Monthly Archives: May 2014

Shortsighted Argument by Atheists

free-vector-flying-spaghetti-monster-clip-art_114000_Flying_Spaghetti_Monster_clip_art_hightOne caller, on a Catholic Answers Live program found here, recently raised the question that if God is good and moral, why does He allow evil and immorality to take place if He has the power to stop it.  Much can be said concerning the subject of Theodicy, but what seems shortsighted on part of Atheists who ask this kind of question is: how does one determine what is moral and immoral apart from a perfectly moral standard such as God?  If God does not exist, then how is it possible to speak of morality?  In order to speak about a circular shape, the concept of a perfect circle must exist somewhere in order to have a perfect standard of circularity (in this case, the concept of a perfect circle eternally exists in the mind of God and has been implanted into our minds by God).  Likewise, there must be a perfectly moral Being in order to determine what is moral and immoral.  For this reason, when Atheists assume there is such a concept as morality and then use moral arguments to refute the existence of God, they are pulling the rug from under their feet since it leaves them with no ability to speak about morality, having excluded a perfectly moral standard by which they may judge what is moral and immoral.

At this point, the Atheist usually retorts with the assertion that societies determine morality.  This is a very poor answer because it is clear that societies have chosen immoral laws throughout history, such as Nazi Germany’s laws concerning Jews or the Jim Crow Laws in the United States.  I am not aware of many Atheists that would assert that these were morally good laws even though they were determined by a society.  Thus, their assertion falls by the wayside.

Next time an Atheist presents this argument to you, turn it around on them and challenge them to provide you with a consistent reason they are able to speak about morality while denying the existence of a perfectly moral Being.

Faithful Shepherd Spotlight: Fr. Louis Sklar

fr-Sklar[web]There are hirlings and there are Shepherds and of these Jesus said “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.” (John 10:11-13).”

If you are in the North-Eastern part of Louisiana and you need a faithful Shepherd, then there is good news.  His name is Fr. Louis Sklar and he is the Pastor of St. Patrick Catholic Church in Ferriday, Louisiana.  He is a phenomenal confessor and also celebrates both the Ordinary Form of the Mass and the Extraordinary Form of the Mass on a weekly basis.  For more information, click this link.

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Outside the Church There Is No Salvation

Outside the Church there is no Salvation

If there is no salvation outside of the Church, what about the Orthodox Churches, or the Protestants or thosw who have never heard about Christ?

The doctrine that there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church is often very confusing to both Catholics and non-Catholics.  With the aid of the simple picture I made above, I hope to illustrate visually, accomapanied by a brief explanation of the doctrine, how this doctrine works in relation to those that are not formal members of the Catholic Church.

First, there is the large circle which represents the entire Catholic Church which is identified with the Church Jesus established.  Every member of the Catholic Church is part of this circle large circle and therefore part of the one Church Jesus established.

Second, there are smaller, but still fairly large circles within the large circle.  These represent the true local Churches, such as the Eastern Orthodox Churches, or the Oriental Orthdox Churches.  They are part of the Church Jesus established, as is evident by their existence in the large circle, but they are not part of the Church in a perfect way, they do not have the fullness of the faith, namely the Papacy, and for this reason, they are smaller circles in the larger circle.  The Catholic Church is in them, though they are not fully in the Catholic Church.  Everything the local Churches have, the Catholic Church has, though not everything the Catholic Church has is in the local Churches.  It should also be noted that the Catholic Church is not merely an combination of all of the local Churches, hence the two mid sized circles do not add up to the large circle.

Third, there are the smallest circles parlty in the large circle and yet partly outside of the large circle, which represents validly baptized Christians who are not mebmers of the Catholic Church and are not members of any true local Church.  The Catholic Church is in them, but they are not completely within the Catholic Church.  An example of this group would be certain Protestants, such as Anglicans and Presbyterians.

Fourth, there is the small circle outside the large circles.  These are people who are non-Christians who are not formal members of the Church but are responding to God’s grace the best that they can with the light that they have.  They are not baptized, so they are not anywhere in the large circle of the Church of Christ, yet in a very mysterious way they are connected to the Church, hence the blue color of the small circle outside of the large circle is the same color as the large circle.  In a mysterious way, this group (albeit it is probably pretty rare for one to be part of this group) has a relationsh with the Church yet they are not formally part of the Church.  This last relationship with the Church is the most mysterious, hence the Second Vatican Council did not say much about this group.

Perhaps, since Christ is in this group and Christ is in the Church, in a mysterious way, we can might be able to say The Church is in this group and in this way they are part of the Church, though not visibly and formally.  However, this is merely my own speculation and should be considered with caution.

