Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More African-Americans Are Turning To Eastern Orthodoxy

Many black Christians join move to Orthodox traditions

After a lifetime in traditional black churches, Robert Aaron Mitchell discovered the sights, smells, sounds and ancient traditions of the Orthodox church.

"I discovered Orthodoxy while I was on the Internet one day back in 2001, and I was so drawn to it that I had to go attend a liturgy," Mitchell says. "I had no frame of reference for these traditions, but suddenly, I felt like this void was filling in my life. I felt like I was finally coming home."

Mitchell, 48, a project manager for AT&T in Detroit, is among a small but growing number of black Americans, many of them professionals, who are joining Orthodox churches. That's the branch of Christianity that split with Rome about 1,000 years ago and is known for colorful icons and the ethnic traditions it preserves in religious customs.

The attraction, Mitchell says, lies in discovering that for thousands of years, Africans played a vital role in the Orthodox world.

The Rev. Moses Berry, an Orthodox priest and pastor of Theotokos "Unexpected Joy" Orthodox Mission, Ash Grove, Mo., began his career as a Protestant preacher, a family tradition reaching back into the 1800s. Then, in 1983, he visited an Orthodox church in Atlanta and was so moved that he retrained to become a priest in the Orthodox Church in America. He also helped to organize the coalition of clergy, scholars and lay leaders coming to Detroit.

"Reconnecting with the Orthodox tradition connects us with the earliest Christian traditions," Berry says. "It means that, when our ancestors were brought here as slaves, they didn't arrive here with just a collection of tribal religions. They didn't all discover Christianity here. In fact, many Africans already were part of the ancient Christian church."

That was especially true for Africans with roots in the eastern part of the continent, Laike-Mariam Misikir, 50, says. An automotive engineer from Ann Arbor, Mich., Misikir is from a family of Orthodox priests that extends back many centuries in Ethiopia. In Detroit, Misikir serves as a subdeacon, assisting priests during liturgies...

read full story here

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Talk about getting in touch with your roots -- wow! This is really good news, because ancient African Christianity is so rich in tradition and culture. It makes sense that African-Americans would be attracted to this. It makes a lot more sense than the 'black Muslim' movement we saw back in the 1960s. Africans were Orthodox Christian long before Islam came along. The first black Christians were baptized way back in the middle first century. (It's actually recorded in the Bible -- Acts 8:26-39.) While the first black Muslims didn't come along until six-hundred years later. In fact, many Africans were worshipping the one true God, with dignity and beauty, while northern Europeans were still worshipping the sun, moon and trees. That's just a matter of historical fact. Northern Europe wasn't evangelized by Christianity until the middle 5th century. So there is a lot of cultural recovery to be gained by African-Americans returning to their Christian roots in Africa. The dignity and beauty of the Eastern Orthodox liturgy is second to none. Only the traditional Latin mass of Catholicism comes close, and even then there is some debate. I sincerely hope this movement takes off. It would be a wonderful thing.
The Brotherhood of St Moses the Black is a pan-Orthodox nonprofit organization. Its mission is to minister to Americans the gift of Orthodoxy. In an effort to be good stewards of the manifold grace of God (I Peter 4:10), the organization presents an annual conference that targets those who have little exposure to Orthodoxy as well as the African roots of Orthodoxy. Its vision is to bring Americans closer to Jesus Christ.
Links to Orthodox Churches in the United States:

Monday, October 26, 2009

America Is A Masonic Nation

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: I always get a chuckle when I hear Evangelicals tell me that the United States of America was founded as a "Christian nation." No, I tell them, that's what it was BEFORE the American Revolution, when the colonies were ruled by a Protestant Christian king. After the Revolution, the colonies ceased to be Christian, and became the world's first Masonic nation! Granted, America's founding fathers were cooperative with Christians, mainly because they had to be, but don't think for one second that those same founding fathers had any intention of America keeping any trace of a Christian form of government. The founding fathers agreed that the moral foundations of religion were useful in building the country, but they kept it strictly to a moral understanding of the Christian religion, as all good Masons do. The idea of American government actually recognizing the real authority of any particular Church was repugnant to them. Of course, most repugnant to them was the Catholic Church, which the founding fathers were determined to keep in it's place. Need I remind my readers that following the American Revolution, Catholics suffered some of their greatest indignities at the hands of those who claimed the highest loyalty to the U.S. Constitution and the American Revolution.

Freemasons don't rule America in the literal sense, like a king might rule his subjects, but they do rule America in principle. In fact, the United States was founded on Freemasonry, and thus it is the world's first Masonic Nation. The idea being that Freemasons rule America through it's system of government, designed and ordered through Masonic principles. The idea of democratic republicanism (popularly and incorrectly referred to simply as "democracy") is Masonic in origin, a product of the Enlightenment era, which opposes Christian monarchy, the foundation of western civilization.

I want to make this very clear. Western civilization was founded on Christian monarchy. Kings and queens were subject to the ecclesiastical authority of the Catholic Church, which had both the power to coronate them and excommunicate them. By coronating them, the Church gave them power. By excommunicating them, the Church diminished their power, and sometimes dethroned them entirely. Thus western civilization was ruled by a Christian system of government during the middle ages. It was only after the Protestant Reformation that we start to see significant problems with these monarchies, which of course gave birth to the Enlightenment era and the rise of the Freemasons. The Freemasons in turn toppled the monarchies, or at the very least diminished their authority, thus giving us democratic republicanism.

The problem with democratic republicanism, besides it being an unChristian form of government derived from ancient Pagan principles, is that it always leads to socialism. We can see this in various degrees in democracies throughout the world, and even here in the United States, which continually slides deeper into socialist rule.

Many Catholic Americans don't understand the intrinsically anti-Catholic nature of Freemasonry. You have to understand that in America, Freemasonry has already accomplished most of it's goals. The government is totally Freemason. The democratic road to socialism is well underway, and nothing less than a total collapse of Washington DC can change this. Therefore, there is no need for Freemasons to work so hard in the United States. Most of their work is already finished. The primary function of most American Freemasons is now mainly fundraising, to help spread Masonic ideas around the world. In Europe Freemasonry takes on a much more openly anti-Catholic role, as it continually tries to undermine the influence of the Catholic Church there.

Married Priests In The Catholic Church

A Married Priest With His Wife And Children

(Rorate Caeli) - Very interesting answers in this lengthy interview granted by the leader of the Traditional Anglican Communion, Primate John Hepworth, to The Australian Inquirer...

Married Priests:
Inquirer: How do the Pope's proposals mesh the Latin celibate discipline for all clergy with Anglicanism's longstanding acceptance of married priests and bishops?

JH: Bishops in the new Anglican structure will be unmarried. This is out of respect for the tradition of Eastern and Western Christianity. But priests who come from Anglicanism will be able to serve as priests in the new structure, whether married or not, after satisfying certain requirements. The truly radical element is that married men will be able to be ordained priests in the Anglican structure indefinitely into the future...

read full story here
THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: The concept of married Catholic priests (under the Anglican Ordinariates) poses no threat to my Traditional Catholic sensibilities whatsoever, and here is the reason why. The Catholic Church has had married priests in the United States for literally DECADES! The first class come from former protestant ministers, usually Anglican, already married who seek to become Catholic priests. In most cases, the Church has granted this. The second class is this...
(PG News) - Saturday, October 02, 1999
By Ann Rodgers-Melnick, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The Vatican has cautiously opened the door to the ordination of married men as Byzantine Catholic priests in the United States.

