For years we, as faithful Roman Catholics, have had to endure innumerable liturgical abuses and outright heresies being preached from our pulpits in the name of progress, change and "bringing the Church into the twentieth century". The Second Vatican never authorized any of the vast changes in the liturgy that have taken place since 1965. In fact in section 23 of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Liturgy the Council fathers warned that any changes or innovation should be done rarely and cautiously and only when it was determined that it was for the primary good of the faithful: "...there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them..." Despite this and other warnings, the Modernists, twisted the documents of the Council to further their agenda. By using phrases such as "in the name of Vatican II," or "in the spirit of Vatican II," as the authority behind their demolition, they have completely refashioned the Church into their own image without much opposition from the Pope or the bishops. Sadly, Pope Paul VI was guilty of cooperation with the Modernist agenda. He went way beyond the Council directives and established a new rite by virtue of his own authority. He did to the Church what has amounted to the spiritual equivalent of a heart, lung, liver and stomach transplant on a healthy patient.
Religion is the unique expression of worship and the adherence to a system of beliefs and practices. If we were able to transport a man from the 1940's to a Mass in 1997, he would never believe he was in a Catholic Church. When you change the outward practices of a religion you de facto change the religion. This is exactly what the Modernists have done. As many of our parents complained when all the changes were taking place; "They've taken my religion away from me." They did not need a degree in theology to see what was happening.
This article is designed to answer the following questions:
1 The seven sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ in His mission as High Priest in order to apply to individuals the effects of His redemption. The seven sacraments can be found either explicitly or implicitly throughout the New Testament and confirmed by Holy Tradition. The Apostles were given the authority by Christ to establish the specific rites that confect the sacraments and they were given the power by Christ to confect those sacraments for the people. Without the power of the priesthood given to the Apostles, and subsequently to their successors, the sacraments of the new dispensation would not exist, and without the sacraments there could be no salvation.
2 The essential elements of each Sacrament were designated by Christ and established by the Holy Apostles. Though the rites surrounding each sacrament vary significantly throughout both East and West, the essential elements remain the same. Since a sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ to give grace the "sign" must remain the same within each valid rite. Essential to the sign of each sacrament are three necessary elements; form, matter and intention.
3 Outside of the above mentioned necessary elements Jesus left the rites surrounding the sacraments to be developed by the Apostles and the Church throughout the ages. Anyone with any knowledge whatsoever of the many different valid celebrations of the liturgy throughout the world will understand, that despite all the differences in the various rites, the essential elements are always present. For instance, any Latin Rite Catholic going to a Russian Rite celebration of the Divine Liturgy would be astounded by the vast differences between the Traditional Latin Mass in the West and the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in the East. Compared to the various Western liturgies the Eastern liturgies are vastly different. Each is influenced by its particular culture and the circumstances in which it developed.
4 Even with all the cultural differences in the various rites, there are certain structures in the liturgy that are said to have come directly from Christ at the Last Supper and the instructions He gave directly to the Apostles which have been handed down from them to this very day. For instance, it is believed that the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer #1 in the new rite) comes directly from St. Peter. If one reads the history of the liturgy by Joseph A. Jungmann, S.J. in his ground breaking two volume work "The Mass of the Roman Rite, Its Origins and Development", one will find, that even with all the different cultural expressions in the liturgy, there are also certain structural elements that are similar to all of the various valid liturgies in both East and West.
5 Another important aspect of the various liturgies of East and West is the fact that in normal circumstances each liturgy was developed within its own climate ORGANICALLY. That is, each historical liturgy did not just come into being by being manufactured. The valid liturgies of East and West all have their roots in the historical developments of the past and all of them find their origins in what tradition has handed down from the first Mass ever celebrated. This goes for all the rites of all the sacraments throughout the universal Church. When these essential elements and structures are changed the rites become invalid and therefore non-sacramental.
6 As mentioned above there are 3 elements beside the necessity of the sacerdotal priesthood that must be present for a sacrament to exist. These again are form, matter and intention. If any one of these elements are missing then the rite becomes invalid.
7 The form of the rite is the verbal formula used by the priest in order to verbally signify what is happening. Thus the form of the Blessed Sacrament is "This is my Body," and "This is the cup of my blood." These words were the words Jesus used at the Last Supper to change the bread and wine into His living body, blood, soul and divinity. However, in most of the sacraments Jesus did not specify a particular formula. In fact, He left it up to the authority of the Church to set these formulas based upon Tradition, Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church.
8 It is interesting to note that in the second part of the consecration in the Traditional Latin Mass when the priest says "This is the chalice of my blood. The blood of the new and everlasting testament; The Mystery of Faith. It will be shed for you and for many unto the remission of sins. Do this in commemoration of me." The phrase "mystery of faith" was not said by Jesus. It cannot be found in the Scriptures, nor does Tradition say these words came from Jesus. In actual fact, these words were proclaimed by the deacon to the people during the Mass in order to produce reverence for the great miracle taking place upon the altar. It developed as an intimate part of the words of consecration and was used for centuries. In the new liturgy these words have been placed at the end of the consecration. The ICEL (International Committee on English in the Liturgy) took it upon themselves to completely misrepresent these words. Because in the Latin text of the Novus Order after the words "Do this in memory of me" it says immediately "The mystery of Faith" referring not to the coming proclamation but rather to the fact of the TRANSUBSTANTIATION of the species. In the Modernist liturgy this phrase is made to seem like the mystery of faith is the proclamation "Christ has died....etc," or one of the other 4 proclamations. This is a typical Modernist twisting of things in order to take away from the proper reverence due to the Eucharist.