Fifth, there is the white section, the rest of the pictures. This is pretty much everybody else and probably goes without saying.

With all of these factors in mind, one can see visually how one can claim that outside the Church there is no salvation, and yet still require the necessity of baptism, Christ and the Church, still affirm that the Orthodox are true local Churches, still affirm Protestants are part of the Church (yet in an incomplete way) and still affirm that it is possible for some to become part of the Church, through the work of Christ, but in a mysterious way since they are without baptism, and only under certain conditions.

Summary of Dominus Iesus

Below is a brief summary of the Declaration by the Congregation for the Doctine of the Faith entitled Dominus Iesus.

Paragraph 2:  The Church’s dialogue with non-Christian religions does not replace its mission to the nations.

Paragraph 4:  Religions pluralism endangers the Church’s missionary efforts.  Relativistic attitude towards truth is a problem, as well as reading Scriptue outside of the Tradition of the Church and the Magisterium.

Paragraph 5:  Jesus completed and perfected Divine revelation.  No further public revelation is needed.

Paragraph 6:  It is contrary to the faith to say that Christianity must be completmented by other religions.

Paragraph 7:  Faith is inseperable from assent to the whole truth revealed by God.

Paragraph 8: Only inspired texts are the canonical books of the Bible.

Paragraph 11:  The unicity of the Sacrifice of Christ is affirmed.

Paragraph 14:  Salvation is in Christ alone.  “It must therefore be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith that the universal salvific will of the One and Triune God is offered and accomplished once for all in the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God.”  Salvation beyond Christ is outside of the Catholic Faith.

Paragraph 16:  The fullness of salvation belongs to the Church.  “And thus, just as the head and members of a living body, though not identical, are inseparable, so too Christ and the Church can neither be confused nor separated, and constitute a single “whole Christ”.”  The unicity of the Church must be affired.  “Therefore, in connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the Church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith.”  Catholics are required to affim the continuity between the Church Jesus established and the Catholic Church.  There is only one Church.  “The Catholic faithful are required to profess that there is an historical continuity — rooted in the apostolic succession — between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church: “This is the single Church of Christ”.  The Church of Christ “continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church.”

Paragraph 17:  Churches that maintain apostolic succession are true local Churches.  The Church of Christ is present and operateive in these local Churches. “Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him.58 The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches.59 Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.”  Communities without apostolic succession are not truly Churches.  “On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery,are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church.Baptism in fact tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ, through the integral profession of faith, the Eucharist, and full communion in the Church.

Paragraph 20:  The Church is necessary for salvation.

Paragraph 21:  False elements in non-Christian religions constitute an obstacle to salvation.

Paragraph 22:  Non-Christian religions are in a gravely deficient situation.

Paragraph 23:  All are required to seek the truth and embrace it.  “Especially in those things that concern God and his Church, all persons are required to seek the truth, and when they come to know it, to embrace it and hold fast to it”.

A Summary of Redemptionis Sacramentum

It is important to be aware of one of the Magisterium’s documents on liturgical abuses. One such document is Redemptionis Sacramentum. Since it is lengthy I have provided a brief description of some of the paragraphs of Redemptionis Sacramentum, occasionally followd by a quote from the summarized paragraph as a proof text.

A Summary of Redemptionis Sacramentum

Paragraph 4: Liturgical abuses must cease, in this day and age they are very widespread.

Paragraph 6: Liturgical abuses hinder the faithful from experiencing Christ.

Paragraph 7: We do not have the liberty to do whatever we want in the liturgy.

Paragraph 10: Unapproved texts used in the liturgy break lex orandi and lex credendi link.

Paragraph 11: Even priests are not allowed to follow their own whim in the liturgy. “The Mystery of the Eucharist “is too great for anyone to permit himself to treat it according to his own whim, so that its sacredness and its universal ordering would be obscured”. On the contrary, anyone who acts thus by giving free reign to his own inclinations, even if he is a Priest, injures the substantial unity of the Roman Rite, which ought to be vigorously preserved, and becomes responsible for actions that are in no way consistent with the hunger and thirst for the living God that is experienced by the people today.”

Paragraph 11: Changes in the liturgy are not in conformity with pastoral care but deprive the faithful of their heritage.

Paragraph 11: Liturgical abuses cause scandal to the faithful. “The result is uncertainty in matters of doctrine, perplexity and scandal on the part of the People of God, and, almost as a necessary consequence, vigorous opposition, all of which greatly confuse and sadden many of Christ’s faithful in this age of ours when Christian life is often particularly difficult on account of the inroads of “secularization” as well.”

