Friday, 22 June 2012

Outside of the Catholic Church There is no Salvation! You may have heard that the Catholic Church is prefigured by Noah's Ark. No one outside of the Ark was saved during the flood. Only those eight people inside the ark were saved, Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives... Gen 6-8. "These in times past had been disobedient when the patience of GOD waited in the days of Noah while the ark was building. In that ark a few, that is, eight souls were saved through water. Its counterpart, Baptism, now saves you also..." 1Pet 3:20-21. Now we have the new Noah's Ark, the Catholic Church... and a controversy... From the Council of Florence-Basel-Ferrara held in 1431-1445, came the following decree: "It (the council) firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the catholic church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Catholic Church before the end of their lives; that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only for those who abide in it do the church's sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militia produce eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed his blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and the unity of the catholic church." The first impression one would receive from this rather harsh sounding decree, is that the Church has said, that if you are not a Catholic, you will have no salvation. If this is the conclusion to which you have arrived, then please allow me to try to set the record straight. What about the souls who have never heard of GOD or are ignorant of the commandments? Are all of these automatically condemned? No, they are not. What about the souls who are isolated from civilization and have not had the Gospel preached to them? Are they condemned, through no fault of their own, for something of which they had no control? Of course not, for we have a merciful GOD who loves us all and wants salvation for all people. This is shown in Holy Scripture... Romans 2:14-15, "When the Gentiles who have no law do by nature what the Law prescribes, these having no law are a law unto themselves. They show the work of the Law written in their hearts." All of us have had GOD's Laws written in our hearts, and are therefore eligible for salvation. If the unlearned follow those infused Laws of GOD, they will see salvation. What about our Protestant brothers and sisters, are they too condemned? No, they are not. The key to this perplexing (to some) Council statement is in having a valid Baptism. Whether Catholics and non-Catholics realize it or not, anyone Baptized by the Catholic Church, or Baptized validly by the standard Church approved method by Church sanctioned non-Catholic denominations, or by individuals who have the intention of doing what the Church does, is Baptized into the Catholic Church, or if you prefer, the Church which Jesus Christ founded in Matthew 16:18. What this means, is that all who meet the above requirements for Baptism, are joined to the Catholic Church, and are therefore, not outside of the Catholic Church, as the Council states. This covers most protestant denominations, as most of them, but not all, are Church sanctioned. Unfortunately, there are a few who call themselves Catholic, who take the phrase, "There is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church", as a 'truth' without bothering to find out the real meaning of what the Council of Florence decreed. Again, the words are taken out of context, and thus, their interpretation is in error. Vatican Council II explained what I have tried to show you above. It is not a contradiction of the Council of Florence, but merely a redefinement of the decree. You will have to remember that times change, and language and conditions change. Now the true meaning of, "Outside of the Catholic Church, there is no Salvation", is, 'if you realize the Catholic Church is the True Church, and if you refuse to join it, then you have rejected the truth of the Church. By rejecting the Church, you reject Jesus Christ who founded it'. Therefore you are... 'Outside of the Catholic Church and there is no salvation'. See Heb 6:4-8 Here is what Vatican II said regarding this subject... An excerpt from Lumen Gentium... The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council 14. This holy Council first of all turns its attention to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself on scripture and tradition, it teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mk. 16:16; Jn. 3:5), and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it, or to remain in it. Fully incorporated into the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept all the means of salvation given to the Church together with her entire organization, and who--by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and communion--are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but "in body" not "in heart."[12] All children of the Church should nevertheless remember that their exalted condition results, not from their own merits, but from the grace of Christ. If they fail to respond in thought, word and deed to that grace, not only shall they not be saved, but they shall be the more severely judged.