light of the Mosaic Covenant, which, they teach, is not revoked, but still in force.

 

Point #4: Jews have at least the possibility of salvation through the Old Covenant..

 

What does Lumen Gentium teach in regard to other religions, however? Is salvation possible in the pagan faiths? First, addressing the peoples with whom the Catholic Church has had great conflict with in the past, the document refers to the Muslims:

 

[Lumen Gentium] “But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

It states quite clearly that the plan of salvation includes the Muslims; moreover it teaches that they actually worship the one, true God, and through this one can infer that Vatican II teaches Muslims may well be saved.

Point #5: Muslims have at least the possibility of attaining salvation.

Finally, the document addresses the remaining peoples of the world, those who belong to religions other than those listed above and/or have never heard of the Gospel:

 

[Lumen Gentium] “Nor is God remote from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, since he gives to all men life and breath and all things (cf. Acts 17:25-28), and since the Savior wills all men to be saved (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4). Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience–those too may achieve eternal salvation.”

Point #6: Salvation is at least possible for those who in no way know of or accept Christ and the Church.

A number of particulars can be gathered from this excerpt about the teachings of Lumen Gentium. First and foremost is the possibility of salvation for those who in no way know of or believe in Christ and His Church. Secondly, the means by which this takes place, in light of the continuing teaching since Vatican II, is clear, but requires a bit of explaining.

According to its teaching, men and women who know nothing of Christ and the Catholic Church are not responsible for this, and it is unjust that such a one be damned for simply lacking this opportunity. God’s grace comes to them, and they do their best to comply with God’s will insofar as they can understand it through their conscience or Natural Law.  Those who, of course, resist their own consciences do not at all wish to comply with God’s grace since they have forsaken the grace they have been given; consequently, they will most likely be damned, though this is not entirely clear. Conformity to their conscience, in the form of doing what they see to be right, and doing acts of natural virtue, is what grants them this salvific grace.

 

Point #7: Salvation of those who are in no way in the Church is brought about by conformity to the Natural Law, given by God, which is their conscience, in good works.

Bearing these points in mind, one can suitably synthesize a brief statement:

 

Point #1: Sanctification takes place outside the Church, particularly through the shedding of blood for the name of Christ.

Point #2: Preservation of unity under St. Peter’s successor is not requisite for salvation.

Point #3: Certain peoples called Christians who are not Catholics are saved in their non-Catholic communities by the Holy Spirit.

Point #4: Jews have at least the possibility of salvation through the Old Covenant.

Point #5: Muslims have at least the possibility of attaining salvation.

Point #6: Salvation is at least possible for those who in no way know of or accept Christ and the Church.

Point #7: Salvation of those who are in no way in the Church is brought about by conformity to the Natural Law, given by God, which is their conscience, in good works.

 

Here is our example:

 

[Summary of Lumen Gentium] “The most Holy Roman Catholic Church firmly believes, professes, and preaches that some of those existing outside of the Catholic Church, such as pagans, Muslims, Jews, Protestants, and the Orthodox, can have a share in life eternal; they will not necessarily go into eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, though they are not fully joined with Her, and though unfortunately they are not fully in unity with this ecclesiastical body, those outside this unity can, through Natural Law, receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of religious piety and the duties of their position.  Of these people certain ones, particularly if his almsgiving is great, indeed many, if they have poured out their blood for the name of Christ, can be saved outside the perfect unity of the Catholic Church.”

Though somewhat awkwardly worded, this summary does give a basic understanding of the teachings of Lumen Gentium, and the substance is roughly the same.

The reason for the particular wording used above is for the purpose of comparison. I present also to the reader the teaching of the Catholic Church under Pope Eugene IV, at the Council of Florence, which was called with the intention of reuniting the Greek Schismatics with the Church:

[Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Bull Cantate Domino, 1441]: The most Holy Roman Catholic Church firmly believes, professes, and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.

The teaching of the Catholic Church does not change over time; rather, it is a constant, preserved by the Holy Spirit, from error. Consequently, if the teachings of Vatican II in Lumen Gentium contradict what was taught by the Councils of the Church beforehand, we must reject them.

On Epikeia

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In a time where the ordinary structure and functioning of the Catholic Church has disappeared, much of what was once quite clear has become difficult to understand, specifically in how to apply the laws of the Church, which were written for times very different than ours. The Church, being guided by God, foresaw such circumstances, and a principle of Church Law known as epikeia exists which allows us to understand the application of Canon Law in our times. Once understood, and seen in the proper light, it is clear that this principle plays a key role in determining how us few remaining Catholics ought to act in our difficult circumstances. Of utmost importance, then, is for us to understand what the principle of Epikeia is, how it has historically been applied, and how it relates to our situation.

Epikeia, or “equity,” is a principle of the Church as regards the proper understanding of Church Law. St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, explains it thus in the Summa Theologica:

As stated above (I-II, 96, 6), when we were treating of laws, since human actions, with which laws are concerned, are composed of contingent singulars and are innumerable in their diversity, it was not possible to lay down rules of law that would apply to every single case. Legislators in framing laws attend to what commonly happens: although if the law be applied to certain cases it will frustrate the equality of justice and be injurious to the common good, which the law has in view. Thus the law requires deposits to be restored, because in the majority of cases this is just. Yet it happens sometimes to be injurious–for instance, if a madman were to put his sword in deposit, and demand its delivery while in a state of madness, or if a man were to seek the return of his deposit in order to fight against his country. On these and like cases it is bad to follow the law, and it is good to set aside the letter of the law and to follow the dictates of justice and the common good. This is the object of “epikeia” which we call equity. Therefore it is evident that “epikeia” is a virtue.

Another explanation is given here:

Canon Law a Text and Commentary, by Bouscaren and Ellis, commentary on Canon 18 (hereafter called CTC) : “Epikeia is an interpretation exempting one from the law contrary to the clear words of the law and in accordance with the mind of the legislator. It is evidently a very exceptional thing. It may be used with prudent discretion, and is justified, only in a particular case where: a) the strict interpretation of the law would work a great hardship; and b) in view of the usual interpretation it may be prudently conjectured that, in this particular case, the legislator would not wish the law to be strictly applied.”

Epikeia, which St. Aquinas describes as a virtue, is essentially to follow the spirit of the higher laws which exist before and beyond those codified laws which are written for the common good. The legislators of Canon Law, for instance, never intended the application of Canon Law to be injurious to the common good of the Church itself or the salvation of souls, which are the highest priority of the Church.

This principle applies not only to human laws, but also to Church Law, even those aspects of it which are Divine Law:

The History, Nature, & Use of Epikeia in Moral Theology, by Fr. Lawrence Joseph Riley (hereafter called HNUE): “Salmanticenses. According to the opinion of the Salmanticenses, epikeia may be used, with regard not only to human law, but also to divine positive law. The basic reason for their view arises from the fact that they believe that divine positive law, like human law, may be deficient owing to the universality of its expression, and hence require correction by epikeia. Furthermore, it is not necessary to suppose, as a basis for epikeia, the lawgiver’s limitation of knowledge which prevented his foreseeing all possible cases. This condition obviously can apply only to human legislators. But, it is quite possible—and for this statement the Salmanticenses cite the Angelic Doctor—that in order to avoid prolixity and confusion in his law, the legislator was unwilling to express in particular all the cases he wished to exempt, even though actually he foresaw them. That this is the situation which is verified in the case of divine positive laws the Salmanticenses strongly maintain. For God well understood that making use of the virtue of epikeia, men could correct a universal or general law when the occasion presented itself, and could interpret His Will in accordance with circumstances as they arose. In support of this position, the Salmanticenses allege the instances of David’s partaking of the loaves of proposition, and the Machabees’ interpretation that they were not obliged to observe the Sabbath by abstaining in all circumstances from the shedding of blood.”