The change comes as the Metropolitan Byzantine Archdiocese of Pittsburgh prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary tomorrow at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. But the new law is not a full return to the church's practice of 75 years ago, when Rome's permission was not needed.

A set of newly approved canon laws for the archdiocese permits bishops to submit the names of married candidates to Rome for approval on a case-by-case basis....

read full story here
Here we see that Rome has allowed married men in the United States to become Byzantine Catholic priests for exactly ten years now. All of this comes with no shock or disruption to the Catholic Church in North America. The key here is rites. By that I mean liturgical rites. In the western world we are most familiar with the Roman Rite, however the Catholic Church actually consists of many rites. There are four primary rites in the Catholic Church, all of them recognizing the Bishop of Rome as the sovereign pontiff. Each primary rite has other rites that may have sprang forth from it, but primary rites form the main groups. These four primaries are the Roman Rite, Antiochian Rite, Alexandrian Rite and Byzantine Rite. All of them are 100% Catholic. All of them are in full apostolic communion with the pope (who is head of the Roman Rite). All of them make up the Catholic Church. Yet only one of them has mandated celibacy of all it's clerics, and that is the Roman Rite.

Celibacy has always been practiced in Christianity by those who were able to practice it. Jesus Christ himself was celibate, as was the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Paul, the apostle who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament. St. Paul encouraged celibacy among all those clergy who were able to practice it. However, the first pope, St. Peter, was married, as were a number of bishops in the early Catholic Church. Christianity has always placed high value on both marriage and celibacy as two different ways of practicing chastity. Though celibacy was preferred among the clergy as a way of fostering total devotion to care of the Christian flock. As St. Paul put it, the married man strives to please God and his wife, while the celibate man strives only to please God. It wasn't until the early second millennium (1100's) that celibacy was mandated of all clerics exclusively in the Roman Rite. This mandate did not apply to other rites within the Catholic Church. Any charge that the Catholic Church banned marriage from all clergy is spurious to say the least, as married Catholic men have always been allowed to become priests in the other Catholic rites. However, it had been the custom within all rites for some time to restrict the office of bishop to celibate men alone. This is not to say that a married man couldn't be a bishop. It's just that it hasn't been the custom of any Catholic rite to allow this for some time, and that is not likely to change.

The crisis that erupted in the Protestant Anglican Communion during the late 1970s led some Anglican clergy to seek refuge in the Catholic Church, and among them were married Anglican priests. So in the early 1980s, Pope John Paul II created a "Pastoral Provision" in the Roman Rite that would allow married Anglican priests to be ordained as Roman Catholic priests and continue to practice their Anglican customs. This was essentially an experiment to see if married clergy (operating under an "Anglican Use" pastoral provision) would coexist well among a predominately celibate priesthood within the Roman Rite. The experiment proved to be a success, in that these married priests proved to be just as faithful and devoted as celibate priests within their limited capacity as married men. Ironically, they often proved to be more conservative, more orthodox, and more traditional than the average number of celibate priests throughout the United States. This is not to say that marriage makes one more conservative, orthodox or traditional, but rather demonstrates that marriage does not in any way detract from these things. In other words, married men make just as good priests as celibate men, thought admittedly, married men do not have as much time for their priestly duties. So if you're looking for quantity of ministry, celibacy is definitely the way to go, but if you're looking for quality of ministry, there really is no measurable difference between married and celibate.

As the Anglican Ordinariates are organized and grow, we can expect a larger number of married Catholic priests operating under this pastoral provision of the Roman Rite. What does that mean? Well in essence, it means the Catholic priesthood will be much more accessible to married men in the years ahead. Granted, it's always been available through the eastern rites, but this is the first time in a thousand years when it will be widely available to Catholic men in the Roman Rite (under Anglican Ordinariates). In practical application however, I wouldn't expect a flood of married men applying to the priesthood. There are still many strictures that make the priesthood difficult for married men even under an Anglican Ordinariate. For starters, probably the biggest obstacle is money. Married men tend to need a lot more of it then celebrate men, and the Church is not likely to provide a higher salary to married priests at risk of discrimination against celibate priests. So married priests will have to work on the side to bring home the bacon, now splitting his obligation three ways between ministry, family and job. Either that, or his wife is going to have to go out and work. However, a married priest would be just as obligated to obey the Church's teachings on contraception, so he is likely to have at least a few children and possibly more. That being the case, we're talking about more money and less time for ministry. All and all, the Church is getting less bang for it's buck with married priests, and I'm sure that played a role in the Church's initial decision to mandate celibacy in the Roman Rite nearly a thousand years ago.

I should point out that this is just one pastoral provision within the Roman Rite. It is not the entire Roman Rite itself. In many ways, the whole Anglophone world has just become a laboratory. It's a repeat of the experiment done with Anglican Use priests in the United States thirty years ago, but this time on a much grander scale. It doesn't apply to the Spanish-speaking world on the same level, nor the French-speaking world, etc. It mainly applies to the English-speaking (Anglophone) world and who knows where it will lead? One thing is certain. English speaking Catholics have been clamoring for married priests for decades. Now they're going to get it, though perhaps not the way they expected, and certainly with no hint of sacrificing traditional Catholic orthodoxy.  If anything, they should expect incoming married priests to be more traditional and conservative than many of their celibate counterparts.  At least that's what the trend has been so far.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Weakness of Democracy

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: "It is the natural progression of all representative government to inch toward socialism and tyranny." Yes, you can quote me on that. Indeed there are short periods of time when things move too fast, and the people temporarily return to their traditional sensibilities, but this is only a setback. It doesn't last. In time the steady march toward socialism and tyranny will continue. This is the lesson of the last 100 years.
(Screwtape Proposes a Toast, 1959) - Hidden in the heart of this striving for Liberty there was also a deep hatred of personal freedom. That invaluable man Rousseau first revealed it. In his perfect democracy, you remember, only the state religion is permitted, slavery is restored, and the individual is told that he has really willed (though he didn’t know it) whatever the Government tells him to do. From that starting point, via Hegel (another indispensable propagandist on our side) we easily contrived both the Nazi and the Communist state….

Democracy is the word with which you must lead them by the nose…. [T]hey should never be allowed to give this word a clear and definable meaning. They won’t. It will never occur to them that democracy is properly the name of a political system, even a system of voting, and that this has only the most remote and tenuous connection with what you are trying to sell them. Nor of course must they ever be allowed to raise Aristotle’s question: whether “democratic behaviour” means the behaviour that democracies like or the behaviour that will preserve a democracy. For if they did, it could hardly fail to occur to them that these need not be the same.

You are to use the word purely as an incantation; if you like, purely for its selling power. It is a name they venerate. And of course it is connected with the political ideal that men should be equally treated. You then make a stealthy transition in their minds from this political ideal to a factual belief that all men are equal…. As a result you can use the word democracy to sanction in his thought the most degrading (and also the least enjoyable) of human feelings. You can get him to practise, not only without shame but with a positive glow of self-approval, conduct which, if undefended by the magic word, would be universally derided.

The feeling I mean is of course that which prompts a man to say I’m as good as you….

No man who says I’m as good as you believes it. He would not say it if he did. The St. Bernard never says it to the toy dog, nor the scholar to the dunce, nor the employable to the bum, nor the pretty woman to the plain. The claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior. What it expresses is precisely the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept.

