Reformers on Mary

I believe I am finished with the "Reformers on Mary" page.  I need to restore my shortcuts to upload it to my webpage, but I have updated the blog entry (from January) to reflect the (hopefully) final changes:

I thank those who were following this for their patience.

Addendum:  Well, while rereading it, I made a couple edits to the post (same day as announcing completion).  Any edits made after today will be made as addendums to the post and not directly changing the words. 

Sexagesima Sunday

Sexagesima Sunday - The Second Sunday Before Lent
Last week started the Sundays before Lent, Septuagesima Sunday, which is 7 weeks prior to Easter.  This week marks the 2nd Sunday before Lent and 6 Sundays prior to Easter.  The Epistle and Gospel according to the Traditional (Extraordinary) Lectionary are included below and the Modern Lectionary below that.  Now is the time to prepare for Lent.  Select for yourself what you plan to be your penance for Lent - which this year begins on March 9th (Ash Wednesday).  You cannot serve two masters - so choose God and choose how to serve Him best.

EPISTLE ¤ II Cor. 11. 19-33; 12. 1-9
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians.
St. Paul in the Third Heaven
[St. Paul tells of his shipwrecks and perils inthe sea, all the torments he endured for the Name of Christ. Let us "therefore glory in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in us."]
Brethren, You gladly suffer the foolish: whereas yourselves are wise. For you suffer if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take from you, if a man be lifted up, if a man strike you on the face. I speak according to dishonor, as if we had been weak in the past. Wherein if any man dare (I speak foolishly), I dare also. They are Hebrews, so am I. They are Israelites, so am I. They are the seed of Abraham, so am I. They are the ministers of Christ (I speak as one less wise), I am more: in many more labors, in prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often. Of the Jews five times did I receive forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I was in the depth of the sea: in journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils from false brethren: in labor and painfulness, in much watching, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness; besides those things which are without, my daily instance, the solicitude for all the Churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is scandalized, and I am not on fire? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern my infirmity. The God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed for ever, knoweth that I lie not. At Damascus the governor of the nation under Aretas the king, guarded the city of the Damascenes, to apprehend me: and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and so escaped his hands. If I must glory (it is not expedient indeed) but I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, whether in the body I know not, or out of the body, I know not, God knoweth, such a one caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man, whether in the body or out of the body, I know not, God knoweth: that he was caught up unto paradise, and heard secret words which it is not granted to man to utter. For such a one I will glory: but for myself I will glory nothing but in my infirmities. For though I should have a mind to glory, I shall not be foolish: for I will say the truth: but I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth in me, or anything he heareth from me. And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, and angel of Satan, to buffet me. For which thing, thrice I besought the Lord that it might depart from me. And He said to me: my grace is sufficient for thee: for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

GOSPEL ¤ Luke 8. 4-15
† Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Luke.
[Jesus, in the boat, on the shores of the lake of Galilee, preaches the parable of the sower.]
At that time, when a very great multitude was gathered together and hastened out of the cities unto Jesus, He spoke by a similitude: The sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the wayside, and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And other some fell upon a rock: and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And other some fell among thorns, and the thorns growing up with it choked it. And other some fell upon good ground: and being sprung up yielded fruit a hundredfold. Saying these things, He cried out: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And His disciples asked Him what this parable might be. To whom He said: To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to the rest in parables: that seeing they may not see, and hearing may not understand. Now the parable is this. The seed is the word of God. And they by the wayside are they that hear: then the devil cometh and taketh the word out of their heart, lest believing they should be saved. Now they upon the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no roots: for they believe for a while, and in time of temptation they fall away. And that which fell away among thorns are they who have heard and, going their way, are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and yield no fruit. But on the good ground are they who in a good and perfect heart, hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience.

And according to the Modern Lectionary:
Reading 2 (Epistle) 1 Cor 4:1-5
Brothers and sisters:
Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  Now it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.  It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not even pass judgment on myself; I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord.  Therefore do not make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts, and then everyone will receive praise from God.
Gospel   Mt 6:24-34
Jesus said to his disciples:
“No one can serve two masters.  He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?  Why are you anxious about clothes?  Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.  They do not work or spin.  But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.  If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?  So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’
or ‘What are we to drink?’or ‘What are we to wear?’  All these things the pagans seek.  Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.  Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.  Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”