As can be seen, it is well established that the following of the strict letter of the law, when actually injurious and contrary to the intention of the lawgiver, is actually an evil thing, and can in fact be sinful, as in the case mentioned by St. Thomas Aquinas above. The question does remain, however, as to when epikeia can be applied, which is also addressed in these same works:

HNUE: “In cases where it is certain that the lawmaker would be unwilling to urge obligation, epikeia may always be used without recourse to authority; in cases of doubt, an authority with power to dispense must be consulted if time allows, otherwise the words of the law are to be observed; in cases of probability, an authority must be resorted to; but if this is impossible, epikeia may be used.”

In our present circumstance, recourse to authority is not generally going to be an option, naturally. Therefore we can establish a fair rule regarding the application of epikeia: if it is certain or probable that following the law would be contrary to the lawgiver’s intention, then we may apply the principle of epikeia. If it is doubtful, however, we ought instead to follow the letter of the law.

When it comes to the practical application of epikeia, we have many instances in the past which we can use as a guide. These historical examples show us that even when the law seems explicit and clear, and clearly for the common good, it can at times be injurious and therefore must be disregarded. Note that this is not a judgment on the law itself, when epikeia is applied, but merely of its particular application in an unforeseen circumstance. The law itself still stands, and would naturally still apply whenever ordinary circumstances prevailed.

A good example of epikeia is provided by the declarations on marriage from the Council of Trent. The declaration Tametsi, by the Council, stated that marriages without a priest present were de facto null and void:

Council of Trent, “Tametsi,” On the reformation of matrimony, Session 29, Chapter 1, 1563: “Those who shall attempt to contract marriage otherwise than in the presence of the parish priest, or of some other priest by permission of the said parish priest, or of the Ordinary, and in the presence of two or three witnesses; the holy Synod renders such wholly incapable of thus contracting and declares such contracts invalid and null, as by the present decree It invalidates and annuls them.”

This law, being from the great Ecumenical Council of Trent, was naturally binding upon all the faithful; however, if the letter of the law were to be followed in all cases, this leaves certain individuals in an impossible bind. What of those faithful who live in lands where they have no access or recourse to a priest, where the option will simply not present itself, and they have no means of traveling to one? In following the letter of the law, these people would simply be deprived of the ability to marry altogether, something clearly contrary to the will of the Church and Her lawgivers:

HNUE: “Now, it cannot be denied that in some instances invalidating laws, if they should continue to be possessed of obligating force, would despot certain subjects of basic human rights. Suppose, for example, that, in a region where the regulations of the Council of Trent regarding clandestine marriages had been promulgated, all the priests had been slain because of a persecution of the Church. If there was no possibility of any priests re-entering the territory for an indefinitely long period, then to insist upon the binding force of the decree Tametsi would be equivalent to the confiscation of the natural right to marry.”

The Council intended something entirely different than to deprive certain Catholics in persecuted lands from marrying – of this there can be no doubt. Yet it was not until 1625 that the Holy Office addressed this issue:

The Holy Office, Common Law Marriage, 1625: “If it should eventuate that two Catholics desirous of marriage should not be able to find a parish priest or bishop within their reach, and such a condition were to last for a month, in such cases consent expressed before two witnesses would suffice for a valid marriage (S.C. de Prop. Fide, 13 iun., 1625—Ius Pontificium, I, pars 2 n. 15.).”

Are we to believe, then, that from 1563 until 1625, a period of 62 years, that no marriage between two Catholics in these persecuted lands was valid, that these people were left without recourse to one of the most basic God-given rights: the right to marry? Are we to believe that the Catholics in such regions were so bound by the letter of the law that they ought to have allowed the populations of Catholic faithful to simply die off (for without marriage, there cannot be procreation among good Catholics) rather than disobey the literal wording of the Council of Trent? Of course not.

Here is a prime example of how the principle of epikeia ought to be applied: the literal rendering of the Church’s laws placed certain people in such a circumstance that it deprived them of their God-given right to marry, of those Divinely-ordained duties the Church promotes so vehemently. So it is clear, then, that even though they disobeyed the literal rendering of the words of the Council, they were in fact following God’s will, and the spirit of the Law, of the primary intentions of the Church, and doing what was holy and just.

This is of paramount importance. The Church has duties and principles which are its primary purpose for existing. The most primary of these is the salvation of souls. From this principle, many other elements – namely those necessary for the creation, continuance, growth, strengthening, and sanctification of the faithful – are seen to be the principles held most dear to the Church. Any law, therefore, that in certain applications would deprive the faithful of these necessary elements for the salvation of souls and the sustainment of Catholic communities, ought to be disobeyed, out of a devotion to the higher principles, the most basic principles, of the Church.

Another, far more relevant example applies as well: from 1268 until 1271, there was no Pope; the college of cardinals could not agree on a successor for 3 years. During that period, twenty-one vacancies occurred in diocese around the world. In opposition to the literal wording of the law, those 21 sees were filled by bishops consecrated and placed in position without a papal mandate (seeing as none was possible at the time). When Blessed Gregory X was finally elected on September 1, 1271, he both condoned this action and recognized the lawful jurisdiction of each of the twenty-one elected.

Why is this? Because they were following the higher law of the Church, the Supreme Law of Salvation, which must always be obeyed, even if it contradicts the literal rendering of Canon Law. We see here in this case, something of great importance. Jurisdiction to a particular diocese is supplied directly by the Pope, and yet we see clearly that jurisdiction was supplied to individual bishops when there was no Pope. What is the explanation?

Again, we must have recourse to the intention of the lawgivers, and above all to the Supreme Law of Salvation of the Church. Jurisdiction was clearly supplied to bishops consecrated and elevated to sees during an interregnum, because the Church needed it, essentially. Epikeia allowed for those bishops to be supplied jurisdiction because of the need presented to the Church. If the salvation of souls is the Supreme Law of the Church, and the continuation of the clergy is necessary for the reception of the Sacraments (the primary means of salvation themselves), then the Church will supply jurisdiction to those who cannot ordinarily obtain it, such as during an interregnum.

Let us take a hypothetical: let us say that after those bishops were appointed, there was an assault on the Vatican, and all the Cardinals were killed, causing the interregnum to last, for one reason or another, 200 years. Would not the same principle that applied to the appointment of those twenty-one bishops during an interregnum apply to the appointment of all of the other diocese (which, over 200 years, would all also need to be filled, multiple times)? If the principle applied in a case of 3 years, why would it not apply in the case of 200?

