I wrote this article as part of the process of rejoining the Catholic Church on July 16, 2012. Having spent 6 years struggling with all the various objections against Catholicism, I had it all fresh in my mind and wanted to get it all out. I am the harshest critic of Catholicism I have ever encountered. The usual anti-Catholic Protestant critiques against the Church are mush-brained and barely worthy of mention — I have never heard such dumb things in my entire life. But my critiques — now those make sense!
But this was before I studied Catholic documents(Catechisms, Canon Law, Papal Encyclicals, St. Thomas Aquinas' "Summa Theologica") in detail trying to figure out what the Church even teaches about various topics. I was horrified — see my comments in those documents.
In another article (Bad Stuff that Happened), I list various bad behavior, abuses, changes of doctrine, contradictions, etc. from church history. The significance of all this is that certain statements of the Catechism of the Catholic Church simply can't be taken at face value since they either (1) ignore these situations, or (2) contradict reality. Therefore, us Catholics seeking to be faithful to the Catholic Church, to the teaching magisterium,and to the pope must interpret these passages for ourselves without any help from the Church (since they simply ignore such issues and questions as these — only "starry eyed," head-in-the-clouds Catholic defenders can accept such without question).
Two examples to illustrate:
I comment on every Catechism paragraph that offends me and document my research on the justification of Catholic teaching from the Bible and the Early Church Fathers. Questions that must be adequately supported:
For quotes from the Early Church Fathers, the general methodology in this article is to provide, for each topic, only a few of the earliest quotations from trustworthy Early Church Fathers to show what the early church practiced and believed.
The Gospel was handed on in two ways: (76)
The apostles spoke about various topics, but eventually they wrote some things down. #2 refers to the New Testament writings and not to the things the apostles spoke about.
#1 is tricky to understand. The apostles spoke things and wrote things down as letters and books (the New Testament). The next generation of church leaders read these writings and some heard the saying of Jesus and the apostles first hand. They then wrote some of it down and spoke about it to the next batch of church leaders. Also, each person elaborated on what they heard (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) — even the apostles did this. Some of this information was embodied in the various liturgical rites and some of it was written down. Now, we have all these various evidences from various sources. How are we to know what is true and what isn't?
There are some bad side-effects to using paragraph 76 as support for various Catholic doctrines. For example, #1 refers only to what the apostles themselves said and did. They did ordain bishops, but they did not do so in the context of the sacrament of Holy Orders with apostolic succession, nor did they establish the college of bishops with the pope as the head. To claim that the apostles passed-down these things is false.
"In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority." Indeed, "the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time." (77)
There should be a caveat here. When discussing the ordination of bishops, the apostles and the Early Church Fathers always, always, always insisted on or assumed that these new bishops were qualified — that they were holy, orthodox, faith-filled, true believers and good pastors. Yet, the Catholic doctrines of Holy Orders and apostolic succession do not include this fact as a cornerstone. Throughout history and into modern times there are plenty of examples of unqualified bishops and popes who were, according to the Catholic Church, properly and sacramentally ordained. However, these men should not have been ordained at all. Once they are ordained, are they suddenly the teachers and defenders of the faith (which is what the Church teaches about bishops)? This is madness! Us laity must be wary of priests and bishops since the Church is not taking care in this matter. How many people were seriously harmed in the priestly scandals and all the bishops did was shuffle them around from parish to parish — they should have been in prison.
For example. my former bishop never ever proclaimed the gospel; I wonder if he was even a Christian. And when people brought up serious habitual liturgical abuses to his attention, he blamed them for daring to notice such things — he didn't want to have to worry about whether he accidentally said the wrong word during mass.
What are these bonds of unity? Above all, charity "binds everything together in perfect harmony." But the unity of the pilgrim Church is also assured by visible bonds of communion: (815)
Apostolic succession does not guarantee unity at all. Many heretics, schismatics, and unholy church leaders were validly ordained.
There was much disagreement about the details of the faith passed-on by the apostles. Only slowly, over time, did it become clear. And there was much fighting and arguing in determining this.
This paragraph is guilty of historical revisionism.
"The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it. . . . This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him."
The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism explains: "For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God." (816)
When the Church leaders are not acting pastorally towards the flock which Christ entrusted to them, they are not true Church leaders.
Yes, the Church is governed by the bishops in union with the pope, but there have been plenty of occasions in Church History in which they have governed it poorly or worse. The Catechism doesn't mention how Catholics are to respond in these all-too-common situations.
I'm not sure its such a good idea to insist that everybody should become a loyal member of an institution that exploits its members. If the Church were actually living up to these high-minded statements, that would be one thing.
The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways: (857)
#3 of paragraph 857 equates the apostles with the bishops who are ordained via apostolic succession. But there is a big difference: the apostles were holy, righteous, and had a pastoral spirit. This was not true of many bishops.
The bishops did far more than "pass on" the deposit of faith as stated in #2; they developed it significantly — the apostles never uttered these words. The apostles did not have the modern Catholic doctrines in mind at all — the Holy Spirit provided these from the seeds passed-on by the apostles.
Very early, the better to signify the gift of the Holy Spirit, an anointing with perfumed oil (chrism) was added to the laying on of hands. This anointing highlights the name "Christian," which means "anointed" and derives from that of Christ himself whom God "anointed with the Holy Spirit." This rite of anointing has continued ever since, in both East and West. For this reason the Eastern Churches call this sacrament Chrismation, anointing with chrism, or myron which means "chrism." In the West, the term Confirmation suggests that this sacrament both confirms and strengthens baptismal grace. (1289)
If the laying on of hands is what the apostles intended, why is anointing with oil now considered essential? This is clearly not the mere "passing down" of apostolic teaching.
"Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith." (86)
The magisterium teaches things that were certainly not passed-on from the apostles. Perhaps the seeds were passed-in from the apostles requiring development.
This is an example of wildly idealist, head-in-the-clouds teaching. I don't even know how to relate to it. It seems to me it would be better to describe the ways that knowledge is transmitted and the process by which the church discerns truth. Or perhaps to say that the apostolic teaching was handed-down in various stages of development; through reflection it has become clear that doctrinal development is valid.
This is the kind of thing the church was saying as it showed Galileo the instruments of torture and declared that the earth was the center of the universe.
The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. . . . To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church's shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. (890)
The problem with this is that it is so subjective. If bishops teach error it is said that they are not really teaching about faith and morals. If a Catholic tries to find out what the Church really teaches about a particular topic they soon discover that there is no "infallible" definition of all Catholic teaching. As I have demonstrated in this article, the Catechism is useless for this and it doesn't even claim to be infallible anyway. As I demonstrate elsewhere there have been many problems, errors, changes, and abuses throughout church history and into modern times but these are explained away using legal loopholes.
Another problem with all of this is that it has such a legal tone. The teaching of Jesus did not sound one bit like the convoluted legal descriptions of lawyers, yet Church teaching often has this tone.
The Church's Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these. (88)
The teaching magisteriumhas authority over anything, even the dumb stuff that is provably untrue. But it is especially authoritative in the area of doctrine. Christians are to firmly believe these doctrines.
Notice that this authority is limited to truths contained in divine Revelation. Unfortunately, paragraph 88 doesn't define what is meant by divine Revelation. And why should we care about believing anything with an "irrevocable adherence of faith" unless it is divine Revelation?
It seems like they should have said something like, "Christians are to believe those things which the apostles passed-down which are essential to salvation and to living a life of faith. The teaching Magisterium has discerned these divinely-revealed truths by carefully examining the sources of information originating from Jesus and the apostles under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Aspects of the church which teach false things are outside of the teaching magisterium of the Church — in other words, the teaching magisterium of the Church is that which teaches truth, not error."
The Magisterium of the Pastors of the Church in moral matters is ordinarily exercised in catechesis and preaching, with the help of the works of theologians and spiritual authors. Thus from generation to generation, under the aegis and vigilance of the pastors, the "deposit" of Christian moral teaching has been handed on, a deposit composed of a characteristic body of rules, commandments, and virtues proceeding from faith in Christ and animated by charity. Alongside the Creed and the Our Father, the basis for this catechesis has traditionally been the Decalogue which sets out the principles of moral life valid for all men. (2033)
The "handing-on" of the "deposit" of faith is only valid when the apostles actually taught it (how can you hand on something that your predecessor didn't teach?) Also, these things that are "handed-on" must be true, however, it is easy to demonstrate that the Catholic Church has handed-on things that are false.
Interesting that the deposit of faith is thought of by the Catholic Church as a body of rules and commandments. I'm not surprised that there is such a culture of legalism pervading every aspect of the Catholic Church.
Paragraph 2033 mentions again that the 10 commandments is the basis for the moral law. I comment on this in paragraph 1858 and following.
The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are "authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice." The ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him teach the faithful the truth to believe, the charity to practice, the beatitude to hope for. (2034)
The bishops are authentic teachers — except when they are teaching error and untruth. Sadly, this occurred countless times throughout church history and into modern times. Us poor hapless laity are not provided guidance for what to do in the face of these untrue teachings, or even how to discern the true from the false.
We are to believe even the ordinary magisterium of the Church even though, as stated elsewhere (892), its proclamations are not infallibly true.
The law of God entrusted to the Church is taught to the faithful as the way of life and truth. The faithful therefore have the right to be instructed in the divine saving precepts that purify judgment and, with grace, heal wounded human reason. They have the duty of observing the constitutions and decrees conveyed by the legitimate authority of the Church. Even if they concern disciplinary matters, these determinations call for docility in charity. (2037)
We must be docile when asked to believe and practice things which are untrue or immoral. For example, the laity were asked to expose their children to pervert priests who then raped them.
If the bishops always performed their proper role and were properly disposed and qualified for their glorious and high tasks, it would be easier to take paragraphs such as 2037 seriously. I have said enough on this topic already.
In the work of teaching and applying Christian morality, the Church needs the dedication of pastors, the knowledge of theologians, and the contribution of all Christians and men of good will. Faith and the practice of the Gospel provide each person with an experience of life "in Christ," who enlightens him and makes him able to evaluate the divine and human realities according to the Spirit of God. Thus the Holy Spirit can use the humblest to enlighten the learned and those in the highest positions. (2038)
As a lay person I am asked to assist in the work of the Church, "in the work of teaching and applying Christian morality." (But in paragraph 3 I am excluded from these activities.)