[ 13] Catechumens who, moved by the Holy Spirit, desire with an explicit intention to be incorporated into the Church, are by that very intention joined to her. With love and solicitude mother Church already embraces them as her own. 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.[ 14] For there are many who hold sacred scripture in honor as a rule of faith and of life, who have a sincere religious zeal, who lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and the Saviour,[ 15] 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. Many of them possess the episcopate, celebrate the holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion of the Virgin Mother of God.[ 16] There is furthermore a sharing in prayer and spiritual benefits; these Christians are indeed in some real way joined to us in the Holy Spirit for, by his gifts and graces, his sanctifying power is also active in them and he has strengthened some of them even to the shedding of their blood. And so the Spirit stirs up desires and actions in all of Christ's disciples in order that all may be peaceably united, as Christ ordained, in one flock under one shepherd.[17] Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may be achieved, and she exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the Church. 16. Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways.[ 18] 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). But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Moslems: 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. 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.[19] Nor shall divine providence deny the assistance necessary for salvation to those who, without any fault of theirs, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God, and who, not without grace, strive to lead a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is considered by the Church to be a preparation for the Gospel[ 20] and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life. But very often, deceived by the Evil One, men have become vain in their reasonings, have exchanged the truth of God for a lie and served the world rather than the Creator (cf. Rom. 1:21 and 25). Or else, living and dying in this world without God, they are exposed to ultimate despair. Hence to procure the glory of God and the salvation of all these, the Church, mindful of the Lord's command, "preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mk. 16:16) takes zealous care to foster the missions. 12. Cfr. Pius IX, Bulla Ineffabilis, 8 dec. 1854: Acta Pii IX, 1, I, p. 616; Denz. 1641 (2803). 13. Cfr. Pius XII, Const. Apost. Munificentissimus, 1 nov. 1950: AAS 42 (1950); Denz. 2333 (3903). Cfr. S. Io. Damascenus, Enc. in dorm. Dei genitricis, Hom. 2 et 3: PG 96, 721-761, speciatim col. 728 B. - S. Germanus Constantinop., In S. Dei gen. dorm. Serm. 1: PG 98 (6), 340-348; Serm. 3: col. 361. - S. Modestus Hier., In dorm. SS. Deiparae: PG 86 (2), 3277-3312. 14. Cfr. Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Ad coeli Reginam, 11 oct. 1954: AAS 46 (1954), PP. 633-636; Denz. 3913. SS. Cfr. S. Andreas Cret., Hom. 3 in dorm. SS. Deiparae: PG 97, 1089-1109. - S. Io. Damascenus, De fide orth., IV, 14: PG 94, 1153-1161. 15. Cfr. Kleutgen, textus reformatus De mysterio Verbi incarnati, cap. IV: Mansi 53, 290. Cfr. S. Andreas Cret., In nat. Mariae, sermo 4: PG 97, 865 A. - S. Germanus Constantinop., In annunt. Deiparae: PG 98, 321 BC. In dorm. Deiparae, III: col. 361 D.S. Io. Damascenus, In dorm. B. V. Mariae, Hom. 1, 8: PG 96, 712 BC - 713 A. 16. Cfr. Leo XIII, Litt. Encycl. Adiutricem populi, 5 sept. 1895: ASS 15 (1895-96), P. 303. - S. PiUS X, Litt. Encycl. Ad diem illum, 2 febr. 1904: Acta, I, p. 154; Denz. 1978 a (3370). - Pius XI, Litt. Encycl. Miserentissimus, 8 maii 1928: AAS 20 (1928) P. 178. Pius XII, Nuntius Radioph., 13 maii 1946: AAS 38 (1946) P. 266. 17. S. Ambrosius, Epist. 63: PL 16, 1218. 18. S. Ambrosius, Expos. Lc. II, 7: PL 15, 1555. 19. Cfr. Ps.-Petrus Dam., Serm. 63: PL 144, 861 AB. - Godefridus a S. Victore. In nat. B. M., Ms. Paris, Mazarine, 1002, fol. 109 r. - Gerhohus Reich., De gloria et honore Filii hominis, 10: PL 194,1105AB. 20. S. Ambrosius, l. c. et Expos. Lc. X, 24-25: PL 15, 1810. - S. Augustinus, In lo. Tr. 13, 12: PL 35, 1499. Cfr. Serm. 191, 2, 3: PL 38, 1010; etc. Cfr. etiam Ven. Beda, In Lc. Expos. I, cap. 2: PL 92, 330. - Isaac de Stella, Serm. 51: PL 194, 1863 A. Reference the Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC 845-848 Compiled by Bob Stanley, June 15, 1999
Vigil of Saint John The Baptist June 23 The important feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist is preceded by a vigil. An Angel announced to the saint's father Zachary, a priest of the house of Aaron, that the child should be called John and that many would rejoice in his birth. God had chosen John to be the Herald of mankind's Redeemer, the Morning Star to usher in the Daylight of Justice and of Truth. Therefore he was sanctified (by the Holy Ghost) in his mother's womb, (born without sin) when Elizabeth was honored by a visit from the Virgin Mother of God, carrying Christ in her body. In like manner, Jesus today gives sanctifying Joy to the missionary precursors whom He calls to go before Him into pagan lands. Elias, St. John the Baptist and St. Anthony (June 13) have a lot in common, they were all Hammer's of