Eucharistic Miracle at Sienna

In the 18th century, while preparing for the Feast of the Assumption, there was a lot of Hosts preconsecrated for the celebration.  Then, on the vigil of the Assumption, August 14, 1730, thieves broke into the Church of St. Francis, they picked the lock on the tabernacle and stole the golden ciborium which was filled with Hosts.  Two days later at another parish a priest noticed something protruding from the offering box (poor box) which was only emptied about once per year.  He opened the box and found someone had dumped the consecrated Hosts into it.  Being that the box was not opened often, it had lots of dust and cobwebs in it - some of the Hosts were suspended in the cobwebs.  The Hosts were compared to others at St. Francis and they were identical in size and iron marks from the baking process - these were indeed the stolen Hosts.  The Hosts were put into another ciborium and not used, for they had been dirtied by the thief/thieves - but since they were consecrated, they were not destroyed.

"Okay," you say, "so where's the miracle?"  Well, fifty years had passed and the Minister General of the Franciscan Order came to investigate - and not only had the Host not deteriorated in the least, upon tasting one he commented that it was fresh and incorrupt.  They even had a pleasant smell.  In 1789 the Archbishop of Sienna, with a number of other religious and dignitaries, had the Hosts examined under a microscope and further confirmed no sign of deterioration.  Keep in mind, bread will start molding and deteriorating within days, or in best conditions (without freezing, which was not even plausible in the 18th century) a week or two.  After more than fifty years, there should have been little resemblance to bread at all.  What's more, is this miracle can be witness to this day!

More reading:

I am also making this a short series on Eucharistic Miracles... stay tuned!

Christianity Prior to the 16th Century

Since I responded to Dominic Bnonn-Tennant's article which was basically a tag-a-long to the one below, I figured I should respond to this one as well.
A Catholic correspondent emailed me after reading my recent ‘Fallout’ article:
I am genuinely puzzled by your statement that neither the Orthodox nor Catholic Churches are Christian, but false churches … I really would like to know the answer: when were these false churches established? Who were the Christians up to the time of the Reformation?
To my mind, this question seems calculated to embarrass away my view of Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. It implies the following about my position, and its consequences:
  1. The Roman and Eastern Orthodox Churches became (”were established” as) false churches at discrete and measurable points in time;
  2. These points must have been prior to the Reformation;
  3. Therefore, for some time before the Reformation, there was no genuine Christian Church;
  4. Therefore, for some time before the Reformation, there were no genuine Christians;
  5. This is untenable and should not be believed (presumably because of Jesus’s promise in Matthew 16:18).
Lemme take a crack at these.

1. The Roman and Eastern Orthodox Churches became false churches at discrete, measurable points in time

I’m not a historical theologian, so frankly I can’t comment.
Dominic says he cannot comment... then does...
Perhaps there are specific points in time at which both the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches accreted so much false doctrine that they ceased to be genuine Christian institutions. But who could say? Perhaps there is a discrete point in time at which the grains of sand I keep dropping on the ground become a pile. But why does it matter that I can identify that point? Once a certain amount of sand has accumulated, it’s indisputable that there is a pile. And once a certain number of false teachings about the doctrine of justification are accumulated (for example), it’s indisputable that there is no gospel any longer. A church without the biblical doctrine of justification is preaching a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9; 2:16,21; 3:1-3).
Clearly Dominic believes both Catholicism and Orthodoxy are false churches which teach a false gospel, but the person who asked this question wanted to get him to commit to when (either precisely or even approximately) these churches, in his view, could be called heretical and no longer "Christian."  Dominic leaves this question unanswered and it would seem that if he's going to put forth the assertion that he would do the research necessary to substantiate his position and not cop-out with "I'm not a historical theologian, so frankly I can't comment."  Thus the question of when Catholicism and/or Orthodoxy became "unChristian" is a very important one to the subject matter here.

2. These points of apostasy must have been prior to the Reformation

I tend to agree. I’m not very familiar with Eastern Orthodoxy, but it seems to me that both the Roman and Eastern Orthodox Churches had fully vacated the gospel of grace by the time of the Reformation, teaching instead a gospel of works.
Neither Catholicism nor Orthodoxy teaches a "gospel of works."  That being said, works cannot be avoided!  Faith which has no works is a "dead faith" and such a faith is incapable of saving someone (James 2).  It seems to me that many Protestants seeking to distance themselves from Catholicism (and/or Orthodoxy) too quickly read St. Paul's words and end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  To believe there are NO works in the economy of salvation is just as anti-scriptural as a "works-salvation" theology.  Getting so focused on works that one excludes ALL works of having any merit or necessity is not a Christian approach to the Gospel.  