In our case, there was an interregnum, and virtually every diocese ended up vacant on account of virtually all bishops falling into heresy (through their consent of Vatican II, if they were not heretics earlier). If some bishops, however, remained, the same principle would apply: they would be able to consecrate and appoint bishops to fill the emptied sees during the interregnum, and when a new Pope was elected, he could confirm those appointments.

We see that epikeia, then, does supply jurisdiction, and even ordinary jurisdiction, because it has, as a matter of historical fact, done so in the past. Anyone who denies that it can do so simply denies the historical facts of its application in the Church, which was approved by Pope Blessed Gregory X. We see that epikeia holds us to the Supreme Law of Salvation, of the preservation and growth of the Church, of the salvation of souls, above whatever codified laws exist (when those codified laws contradict the essential purpose for which they were framed in certain circumstances).

Let us say, for a moment, that the principle of epikeia does not apply in these circumstances, and follow the letter of Canon Law with such rigidity that no exception, however legitimate, is allowed. We run into a number of problems.

First of all, Mr. Patrick Henry, who is opposed to such exceptions, would not himself be allowed to publish the very articles he has written:

Canon 1384. The Church has the right to demand that Catholics shall not publish any books without first submitting them for her judgment and approval, and to forbid for a good reason the reading of books published by anyone. Whatever is prescribed under this title regarding books, shall be applied also to newspapers, periodicals, and all other published writings, unless the contrary is certain.”

“Canon 1385, §1. Without previous ecclesiastical approval, even laymen are not allowed to publish: (1) the books of Sacred Scripture, or annotations and commentaries on the same: (2) books treating of Sacred Scripture, theology, church history, canon law, natural theology, ethics, or other religious or moral sciences… Canon 1385, §2. The permission to publish books…may be given either by proper local Ordinary of the author, or by the local Ordinary of the place where the books… are published, or the local Ordinary of the place where they are printed… Religious authors must also obtain the permission of their major superior before publication.”

As a layman, he would not be allowed to publish these works without approval, which he does not believe he can receive from any Traditional Catholics. Yet he allows for epikeia to apply, evidently, in his own case, while not allowing it in a case where it has been historically demonstrated and Papally approved?

Any priest who remained, who was faithful, but lost his bishop to heresy, would not be allowed to preach. And since that would be a universal or near-universal case, then essentially no priest would be allowed to preach:

Pope Gregory XVI, Mirrari Vos: “8. …Nor may the priests ever forget that they are forbidden by ancient canons to undertake ministry and to assume the tasks of teaching and preaching without the permission of their bishop.”

Is this truly what the Church of Christ desires? When its laws were set down, were they set with such an intention of severity that God would rather no priest on earth preached the Faith (and no laymen either, as we saw above) than violate what was codified for general and very different circumstances?

Next, we see what is one of the strongest proofs that epikeia applies in a broad sense to our times; for without applying epikeia, no one in these days would even be able to convert and enter the Catholic Church!

The Delict of Heresy: “Absolution from Heresy – …The heretic must make reparation from the scandal given by his delict by endeavoring to arrest the activities of teachers of heresy. To this end, he must denounce any such persons that he knows. Also, he must make known any Catholic clergy who were accomplices in his delict. Finally, he must recant his heresy and make this known to those who heard him manifest his doubts or denials of revealed truth. These denunciations and recantations must either precede the absolution, or else must be seriously promised by the penitent. Secondly, the penitent must abjure his erroneous tenets in the presence of the Bishop or the priest who absolves him. …The Roman Ritual provides a formula of abjuration and profession of Catholic faith which is designed especially for converts. Delinquent Catholics would be held to make a more specific abjuration of the particular error which was involved in their delict. The essential necessity is that the delinquent abjure his particular error, and profess full belief in the opposite Catholic dogma, together with a sincere acceptance of the doctrinal authority of God and of the Church.”

Without a bishop or a priest to absolve him, he could not abjure from these heresies, and therefore could not enter the Church at all. Is this, again, what God wants? Or does He desire that we prescribe first and foremost to the first principle of the Church, the Supreme Law of Salvation?

Again we see that by Canon Law, strictly followed, the Holy Orders themselves could not continue in these times, when there is no Pope:

“Canon 2370. The bishop who, contrary to canon 953, confers episcopal consecration and the assistant bishops or the priest taking their place, as well as the one who receives episcopal consecration without having obtained an Apostolic Mandate, are suspended ipso jure until the Holy See has granted a dispensation.”

This is the very law (albeit codified in the 1917 Code of Canon Law here) which those twenty-one bishops in the past violated when they were consecrated during the interregnum. And if followed strictly today, even if there are Catholic bishops, they are not able to lawfully consecrate other Catholic bishops, guaranteeing the extinction of the Catholic clergy, of the Holy Orders began by Christ Himself, within a generation. Can any sincere Catholic believe that this is what God desires – the extinction of the Holy Orders, simply because of a specific Canon written 90 years ago which was intended for far different circumstances?

By strict adherence to these laws, without epikeia, not even repentant clergy could re-enter the Church and resume their duties:

“Canon 2372. Reception of Orders from Unworthy Prelates: All persons who presume to receive orders from a prelate who has been excommunicated, suspended, or interdicted by a declaratory or condemnatory sentence, or from a notorious apostate, heretic, or schismatic, automatically incur suspension a divinis reserved to the Apostolic See. Any person who has been ordained in good faith by such a man forfeits the right to exercise the order thus received until he obtains a dispensation from the prohibition.”

They are suspended and unable to have such a suspension lifted except by the Holy See, which is empty for an unknown length of time. Again, I ask, is this God’s intentions, His plan for His Church, that She would have codified herself unto extinction, denying any of the faithful of ever having the opportunity of receiving the Sacraments, destroying any chance that the hierarchy which He instituted could ever be restored, simply because of a strict interpretation of of general laws?

I submit that the very idea is itself heresy:

“Therefore, just as He (Christ) sent the Apostles, whom He had chosen for Himself out of the world, as He Himself was sent by the Father (John 20:21), so also He wished shepherds and teachers to be in His Church until the consummation of the world” (Matt. 28:20) (First Vatican Council)

“Between Christ and those that are of Christ, that is the Church, for ascending to Heaven He left them on earth; between the Church and the end there is no interval, since it was to last until the end…whoever then is rash enough to say that the Church is dead, calls into question the goodness, diligence, and wisdom of this great Reformer [Christ].” – St. Frances de Sales

“Shall it be necessary again to sow the good seed, whereas from the time of its sowing it is to grow till the harvest? If you say that what the Apostles sowed has everywhere perished, we answer to you: read this to us from the Holy Scriptures: this you shall never do without having first shown us that this is false which is written, saying, that the seed which was sown in the beginning should grow till the time of the harvest… say not then that the good seed is destroyed or choked, for it grows even to the consummation of the world.” – St. Augustine

“The fold of Our Lord is to last till the consummation of the world, in visible unity: the unity then of external government must remain in it, and nobody has the authority to change the form of administration save Our Lord who established it. All this has been well proven above, and it follows therefrom that St. Peter has had successors, has them in these days, and will have them even to the end of the ages.” – St. Francis de Sales

It is a clear, consistent teaching of the Church that She must exist, both with believers and with her external government (though certainly not with every position filled at all times), until the end times, a teaching which was declared De Fide at the First Vatican Council. Anyone who then claims that, on account of strict interpretations of Canon Law, the Church’s hierarchy is permanently and irrevocably destroyed, is a heretic.