Heretics....... Saint John the Baptist, Last of the Prophets And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus the Prophet; and not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian. St. Lk. 4:23-30 Our Lord was demonstrating why those who lack faith seldom see signs and miracles, as He continues, an evil and adulterous generation seeketh a sign: and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonas the Prophet. St. Matt. 12:39. A prelude to our times as this generation, too, demands signs from God's witnesses preceding the Second Coming of Christ. After Christ are Prophets still needed? NO; witnesses to their prophecies, yes. When we think of prophecy, we think of the foretelling of things to come, but there is more to it, Prophets are also messengers of God. The outstanding Prophet is Jesus Christ—He is God. He proclaims that He is our salvation. In Him the message and the Prophet are one. The whole Church, the assembly of those incorporated into Christ, takes over His role to continue to witness to His prophecy. Prophets always speak with reference to salvation and Messianic times. They foretell or herald the coming of the messianic kingdom. Through faith and the Sacraments we are living in the glorious messianic times, and we witness to them by our way of life. 1. As St. John the Baptist stated, "He must grow, and I must disappear." St. Jn. 3:30. Once Christ established the Papacy, the Popes became the number one High Priest, Prophet of Prophets and Doctor of Doctors. This means there is no human placed above the Pope. One must never forget that prior to being Pope, and in order to be Pope, he must first of all be a believer, one who himself has the faith. As a result of this the Pope adheres to the teaching of all his predecessors. He is taught by them. 2. The Church teaches public revelation is contained either in the Bible or in the deposit of the Apostolic Tradition. After the death of the last Apostle there could be no addition to public revelation. Whenever the majority of God's people become sinful, God sends us His punishments. Both fonts of public revelation, Scripture and tradition, have been given to the Church; only the Church can authentically interpret the Bible; only the Church can authoritatively declare the content of the Apostolic tradition; but the Church does not receive new revelations, it guards, explains and makes explicit for the faithful the content of the revelations made to the Apostles. Revealed truths proposed by the Church are believed by Catholics with divine faith i. e., because of the authority of God who has revealed them. Anything of Faith is Old not New. To deny a revealed truth proposed for our belief by the Church is heresy. 3. As long as we have a true Pope in the world there can not be any major prophets and as for the two witnesses which come into the world during the Great Apostasy, (Schism) we will be without a true Pope as the Antichrists will control the apostate church while the faithful seek refuge in the wilderness. Apoc. 12. Elias and Enoch do not come back but are represented by the current two witnesses. In Christ's time we had two witnesses: St. John the Baptist, who represented Elias 4, and Jesus who represented Enoch. Enoch was married and represents the married state in the mystical body of Christ. Christ also represents the married state as the Groom of His Church. Isaias 7:15. Elias and St. John the Baptist represents the single or chaste state. It's my understanding of why we say the Confiteor twice, each time at Mass, as it is said once for the married state and once for the single state. Or you could apply it as well to saying the Confiteor once for Enoch and the other for Elias. The two witnesses in the end times cannot be of the Religious simply because Enoch was married and his replacement would represent the married state. Also, both witnesses would have to be free of any control of the religious nature, as they would be speaking in the place of the Pope. They will explain the status of Church, prepare the faithful for the battle of Armageddon (the last battle), the great chastisement (fire from heaven), and the Second Coming of Christ. By faith Enoch was taken up lest he should see death; and he was not found because God took him up—for before he was taken up he had testimony that pleased God and without faith it is impossible to please God. For he who comes to God must believe that God exists and is a rewarder to those who seek him. Heb. 11:5. Grace be with you, through Mary Our Hope, In Christ, Joseph 8-29-05 Beheading of John the Baptist. 1. St. Andrew Bible Missal 1962 2. Fortes in Fide.# 1, Father Noel Barbara 3. Catholic Encyclopedia 4. Ott, Fund. of Catholic Dogma, pg.487

Sunday, 17 June 2012