It is unlikely that my observations will have any influence in the slightest on the clergy. I'm sure my observations will not be considered as "in good will" because I dare to accuse the bishops of past and present of not living up to their high calling and demand that they make revolutionary changes to fix my Church, Christ's Church.
Ministries should be exercised in a spirit of fraternal service and dedication to the Church, in the name of the Lord. At the same time the conscience of each person should avoid confining itself to individualistic considerations in its moral judgments of the person's own acts. As far as possible conscience should take account of the good of all, as expressed in the moral law, natural and revealed, and consequently in the law of the Church and in the authoritative teaching of the Magisterium on moral questions. Personal conscience and reason should not be set in opposition to the moral law or the Magisterium of the Church. (2039)
We are not to judge each person's own acts in determining their morality? Shocking! No wonder the bishops are unwilling to admit their failings except in the context of blaming the innocent victims.
The notion of judging actions based on the good of all is called Utilitarianism and should be rejected. It was promoted by the philosophers Hume, Bentham, Mill, and others.
The first precept ("You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor") requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.
The second precept ("You shall confess your sins at least once a year") ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism's work of conversion and forgiveness.
The third precept ("You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season") guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord's Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy. (2042)
It is bizarre to read why the Catholic Church commands us to do these certain things.
Based on the various definitions of "servile labor" I have read, I don't have to change my activities in the slightest on Sunday. There is never any mention of taking the day off of work on Holy Days of Obligation, yet here it is in the Catechism demanding that all Catholics do this. Apparently, the Catechism is not a trustworthy source of moral teaching since certain things are not binding on us (but we don't know which are binding and which are not.)
We are to observe the Sabbath, yet Sunday is not the Sabbath.
The reason given for us to obey the first precept is to sanctify these days, to set them apart. Thus, we are to set these days apart because we should set these days apart. A dumb reason.
The reason given for us to obey the second precept is to allow us to obey the third precept. I discuss this further in paragraph 1389.
The reason given for us to obey the third precept is to obey the third precept. We are to partake of the Eucharist once a year because we should partake of the Eucharist once a year. The Church leaders must think we are pretty dumb to write stuff like this in the Catechism.
The fourth precept ("You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church") ensures the times of ascesis [self-discipline] and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.
The fifth precept ("You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church") means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability. (2043)
The reason we are to obey the fourth precept is to ensure that we develop self-discipline, mastery over our instincts, freedom of heart, and penance. Apparently we only need to do this very rarely and it must be by changing food intake. If you are too old or too young you can skip this. I can't skip it even though it affects my ability to perform my obligations at work and therefore leads to venial sin which I must subsequently confess. If I were an Eastern Catholic the fasting would be more extreme. But it seems to me that I should be striving to develop these good qualities daily. Also, the fourth precept contradicts the Bible so it was neither taught by the apostles nor passed-down by the apostles and should, therefore, be ignored.
(Colossians 2:16) Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.
At least they got the fifth precept right. But, sadly for the bishops, I cannot justify giving money for the purpose of paying for lawsuits caused by bishops merely shuffling around their pervert priests. And when they say that my money won't be used for this purpose, I believe them as much as I believe it when politicians claim my tax money won't be used to pay for abortions; or, to state it more succinctly, they are liars. We expect this from our politicians but we should reject this in our bishops. We should withhold our money from parishes having unholy, or liberal priests, or if they don't preach the faith as they are commanded to. That will get the bishops' attention.
Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners. . . . Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials. (2354)
This definition of pornography allows for much of what is usually considered pornography. Perhaps this is deliberate to allow the works of art in the Sistine Chapel to not fall under this definition.
The Church demands the government to stop this without mentioning how this can be accomplished or what freedoms would be trampled on in doing so.
Tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre-eminent authority. . . . The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. . . . To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric.
Irenaeus, Against Heresies
The claim is that the papacy was already an established office of the church by the time of Irenaeus (a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John the apostle). Some key points to note:
And when the blessed Polycarp was at Rome in the time of Anicetus, and they disagreed a little about certain other things, they immediately made peace with one another, not caring to quarrel over this matter. For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp not to observe what he had always observed with John the disciple of our Lord, and the other apostles with whom he had associated; neither could Polycarp persuade Anicetus to observe it as he said that he ought to follow the customs of the presbyters that had preceded him.
But though matters were in this shape, they communed together, and Anicetus conceded the administration of the eucharist in the church to Polycarp, manifestly as a mark of respect. And they parted from each other in peace, both those who observed, and those who did not, maintaining the peace of the whole church.
Eusebius, Church History (Book V)
Bishop Polycarp, an old man, went to Rome to meet with Anicetus (Anacletus), the third pope, about the date of Easter, as a representative of the churches in the Roman provence of Asia. This event illustrates that the bishop of Rome was preeminent among bishops — he represented the entire church (except the churches Polycarp was representing).
"In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority." Indeed, "the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time." (77)
Certainly the apostles had to pass the banner on to someone and these people would require a teaching charism of teaching infallible truth. So if a bishop proclaimed that Christ was deity, this was infallibly true because the apostles passed-down this teaching. But when the bishops declared that Galileo was wrong and that the earth was the center of the universe, they were mistaken (I provide plenty of other examples in this article). Because of these kinds of errors, the Church must limit this teaching charism to teachings on faith and morals in which the bishops are infallible. But, as the Arian heresy demonstrates, the bishops were not infallible. Over time they got it right, but this after numerous errors and abuses of those who did have it right. Who knows whether current Church teaching is wrong and some future batch of bishops will correct the mistakes?
So, sadly, paragraph 77 does not provide us Catholics with much help in discerning what is true and what is false; we must try to figure it out for ourselves by examining the same evidence the bishops use. The best of these is the scripture and the writings of the Early Church Fathers. When Catholic teaching collides with these we should be suspicious.
"The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ." This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome. (85)
Short version: The teaching office of the Church resides in the bishops and the pope. I agree with this. Every true doctrine has been taught by the bishops and the pope.
The difficulties for us Catholics:
"Holding a rightful place in the communion of the Church there are also particular Churches that retain their own traditions." The great richness of such diversity is not opposed to the Church's unity. Yet sin and the burden of its consequences constantly threaten the gift of unity. And so the Apostle has to exhort Christians to "maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (814)
Notice that many traditions are allowed. Therefore, these particular traditions are not doctrinally true but are mere expressions of truth. Just as a particular prayer to God does not embody an infallible dogma, so the various and diverse traditions provide for a variety of expression.
If sin threatens unity, than certainly gross, mortal sin by church leaders throughout history and into the present day has destroyed unity on untold occasions. The Catholic Church admits that such a thing is theoretically possible, but it fails to admit that actually has happened, who did it, and what the factors were that led to it.
For example, here is the absurd recounting from Vatican II of the great schism between the eastern and western churches in 1054 A.D.: "Even in the beginnings of this one and only Church of God there arose certain rifts." Note the language: "certain rifts arose." Seemingly, no one was involved and no one was to blame; it just happened on its own.
The truth is that both sides neglected to preserve unity but allowed it to languish, even provoking each other often. Finally, the western church provoked a permanent split.
Apparently, the exhortations by Paul to maintain unity failed to motivate the Church leaders. The bishops fought constantly with one another and they turned the laity into second-class citizens.
Bishops, with priests as co-workers, have as their first task "to preach the Gospel of God to all men," in keeping with the Lord's command. They are "heralds of faith, who draw new disciples to Christ; they are authentic teachers" of the apostolic faith "endowed with the authority of Christ." (888)
Someone forgot to read this paragraph to my former bishop. I never once heard him preach the gospel. I wonder if he was even a Christian.
Certainly some bishops taught the apostolic faith, but throughout church history and into the present time, many have not. What are us laity supposed to do when the bishops don't measure up to their high-calling? The Catholic Church provides us no guidance in this matter other than to make us feel bad for even thinking about such things. This is the kind of mentality that led to the priestly scandals with bishops merely shuffling-around pervert priests.
Thus the risen Christ, by giving the Holy Spirit to the apostles, entrusted to them his power of sanctifying: they became sacramental signs of Christ. By the power of the same Holy Spirit they entrusted this power to their successors. This "apostolic succession" structures the whole liturgical life of the Church and is itself sacramental, handed on by the sacrament of Holy Orders. (1087)
Certainly the Holy Spirit doesn't empower the heretical, unholy, worldly, corrupt bishops. There have been many of these throughout church history and into the present.
In the liturgy of the New Covenant every liturgical action, especially the celebration of the Eucharist and the sacraments, is an encounter between Christ and the Church. The liturgical assembly derives its unity from the "communion of the Holy Spirit" who gathers the children of God into the one Body of Christ. This assembly transcends racial, cultural, social — indeed, all human affinities. (1097)
The Church is composed of people. Only people can encounter Christ, not abstract institutions. Just as the institution of marriage only exists in the form of couples, so also, the institutional church only exists in the form of persons. Thus, if a bishop is corrupt and unholy, the microcosm of the institutional church which he embodies is also flawed.
The Holy Spirit is present in gatherings of people and he works on the souls of corrupt people. But it is wrong to say that a corrupt bishop is doing the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is doing his work in spite of these bishops.
Development of Doctrine
Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries. (66)
There is no new revelation, however, there is to be continued development of doctrine. But it is hard to imagine why there needs to be anymore doctrinal development after 2,000 years? Perhaps future developments will be limited to fixing the mistakes of past doctrinal statements that are provably false or incomplete?
In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm, and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words. (109)
Notice that God speaks to everyone in a human way through sacred scripture. If verses are used to "prove" a doctrine, but the verse doesn't say what is claimed, we should reject this "proof." Once we have a doctrine in hand which was derived and determined by trustworthy and proper methods, it is certainly proper to go back and find verses that apply to the topic in some way.
The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal." (116)
If the proper interpretation of scripture contradicts supposed infallible teachings of the Catholic Church, we should prefer the interpretation from scripture.
Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. (491)
This flowery statement neglects to mention the process by which "the Church" became aware of this. It doesn't mention which Bible verses support this doctrine nor the opinions of the church fathers. In addition, the Orthodox churches don't uniformly believe this doctrine so using the phrase "through the centuries" seems wrong. I should note that I believe the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.