9 The matter of the sacraments have in many cases been specified either by Christ, the Scriptures or the Apostles handing on what Christ taught them. So we use bread and wine for the Eucharist, water for baptism, holy oils for Confirmation, Holy Orders, sacrament of the sick, the verbal confession of sin for confession, and the exchanging of vows for marriage.
10 The final necessary element to confect a valid sacrament is "Intention". Without the proper intention either on the part of the priest, or sometimes on the part of the one receiving the sacrament, then no sacrament is received. FOR EXAMPLE: A person goes to confession and deliberately withholds a particular sin that he/she is embarrassed to tell the priest. Even though the priest intends to give the person absolution and says the correct formula the person is not absolved, but actually has added sacrilege to his/her list of sins. Another example of the need for proper intention is found in the exchanging of vows between a couple getting married. If one or both of the individuals proclaiming those vows does not have a real intention to make the marriage relationship sexually exclusive then they are not validly married in the eyes of God.
11 We have seen that Jesus did not specify the form, matter and intention needed for each and every sacrament but left this up to the authority of the Church to develop and specify. The final and ultimate authority for this rests within the authority of Peter and his successors. It becomes clear, therefore, that with the proper intention, the Pope can change the rites of the sacraments to reflect what he may perceive to be the pastoral good of the people. It has been argued by some great theologians (such as Cajetan and Suarez) of past centuries that this authority is not ipso facto absolute and for a Pontiff to take this authority upon himself would, in effect, put this Pope in a state of schism with the whole Church. This would not necessarily make the new rites invalid, but simply illicit according to the constant Tradition of the Church. Thus Suarez states that a Pope would be schismatic, "...if he, as is his duty, would not be in full communion with the body of the Church as, for example, if he were to excommunicate the entire Church, or if he were to change all the liturgical rites of the Church that have been upheld by apostolic tradition." Nevertheless, because the whole Church, by Christ guaranteeing its indefectibility, cannot be in schism and the whole Church followed this Pope in obedience, then practically speaking, it is necessary for the unity of the Church to remain in de facto communion with such a Pope and all the bishops in obedience, until such time that the situation can be corrected.
12 As long as the rites conform to the structure (if any) instituted by Christ within the sacraments and manifest outwardly the grace they are intended to convey, then the rites are valid, if the intentions of the one confecting the sacrament are what the Church intends, at least implicitly.
13 Now, Pope Paul VI after the Second Vatican Council documents had been promulgated took it upon his own authority to completely change the rites of the Western Church. The impetus for changing the rites of the Latin Church did not come as a mandate from the Second Vatican Council, but actually came from a modern liturgical movement, consisting mainly of Modernists, but also of some sincere liturgical experts who wanted to "reinvigorate" the liturgy and make the liturgical rites of the Church more appealing and relevant to the laity. The move by Pope Paul VI to approve a system of new liturgical rites for the universal Church was unprecedented. No Pope or Council has ever used their legitimate authority to "create" a liturgy. As stated above every valid liturgy has its roots from Apostolic Tradition and the infant Church. Every legitimate liturgy developed organically from those roots. The Mass of Paul VI is a complete break with Tradition and replaces the Ancient Roman Rite with a "Modern Rite" or "Ritus Moderna."
14 The answer to the question is that it depends on which orthodox theologian you are talking to. Pope Paul VI used his legitimate authority to change the rites and as long as they retained their proper elements they are valid. He could not have, for instance, changed the form, matter or intention of any of the sacraments such as saying it was okay to use pretzels and beer, or coffee and donuts, instead of bread and wine. Or to change the words of absolution to "May God forgive you of your sins" instead of the necessary words "Ego Te Absolvo", i.e., "I absolve you from your sins..."
15 In fact, Pope Paul VI did not change the essential elements of any of the rites in the Western Church and he maintained the essential traditional structure of the rites. Therefore, all of the new rites, if done according to the mind of the Church, are valid and efficacious in bestowing the grace of Christ on the individual soul of the recipient.
16 Nevertheless, even though Pope Paul VI used his authority to do what he did and even though the rites are valid, when done according to the mind of the Church, it does not mean that he should have done what he did!!!!! After years of careful analysis, I believe that what Pope Paul VI did, and what he allowed to happen to the Church as a consequence of his actions and inaction, was a terrible abuse of authority. He used his legitimate authority to create new rites, but he abused that authority by doing so. Because these fabricated new rites were a break with the organic developments of the past and incorporated within them elements alien to the Ancient Roman Rite, they ended up being a synthetic, plastic monster. Like Doctor Frankenstein taking parts from various dead bodies and making an imitation man. It was alive and it acted like a man, but it was a monster which ultimately destroyed its creator. In his all embracing need to appease the Modernists, the liberals, the whiners and the heretic Protestants he basically gave away "the whole enchilada." He changed the visible way we worship God, and in so doing took away the emotional comfort and underpinnings of our religion. The modern rites remain valid but open to the most horrendous abuses. All of the terrible things that have taken place within the Church in the last 35 years are reflected in liturgical abuses. And all the Popes from Paul VI to Pope John Paul II are responsible for going along with the systematic destruction of the Ancient Roman Rite.