3. Therefore, for some time before the Reformation, there was no genuine Christian Church

This seems to presuppose a rather tendentious view of ecclesiology. I don’t grant that “the Church” is contiguous with a monolithic religious institution. The Bible doesn’t use the word that way. It mostly speaks of individual churches.
How about answering THIS question?  When Jesus promised He would build His Church, speaking quite singularly, and that His Church would be built upon "this rock," and in that same context had just given Simon Bar-Jonah the masculine form of the word "rock" in the Greek, as would be appropriate in a male's name, however Jesus likely was speaking Aramaic/Hebrew when in private with His Apostles, as that was their native tongue - AND we have testimony that the Book of Matthew was originally in the Hebrew tongue.  In the Aramaic the name given to Simon was "Kepha" or "Cephas" and we see that Aramaic form of his name used in several places throughout the New Testament - even in books which the earliest copies we have are in Greek, and these Greek texts use the Aramaic name untranslated!  (See: John 1:42; 1 Cor. 3:22 and Gal. 2:9).
I think individual churches could be genuinely Christian, even if technically under the authority of a non-Christian ecclesiastical institution. Of course, I also think it’s not particularly likely that they would be.
And Catholicism has the teaching on "Invincible Ignorance" (which is not a defined teaching and can even be denied by faithful Catholics) which does not apply to individual churches, but to individuals - period.  If one remains outside the Catholic Faith "through no fault of their own" then they MAY not be held culpable for doing so.  The ultimate decision is left to our Sovereign God.
On the other hand, if we take “the Church” to be a spiritual entity rather than a physical one, (3) is obviously false. Inasmuch as there were still Christians prior to the Reformation (see below), there was still an invisible church comprising all those believers—even if it never met together.
This concept of an "invisible church" is not scriptural.  It is wholly the rationalization of those who wish to deny the visible Church which Jesus Christ most certainly fulfilled His promise in building it.  The desire of God is that we be ONE, just as the Father and the Son are One (John 17:20-23).  To endorse the anarchy of Protestantism through this, again unscriptural, concept of "invisible church" is again nothing more than rationalizing their way around the Truth.

4. Therefore, for some time before the Reformation, there were no genuine Christians

This premise, of course, only highlights how false the Catholic gospel is. Unless I’m much mistaken, I glimpse the hidden assumption that salvation is through the sacraments, and so without a “true church” to belong to, you can’t be saved.
But of course, salvation is not through the sacraments; it’s through faith in God’s promise that your sins are dealt with by the atoning work of Christ. And that promise is something not particularly hard to come by, even in the most hopelessly lost church. You can accumulate an awful lot of useless baggage in your beliefs, but still be counted among the sheep if you’re trusting exclusively in the work of Christ for your salvation.
Well Dominic is "much mistaken."  The Sacraments are given to us, by Christ, as a MEANS of Grace - if God chooses to save someone outside those means, that's completely left to God and His sovereignty.  
Now, it goes without saying...
If "it goes without saying..." then why go on to say it?
...that most adherents to Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy are not trusting exclusively in the work of Christ. That would have been especially so among the laity of the middle ages and Renaissance, who had no access to the Bible, and who therefore had to simply trust what their priests told them about the means of salvation—which of course was that they had to perform certain works.
I must repeat that the Sacraments ARE the work of Christ!  He gives us the Sacraments specifically so that we might attain actual grace.  The point here, I believe, is that to be a Catholic then one must participate in the Sacraments - and that is true!  So if Jesus built His Church AND that Church includes the Sacraments which Jesus Himself established/endorsed, then these Sacraments are necessary. 
To a large extent, that situation continues. From the evidence I’ve seen, Catholicism has not improved since then (again, I know little of Eastern Orthodoxy).
Again, if the Catholic Church IS that Church which Jesus Christ built, as we believe it IS, then YES!  The Sacraments SHOULD continue!  How does one "improve" upon that which Jesus did and provided for us?
Its adherents, especially in countries like Italy, Spain and the Latin Americas, are highly indoctrinated in all manner of superstitions and practices by which they hope to be saved. In fairness, much of this is not directly from the Church. But in equal fairness it’s the natural extension of what the Church teaches; and the Church certainly does nothing to discourage or correct it. It makes my blood boil just to think on it, that Roman Catholicism is actively encouraging such rank idolatry and “Christianized” paganism, leading these poor ignorant, lost souls straight into hell.
Dominic gives us no documentation of actual examples here, only empty assertions of "idolatry and 'Christianized' paganism."  I will not try to assume to know what he means here.  If he wishes to discuss specific examples, I would be all ears/eyes to such.  
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
From my position those words are aptly applied to one like Mr. Bnonn-Tennant!
Be that as it may, I don’t think there were no genuine Christians prior to the Reformation. I have no doubt that God continued to gather his elect, even out of the grim sludge of false doctrine that would, without his grace, have drowned them.
LIkewise, I do not believe that God cannot or will not save some caught up in Protestantism.  Those, who through no fault of their own, remain outside the Catholic Church - but are serving the Lord the best way they know how MAY indeed be saved according to His sovereignty and grace as HE chooses.

