Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Chapel Veil - Veiling or Head Covering - Fully Explained

Chaldean Catholic Women Attend Sunday Mass

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Unfortunately, something as simple as a chapel veil has become somewhat of a controversy in the modern Catholic Church. To be more accurate, it's not so much a controversy in the "modern" Catholic Church as it is in the "western" Catholic Church, particularly in English-speaking nations. One would not find so much of a controversy if one were to visit a Catholic Church in the third world. There one would find the chapel veil used by many Catholic women almost universally. Eastern Orthodox women also veil in these regions. While here in the western industrialized world, eastern Orthodox women (along with eastern Catholic women in the Byzantine Rite) have kept the custom a bit more faithfully than western Catholic women in the general Roman Rite. Yes, veiling in some form was even common in most Protestant communities for many centuries prior to the 1960s. In some Protestant groups the custom evolved into large elaborate hats, which one can still see practiced in the Methodist Episcopal denomination. The custom is also still practiced in the form of lace mantillas and/or bonnets among the Amish, Mennonites, the Apostolic Christian Church, some Pentecostal groups, which includes the 'Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith,' and the stricter Dutch Reformed churches. Though most Protestant denominations have no official expectation that women veil, some individual ladies choose to practice the custom according to their understanding of 1st Corinthians 11.

The chapel veil was the custom of all Catholic churches (eastern and western), everywhere in the world (including English-speaking nations) for nearly 2,000 years. The custom only fell out of use among western Catholic women, particularly in English-speaking nations, in just the last 30-40 years. Why is that?

A movement was introduced to western culture at around the same time that explains a lot of it. The movement was called feminism. Like most social movements born in the 1960s, some good did come out of it. But at the same time, some not-so-good things came out of it. On the positive side, feminism pushed for equality for women in the workplace and in government. On the negative side, feminism saddled women with burdens they never bargained for, and in some ways made their struggle worse than it was before. The long term effects of feminism (positive and negative) will be debated for decades to come, and that is not the purpose of this article. So for now, we'll leave the sociology to the sociologists.

What concerns us is feminism's effect on Catholic women in western cultures, particularly those in English-speaking nations. The most noticeable effect in such nations was the rapid disappearance of the chapel veil from mass. Almost overnight the veil was gone. This was accompanied by the release of the new Code of Canon Law in 1983, which no longer mentioned chapel veils. Since the new Code of Canon Law abrogated the older code, it was assumed by many that the custom of veiling was also abrogated, simply because it was no longer mentioned. That combined with feminist influences on Catholic women in western nations led to the popular misconception that veiling is now optional, and women are no longer required to do it. As a result, it came to be the norm for older traditional women to keep wearing the veil, while younger Catholic women discarded it completely.

The feminist transformation of western Catholic women was accomplished mainly though propaganda. It was propaganda that fit the feminist mindset very well, but actually mischaracterized and falsely represented the Catholic mindset. Women were told that the veil represented male oppression, and that a male controlled Catholic Church sought to dominate women by forcing their subjection through the symbolic act of veiling while in Church. (Now none of this is true, and if it were, yours truly would be against the chapel veil as well.) The tide of feminism was overwhelming in western culture, particularly in English-speaking nations, and as a result most Catholic women simply accepted this propaganda as truth without ever questioning it. Thirty years have gone by, and one can easily find Catholic women who still accept the propaganda without question, having never even heard a rebuttal.

It would appear the Vatican listened to the feminist movement, and did find a potential problem in the Code of Canon Law that could be made as a case to bolster the erroneous feminist argument. It was possibly for this reason the Vatican dropped the chapel veil requirement from the Code of Canon Law. Under the old Code of Canon Law, women could theoretically be forced under penalty to wear a chapel veil against their will. The problem with this was twofold. First, this canon could be used as a case to bolster the erroneous feminist argument against the chapel veil. Second, this canon actually defeated the authentic Catholic reason for veiling in the first place.

The authentic Catholic reason for wearing the chapel veil is the Biblical reason. It's just something that all Christian women (regardless of denomination) are supposed to do, not because they have to, but because they're supposed to want to. The Catholic Church has decided to no longer enforce this Biblical custom through Canon Law, and in doing so, the Church is saying it does not want to be our nanny. The chapel veil is a custom for women to do voluntarily, because they want to, not because they are being forced to. The idea is that women are to read what the Scriptures have to say, and be convicted according to what is contained therein. In order for a chapel veil to be an authentic sign of humility and holiness, it must be voluntary. Indeed, Christian women are supposed to wear one, but it is never to be forced.

The Scriptural case for the chapel veil...
1st Corinthians 11:2-16
I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you...
The tradition of the chapel veil comes from Christ, by way of the Holy Spirit, through St. Paul, for Paul mentions later in this same epistle: "What I am writing to you is a command of the Lord. If any one does not recognize this, he is not recognized." - 1st Corinthians 14:37-38 St. Paul commends the Corinthians for keeping the chapel veil tradition, among other traditions, and then he continues in chapter 11...
....But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God...
Here we have the central point of misunderstanding. This verse has been misused time and time again as a means of male superiority. Not only is this a misreading of the text, but it completely misses an important theological point Paul is trying to make. This chapter of Corinthians is entirely Eucharistic, in the sense that it centers around the Eucharistic celebration (or the mass). The following verses (17-34) deal entirely with the celebration of Holy Communion. When Paul says the head of every man is Christ, what he's saying is that Christ came in the form of a man. He's making a statement about the incarnation. He's saying that Christ came in human form, and because of this, the man becomes a physical representation of Christ -- particularly if he is a husband. When he says the head of every woman is her husband, he is not saying that women are inferior to men in any way. What he's saying is that if a husband becomes the physical representation of Christ's incarnation, than his wife becomes the physical representation of Christ's spouse -- or the Church. When Paul says "husband" here, he is referring both to earthly husbands, and to Christ himself. That being the case, wives take on the symbolic role of the Church. Paul continues in chapter 11...
...Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head...
Again, this goes straight back to the incarnation. All of this is a symbol of what we Catholic Christians believe about Christ, his incarnation, and the Eucharist. Paul tells us that if a man covers his head during mass, he dishonors his spiritual "head" which is Christ. In other words, a man who covers his head during mass dishonors Christ, because his action of veiling himself sends the physical statement that Christ was not incarnate as a man. The woman, on the other hand, representing the Church, ought to cover her head because if she believes that Christ is truly incarnate, she should veil herself as a sign that the Church has been made holy by Christ as his spouse. In doing so she honors Christ as a symbol of his sanctification on the Church. She also honors her husband with a physical sign that he represents Christ, because Christ came in the form of a man. The chapel veil is a sign of holiness because Christ has made his Church holy, and women represent the Church as the "bride" of Christ. It is a sign that the Church is covered and under Christ's protection. This is the symbolism of the Church's relationship to Christ. It is not so much a statement of a particular woman's holiness, but rather the Church's holiness. Paul continues...
-- it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil...
Here Paul is really laying it on think, and he has good reason. He's trying to convey a big theological point. Customs in the church are not the result of random happenstance. These things exist for a reason. Under the Old Covenant, both Jewish men and women covered their heads during worship, but the early Jewish Christians changed that custom for a reason. They wanted to make this practice of veiling a symbol of Christ's incarnation, like they did with so many other Jewish traditions, and as Paul mentions in chapter 14 (cited above) these things are not trivial man-made customs, they came from the Holy Spirit Himself. Here Paul is telling us that it is shameful for a Christian woman not to cover her head during mass, and he is using an illustration from antiquity that has to do with punishment. In ancient times, women would have their heads shaved publicly as punishment for lack of modesty. It was a form of public humiliation. Here Paul is not advocating the shaving of a woman's head for refusing to wear the chapel veil, but rather, he is trying to convey the seriousness of the imagery. When a Christian woman refuses to do this, she is in effect saying (though perhaps not intentionally) that Christ was not incarnate in the form of a man. Granted, in modern times this is almost certainly not the intention of any woman who refuses to veil during mass, but what Paul is telling us here is that every custom in the Church has meaning, and because of that, failure to keep those customs also has meaning, whether one intends to convey that meaning or not. It's sort of like bowing, kneeling or genuflecting before the Eucharist for example. Catholics do these things in mass for a reason, and that reason is to stress the real presence of Christ in the blessed sacrament. In practice, we are bowing, kneeling and genuflecting before our God and King, whom we profess to be really and truly present in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. That being the case, if one fails to bow, kneel and genuflect, what kind of signal does that send to those around him/her? One may not intend to send any signals of disrespect, but invariably one can, whether one intends to or not. The custom of the chapel veil has similar significance. Paul continues....
...For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.) That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels....
Here we have another commonly abused passage. Again, Paul is not trying to bolster male dominance here. Remember, we have to keep the context of this chapter in mind, and the context of 1st Corinthians 11 is the Eucharistic celebration. Paul calls man the "image and glory of God" for one reason and one reason only -- because Jesus Christ (who is God) was made incarnate as a man. Then he expounds on this by pointing out that the woman is the "glory of man" (or mankind). This is meant to be a complement. Of the two human genders, women are far more "glorious" then men in their appearance, beauty, voice, fashion and general gracefulness. The hair was considered a woman's crowing glory in Biblical times (Song of Songs 6:5). Beyond that, women bear the special gift of motherhood. In that, God touches them in a way no man has ever experienced. The Scriptures tell us that God Himself fashions the unborn child in the womb, and plants a living human soul inside the body of a women when she becomes pregnant (Psalm 139:13-16). In this way, God touches the body of a woman in a way he never touches a man's body. This makes the woman's body a sacred vessel of God's creative powers. It is something that is particularly holy, and must be respected as such. It is no wonder why women are called the "fairer sex." Paul is agreeing with that here. However, Paul is also reminding women not to get too prideful. He reminds them of the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, where the woman is made to complement the man, and not vice versa. Now we learn that the chapel veil is also a sign of personal humility in addition to the Church's holiness. The woman not only covers her head as a sign of her belief in a incarnation, not only to show how Christ has made his Church holy, but also to cover her "glory," as a sign of humility to show that she is not vain or overly proud of her womanhood and beauty. The veil or headcovering is a symbol of the woman's acceptance of her role in society, the family, and the Church, in accordance with God's will. It is an imitation of the Virgin Mary, who wore such a headcovering.