In the New Testament the word "liturgy" refers not only to the celebration of divine worship but also to the proclamation of the Gospel and to active charity. In all of these situations it is a question of the service of God and neighbor. In a liturgical celebration the Church is servant in the image of her Lord, the one "leitourgos"; she shares in Christ's priesthood (worship), which is both prophetic (proclamation) and kingly (service of charity):
The liturgy then is rightly seen as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. It involves the presentation of man's sanctification under the guise of signs perceptible by the senses and its accomplishment in ways appropriate to each of these signs. In it full public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members. From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of his Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others. No other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree. (1070)
An example of how the Catholic Church has changed something from the time of the apostles; it has not merely passed-down the faith. The apostles emphasized evangelism and charity as part of Christian worship but Catholic liturgy doesn't have this at all. Catholics never speak of helping the poor as "liturgy."
In the second paragraph there is no mention whatsoever of evangelism and charity.
"Adhering to the teaching of the Holy Scriptures, to the apostolic traditions, and to the consensus . . . of the Fathers," we profess that "the sacraments of the new law were . . . all instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord." (1114)
Neither the scriptures, nor the writings of the early church fathers, say anything about sacraments. Jesus did not institute the sacraments.
The Church has discerned over the centuries that among liturgical celebrations there are seven that are, in the strict sense of the term, sacraments instituted by the Lord. (1117)
There were different numbers of sacraments at various times of church history and no unanimous agreement on the number. If the early church didn't have seven sacraments, certainly the notion of seven sacraments is not some sort of absolute truth since it was not true for many Christians.
How can Jesus have instituted something which many apostolic Christians didn't know anything about?
The sacraments are "of the Church" in the double sense that they are "by her" and "for her." They are "by the Church," for she is the sacrament of Christ's action at work in her through the mission of the Holy Spirit. They are "for the Church" in the sense that "the sacraments make the Church," since they manifest and communicate to men, above all in the Eucharist, the mystery of communion with the God who is love, One in three persons. (1118)
The idea that the sacraments make the Church is a very narrow view of the Church.
I think it is right that the sacraments are "by her [the Church]" because the Church invented the notion of sacraments. Certainly the apostolic church knew nothing of the sacraments. They practiced the Eucharist and baptism but there is no hint of the verbiage of sacraments in the writings of the Early Church Fathers.
The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation. . . . The fruit of the sacramental life is that the Spirit of adoption makes the faithful partakers in the divine nature by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Savior. (1129)
For believers, sacraments are required for salvation. For unbelievers, sacraments are not required for salvation. This is a very strange statement. Why would God judge believers, his children, more harshly than others? I suppose this means that all the Protestants who are supposedly imperfectly united to the Catholic Church are not really saved after all? I suppose you could make the case that baptism is all that is required for salvation but this paragraph doesn't actually say that; it says sacraments, plural.
Paragraph 1129 reveals the misguided emphasis of the Catholic Church. In contrast to the New Testament, the Catholic Church has placed the emphasis on the sacraments. This is why the faith life of Catholics is languishing, why liberalism has infiltrated, and why so many Catholics convert to Protestantism so they can experience the presence of the Holy Spirit. The apostles simply did not have this sacramental emphasis, in fact, they did not have sacraments at all. Certainly the early Christians didn't require the sacraments in order to be saved.
Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother." The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger. (1858)
Apparently, I am to use the 10 commandments as my guide for what is a mortal sin. Many behaviors which the Catechism refers to as "grave matter" are not specified in the 10 commands at all either directly or by way of application — I suppose I should not consider those things as mortal sins after all.
Paragraph 1858 says that murdering a parent is worse than murdering a stranger. Weird stuff.
Perhaps the reason murder is worse than theft is because murder is a mortal sin but theft is not? And what about comparing murder with destroying someone's reputation. It seems they are both mortal sins, so therefore, murder is a worse mortal sin.
The "divine and natural" law shows man the way to follow so as to practice the good and attain his end. The natural law states the first and essential precepts which govern the moral life. It hinges upon the desire for God and submission to him, who is the source and judge of all that is good, as well as upon the sense that the other is one's equal. Its principal precepts are expressed in the Decalogue. This law is called "natural," not in reference to the nature of irrational beings, but because reason which decrees it properly belongs to human nature:
Where then are these rules written, if not in the book of that light we call the truth? In it is written every just law; from it the law passes into the heart of the man who does justice, not that it migrates into it, but that it places its imprint on it, like a seal on a ring that passes onto wax, without leaving the ring. The natural law is nothing other than the light of understanding placed in us by God; through it we know what we must do and what we must avoid. God has given this light or law at the creation. (1955)
The Catholic Church's teaching about natural law is nonsensical. Natural law shows each of us the way, yet we must submit to the Church's declaration of what natural law decrees. And natural law never changes yet the "infallible" Church has changed teachings which it based on natural law. This all implies to me that the Church's teachings are still in a state of flux; that there are Church teachings which are wrong and that someday the Church will correct these. Meanwhile, us laity must try to figure out what the Church even teaches at all, which is difficult as this article of mine amply demonstrates.
Sometimes the Church seems to emphasize that we should obey the Church as a kind of proxy stand-in for God in order to properly obey God. Perhaps this wouldn't be so troubling except for the many times in church history and into modern times in which the church leaders were completely untrustworthy in this regard.
Paragraph 1955 confirms that the 10 commandments are the ultimate expression of the natural law. This implies that all other Catholic teachings are not true and not obligatory.
I should mention that I completely reject the notion of "natural law."It seems to me like an attempt to merge a false philosophical system into theology (similar to St. Thomas Aquinas' use of Aristotelian philosophy as the basis for his system of theology.)
The natural law, present in the heart of each man and established by reason, is universal in its precepts and its authority extends to all men. It expresses the dignity of the person and determines the basis for his fundamental rights and duties:
For there is a true law: right reason. It is in conformity with nature, is diffused among all men, and is immutable and eternal; its orders summon to duty; its prohibitions turn away from offense. . . . To replace it with a contrary law is a sacrilege; failure to apply even one of its provisions is forbidden; no one can abrogate it entirely. (1956)
See my comments for paragraph 1955.
The natural law is immutable and permanent throughout the variations of history; it subsists under the flux of ideas and customs and supports their progress. The rules that express it remain substantially valid. Even when it is rejected in its very principles, it cannot be destroyed or removed from the heart of man. It always rises again in the life of individuals and societies. (1958)
See my comments for paragraph 1955.
The authority of the Magisterium extends also to the specific precepts of the natural law, because their observance, demanded by the Creator, is necessary for salvation. In recalling the prescriptions of the natural law, the Magisterium of the Church exercises an essential part of its prophetic office of proclaiming to men what they truly are and reminding them of what they should be before God. (2036)
See my comments for paragraph 1955.
The Ten Commandments belong to God's revelation. At the same time they teach us the true humanity of man. They bring to light the essential duties, and therefore, indirectly, the fundamental rights inherent in the nature of the human person. The Decalogue contains a privileged expression of the natural law. (2070)
The 10 commandments and the natural law are the same thing. Yet the Church also adds much to natural law and claims it is contained within each person's conscience. You can't have it both ways.
This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, "the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes." "The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer." (78)
Something transmitted via Tradition must be true — changing things or inventing things does not qualify. The Holy Spirit is not going to transmit falsehood via Tradition. For example, saying that an unholy, corrupt, faithless bishop is a defender of the faith is simply incorrect.
Aspects of so-called Tradition which are provably false are not part of Tradition at all and the Church should stop calling them thus. For example, allowing a divorced and remarried Orthodox person who converts to Catholicism to receive the Eucharist but denying it to a Catholic in the same predicament is simply not an expression of Tradition — apparently divorce and remarriage does not always constitute adultery in spite of the Catholic Church's insistence that this injunction was "passed-down" from the apostles.
An error of the Protestant Reformation is in rejecting the writings of the Early Church Fathers as sources of truth.
The Church, a communion living in the faith of the apostles which she transmits, is the place where we know the Holy Spirit: (688)
Conspicuously absent is any reference to the Holy Spirit's enlivening the faith life of individual Christians. This is perhaps why the faith life of Catholics in general is so dead.
In #2 note that Tradition is equated with the writings of the church fathers. The assumption is that statements of these church fathers which are in error were not inspired by the Holy Spirit.
In #3 note that the only aspect of the magisteriumwhich is trustworthy and true are those teachings and dictates which were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Provably wrong statements are not really part of the magisterium of the Church (but the poor hapless Catholics didn't know these were invalid at the time). Catholics must be on guard not to follow any dictates of the teaching magisterium of the Catholic Church which are either provably wrong or which are highly suspect.
In #8 note that some Saints did some unrighteous things. Certainly the Holy Spirit was not involved in those things.
Notice that there is no reference to the institutional church, the hierarchical church leadership, the sacrament of Holy Orders, or the apostolic succession of ordination.
In the Church this communion of men with God, in the "love [that] never ends," is the purpose which governs everything in her that is a sacramental means, tied to this passing world. "[The Church's] structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ's members. And holiness is measured according to the 'great mystery' in which the Bride responds with the gift of love to the gift of the Bridegroom." Mary goes before us all in the holiness that is the Church's mystery as "the bride without spot or wrinkle." This is why the "Marian" dimension of the Church precedes the "Petrine." (773)
So many times in church history (and into the present day) Catholics have not been encouraged to be in communion with God, in fact, they've often been discouraged from this. It is hard to take seriously the statement that "the Church structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ's members" — it is idealistic in the extreme. It would be great if the structure of the Church was ordered to this goal.
Instead, we see a good-ol-boy mentality in which others are blamed for their failings and in which past errors and mistakes must be enshrined as truth, because error was infallibly decreed to be truth. Each successive generation of church leaders must add on to this already-unwieldy edifice.
The best thing would be for the Church to abandon its past statements and start over from scratch. Large corporations often go out of business when they become bloated with processes and bureaucracy. The Catholic Church is certainly bloated in this way.
Knowing that the hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father, in the course of a meal he [the Lord] washed their feet and gave them the commandment of love. (1337)
The Catholic Church has a yearly foot washing ceremony but it doesn't match the biblical account in John 13:5 at all — Jesus washes the feet of the apostles; but on the Thursday before Easter, the priests and deacons wash the feet of whoever twelve laity happen to volunteer to have their feet washed. This ceremony is idiotic and loses the symbolic meaning of the New Testament.