17 It finally comes down to the fact that having the authority to do something does not mean that it should be done. Due, however, to the infection of Modernism,the leadership in the Church has lost a true sense of prudence and right judgment concerning the good of the faithful.
18 It is obvious to any one with even the least amount of faith that there are those bishops (e.g. Cardinal Mahoney, Bishops Clark, Untner, Weakland, et al) and innumerable priests whom have embraced Modernism completely. These men are in positions of authority and continually promulgate their agenda. Can a faithful Roman Catholic, who realizes that a particular pastor, priest or whole parish is Modernist, continue to attend Mass at that parish, in good conscience? I would say that given that kind of a situation it would be more spiritually healthy for the person to find a parish that remains loyal to the Magisterium, the Pope and the Traditional Catholic Faith. If it becomes impossible to find such a parish in their region, it is permissible to go to an Eastern Rite Catholic liturgy. It is also permissible to attend "underground" Traditional Latin Masses celebrated by priests loyal to the Pope who may or may not be retired. There is a whole underground network of Traditional priests who are Loyal to Rome. If it is impossible to find an underground Mass celebrated by a loyal priest then, as a last resort, one can, in good conscience, attend the Traditional Mass celebrated by the Society of St. Pius X.
19 The faithful have rights in the Church. The most fundamental right of all is the right to worship God in the way God Himself established The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as organically developed over the last two millennia is the established will of God for the Latin Rite. The second most fundamental right of all Christians is the right to receive the sacraments by which God's grace is applied to our individual souls. (See Canons 212, 213 & 214 in the new Code of Canon Law). If there are priests, whole parishes and even bishops who refuse to provide us with our God-given rights, then we have an obligation to seek out and go to those who will provide what is ours by divine right.
The following is a letter I received from one of my readers. In response to the letter is my brief but hopefully satisfactory explanation. I will attempt to clarify the position of the Roman Catholic Church as it has been presented through the ages. I have wrestled with trying to explain this profound, albeit, controversial subject for a long time. So please be patient. I cannot answer every question or objection in the space available in this newsletter. I would suggest reading this article from beginning to end in one sitting and more than once in order to get the full impact.
"Dear Mr. Gonzales,
I salute your efforts on the Newsletter (The Hammer). You may be familiar with John Harden, S.J., who speaks of the tremendous need for RE-EVANGELIZATION in this country. Received copy of your publication at Assumption of Mary (Catholic Church)....
The content of your Issue #4 surely says it as it is. However, page 7 at mid-page has a comment which seems to say that there is no salvation outside the Church. If this is what you mean, it is in conflict with Church teaching as expressed many years ago in the Fr. Feeney incident and as given in our current Catechism of the Catholic Church.... pages 216, 222, and 223. To avoid loss of credibility I believe it would be well to clarify this in your next issue.
Wishing you many blessings in your work,
I am Sincerely, CBW."
Dear Mr. W. Thank you for your letter and especially for taking such an interest in your faith. To know the One True God and to love Him with every fiber of our being is the most important gift we have been given as Roman Catholics. Continue to nourish and foster your faith. I will use the rest of this newsletter to address your question and comment. It is one of the most controversial and profound issues of our religion and should be clarified. As I have stated above it is impossible to answer all the objections and questions that this issue provokes. In fact, the more we learn the more questions we will have but let me try in this limited space to at least express the traditional and constant teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on this matter.
"If God were your Father, you would surely love me. For from God I came forth and have come; for neither have I come of myself, but He sent me. Why do you not understand me? Because you cannot listen to my word. Your father is the devil and you desire to do his will. He was a murderer from the beginning. He cannot abide in the truth for the truth is not in him. When he tells a lie he speaks from his very nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Therefore, because I speak the truth you do not believe me.... If I speak the truth why do you not believe me? He who is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear is that you are not of God." (John 8:42-47)
Jesus spoke these damning words to the Jews of his day who would not believe Him. He said in this same chapter that to refuse to believe Him was mortally sinful, and that they would die in their sins if they persisted in error. If you take these same words and apply them to the voice of the Church, which is the continuing incarnation of Jesus in the world, you will see that they apply to all those who resist the truth. The Church has been given the fullness of truth and the fullness of Grace, for it came from God and speaks the same Word of God for all generations.
The Jews were a good people when Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, became a man to reveal the fullness of truth to them. God had forged their spirits and culture in the crucible of slavery, glory, persecution and exile. By the time Jesus came, they had finally renounced, once and for all, the pagan gods in the cultures that surrounded them; they lived by the law and their identity as God's chosen people had been solidified. They had finally become the people that God had wanted them to be, truly prepared for His coming. So the question is: If being good simply means living out the natural law, loving God and neighbor and being true to your own conscience (and according to the Modernists this is enough to gain eternal life), then why did Jesus come in the first place? He came first to the children of Israel, whom He had formed to be a people uniquely His own, and they rejected Him. So...
The Church is the extension of Jesus in time and space. She carries on, by His commission and command, His mission to teach, govern and sanctify all men in every place and at all times. "As the Father has sent me so now I send you!" (John 20:21) WHY? If knowing the truth is unnecessary and ignorance a ticket into eternal life, why would Christ burden us with this mission?