Then St. Paul says something very curious. He says the woman ought to veil her head during mass "because of the angels." Paul tells us that the angels participate with us during mass, and this is reinforced by the writings of St. John: "And another angel came and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense that he might offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which is before the throne." (Revelation 8:3, see also Matt. 18:10). The angels watch everything that is going on during mass, as they participate in the same liturgy we do. They are also well aware of the customs of the Church and what they mean -- even the custom of veiling. Angels are offended when we ignore or refuse to follow any liturgical custom, whether it be failing to kneel or veil in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord.
...(Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.)...
If ever there was a verse to counter the abuse of male dominance, this is it. If ever there was a verse to prove that St. Paul was not a male chauvinist, this is it. Paul follows his previous verse, reminding women to be humble, with this verse, reminding men to be humble too. He doesn't want the men to use what he just wrote as a means of beating down the women in a form of male superiority. He is reminding the men that they are not superior to the women, but rather fully dependent on them, and that both genders come from God. One cannot be "better" than the other. Then he continues with some rhetorical questions to back his point...
...Judge for yourselves; is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her pride? For her hair is given to her for a covering....
Paul is not prohibiting hair styles here. To focus on hair styles is to miss the point. Paul is simply asking a few rhetorical questions based on popular culture. In most cultures women have longer hair then men, and when they do, it usually looks better. He's saying that when a woman has long hair it usually looks beautiful, and when a man has long hair, it usually looks a little odd. In some cultures, long hair is considered a sign of femininity. So if a man has long hair, it looks feminine in those cultures, and that is "degrading" to him. What Paul is doing here is he's appealing to nature. He's saying; "Look, even mother nature teaches us the same lesson. She gives women long hair as a covering and it looks good and proper on them." Then he concludes with this interesting verse...
...If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God.
Some Bible versions have mistranslated this verse to say "we recognize no such practice, nor do the churches of God." This mistranslation is often used to negate the previous first half of the chapter. In other words, those who abuse such mistranslations say that Paul spent half a chapter, explaining a deep theological principle pertaining to a custom he applauds the Corinthians for keeping, only to say in this last verse that they really don't need to keep it. Such interpretations are silliness. The proper translation is rendered here as "we recognize no other practice." Here Paul is telling the Corinthians not to get too contentious over the chapel veil custom, because he's not going to burden them with anything else beyond that. He's not going to tell men and women how to dress. He's not going to tell them what kind of a veil they should wear, or how they should wear it. He's simply saying that this is the custom as it is practiced in the "churches of God" and they recognize no other practice beyond this.

So the chapel veil has nothing to do with male dominance. It has nothing to do with subjecting women under male authority. It has everything to do with Christ's incarnation, and the real presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

The Bible is very clear about this. Women are supposed to veil in the presence of the Eucharist and in prayer, but at the same time, they are to take it upon themselves to do it. They are not to be forced into it by men, nor coerced into it by the Canon Law of the Church. Coercion actually defeats the whole purpose of veiling. (Which may be one reason why the custom of the veil has no place in canon law.) It has to be voluntary, if it is truly to be a sign of holiness and humility. This is why the Church removed it from Canon Law. It was not to send a signal to women that they need not do it anymore. Rather, it was to tell women that when they veil themselves, it is not because men told them to. It is a sign and symbol coming from them, voluntarily, not as a grudging requirement against their will.

Furthermore, the chapel veil is a sign of the incarnation, illustrated in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Women are supposed to veil in the presence of the Sacrament and in prayer before God. They are not veiling in the presence of men, nor has the tradition of the Church ever required this. The feminist propaganda was wrong. If the chapel veil were a sign of male dominance, than it would have been required in the presence of men, but it is not. Nowhere in Church history, Canon Law, or the Bible, are women required to veil in the presence of men. They are only expected to veil in the presence of our Lord.

Though the custom has generally lapsed in western cultures, particularly English-speaking nations, it is not erased entirely from the conscience of western Christians. For example; what's the first thing a Catholic mom does when her daughter is preparing for first communion and confirmation? She goes out and buys a veil. Likewise, what's one of the most important accessories to a bridal gown? Why it's the veil of course! Finally, when a baseball game or community event is opened in prayer, regardless of the religious denominations of those in attendance, what's the first thing everybody does? The men all remove their hats, and the women do not. Funny how that works, isn't it. This doesn't just happen by accident. It all goes back to the ancient Christian custom of veiling.

Yes, Christian women are supposed to veil during worship, and this is especially true for Catholic women who understand the incarnation of Christ and His real presence in the Blessed Sacrament. According to the Bible, this is not optional. All Christian women are expected to do it, but it is to be done voluntarily, without force or coercion. The custom was removed from the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, but it was never abrogated as a Biblical custom of the Faith. To veil properly, women must do so voluntarily, and they must do so with proper understanding of the custom and what it means. Hopefully this article has been helpful in this.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Vatican Says Liberals Brought Return of Tridentine Mass Upon Themselves

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: So let's make sure we have the record straight. Liberals, who abuse the Novus Ordo liturgy with their clever innovations, played a bigger role in the pope's decision to restore the Tridentine mass than the traditionalists who requested it. So I guess all those Liberals in the Church, who despise the pope's decision to bring back the Tridentine liturgy, only have themselves to blame for making it happen. Sweet! This just keeps getting better and better.
(CNS) - "Regarding the Tridentine Mass, over the years there was a growing request, which little by little became more organized," he said.

"On the other side, fidelity to the norms for the celebration of the sacraments continued to fall," he said. "The more this fidelity (and) a sense of the beauty and awe in the liturgy diminished, the more requests for the Tridentine Mass increased."

"So, in fact, who really requested the Tridentine Mass? It was not just these groups, but also those who had little respect for the norms of a worthy celebration according to the 'Novus Ordo,'" or new order, he said, referring to the post-Vatican II liturgy.