"In order that the mission entrusted to them might be continued after their death, [the apostles] consigned, by will and testament, as it were, to their immediate collaborators the duty of completing and consolidating the work they had begun, urging them to tend to the whole flock, in which the Holy Spirit had appointed them to shepherd the Church of God. They accordingly designated such men and then made the ruling that likewise on their death other proven men should take over their ministry." (861)
I wish the Catholic bishops throughout history and into the present were all qualified to be successors of the apostles, but sadly, many weren't. I doubt the apostles had in mind that some of the these bad bishops would become their successors when they began ordaining bishops.
The Catholic Church doesn't provide any guidance whatsoever for what us poor hapless laity are to do when our priests and bishops allow liberalism to invade the church.
"Christ, sent by the Father, is the source of the Church's whole apostolate"; thus the fruitfulness of apostolate for ordained ministers as well as for lay people clearly depends on their vital union with Christ. In keeping with their vocations, the demands of the times and the various gifts of the Holy Spirit, the apostolate assumes the most varied forms. But charity, drawn from the Eucharist above all, is always "as it were, the soul of the whole apostolate." (864)
This paragraph seems to claim that the clergy and laity are in union of Christ via the Eucharist. It seems to ignore the many kinds of bad things bishops did throughout church history in which they were clearly not in union with Christ. Merely partaking of the Eucharist is not sufficient to provide unity with Christ. Yet, at many times in Church History the Church seemed to think it had done it's pastoral job by providing weekly mass for the laity even though these people had no lively, Spirit-filled faith life at all — often they were steeped in superstition which the bishops encouraged (and perhaps believed themselves.)
Certain particularly grave sins incur excommunication, the most severe ecclesiastical penalty, which impedes the reception of the sacraments and the exercise of certain ecclesiastical acts, and for which absolution consequently cannot be granted, according to canon law, except by the Pope, the bishop of the place or priests authorized by them. In danger of death any priest, even if deprived of faculties for hearing confessions, can absolve from every sin and excommunication. (1463)
Apparently at a person's death, all the myriad of rules and laws are suspended. Two here:
This implies that absolution of sins doesn't really do anything. Here's why. Take two excommunicated Catholics near death and two priests who cannot hear confessions. Catholic #1 is able to get priest #1 to hear his confession and absolve him of this sins so his sins are forgiven and he goes to purgatory at death. Catholic #2 dies too soon before his priest arrives so he goes to hell. Is this justice? God is not bound by legal technicalities such as these; therefore, this teaching is flawed.
The confessor is not the master of God's forgiveness, but its servant. The minister of this sacrament should unite himself to the intention and charity of Christ. He should have a proven knowledge of Christian behavior, experience of human affairs, respect and sensitivity toward the one who has fallen; he must love the truth, be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, and lead the penitent with patience toward healing and full maturity. He must pray and do penance for his penitent, entrusting him to the Lord's mercy. (1466)
The priest should do a lot, but what if he doesn't? I have been to confession many times with priests who obviously were not faithful to the Magisterium of the Church. What of the poor hapless penitent who gets a priest like this? The Catechism doesn't say much about this but it is all too common.
In Christian tradition it [the word "liturgy"] means the participation of the People of God in "the work of God." Through the liturgy Christ, our redeemer and high priest, continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through his Church. (1069)
It seems odd that Christ would be working in a congregation of liberal Catholics, superstitious Catholics, and cultural Catholics. There should be mention of the correct belief and faith of the participants as a necessary ingredient.
As the work of Christ liturgy is also an action of his Church. It makes the Church present and manifests her as the visible sign of the communion in Christ between God and men. It engages the faithful in the new life of the community and involves the "conscious, active, and fruitful participation" of everyone. (1071)
Repeatedly standing and sitting and muttering some canned prayers on auto-pilot doesn't qualify as "conscious, active, and fruitful participation." The Catechism seems to assume that everyone is fully engaged in the goings-on during mass but this is not true. How many stories there are of Catholics who converted to Protestantism because the liturgy for them was lifeless.
The word "everyone" should be replaced with "everyone who is engaged in the proceedings, who has knowledge of the teachings of the church, and who has a lively faith in Christ."
Certainly this paragraph doesn't apply to baptism and confirmation in which the people don't even participate.
"The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the font from which all her power flows." It is therefore the privileged place for catechizing the People of God. "Catechesis [religious instruction] is intrinsically linked with the whole of liturgical and sacramental activity, for it is in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist, that Christ Jesus works in fullness for the transformation of men." (1074)
The doesn't match the writings of the New Testament at all. There is no emphasis there on sacraments and liturgy. Apparently, the early church didn't emphasize liturgy and the sacraments as the Catholic Church later came to do.
This explains why the church felt it had done its job if it provided regular mass for the people whether or not they had a lively faith in Christ or not. We see plenty of example of superstition and blind tradition being the dominate factor in the life of Catholics.
In every liturgical action the Holy Spirit is sent in order to bring us into communion with Christ and so to form his Body. The Holy Spirit is like the sap of the Father's vine which bears fruit on its branches. The most intimate cooperation of the Holy Spirit and the Church is achieved in the liturgy. The Spirit who is the Spirit of communion, abides indefectibly [perfectly] in the Church. For this reason the Church is the great sacrament of divine communion which gathers God's scattered children together. Communion with the Holy Trinity and fraternal communion are inseparably the fruit of the Spirit in the liturgy. (1108)
The New Testament states that redeemed Christians are the body of Christ whether or not they are in a liturgical celebration or not.
The Church doesn't do a very good job of gathering God's scattered children together. It often alienates them because of its wrong emphasis on works, human tradition, superstition, ritual, and other such non-apostolic activities.
But "the members do not all have the same function." Certain members are called by God, in and through the Church, to a special service of the community. These servants are chosen and consecrated by the sacrament of Holy Orders, by which the Holy Spirit enables them to act in the person of Christ the head, for the service of all the members of the Church. The ordained minister is, as it were, an "icon" of Christ the priest. Since it is in the Eucharist that the sacrament of the Church is made fully visible, it is in his presiding at the Eucharist that the bishop's ministry is most evident, as well as, in communion with him, the ministry of priests and deacons. (1142)
Apostolic ordination was nothing like the sacrament of Holy Orders. The idea of leaders of the church acting in the person of Christ, as "icons," is not to be found in the New Testament nor in the writings of the Early Church Fathers.
It seems like the main role of apostolic New Testament ordination was to certify which leaders were qualified and could be trusted by the people to teach the true faith. Nowadays, this apostolic faith is not taught by many bishops who prefer, instead, to emphasize the workings and administration of the Church, performing rites and rituals, various ecumenical pursuits with the Anglicans or Lutherans, defending liturgical abuses, shuffling around pervert priests, etc.
The mystery of Christ is so unfathomably rich that it cannot be exhausted by its expression in any single liturgical tradition. The history of the blossoming and development of these rites witnesses to a remarkable complementarity. When the Churches lived their respective liturgical traditions in the communion of the faith and the sacraments of the faith, they enriched one another and grew in fidelity to Tradition and to the common mission of the whole Church. (1201)
Each Catholic will experience the liturgy in only one tradition so why does it matter that there are many traditions? Also, since each Catholic is missing those things which are in the other liturgical traditions, this implies that all the set of differences are all in some way essential (since some group of Catholics are missing out on them).
If we include the early church in this (the truly apostolic church), we see that nearly everything liturgical is non-essential. The only essential elements are the rough outline of the rubrics — basically what the early church practiced is the essential.
From church history we learn that the differences in language, liturgy, and culture resulted in the great schism of 1054 A.D. The so-called complementarity mentioned is little more than someone's too-active imagination.
Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law. There are seven: Baptism, Confirmation (or Chrismation), the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life: they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian's life of faith. There is thus a certain resemblance between the stages of natural life and the stages of the spiritual life. (1210)
There were not always seven sacraments. The apostolic church didn't have any sacraments. Later, after the idea of sacraments developed, there was much debate about just what was and what wasn't a sacrament. Finally, they settled on seven. But for many Christians, there were not seven sacraments.
Christ never once mentioned anything about sacraments. He certainly didn't institute the sacraments unless you can say with a straight face the Christ instituted vestments and their colors.
I doubt that the sacraments represent the stages of the spiritual life.
The [baptismal] name one receives is a name for eternity. (2159)
I didn't receive a new name during baptism because the fundamentalist Protestants don't do this. Does this mean I won't have a name for all eternity?
Paragraph 2159 is one of the dumbest in the Catechism. Some parent chooses a name (probably at random) of a Saint during my baptism as an infant and then I am stuck with this name forever, even though, when I grow up, my life doesn't happened to become formed by this Saint or their influence in the slightest.
In addition, this verse smacks of superstition which was condemned in paragraph 2111.
The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law. (2291)
Ignoring the aspect of illegal drugs which involves crime, and assuming that the drugs in question are legal: Why are drugs bad but alcohol good? The assumptions are: (1) alcohol is not a drug the way the other drugs are, and (2) the quantity of alcohol consumed by a person can be controlled but the quantity of drugs cannot.
I am not advocating drug use. I think that alcohol and drugs are both equally bad. (Some drugs such as cocaine, heroin, etc. are obviously much, much worse than alcohol and are, in fact, in a completely different category.)
Alcohol use has a much worse effect on human health and life than marijuana (for example).
God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them: "Give to him who begs from you, do not refuse him who would borrow from you"; "you received without pay, give without pay." It is by what they have done for the poor that Jesus Christ will recognize his chosen ones. When "the poor have the good news preached to them," it is the sign of Christ's presence. (2443)
It is not possible nor wise to give to everyone who begs from you:
The Catechism fails to mention any of these important considerations and prefers to make you feel bad if you say no to a beggar on the street.
In the living tradition of prayer, each Church proposes to its faithful, according to its historic, social, and cultural context, a language for prayer: words, melodies, gestures, iconography. The Magisterium of the Church has the task of discerning the fidelity of these ways of praying to the tradition of apostolic faith; it is for pastors and catechists to explain their meaning, always in relation to Jesus Christ. (2663)
Note that the passed-on Tradition of the apostolic faith has only the bare-bones structure of the liturgy and prayer. Therefore, all the details filled-in by all the various churches are not true, but are merely traditions.
No one ever once explained the meaning of the liturgy or of prayer — I studied this topic on my own.
Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it. (552)
Peter had two lapses after this:
And popes throughout history have had terrible "lapses" of faith; some are better named as apostasy.
Against this doctrine [perpetual virginity of Mary] the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus. The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. (500)
It seems wrong to be to use the word "always." The earliest church fathers don't mention this at all.