And therefore resents. Yes, and therefore resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it; wishes its annihilation. Presently he suspects every mere difference of being a claim to superiority…. “They’ve no business to be different. It’s undemocratic.”

Now, this useful phenomenon is in itself by no means new. Under the name of Envy it has been known to humans for thousands of years. But hitherto they always regarded it as the most odious, and also the most comical, of vices. Those who were aware of feeling it felt it with shame; those who were not gave it no quarter in others. The delightful novelty of the present situation is that you can sanction it — make it respectable and even laudable — by the incantatory use of the word democratic.

Under the influence of this incantation those who are in any or every way inferior can labour more wholeheartedly and successfully than ever before to pull down everyone else to their own level. But that is not all. Under the same influence, those who come, or could come, nearer to a full humanity, actually draw back from fear of being undemocratic…. They might (horror of horrors!) become individuals….

Meanwhile, as a delightful by-product, the few (fewer every day) who will not be made Normal or Regular and Like Folks and Integrated increasingly become in reality the prigs and cranks which the rabble would in any case have believed them to be. For suspicion often creates what it expects…. As a result we now have an intelligentsia which, though very small, is very useful to the cause of Hell.

But that is a mere by-product. What I want to fix your attention on is the vast, overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence – moral, cultural, social, or intellectual. And is it not pretty to notice how “democracy” (in the incantatory sense) is now doing for us the work that was once done by the most ancient Dictatorships, and by the same methods?…

Once you have grasped the tendency, you can easily predict its future developments; especially as we ourselves will play our part in the developing. The basic principle of the new education is to be that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be “undemocratic.” These differences between pupils – for they are obviously and nakedly individual differences – must be disguised. This can be done at various levels. At universities, examinations must be framed so that nearly all the students get good marks. Entrance examinations must be framed so that all, or nearly all, citizens can go to universities, whether they have any power (or wish) to profit by higher education or not. At schools, the children who are too stupid or lazy to learn languages and mathematics and elementary science can be set to doing things that children used to do in their spare time…. Whatever nonsense they are engaged in must have – I believe the English already use the phrase – “parity of esteem”…. Children who are fit to proceed to a higher class may be artificially kept back, because the others would get a trauma…by being left behind. The bright pupil thus remains democratically fettered to his own age group throughout his school career….

In a word, we may reasonably hope for the virtual abolition of education when I’m as good as you has fully had its way. All incentives to learn and all penalties for not learning will be prevented; who are they to overtop their fellows? And anyway the teachers – or should I say, nurses? – will be far too busy reassuring the dunces and patting them on the back to waste any time on real teaching. We shall no longer have to plan and toil to spread imperturbable conceit and incurable ignorance among men. The little vermin themselves will do it for us.

Of course, this would not follow unless all education became state education. But it will. That is part of the same movement. Penal taxes, designed for that purpose, are liquidating the Middle Class, the class who were prepared to save and spend and make sacrifices in order to have their children privately educated. The removal of this class, besides linking up with the abolition of education, is, fortunately, an inevitable effect of the spirit that says I’m as good as you. This was, after all, the social group which gave to the humans the overwhelming majority of their scientists, physicians, philosophers, theologians, poets, artists, composers, architects, jurists, and administrators. If ever there were a bunch of stalks that needed their tops knocked off, it was surely they. As an English politician remarked not long ago, “A democracy does not want great men.”

We, in Hell, would welcome the disappearance of democracy in the strict sense of that word, the political arrangement so called. Like all forms of government, it often works to our advantage, but on the whole less often than other forms. And what we must realize is that “democracy” in the diabolical sense (I’m as good as you, Being Like Folks, Togetherness) is the fittest instrument we could possibly have for extirpating political democracies from the face of the earth.

For “democracy” or the “democratic spirit” (diabolical sense) leads to a nation without great men, a nation mainly of subliterates, full of the cocksureness which flattery breeds on ignorance, and quick to snarl or whimper at the first sign of criticism. And that is what Hell wishes every democratic people to be. For when such a nation meets in conflict a nation where children have been made to work at school, where talent is placed in high posts, and where the ignorant mass are allowed no say at all in public affairs, only one result is possible….

It is our function to encourage the behaviour, the manners, the whole attitude of mind, which democracies naturally like and enjoy, because these are the very things which, if unchecked, will destroy democracy. You would almost wonder that even humans don’t see it themselves. Even if they don’t read Aristotle (that would be undemocratic) you would have thought the French Revolution would have taught them that the behaviour aristocrats naturally like is not the behaviour that preserves aristocracy. They might then have applied the same principle to all forms of government….

The overthrow of free peoples and the multiplication of slave states are for us a means (besides, of course, being fun); but the real end is the destruction of individuals. For only individuals can be saved or damned, can become sons of the Enemy or food for us. The ultimate value, for us, of any revolution, war, or famine lies in the individual anguish, treachery, hatred, rage, and despair which it may produce. I’m as good as you is a useful means for the destruction of democratic societies. But it has a far deeper value as an end in itself, as a state of mind which, necessarily excluding humility, charity, contentment, and all the pleasures of gratitude or admiration, turns a human being away from almost every road which might finally lead him to Heaven.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sola Scriptura Debunked

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Sola Scriptura (Latin for "Scripture Alone") is the Protestant belief that the Bible is the sole authority on all religious matters, and there is no other authority outside of the Bible. It was invented nearly five-hundred years ago by the German Protestant founder, and heretical Augustinian monk, Martin Luther. The doctrine is pure heresy! It is both illogical and unbiblical. It is also the foundation of most Protestant religions, in particular modern Evangelical Fundamentalism. It's become so much a part of Evangelical Fundamentalism that it's frequently taken for granted, even to the point where most Evangelicals are now unfamiliar with the phrase "Sola Scriptura." If you encounter this, and the Evangelical you're speaking with is not familiar with the phrase "Sola Scriptura," simply tell him it's the Protestant "Bible Alone" doctrine, which states that every religious belief must be found in the Bible. He will understand what you're talking about then, since that's been taught to him from a very early age.

Nowhere can Sola Scriptura be found in the Sacred Scriptures. In fact, the Bible says quite the opposite. I repeat. There is no Scripture in the entire Bible that supports this heretical notion of Sola Scriptura. To refute this doctrine you must first understand this, because Protestants will insist on it quite emphatically. It is after all the foundation of their entire religion. Without it - well - they might as well be Catholic, and a good number of Evangelical Protestants know this. That's why they'll defend it tooth and nail, even to the point of getting hostile. But if a Catholic is to win the debate with charity, he must stick to it, not letting the Protestant deviate from the topic. That will be their natural tendency you see. They'll try to level every anti-Catholic allegation in the book at you, whatever it takes, just to get off this topic. It's very uncomfortable to them. You can't let this happen. You must charitably seize control of the debate by letting them know you can't answer any of their questions or concerns about Catholicism until they first provide you with Biblical evidence for Sola Scriptura. To do this, you'll need to know just a few things.

First, memorize the following Scripture passages....
2nd Thessalonians 2:15
Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.

2nd Timothy 2:2
And what you heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well.

1st Corinthians 11:2
I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you.