The Supreme Law of Salvation, that very dictum of the Church which is its mandate and purpose, is the source of the principle of epikeia. It is the notion that God’s higher laws, His mission for the Church itself, takes priority over any individual, codified law, when that law runs contrary to the core mandate of the Church.

It is abundantly clear in the case of all of these laws – those denying heretics to re-enter the Church, those preventing clergy from conversion, those that prevent under any circumstances any clergy from performing any of the Sacraments or having any jurisdiction, those that prevent laymen in desperate times from defending the Faith, those that prevent even priests from preaching – were for a time and a circumstance not our own, and that they directly damage that Law above laws, the mandate of the Church to save souls. It is therefore irrefutable that the principle of epikeia apply to them.

It has been proven historically that jurisdiction is and can be supplied by the Church to bishops elected and appointed during an interregnum. One can naturally infer the same principle to then apply to priests in areas where no bishop is available. We are in an interregnum and in dire need of bishops, priests, and guidance. The conclusion, then, is inescapable: such individuals are supplied by the Church with the necessary jurisdiction to act for the faithful.

Now, whether they are supplied ordinary jurisdiction so as to function like an ordinary diocese, or the supplied jurisdiction given in certain cases, or the Papal jurisdiction given to missionaries in lands without any formal Catholic hierarchy, (for we certainly cannot consider these places as ordinary Catholic lands anymore) I don’t know.

Determining the details of that would take a lot of time, effort, and was not the goal of this essay. The goal was to demonstrate that, through epikeia, those traditionalist Catholics operating around the world have supplied jurisdiction to administer to the faithful. And that, I believe, is quite clear.

Concerning Canons 1258 and 2261

On a related issue to receiving the Sacraments in these days is a proper interpretation and application of Canons 1258 and 2261. The principle of epikeia, in fact, does not even normally need to be invoked for the reception of the Sacraments from priests, even those who are excommunicated:

“Canon 2261, §2. Except as provided in 2261.3, the faithful can for any just cause ask for sacraments or sacramentals of one who is excommunicated, especially if there is no one else to give them; and in such cases the excommunicated person so asked may administer them and is not obliged to ask the reason for the request.”

This canon, so wisely added to the 1917 Code, makes it clear that for those of us who lack any other option, Catholics may receive the Sacraments from the excommunicated by supplied jurisdiction, especially if there is no one else to give them.

Some, however, come to issue with this canon in its practical application on account of Canon 1258, which explicitly condemns the faithful from having any participation in the worship of non-Catholics. The excommunicated, however, are not considered non-Catholics. But what of the reception of the sacraments from an heretical priest?

Canon 1258 specifically refers to attending worship services that are non-Catholic in nature, and not simply services that non-Catholics happen to attend. A certain quote from Cardinal De Lugo, may help. Cardinal de Lugo, who was a prominent theologian of the 17th century, and was oft-quoted by St. Alphonsus, addresses this very issue:

“The second chief doubt is whether we may communicate with an undeclared heretic only in civil and human affairs or even in sacred and spiritual things. It is certain that we cannot communicate with heretics in the rites proper to a heretical sect, because this would be contrary to the precept of confessing the faith and would contain an implicit profession of error. But the question relates to sacred matters containing no error, e.g. whether it is lawful to hear Mass with a heretic, or to celebrate in his presence, or to be present while he celebrates in the Catholic rite, etc.

“But the opposite view [i.e. that attendance at such a Mass is lawful] is general [communis] and true, unless it should be illicit for some other reason on account of scandal or implicit denial of the faith, or because charity obliges one to impede the sin of the heretical minister administering unworthily where necessity does not urge. This is the teaching of Navarro and Sanchez, Suarez, Hurtado and is what I have said in speaking of the sacrament of penance and of matrimony and the other sacraments. It is also certain by virtue of the said litterae extravagantes [i.e. Ad evitanda scandala] in which communication with excommunicati tolerati is conceded to the faithful in the reception and administration of the sacraments.

“So as these heretics are not declared excommunicates or notoriously guilty of striking a cleric, there is no reason why we should be prevented from receiving the sacraments from them because of their excommunication, although on other grounds this may often be illicit unless necessity excuse as I have explained in the said places.” (Cardinal John de Lugo S.J. (1583-1660), Tractatus de Virtute Fidei Divinae: Disputatio XXII, Sectio . According to The Catholic Encyclopedia, St. Alphonsus regarded Cardinal de Lugo as second only to St. Thomas as a theologian.)

As is made quite clear by Cardinal de Lugo, the condemnation in Canon 1258 is a condemnation of participation in worship services that are non-Catholic in nature – that is, that are composed of non-Catholic rites (the Novus Ordo rites, for instance). This means that, if properly understood, Canon 1258 does not prevent Catholics from attending the services of an excommunicated or even heretical priest, at least in principle, and Canon 2261 can apply in such cases.

So even according to the law itself, without invoking epikeia (when issues of jurisdiction have been settled at least, or of consecration, etc.), it is clear that Catholics can attend such services, according to the conditions set down here by Cardinal de Lugo.

Concerning the Writings of Patrick Henry

Mr. Henry’s approach is very scattershot, and that presents a lot of problems in trying to address his writings in a point-by-point fashion. I thought it prudent instead to write a positive position paper than try to address everything that he mentions. However, I will say this: one can easily be misled and take everything that he says in his writings as true simply because he states it.

For instance, he states, as though it were an established fact, that epikeia never supplies jurisdiction when it is lacking, that its nature is purely negative. As I demonstrated in the case of the 21 bishops elected during an interregnum, that is simply not the case. This means that his understanding of epikeia as a concept is faulty, and that therefore some of the arguments which he derives from that supposedly established point are de facto null and void.

I don’t have the time nor the inclination to go through everything in his rather meandering work, but the example concerning the nature of epikeia is enough to call into question his entire approach to the issue. What could be more fundamental, after all, than an understanding of whether jurisdiction can be applied via epikeia in a time like this?

His lack of understanding on so fundamental a matter would lead me to conclude that reading his – for lack of a better word, rantings – may in itself just not be a good idea. Their scattershot format alone will only breed confusion, because he’s making no attempt to propose a comprehensive view of the issue, but instead simply criticize the statements of others. He makes certain points which are correct (the whole distinction between the Roman Pontiff and the Supreme Pontiff argument is patently absurd, as he shows), but I think that only adds to the confusion his work generates.

If he does have a desire to propose an actual view of the matter, in a way that can be analyzed and approached in a scholarly manner, proposing individual points for debate, establishing facts through Church teaching and so on, then I would certainly agree that his writings ought to be given due consideration, if only to address if and where he errs. But that is not what he has done, and until he does so, I see no reason to treat it as a respectable work, and thereby allow it to influence anyone’s view of things.