"For years the liturgy suffered too many abuses and many bishops ignored them" despite the efforts of Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Ranjith said.

"So the problem was not requests for the Tridentine Mass as much as an unlimited abuse of the nobility and dignity of the eucharistic celebration," he said....

read full story here

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Is Calvary Chapel Anti-Catholic?

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: In a word, "yes." Calvary Chapel ( is anti-Catholic. Now the good folks there would deny it. They would tell you they love Catholics, but hate the "Roman Catholic religious system." That's all well and good, but being anti-Catholic isn't about hating, or even disliking, Catholic people. Being anti-Catholic, by its very definition, means being against the religion of Roman Catholicism. Try as they may to dodge the issue, Calvary Chapel is an anti-Catholic organization.

In the broad sense, we could argue that all Protestant churches are anti-Catholic to some small degree, simply by virtue of the fact that they are Protestant. Historically, this would be true. However, while most Protestant and Evangelical groups try not to stress this anymore, some organizations have surfaced in recent years that are far more anti-Catholic than others. I believe Calvary Chapel would definitely fall into this category. Though I am not aware of any official documentation of Calvary Chapel's anti-Catholic positions, one can easily find most Sunday sermons latent with them. A good example of this comes from Pastor Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel affiliation. The nice thing about Calvary Chapel is that most sermons are taped and archived, so if one has the time to do the fishing, the evidence of blatant anti-Catholicism is not too difficult to find. Now remember, these are sermons of a pastor to his congregation. One would think a pastor would be concerned with preaching the gospel, and applying the teachings of New Testament to the day to day lives of his congregation. Instead, this is the sort of thing one can easily find in Calvary Chapel sermons....

On tape 5176, Pastor Chuck Smith said:
The dogma that was developed in the Catholic church of the perpetual virginity of Mary, is sheer poppycock. It is the invention of men who have thought to elevate Mary to the status of deity. The obvious fact is here, "And knew her not 'till'" It is clear that afterward, they did have normal husband-wife relationships with each other, or else the other sons and daughters that were born of Mary were also virgin-born, and that throws the whole story in disarray. The gospel of Mark names the brothers of Jesus as James, Joses and Simon, and mentions his sisters, so to declare perpetual virginity of Mary is not a scriptural truth. It is a Catholic dogma, without scriptural foundation, as are most dogmas. Paul said, "Beware of dogs"(Phil. 3:2,) I say, "Be wary of dogmas!"
On tape 5189, Smith said:
For one is your father, which is in heaven." So the title of father was prohibited by Jesus. In my associations I have become acquainted and friends of many ministers within the Episcopalian Church, and also within the Catholic Church. And I have extreme difficulty in knowing how to address that. Because for the life of me I can not call them father so and so. Because Jesus said not to. And so, to me it creates a difficult thing, as to how to address them, because they are usually introduced,' this is father so and so,' and I just have a hang-up with this, but I just can't address a man, father, in a spiritual sense. I don't know, do what you want, but I just have problems.
On tape 5209, Smith said:
The Protestant reformation came as a protest against the evil practices that had arisen within the Catholic Church. Especially the selling of indulgences. For the Pope was desirous to built a great Cathedral in Rome, St. Peters. And the money wasn't coming in, fast enough to build this glorious monument, that he was desiring to put up, as a symbol for Christianity. And so someone in the counsel came up with a bright idea. Everybody likes to sin, why don't we sell them forgiveness for sin's. And they can buy an indulgence, before they ever indulged. So as they indulging, the thing is covered, because they've already buyed (sic) their forgiveness. So you want a little escapade on the side. You want to go out and get drunk? fine, go down and buy your drunk indulgence. You want to have an affair? go down and get an adultery indulgence. And they started selling the indulgences to the people. And this so incensed Martin Luther, that he took his 95 thesis, his objections, to the practices that had developed within the church, and he taged them on the door, and he protested. And thus the name Protestant. Beginning of the Protestant reformation.
On the same tape, Smith also said:
It is a sad error of the Catholic church to declare that Peter is the foundation upon which the church was built.
On tape 5202, Smith said:
There is sometimes within the Protestant circles perhaps a backlash to that position that the Catholics have sought to place Mary in as the intercessor, and even some today, the coredemptress, and there is that backlash among Protestants often times to sort of put Mary down.
On tape 5315, Smith said:
And we see it in the Catholic church where the priest says, "You come and confess your sins to me and I will remiss your sins and I will go to the Father and I will take care of things for you. It is putting a man between you and God. We will see the system develop when we get to the church of Thyatira but at least the church of Ephesus says 'I hate it and the Lord says I hate it too.
Later on the same tape, Smith said:
And these are the dominant issues of the Roman Catholic church; their love and their service and their faith and their patience and their work. And this they have a lot of - a lot of good works and there are some marvelous people in the Catholic Church, highly admired. Mother Theresa, such an unusual person. Marvelous. It's not saying things against those individuals because God has his overcomers. It is just talking about the system.
Later, Smith said:
And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold I will cast her into a bed, and those that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds" Here is now first of all, the indication that the Catholic Church would exist right up to the coming of Jesus Christ and the rapture of the church, because he talks about them being allowed to go into the great tribulation.
These are typical examples of Calvary Chapel sermons, which can easily be found anywhere, by multiple Calvary Chapel pastors throughout the country. In the later quotes above, Smith is comparing the Catholic Church to the worst form of churches written of in the Book of Revelation. While of course, Calvary pastors typically equate their own brand of Christianity to some of the better churches written of in the Book of Revelation. In my own experience, at a Calvary Chapel ran by one of Smith's direct pupils, it seemed that there was at least one small dig at Catholicism every week.

One can also find special books and audio series, made by Calvary Chapel pastors, specifically designed for the purpose of attacking Roman Catholicism. In part, I believe this is due to an unusual number of Calvary Chapel pastors who are themselves former Catholics. The affiliation began in Southern California, a heavily Catholic region of the United States, and as a result the pews are regularly filled with former Catholics who've converted to the "Gospel According to Calvary Chapel." A small percentage of these disaffected converts went on to become pastors for the affiliation.

You may be wondering why I am bothering with this particular Evangelical-Protestant group. There are, after all, hundreds of different anti-Catholic organizations in America. So what's so special about this one? Well, I'll tell you. I used to be a "member" of Calvary Chapel. In fact, I even became a teacher there. All of this was before my conversion to Catholicism of course. I can personally testify that I regularly heard, with my own ears, large volumes of anti-Catholic rhetoric. Yes, as a Calvary Chapel teacher, I even preached it. I've personally witnessed a very popular Calvary Chapel pastor in Southern California actually call the Catholic Church the "Whore of Babylon" and the pope the "Antichrist" on more than one occasion. These happened before a large audience, many of whom were former Catholics. I can personally testify that Catholic doctrines are taken out of context, represented falsely, and then maligned on a regular basis in Calvary Chapels throughout America. Sometimes it seems that it's rare to even get through a single sermon, on any given week, without hearing at least one small jab at Catholicism.

As a former Calvary Chapel teacher, I have mixed feelings about this organization. On the one hand, I must give credit where credit is due. Having been raised in a non-practicing Protestant home, Calvary Chapel helped me a great deal when I was struggling with my faith as a young person. Calvary Chapel helped me better understand basic doctrines of the Christian faith. Calvary Chapel also helped me sort out the sinful habits in my life, and set me on a path of greater obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition to that, it was through my pastoral studies at Calvary Chapel that I came to knowledge of Church history, a knowledge that would eventually lead to my Catholic conversion. So on the one hand, I am grateful to Calvary Chapel, because without it, I would probably have never found Christ and later converted to HIS One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. On the other hand, I am frustrated with this organization, because it misleads people about Christ's Catholic Church. Those who do not take the time to do the study, and there are many, are forced to simply trust what Calvary Chapel pastors tell them about the Catholic Church. A good number of those things are wrong, and most of it doesn't even originate within Calvary Chapel. In fact, the majority of anti-Catholic material, used by Calvary Chapel pastors, comes not from the organization itself, but from outside sources that specialize in anti-Catholicism.