Paragraph 12: Catholics have a right to a faithful celebration of the liturgy according to the liturgical norms. “On the contrary, it is the right of all of Christ’s faithful that the Liturgy, and in particular the celebration of Holy Mass, should truly be as the Church wishes, according to her stipulations as prescribed in the liturgical books and in the other laws and norms.”

Paragraph 15: The Pope is the supreme moderator of the liturgy.

Paragraph 19: The Bishop is the first moderator of the liturgy.

Paragraph 24: The laity have a right for their Bishop to address liturgical abuses: “It is the right of the Christian people themselves that their diocesan Bishop should take care to prevent the occurrence of abuses in ecclesiastical discipline, especially as regards the ministry of the word, the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals, the worship of God and devotion to the Saints.”

Paragraph 27: No more experimentations with the liturgy to be done since 1970. “As early as the year 1970, the Apostolic See announced the cessation of all experimentation as regards the celebration of Holy Mass and reiterated the same in 1988.”

Paragraph 29: Priests to obey their Bishops.

Paragraph 30: Celebration of mass is in Persona Christi.

Paragraph 30: Some of the liturgical abuses cause much suffering for many. “It must be lamented that, especially in the years following the post-Conciliar liturgical reform, as a result of a misguided sense of creativity and adaptation, there have been a number of abuses which have been a source of suffering for many”.”

Paragraph 31: Priests ought not to omitt, add, or alter the liturgy. “They ought not to detract from the profound meaning of their own ministry by corrupting the liturgical celebration either through alteration or omission, or through arbitrary additions.”

Paragraph 32: Priest ought not to let the laity perform duties that belong only to the priest. “Although it is appropriate that he should be assisted in the effective preparation of the liturgical celebrations by various members of Christ’s faithful, he nevertheless must not cede to them in any way those things that are proper to his own office”

Paragraph 38: The Eucharist is not just a meal but a sacrifice. “The constant teaching of the Church on the nature of the Eucharist not only as a meal, but also and pre-eminently as a Sacrifice, is therefore rightly understood to be one of the principal keys to the full participation of all the faithful in so great a Sacrament. For when “stripped of its sacrificial meaning, the mystery is understood as if its meaning and importance were simply that of a fraternal banquet”.

Paragraph 40: Not every one has to do something in the liturgy, other than the normal rites and gestures.

Paragraph 42: There is a wrong emphasis on community and “celebrating community” that sees the people as no different than the priest in the celebration of the liturgy.

Paragraph 45: Confusion of the role of priest and laity to be avoided.

Paragraph 46: Laity assisting at mass are to have faithful lives in morals and to the Church’s magisterium, no one to be selected that would cause the faithul consernation. “The lay Christian faithful called to give assistance at liturgical celebrations should be well instructed and must be those whose Christian life, morals and fidelity to the Church’s Magisterium recommend them.” “No one should be selected whose designation could cause consternation for the faithful”

Paragraph 47: On women altarservers, “Girls or women may also be admitted to this service of the altar, at the discretion of the diocesan Bishop and in observance of the established norms.”

Pagraraph 48: Concerning valid and invalid matter for the Eucharistic bread, “The bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition. It follows therefore that bread made from another substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament. It is a grave abuse to introduce other substances, such as fruit or sugar or honey, into the bread for confecting the Eucharist. Hosts should obviously be made by those who are not only distinguished by their integrity, but also skilled in making them and furnished with suitable tools.”

Paragraph 50: Concerning invalid and valid matter for the precious blood “The wine that is used in the most sacred celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice must be natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances. During the celebration itself, a small quantity of water is to be mixed with it. Great care should be taken so that the wine intended for the celebration of the Eucharist is well conserved and has not soured. It is altogether forbidden to use wine of doubtful authenticity or provenance, for the Church requires certainty regarding the conditions necessary for the validity of the sacraments. Nor are other drinks of any kind to be admitted for any reason, as they do not constitute valid matter.”

Paragraph 51: Only leigitimate Eucharistic prayers are to be used.

Paragraph 52:  Deacons and laity are not to recite the Eucharistic prayer.

Paragraph 55:  Breaking host during consecration is reprobated.

Paragraph 59:  Changing the text of the liturgy by Priest, Deacon or laity is reprobated.

Paragraph 63:  Only clergy to read the Gospel during the liturgy.

Paragraph 64:  Laity never permitted to deliver a homily during the liturgy.

Paragraph 72:  The sign up peace is to be done in a dignified manner and only ot those who are nearest.  The Priest is to remain in the sanctuary during the sign of peace.

Paragraph 74:  Instruction or testimony from a member of the laity may be given, but only rarely and after the prayer after communion.

Paragraph 77.  Mass is not to be inserted into a common meal.