1st Timothy 3:15
But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.
Second, don't be surprised if the Evangelical you're conversing with throws back a few Scripture passages of his own. You don't need to memorize these, just know how to deal with them. Typically the one they'll use most often is...
2nd Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
When confronted with this passage, or something similar, assure them that Catholics agree with this 100%, but note the passages specifically says "All Scripture" not "Only Scripture." There is a difference here. Typically Protestants interpret this passage as if it said "only," and that's why they're quoting it to you. You need to point out that is not what the passage says. It says "all" which in no way excludes the authority of Apostolic Tradition or the teaching authority of the Church. Then go back to the verses you memorized above, and ask them again to provide Biblical evidence supporting Sola Scriptura.

Another common passage used is this one...
Revelation 22:18-19
For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the Holy City, and from the things which are written in this book.
This one is frequently used as a kind of condemnation against the Catholic Church. The implication of course is that the Church has "added" to the Scriptures with her Traditions, and therefore has violated this passage. However, that is a defunct argument, because the passage clearly condemns adding and subtracting words from the Scriptures. In other words the passage condemns anyone who would alter the text of the Bible. The Catholic Church has done no such thing. It's never done anything like this. If anything the Church has been the greatest guardian of the Sacred Scriptures there ever was. If anything, it is the original Protestants who would fall under the curse of this passage, simply because they DID alter the text. In the 16th century, the so-called Protestant "Reformers" threw seven books out of the Old Testament, and cut several chapters out of the Old Testament books of Daniel and Esther, namely because these books didn't agree with their new "reformed" theology. This is why Protestant Bibles are different from Catholic Bibles. Protestant Bibles have been edited, truncated and shortened to fit Protestant theology.

It is possible you may run across a well schooled Evangelical, who might pull out a slightly more obscure Scripture passage. This one has stumped a lot of Catholics. Again, there is no need to memorize it, just be sure you know how to deal with it if it's used...
1st Corinthians 4:6 - NIV
Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.
Now on this surface this looks like a slam dunk for the Evangelical. The passage clearly says "do not go beyond what is written," seemingly a perfect defense for the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Or is it? Take a look at the translation notation next to the passage citation above. NIV stands for "New International Version," which is one favorite Bible translation for Protestants. Indeed, a good number of Protestant Bibles translate the passage this way, and sadly even some Catholic Bibles, but is that really what the passage says? The actual Greek for this phrase is "me phroneo hoper hina hos grapho" (phonetically spelled here), which literally translates into "not to set affection above that which is described." Now here the context of the passage becomes really important, because the context of the passage is about men - not Scripture. St. Paul is warning the Corinthians not to take pride in one man over against another. This has nothing to do with Sola Scriptura. What we have here is a bad English translation of the passage, that does not pick up on the context. St. Paul is using a figure of speech to warn against pride. While it's nice to know all of this, I wouldn't expect you to remember it on the fly, so just do this instead. Take note of the above passage. If an Evangelical tries to use it on you, to prove Sola Scriptura, just tell him to read it again in the OLD King James Version...
1st Corinthians 4:6 - KJV
And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
So you see, when the passage is properly translated, as it is here, it doesn't prove anything - certainly not Sola Scriptura! Since Evangelical Protestants usually consider the old King James Version one of the most authoritative translations in the Protestant world, it's going to be hard for them to refute this one. While you're at it, you also might want to point out that the original 1611 edition of the old King James Version happened to contain all the "additional books" found in Catholic Bibles, and they remained part of the old King James Version until the late 1800s, when they were removed for some mysterious reason. However, if your Evangelical friend wants an authentic and complete King James Bible, with all the original books, he can special order one through Amazon.Com. Just tell him to search for "King James Bible 1611." That is unless he likes having a truncated and censored version of the Scriptures.

Third, when dealing with Evangelicals, it's important to stress how important the Scriptures are to Catholics, and that everything we do in the Catholic Church revolves around them. However, it is the Church that is the "pillar and foundation of truth" not the Bible, because that's what the Bible says about the Church (refer to memorized passage above). Therefore, the Church uses Apostolic Tradition to help interpret the Scriptures, just as the Scriptures instructed (again refer to memorized passages above). Granted, I wouldn't expect you (or anyone) to remember all of this after just one reading. That's why you should probably email this blog entry to yourself, or print out a hard copy to study.

Fourth and finally, followup is important. You don't want your Protestant friend to get away and forget everything you've told him. Besides, he may want to look up those passages you cited, but forgot to write them down. That's where a followup tract comes in handy. I recommend you order the following tract from GrottoPress.Org. Just buy as many as you can afford. They're pretty cheap...

Order Here

This little tract won't contain all the information I've provided here, but it does cite some of the passages we've covered, and has a pretty concise message to it. It will make an excellent followup to any conversation you have with an Evangelical (or any Protestant) on the topic of Sola Scriptura. I recommend you buy some, and keep them in your pocket, purse, car or anywhere you can reach them at a moment's notice.

Remember, it's important to keep your Evangelical friends on topic. Focus on Sola Scriptura like a laser beam. Don't let them get you onto anything else until that issue is settled. It's not settled until they come to the painful realization that what they've been taught about the Bible is wrong. This probably won't happen easily, and it may not even happen right away. Remember, charity means patience. Be firm, but give them time to absorb this difficult information. It will turn their world upside down, and that's why they resist it so much. However, it's reasonable to assume that some of your Evangelical friends will eventually come to terms with the truth, and when they do, they'll be back. When they've finally accepted that Sola Scriptura is unbiblical, then they are ready to talk about the other questions and concerns they have about Catholicism. So while you're waiting, you had better start studying up on your Catechism, and get ready to answer some tough questions, because you'll have a new convert on the way.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

New English Mass Translation In 2011

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: For the last four years, The Catholic Knight blog has been preparing it's readers for the coming liturgical reform of Pope Benedict XVI. At times it seemed like the coming reform was so far away. At times it seemed like it would never come. NOW IT IS UPON US!

Starting in Advent of 2011, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will promulgate the new English translation of the Roman Missal, which has been in the works since the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, and mandated for immediate implementation by Pope Benedict XVI. You can learn more about the new Missal translation HERE at this official website put out by the USCCB. The website is designed to prepare the laity for the coming changes, as they will be quite profound. In reality, the official mass is not changing at all. The mass stays the same. What is changing is our English translation of it. The problem with our previous translation is that it wasn't a true translation of the original Latin text at all. It was more or less a paraphrase or what they call "dynamic equivalent." Many Latin scholars would disagree with the latter, saying there was nothing "equivalent" about it. They would contend the previous English translation was in actuality a watered-down butchering of the original Latin liturgy. Most Latin-English scholars agree this new translation is far superior, and a much more accurate rendering of the original Latin text.

The effect of our previous English translation on liturgical celebrations in the United States has been quite profound. In many parishes, what was once a solemn and dignified act of worship has degenerated into banal entertainment that often produces abusive innovations that are far from what the Holy See intended with the promulgation of the New Missal back in 1969. In most parishes throughout the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia, time-honored customs (with Biblical origins) were completely thrown by the wayside. This included everything from the veiling of women to kneeling for communion. Altar rails were torn out of churches, high altars were deconstructed, the use of bells and incense was all but forgotten. Some parishes even removed the kneelers! None of this was intended by Vatican II. A simple reading of the Vatican II documents will reveal that. Pope Paul VI, who oversaw the promulgation of the New Missal in 1969-70, would have never imagined such radical changes could occur in forty years time. Furthermore, it is doubtful that he was even aware of the deficiency of the English translation that accompanied it. Pope John Paul I never had the opportunity to do anything about it, having only reigned for a month before his untimely death. We know that Pope John Paul II deplored it and ordered it's reform. We also know that a letter to the USCCB from Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate referred to it as "defective" and revoked permission for the US Catholic Church to continue using it. That was back in 2006. It is now 2009, and the USCCB has announced the anticipated changes will be coming in Advent of 2011.