He said to the Apostles, "Who's sins you forgive they are forgiven them. Who's sins you hold bound they are held bound" (John 20:23) But what difference does it make, if all you need to do to be forgiven is to admit you've sinned before God alone, privately in your own room, making this sacrament of Confession unnecessary? If the pagans have just as much chance of eternal life as those do in the Church, then why did Jesus establish the necessity of baptism for salvation? ("Unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.") From whence does the imperative come for the missionary activity of the Church, if there is no need for the Church? Didn't Jesus say?
Now how can anyone be condemned for not believing in what is unnecessary to believe? Either we believe that Jesus meant what He said or we don't believe and itís all just a nice fairy tale that has no real significance. Jesus demanded three things of us in order to be saved; first we must believe in everything He came to reveal; second, that we believe in Him and consequently in His Church through which we would come to know Him and finally that we live out this truth and this relationship in love. He did not come to simply give us a philosophy of life like Buddha, Confucius or Mohammed. Our Faith rests primarily on Him. He is the source of our salvation and He established the Catholic Church through which He could be with us in time and space. The Church is Christ and Christ is the Church. They are one and the same! (Acts 9:5)
If we are to understand exactly what the Church has always taught in this matter it is important to go back to the Fathers of the Church. They were closest to the Apostles and whatever we have has come to us through them. The following quotations will give us a clear view of exactly how the Fathers of the Church approached this question. It is also very important to realize that our ancestors were not "politically correct" nor did they feel the need to be "tactful" or diplomatic when it came to presenting the Faith. In fact, I find their candor quite refreshing compared to our own fear of hurting feelings even to the point of allowing people to remain in error and ignorance to the peril of their souls.
"They (the heretics) abstain from the Eucharist because they do not believe the Eucharist to be the flesh of Our Saviour Jesus Christ Who suffered for our sins. Unbelievers in the blood of Christ shall be condemned. Let no man deceive himself, unless he believes that Jesus Christ has lived in the flesh and confesses His cross and passion and blood He shed for the salvation of the world, he shall not obtain eternal life. Therefore, they who deny this gift of God (The Eucharist) die in their denial."
"He who corrupts the Faith of God for which Christ suffered shall go into unquenchable fire."
"An invisible Church is the same thing as no Church at all."
"Heretics damn themselves and are worse than heathens."
"Being ignorant of Him Who from the Virgin is Emmanuel, they are deprived of eternal life; and not receiving the incorruptible Word, they remain in mortal flesh and are debtors to death, not obtaining the antidote of life."
"He who does not have the Church for his mother cannot have God for his Father. If anyone was saved outside the ark of Noah then those who are outside the Catholic Church can be saved."
"Christ has declared the unity of the Church. Whoever parts and divides the Church cannot possess Christ. The House of God is one, and no one can have salvation except in the Church."
"There is no salvation outside the Church and it is they who in His Church have labored in doing good works whom the Lord says shall be received into the Kingdom of Heaven on the Day of Judgment."
"He is no Christian who is not in the Church of Christ."
"No martyr can he be who is not in the Church. If he be outside the Church when put to death, he cannot come to the rewards prepared for the Church. Though they be cast into fire and burnt in flames, though they be exposed to wild beast and lay down their lives, this will not win them the crown of glory, but will be the penalty for their unfaithfulness;..."
"The contemporaries of Noah would not believe his warnings as he was building the Ark, and thus they became frightful examples for all posterity. Christ our God is now building His Church as the Ark of Salvation, and is calling upon all men to enter it."
"He who does not have Christ for a Head cannot be saved; and he who does not belong to the Body of Christ, that is to the Church of Christ, does not have Christ for his head. The Catholic Church alone is the Body of Christ; the Holy Ghost gives life to no one who is outside His Body."
"No one can find salvation except in the Catholic Church. Outside the Church you can find everything except salvation. You can have dignities, you can have sacraments, you can sing "Alleluia," answer "Amen," have the Gospels, have faith in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, and preach it, too; but never can you find salvation except in the Catholic Church."
"Because we fight for the unity of the Church, let us not concede to heretics what we know to be false, but let us rather teach that they cannot attain salvation unless they come into that same unity."
"As I follow no one but Christ, do I therefore unite myself with Your Holiness, that is, with the Chair of Peter. Whoever eats the Lamb outside this House is profane; whoever is not in this Ark of Noah will perish in the Flood; whoever does not gather with thee scatters; that is: he who is not Christ's is Antichrist's."
"Hold most firmly, and do not doubt at all: not only pagans, but also all Jews and all the heretics and schismatics who terminate this present life outside the Catholic Church will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels."
"No one can by any means be saved outside the Church; all pagans and heretics are infallibly damned."
Now I think the position of the Fathers of the Church is crystal clear. The consensus of the Fathers is unanimous. I have used only a few here to give you an example of what they all have confirmed. They who were closest to Christ and the Apostles in time and culture all say the same thing. THE BEATIFIC VISION OF ETERNAL LIFE IS NOT A RIGHT! It is a gift rewarded to those who, with faith, obey the will of God, loving Him above all things and loving His creation for His sake. The only vehicle of salvation, which Christ directly established, is the Catholic Church. Christ never revealed any other means of attainment of the beatific vision except through His Church.