ST. AUGUSTINE ON THE PRIESTHOOD O venerable brothers, ye priests of God above, I pray ye hear the message I speak to you in love; Ye heralds of the Highest, ye shining lights of day. Who beam with hope enduring, and charity's pure ray. Ye do to God your service in His own holy shrine; And Christ hath called you branches, Who is Himself the Vine; O see ye be not barren, nor bitter fruit ye give, If with the Root that bears you ye would for ever live. The Catholic religion yours is it to uphold. The world’s true light and ransom, the shepherds of the fold; The walls of Jacob’s dwelling, the art of Life who teach; Who judge the Church in meekness, who to the nations preach. The Catholic religion is lost if ye betray; The salt that lacks its savour serves but to cast away; The path of life is doubtful unless the light shine clear; Except the Shepherd watcheth, the robber draweth near. The care of God's own Vineyard is given unto you. That with the streams of doctrine its soil ye should bedew ; The thorns and choking thistles should root from out the ground. That so the faith of Jesus may flourish and abound. Ye are the patient oxen who tread the threshing-floor, The wheat and chaff with caution to part for evermore : The laymen frail and simple, and all inconstant still, Have you for an ensample to shew them good or ill. Whatever they shall notice is grievous unto you, That doubtless they will argue they must with care eschew; Whatever they shall see you by holy deeds proclaim, That they will reckon lawful, and free from sin or shame. Since ye have been appointed the shepherds of the sheep, Oh, see ye be not slothful, nor silent watch ye keep; Be loud and plain the warnings ye raise when harm is nigh— The wolf sees folds in safety with jealous rav’ning eye. A threefold food the faithful have need of day by day— The Body of the Saviour, to keep their life for aye; The Word of due instruction, the which discreetly give; The earthly meats that perish, whereby their bodies live.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Some facts about purgatory These early days (indeed, the whole month) of November is a time specifically devoted to praying for the poor souls in purgatory. How sad it is that relatively few Catholics even think of the poor souls! Certainly, this woeful neglect on the part of so many is due largely to the fact that few priests have been preaching about purgatory over the past thirty to forty years. I do hope that we all are taking advantage of the opportunity to gain a plenary indulgence for the dead each day between the first and eighth of November. The requirements for gaining this special grace (from the handbook of indulgences) are: 1) To visit a cemetery and say any prayer for the deceased (the person does not need to actually be buried in that particular cemetery). 2) To be in the state of grace when the work is accomplished. 3) To go to confession. 4) To pray for the Holy Father (an Our Father and Hail Mary, as well as the Creed or the Glory Be, are the traditional prayers). 5) To receive communion devoutly. 6) To be free from all attachment to sin (even venial sin). Note: Communion should be received on the day or near the day in which the visit to the cemetery is made. Confession may be made several days before or after (and one confession suffices for multiple indulgences [but communion must be received for each plenary indulgence]). Finally: Only one plenary indulgence may be gained each day (excepting in the case of the moment of death, when a second may be acquired). Additionally, the usual requirements being met, a plenary indulgence for the deceased may be gained on November 2nd by visiting a church or oratory and offering an Our Father and the Creed. Now, let’s consider some facts about purgatory! Is purgatory in the Bible? While the word “purgatory” never appears in the Bible, the concept is present both implicitly and explicitly. Implicitly, the idea of praying for the dead – as when Job prays for his sons and daughters, or in Maccabees, or when St. Paul encourages the Corinthians to pray for the dead (cf. 1 Corinthians 15) – necessitates belief in purgatory. If the dead are in hell, our prayers could do no good; if they are in heaven, then they have no need of prayer. Therefore, there must be some third place (neither in heaven nor in hell) where the souls of the dead can benefit from our prayers. The concept of purgatory is also explicitly presented in the Bible. Consider when Jesus says that the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven in this life or in the next (cf. Matthew 12:31) – thus, it is clear that some sins can be forgiven in the next life (we mean the punishment of sin, not the guilt of sin). Likewise, St. Paul states that some who have died will be purified as by fire: If any man's work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire. (1 Corinthians 3:15) Must I believe in purgatory in order to be saved? Yes, purgatory has been taught by the Catholic Church as de fide. To deny the existence of purgatory is to deny the authority of Christ Jesus who has revealed this doctrine to us through the Church. Hence, belief in purgatory is as necessary for salvation as the other truths of the Faith. What is purgatory? Purgatory is that purification which they must undergo who have died in God’s grace and friendship, but are still imperfect. Purgatory is “this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.” (CCC 1031) Purgatory is a great and most generous gift from the Lord. How is purgatory different from hell? Purgatory is essentially different from hell insofar as the souls there still possess grace. The souls in purgatory have faith, hope and love. Their punishment and suffering is of a purifying nature and prepares them for heaven. Moreover, purgatory is only a temporary purgation and all the souls in purgatory will