Someone else may decide, perhaps, to write a systematic description of what it is he is trying to say, but until there is such a thing, I see nothing but a series of ramblings by a man claiming to seek truth while at the same time misunderstanding the fundamentals required to comprehend that truth. As it stands, it is impossible to address whatever arguments he proposes in a systematic manner because he himself does not do so. His writing format does not allow for scholarly debate on the issue.

This essay has demonstrated a fundamental flaw in his understanding of the situation. That, I believe, is enough to discredit treating the work seriously unless and until a positive, consistent statement by the man is presented. One should not have to scan sixty pages of ramblings to find two possible points of contention. It is enough to show that, at its most fundamental, Mr. Henry does not understand the issue.

One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism: Salvation, according to Ephesians

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Some heretics are wont to demand from Catholics proof of their beliefs from the Scriptures; in their folly they believe that there is no Tradition passed down from the Apostles. While we Catholics are by no means under obligation to demonstrate the Catholic Faith to them in their terms, nevertheless it is certain that all the teachings of Holy Mother Church are in some form substantively contained in Holy Writ. However, it may well be of little profit to the heretics to show them the Scriptures’ teachings on these matters, since they erroneously believe that it is open to their private whims and fancies, which is itself condemned in the very Canon they profess, unto their own condemnation.

But what response are we Catholics to offer up to this charge of heresy pronounced against us by those who refuse to hear the Church, the Conciliars? We show them Papal teaching, and they say it is contextual. We show them Councils, and they say we haven’t the authority to decide what it was they were saying, as though the Councils were ambiguous and obscure. We show them even the Church Fathers who they claim are on their side (though I know not how) and their unanimous and consistent teachings that none are saved outside the Catholic Church. To this they respond that they are not guilty of heresy who have never heard Catholic Truth, as though this made one Catholic.

It seems necessary, then, to demonstrate to them that it was believed at the very source of our Faith; the Apostles themselves. The only ordinary direct means of doing this is the Holy Scriptures, and though delving into them foolishly without an understanding of the Catholic Faith is dangerous, it clearly and perfectly shows that same teaching, which is to some degree even understood by Protestants. In fact, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians is an abundant source of truth concerning this matter, and though this teaching permeates the entire Scripture, we shall restrict ourselves to this letter only, quoting other books when necessary, since this Epistle alone is sufficient.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith;” – Ephesians 2:8

 

The Scripture shows us, in this verse, that the grace which God gives to man is nothing else than to come to the Faith. It is by grace – that is, not given through our own merits, but given gratuitously – that we are brought to faith, which is the means by which we are saved. “Without faith, it is impossible to please God. For he who comes to God must believe that He is, and is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

Those who have not faith cannot please God, and it is necessary to please God to be restored to Him, which all men must be to be saved. The verse also says that one must believe that He is and is a rewarder. These two things, of course, are not all that we must believe, but are things that are required to be believed. Moreover, where the verse says that one must believe that God exists, and this belief must be a real belief.

What does a real belief in God consist of? Certainly it doesn’t mean any God whatsoever, but the true God. In the time before Christ knowledge of the true God was limited in most men to a knowledge of His Unity; however, in the time after Christ, knowledge of God consists in the Trinity as well. “Whosoever denies the Son has not the Father.” (1 John 2:23) It is through the faith in God given us by the Apostles that we are saved.

 

“Bear in mind that you were at that time without Christ” – Ephesians 2:12

 

St. Paul says that those to whom he is speaking – that is, the Christian faithful – were without Christ at the time before their conversion. Now, surely those Christians to whom St. Paul is addressing this letter were true and faithful believers, since he does not rebuke them for any sins. He was addressing those who were of good will. Well, if the converts were without Christ before their conversion, how much more those who are without Him their whole lives! We can know with certainty that these would have believed in Christ because they do believe in Christ; yet, their good will availed them nothing, until they came to the faith.

The Conciliars like to misconstrue the concept of baptism of desire to their maddening ends, saying that those who are saved outside the profession of faith are saved through an implicit baptism of desire. They say that these men, who they claim are of good will, cannot possibly be brought to the faith – as though anything were outside the power of God – and therefore have faith in what they know and would desire baptism if they understood the good it does. However, at the same time, they maintain that baptism is not a benefit, but rather a crime, to a soul that does not have faith in Christ, and this is true. Baptism has its efficacy because we trust in its power through faith in Christ’s teaching along with the sacramental power bestowed upon those who receive it. If one receives it without faith, that one only further damns his soul for abusing God’s grace.

How in the world can one accept both of these teachings at the same time? Do they not see that baptism grants the graces that it does to a soul through faith? If they do, then how can they maintain that one who lacks faith can merit from this so-called “baptism of desire” that they so ardently professes takes place in those who have no faith? What faith is to be of use except the divine faith, and what is the divine faith but that which Christ has given us? If they believe in God, they do well, but this can be naturally concluded, and if they believe in the existence of God because, say, it tells them so in the Koran, then they believe it on false evidence. Is faith in the Koran of any merit? Certainly not! Indeed, it is damnable. But if it is accepted and understood through reason, there where is there faith at all?

 

“You are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets” – Ephesians 2:20

The true faith, the faith that is bestowed by God upon humanity, is the faith which is told to us in Ephesians. The faith that is built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets is the faith that gains justification for the repentant sinner. Therefore the only meritorious faith, the only faith which can grant redemption, is the faith given by the Apostles, as promised through the Prophets. This is faith in Christ, the Trinity, and all other teachings of the Holy Catholic Church, nothing else.

A Protestant is not based on this faith; he accepts the testimony of the Scriptures as true, but misconstrues them to fit his own fancies, since he in no way accepts the interpretation that the Catholic Church sets forth. Moreover, how can he have any certainty that the Scriptures are complete, or that certain books are not inspired (just as the heretic Luther did) if he believes the Canon was not preserved from error when set forth by the Church at Carthage? Surely, if this Council did not have the infallible guidance of the Holy Spirit, it could certainly be mistaken. If this is possible, then the truth given by Christ to us could be lost, or warped beyond recognition, and any faith that we are to have in the truth of Christ’s testimony must be built on our hope in humanity’s fidelity. That faith, then, is human faith, and not the faith unto salvation.

“For know this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean person, or covetous one (for that is idolatry) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” – Ephesians 5:5

Since this verse relates to both, here it would be expedient to denounce the heresy of Protestantism and compare it to that heresy of Conciliarism, for they both err on this same matter of faith set forth by St. Paul in Holy Writ.

The error of Protestantism professes that we are saved through faith alone, with no good works in His service necessary. This pernicious heresy, set forth by the morally inept Martin Luther and his followers, is clearly contradicted by the Scripture, and in particular by this passage (along with many others). If one commits the acts above, they say, one can still enter the kingdom of Christ and God, since we are so wretched we cannot avoid doing great evils. In fact, they say that even those acts which we offer up to his service are laden with sin, and grievous mortal sin. Any knowledge of the life of the heretic Luther can show clearly why he came to this belief, to the contradiction of the Scriptures and Church; the man could not fulfill his duties in the least and he despaired over even the good things that he did. He continually failed to do that which his obligations required, but refused to accept that the Church had the power to forgive him through the Sacrament of Penance. He thereby derived his own method of entrance into Heaven, one that is easily fulfilled – do nothing. Since, according to him, we continually offend God mortally at all times anyways, do whatever pleases you, regardless of whether Christ condemned it or not, and you will be saved by simply thinking you are. Yet the Scripture clearly states that no fornicator, etc. will enter the kingdom of Christ and God.