Paragraph 84.  The Priest is to inform the people during mass of the Church’s stance on non-Catholics and communion.  “[84.] Furthermore when Holy Mass is celebrated for a large crowd – for example, in large cities – care should be taken lest out of ignorance non-Catholics or even non-Christians come forward for Holy Communion, without taking into account the Church’s Magisterium in matters pertaining to doctrine and discipline. It is the duty of Pastors at an opportune moment to inform those present of the authenticity and the discipline that are strictly to be observed.”

Paragraph 87.  Rules on First Communion.

Paragraph 90.  Faithful to receive kneeling or standing.

Paragraph 91.  As long as one is rightly disposed, the faithful are not to be denied Holy Communion.  They cannot be denied simply because they wish to kneel or stand.  “Therefore, it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing.”

Paragraph 92.  The faithful have the right to receive Communion on the tongue.

Paragraph 92.  Communion in the hand only to be given when there isn’t a risk of profanation or walking away with the host.  Otherwise, this is not to be done..  “Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice,if any communicant should wish to receive the Sacrament in the hand, in areas where the Bishops’ Conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the sacred host is to be administered to him or her. However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.”

Paragraph 93.  Communion plate to be retained.  “The Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful should be retained, so as to avoid the danger of the sacred host or some fragment of it falling.”

Paragraph 94.  Faithful are not to take by themselves the Eucharist.

Paragraph 95.  Number of times faithful can receive Communion in one day.

Paragraph 101.  Communion under both kinds excluded when a possibility of profanation possible.  “In order for Holy Communion under both kinds to be administered to the lay members of Christ’s faithful, due consideration should be given to the circumstances, as judged first of all by the diocesan Bishop. It is to be completely excluded where even a small danger exists of the sacred species being profaned.”

Paragraph 102.  Chalice not to be given to faithful in very large assemblies.

Paragraph 103.  Intinction is permitted.  “The norms of the Roman Missal admit the principle that in cases where Communion is administered under both kinds, “the Blood of the Lord may be received either by drinking from the chalice directly, or by intinction, or by means of a tube or a spoon”.As regards the administering of Communion to lay members of Christ’s faithful, the Bishops may exclude Communion with the tube or the spoon where this is not the local custom, though the option of administering Communion by intinction always remains. If this modality is employed, however, hosts should be used which are neither too thin nor too small, and the communicant should receive the Sacrament from the Priest only on the tongue.”

Paragraph 104.  The Faithful are not to intinct the host themselves, nor receive it on the hand.

Paragraph 109:  It is never permitted to celebrate Mass in a non Christian space.

Paragraph 110:  Priests should celebrateMmass even if faithful not present.

Paragraph 112:  Priests are always and everywhere permitted to celebrae Mass in Latin.

Paragraphn 117:  Norms on what vessesl to use for the Eucharist.

Paragraphn 130:  On the location of the Tabernacle.

Paragraph 135:  On Eucharistic adoration.  “The faithful “should not omit making visits during the day to the Most Holy Sacrament, as a proof of gratitude, a pledge of love, and a debt of the adoration due to Christ the Lord who is present in it.”

Paragraph 138:  Exposed Eucharist is never to be left unattended.

Paragraph 146:  Only a Priest can confect the Eucharist.

Paragraph 151:  On the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.  “Only out of true necessity is there to be recourse to the assistance of extraordinary ministers in the celebration of the Liturgy. Such recourse is not intended for the sake of a fuller participation of the laity but rather, by its very nature, is supplementary and provisional. Furthermore, when recourse is had out of necessity to the functions of extraordinary ministers, special urgent prayers of intercession should be multiplied that the Lord may soon send a Priest for the service of the community and raise up an abundance of vocations to sacred Orders.”

Paragraph 157:  On Priests abusing the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

Paragraph 158:  Brief prolongation of the Mass is not a sufficient reason for the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

Paragraph 161:  Laity can preach outside of Mass.

Paragraph 169:  How to view abuses of the Liturgy.  “Whenever an abuse is committed in the celebration of the sacred Liturgy, it is to be seen as a real falsification of Catholic Liturgy. St Thomas wrote, “the vice of falsehood is perpetrated by anyone who offers worship to God on behalf of the Church in a manner contrary to that which is established by the Church with divine authority, and to which the Church is accustomed.”

Paragraph 177:  The Bishop is bound to insist on the observance of the liturgical laws.

Paragraph 178:  The Bishop is to investigate alleged abuses.

Paragraph 183.  Everyone is to do what they can to correct Liturgical abuses.  “In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.”

Paragraph 184:  Laity have right to lodge a complaint about an abuse.  “Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff.It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.”