With the coming liturgical changes a golden opportunity now presents itself for Catholics to take back what was lost of our glorious Catholic tradition over the last forty years. The Catholic Knight is calling all his readers to a LITURGICAL RENEWAL CRUSADE!

This is how we'll do it...
  1. Familiarize yourself with the coming new English translation of the mass.
  2. Prepare your heart to kneel for communion, and receive in the mouth, once the new translation is implement in your parish. It is best to familiarize yourself with the spiritual principles behind this, and understand that you have the support of the Holy Father, and know that every bishop and priest in the world has already been instructed by the Holy Father to make accommodations.

  3. Be mindful of proper liturgical rubrics for the laity. For example; the laity are not supposed to hold hands during the "Our Father." The time for personal contact with fellow parishioners is during the sign of peace. Personal contact with fellow parishioners during the "Our Father" is not technically permitted in the rubrics of the mass, and distracts from the true contact of unity we have in the Eucharist. Nor are we supposed to mimic the gestures of the priest during the liturgy. The only exception to this is when the laity mimics the priest as he crosses his forehead, lips and heart during the reading of the gospel. This is permissible. Otherwise, the laity should only cross themselves when appropriate, and keep their hands in prayer position at all other times. Mimicking the priest at the wrong time only distracts other parishioners, and takes the focus off important things in the mass.
  4. Men, women and children should prepare to dress modestly for mass. Tank-tops, flip-flops, short-shorts, etc. are completely unacceptable for the solemn celebration of the mass. The laity should prepare themselves by reviewing the standards of Mary modesty.
  5. Women should prepare for the special graces that accompany those who veil their heads for mass and all forms of public prayer. This is a Biblical custom of the Church which has NEVER been revoked. There is an entire spirituality that goes along with this, which men are not allowed to participate in. Indeed they physically CANNOT participate in. It is a spirituality that belongs exclusively to the female Christian. You should familiarize yourself with this, lest you miss out and deprive yourself of these magnificent graces.

Those who implement these five steps at the institution of the new liturgy will not only increase their spiritual participation in the mass, but will do much to effect the liturgical reform in the U.S. Catholic Church the Holy Father so eagerly desires. In review these five steps are...
  1. Learn the new English translation of the mass.
  2. Kneel for communion (if physically able) and receive in the mouth.
  3. Cease mimicking the priest except when the rubrics allow, and stop holding hands at the "Our Father."
  4. Dress modestly.
  5. Women should veil in accordance with female spirituality and receive the special graces associated with it.
The time for mental, emotional and spiritual preparation is NOW! The time for implementation is as soon as the new translation of the liturgy is promulgated in the U.S. Catholic Church.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pope Calls Upon ALL Catholics - "Kneel For Communion"

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: The directives have already been issued, the example has been set, the call has been made. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, is calling upon all Catholic laity to boldly and obediently kneel for communion, and receive on the tongue, regardless of what the normal practices are in your local parish. Future decrees on this may be made public at a future date, but the Holy Father is calling upon the lay faithful to begin acting now. No priest or bishop has the authority to stop you, lecture you, or deny you communion for this. From now on, anyone who kneels before the Blessed Sacrament, and receives on the tongue, is not only showing proper adoration to our Eucharistic Lord, but is also demonstrating obedience to the Holy Father. Of course, people with physical infirmities that prevent them from kneeling are exempt, but they can still receive on the tongue as a sign of adoration and obedience.
(News Blaze) - Pope Benedict XVI does not want the faithful receiving Communion in their hand nor does he want them standing to receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. According to Vatican liturgist, Monsignor Guido Marini, the pope is trying to set the stage for the whole church as to the proper norm for receiving Communion for which reason communicants at his papal Masses are now asked to kneel and receive on the tongue.

The Holy Father's reasoning is simple: "We Christians kneel before the Blessed Sacrament because, therein, we know and believe to be the presence of the One True God." (May 22, 2008)

According to the pope the entire Church should kneel in adoration before God in the Eucharist. "Kneeling in adoration before the Eucharist is the most valid and radical remedy against the idolatries of yesterday and today" (May 22, 2008)...

read full story here

Friday, July 17, 2009

Catholic Men Should Be Knights Not Masons

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: The Knights of Columbus, of which I am a 4th degree member, is a fraternal Catholic order with a membership of some 1.7 million men. It is designed primarily to serve the Catholic Church, and secondarily the men who are members, by providing a means and conduit through which they may help each other, their families, the Church and third-party charities. The Knights of Columbus also provides life insurance policies to it's members and uses the proceeds to benefit the Catholic Church in various ways.

The Knights of Columbus was founded by The Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Connecticut on August 2, 1881. His primary motivation was to organize a mutual benefit society to assist widows and orphans of families who had lost their primary bread winner. Life in the late 1800s was extremely harsh for Catholic immigrant families in the United States. During that time discrimination made it difficult for a Catholic man to get a good job. Catholics were regularly excluded from labor unions. Local charities and benefit organizations also frequently excluded Catholics. Catholics were also disenfranchised politically, as it was nearly impossible to get a Catholic elected to government office. Most Catholic men were forced to work in coal mines, sweat shops and ship yards, where they were subjected to harsh labor, poor working conditions, and less then minimum wage. As a result, many Catholic husbands and fathers lived short lives. The one organization well established in America, which could potentially help them, was Freemasonry. Unfortunately, Freemasonry had a strong religious/occult element that challenged the Catholic Church's claim of absolute truth revealed through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Because of this, Freemasonry was soundly condemned by the Catholic Church. In addition to that, the Church also had significant political problems with Freemasonry in Europe.

These things prohibited Catholic men from joining the Freemasons under penalty of excommunication. In the late 1800s, this put many Catholic men in the terrible situation of having to choose between the Church and the welfare of their families. The Venerable Father McGivney sought to create a Catholic men's organization that would allow men to pool their resources, talents and energies for the common good and for the sake of their families, but he sought to do so without the religious/occult element that earned Freemasonry the scorn of the Catholic Church.

So the Knights of Columbus was formed under the ancient precepts of medieval chivalry, paralleling in some ways the degree programs used by the Freemasons, but without the unchristian oaths and occult rituals. The Vatican prohibition against Freemasonry remains today, and the reasons for this are fully explained by Catholic apologist John Salza (learn more here). According to the New Code of Canon Law (1983), this prohibition remains in effect under penalty of interdict.

The Venerable Father McGivney initially authored three degrees though which the Knights of Columbus would receive their initiation into the order.

Now if you looking to know the secrets of the degree rites, you won't find them here. 'The Catholic Knight' has taken a pledge not to reveal them on my honor. However, I should point out here that what I have taken is a pledge, not an oath, and there is a significant difference. A pledge is a promise. That is all. It is based on one's honor. Nothing is sworn, and there are no penalties if the pledge is broken. All that is lost is the honor of the man who broke the pledge, simple because he did not keep his promise. When I took my degree rites, I pledged not to tell what goes on there based entirely on my honor as a practicing Catholic man. No threats were made, and no penalties were warned. If I tell the secrets, nobody is going to slit my throat or cut my heart out. Nobody is going to kill me or harm me. Nobody is going to seek retribution against my family or business. I'll still be able to get a good job. I'll still be able to do business. I might even still be allowed to keep my membership in the Knights of Columbus. However, I will have lost my honor. I made a promise, and I would not have keep it. That prospect alone, is enough to keep me quiet. For I wish to be an honorable man. That's why you won't find the degree rite secrets here.