If you're a Catholic who attends a Calvary Chapel, or has been approached by somebody from Calvary Chapel, as a former Calvary Chapel teacher, I have some good advice for you. Stop and do your homework! There are lots of things Calvary Chapel pastors say about Catholicism that just aren't true. Many of these pastors are former Catholics themselves, and one would think they should know better. Yet you would be surprised to discover just how little these supposedly "educated" men actually know about Catholic beliefs and the Catholic Church. I would suggest you do a little reading on this topic list HERE, where will find one of the most exhaustive Catholic apologetic resources available on the Internet. If on the other hand, you're a non-Catholic who attends Calvary Chapel, I would encourage you to do the same, so that you might have a better understanding of Catholicism "straight from the horse's mouth," rather than relying on the second-hand information spouted by some disgruntled Catholics, who later became Calvary Chapel pastors. Many of whom got their information from sources not even affiliated with Calvary Chapel. I would also encourage you to take the The Ultimate Protestant Challenge. I think that's good advice, and you owe it to yourself to hear both sides of the story, weigh the evidence, and learn the truth.

********** Update 12/1/2010 **********

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: So it's been over three years since I wrote this original blog entry on Calvary Chapel's anti-Catholicism, and nothing has changed. (Not that I really expected it to.) In between jumps to my snowbird hideaway down South, I returned home briefly to keep the Knight's armory running well. On the way home from one of my errands in town today I decided to tune into a local Calvary Chapel radio station broadcasted via satellite syndication. (I'm not sure what possessed me to do it.) Anyway, the station manager had just gotten Chuck Smith on the air for some questions from callers. One caller mentioned that his girlfriend is Catholic, and he occasionally attends mass with her. He had a question about the apparition of "Our Lady of Guadalupe." It wasn't five minutes into the show, but Chuck Smith had plenty to say.

First, he proclaimed that "Our Lady of Guadalupe" is nothing more than a demonic spirit, and the apparition itself is a deception of the devil. He advised the caller to avoid anything to do with it. Second, he then went on, as if that weren't enough, to accuse the Catholic Church of idolatry and apostasy. He did this in his usual soft-spoken gentle manner, (you could almost hear the smile on his face), which I used to think was charity. Twelve years after having left Calvary Chapel, it's now starting to sound a little creepy. Anyway, he used the classic strawman fallacy. He blatantly misrepresented Catholic teaching, claiming the Church places Mary above Christ. Then he proceeded to tear down the strawman by saying that anytime someone (i.e. The Catholic Church) puts someone or something above Christ, we know that can't be from God. Of course the caller was gushing with gratitude for Pastor Smith's pontification, and the station manager then proceeded to advise him, and anyone else listening, to stay away from the Catholic mass and go to Calvary Chapel instead.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, especially when it comes to the anti-Catholicism coming out of Calvary Chapel. I'm pleased that this particular rant against the Church came from the top Calvary Chapel pastor himself - Chuck Smith - the man who started the whole chain. It demonstrates what I've been saying all along in this blog entry. The founder of Calvary Chapel is a raving anti-Catholic, and the apples never fall far from the tree. The way the founder goes, so do the followers. This type of anti-Catholicism can be found among Calvary Chapel pastors from coast to coast. Some are more virulent than others, but virtually all of them look to Pastor Chuck Smith as their example and teacher. He is, after all, the closest thing to a "pope" there will ever be in the Calvary Chapel network.

Pastor Chuck Smith's dishonest dealing with Catholic doctrine is inexcusable. He is an educated man who has been in ministry for decades. He's the virtual "head" of an international nondenominational-affiliation. He has missionary outreaches in Latin America and Rome. You cannot tell me this man is ignorant of authentic Catholic Church doctrine. He knows full well the Catholic Church DOES NOT place Mary above Christ in any way. He knows the Church teaches that Mary is subordinate to Christ, and that everything she is comes directly from Christ. His opinions about Marian apparitions are his business, but to tell people they are demonic is to be disingenuous to say the least. No demonic spirit leads people to Christ, and if "Our Lady of Guadalupe" was supposed to be some Satanic deception, than it was a miserable failure on the devil's part, because it resulted in over a million people (Native Americans) accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It has since inspired the Christian faith of tens of millions. If it was supposed to be a lie of the devil, than it sure backfired on him. Of course we know the truth. Mary appeared to Saint Juan Diego to bring his people to her Son - Jesus Christ - and that she did in the most startling and miraculous way.

So why the strawman fallacy? Why would an educated man, who surely knows what the Church teaches in regards to Mary, deliberately twist and distort Church doctrine in such a way so he could easily tear down the strawman he created? Well, I can't get inside Chuck Smith's head, so I really don't know with absolute certainty why he did it. But I do have an opinion, and I think it's a fairly educated one with some inside information. You see, Calvary Chapel started in Southern California which is a heavily Catholic portion of the United States. Most of the people who attend Calvary Chapel are former Catholics. I don't have an exact percentage, but I would say that at least half would be a fair guess. Most of them left the Catholic Church during the turbulent times of the 1970s through 1990s. It was during this time that Chuck Smith, and his ministry disciples began their anti-Catholic propaganda, and WOW did it take off! They brought scores of formerly Catholic "members" into their affiliations with this nonsense, combined with their apocalyptic teachings on current events and typical altar calls for instantaneous salvation. It was (and still is) a formula that works. Every Sunday in Southern California, Calvary Chapels are packed to standing room only. Smith and his ministry disciples have now taken their "Gospel according to Calvary Chapel" into Latin America, and they've even been so bold as to bring it to Rome as well, under the very shadow of the Vatican. The formula works. It draws away Catholics, and turns them against Rome in the most virulent way. It also fills the pews at Calvary Chapels, as well as the collection plates. You see, in my opinion, the reason why Chuck Smith doesn't change is because he can't change. If he ever admits that he was wrong about something the Catholic Church teaches, it would threaten his whole organization. In Southern California alone, at least half of his ministry is to former Catholics. An admission of error, especially after having preached this stuff for so long, would cause the Calvary Chapel faithful to begin questioning the whole Calvary Chapel system, and that is something that neither Chuck Smith nor his ministry disciples can risk.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

400,000 Anglicans Petition To Join Catholic Church

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Let the exodus begin...
(Independant Catholic News) - Three Church of Ireland parishes have asked to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church The Irish Catholic newspaper reports this week.

The parishes, in counties Down, Tyrone and Laois are members of the 'traditional rite' within the Church of Ireland.

The Irish Catholic newspaper, has learnt that the members of these parishes, along with traditional Anglicans from twelve other countries, have signed a letter to the Vatican seeking "full, corporate, sacramental union" with the Catholic Church under the authority of the Pope. The dramatic move would see the entire parish communities received in to the Catholic Church.

While only a few hundred Anglicans in Ireland will be affected, the move, if approved by the Vatican, would see 400,000 Anglicans worldwide admitted into the Catholic Church, the paper reports....

read full story here

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Worship Mary - Get Excommunicated!

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: I've been telling Evangelical Protestants this for years. Whenever they ask why Catholics worship Mary, I respond that any Catholic who worships Mary would probably be excommunicated. I then go on to explain that the form of veneration Catholics give to Mary is not the same as worship, and Catholics understand this distinction all too well.

Now it would appear that my illustration has become reality. A group of Catholics, who have taken Marian veneration to the point of worship, have just been excommunicated for worshipping Mary...

Little Rock, AR, Sep 27, 2007 / 02:17 pm (CNA).- In its 165 years of existence, the Diocese of Little Rock had never experienced its members being excommunicated, that is, until recently. Six sisters in Hot Springs, Arkansas were automatically excommunicated due to their participation in the Community of the Lady of All Nations, or more commonly called, the Army of Mary.

The group, which was founded in Quebec, Canada is known for elevating the Virgin Mary to the status of God, and the belief that their founder is “possesed by Mary."