The above premises are untenable and should not be believed

I actually do think it’s untenable to claim there were no Christians for some time prior to the Reformation.
Yes, it would be quite untenable to believe that Jesus waited over 1500 years to build His Church!  It is just as untenable to believe the churches which have popped up since the 16th century are, by some means of invisibility that One Church - especially when they are visibly separated. 
But I don’t think it’s untenable to believe that the number of those whom God saved during the middle ages dwindled because the gospel was largely obviated by an increasingly apostate and politically-motivated “church”.
More empty, unsubstantiated claims of apostasy.  Were there political issues going on in the Middle Ages?  No doubt, but politics does not give one grounds for leaving the One, True Church which Jesus Christ Himself built upon Kepha.
For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. But the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Yes, I agree!  Compared to the whole world - Catholicism may be numbered among "the few."  Yes, Catholicism is the single largest group of Christians, but Christianity is far outnumbered by Hindu, Buddhism and Islam.  Yes, the many are called - but of those only few are chosen, Matt. 22:14 (so much for Calvinistic predestination!).  

I believe Mr. Bnonn-Tennant does not fully understand that which he is attacking and has bought into the propaganda of anti-Catholics.  I have not had much dealing with him, as yet, but I hope our exchange can and will broaden his understanding of the Catholic Faith - and of course it is my prayer that he will one day join me in this Faith.  


Catholic in Nicene Creed

In my first ponderings of apologetics since the death of my daughter, I stumbled across the following article which "Matthew" linked to on BeggarsAll and I followed it to the original author's site.  My response will be too big for a combox reply, so I am replying here.  Let me make it clear too, this is not an exhaustive response to all of Mr. Bnonn-Tennant's (Bnonn is pronounced "non") positions but specifically directed to the article he wrote, which I include below in its entirety.  Though he makes tangential references to other statements outside the included article (below), I will not engage those tangents at this time.

Four reasons to think that the term “catholic” in the Nicene Creed should not be read as involving communion with the Church of Rome.
From a Catholic correspondent:
You’ve said on more than one occasion that the Catholic Church mentioned in the Nicene Creed is not the Roman Catholic Church. I have disagreed with you, pointing out that being in communion with the Pope, who is bishop of Rome, makes one part of the Catholic Church. I’ve come across on line an extract from a book which studies this question. I’m not talking about whether the Church went off the rails, just pointing out that when the Fathers at the Council of Nicea talked about the Catholic Church, they meant those who were in communion with Rome. I think the extract is worth reading, just to get a balanced picture.
You can click here to view the extract if you’re interested. Like most Catholic literature I found it interminably dull, and I don’t intend to interact with it specifically here. I just want to point out, more generally, a few problems with taking catholicity in the Nicene Creed to imply communion with Rome:
In other words, Mr. Bnonn-Tennant is not going to deal with the extract, he's just going to respond with his own opinions.

1. Anachronism

Consider these two statements:
  • C: “In the fourth century, the term catholic church referred to the body of churches in communion with the bishop of Rome.”
  • R: “In the fourth century, the term catholic church referred to the Roman Catholic Church.”
How does R follow from C? Can you spot the fallacy here? It begins with an “a” and ends with “nachronism”. Here’s an example in case it’s not clear:
  • C*: “In the book of Exodus, the term law referred to the body of religious principles and practices administrated by the priesthood.”
  • R*: “In the book of Exodus, the term law referred to the body of religious principles and practices administrated by the Sanhedrin.”
First off, there is no "anachronism" here.  An anachronism is something placed out of time, linearly speaking (eg. "printed" Bibles prior to the 16th century and the invention of the printing press).  In the first example, both are referencing "the fourth century;" and in the second both refer to "in the book of Exodus."  Neither of these references are anachronistic - perhaps the word/concept intended was that of "non sequitur?"  Either way, neither of these fallacies exist here.  The churches in communion with Rome are "catholic" and "Catholic."  The term "catholic" refers to being "universal" - and all those in communion with Rome are part of the "universal" Church.  One might object and say, "how about Eastern churches, are they also considered to be 'Catholic' in the 'Roman Catholic' way?"  The answer to that question is that though they are not part of the "Latin Rite" of the Catholic Church, those in communion with the Bishop of Rome are indeed "Catholic" in both senses of the word.  Likewise, the Sanhedrin was headed by the High Priest, and the laws spoken of in Exodus (and throughout the Torah) were indeed enforced by the priests who also comprised the Sanhedrin.  There is no non sequitur in either of these and most certainly not any anachronism.  