It must be emphasized that the Church has continually reaffirmed the positions of Christ and the Fathers of the Church. It has passed down to every generation the same truth and has never and can never deny any dogma of the Faith. This would be against its very nature and the guarantee of Christ to preserve the Church from error. Whatever, therefore, the Church teaches in any particular age must always rest upon and agree with the position it has continually clarified for the faithful in the past. Any interpretation , which denies an article of the faith whether implicitly or explicitly, must be rejected as false. Whatever statements the Church has made since the Second Vatican Council including the Council documents themselves must be read and interpreted through the light of Holy Tradition and all dogmatic statements previously confirmed by the Magisterium of the Church. The following quotations are from the official statements of the Church, her saints and Popes.
II Council of Constantinople (AD 553)
"If anyone does not condemn those who hold opinions similar to heretics and who have remained in their godlessness up till death: let such a one be anathema."
The First Lateran Council (AD 1123)
"If anyone does not profess, in accordance with the holy Fathers, properly and truthfully all that has been handed down and taught publicly to the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of God, both by same holy Fathers and by the approved universal Councils, to the last detail in word and intention: let him be anathema"
The Fourth Lateran Council (AD 1215)
"There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one at all can be saved."
Pope Eugene IV, Cantate Domino, (AD 1441.)
"The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and teaches that none of those who are not within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but Jews, heretics and schismatics, can ever be partakers of eternal life, but are to go into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt. 25:41), unless before the close of their lives they shall have entered into that Church; also the unity of the ecclesiastical body is such that the Church's sacraments avail only those abiding in that Church, and fasts, alms giving and other works of piety which play their part in the Christian combat are in her alone productive of eternal rewards; moreover, that no one, no matter what alms he may give, not even if he were to shed his blood for Christ's sake, can be saved unless he abide in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church."
Council of Florence (AD1445)
"No one can be saved outside the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church."
Council of Trent (AD 1563)
"Without our Catholic Faith it is impossible to please God"
I Vatican Council (AD 1870)
"Since without faith it is impossible to please God and to attain to fellowship of His children, therefore without faith no one has ever achieved justification. If anyone says a man without the faith can be just before God merely by observing the Commandments: Let him be anathema!"
II Vatican Council (AD 1965)
"Basing itself on Holy Scripture and Tradition, this sacred Council teaches that the Church now sojourning on earth as an exile is necessary for salvation. In explicit terms, Christ affirmed the necessity of Baptism and thereby also affirmed the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Christ present to us in His body, which is the Church, is the sole Mediator and the exclusive way of salvation." (Lumen Gentium)
Pope John XXIII (AD 1963)
"It is impossible to be joined to God except through Jesus Christ; it is impossible to be united to Christ except in the Church which is His Mystical Body."
Pope Paul VI (AD 1978)
"We must always remember the unity of the mystical Body outside of which there is no salvation, for there is no entering into salvation outside the Church. Only within the Church is an encounter with our Father possible... The Church AND THE CHURCH ALONE possesses the secret of true relationship to God, as established by Jesus Christ. Indeed, the Church IS that very relationship, which is both a certain and exclusive means of attaining salvation.... THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS THE Extension OF JESUS CHRIST IN TIME AND SPACE.... Outside this Body, the Holy Spirit does not give life to anyone."
Pope John Paul I (AD 1978)
"The ship of the Church is guided by Christ and by His Vicar... It alone carries the disciples and receives Christ. Yes, it is tossed on the sea but, outside it, one would perish immediately. Salvation is only in the Church; outside it, one perishes."
Pope John Paul II (AD 1978-Present)
"Dear young people and members of the faithful... We have to be conscious of and absorb this fundamental and revealed truth, contained in the phrase consecrated by Tradition: There is no salvation outside the Church. From her alone there flows surely and fully the life-giving force destined, in Christ and His Spirit, to renew the whole of humanity, and therefore directing every human being to become a part of the Mystical Body of Christ."
I think the point is clear. The constant position of the Church has been and always will be that no one outside the Church is saved. But what about all those supposedly "good" people who have never "hurt" anyone and who do not deserve to be damned? What about the "virtuous pagan" who truly lives out the natural law and has never heard the Gospel and does not know the Church is necessary for eternal life? Will men be damned to hell for what they do not know?
We must realize that it is God's desire to see that men are saved. Therefore, He will do whatever He can, within His own established Order, to save us. This is why He became man. He literally took upon Himself the just punishment we deserved to save us from eternal separation from Himself. This must be understood. God established the Church to continue to apply the merits of His redemption to all those men of good will who would accept Him, obey Him and embrace the fullness of the truth He came to reveal. We are all born into original sin. That means that we are all born without the ability to see God. We are born without God's life within us and are spiritually dead. Nothing we can do on a human level can ever bring us to spiritual life. This spiritual life and the ability to see God face to face is given to us by the sacrament of baptism. We cannot demand spiritual sight either for ourselves or anyone else. This is not something we deserve or to which we are entitled. It is given only to those who are given the grace to receive. We can make ourselves more receptive to God's grace by living out the eternal law written within our own hearts and by our "good will" but this still would not entitle us to the rewards of eternal life.
The fact that we are Roman Catholics is a grave responsibility. It means that through the mercy of God we have obtained a grace that we neither deserved nor earned but that God has, in His infinite and unfathomable wisdom, willed to give to us sinners, that we might have the most precious gift that He could ever give, eternal life.
