Catholic Teaching

Apologetics - Part Four

In our last issue of the Defender we discussed the proper response by Catholics to the question: "Have you been saved?" Those who pose this question to you are usually of the belief that we are 'saved' by faith alone, and our 'works' do not count for our salvation. They say that the mere acceptance of Jesus is sufficient for salvation. This claim that faith alone is all that is needed for our redemption is antithetical to correct Church teaching. True, we must have faith in the three persons of the Blessed Trinity, but we must also be obedient to the teachings of Jesus, and the Church He founded and authorized to carry out His mission.

A lack of adherence to Church teaching by some bishops, priests, and laity has caused this crisis in which our Holy Mother Church finds herself. This article on Apologetics is aimed at the cause of this tribulation; disobedience. The word apologetics does not come from the word apologize, but from the Greek word “apologetikos”, which is defined as defense.

Some clerics and laity would dilute, or water down, correct Church teaching. They are misguided in their efforts to engage in fruitful dialogue with ‘our separated brethren’ due to a lack of proper comprehension of the intent of the Second Vatican Council. Vatican II never intended this to be the case, ergo; those who do so are disobedient to Church teaching. Lumen Gentium, article 12, refers to 1 Th, 2:13, stating: “…. the People of God, guided by the sacred teaching authority (Magisterium), and obeying it, receives not the mere word of men, but truly, the word of God.” We are instructed to accept the word of God, and not men. It would be a direct disobedience of this instruction to dilute the teaching of the Magisterium, in order to bring in those from other denominations.

Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae, issued on January 22, 1899, by Pope Leo XIII, was addressed to James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore, as well as to the rest of the bishops in America, and warned of the perils of any changes in Church doctrine or dogma. The warning is particularly appropriate to the bishops, priests, and laity of today.

In a falsification of the intent of Vatican II, relative to ecumenism, many of our clerics, in order to bring converts into the Church, will water down, or dilute, the true teachings of the Church. Pope Leo referred to dilution of the true teachings when he wrote: “The underlying principle of these new opinions is that, in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions.”

In a reference to the Constitution of the Catholic Faith, Chapter 4, of the First Vatican Council, Leo XIII goes on to warn us:……”For the doctrine of faith which God has revealed has not been proposed, like a philosophical invention to be perfected by human ingenuity, but has been delivered as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ to be faithfully kept and infallibly declared.” These are very strong words indeed, but let us examine what some people witness in their local churches.

Some congregations never, or rarely, hear the word sin mentioned from the pulpit or in Church bulletins. Frequently, all that is heard is: “Love your neighbor”, never mentioning the many ways in which we harm our neighbor and ourselves by our sins. Sin is rarely mentioned, for this might offend some members of the congregation.

Disobedience rarely begins with a serious act. Usually we tend to disobey in small matters; gradually working up to more serious acts. The disobedience to Church instruction on how to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a good example of this premise. When you notice your priest or bishop offering Mass in a way not in accord with the General Instructions of the Roman Missal, (GIRM) you should become aware that you are probably in the presence of a disobedient cleric. If you bring the problem to the attention of your bishop and he doesn’t correct the situation, be aware that you might have a disobedient bishop! These are strong words, but they are well grounded in the documents of the Second Vatican Council.

Lumen Gentium, article 22:1,3 states: “Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church…Therefore no other person, even if he is a priest, may add, remove or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.” This warning, about unauthorized changes to liturgical instructions is mentioned in many of the documents of Vatican II. Therefore, a priest would be disobedient if he makes unauthorized changes to the liturgy.

The Rubrics of the Mass are discussed again in the same words in the instruction Inter oecumenici, by Pope Paul VI on September 26, 1964. On May 4, 1967, the Sacred Congregation of Rites issued Tres Abhinc Annos, referring to Inter oecumenici, in which we read: “Ordinaries, whether local or religious, should be mindful therefore of their grave obligation before the Lord to see that this law is exactly obeyed. It is of the greatest importance in the structures and life of the Church, and clergy and laity should willingly conform to it.” If the disobedience of the priest is reported to the bishop and he does nothing to correct it, he could be considered disobedient also, as we have just read in Tres Abhinc Annos.

The above scenario shows how small acts of disobedience begin to rear themselves. Once these small acts are permitted to continue, we then see a gradual evolution to greater and more serious acts of disobedience, such as those we are witnessing in our beloved Church today.

A small percentage of our total corps of priests; actually only about one half of one percent, have been accused of sexual crimes, but the media are in a ‘feeding frenzy’ over it because it is the Catholic Church! Please, don’t join them. Instead, pray for all of our priests, for they are the dearest children of Mary, our Blessed Mother.

I suggest that you read, elsewhere in this issue of The Defender, The Catechism on the Priesthood, by St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars, before you condemn any properly ordained priest of the Catholic Church!

The laity are also bound to obey our Holy Mother Church. We must adhere to her teachings in all things, whether large or small. If we are disobedient in a matter which we consider only minor, how long will it be until we become disobedient in serious matters?

Fred Pascall



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