2. You can’t eat your cake and have it, too

In the same vein: say, arguendo, that the framers of the creed took it as given that Rome was the head of an authentic Christian institution, and that “catholicity” therefore entailed communion with Rome. Can we reasonably imagine that these same framers expected their definition to extend to any church claiming to be the Roman Church—provided it was located in the right place and claimed succession from the church they knew? That certainly seems like a stretch.
The point is to be in communion with St. Peter's successor - who, for a time, resided in Avignon, so the "place" is not necessarily the important factor - but that "place" has been so firmly established, to "move" it now would be irrational... unless, of course, one sides with the sede vacantists (those who claim the "seat is empty") but even there, the reference is to St. Peter's seat.  That being said, there is no "stretch" to think the framers of the Nicene Creed had in mind communion with ONE, UNIVERSAL church, and in NO WAY intended upon the anarchy of Protestantism.
It seems more reasonable to think that, in the event that Rome apostatized, the framers would have dropped communion with Rome as an element of catholicity.
"In the event that Rome apostatized..." is a huge "if" statement which begs the question here.  Mr. Bnonn-Tennant has not established any apostasy in this piece.  Now IF Rome, or more specifically - the pope, had fallen into apostasy, then he would cease to remain pope and we would truly have a period of sede vacantism, but again - "the Church" would be in a period of anticipation of a new and valid pope to take the apostate's place.  "The Church" would not splinter itself into hundreds, if not thousands, of denominations - and more to the point of this article - such splintering would be the opposite of "catholic" in any sense of the word!
Put another way, you can’t eat your cake and have it too: if in the fourth century the term “catholic” implied a group of churches in communion with the Roman Church, then in the 21st century the same term must imply a group of churches in the same kind of communion with the same Roman Church. If the kind of communion is not the same, and/or the Roman Church is not the same, then the term cannot be consistently applied in the 21st century. And of course, it goes without saying that the nature of communion was different (see point 4); and I’ve given ample defense in the past for my contention that the Roman Church in the 21st century is not a Christian church at all—let alone the same church as that of the fourth century.
The "kind" of communion remains the same in the 21st century as it did in the 4th century.  Sticking to the REAL meaning of the word "catholic" - which is "universal" - (uni = the whole, or one; and versus = turned toward; thus the word literally means turned toward the one/whole).  The term "catholic" cannot, in any sense, be logically applied to those who split away from "the One" Church - and certainly not to further splits among those who split!   No, Mr. Bnonn-Tennant, it is not the Catholic Church who seeks to "have their cake and eat it too," but Protestants who would like to embrace the Nicene Creed when they have no semblance of catholicity.  This being said, SOME Protestants DO have a semblance of catholicity in that they reject any other "Christian" not of their cult, as if the ONLY way to salvation is through their cult - there is a "oneness" or "universal" belief there - but I do not believe Mr. Bnonn-Tennant is expressing "catholic" in such a way as to limit the "saved" to his cult, and his cult alone.