In addition to that, these pledges are made with the explicit exception to religious or civil duty. So for example, if my priest or bishop needed to know something about my knowledge of the degree rites, I could reveal that to them even if they were not members of the Knights of Columbus, without breaking my pledge. Furthermore, if an officer of the law, judge or courtroom attorney needed to know my knowledge of the degree rites, again, I could reveal that information without breaking my pledge. That's because these exceptions of civil and religious duty are explicitly written into the pledges. I could take it a step further, and some of my brother knights may take issue with this, but so be it. If my wife, whom I am sacramentally bound to in matrimony, for some reason needed to know my knowledge of the degree rites, again citing religious duty to honor this holy sacrament of matrimony, I could reveal that information without breaking my pledge.

When I took my pledges, I did not swear on anything. I did not call curses upon myself. I did not use the Lord's name in vain. I simply made a promise. That is a pledge. Unlike an oath, which frequently involves swearing, calling down curses upon one's self if the oath is broken, and often invokes the name of someone holy (like God for example) to bind one to the oath. Freemason's do take oaths, and that is very much a part of their degree rites. In contrast, Knights of Columbus do not take oaths. It is not part of our degree rites. And this is because the Scriptures are very clear...
"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." - Exodus 20:7

"Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." - Matthew 5:33-37

"But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation." - James 5:12
Now as for the degree rites themselves, this is what I can tell you without breaking my pledge...
  1. They are based on (1st degree) Charity, (2nd degree) Unity and (3rd degree) Fraternity. There is of course the optional 4th degree of Patriotism which was developed later. But these first three degree rites were crafted by The Venerable Father McGivney himself.
  2. Everything taught in these rites is 100% Biblical. There is no occult or "secret knowledge" conveyed in the Knights of Columbus. You could just as easily find the lessons of these degree rites in a Sunday homily or Scripture reading.
  3. Lessons are best remembered when emotion is attached to them. For example, when you get a good scare, you are far more likely to remember the lesson associated with it. A similar thing could be said for positive emotions as well, such as relief and joy.
  4. The degree rites are specifically designed to evoke emotion on the part of the candidate who is taking the rite.
  5. Because the degree rites are designed with the intent of evoking emotion, they MUST be kept secret, so as not to spoil the surprise for the candidate. The candidate must be unaware of what will happen, lest it spoil the intended emotional response, and the lesson of the degree rite be lost to mundane procedure, failing to leave an indelible mark on the candidates heart and mind.
  6. There is no ritual hazing in the Knights of Columbus, and nothing is ever done that would undermine the dignity of a Catholic man.
  7. Degree candidates are not ever asked to divulge deep dark secrets about themselves, nor say anything that would compromise their integrity, nor put themselves into a compromised position.
  8. Alcohol is never used, and is not permitted, during degree rites.
  9. Knights and candidates are exhorted to be good Catholic Christians, and to show no partiality between members and non-members. As Catholic Christians, knights do not look down upon non-members, nor are they permitted to consider themselves "better Catholics" simply because they are knights.
  10. Priests are permitted to audit and observe degree rites, nothing within the order is kept secret from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. This is one reason why the Church has historically supported the Knights of Columbus and is currently considering the order's founder, The Venerable Father Michael McGivney, for canonization as a Saint.
  11. While the Knights of Columbus offers quality life insurance to it's members, at a reasonable price, no member is required to buy it. Nor is any member "pressured" to buy it. The insurance plans are simply offered as a benefit.
  12. Membership in the Knights of Columbus has many other benefits besides life insurance.
I'm afraid that's all you'll learn from me. Some might say I've already said too much. If so, I apologize, but I do not believe I have revealed any of the secrets of the order, nor do I believe I have violated my pledge to keep the elements of the degree rites secret. Personally, I have found my experience with the Knights of Columbus to be a rewarding one. Simultaneously, I have taken time away from the Knights of Columbus as well, so as to attend to family matters, in which my brother knights have always been very understanding and assured me that family comes first. They have also been quick to offer assistance whenever I was faced with personal and business difficulties.

If your a Catholic man who would like to learn more about the Knights of Columbus contact your local chapter. Personally, I would encourage getting involved in a knights council that is directly attached to a particular parish. This helps coordinate parish and knight activities in such a way that they become mutually beneficial.

* 'The Catholic Knight' blog does not speak for the Knights of Columbus organization, nor do the 'Knights of Columbus' necessarily approve the contents of this blog. 'The Catholic Knight' makes this blog entry merely as a testimony of my own personal experience.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Unbiblical Roman Catholic Pagan Cult and Mystery Whore of Babylon

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: The title of this thread may raise a few eyebrows. Sorry for the shocker. As some of my readers already know, before converting to Catholicism, I was a "born-again" Evangelical/Pentecostal teacher who was originally raised in a Baptist Church. My journey of faith led me through the rigors of Fundamental Protestantism, and the depths of outright anti-Catholicism. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I had heard a pastor preach to his congregation that the Catholic Church is an "unbiblical cult" and the prophetic "Whore of Babylon" written of in the Book of Revelation.

I eventually decided to research the origins of this wretched organization called the Roman Catholic Church. In doing so I quickly discovered that all the authoritative literature on the topic were keen on quoting each other, but very little cited information more than a couple hundred years old. In fact, most cited a single book written in the middle 1800s called "Two Babylons," by Alexander Hyslop. This particular author constructs an entire volume of accusations against the Catholic Church, based on his own superficial connections between this or that ancient ritual, but does virtually nothing at all to back his claims with original source documentation. In fact, finding any original source documentation to support these claims, that dates prior the Reformation Era, is virtually impossible. It seems as if accusations against Catholicism developed as a product of the Reformation itself, and not vice versa.

As a result of this, I began reading the history of the early Church and quickly found a plethora of original source documentation dating back to the first few centuries of the Christian age. What I learned was shocking! and turned my whole world upside down. The early Christians were all Catholic! That's right, the earliest Christians, meaning those who were persecuted by the Caesars and fed to the lions, believed in the transubstantiation of the eucharist, prayed to the Virgin Mary and the saints, recognized the primacy of the pope, and made offerings for their loved ones in purgatory. Oh sure, they didn't use all the fancy terminology I just cited, but the core of their belief system was virtually identical. Knowledge of history spelled the end for my Protestantism.

If you're a "born-again" Christian who believes Catholicism is unbiblical, then you've got a lot of homework to do. The Bible commands us not to spread false witness against our neighbors (Exodus 20:16). If you say Catholicism is unbiblical, and it isn't, then you're spreading false witness, and thus breaking the commandment of the Lord. So you owe it to yourself to find out if Catholicism is truly unbiblical.  If you think Catholicism is unbiblical, then it's time to do your homework to see if you're right. Every argument has two sides. You can't formulate an honest opinion if you've only heard one side. You have to hear both sides of an argument before you can decide between them. Most "born-again" Christians are very familiar with the Protestant side of the argument against Catholicism, but they don't know anything about the Catholic side. Most "born-again" Christians, who take the time to learn the Catholic side, are shocked to discover that Catholics actually can make a Biblical argument in favor of Catholic teaching, and this argument can be well reasoned at that. So if you're a "born-again" Christian who believes Catholicism is unbiblical, then take the challenge, and see how much you really know about the Bible. Examine the links below.