When asked how many would be saved Jesus answered with the terrifying words; "Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the way and easy the path that leads to destruction but narrow is the way and difficult the path that leads to eternal life and few there are who find it." (Matt.7:13-14) In other words, not only is salvation reserved to those within the Mystical Body of Christ, but also few of us will attain it even with all the assistance of the sacraments and helps of the Faith.
This imperative of Christ reiterated over and over again by the Church has spurred the Missionary zeal over the centuries. Countless men and women have given their lives for pagans, Jews, Muslims, heretics and schismatics to win their souls back from error and death to life in Christ. They have suffered indescribable tortures by the very people to whom they went to save and the blood of the martyrs has been the foundation of the faith. I remember reading about the tortures that the Red Communists in China put the Catholics through especially the priests and nuns. The thousands of martyred missions who died to bring the gospel to the unbelievers and the ignorant testify to the necessity of Christ and consequently the Church for salvation.
We can, however, give a small hope for the possible salvation of those who appear to be outside the possibility of hope by making a very important distinction. Let me explain. In the normal, ordinary course of events God does not directly intervene to change the laws of nature. For instance, if through ignorance a man should drink a deadly poison the normal result would be his death. Yet there has been instances within the lives of the Saints where the enemies of the Church attempted to poison a saint and the saint had no ill effects from that poison due to the direct intervention of God. We call these direct interventions and the suspension of the natural law a miracle. Only He who is supreme Sovereign over His creation can suspend the very laws He has established for the normal ordinary functioning of His universe. Examples of this are found throughout the Sacred Scriptures. Normally when a person dies they remain dead. Yet Jesus raised the dead to life. If a person has a severe head injury he will remain mentally and or physically handicapped for the rest of his life unless and only unless God directly intervenes in an extraordinary manner. We call these interventions "miracles" because they are outside the normal order of things.
The ordinary, normal means of salvation is the Church. God created it this way. He established the spiritual laws of His creation and they are just as fixed as the physical laws of gravity and thermal dynamics. Now how many times has He opened the Red Sea or raised the dead to life? I can confidently say not too many. His miracles are rare. God prefers to work within the laws He has established and therefore we can never depend on miracles to save us. We can hope that God will be merciful but we can never expect Him to change the normal course of history. He has not revealed that He will perform a miracle for any particular circumstance and therefore we must rely upon the natural means He has given us.
Thus it is with the Church. He can suspend the spiritual laws He has established for the salvation of humanity. Nevertheless, He has never revealed that He would do so and to expect it is to imply that God must do what we think is best by performing a miracle of grace to save a soul outside the Ark. God did not do so for the people of Noah's time. Nevertheless He could have if He so chose.
Because God wills that all men be saved and come to knowledge of truth He will use every opportunity to save the souls of men of good will. He may even perform a miracle of grace and save them outside the Church militant but they would still be saved through the Church because they would have to be given the truth through the Church suffering.
So can a person be saved who dies outside the visible Catholic Church? The answer is absolutely not, in the ordinary course of things. Can God perform a miracle of grace and suspend the spiritual laws of nature He has fixed and established? Absolutely! He is Supreme Sovereign over all His creation. Does He perform miracles of this kind? That is a much harder question to answer. I believe that He does and there is some evidence to support this in the Scriptures. Nevertheless, if He does so He does so rarely and we cannot expect or demand that He do anything outside the ordinary means He has already given His very Life to establish. We have always heard about the proverbial "virtuous pagan" or the good "Christian" that seemingly dies in faith. But we do not know if God in His mercy has seen fit to perform a miracle in any particular circumstance. He has never revealed that He has even in any authentic private revelation. On the contrary, He always reiterates the need for the Catholic Faith.
In so far as the new "Catechism of the Catholic Church" indicates that others may be saved who are outside the Catholic Church it does so with the idea, based in the Sacred Scriptures, Holy Tradition and the constant teaching of the Church, that these are miracles of grace outside the ordinary means of salvation, and that these souls would nonetheless be united to and saved through the Church if not on earth then in purgatory. To interpret what is said in the catechism or any other document in any other way is to commit heresy. And if the authors of the Catechism actually meant to say anything opposed to the constant teaching of the Church then the catechism, in so far as it means this, is in error and that error must be rejected. Remember the whole catechism is not dogmatic. There are portions of it that are theological considerations and explanations that may not necessarily be accurate.
I hope this brief explanation helps you to understand the position that the Church has always taken regarding salvation. It is our duty; then, to see the overwhelming need to evangelize in some way by word and example those who God brings into our life. If our ancestors were willing to lay down their lives for the sake of the gospel and converting those who were in the darkness of sin and error how can we do otherwise. There are souls to be saved and it is the height of Charity to do all that we can to save them.
In regards to Father Feeney: This is a rather complicated issue and I would recommend the book "The Boston Heresy Case". However, it should be noted that despite the fact that Fr. Feeney never recanted his "hard nosed" position on this issue of "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus", he was, nonetheless, re-communicated by Pope Paul VI. The problem with Father Feeney's position was that he would not give any quarter in regards to the possibility that God can be God and use extraordinary means to save someone not visibly united to the Church.