3. Essential versus incidental elements to catholicity

In light of the above, if (again, arguendo) we cannot consistently apply the term “catholic” in the Nicene Creed to our situation in the 21st century, what should we do? Obviously there are two options: Firstly, we can accept that the creed itself is faulty since it contains a definition of the church we can’t apply today (and this would be equally true for Roman Catholics as it would be for Protestants). In this case I think it would do violence to the creed to use it at all. We should simply discard it. Or secondly, we can accept that the creed’s framers took the term “catholic” to imply more than we do because they lived in a different time and a different situation, for which there is no modern corollary.
In other words, in the fourth century communion with Rome was taken as a given in the definition of catholicity—but this was an incidental element of the definition, and not an essential one. It was an element which was assumed because it was the nature of the church at the time; but as such, it was not an eternal truth about the church; nor even necessarily an authentic truth. If you take the creed as pointing to essentially spiritual truths, then the church’s catholicity is a spiritual matter (ie, a universal body of believers united in Christ), which may or may not be reflected in its physical structure (ie, a given hierarchy instituted by Christ). You could hold to some mistaken notions of the church’s physical structure, yet still get the spiritual structure right. You might even hold to those mistaken notions precisely because your accurate understanding of the spiritual truths combined with your intuitions to suggest a certain structure.
So it doesn’t seem problematic to me for 21st century Protestants to recite the Nicene Creed and take “Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” to refer to a spiritual unity and authenticity, rather than to some culturally-bound, historical fact about how the church’s structure once was, but cannot be now. In fact, that seems to be the right and appropriate way to understand the creed. The other way around is [a%%-backwards and] nonsensical in modern Christendom.

First off, let me explain why I've edited Mr. Bnonn-Tennant's word "a%%-backwards."  I do so because some may take that to be profanity, which I do not permit on my blog.  Yes, literally speaking it can refer to trying to get a donkey to walk backwards, but the use of such terminology is not necessary and I would hope Mr. Bnonn-Tennant would see why this should not be used and remove it from his article.  If/when he does and he makes me aware of it, I will remove this paragraph of objection in my article/response.  He could simply remove it and his point is made since "nonsensical" is redundant to the non-profane manner of taking "a%%-backwards."

Mr. Bnonn-Tennant has simply moved from any logical reason of accepting "catholic" to rejecting the Nicene Creed entirely!  In this section of his "arguendo" the conclusion is that we, in the 21st century, cannot view the Nicene Creed the same way the Fathers who wrote it did.  His premise is that the Church today is not the same as the Church of the 4th century.  If this truly is Mr. Bnonn-Tennant's position - then I will respect it as such, and clearly then there is no defense of any Protestant sect using and/or reciting the Nicene Creed as a "credo" which they accept in the 21st century.

4. “Communion” doesn’t mean what Catholics like to say it means

All this said, I’m not remotely convinced that communion with Rome was regarded as a given in the definition of catholicity. Or, put another way, if “communion” was regarded as a given, then I’m not remotely convinced it meant “submission” or “oversight by” or “complete unity with” or any such concept that Roman Catholics would anachronistically require. It’s simply untenable to think that Rome was guiding Christendom in the same way it guides the Catholic Church today; or even that it had anything resembling the kind of authority it assumes for itself today.
First off on this point I'd like to say that Catholics do not claim everything is exactly the same today as it was at the dawn of Christendom.  The important factors at play here are:
  1. Jesus selected Twelve Bishops.
  2. Those bishops selected successor bishops when an office was vacated.
  3. THIS is the structure of the Catholic Church now, just as it was back then.
  4. Jesus singled out Simon/Peter on several occasions - most notably in promising him, and him alone, the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven (these "keys" are not made mention of elsewhere in the New Testament, regardless of how much rationalizations we see from Protestant apologists).
  5. The recognition of the Bishop of Rome as "corypheaus" (head) of the Apostles is noted in the Early Church Fathers, both Eastern and Western.
I could go on, but I believe I'm making my point already - what the Early Church had more closely resembles that of Catholicism than Protestantism - AND - Protestantism has absolutely NO valid claim to apostolic succession!  They broke from that when they separated themselves from THE Church which does validly have that (and I'm not discounting Orthodox claims here, the focus is on Protestants, so let's not be distracted by Orthodoxy's valid claims to apostolic succession - Protestants would have nothing to do with the sacramentalism of Orthodoxy either).