Here we have one of the most exhaustive Catholic apologetic resources on the Internet. Special thanks to John Salza for making this resource possible...

The Biblical Church
Primacy of Peter
Apostolic Succession

Scripture Alone
Oral Tradition

The Eucharist

Holy Orders
Anointing of the Sick

Divorce & Remarriage
Husband's Headship

Second Coming / Rapture

Jesus Christ's Divinity
The Holy Spirit
Messianic Prophecies

Tongue Speaking
Sunday Worship
Vain & Repetitious Prayer
Modesty in Dress
Just War


The Church
Scripture Alone
The Eucharist
The Blessed Virgin Mary

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Vatican II Was Just Pastoral - According To Popes

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Pope Benedict XVI (while Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) clearly stated the nature of the Second Vatican Council was pastoral, as the council defined no doctrine infallibly, and sought to maintain a lower profile than previous ecumenical councils....
The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of superdogma which takes away the importance of all the rest.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI
given July 13, 1988, in Santiago, Chile
This echoes the words of Pope Paul VI, who concluded the Second Vatican Council, and also stated it was purely pastoral in nature, having not applied the "note of infallibility" to any particular document....
In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any extraordinary statements of dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility, but it still provided its teaching with the authority of the Ordinary Magisterium which must be accepted with docility according to the mind of the Council concerning the nature and aims of each document.
Pope Paul VI
General Audience, 12 January 1966
So why is this important? Well, ever since the close of the council, and the institution of the new mass five years later, many Catholics have treated the Second Vatican Council as if it were the definitive explanation of Catholicism for our time. They treat it as if all the previous Church councils were rendered obsolete or somehow irrelevant. In fact, according to Pope Paul VI and Pope Benedict XVI, the Second Vatican Council holds a lesser place in history than the First Vatican Council, or the Council of Trent, etc. Why? Because these councils clearly exercised the note of infallibility, defining doctrine in no uncertain terms. In effect, they were doctrinal councils, of the highest importance. While Vatican II was merely pastoral, outlining the desire for new methods and standards, but in no way defining new doctrine or exercising infallibility. Catholics need to understand this. THE CHURCH DID NOT CHANGE WITH VATICAN II. The Second Vatican Council MUST be interpreted in the greater context of the Church's previous two councils, which according to the popes, hold a higher place in history.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Evolution DOES NOT Contradict Christianity

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: It seems so strange to me that so many Christians get all worked up about this issue. As a young man, indoctrinated by the secular humanism of today's public education system, I embraced the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution to the point of nearly denying the existence of God. Then after graduating from high-school, I got back in touch with my Christian roots, and became a Bible-thumping Fundamentalist. It was at that point I rejected evolution completely and embraced the neo-Morrisian theory of creation. Looking back on it now, I just have to laugh. It's funny how this scientific theory has become such a polarizing wedge in our society, so that many people of science think they have to reject faith, and many people of faith think they have to reject science.

Converting to Catholicism was probably the best thing for my sanity. On this particular issue, it allowed my faith and reason to be integrated once again, where I can now evaluate the theory of evolution with an open mind, and without any threat to my faith as a Christian. In truth, I think both Charles Darwin and Henry Morris added tremendous contributions to the debate, and I think that both of them will go down in history that way. What is needed in the whole creation/evolution debate is a little HUMILITY! And I say that to both sides. Evolution is a scientific THEORY, but then literal creationism is a theological THEORY as well. As the great astrophysicist Stephen Hawking once said: a theory is the best understanding of reality we have -- until a better one comes along. (That's my own paraphrase anyway.) A little humility on the part of both evolutionists and creationists would go a long way toward restoring civility to the debate once again. The simple fact is, none of us where there at the creation of the world. None of us, neither scientist nor theologian, eye-witnessed the biological processes that led to the creation of the first man. The best thing we have to rely on is a guess. Scientists look at the fossil evidence and make educated guesses. Theologians look at the scriptural evidence, and it's peripheral context, and also make educated guesses. It was Charles Darwin (a professing Christian) who guessed about natural selection and the origin of species. It was Henry Morris (also a professing Christian) who guessed about the effects of water dynamics on the fossil record. Both men have given us quite a bit to chew on, and I dare say that both men have given us just a shred of truth about what really happened. Between the two of them, maybe we can start to figure it out.

The following article demonstrates how Catholic Christians need not fear the theory of evolution, so long as certain theological ground-rules are understood. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did...

(New Oxford Review) - ...If we look at evolution and how it affects various religious stands, we see how the Church's teachings have such a solid foundation that they are never truly threatened by scientific ideas.

In contrast, fundamentalist Christians base their faith on a so-called literal reading of the Bible. This creates fundamentalism's most embarrassing problem. The fundamentalist must insist that the "days" of Genesis are the days of our week that God created man directly out of the dust, and so forth.

The same problem occurs whenever the Bible -- understood in a way that allows no interpretation, symbolism, or development -- must encounter the world.

The Catholic Church knows that the Bible requires symbolic readings in some places and literal readings in others. The interpretive and teaching authority of the Church gives guidance to the reader of Scripture. The believer is not left alone with what he can understand or imagine. Therefore, the Church does not trap her children in simplistic worldviews. Whatever views science develops about evolution, the Catholic Church will have the resources, in Scripture and tradition, to develop trustworthy understandings that can reconcile science's theories with the truths of revelation.

Liberal Protestantism has made the opposite mistake of fundamentalism. It has been too quick to make accommodations. Liberal Christianity readily accepted Darwinism -- and it also often accepted the pseudo-scientific hypotheses of Marxism and Freudianism and a host of destructive 20th-century "isms." It has become sort of a Vichy regime for modern secularism, doing the bidding of the materialistic mindset while trying desperately to keep alive a sham of independence.

Scientific dogmatism looks at its experiments, assumptions, and hypotheses, and can see nothing else. The Catholic Church is able to look on creation as a whole, and see that there are too many "coincidences" for this all to be random. She can see the handiwork of the Lord in the evolution of man, and in the rest of creation. She can embrace the universe's mystery and paradox. As Augustine wrote in his Confessions, addressing God, "You are the most hidden from us and yet the most present amongst us.... You are ever active, yet always at rest. You gather all things to yourself, though you suffer no need.... You grieve for wrong, but suffer no pain. You can be angry and yet serene.... You welcome all who come to you, although you never lost them."

With such insight, the Church can see that God allows mankind to evolve, yet He still guides that evolution. The same holds true for all other phenomena: They may look random, and many may be random, but the Catholic faith holds that God steps in, in mystery and in hiddenness, to control the ultimate outcomes.

The Catholic mind embraces 2,000 years of history and wisdom -- and many more years, if you include the Church's Old Testament patrimony. Therefore the Catholic worldview, with its long memory, knows that what "enlightened opinion" held to be undeniable truth in A.D. 30 was forgotten by A.D. 500. Thus the Catholic mind is not easily impressed by the latest headline or alleged discovery.