The error of Conciliarism, however, is still more horrifying. One need not even have faith in Christ to be saved at all; simply follow the dictates of your conscience and you will serve Him perfectly enough. This belief amounts to a tacit denial of our sinfulness and the evil of original sin. These things must be washed away, or else we cannot enter the kingdom of Christ and God. These things, as the Scripture shows us time and again, are forgiven us by faith. To say we can be restored by living in accordance with natural law and conscience carries a twofold implication: first, God is weak, since He cannot possibly bring the faith to those outside the faith, and second, that we are capable of living a holy enough life that we are worthy of His kingdom, even though we have not Christ. They would tell you otherwise, saying that it is through Christ’s merits that these outside the faith are saved, yet it is clear that forgiveness of sins comes through faith. Either sins are of no effect, or faith in Christ is not necessary for salvation.

One can see, then, how the errors are related; Protestantism teaches that one can be saved by faith without works, while Conciliarism teaches that one can be saved by works without faith. Catholicism, on the other hand, walks the sure and true course, set out by God; the middle path of faith and works, and these works have their efficacy through grace by faith.

“That the Gentiles are joint heirs, and fellow-members of the same body, and joint partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel” – Ephesians 3:6

 

One of the key points of the Conciliar doctrine is the necessity of all people being within the possibility of salvation. This is true, for indeed God can give His grace through faith to whomever He wishes. They falsely believe, however, that there must be an ordinary and natural means by which all men can be saved. The madness of this statement is almost overwhelming.

Faith in God has never come through natural means. Anything that can be gathered by natural means is held by reason, not faith. Faith requires consent to the truths of revealed doctrine, and it can be nothing else than this. If faith, then, consists of acceptance of those truths given to us by God, how can one have faith who has not had any truths revealed to him by God? Moreover, if one holds a false doctrine to be taught by God, is he not given to an allegiance with a false god? For if it is the truth, it would be the Catholic Faith. If it is false, however, it must not have come from God.

It is pointless to say one would have believed in those truths, because anyone, given sufficient grace and a sufficient presentation of the truth, would accept it. Would there be a sinner in the world if they all had seen Hell in its truth? Would there be a heretic in the world if they had all seen clearly, from Christ’s own holy Mouth, that the Catholic Church is the true Church? Certainly not! A sufficient amount of revealed truth would prevent even the worst of sinners from committing the least of sins. It would seem, then, that all men are saved, since there is a sufficient degree of revealed truth that would turn them from sin. This is the conclusion one must reach if ignorance of things divine is as meritorious as accepting Christ’s words, in contradiction to the Scriptures.

Above and beyond this, we know through the Catholic faith that an act of enlightenment is given by the Holy Spirit to whoever converts. An acceptance of the Catholic Faith is an act given us by God, and by this fact alone does not come through natural means, even if the truth is presented externally. This is something that not only has been taught by the Church, but I have seen myself; for instance, I described briefly to an agnostic man one day why there must be a God, and why Christ would come, a conversation that lasted little more than a half hour. Three days later, without any further conversation, he told me he was Catholic. I offered to him no proof of the Catholic Faith over any of the Protestant churches, yet he has since then to this day fully accepted all the Church’s teachings and holds to them as firmly as any other I have ever met. To another man, however, I have shown to him the teachings of the Catholic Faith fully and clearly, and he swears to hold everything that the Church teaches; yet, when I presented him with the Church’s teaching on certain matters, he absolutely refused to believe it, and is now outside the Church.

How does all this apply to the verse? Quite simply the verse states that those who were outside of the promise of the Messiah, the Gentiles, are co-heirs through the Gospel. They have become co-heirs and partakers in the promise of Christ through the Gospel, that is, through the reception of the faith. The only people who can rightfully claim in any sense to have a “right” to the opportunity of salvation is the Jews, a people who forsook that right by rejection of Him who came for their redemption. It is false to assume that everyone must have the opportunity to be redeemed by purely natural means, both because this is altogether impossible, and second because it is by the grace we receive it.

“In Him we have assurance and confident access through faith in Him” – Ephesians  3:12

Access to God is through faith in Him, as the Apostle states here. He also says that through faith we have assurance, along with confidence, in that access to Him through faith. St. Paul is telling the believers here that it is through faith that God hears our prayers and accepts them. If this is the means by which we have access to Him, it follows that those without these means do not. This is not to say that God could not, out of His Beneficence, choose to hear the prayer for understanding from a heathen who does not know Him, and thereby grant that one grace. He is by no means obliged to, however, and it is no detraction from God’s Perfection that He chooses not to answer the prayers of those who refuse to obey Him.

So it is through faith that we have access, and confident access at that, to our God, and not through our own goodness, nor obedience to natural law, nor through even His Divine Nature, but by the gift that He gives to His elect for their salvation, so that you are able “To have Christ dwelling through faith in your hearts.” (Ephesians 3:17)

“One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism” – Ephesians 4:5

This is one of the most beautiful and most frequently cited verses of St. Paul in defense of the Church by the Holy Fathers. In this simple profession of the Apostolic Faith is the unity of faith shown, and every degree of separation from the Church demonstrated, and contains therein all that is necessary for redemption. Those who hope for salvation and are truly in the Body of Christ must have these three things, “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.”

One Lord – Unity of Government, sinners, and Schism

 

“He himself gave some men as Apostles…for building up the Body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11,12)

 

Obviously all are under the authority of the one Lord, the Most Holy Trinity, God of all creation, by the very fact that they are created. What is meant by one Lord here, is subjection to the one Lord, and obedience to Him. Submission to the Lord Jesus Christ, however, does not simply consist in professing that He is Lord over all creation, since “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matt. 7:21) It consists of primarily two things; obedience to His moral commandments, and obedience to His doctrine.

Obedience to His moral commandments consists of avoiding all sin and doing acts of virtue in His service. However, if one does not fulfill this, he is not by this fact cut off from the Church, but rather from salvation. If one does not deny that Christ taught us not to commit fornication, for instance, he is not doubting the words of Christ, even though he commits fornication.

The obedience that is due to Christ naturally relegates to all those whom He has given authority; if one refuses to obey the authority that Christ has set forth, then one refuses to obey Christ’s authority. This does separate one from the Church, and is the sin of schism. A schismatic does not deny all the teachings of Christ, but rather refuses to obey that authority which Christ placed over him. They therefore refuse to subject themselves to the “One Lord.” This consists of refusing obedience to the Apostles and their successors, since Christ said to them, “He who hears you, hears me; and he who rejects you, rejects me.” (Luke 10:16)

No one can continue in the Church of Christ, which is the Catholic Church, unless one obeys the legitimate Apostolic successors, and the unity of this Body is shown in the verse above. Notice that it says that some men are given to be Apostles, thereby distinguishing it from the foolish heresy of the Protestants, who believe in no hierarchy of the Church.