It must also be noted that the Church has never definitively defined "Eternal Life" as being exclusively the "beatific vision". It is, therefore, possible to speculate that those few who are saved by an extraordinary miracle of God's grace to live in eternal happiness with Him in heaven may, nonetheless, be deprived of the beatific vision. In other words, they may enjoy perfect natural and even supernatural happiness for all eternity after the resurrection. They will be able to see and be with Jesus and Mary and all the Angels and Saints but they could never see God in the face, as He is in Himself, as the Blessed Trinity. This will be such for unbaptized infants and virtuous pagans as it was for the Angels before the fall. The privilege of the beatific vision is reserved exclusively for those who have been faithful to God through the Church and who die in the state of sanctifying grace.
I could write a book on this subject but hopefully this brief article will stimulate thought and discussion. May God have mercy on us all.
On the evening of June 18th, 1998, I went to St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in San Carlos, California to hear a presentation by Fr. William Schexnayder. Fr. Schexnayder is well known especially by Wanderer readers as one of the movers and shakers in the homosexualist movement in the AmChurch. He is head of the Gay and Lesbian Pastoral Outreach Ministry in the Diocese of Oakland, California, and has had a significant influence within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, especially in regard to the bogus document "Always Our Children".
As I waited in the parking lot hoping to see a familiar face, I saw a stereotypical "gay" older man drive up, get out of the car, and proceed into Borromeo Hall where the small meeting was about to be held. I actually expected to see many more obviously "gay" people, but, in fact, the majority of those I saw were normal looking people either in their late fifties, sixties or early seventies. None except this one gentleman displayed any typically gay mannerisms.
The meeting place was a relatively small comfortable parlor. There were two couches, two matching chairs and about 15 wooden chairs set around the room. As I entered the room an older woman introduced herself as "Pat", and she in turn introduced me to Fr. Schexnayder. It turned out that he was the one I had seen earlier who looked obviously gay by his mannerisms and appearance. I was courteous but reserved. I had originally thought this was going to be a parish "event" held in a large open room with 50-75 people present. I had brought a tape recorder and some small signs to hold up in disapproval, but the situation warranted a change of strategy.
After everyone had entered and had been seated, we were asked to introduce ourselves. There were approximately 20 people in all. I was not recognized by anyone in the room, even though I had recently been interviewed on television for protesting the "Friendship Blessing" or "Gay Wedding" arranged for a lesbian "couple" in the Oakland Diocese at St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton Church in Pleasanton, California. In that instance, we protestors stopped the so called "marriage" from taking place. Now I was face to face with one of the main instigators of that fake marriage, and he, fortunately, did not recognize me.
Father reminded all of us that the next day (Friday June 19th) was the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, then began the meeting with a "prayer." Part of the prayer went like this:
After he had finished his "prayer" he opened a small notebook in which I noticed an embroidered red AIDS ribbon and a small rainbow flag, the symbol of the militant gay political movement.
Fr. Schexnayder told us that he had been invited by the pastor and by the "Outreach" group in the parish, because they wanted to know exactly how to go about developing an effective ministry to gays and lesbians in their parish community. He then proceeded to "educate" us about the role the Church has to play in this "very important" ministry. He had several handouts, all of which purported to present the Official position of the Catholic Church regarding how the homosexual person should be treated. I found the printed handouts of Church statements to be blatantly slanted. Each statement conveniently excluded any reference to the Church's constant teaching, that homosexual "orientation", as well as homosexual activity, are by their very nature gravely disordered and unnatural, or the Church's teaching that inverted sexual attraction is disharmonious to the whole person.
The whole thrust of the presentation by Fr. Schexnayder was to convince his audience that the Church accepts the "homosexual person" as an integral part of Church life, and that these people have many "gifts" to contribute to the Church as a whole, and each parish community in particular. He continually reiterated the point that each homosexual was worthy of respect, and that homosexuals possess the same dignity that every human being possesses, because we are all made in the image of God. The question I wanted to ask, but did not have the opportunity was simply this;
In fact, it is very important for Roman Catholics to question the pseudo-Catholics in regards to where they draw the line on human dignity. If everyone must be respected for "WHO" they are and the way they think and feel because of their natural human dignity, should we then have respected the Nazi as he was murdering Jews or respect the Communist as he "reeducates" the dissident, or respect the pedophile who molests children, or the rapist who brutalizes women? In other words, are we bound to respect even those who do heinous and evil acts just because that's "who they are"? Do persons in hell still possess human dignity? I am sure the Modernist would reply that there is no hell, and if there is a hell it is almost impossible for a human to go there. Nevertheless, hammer in the point that natural human dignity does have limits by using examples they can understand.
Fr. Schexnayder continued to say that the parish should be a "welcoming place" where these people, who have felt, rejected, ostracized and disrespected, can now feel accepted by the community. He also emphasized the need for support groups that would create an atmosphere where intimate and healthy friendships could be established to help the homosexual avoid becoming isolated, alone and prone to self destructive behavior.
When he was finished, he opened the session to presentations by the rest of the group. After a brief statement by one of the ladies about creating a support group where "those poor people could find acceptance," I questioned Fr. Schexnayder concerning the support group called "Courage" started by Fr. John Harvey in New York. I then used this opportunity to tout the praises of Fr. Harvey and his group which is designed to support homosexuals, who wish to live a life-style in conformity with the Christ and the Catholic Church. I told how successful Fr. Harvey has been in helping these men and women to lead chaste lives by doing exactly what Fr. Schexnayder said; creating an atmosphere where friendships are encouraged in order to support the quest for Christian holiness. I told Father and the rest of the group that if they were planning to create a "Courage" group in their parish they would find it very rewarding indeed. I even thanked Fr. Schexnayder for suggesting such a wonderful plan since I did not know of any "Courage" groups in the Bay Area where they were so desperately needed. By the time I was finished all the AmChurch ladies were beside themselves in wanting to know more about "Courage" and if I had any information regarding it.