"The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the declaration of excommunication on July 11, after extensive consultations with the Canadian bishops and the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Pope Benedict XVI approved the declaration, which was only announced by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on Sept. 12. CNA coverage here

A Vatican official stated that the “association is no longer considered a Catholic organization because of its false teachings on the Trinity and Mary.”

Excommunication excludes members from “communion” within the Church. The members are not able to lead the Liturgy (if they are priests), receive the Eucharist or partake in other sacraments.

According to Arkansas Catholic, "They will no longer have any sacraments. We removed (the Blessed Sacrament) from the premises last night," Monsignor Herbert, archdiocese administrator, reported....

read full story here

Friday, August 3, 2007

British Anti-Catholicism Rears It's Ugly Head Again

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: It's been 300 years for heaven's sake! Official policies like this have got to go!
(CNA).- Peter Phillips, the Queen of England’s eldest grandson, may have to give up his place in the line of succession for the throne because his fiancĂ©e is Roman Catholic.

This past week Buckingham Palace announced the engagement between Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly, a Canadian management consultant, but no mention of a date for their marriage was made.

Even more interesting, is the fact that Autumn Kelly is Catholic. Ms. Kelly’s Catholicism brings to the light of day the 1701 Act of Settlement which bars any member of the Royal family from becoming or marrying Catholics. If Mr. Phillips has to renounce his rights to inherit the throne, it would be an embarrassment to the royal family and to the government.

Catholics have repeatedly called for a repeal of the act but thus far attempts to change the law have failed. Under the act, Mr. Phillips will be required to renounce his right to the throne -- he is 10th in line at present-- or Ms. Kelly will have to formally renounce her Catholic faith...

read full story here

Here's a little history lesson on British Anti-Catholicism from
Anti-Catholicism in England has its origins with the English Reformation under Henry VIII. The Act of Supremacy of 1534 declared the English crown to be 'the only supreme head on earth of the Church in England' in place of the Pope. Any act of allegiance to the latter was considered treason. It was under this act that saints Thomas More and John Fisher were executed.

Although the Act of Supremacy was repealed in 1554 by Henry's daughter, Queen Mary I, who was a staunch Roman Catholic, it was reenacted in 1559 under Elizabeth I.

Anyone who took public or church office was forced to take the Oath of Supremacy, and there were penalties for violating that oath. Attendance at Anglican services was also made obligatory. Those that refused were fined as recusants.

In the time of Elizabeth I, the persecution of the Protestants during the reign of her half-sister Queen Mary I was used as anti-Catholic propaganda in the hugely influential Foxe's Book of Martyrs. The Convocation of the English Church ordered in 1571 that copies of the "Book of Martyrs" should be kept for public inspection in all cathedrals and in the houses of church dignitaries. The book was also exposed in many parish churches alongside the Holy Bible. The passionate intensity of the style and the vivid and picturesque dialogues made it very popular among Puritan and Low Church families down to the nineteenth century. The fantastically partisan church history of the earlier portion of the book, with its grotesque stories of popes and monks contributed much to anti-Catholic prejudices in England as did the story of the sufferings of those Protestants burnt at the stake by Mary and the notorious Bishop Bonner.

In 1570, Pope Pius V sought to depose Elizabeth with the papal bull Regnans in Excelsis, which declared her a heretic and purported to release her Roman Catholic subjects from allegiance to her. This rendered Elizabeth's subjects who persisted in allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church politically suspect.

The failed invasion of England by the Spanish Armada has been cited as an attempt by Philip II of Spain to put into effect the Pope's decree, and to enforce a claim to the throne of England he held as a result of being the widower of Mary I of England.

Elizabeth's persecution of Roman Catholic Jesuit missionaries led to many executions at Tyburn. Those priests who suffered there are accounted martyrs by the Roman Catholic church; and, more recently, a convent has been established nearby to pray for their souls.

Later episodes that deepened anti-Catholicism in England include the Gunpowder Plot, in which Guy Fawkes and other Roman Catholic conspirators attempted to blow up the English Parliament while it was in session. The Great Fire of London in 1666 was blamed on the Roman Catholics and an inscription ascribing it to 'Popish frenzy' was engraved on the Monument to the Great Fire of London, which marked the location where the fire started (this inscription was only removed in 1831). Later, the "Popish Plot" involving Titus Oates further exacerbated Anglican-Roman Catholic relations.

The beliefs that underlie the sort of strong anti-Catholicism once seen in the United Kingdom were summarized by William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England:

As to papists, what has been said of the Protestant dissenters would hold equally strong for a general toleration of them; provided their separation was founded only upon difference of opinion in religion, and their principles did not also extend to a subversion of the civil government. If once they could be brought to renounce the supremacy of the pope, they might quietly enjoy their seven sacraments, their purgatory, and auricular confession; their worship of relics and images; nay even their transubstantiation. But while they acknowledge a foreign power, superior to the sovereignty of the kingdom, they cannot complain if the laws of that kingdom will not treat them upon the footing of good subjects.

— Bl. Comm. IV, c.4 ss. iii.2, p. *54

The gravamen of this charge, then, is that Roman Catholics constitute an imperium in imperio, a sort of fifth column of persons who owe a greater allegiance to the Pope than they do to the civil government, a charge very similar to that repeatedly leveled against Jews. Accordingly, a large body of British laws, collectively known as the penal laws, imposed various civil disabilities and legal penalties on recusant Roman Catholics. These laws were gradually repealed over the course of the nineteenth century with laws such as the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829.

In spite of the Emancipation Act, however, anti-Catholic feeling continued throughout the nineteenth century, primarily as a response to the influx of Irish immigrants into England during the Great Famine.

Even now, however, a member of the British Royal Family automatically gives up any chance of succeeding to the throne if he or she joins the Roman Catholic Church or marries a Roman Catholic.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Wearing The Chapel Veil

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: It is revealing when one considers how Catholic women all over the world still keep this custom. Unveiled women during mass is a phenomenon mostly seen in the West -- particularly English speaking nations. In a way, we could consider this custom a barometer of sorts. A society's Liberal decadence can be measured in part by how few women veil themselves during mass...
Derived from a book in progress called: "The Unveiled Woman"
by Jackie Freppon

During the second Vatican Council, a mob of reporters waited for news after a council meeting. One of them asked Msgr. Annibale Bugnini, then secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship, if women still had to wear a headcover in churches. His response was that the Bishops were considering other issues, and that women's veils were not on the agenda. The next day, the International Press announced throughout the world that women did not have to wear the veil anymore. A few days later, Msgr. Bugnini told the press he was misquoted and women still had to wear the veil. But the Press did not retract the error, and many women stopped wearing the veil out of confusion and because of pressure from feminist groups.

Before the revision in 1983, Canon law had stated that women must cover their heads ". . . especially when they approach the holy table" (Can 1262.2). But in order to reduce such a growing collection of books, the new version of Canon law was subjected to concise changes. In the process, mention of headcoverings was omitted. In 1970, Pope Paul VI promulgated the Roman Missal, ignoring mention of women's veils. But at the time the Missal was published, it didn't seem necessary to keep mandatory such an obvious and universal practice, even if it no longer had a "normative" value (Interinsigniores, #4). And mention in Canon law or the Roman Missal is not necessary to the continuation of the tradition, for it is rooted in Scripture and has been practised ever since the early Church. Indeed, Pope John Paul II affirmed that the real sources of Canon law are the Sacred Tradition, especially as reflected in the ecumenical councils, and Sacred Scripture (O.S.V. Catholic Encyclopedia, p. 169).

Sacred Scripture presents several reasons for wearing the veil. St. Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthians (11:1-16) that we must cover our heads because it is Sacred Tradition commanded by our Lord Himself and entrusted to Paul: "The things I am writing to you are the Lord's commandments" (1 Cor. 14:37).