 

One Faith – Unity of Faith and Heresy

 

“And this He has done that we may be now no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine devised in the wickedness of men, in craftiness, according to the wiles of error.” – Ephesians 4:14

The Lord has sent the Apostles to us for the building up of the Body so that we may be perfected in love. Desiring that we no longer be tossed to and fro by all sort of false doctrines by the wiles of error and wickedness of men, He granted to us the Papal Authority, which is the succession of the authority of St. Peter. Anyone who does not accept that which has been declared by St. Peter’s successors, by the Scripture, or by the Church in another manner is a heretic, and outside the Body of Christ.

This, however, is the means by which one is expelled from the Body of Christ. To be expelled one must first be a member of that Body, and so the Conciliars foolishly believe that when a Pope says that one who rejects the Catholic Faith is a heretic, this is the only way of not being Catholic. How can one be expelled from the unity of faith if he never held that unity at the outset? Unity of faith, then, is required before one can be expelled, and if one never holds that unity of faith – that is, acceptance of all that the Church proposes for our belief – one need not be expelled; he is simply a heretic already.

There are many teachings professed by the Church, however, and it may not be feasible or possible for everyone to know all of them. What, then, is required of us? We are required to believe the most basic dogmas and their implications (the Nicene Creed and a sufficient understanding of each article, for instance) and to submit our faith to whatever the Church proposes; this is enough to be certain of avoiding heresy.

One is, however, duty-bound to find out the Catholic teaching in certain situations, and a denial of the basic dogmas cannot be excused for ignorance, since these are the substance of which faith itself consists. This is not difficult, however, even in our deplorable age of ignorance and immorality, since in much of the world simply having access to the internet is sufficient for finding the Catholic truth, as long as one avoids false teachers and looks simply to the sure guide of the Councils, Popes and Fathers.

 

 

One Baptism – Unity in Grace and Heathen

 

“Having their understanding clouded in darkness, estranged from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” – Ephesians 4:17

The last element of unity essential for enrollment in the Catholic Church is baptism. Through baptism one enters into the life of grace by the remission of one’s sins, and he thereby binds himself under the authority and jurisdiction of the Church, the Body of Christ. Those who are not united to the Church in baptism cannot be saved, though a believer who dies before they were able to be baptized can be saved, since they have this unity by desire.

This verse from Ephesians shows why the heathen – that is, the unbaptized – are not in the saving grace of Christ. They are estranged from the life of God in their ignorance, and that ignorance is upon them because of the blindness of their heart. The heart is the symbol of desires and the will; blindness of the heart consists of desiring that which is worthless, such as pleasure or honor or power. It seems, then, that God in His mercy would grant to the heathen a remedy for their ignorance if they would set their desire on finding truth and serving God, for a natural knowledge of God is possible for all, and if they obeyed sound reason they would know there is one God. It is their duty, then, to pursue the one God, and though He is not bound by any means to do so, if they choose to follow after Him He will be kind and grant them the light of faith, so that they may be saved.

The reason the Conciliars have such a hard time with this is because they have a false concept of man’s dignity. God did indeed create us superior to all but the angels, with an immortal soul which is the image of Him. God also unquestionably desires the salvation of man, being that He is perfectly Good. However, the first man defiled all men with his sin, so that we are all born “by nature children of wrath.” (Eph. 2:3) It is therefore entirely within the Holy Justice of God to condemn all without exception, so His goodness is exceptionally Good in that He allows exceptions.

Why, however, does He leave some in darkness? Because their deeds are evil, and they choose to follow after vain desires. If He chooses to save some of those who are even in this wicked state, does that mean He is unjust for not doing it to the rest? God knows who will serve Him and who will not from the masses of the unfaithful, if He calls them by grace. Let Him choose who He will! They commit “immorality and every uncleanness,” (Eph. 5:3) and so “Let no one lead you astray with empty words; for because of these things” –  that is, their sins and blindness – “the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience.” (Eph. 5:6)

Even those who have been brought to the redemption given by Christ in the Holy Catholic Church were once evil, and undeserving. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” (Eph. 5:8) They who are of good will were yet still in darkness until they became light through faith. If others never come to this light, and are never changed by it, then it is no injustice of God, but may be very well suited to His purpose. He does not infringe upon their free will which He has granted them, and with this mercy given by God they abuse all good things and hate Him; yet He is still merciful, and allows them time to repent and turn toward Him. He would then give them light; if many, even most, choose not to do this, then what is improper about His Justice?

The Church’s Teaching Never Changes

Those most notorious and blind heretics of Vatican II are most clearly contradicting the teachings of the Church both in declaration and Scripture, and yet they continue to assert that even the Holy Church Fathers truly complied with their beliefs. What madness is this!? They cite passages from the Church Fathers which say that those who could not have heard the truth are not guilty of heresy or unbelief; this is fair enough, for this is asserted by the Scriptures, the Papacy, the Councils and the Fathers.

But in what way does being not guilty of a particular crime grant instead the opposing virtue? One has not committed adultery. Does that alone make one chaste? One has not murdered his brother. Does that make him a peacemaker? One has not broken the law in this matter; is he by this fact alone a keeper of the whole law? For I do not believe that the madness even of the Conciliars could go so far as to state that these outside the Faith are entirely exempt from all sinful actions; indeed, they must at the very least believe that these ones have the sin of Adam on their head. Doubtless some madmen within their sect may even doubt this, but it does not appear at the time to be the common profession of their masses.

It is beyond question that a proper understanding of the Church Fathers is not too terribly difficult if we take their teachings alongside the Papal declarations and Church Councils, and finally the Scripture. If all these four things obviously teach the same truth, what possible doubt could one entertain? Not that I believe it will do the pernicious any good, but rather for the sake of demonstrating the Holy Catholic Faith’s unwavering consistency since the Apostles themselves handed down the Faith, I write this: No claim for their heretical and damnable view of salvation can be supported by the Church Fathers, Councils, Popes, or Scripture.

As I have already shown how this is the certain teaching of Holy Scripture, what remains is simply to demonstrate the same certain faith as professed by the Church throughout every age. This can be done quite easily (and indeed has been demonstrated repeatedly by myself as well as other Catholic writers even in our day) to be the consistent belief professed, that none are saved who are not professing the Catholic Faith. First, we have the greatest of the Church Fathers, St. Augustine, who was abundantly clear on the matter in his refutation of Pelagius, On Nature and Grace:

[Pelagius says,] “Therefore the nature of the human race, generated from the flesh of the one transgressor, if it is self-sufficient for fulfilling the law and for perfecting righteousness, ought to be sure of its reward, that is, of everlasting life, even if in any nation or at any former time faith in the blood of Christ was unknown to it. For God is not so unjust as to defraud righteous persons of the reward of righteousness, because there has not been announced to them the mystery of Christ’s divinity and humanity, which was manifested in the flesh. For how could they believe what they had not heard of; or how could they hear without a preacher? ‘ For “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” But I say (adds he): Have they not heard? “Yea, verily; their sound went out into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.”