Non-Catholic worldviews are truncated and skewed. For example, to the liberal Protestant, everything before, say, 1965 is a black pit of ignorance and oppression. To the fundamentalist, everything between, say, A.D. 75 and 1500 is a gaping void. To the proud scientist, everything in his field before his latest grant proposal is foolish error.

The dogmatic scientist refuses to believe what he cannot see and measure. The fundamentalist refuses to believe what he cannot find in his King James Bible. The liberal Protestant refuses to believe what he cannot read in The Christian Century or on the editorial page of The New York Times.

Evolution, in asserting the role of random events, is joined by contemporary physics and chaos science in finding that there is randomness in the cosmos. So, to answer to Einstein: Yes, God does play dice.

This seems compatible with the understanding that man is free. Catholicism has always seen that there is a large element of freedom in our lives. God even seems quite willing to let us roll the dice ourselves. However, God is still in control. A controlling agent can allow much randomness, yet still have ultimate control.

God rolls the dice too. Sometimes, however, He slips in a pair of loaded dice. He is willing to play the game; He rigs, however, whenever we play so badly that we jeopardize the ultimate outcome....

read full story here


Monday, February 2, 2009

Pope Pius IX and the Confederacy

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: One of the most overlooked facts of the American Civil War Era is the sympathy the South gained from Europe's most influential monarch - the pope of Rome.

Pope Pius IX never actually signed any kind of alliance or 'statement of support' with the Confederate States of America, but to those who understand the nuance of papal protocol, what he did do was quite astonishing. He acknowledged President Jefferson Davis as the "Honorable President of the Confederate States of America."

From this we can glean three things about Pope Pius IX...
  1. He called Jefferson Davis by the customary title "Honorable."
  2. He acknowledged him as president of a nation.
  3. In doing so, he (at least on a personal level) effectively recognized the Confederate States of America as a sovereign entity, separate from the United States of America.
News of this reached the North, and the Whitehouse was considerably irate about it, prompting a response from the Vatican that the pope's letter did not amount to an "official" recognition in the "formal sense."

The pope's letter to Jefferson Davis was accompanied by an autographed picture of the pope.

There are many possible reasons why this pontiff would be sympathetic to the CSA and her president, but the most likely one was that Pope Pius IX recognized in the traditional Christian culture of the South, a mindset opposed to the advance of liberal Modernism. You see it was Pius IX who composed the famous "Syllabus of Errors," which condemned the Modernist philosophies of liberalism, humanism, secularism and marxism. It is speculated that Pius IX saw in the Confederacy a political movement steeped in European Christian tradition, and therefore a potential ally against liberal modernism on the North American continent. Alas, the Confederacy was ultimately defeated, and President Davis was captured. As the 'Deconstruction' of the South commenced, and Davis awaited his trial, it is understandable why the pope would be sympathetic.

Pope Pius IX was a revered figure in the post war South. General Robert E. Lee kept a portrait of him in his house, and referred to him as the South's only true friend during her time of need. Both Davis and Lee were Episcopalians, as were many Southerners before the War, a denomination which had many things in common with Catholicism before the 20th century influence of Modernism of course. Davis was frequently visited by Southern Catholic nuns during his imprisonment, who delivered messages for him and prayed for his release. He eventually was released, having never stood trial, on the grounds that he committed no real crime. It is believed the majority of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court at that time acknowledged the right of secession.

Southern Americans of today should take comfort knowing that the old Confederacy did have a European friend, and it just happened to be one of the most respected men in the world - not only a head of state, but also the leader of the world's largest Christian religion. The day will come when Pope Pius IX will be canonized as a Saint. He has already been beatified, which puts him well on his way. When that day comes, Southerners will have a special bragging right, not enjoyed by many nations even today. They will not only be able to boast of his sympathies during and after the great War, but they will also have in their collective possession a relic of the man - a hand written letter and autographed photograph.

On The American Civil War:

The American Civil War cannot be cast in the simplistic terms of pro-slavery verses anti-slavery. Lincoln said the war had nothing to do with slavery, and General U.S. Grant said that if he thought the war was about freeing the slaves, he would turn in his sword and fight for the other side. Grant was also a slave owner before, during and after the war.

In contrast, General Robert E. Lee was an abolitionist. Many Southerners shared his views. President Jefferson Davis requested land owners to promise their slaves freedom in exchange for military service. The abolition movement was also growing in the South before the war. The 13th Amendment that legally freed the slaves, (not the Emancipation Proclamation), was actually ratified by many Southern states before many Northern states.

The historical fact is that the Civil War was a conflict between TWO slave nations - the USA and the CSA. Granted, the USA had already banned slavery in some states, but the same movement was growing in some CSA states as well. Historical revisionists have spent a little over 100 years trying to paint the Civil War as some idealistic holy crusade against the injustice of slavery. That image doesn't hold up to the historical facts. The Civil War was mainly about money and power - particularly taxes and investments. What the South did was no different than what America's Founding Fathers did during the American Revolution. Both were acts of rebellion and armed insurrection. Both attempted to establish free and independent nations. Both were dominated by slave economies. The only difference between them is this. In the American Revolution the rebels won. In the American Civil War they didn't.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pope Paul VI On Vatican II

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: The pope who concluded the Second Vatican Council had the following to say about it. All Catholics should take note...
"In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any extraordinary statements of dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility, but it still provided its teaching with the authority of the Ordinary Magisterium which must be accepted with docility according to the mind of the Council concerning the nature and aims of each document."
-- Pope Paul VI
General Audience, 12 January 1966
What does this mean? It means that in spite of whatever you've heard, the Second Vatican Council may not be fully infallible -- not according to the pope, and not according to the bishops who participated. It was indeed an ecumenical council, and it was perfectly legitimate.  However, the council can choose when, and when not, to exercise the chrism of infallibility. It just so happened that the bishops of Vatican II chose not to exercise it at all, and this is confirmed in the statement made by Pope Paul VI recorded above. It means that while the documents produced by Vatican II may contain some infallible statements, especially related to matters already defined by previous councils, they do not enjoy the exact same indisputable status as the documents produced by Vatican I and the Council of Trent.

That being said, Vatican II should not be interpreted in a vacuum. Everything contained in the conciliar documents must be interpreted in the context of historic Church tradition, and with the understanding that they can in no way counter or reverse the fully infallible documents produced by Vatican I and the Council of Trent.  It also means the conciliar documents can be debated to a certain degree by the bishops who hold to different opinions of them.  Most importantly, it means they are subject to further definition and clarification by the Holy Father, who can most certainly make these judgements ex cathedra, and therefore infallibly.

So what does this mean for the average Catholic? It means the Church has not changed. Vatican II helped to clarify some pastoral issues that were already being debated in the Church, but it in no way changed the Church. The Catholic Church today is still under the exact same doctrines and teachings as it was before the Second Vatican Council. This is important, because many Catholic parishes today operate as if Vatican II changed everything, when in fact, it did not. If you want to know what the teachings of the Church are today, simply pull out a catechism from the 1950s, and there you will find all the teachings of the modern post-conciliar Church. It's the same today as it was yesterday. Sadly, that might be difficult to see with the quality of catechism publications provided in this post-conciliar world. That's why I keep a hardbound 1950's illustrated catechism in my home to teach my children. So to prevent confusion, it would be prudent for all Catholics to do likewise.  You can acquire one such catechism here, though I'm sure there are many on the market if you know where to look.