"The gospel was preached even to the dead." The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment. This is the last phase of Jesus' messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ's redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption. (634)
Christ went down into the depths of death so that "the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live." (635)
These passages clearly state that Jesus descended into hell to preach the gospel to the dead so they could accept salvation through faith in Jesus. There are two problems with this:
"Christ is the light of humanity; and it is, accordingly, the heart-felt desire of this sacred Council [Vatican II], being gathered together in the Holy Spirit, that, by proclaiming his Gospel to every creature, it may bring to all men that light of Christ which shines out visibly from the Church". . . . The Church has no other light than Christ's. (748)
Sadly, not all canons of all councils have been true and just; they have not always shined Christ's light into the world. Sadly, us poor hapless Catholics don't know which statements to accept and which to reject — we must judge these based on our knowledge of Christ's teaching.
Yes, the Church has the light of Christ but, sadly, it has also all-too-often manifested darkness. I would prefer if the Church admitted this and informed us poor hapless Catholics which actions, statements, teachings, and dictates are truly of Christ and which are not so we don't have to try to figure it out for ourselves and risk being disobedient to the Church when we reject evil.
"The Church . . . will receive its perfection only in the glory of heaven," at the time of Christ's glorious return. Until that day, "the Church progresses on her pilgrimage amidst this world's persecutions and God's consolations." Here below she knows that she is in exile far from the Lord, and longs for the full coming of the Kingdom, when she will "be united in glory with her king." The Church, and through her the world, will not be perfected in glory without great trials. Only then will "all the just from the time of Adam, 'from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect,' . . . be gathered together in the universal Church in the Father's presence." (769)
This passage fails to mention that many of the Church's trials were self-caused, by unholy church leaders. This is an example in which the Catholic Church prefers to blame everyone except herself for her predicament. Sadly, Catholics at large have had to bear the brunt of the abuses.
"Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time." Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her. . . . The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit. (820)
This statement that the Church can never lose unity is untrue. The great schism of 1054 A.D. resulted in disunity between the east and west. The Protestant Reformation in the 1500's again fractured unity in the one church. And the tumultuous proceedings at the time of the Arian heresy was certainly not an example of unity. The multiple episodes of multiple popes at a time demonstrates disunity.
United with Christ, the Church is sanctified by him; through him and with him she becomes sanctifying. "All the activities of the Church are directed, as toward their end, to the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God." It is in the Church that "the fullness of the means of salvation" has been deposited. It is in her that "by the grace of God we acquire holiness." (824)
I wish the last sentence were true, that members of the Catholic Church acquired holiness. Sadly, many Catholics are anything but holy.
It seems the church leaders lost sight of their mission often throughout church history and into the present.
"The Church of Christ is really present in all legitimately organized local groups of the faithful, which, in so far as they are united to their pastors, are also quite appropriately called Churches in the New Testament . . . . In them the faithful are gathered together through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, and the mystery of the Lord's Supper is celebrated . . . . In these communities, though they may often be small and poor, or existing in the diaspora, Christ is present, through whose power and influence the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is constituted." (832)
There is a contradiction here. Protestant communities are considered to be united to the Catholic Church (although imperfectly united), yet here we learn that they are not even Churches at all; they don't even have apostolic succession. Since they are not legitimately organized, Christ is not present. So how can they be united to the Catholic Church if Christ is not present?
Particular Churches are fully catholic through their communion with one of them, the Church of Rome "which presides in charity." "For with this church, by reason of its pre-eminence, the whole Church, that is the faithful everywhere, must necessarily be in accord." Indeed, "from the incarnate Word's descent to us, all Christian churches everywhere have held and hold the great Church that is here [at Rome] to be their only basis and foundation since, according to the Savior's promise, the gates of hell have never prevailed against her." (834)
The Orthodox Churches are not in union with Rome yet they have valid sacraments and apostolic succession.
The reason given why all churches hold Rome as the foundation is wrong as is the statement itself that all churches hold Rome as the foundation. In order to accept this statement as true we must believe that only the Catholic Church is a Christian church; all others are imposters. Yet, the Church doesn't teach this and neither does the Catechism.
"Accordingly, just as Christ was sent by the Father so also he sent the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit. This he did so that they might preach the Gospel to every creature. (1086)
Clearly, Christ did not intend that the apostles preach the gospel to everyone — this feat was geographically impossible. The Catechism is very loose with its use of the words "everyone" and "all."
The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians and that the justified man is still bound to keep them; the Second Vatican Council confirms: "The bishops, successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord . . . the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments." (2068)
There is a contradiction here. We are to obey the 10 commandments, but yet we change the Sabbath to Sunday. By disobeying the 10 commandments we lose our salvation.
Since they express man's fundamental duties towards God and towards his neighbor, the Ten Commandments reveal, in their primordial content, grave obligations. They are fundamentally immutable, and they oblige always and everywhere. No one can dispense from them. The Ten Commandments are engraved by God in the human heart. (2072)
Yet the Church has changed one: the Sabbath to Sunday. There is no justification for this. Or at the very least it contradicts their claim that the 10 commandments are grave obligations. Also, the Church teaches that conscience must be formed by learning the truth; that it is not engraved in the human heart. Make up your mind; you can't have it both ways.
The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith:
Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief.
Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness. (2088)
Certain things that the Church proposes for belief are provably wrong. Also, we are to believe certain things that the Church teaches merely because the Church teaches them; not because they are true — in fact, the Church admits they might not be true. An additional problem is that it is impossible to even know what the Church teaches. Certainly the Catechism is not a good guide as I have demonstrated in this current article.
There is no such thing as "voluntary doubt." If people believe something to be true, they won't pretend that they don't believe it. If they pretend they believe something but don't act on it, this means they don't really believe it. I don't know if it is possible to deliberately cultivate doubt. If someone doubts, it is because they are not convinced of the truth of the claims.
There is nothing wrong in having difficulty in overcoming objections. There are good reasons to have serious objections about the claims of the Catholic Church, Not everybody can study church history, the writings of the church fathers, and the Bible adequately to come to a clear opinion. It is very condescending for the Church to condemn people in this predicament.
It is preposterous to say that people should not have anxiety about the obscurity of the knowledge of the faith, that they should simply jump in with both feet and believe it anyway. The Bible contradicts paragraph 2088:
(Romans 14:23) And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. . . . These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the "just war" doctrine. (2309)
I only quote part of paragraph 2309 here. My complaint is that the Catechism leaves out one of the key ingredients that Augustine included in his "just war" doctrine: can't strike preemptively if the enemy is mobilizing but, rather, must wait until they strike first before using military force. I prefer the Catechism's version but my complaint is they claim it is the traditional "just war" doctrine but it is missing an important ingredient as I noted.
Nature of the Church
Salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother: "We believe the Church as the mother of our new birth, and not in the Church as if she were the author of our salvation." Because she is our mother, she is also our teacher in the faith. (169)
Whatever leads us to a life of faith is the church; conversely, whatever leads us away from a life of faith is not the church. In assessing church history and doctrine we should accept the former and reject the latter. Thus, bad bishops, bad teachings, contradictory doctrines, changes, etc. are not of the church. These things may be tacked-on to the same institutional structure as the good stuff, but these are parasites dragging everyone down towards hell.
My complaint is that the Catholic Church doesn't reject such bad things strongly enough; they are caught up in politics, institutional inertia, etc. Thus we cannot accept "The Catholic Church" as one monolithic package-deal — we must accept some, reject others, all the while acknowledging that this church structure is the means of salvation (just as the flawed nation of Israel in the Old Testament was the source of salvation). We must obey while at the same time rejecting the wickedness (just as the Old Testament prophets exhorted the people to reject the wickedness of their leaders).
All true and faith-filled teaching is from the church. To detect where the church is and isn't, we merely need to observe where truth is or isn't. If a bishop shuffles pervert priests to the harm of the flock, he is not the church; if a poor widow says "praise be to God," she is the church as much as any bishop or pope. Certainly the bishops and popes have a special role, but they must be teaching truth and living truthfully in order to fulfill this role. The Holy Spirit was not working in the bishops who showed Galileo the instruments of torture.
As Lord, Christ is also head of the Church, which is his Body. Taken up to heaven and glorified after he had thus fully accomplished his mission, Christ dwells on earth in his Church. . . . "The kingdom of Christ [is] already present in mystery", "on earth, the seed and the beginning of the kingdom". (669)
This passage says that the Church is the body of Christ, the set of all the redeemed. The wicked are not part of the body of Christ even if they are members of the Catholic Church. This passage says nothing of a visible human institution.
The Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity [holiness] that is real but imperfect. (670)
Based on this passage, all unholy church leaders are not part of Christ's kingdom, of Christ's church. Corruption is not holiness, neither is it imperfect holiness.
The mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. This joint mission henceforth brings Christ's faithful to share in his communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. (737)
The Church is holy. Therefore, all the bad activities and evil church leaders are not part of the Church. At many times in Church history, Christ's faithful were exploited, lied to, abused, and neglected by the so-called Church. Based on this passage, these happenings were not part of the Church at all.
The word "Church" (Latin ecclesia . . .) means a convocation or an assembly. . . . Ekklesia is used frequently in the Greek Old Testament for the assembly of the Chosen People before God, above all for their assembly on Mount Sinai where Israel received the Law and was established by God as his holy people. By calling itself "Church," the first community of Christian believers recognized itself as heir to that assembly. In the Church, God is "calling together" his people from all the ends of the earth." (751)
Notice that Old Testament Israel is "the Church" just as much as the New Testament church. The difference is in calling people from the whole world instead of just the descendants of Israel.
Also, notice that the Church exists in the context of the worshipping assembly. Perhaps this is why Catholic bishops ignore the faith life of Catholics — they are only concerned with public worship in the liturgy and the sacraments.
The reference to Israel as "holy people" (even though many of their leaders sinned against God and against the people) perhaps provides a frame of reference for why the Catholic Church considers itself holy even though so many of its leaders have been unworthy of the name of Christ. In referring to the Church, they mean only that abstract idea in general, not the particular historical situations which occurred. Thus, just as God created the world and called it good (even though it became Satan's world of wickedness), so also, the Church is holy (even though there is such wickedness pervading it as I have noted).