God has established a heirarchy, in both the natural and religious spheres, in which the female is subject to the male. St. Paul writes in first Corinthians: "But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God (1 Cor. 11-3). And, in the institution of marriage, God gave the husband authority over the wife, but responsibility to her as well. Not only is he the family's decision-maker, but he is also responsible for the material and spiritual welfare of his wife and children. Man is not in this position to enslave or belittle the wife. As the Bride, (the Church), is subject to Jesus, women must wear the veil as a sign that they are subjected to men: "Let wives be subject to their husbands as to the Lord; because a husband is head of the wife, just as Christ is head of the Church." (Eph. 5, 22-23). The man represents Jesus, therefore he should not cover his head. However, this subjection is not derogatory to women, because in God's kingdom everyone is subjected to a higher authority: "For as the woman is from the man, so also is the man through the woman, but all things are from God." (1 Cor. 11, 12). Furthermore, the symbolism of the veil takes that which is invisible, the order established by God, and makes it visible. In the history of the Church, priestly vestments have played a similar symbolic role.

It is an honor to wear the veil. But by publicly repudiating it, a woman dishonors her feminine dignity, the sign of female subjection, just as the military officer is dishonored when he is stripped of his decorations. The Roman Pontifical contains the imposing ceremonial of the consecration of the veils: "Receive the sacred veil, that thou mayst be known to have despised the world, and to be truly, humbly, and with all thy heart subject to Christ as his bride; and may he defend thee from all evil, and bring thee to life eternal" (Pontificale Romanum; de benedictione). St. Paul says an unveiled woman is a dishonor: "But every woman praying or prophesying with her head uncoverd disgraces her head, for it is the same as if she were shaven" (1 Cor. 11, 5).

"That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels" wrote St. Paul in 1 Cor. 11, 10. The invisible heirarchy should be respected because the Angels are present at Christian liturgical assemblies, offering with us the Holy Sacrifice with the honor due to God. St. John the Apostle wrote: "And another angel came and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense that he might offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which is before the throne." (Rev. 8:3, see also Matt. 18:10). They are offended by a lack of reverence at Mass, just as they abhorred King Herod's acceptance of adoration from the people of Jerusalem: "But immediately an angel of the Lord struck (Herod) down, because he had not given honor to God, and he was eaten by worms, and died." (Acts, 12:23).

The custom of wearing the veil was maintained in the primitive Churches of God. (1 Cor. 11:16). We see this in the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians. The women of Corinth, beset by modern sensibilities, started coming to church without their heads covered. When St. Paul heard of their neglect, he wrote and urged them to keep the veil. According to St. Jerome's commentary Bible, he finally settled the matter by saying the head covering was a custom of the primitive communities of Judea, "the Churches of God" (1 Thess. 2-14, 2 Thess. 1-4), which had received this Tradition from early times (2 Thess., 2:15. 3:6).

Even today some people erroneously believe that St. Paul based the tradition on his personal opinion. They think he did not intend it to be continued in the Universal Church, but only as a local custom. This argument, however, does not conform to the Pauline spirit. After all, it was Paul who stood before Peter to change Jewish traditions in Christian Churches (Gal. 2:11-21). St. Paul reminds them: "for I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it; but I received it by a revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1:12), referring to the authority of his ministry, and veracity of his words. Pope Linus, who succeeded St. Peter, enforced also the same tradition of women covering their heads in the church (The Primitive Church, TAN). Our Lord warns us to obey His commandments: "He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:19).

In summary, the reasons that St. Paul advises women to cover their head in the church are:

  • Our Lord commanded it;
  • It is a visible sign of an invisible order established by God;
  • The Angels at Mass are offended if women don't use it;
  • It is a ceremonial vestment;
  • It is our heritage.

Christian women around the world have other reasons to wear a hat, mantilla, rebozo, gele, scarf, shawl or veil. Some wear it out of respect to God; others to obey the Pope's request, or to continue family traditions. But the most important reason of all is because Our Lord said: "if you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). We should always be ready with our bridal veils, waiting for Him and the promised wedding (Apoc. 22:17), following the example of our Blessed Mother, Mary, who never appeared before the eyes of men but properly veiled. To those who still think that the veil is an obsolete custom, remember that: "Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and today, yes, and forever" (Heb. 13:8).


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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tridentine Mass Touches Jewish Roots of Catholicism

(First Things): In my experience, Catholics who have an affinity for the particularly Judaic character of their Christian faith are more likely to be drawn to the Tridentine Mass than are Catholics for whom Judaism is a category on the other side of a boundary they would consider it bad manners to try to cross. You might think that, while Reform Catholics were on the subject of Catholic liturgy and Judaism, they would ask what happened to the Church’s observance of the event that most vividly marks Jesus as Jewish. The establishment of the 1970 missal as normative was accompanied by a certain curious change in the liturgical calendar: The Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord, on January 1, eight days after the celebration of his birth, wasn’t just moved. It was eliminated.

Of the criticisms that early Protestants leveled against Catholicism, the one that arguably cut deepest was that the Church presumed to revive the Levitical priesthood, which the spilling of Christ’s blood on Calvary now rendered obsolete. They inveighed passionately against the Mass, which they saw as overtly Judaic in its tone, structure, and purpose. (This Jewishness they objected to was largely a theological construct, not to be confused with the social and cultural construct of Judaism familiar to students of Jewish Studies departments at American universities.)

Protestants were correct that the Mass, in its aspect as a sacrifice, could not be fully understood outside the framework of pre-rabbinic Judaism. By the middle of the twentieth century, when Rome’s wish for some thaw in its cold war with Protestantism was in full bloom, it reformed the Mass such that the visible and audible distinctions between Mass and the worship services of the mainline Protestant churches were now greatly softened. Many Catholics saw it as an appropriate ecumenical gesture. So did many Protestants. Whether that step in the direction of Wittenberg and Geneva was deliberate or unconscious, what it was a step away from was Jerusalem, from the Temple and the daily sacrifice priests used to perform there.

read full story here

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: As a convert to Catholicism from Evangelicalism, I can particularly relate to this story. I often tell people that I came into the Church through the "back door" so to speak. What I hadn't really stopped to consider was that the "back door" used to be the "front door," that is, until Vatican II seemed to turn things around. My interest in Catholicism developed from my exploration of the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. As a good Evangelical, I was particularly interested in the Jewishness of Jesus and his apostles. I wanted to discover the Jewish connections to common Christian beliefs and customs. After a brief journey through the Messianic Jewish Movement, I learned a lot about the nature of symbolism, ceremony and liturgy. As I searched for Christian churches that still preserved many of the ancient Jewish connections, I could only find one that fit the description. It was none other than the Roman Catholic Church. Little did I know at the time how much the Ordinary form of the mass, promulgated in 1970, had stripped down the Jewishness of liturgy. Had I been born in a different time, I would have immediately seen the direct connection between Jewish liturgy and the pre-1970 mass. Fortunately for me, I now live in a time when the Church is rediscovering her "Jewishness" by restoring the Extraordinary form of the mass.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The 'Extraordinary' Mass Will Outlive It's 'Ordinary' Counterpart

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: The following is an excerpt from a thought-provoking article written with more passion than paranoia. Generally I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but I think this author made some good points outside of that...
( ...For the first time in living memory, a major institution is reforming itself by turning back to earlier precepts: David Cameron might profitably take note.

The bishops of England and Wales tried furiously to prevent the liberalization of access to the Traditional Mass, lobbying the Vatican against it, although they had recently approved the regular celebration of a Mass for homosexuals. On the eve of the publication of the Papal document, Bishop Kieran Conry, of Arundel and Brighton, said: "Any liberalisation of the use of the rite may prove seriously divisive. It could encourage those who want to turn the clock back throughout the Church." So, a liberal opposes liberalisation - why are we not surprised?...

read full story here

In a previous post I mentioned that if the Extraordinary form of the mass were translated into the vernacular (English for us), and celebrated along side the Ordinary form in English, it wouldn't be long before the Ordinary would be empty and the Extraordinary full. That's the power of the ancient liturgy. I have a feeling that this vision is not too far off from what the pope may be wanting for the future. A few clues were given in Summorum Pontificum. The pope allows for lectionary readings in the Extraordinary from to be read in the vernacular, and even suggests supplementing more readings from the new expanded lectionary. Furthermore he suggests a more reverent celebration of the Ordinary form -- following the example of the Extraordinary. Could it be that someday in the future (perhaps distant future) the pope envisions the reunion of both forms under a new missal?