Secondly, "communion" is the acceptance of each other as true brothers in Christ and the Early Church was indeed in "communion" with the Bishop of Rome throughout the first 1000 years of Christendom!  In the 11th century we had our first major schism - 500 years later came another one.  Make note, these schisms came out FROM the Catholic Church!  It is noteworthy that neither Protestants nor Orthodox presume to call themselves "Catholics."
For example, writing of a dispute in Irenaeus’ day, and another that became prominent shortly afterward, the Catholic scholar Klaus Schatz commented: “Rome did not succeed in maintaining its position against the contrary opinion and praxis of a significant portion of the Church. The two most important controversies of this type were the disputes over the feast of Easter and heretical baptism. Each marks a stage in Rome’s sense of authority and at the same time reveals the initial resistance of other churches to the Roman claim.” (Papal Primacy [Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1996], p. 11)
As I pointed out to Jason Engwer in 2010, Fr. Schatz is NOT a good example of a "Catholic scholar!"  In fact, if one does a "Google" search on him they will find that most sites which cite him are anti-Catholic sites!  Those Catholics sites with reference to him are likely those pointing out Fr. Schatz' contradictory, even dissenting views on Catholicism.  The objective reader needs to be aware of this tactic of citing a "Catholic scholar" who may NOT be representing true Catholic teaching on a given matter - and this situation is no different.  That being said, and speaking of St. Irenaeus, let's see what this Catholic Saint had to say for himself on this matter:
"But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul—that church which has the tradition and the faith with which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world. And it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition" (Against Heresies, 3:3:2) [emphasis added].
It does not seem that St. Irenaeus supports Fr. Schatz OR Mr. Bnonn-Tennant's ideals, but rather declares firmly that it is THE Church founded and organized at Rome which Christians "must agree" with and "in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition."  At any rate, I whole-heartedly reject the claims of anti-Catholics who cite "Fr. Schatz" as a "Catholic scholar."

Similarly, in the late second century Polycrates applied the principle of Acts 5:29 to his dispute with the Roman bishop Victor (Eusebius, Church History, 5:24:7). Tertullian criticized the bishop of Rome for an inconsistent response to Montanism (Against Praxeas, 1). The author of a work commonly attributed to Hippolytus refers to the Roman bishop Zephyrinus as “an uninformed and shamefully corrupt man”.
There is nothing in Catholicism which states faithful Catholics cannot be critical of sitting popes!  If a pope has erred, then it is the responsibility of faithful Catholics to stand up to him!  This has happened several times throughout history.  Now that being said, let us look at a quote from Tertullian (prior to himself becoming a heretic):
"But if there be any [heresies] which are bold enough to plant [their origin] in the midst of the apostolic age, that they may thereby seem to have been handed down by the apostles, because they existed in the time of the apostles, we can say: Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [their first] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men—a man, moreover, who continued steadfast with the apostles. For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter" (Demurrer Against the Heretics, 32) [emphasis added].
So we see the exact same appeal to apostolic succession which I made as I opened this response as really an echoing of this 3rd century statement - over 100 years prior to the Nicene council!  One must also look at the context of the Nicene Creed and not overlook the fact that when it says "catholic" it ALSO says, "one, holy and apostolic!"  The term "catholic" is just ONE of the "Four Marks" of the TRUE Christian Church as stated by the Nicene Creed!

Note that even if Catholics try to say that, in principle, Rome in the fourth century had the same kind of authority as it does in the 21st century—even though in practice this wasn’t yet a fully developed or recognized doctrine—this doesn’t salvage the word “catholic” for them. Because if the kind of communion taken as implicit in the creed is only the kind of communion which was understood and practiced in the fourth century, then it isn’t modern Roman Catholic “communion”. It’s just a general notion of Rome’s importance, and of the need for churches to be in fellowship with one another.
Mr. Bnonn-Tennant's conclusion is unsupported by any primary sources, whereas I have cited some myself here in response.  Mr. Bnonn-Tennant's conclusion is false because, as I have shown, even PRIOR TO NICEA, the EXACT SAME APPEALS to Rome as the head and symbol of unity for THE Christian Church are made.  I therefore reject Mr. Bnonn-Tennant's argumentation as little more than his own opinion and where he did cite an outside source, it was that of one who is known to hold dissenting and/or contrary views to traditional Catholicism.  I hope the objective reader here can see the fallacies of Mr. Bnonn-Tennant's arguments, the weakness of his citations and conclude as I have that this whole article from him should be discarded.  


Thank You

I wish to thank you all for your prayers and thoughts.  I must say, this has been the hardest 3 weeks of my life.  I got a whole new appreciation for Our Lady of Sorrows.  As I sat there in the pew for the Requiem Mass, I looked up at the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows and saw the sword piercing her heart/soul as a representation of Luke 2:35 - which of course foretold of her Son's suffering and death which she witnessed firsthand...  after witnessing all that my daughter went through for the last three weeks, ending in her death - I believe I was given a sense of what Our Lady suffered through.  Although I've seen this representation and I understood what it meant... I did not and don't think I could have had the appreciation I have for it now.  