The gathering together of the People of God began at the moment when sin destroyed the communion of men with God, and that of men among themselves. The gathering together of the Church is, as it were, God's reaction to the chaos provoked by sin. This reunification is achieved secretly in the heart of all peoples: "In every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable" to God. (761)
Notice that the Church has been in existence since Adam's fall. Martin Luther referred to people in the Old Testament as "the Church." The Church established on the day of Pentecost is just another phase of the already-existing Church.
"The Lord Jesus inaugurated [began] his Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Reign of God, promised over the ages in the scriptures." To fulfill the Father's will, Christ ushered in the Kingdom of heaven on earth. The Church "is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery." (763)
Christ's Church is free of wickedness and evil. Thus, it excludes the unholy bishops of church history and into the present. It also excludes error. The Catholic Church presents itself as of Christ without referring to the abuses, errors, corruption, unholiness, etc.
"The one mediator, Christ, established and ever sustains here on earth his holy Church, the community of faith, hope, and charity, as a visible organization through which he communicates truth and grace to all men." The Church is at the same time: (771)
The Church has 2 aspects:
However, just because there is an earthly, institutional, organizational component to the Church doesn't mean that church leaders can do whatever they want. When they commit atrocities and abuses, or teach error, or neglect the flock, they damage both the institutional Church and Christ's mystical presence within the Church, just as the presence of God left the temple of Israel (Ezekiel 11:23).
A church, "a house of prayer in which the Eucharist is celebrated and reserved, where the faithful assemble, and where is worshipped the presence of the Son of God our Savior, offered for us on the sacrificial altar for the help and consolation of the faithful. (1181)
The are various meaning of the word "church." Usually, the Catechism blends these meanings together but here we see a clear definition of the church building (a Catholic Church). Even an Orthodox Church building would not qualify as a church under this definition because they don't reserve the Eucharist.
Guards the Faith
The Church, "the pillar and bulwark of the truth", faithfully guards "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints". She guards the memory of Christ's words; it is she who from generation to generation hands on the apostles' confession of faith. As a mother who teaches her children to speak and so to understand and communicate, the Church our Mother teaches us the language of faith in order to introduce us to the understanding and the life of faith. (171)
The Church guards the faith. Therefore, whatever is true is what is being guarded (for example, the memory of Christ's words.) Anytime anyone in the world remembers Christ's words, this is possible because the church guarded and shared those words. Perhaps they heard the words on a TV show — for the instant that the show was proclaiming accurately Christ's words, that show was the church. We should follow the truth around and the church follows the truth around.
Church leaders (the bishops) have a responsibility to accurately present Christ's words and the truth. Sadly, there many times throughout history and today in which they claim they are guarding the faith, but they are actually destroying the faith. A bishop is only a true bishop when he is acting like a bishop is supposed to act. At other times, he may be a bishop in name (and via ordination) but he is no bishop at all — he is an imposter. It reminds me of fundamentalist evangelical Protestants who claim to be born-again but sin wickedly. They don't think much of it because they believe once-saved-always-saved. The bad Catholic bishops have a similar view — because they were ordained via the sacrament of Holy Orders, they think they can do no wrong, that they can teach and preach the truth because of their innate charism of infallibility.
This is an area in which the Catholic Church should modify its teachings. It should insist on holiness for bishops. And it should genuinely admit guilt when it apologizes for wrongdoing instead of making the victim feel like it was their fault.
"Indeed, the Church, though scattered throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, having received the faith from the apostles and their disciples . . . guards [this preaching and faith] with care, as dwelling in but a single house, and similarly believes as if having but one soul and a single heart, and preaches, teaches and hands on this faith with a unanimous voice, as if possessing only one mouth." (173)
Such idealistic and flowery language. What this says it that there is only one true faith, not two.
I should mention that at the time Irenaeus wrote this 1,800 years ago, all the modern Catholic doctrines had not yet been even dreamed of. The faith of his day was a lot simpler. Perhaps Protestants would have agreed with it. But the church continued to add on, to develop, without keeping the original apostolic faith as the central priority. Today, many Catholics are ignorant of the Bible and know more about the church calendar and the colors of vestments than about the essential doctrines of the faith. That is my complaint. The bishops are at fault for not presenting everything in their proper perspective and for not enforcing that their priests do the same.
The bishops should not be so smug that they are guarding the faith passed-down to them from the apostles — they haven't seemed to noticed that they let hungry wolves in among the sheep.
Thus the Church's mission is not an addition to that of Christ and the Holy Spirit, but is its sacrament: in her whole being and in all her members, the Church is sent to announce, bear witness, make present, and spread the mystery of the communion of the Holy Trinity. (738)
We should reject all the unholy and wicked activities of the leaders of the Church throughout history and into the present day since these activities are not part of the Church's mission. The same goes for errors of teaching and for immoral teaching.
It is in the Church that Christ fulfills and reveals his own mystery as the purpose of God's plan: "to unite all things in him." St. Paul calls the nuptial union of Christ and the Church "a great mystery." Because she is united to Christ as to her bridegroom, she becomes a mystery in her turn. Contemplating this mystery in her, Paul exclaims: "Christ in you, the hope of glory." (772)
This "nuptial union" of Christ and the Church is shattered when the leaders are corrupt, unholy, abusive, neglectful, etc. Just as Israel's unfaithfulness resulted in God's abandonment of his chosen nation, so also God abandons his Church in times such as this. He still works in the hearts of his redeemed, but his Church becomes a tool of Satan.
I have never heard the Catholic Church teach anything about what occurred and still occurs with these bad bishops and priests. It's as if the abstract ideal of the Church is all they care about.
There can be no unity between the faithful laity and the corrupt bishops, just as there is no unity in a marriage in which one of the partners is committing adultery.
As sacrament, the Church is Christ's instrument. "She is taken up by him also as the instrument for the salvation of all," "the universal sacrament of salvation," by which Christ is "at once manifesting and actualizing the mystery of God's love for men." The Church "is the visible plan of God's love for humanity," because God desires "that the whole human race may become one People of God, form one Body of Christ, and be built up into one temple of the Holy Spirit." (776)
This passage is idealistic in the extreme and ignores all the abuses of Church History. Why would anyone want to join an institution that exploits is members and in which its leaders are hypocrites? Jesus called the hypocritical, abusive, exploitative Jewish leaders of his day "whitewashed tombs" (Matthew 23).
The body's unity does not do away with the diversity of its members: "In the building up of Christ's Body there is engaged a diversity of members and functions. There is only one Spirit who, according to his own richness and the needs of the ministries, gives his different gifts for the welfare of the Church." (791)
The authority of the bishops was given for the benefit of the Church and the whole world. But they do not always fulfill their high calling. It makes sense to read the apostles speaking like this in the New Testament. But when the Catholic Church apes these same kind of statements after centuries of having done exactly the opposite, it sounds weird indeed.
It would be more satisfying if the Catholic Church presented the ideal along with listing its failings throughout history and into the present, but this is never done. Rather, the failings are mentioned in an idealistic manner that robs them of any application to individual circumstances.
For example, in supposedly apologizing for the Church's burning at the stake of Jan Hus, Pope John Paul II said: "I feel the need to express a profound regret for the cruel death inflicted on Jan Hus and the consequent wound, the source of conflicts and divisions, which were opened in the spirits and the hearts of the Bohemian people." He should have said that the church leaders were wrong, that he was not a heretic as claimed, that the awful doctrine of infallibility was flawed and would be reworked, and that the church offices which are still in existence even today are immoral and will be dismantled.
Christ "is the head of the body, the Church." He is the principle of creation and redemption. Raised to the Father's glory, "in everything he [is] preeminent," especially in the Church, through whom he extends his reign over all things. (792)
This should read, "in everything he should be preeminent, especially in the Church." Maybe Christ is preeminent in the Church at times; or in some abstract idealist way; or in general, ignoring the specific situations in which he clearly was not preeminent in the Church.
The Church is catholic in a double sense: First, the Church is catholic because Christ is present in her. "Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic Church." In her subsists the fullness of Christ's body united with its head. (830)
Christ is not present in the presence of unrepented sin. Therefore, Christ was not present with the church clergy or laity throughout much of church history. The church has often been adrift, unmoored from Christ its foundation.
Body of Christ
Christ suffered for the salvation and redemption of all who will accept in faith. But his suffering is not the end of suffering — Christians must endure suffering; some more, some less. Paul is suffering for the sake of the church, in his role as apostle. Because the church continues on in history, the suffering of Christians continues on as well. Because Christians constitute the body of Christ, there is a sense in which this suffering by Christians is actually Christ's suffering; in other words, there is more to Christ's suffering than what he suffered in his lifetime on earth.
(Acts 9:5) And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Paul persecutes Jesus by persecuting Christians. This is because Christians are the body of Christ. What happens to Christians happens to Christ who resides mystically within the heart of each believer.
Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: "Therefore . . . we are members one of another." Baptism incorporates us into the Church. From the baptismal fonts is born the one People of God of the New Covenant, which transcends all the natural or human limits of nations, cultures, races, and sexes: "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body." (1267)
If we join the Church through baptism, why is there a second, separate membership of the Church? Apparently, membership in the Church has nothing to do with being a member of the body of Christ. This might explain why there are so many unholy bishops throughout church history and into the present day. They don't see a problem with being leaders of the Church even if they are not members of the body of Christ — these two things are distinct and separate.
At every time and in every place, God draws close to man. . . . He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. (1)
Martin Luther called the redeemed of all ages the Church, even those in the Old Testament such as Noah, etc. Apparently, the Catholic Church agrees with this.
In Christian usage, the word "church" designates the liturgical assembly, but also the local community or the whole universal community of believers. These three meanings are inseparable. "The Church" is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ's Body. (752)
Notice that "the Church" (the body of Christ) is the sum total of all the redeemed of Christ; it excludes those who are not the redeemed. The 3 aspects of the word "church" merely express 3 activities of these redeemed:
The comparison of the Church with the body casts light on the intimate bond between Christ and his Church. Not only is she gathered around him; she is united in him, in his body. Three aspects of the Church as the Body of Christ are to be more specifically noted: the unity of all her members with each other as a result of their union with Christ; Christ as head of the Body; and the Church as bride of Christ. (789)
Certainly a holy Christian is mystically united within Christ's mystical body. This mystical body extends down into each Christian who is holy but it does not extend into those who are unholy, especially church leaders.
The Church makes much of the idea that us Catholics are united to each other. But in mass I am completely alone — I don't know anyone and I never will. I can't in good conscience say the Penitential Rite in mass ("I confess to . . you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned. . . . Therefore, I ask . . . you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me. . . .").