Imagine for a moment the following. Suppose 15 years from now a synod on the liturgy called at the Vatican. Then five years later, in 2020, a new Missal is released for the universal Church. This new Missal is essentially a Tridentine mass in every sense. The only significant change is the expansion of the readings from the new lectionary. Permission is given to celebrate the mass in either Latin or the vernacular. However, if the vernacular is used, certain small parts of the mass are still designated to be said only in Latin - to preserve the Church's heritage.

It is possible? Now that the pope has released his motu proprio, I would say anything is possible.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Vatican Says Protestant Organizations Are Not Really 'Churches'

( The Vatican has issued a new doctrinal statement confirming the essential role of the Catholic Church in God's plan for salvation.

The short document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), presented in question-and-answer format, addresses questions about the teaching of the Second Vatican Council that the Church founded by Jesus Christ "subsists" in the Catholic Church.

The CDF affirms that while other Christian bodies can play a role in bringing people to salvation, it is in the Catholic Church that "the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth." The Vatican document makes a further distinction between Orthodox churches that have preserved valid sacraments, and should be recognized as "sister churches," and Protestant groups that have not preserved the Eucharistic presence....

read full story here

Read Full Text of CDF Document Here

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Here's the gist of it. The Catholic Church is the one and only "Church" founded by Jesus Christ. The Eastern Orthodox churches have maintained the sacraments, and therefore they are like "sister churches" in a very real sense, even though unity with Rome is the only thing lacking to complete them. Protestant churches on the other hand, are not really "churches" at all, because they have not preserved the sacraments. They are in essence man-made artificial organizations. These man-made organizations tie together like-minded Christians, who are separated from communion with Rome, into cohesive communities that mimic the appearance of a church, but they are not a 'church' according to the theological and historical definition. Because of this, it is more appropriate to refer to Protestant churches as "communities" or "organizations." Roman Catholics would do well to think of these "communities" this way, and order our speech accordingly for the sake of clarity.

It is absolutely imperative that Catholics understand the gravity of the Church's teaching on this. The Catholic Church has ALWAYS taught that it is the one true Church of Christ, and outside of it there is no salvation. This statement from the Vatican CDF reaffirms that fully, and again stipulates that the Second Vatican Council was pastoral in nature -- changing not a single Church doctrine. Many Catholics have been misled by the modern "I'm okay, you're okay" philosophy of religious relativism. The papacy has NEVER embraced this idea. The Second Vatican Council NEVER condoned it. Many of us may have been taught that by our priests or religious instructors, but it doesn't change the fact that it's heresy. The Vatican has NEVER embraced Protestant organizations as "churches" on equal footing with the Catholic Church, and much to the chagrin of liberals, it never will.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has something to say about all of this, but it's important for us to understand how it's nuanced a certain way, so as to reaffirm the same teaching always taught by the Church.
Outside the Church there is no salvation

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

[emphasis added]

The key to this post-conciliar nuance is knowledge on the part of the Christian who refuses to enter the Catholic Church. What the Catechism is telling us is that if you're a Christian, and you KNOW Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church, and you REFUSE to enter it anyway, then you damn yourself to hell, because there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.

The situation for Protestants is a complicated one. They know of Jesus Christ. They accept his Lordship. They receive the forgiveness he offers on the cross. Most of them are baptized in the Trinitarian formula -- a sacrament Rome considers totally valid regardless of the Protestant community it was performed in. They pray to and worship Christ as God. They study the Scriptures and give of their treasure and talents to the work of God's Kingdom here on earth. The Catholic Church fully recognizes them as Christian "brethren," though separated from full and perfect communion. In these ways Protestants are "catholic" in the sense that they've already embraced so much of the Catholic Christian faith, that virtually the only thing lacking is a little education and the sacraments. One could say if the trip to Rome were 100 miles, most Protestants have already traveled 80 to 90 of them.

Yet here is the sticking point. Very few Protestants have ever willfully chosen to leave the Catholic Church. Yes, there are a few, but for the most part, the vast majority of Protestants were born into Protestant families and consequently that's all they've ever known. Even among those few who chose to leave the Catholic Church today, in favor of some Protestant denomination, one could easily argue that the reason why they left in the first place was because they were so poorly educated in Catholicism that they didn't truly understand what they were leaving behind. Because of this, the Church places no blame on those Christians separated from the Catholic Church, so long as their separation was through no fault of their own...
847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.

848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."
The Church still has the obligation and sacred right to evangelize. Why? Because it's pretty hard to be totally and completely without fault of your own. How many people do you know who are totally and completely without fault? Oh, I would venture to say that some of you may knew a few. Perhaps some of you may have small infants at home. Or maybe you know some adults who are mentally retarded and unable to communicate. These people certainly qualify as folks having no fault of their own. (When I say "fault" I don't mean sin, but rather blame.) Still, how many of you actually know some adults, who have all their faculties, that are totally and completely without fault? They may have sin in their lives, we all do, but that's not what I'm talking about. What I'm asking is who among them is ignorant of the gospel and the Church without fault of their own? Now we're starting to enter a grey area. Your Buddhist neighbor may be ignorant of the Gospel, and it may be through no fault of his own, but how can you be sure of that? You can't. You never could be. Technically speaking, you're not even qualified to say he is, even if you think you know. Only God is qualified to make that call. So what is your responsibility as a Catholic Christian then? Simple. EVANGELIZE! You don't know if your Buddhist neighbor is without fault in his ignorance of the gospel, and there is no way you could ever know. So the only thing you're qualified to do is tell him about it. Evangelize him! If he doesn't convert, that's fine because it's his choice, but you're still not qualified to tell if he's without fault. All you're qualified to do is tell them of your love for Christ and his Church, without stopping, and without judging them.

Now back to the Protestant question. What does Mother Church have to say to us specifically about them...
817 In fact, "in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame." The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ's Body - here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism - do not occur without human sin:

Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.

818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers .... All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."
Here we see the Church takes the case of the original Protestant "reformers" very seriously. These were educated men, who fully understood the potential consequences of their actions should they be in error. We would like to believe that they did not know they were in error. We would like to believe they did not fully understand what they were doing. Indeed, only God can judge. But all the evidence available to us seems to indicate a very damning case against them. The Council of Trent (AD 1545) pronounced anathema upon them and their doctrines. Even the softer and nuanced bishops of Vatican II could not disagree. The social, political and theological movements that spawned the original Protestant "Reformation" were damnable things, and those educated men who espoused them risked damnation of their souls, even by the standards of Vatican II.

Yet the Protestant movement did not end there. The damnable teachings of the "Reformation" fathers poisoned the minds of their followers against the Catholic Church - brainwashing Protestant children against her. Sometimes this was done maliciously with pure anti-catholic propaganda. Sometimes it was done more subtly, with the teaching of theological doctrines so inconsistent with Catholic teaching, that conversion back to Catholicism seemed impossible. Through the centuries Protestantism drifted so far away from it's Catholic roots, that Protestants themselves began to think of the Catholic Church as something totally foreign to them. Catholic worship itself became "strange" to them. Catholics became known as a "peculiar" people with "peculiar" customs that were totally foreign to the Protestant frame of mind. For example; while visiting Catholic churches, some Protestants (of the Evangelical persuasion) have been known to get up and walk out once they see incense burning in the procession. Why? Because it literally frightens them. They've never seen it before, and they don't know what to think of it. (This actually happened to a Baptist friend of mine. She saw the incense burning and made a straight line for the back door. I've since heard reports of this happening with other visiting Protestants.) It's odd that this would be the case, especially since the burning of incense is a totally Biblical practice, and Protestants pride themselves on following the Bible. Yet this is the reality of the situation we live in today. Can these Protestants be excused because their refusal to enter the Catholic Church is by no fault of their own? Perhaps, but it's not up to us to do the excusing. We're not qualified. Only God is. Our job is to evangelize and educate our "separated brethren" about the necessity of the Catholic Church in their "personal relationship with Jesus Christ."