The effect was exactly what I had intended. Fr. Schexnayder who is an adversary of Fr. Harvey was completely taken off guard. He knew that he had been put in a difficult position. He couldn't come out in support of a "Courage" group. "Courage" is too traditionally Roman Catholic in its spirituality. Fr. Schexnayder and his ilk believe that groups like "Courage" foster "homophobia" and "homosexual self-hatred". Nevertheless, he couldn't condemn "Courage" because the prime directive of these pseudo-Catholics is to avoid being "judgmental". So he started off by saying;
As incredible as it may seem, according to Fr. Schexnayder, there is a whole segment of homosexuals out there, that have never had sex and a vast number of homosexuals who do not live the homosexual life-style. I was stunned. I had never heard this before. I asked "Father, please help me to understand this. You said that there are people out there who are homosexual and who are not sexually active, and there are some you know who have never had a same sex sexual experience. Is that correct?" He answered in the affirmative. So I said,
The response of Fr. Schexnayder was astounding. His answer, in fact, is the very core of the homosexualist strategy to create a new way of thinking about homosexuality in the Church. Fr. Schexnayder said the following:
Amazing! They have taken a corruption of human nature which comes from original sin and have made it the very core of that person's being. The reality is that we all feel things we don't want to feel and do things of which we are ashamed. But normal people do not justify their sins, nor do they take pride in their sins attempting to make them essential to "who they are". Our tendency toward self-centeredness comes from the disorder brought about by the original sin of Adam and Eve. But Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us that with His grace we can transcend our weaknesses and overcome our vices. He taught us that sinful thoughts, desires and actions are not the essence of WHO we are. They are glitches in our nature which manifest themselves in our thoughts and behavior. Although God created us good we must constantly fight to suppress, sublimate or completely conquer anything that hinders our inherent goodness. For most of us it takes a life time of effort to conquer or at least control our sinfulness, but that is what Christ has commanded us to do. That is what He has given us the grace to do. We have inherited the consequences of original sin. It is our duty to cooperate with the grace of God through His Holy Church, to overcome our weaknesses as fully as possible while on earth not to take pride in them. As Jesus said, "You must be perfect even as your Heavenly Father is perfect."
This is not what the promoters of homosexuality desire. They want to make vice, sin and impurity the very essence of a person's heart and soul. His homosexuality becomes his "God -given" identity; a gift that must be accepted and cultivated. Whether or not a person is born a homosexual or develops into one because of his environment is not the point. In both cases God is calling these people, as He calls all of us, to renounce themselves take up their personal crosses and follow Him. In other words God wants all men to resist temptations, to renounce vice and sin, to reject self-centered pride and instead to become selfless in their love. The homosexualists want each of these poor souls to not only accept their condition as "incurable", but to embrace it as something beautiful and good instead of perverted and disordered. The question needs to be asked. Are all perverts, like pedophiles, rapists, voyeurs or people who have sex with animals in the same position? Should we have special Masses and support groups for child molesters and male whores because "that's who they are and we must respect them"? I don't think so!
I responded to this statement by Fr. Schexnayder, that it seems to me that anyone who is not a practicing homosexual and who reveals to everyone that he/she is homosexual is self-destructive and they should be examined for psychological problems. They do need a support group. One that can help them discover why they hate themselves so much that they want others to reject and persecute them. It reminds me of people who dye their hair purple or wear nose rings and spiked hair. They are exhibitionists, who claim they don't want people to stare at them, yet they do everything humanly possible to be the focus of attention. Either a person who is suffering from homosexual temptations gives in to them and must go to confession and find a support group like Courage to help them live a life of chastity, or they resist the temptations and remain chaste without a support group. If they remain chaste there is no issue. We do not need special support groups for celibate gays just because they feel different. Who doesn't feel different, isolated, or outcast at one point or another? Celibate homosexuals have succeeded in overcoming their inordinate desires. It is sick exhibitionism to expose one's sins or temptations to the world as if these temptations or sins are actually virtues that should be honored. This kind of exhibitionism comes from a deep seated self-centered pride, that seeks recognition from others. It should never be encouraged.
There is much more that can be said about this meeting, but I think the point is clear. These people, according to the Modernists have be "educated" into thinking that the Church has officially condoned a special ministry to homosexuals, because she recognizes that homosexual persons must be respected, accepted and supported, since this is "who they are" and they have special gifts and talents to offer. This could not be further from the truth. The official Church recognizes that these individuals are suffering a particular affliction which deserves our compassion but not our tolerance. We love the sinner but hate the sin even if that sin has not manifested itself in action but only in thought and pride.
It is your duty as a Roman Catholic to fight this agenda wherever it rears its ugly head. Crush it as quickly as possible. Every human being demands our love, but not every human being demands our respect. Every human being is made in the image of God. But not every human being retains the dignity of that image. People like Fr. Schexnayder are dangerous, not only to individual souls, but alos to the very moral fabric of society. They must be resisted and stopped in their attempts to justify their own perverted thinking by subtle sophistry and equivocation.