eventually gain entrance to heaven. Hell, on the other hand, is eternal. The sufferings of hell do not purify but only torture and punish. The souls in hell have no grace, neither have they any (true) faith, hope or love. The souls in hell will never attain to salvation. How is purgatory different from heaven? Purgatory is a sort of ante-chamber to heaven, a preparatory purgation for heaven. The souls in purgatory suffer intensely and are not yet perfectly happy. The souls in purgatory still have hope (rather than the fulfillment of hope in heaven), since they are not yet perfectly possessed by God. Likewise they still have faith, since they do not yet see God. Do the souls in purgatory become holier? Essentially, the souls in purgatory cannot grow in holiness. They cannot merit more grace or glory. Neither can they grow in charity. Rather, purgatory is a cleansing which purifies the holiness that they already possess. Do the souls in purgatory want to get out? This is a difficult question. On the one hand, they certainly desire heaven (this desire is cause of their chief pain, since they are not yet where they want to be). On the other hand, they would not want to move ahead without being purified. Hence, they love the sufferings insofar as they are purified by them. None are angry or upset about being in purgatory, but they do very much desire the assistance of our prayers so as to swiftly attain to the joy of heaven. Are there any young children in purgatory? No, there are most certainly no children who died before the age of reason in purgatory. Purgatory is a punishment for actual sin (either direct sins or sins of omission). Hence, since a child cannot sin until it has attained to the use of reason, it is not possible for any children to be in purgatory. If the child has been baptized, it most certainly goes directly to heaven. If the child has not been baptized, it either goes to limbo (which is a state of perfect natural happiness, on the fringe of hell) or to heaven. In any case, young children who die before gaining the use of reason are very happy, indeed they are perfectly happy. They are either supernaturally happy in heaven, or naturally happy in limbo – but they certainly do not suffer any subjective pains (as do the souls in hell and in purgatory). Will purgatory go on forever? No. Purgatory will be completed at the time of the final judgment. All the souls in purgatory at that time will be purified instantaneously and will be caught up with the saints in glory. Is there really fire in purgatory? Yes. There is real, physical fire in purgatory. This is the best and safest opinion which is nearly unanimous among the Latin theologians (especially the Fathers and Doctors), also it enjoys the favor of several prominent Eastern Doctors (including St. Basil the Great). Additionally, the mystics of the Church speak of physical fires. It is in this sense only that purgatory can be called a “place”. How can I help the souls in purgatory? You can help the poor souls by praying for them, offering up works of mercy, gaining indulgences for them, mortifying yourself in their behalf, and completing other spiritual works for their sake. [Be sure that no prayer will go to waste; since, if the soul is not in purgatory (for one reason or another), Our Blessed Mother will certainly make good use of the graces for another] Most especially, we consider the importance of praying for the holy souls when at Mass (especially during the Eucharistic prayer), and having Masses offered for the deceased. Can the souls in purgatory help me? This is a very complicated question. Generally we would say, no. The main point of purgatory is that the souls cannot help themselves or anyone else, but are in a passive state of purification. They are powerless, hence they rely greatly upon our prayers. However, it is possible that God may (in exceptional circumstances) allow those in purgatory to pray for or assist in some manner those who are on earth and who implore their aid. Still, this does not seem to be the norm – however, there are most certainly cases in the lives of the saints (e.g. St. Pio) where this did occur. How can I suffer less in purgatory and get to heaven quickly? The time is now! Once we die, there is no way to suffer less in purgatory. However, until death, there is much we can do to help ourselves (by God’s grace). The primary way to avoid excessive time in purgatory is to become holier now. The chief reason why souls go to purgatory is because they are not yet in perfect union with God. Therefore, we must strive to attain to perfect union (which is gained especially through prayer and the dark night of the soul). Additionally, accepting any and all sufferings (and even adding sufferings through mortifications and fasts) will help to atone for the punishment of sin on earth rather than in purgatory. In this regard, it is good to recall the importance of indulgences and especially the plenary indulgence at the moment of death gained through the “Apostolic Pardon” which is given by the priest through a special blessing when death is imminent, but can even be gained without a priest in some circumstances [more on this in a future article]. Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine. Et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.