In regards to the community organizations which were formed by Protestants, often called "churches," we must educate ourselves as to what they are, and where they came from. The original Protestants who separated themselves from the Catholic Church were completely unable to reunify themselves under a single banner. (That's because there is no Christian Unity outside the Catholic Church either.) So the regional governments of northern Europe stepped in to prevent confusion from spiraling downward into chaos. The original Protestant "churches" were state run. They were entities of the government, and they were organized upon nationality. These National "churches" were the forerunners to the original Protestant denominations we know today. For example, when the English came to North America, the state-run "Church of England" organized itself in the colonies as a Protestant 'denomination.' This was one way the English state asserted its influence (via religion) over the American colonists. Likewise, the state-run "Evangelical Church of Germany" did the same with the German immigrants to America via what became known as the "Lutheran" denomination. Throughout the centuries, Christians within the artificially state-run "churches" came to realize the problems associated with this. Some of them broke off to form new denominations, which were independent of state-run authority. As a result, they created new artificial governing bodies, to handle affairs within these new so-called "churches." Schism followed schism as century followed century, until we finally reached the current state of things in the Protestant world. At latest count, there are now some 20,000 individual Protestant denominations, affiliations and sects. Most Protestants today remain a part of the organizations they are familiar with, simply because they're afraid to try anything else. Who can blame them? Why would anyone want to do all the work it takes to determine which one (if any) of these 20,000 denominations is the right one? Most Protestants simply throw their hands up in the air on this one. As a result, a new doctrine has emerged in Protestant circles, which teaches that the true 'Church of Christ' is totally invisible, with no distinct head or body. As a result, nobody can truly know who is part of the invisible Church of Christ. It's all a mystery. Needless to say this is heresy, but it illustrates just how 'impossible' a task it is when Protestants try to rationalize the reason for so many communities, and so little unity.

As for these artificial organizations that like-minded Protestant communities create to govern themselves, Rome has never recognized them as anything more than that, and it never will. Catholics should do likewise. But in regards to these like-minded Protestant communities, the Catechism of the Catholic Church does have some important acknowledgments...
819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth" are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements." Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."

When the Catechism uses the word "Churches" it is referring to the Eastern Orthodox. But when it says "ecclesial communities" it is in reference to like-minded Protestant denominations, affiliations and sects. In them, the Catholic Church recognizes that God uses them as tools to bring people to the knowledge of Christ and to salvation. You will notice that while it acknowledges these communities as a "means of salvation," it does so only so far as its teachings agree with the Catholic Church. Thus the "power" these organizations have to bring people to salvation, is in actuality an extension of the Catholic Church's power, because the vital teachings Protestant communities rely on (Bible, Trinity, Incarnation, Justification, Sanctification, Baptism, etc.) originally come from the Catholic Church, and are in full agreement with the Catholic Church. They are in essence, arms of Catholic influence, outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church. So in a very real way, if a Protestant comes to salvation, he does so because of how well he was influenced by Catholic teachings, some of which may have come through his Protestant denomination. So it can truly be said that outside the Catholic Church (or her sphere of influence) there is no salvation.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

FREE AT LAST: Tridentine Mass Liberated!

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THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: After having been repressed for nearly 40 years, the Mass of Saint Pius V (commonly known as the "Tridentine Mass" or "Classical Latin Mass") has been liberated by Pope Benedict XVI - formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. For over three decades, the vast majority of Catholics around the world have been under the false impression that the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II: 1962-1965) dispensed of the old mass (Tridentine) and replaced it with the new mass (commonly known as the "Novus Ordo" or "Mass of Pope Paul VI"). Not so! Vatican officials have in recent years repeatedly said the old rite was never abolished, and can still be celebrated anywhere in the world, with the permission of the local bishop. The late Pope John Paul II issued his own Motu Proprio regarding this same matter on July 2, 1988, establishing the norms for how this takes place.

However, it would appear that in most diocese throughout the world, particularly the United States, many bishops simply ignored Pope John Paul II and refused to grant permission to celebrate the Tridentine mass when it was respectfully requested by the faithful. The seriousness of this problem led to the alienation of many Catholics from their historic roots, and the rapid growth of a semi-schismatic group known as the "Society of St. Pius X" (SSPX). The SSPX currently operates outside the canonical structures of the Roman Catholic Church, celebrates the Tridentine mass exclusively, and totally rejects the reforms of Vatican II. The Motu Proprio issued by Pope Benedict XVI today, entitled Summorum Pontificum (which means "Of the Supreme Pontiffs"), builds upon Pope John Paul II's decision to permit greater freedom and latitude for the Tridentine mass. It does so by insisting that all local bishops grant permission for the faithful to celebrate the Tridentine mass, and if a bishop is unable to comply, the faithful have recourse to the pontifical commission of Ecclesia Dei, which will endeavor to "help" that bishop with this problem.

Over the last three decades, the Tridentine mass has become something of an anathema to liberals within the Church, many of whom find it intolerable. Usually those most hostile toward the old mass, also tend to be those most permissive toward fanciful innovations and liturgical abuse within the new mass. The liberal mindset follows the modernist presumption that Vatican II dispensed of the old Catholic Church, and created an entirely new one where "anything goes." The introduction of the Novus Ordo mass in 1970, along with the simultaneous repression of the Tridentine mass, unfortunately served to fuel this false presumption for decades.

Therefore this papal decision sends a virtual "death blow" to the liberal ideology of liturgical innovation and the modernist influence over the mass. Thus allowing the tide of historic Catholic tradition to flood back into the Church, the local congregation, and every individual Catholic willing to receive it. This restoration of the Tridentine mass is sure to exert a "gravitational pull" on the Novus Ordo. By that, I mean the Novus Ordo (commonly celebrated in the vernacular languages) is bound to come into greater continuity with the historic traditions and customs of the old Tridentine mass. Over time the two will remain distinct, but the continuity between them will be more obvious. Many of the customs and traditions of the Catholic mass, which were never intended to be thrown out, will slowly return to the Novus Ordo. This is part of Pope Benedict XVI's greater plan of liturgical renewal. Such a scenario may be intolerable to hard-core liberals, and because of that, we might expect to see a small exodus. However, Pope Benedict's intent is to put an end to disputes over the mass, and restore tranquility to the liturgical scene. His accompanying four-page letter chides hot tempers on both sides of the debate, calling for peace and harmony as both traditional and contemporary Catholics learn from each other, recognizing that no harm can come from historic traditions that have always been observed. He calls contemporary Catholics to greater fidelity to the authorized rubrics of the Novus Ordo mass. Furthermore, he insists that both masses (old and new) are part of the same Roman Rite, and that no rupture exists between them. A new vocabulary is called for in referring to the two masses. For the Novus Ordo is now to be referred to as the "Ordinary" form of the Roman Rite, while the Tridentine is to be called the "Extraordinary" form of the Roman Rite. (This blogger will henceforth attempt to honor the pope's request.)

There is an ancient Catholic maxim that says; "As the Church worships, so it believes, and so it behaves." In other words, worship shapes faith and behavior. The return of historic tradition, both in the revival of the Extraordinary form of the mass, and it's gravitational pull on the Ordinary form of the mass, has leveled the playing field. The traditional arm of the Church can now operate freely to effect the "reform of the reform" sought by Pope Benedict XVI. This is a pivotal moment in post-conciliar history. A fatal blow has been dealt to the liberals corrupting the Catholic Church and twisting the meaning of Vatican II. Today is "D-Day!" What Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio did today was the equivalent of the Normandy invasion in the liturgical sense. The liberal war on our historic Catholic Tradition is far from over, but today we have seen the "beginning of the end." Historic Catholic Tradition has finally been reintroduced to the Church in the revived Extraordinary form of the mass, and with it, the Ordinary form will soon be elevated to its intended glory. All of these things can only serve to make both the clergy and the laity more conservative, more orthodox and ultimately more Catholic.

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