[Augustine] Before, however, all this had been accomplished, before the actual preaching of the gospel reaches the ends of all the earth–because there are some remote nations still (although it is said they are very few) to whom the preached gospel has not found its way,–what must human nature do, or what has it done–for it had either not heard that all this was to take place, or has not yet learnt that it was accomplished–but believe in God who made heaven and earth, by whom also it perceived by nature that it had been itself created, and lead a right life, and thus accomplish His will, uninstructed with any faith in the death and resurrection of Christ? Well, if this could have been done, or can still be done, then for my part I have to say what the apostle said in regard to the law: “Then Christ died in vain.” For if he said this about the law, which only the nation of the Jews received, how much more justly may it be said of the law of nature, which the whole human race has received, “If righteousness come by nature, then Christ died in vain.” If, however, Christ did not die in vain, then human nature cannot by any means be justified and redeemed from God’s most righteous wrath–in a word, from punishment–except by faith and the sacrament of the blood of Christ

This grace, however, of Christ, without which neither infants nor adults can be saved, is not rendered for any merits, but is given gratis, on account of which it is also called grace. “Being justified,” says the apostle, “freely through His blood.” Whence they, who are not liberated through grace, either because they are not yet able to hear, or because they are unwilling to obey; or again because they did not receive, at the time when they were unable on account of youth to hear, that bath of regeneration, which they might have received and through which they might have been saved, are indeed justly condemned; because they are not without sin, either that which they have derived from their birth, or that which they have added from their own misconduct. “For all have sinned”–whether in Adam or in themselves–“and come short of the glory of God”…

If, therefore, we wish “to rouse and kindle cold and sluggish souls by Christian exhortations to lead righteous lives,” we must first of all exhort them to that faith whereby they may become Christians, and be subjects of His name and authority, without whom they cannot be saved.

Augustine clearly speaks for all of us when he says that “human nature cannot by any means be justified and redeemed from God’s most righteous wrath except by faith and the sacrament of the blood of Christ,” which is to say, unless one has faith in Christ, which has its redemptive power through the shedding of His Blood, one cannot be saved. An accusation against context by the heretics will undoubtedly be brought forth on this statement, since they do not believe that any are saved without grace. It is true that their crime is not the same as the Pelagianists, but Augustine’s words ring true nonetheless; he says that human nature cannot be restored except by means of that same faith which we profess. To claim that a man is in a state of sanctification outside this faith is contrary to his words, and that much seems quite clear. Moreover, he shows that there is no distinction between sanctifying grace and the reception of the faith, in saying that “they, who are not liberated through grace, either because they are not yet able to hear…are indeed justly condemned.”

A hundred excerpts from as many Church Fathers could be brought forth to demonstrate the same belief, but this is unnecessary, and one can demonstrate that the Catholic teaching has been the same throughout, and must be, by means of the Councils:

“[The Holy Roman Church] firmly believes, professes and teaches that none of those who are not within the Catholic Church, not only Pagans, but Jews, heretics and schismatics, can ever be partakers of eternal life, but are to go into the eternal fire ‘prepared for the devil, and his angels’ (Mt. xxv. 41), unless before the close of their lives they shall have entered into that Church; also that the unity of the Ecclesiastical body is such that the Church’s Sacraments avail only those abiding in that Church, and that fasts, almsdeeds, and other works of piety which play their part in the Christian combat are in her alone productive of eternal rewards; moreover, that no one, no matter what alms he may have given, not even if he were to shed his blood for Christ’s sake, can be saved unless he abide in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.” (Pope Eugene IV, The Bull Cantate Domino, 1441).

Again we see the same teaching demonstrated, nay, infallibly defined by the Church at an Ecumenical Council. The wording of it is of such that it can leave no room for doubt or error, for it shows quite clearly that Pagans, Jews, heretics and schismatics cannot by any means be considered part of the Church, and that they will be damned on that point alone, regardless of their manner of life.

The papacy, moreover, has spoken consistently and sternly, with its great authority, throughout every age the same doctrine. Three examples alone are offered up here, but the consistency of its teaching is irreproachable:

Pope Adrian II (867-872): “The first requirement of salvation is to keep to the standard of the true faith.” (ACTIO I, D. 171, n.1, quoting the Rule of Pope St. Hormisdas, IV Constantinople)

Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303), Bull Unam Sanctum, 1302: “With Faith urging us we are forced to believe and to hold the one, holy, Catholic Church and that, apostolic, and we firmly believe and simply confess this (Church) outside which there is no salvation nor remission of sin, the Spouse in the Canticle proclaiming: “One is my dove, my perfect one. One she is of her mother, the chosen of her that bore her” [Cant. 6:8]. Certainly Noe had one ark at the time of the flood, prefiguring one Church which perfect on one cubit had one ruler and guide, namely Noe, outside which we read all living things on the earth were destroyed.”

Pope Gregory XVI, (1831-1846), Summo Jugiter Studio, 1832: “2. …Some of these misguided people attempt to persuade themselves and others that men are not saved only in the Catholic religion, but that even heretics may attain eternal life. …5. …You know how zealously Our predecessors taught that very article of faith which these dare to deny, namely the necessity of the Catholic faith and of unity for salvation. The words of that celebrated disciple of the apostles, martyred St. Ignatius, in his letter to the Philadelphians are relevant to this matter: “Be not deceived, my brother; if anyone follows a schismatic, he will not attain the inheritance of the kingdom of God.” Moreover, St. Augustine and the other African bishops who met in the Council of Cirta in the year 412 explained the same thing at greater length: “Whoever has separated himself from the Catholic Church, no matter how laudably he lives, will not have eternal life, but has earned the anger of God because of this one crime: that he abandoned his union with Christ.” Omitting other appropriate passages which are almost numberless in the writings of the Fathers, We shall praise St. Gregory the Great who expressly testifies that this indeed is the teaching of the Catholic Church. He says: “The holy universal Church teaches that it is not possible to worship God truly except in her and asserts that all who are outside of her will not be saved.” Official acts of the Church proclaim the same dogma. Thus, in the decree on faith which Innocent III published with the synod of Lateran IV, these things are written: “There is one universal Church of all the faithful outside of which no one is saved.” Finally the same dogma is also expressly mentioned in the profession of faith proposed by the Apostolic See, not only that which all Latin churches use, but also that which the Greek Orthodox Church uses and that which other Eastern Catholics use. We did not mention these selected testimonies because We thought you were ignorant of that article of faith and in need of Our instruction. Far be it from Us to have such an absurd and insulting suspicion about you. But We are so concerned about this serious and well known dogma, which has been attacked with such remarkable audacity, that We could not restrain Our pen from reinforcing this truth with many testimonies.”

Most notable is our Holy Father Pope Gregory XVI’s quote, which is spoken both relatively recently and with perfect clarity, in response to the same heresy that is in our day so prevalent. He shows us that each of these sayings concerning salvation and the Church were referring to that one consistent teaching held by Catholics to this day – “all who are outside of her will not be saved.”

Those who pertinaciously deny the Faith despite such solid proofs from Scripture and Tradition are undoubtedly on the road to perdition. May God in His abundant mercy bestow upon such ones the grace to receive the Holy Catholic Faith, the same Faith given by the Apostles and handed down throughout the centuries which is the salvation of all believers. Amen.

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