On Saturday, our priest stopped by and dropped off about 30 cards which were made by the students of the school at the church.  Julianne was very touched by these cards.  One depicted a little girl on a hospital bed with a ladder which led up to Jesus and Mary and said "they are waiting for you," and asked Julianne to remember her when she reached Heaven.  Juli read through each card in genuine appreciation.  

As the day progressed, concerns were raised that she may have another bowel obstruction and a CT scan about 11pm confirmed this.  I was called back to the hospital by my wife.  When I arrived she told me that Julianne on her way to the CT scan said, "I'm sorry mother."  After assuring her she had nothing to be sorry for, Juli said, "No matter what happens, know that I will love you forever."  It became clear, she was saying good-bye.  When I arrived my wife woke her - Juli reached to me and said, "Don't leave me."  Taking my hand, I held her for a good hour after she released me.  She was still breathing, and her heart was still beating... but clearly "she" had left and all that remained were chemical reactions in her body as it slowly shut down.  At 3:33am Sunday morning the doctor came in and let us know it was over.  We stayed with her for several more hours... her brothers were there and several of her aunts and uncles as well.

Julianne died on February 6th, 2011 and was buried on the 11th.  Until the morning of the 11th, I was questioning... struggling... with "did we do enough?"  She had already been intubated twice and had to undergo emergency surgery for a bowel obstruction.  When it became apparent she had a second bowel obstruction... AND she had made it clear that she did not want any more tubes and no more surgeries... while I could have tried to do the heroic thing and ask the doctors to perform the surgery again.  Another surgery would have been against her wishes and there is no guarantee the outcome would be any better than the last time - putting her through all that pain and suffering again.  Still, I struggled until the morning of the 11th.  At 1am I awoke struggling with those thoughts still - and stirred for two hours before forcing myself back to sleep.  Just before I awoke I had a dream which set my mind at ease...

I dreamed I was back in the ICU with Julianne - but the ICU was like a terminal at the airport with planes parked all around it.  One of the planes was scheduled for demolition as it was deemed not fixable.  I thought to myself, "I can fix that plane."  (I am not airplane mechanic!)   So I worked on the plane between visits to Julianne - and finally said, "OK, the plane is fixed!"  A nurse asked me if I had started it up to see if it runs.  I replied that I didn't want to wake the children.  Suddenly the plane burst into flames and was destroyed.  I stated, "Wow, I guess that plane just wasn't meant to fly again."  With that, I woke up and realized - God had already determined it was Julianne's time to come home and more "heroic" attempts would only increase her suffering and not change the final outcome.  I am at peace.

 [12] And we will not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that you be not sorrowful, even as others who have no hope. [13] For if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again; even so them who have slept through Jesus, will God bring with him. [14]For this we say unto you in the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them who have slept. [15] For the Lord himself shall come down from heaven with commandment, and with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead who are in Christ, shall rise first.  [16] Then we who are alive, who are left, shall be taken up together with them in the clouds to meet Christ, into the air, and so shall we be always with the Lord. [17]Wherefore, comfort ye one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:12-17 DRB)
Daughter-in-law's blog:

Link to Julianne's obituary:

Dancing With Angels

I will be making my own video for my daughter, Julianne, who for 22 years was confined to a wheelchair and is now "Dancing With Angels."  My sister found this video on YouTube, and I had to share it with you all.

About 10pm Saturday evening my wife was sitting with my daughter and daughter was looking toward the ceiling with her eyes moving every which way...  my wife asked, "What are you looking at?"  Daughter responded, "I'm watching the angels!"  When asked what they looked like, she responded, "I don't know..."  

Eternal rest grant unto her, oh Lord.   May her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace.


As I awoke this morning, this poem came to me...

Of the Judgment His Holy Word says no man shall know the hour,
But that time has come for our Little Flower.
Her life endured through many trials,
But to all who knew her, she provided smiles.
She saw the world from within her chair,
Now she’s dancing with angels - without a care.
We were given her for a time according to His plan,
God still watches over our Julianne.

This has been put on her marker:
She saw the world from within her chair,
Now she’s dancing with angels - without a care.

Dancing With Angels


Trusting God in Every Circumstance.

"Let nothing trouble you
Let nothing frighten you
Everything passes
God never changes
Obtains all
Whoever has God
Wants for nothing
God alone is enough."
[Quoted in CCC 227]

"It is not so essential to think much
as to love much."

"We always find that those who walked closest to Christ were those who had to bear the greatest trials"

--St. Teresa of Jesus

Feast of the Assumption

 The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - another example of "not-so-ordinary" days! These are COUNTING days - and...