I have learned over the years than many of the Catholics I share the pews with are not even Christians, or they are liberal-Catholics. Certainly I am not united with them in the least. And the priests are no better. This unity thing is a joke.
"What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the Body of Christ, which is the Church." "To this Spirit of Christ, as an invisible principle, is to be ascribed the fact that all the parts of the body are joined one with the other and with their exalted head; for the whole Spirit of Christ is in the head, the whole Spirit is in the body, and the whole Spirit is in each of the members." The Holy Spirit makes the Church "the temple of the living God". (797)
This analogy between the human soul and body, and Christ and the Church, has a bad side-effect:
The soul of a wicked person remains always united with the person's body. However, Christ, who is holy, cannot remain united to Christians who are unholy (clergy or laity). This is why mortal sin requires confession, because it severs one's relationship with God.
Yes, members of Christ's body (the redeemed) are joined to Christ, the head of the body. But wicked bishops are probably not even members of Christ's body at all. And the ones who are redeemed but who are performing atrocities out of ignorance are certainly not filled with the Holy Spirit. These unholy church leaders are not energizing or enlivening Christ's Church, rather, they are dead weight, pulling the Church down with them.
Only faith can recognize that the Church possesses these properties from her divine source. But their historical manifestations are signs that also speak clearly to human reason. As the First Vatican Council noted, the "Church herself, with her marvelous propagation, eminent holiness, and inexhaustible fruitfulness in everything good, her catholic unity and invincible stability, is a great and perpetual motive of credibility and an irrefutable witness of her divine mission." (812)
If we ignore all the bad stuff, then we can indeed say that the Church is historically all these things. The Catechism assumes we will ignore all the bad stuff, but why should we? The Church should include it in its description of itself. Because it doesn't do this, its descriptions of itself get weirder and weirder with each passing century.
One of the signs of a cult or tyranny is that the strong, domineering leader revises history and expects unwavering loyalty to the idealistic, head-in-the-clouds descriptions it provides. The Catholic Church has these tendencies.
You can make the case that just as in a healthy marriage, the spouses will de-emphasize the bad stuff to keep the peace, the Catholic Church is wise to do this. But in this healthy marriage, the spouses will have realistically acknowledged the full badness of the bad stuff and made amends. The Catholic Church never does this with its members, it skips that step.
The Church is one because of her source: "the highest exemplar and source of this mystery is the unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit." The Church is one because of her founder: for "the Word made flesh, the prince of peace, reconciled all men to God by the cross, . . . restoring the unity of all in one people and one body." The Church is one because of her "soul": "It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church's unity." Unity is of the essence of the Church. (813)
Certainly there is only one Church, not two. So all manifestations of this Church are in mystical unity with every other just as the persons of the Godhead are in unity.
Note that the Holy Spirit only dwells in those who believe. Someone is not a member of the Church if they are not a member of the redeemed, even if they are a bishop or pope.
God rules over the Church just as he rules over all human institutions, nations, and governments. Just as a wicked government will incur God's wrath and judgment, so also, wicked church leaders will cause damage to the world and to Christians. God can only mystically indwell those aspects of the Church which are holy, can only indwell those church leaders who are holy.
"The Church . . . is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy. This is because Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is hailed as 'alone holy,' loved the Church as his Bride, giving himself up for her so as to sanctify her; he joined her to himself as his body and endowed her with the gift of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God." The Church, then, is "the holy People of God," and her members are called "saints." (823)
The Church is only holy if we ignore the many, many episodes in which it clearly was not holy. It seems wrong to call wicked people "saints." The apostles could call the Christians by the word "saints" because they were living holy lives (although in 1 Corinthians Paul says "called to be saints"), but later in church history that was no longer the case.
If we take this passage at face value then we must assume that only the Christians who are holy are members of the Catholic Church; the others are imposters.
"Fully incorporated into the society of the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept all the means of salvation given to the Church together with her entire organization, and who — by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and communion — are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but 'in body' not 'in heart.'" (837)
We learn three things here:
Notice how paragraph 837 seems to be referring to the laity and not to the bishops and popes. But why should they have a different status based on their faith and profession? So the question is, what happens when non-Christians (those who are not redeemed) are the bishops and popes? As usual, the Catechism doesn't address this question, nor does the Catholic Church. Us poor, hapless Catholics must try to figure it out for ourselves.
From the time of the apostles, becoming a Christian has been accomplished by a journey and initiation in several stages. This journey can be covered rapidly or slowly, but certain essential elements will always have to be present: proclamation of the Word, acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion, profession of faith, Baptism itself, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and admission to Eucharistic communion. (1229)
Why would you want to slow down a journey which should be quick? It was infuriating as a baptized Protestant trying to join the church to be forced to sit through uninspired RCIA sessions by church administrators teaching liberalism and superstition. All the Christians in the books of Acts were baptized with no lengthy instructions. Examples: the falling of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the Ethopian eunuch, the Samaritans.
The catechumenate, or formation of catechumens, aims at bringing their conversion and faith to maturity, in response to the divine initiative and in union with an ecclesial community. The catechumenate is to be "a formation in the whole Christian life . . . during which the disciples will be joined to Christ their teacher. The catechumens should be properly initiated into the mystery of salvation and the practice of the evangelical virtues, and they should be introduced into the life of faith, liturgy, and charity of the People of God by successive sacred rites." (1248)
RCIA is a joke. I was never united to a Church community; the Catholic Church doesn't have such a thing as a Church community. You go to mass on Sunday and that's all there is to it. I learned nothing in RCIA that formed my Christian life; there was no emphasis on Christ at all. There were no successive rites in the apostolic church or early church.
Baptism is the sacrament of faith. But faith needs the community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe. The faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop. (1253)
In the Catholic Church there is no community of believers. You go to mass on Sunday and that's all there is to it. Why does it take years of RCIA to develop the imperfect faith required for baptism?
"Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery." Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity. (1260)
I think that many are put off by the Catholic Church because it doesn't emphasize the gospel nor a lively faith. Certainly, merely hearing that the Catholic Church exists is not sufficient.
How can someone who has the wrong view of God seek his will or do his will? This statement of how someone who is not baptized can be saved is not well thought out. The Catechism several times mentions this notion that if someone knew something then they would react a certain way. To me, this argument is senseless because we can have no knowledge of what some might have done if only. It is better to say that at death, they do actually encounter Christ and they do actually accept him.
Having become a member of the Church, the person baptized belongs no longer to himself, but to him who died and rose for us. From now on, he is called to be subject to others, to serve them in the communion of the Church, and to "obey and submit" to the Church's leaders, holding them in respect and affection. Just as Baptism is the source of responsibilities and duties, the baptized person also enjoys rights within the Church: to receive the sacraments, to be nourished with the Word of God and to be sustained by the other spiritual helps of the Church. (1269)
It is hard to feel affection for my liberal priests and unsaved former bishop.
Sadly, the only nourishment in the Word of God I receive in the Church is hearing the Bible readings during mass. It is a very skimpy meal, to say the least. The priests don't talk about the passages, preferring instead to talk about vestment colors, church feast days, cutesy stories to entertain us, or other unentertaining nonsense.
Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among all Christians, including those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church: "For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. Justified by faith in Baptism, [they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church." "Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn." (1271)
Apparently, people who hate one another can be in communion. After the Protestant Reformation there was 150 years of religious wars by people who were supposedly in communion with one another. And today, many Protestants hate the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church doesn't allow baptized non-Catholics to partake of the Eucharist even if they understand it and believe it more than most of the Catholics. This description of communion between Catholics and Protestants in paragraph 1271 leaves much to be desired.
Abuses and Corruptions
Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith "man freely commits his entire self to God." For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God's will. "The righteous shall live by faith." Living faith "work[s] through charity." (1814)
It doesn't show faith to believe things provably false. Certainly the New Testament writers had no notion of believing the Church; we are to believe true apostolic teaching. Sadly, the Church doesn't always adhere to this as the many changes and errors of the church throughout history and into modern times demonstrates.
For example, the Catholic Church claims papal infallibility as a true, essential doctrine of the faith. Yet in allowing the Orthodox Churches to come back into communion with the Catholic Church, they are willing to allow the Orthodox Churches to reject the modern Catholic papal doctrines and to merely accept what they have always believed anyway about the bishop of Rome being first among equals.And they are willing to allow divorce for Orthodox Churches as a valid Catholic expression if they come into communion with the Catholic Church. Also, the Catholic Marian doctrines and the doctrine of transubstantiation based on Aritostle — these are rejected by the Orthodox Churches but would be OK if they come into communion with the Catholic Church. As a Catholic trying to discover what the Catholic Church even teaches so I could submit to it, things like these were troubling. It hints that I should believe what the Orthodox Churches believe since this seems to be accepted by the Catholic Church as I have noted.
Apparently, many bishops and popes throughout church history and into modern times, did not have faith since they clearly did not manifest charity. The Catholic Church provides no guidance about what us Catholics are to think about all this. Even when they supposedly apologize for bad things in the past, the apologies are very weak and try to blame the innocent victims. For example, in "apologizing" for the sins committed against the Jews by Catholics Pope John Paul II referred to the perpetrators as "those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer." He forgot to mention that it was popes and bishops, not the laity in general who were doing the abuses. The Cardinal referred to the perpetrators as "not a few (Catholics)," implying that the Catholic laity at large were the ones responsible. The pope was "saddened by the behavior" of those who caused suffering.
Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which "a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good." (1883)
It seems to me that the Church violates the principle of subsidiarity by interfering with marriage and family.
"Nobody may be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others, within due limits." This right is based on the very nature of the human person, whose dignity enables him freely to assent to the divine truth which transcends the temporal order. For this reason it "continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it." (2106)
In earlier periods of church history, the Church taught very strongly that people needed to be forced to be Christians, and that heretics should be burned at the stake. So who do I believe, the Church now, or the Church back then?
Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition. (2111)
The Church is steeped in superstition and the bishops seem powerless to stop it. In fact, their emphasis on rites and rituals caused this situation.
Claiming that the powers of the sacraments occur merely because of the ordination of the priest and the rite being performed properly, without the necessity of belief, faith, or holiness on the part of the priest, sounds to me like superstition — at least it perfectly matches the definition given in paragraph 2111.
Simony is defined as the buying or selling of spiritual things. (2121)
Paragraph 2121 doesn't mention what us laity are to do about all the examples of simony in church history.
Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor's tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense. (2284)
Why doesn't the Catechism mention what we are to think about all the bishops and popes throughout church history and into the present who are guilty of this?
Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them. (2356)
There is no mention of priests raping children. This is to be expected. Maybe they left it off the list because they were having a hard time deciding whether or not it is worse than when perpetrated by parents or caregivers.
They forgot to mention an additional effect of rape on the victim: If a woman becomes pregnant as a result and must carry the child to term with no financial, emotional, or psychological support, especially if the perpetrator is someone she loved who then abandoned her.
See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Christ Jesus does the Father, and the presbytery [priests] as ye would the apostles. . . . Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop.
Ignatius, Epistle to the Smyrnaeans
The implications of this:
Ignatius has many quotes like this, I provide only this one.
The Catholic Church places a strong emphasis on the sacraments. Yet in the New Testament and the writings of the Early Church Fathers we see very little emphasis on the sacraments — in fact there was no such doctrine as sacraments and only Baptism and the Eucharist existed in those days.
The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament. (1258)
Paragraph 1258 undermines the whole sacramental system. Something that is not a sacrament provides the same benefits as a sacrament.
Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate. (1536)
There was no such sacrament in the apostolic or early church.
If this is such an important sacrament, since it provides the backbone of the institutional church, why are such unqualified men ordained throughout church history and into the present day? The Catechism paints this with such glowing words but the reality is far from the ideal.
The first statement is conditionally true: the mission is exercised in the Church — except when it isn't, which is all too often. How are us poor hapless laity to know when the bishops are qualified and when they aren't, especially when we can clearly see that they aren't, but the Church pretends that they are?
The ministerial or hierarchical priesthood of bishops and priests, and the common priesthood of all the faithful participate, "each in its own proper way, in the one priesthood of Christ." While being "ordered one to another," they differ essentially. In what sense? While the common priesthood of the faithful is exercised by the unfolding of baptismal grace — a life of faith, hope, and charity, a life according to the Spirit,— the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood. It is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians. The ministerial priesthood is a means by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads his Church. For this reason it is transmitted by its own sacrament, the sacrament of Holy Orders. (1547)
The ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood — except when it isn't, which is often. Looking over church history and into the present day we see untold examples of the clergy fleecing, exploiting, and neglecting the flock, not providing proper teaching, allowing the priests and bishops to be liberal or worse, and on and on. I think the bishops and priests would be better off if they practiced a life of faith, hope, and charity as us "common" priests must do. Apparently that is beneath their dignity.
What is weird about paragraph 1547 is that it is worded to mean that you are either a member of the hierarchical priesthood or of the common priesthood. The common priesthood must practice a life of faith, hope, and charity while the hierarchical priests spend their days "serving" us commoners. This sounds to me like a set up for exploitation of the masses of laity which is exactly what we've seen on countless occasions throughout church history and into the present day.
This presence of Christ in the minister is not to be understood as if the latter were preserved from all human weaknesses, the spirit of domination, error, even sin. The power of the Holy Spirit does not guarantee all acts of ministers in the same way. While this guarantee extends to the sacraments, so that even the minister's sin cannot impede the fruit of grace, in many other acts the minister leaves human traces that are not always signs of fidelity to the Gospel and consequently can harm the apostolic fruitfulness of the Church. (1550)
It's as if the blessings have nothing whatsoever to do with the minister after all but, rather, with the faith of those receiving the grace. So in some things the lack of holiness of the minister can really mess things up but in other things it is harmless? (At least to the recipients?)
There are other cases where things work like this. For example, an auto mechanic can tell you what is wrong with your car even if he is an alcoholic, but if you ask for his advice about how much alcohol is too much he might give you bad advice. Perhaps it would be better if the Church spent more time ensuring that their priests and bishops were holy and got rid of the ones who are not? Why should bad clergy be in charge of the flock anyway; that is not what the apostles taught should happen? So why does the Church want so bad to give an exemption of holiness for priests and bishops when it comes to the sacraments? Why doesn't it, instead, forbid unholy clergy to administer the sacraments so us poor hapless laity are not scandalized all the time by them?
"Amongst those various offices which have been exercised in the Church from the earliest times the chief place, according to the witness of tradition, is held by the function of those who, through their appointment to the dignity and responsibility of bishop, and in virtue consequently of the unbroken succession going back to the beginning, are regarded as transmitters of the apostolic line." (1555)
These kinds of statements infuriate me. The apostles and church fathers discussed the ordination of bishops in the context of their qualifications, which were very strict. Yet, this aspect is now neglected — it's enough if the rite of ordination was performed correctly and the oil was prepared and consecrated properly. The Church should have never, never, never allowed unholy bishops to rule the church. Now they have to try to convince us that sacraments administered by such as these are valid. If the bishops were holy, there would be no question. And we have to try to figure out whether the priest confecting the Eucharist intends to do what the Church teaches. How are we to know this? What is wrong with these people? Us laity have to be on our guard. The priest and bishops have already proven that they don't care if our children are raped by them.
"Episcopal consecration confers, together with the office of sanctifying, also the offices of teaching and ruling. . . . In fact . . . by the imposition of hands and through the words of the consecration, the grace of the Holy Spirit is given, and a sacred character is impressed in such wise that bishops, in an eminent and visible manner, take the place of Christ himself, teacher, shepherd, and priest, and act as his representative." "By virtue, therefore, of the Holy Spirit who has been given to them, bishops have been constituted true and authentic teachers of the faith and have been made pontiffs and pastors." (1558)
Laying hands on someone does not change them from a liberal or a heretic to a trustworthy teacher of the faith. Nor does it make them a qualified ruler. Why doesn't the Church have standards for those it ordains.
I have a hard time believing that all the corrupt, unholy, abusive, materialistic, and uncaring bishops throughout history and into the present day "take the place of Christ." Christ was very, very, very critical of the corrupt Jewish leaders of his day — why would he have a different opinion about bishops just because they were ordained with the proper rite? (A rite which Jesus never taught; it was invented later.)
There is a condition to all this. The Holy Spirit only teaches what is true and he only empowers bishops to teach what is true. When they teach things that are provably false, or exploitative, it is not the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Holy Spirit only works in them conditionally. Unfortunately, us poor hapless laity can't perceive when the bishops are or are not accurately teaching the truth as prompted by the Holy Spirit, so we must look elsewhere for our source of truth.
It seems to me that Catholics need to study the New Testament, the writings of the early church fathers, and church history to discern the truth of the faith. The bishops are not very trustworthy in this matter. For example, I have serious doubts whether my former bishop was even a Christian since he never preached the gospel. He preferred to spend time on his hobby of working with Anglicans to see what they can agree on concerning Mary. Meanwhile, his liberal diocese was teaching new Catholics liberalism in RCIA, and his priests were practicing serious liturgical abuses. What is wrong with these people?
"One is constituted a member of the episcopal body in virtue of the sacramental consecration and by the hierarchical communion with the head and members of the college." The character and collegial nature of the episcopal order are evidenced among other ways by the Church's ancient practice which calls for several bishops to participate in the consecration of a new bishop. In our day, the lawful ordination of a bishop requires a special intervention of the Bishop of Rome, because he is the supreme visible bond of the communion of the particular Churches in the one Church and the guarantor of their freedom. (1559)
I have a hard time believing that throughout church history, that bishops were always ordained by several other bishops, or that they were even ordained at all. It seems that some (many) were appointed by secular rulers who considered the office of bishop to be a secular position. They Church needs to demonstrate that this practice was followed rather than merely state it as if it were in the face of evidence to the contrary. And if a certain critical mass of bishops are not ordained properly, then apostolic succession breaks downand there is no more Church.
Actually, the pope is not required to ordain a bishop. The Orthodox Churches ordain bishops all the time without the pope and the Catholic Church considers these to be valid bishops.
The way paragraph 1559 is worded makes it sound like the Orthodox Churches are not true Churches, but elsewhere it is clearly stated that they are true Churches. (But Protestant groups are called merely "communities," not Churches.)
Since the sacrament of Holy Orders is the sacrament of the apostolic ministry, it is for the bishops as the successors of the apostles to hand on the "gift of the Spirit," the "apostolic line." Validly ordained bishops, i.e., those who are in the line of apostolic succession, validly confer the three degrees of the sacrament of Holy Orders. (1576)
I wish statements such as these made mention of the important fact that bishops must be qualified. The apostles and the early church fathers stressed this point to the N-th degree. The Catholic Church doesn't bother to mention it at all.
"Only a baptized man validly receives sacred ordination." The Lord Jesus chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ's return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible. (1577)
I shudder to think what would happen if the Catholic Church used this line of reasoning in everything. The idea that "if Jesus made a certain choice, we are bound forever to make the same choice."
For example, Jesus chose to not baptize anyone, therefore, we should choose the same. Jesus chose to perform the Eucharist in the context of a Jewish Passover meal, therefore, we should do the same. Jesus chose apostles who he trained for three-plus years working with them in close contact, therefore, candidates for bishop should apprentice with existing bishops. Jesus enforced strict standards on the religious leaders (turning over the money tables), therefore, the bishops should have high standards for their fellow bishops.
All the ordained ministers of the Latin Church, with the exception of permanent deacons, are normally chosen from among men of faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven." Called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to "the affairs of the Lord," they give themselves entirely to God and to men. Celibacy is a sign of this new life to the service of which the Church's minister is consecrated; accepted with a joyous heart celibacy radiantly proclaims the Reign of God. (1579)
I find it odd that the church always refers to celibacy. It seems to me they should refer to this as "unmarried" since that is the key ingredient.
I wish these people gave themselves entirely to God, but as church history shows, they all-too-often didn't. The Catechism provides no information for us laity about how we are to relate to those who don't.
How can celibacy be the sign mentioned here since the Orthodox Churches allow priests to be married? I cannot for the life of me imagine how celibacy proclaims the Reign of God.
In the Eastern Churches a different discipline has been in force for many centuries: while bishops are chosen solely from among celibates, married men can be ordained as deacons and priests. This practice has long been considered legitimate; these priests exercise a fruitful ministry within their communities. Moreover, priestly celibacy is held in great honor in the Eastern Churches and many priests have freely chosen it for the sake of the Kingdom of God. In the East as in the West a man who has already received the sacrament of Holy Orders can no longer marry. (1580)
The Catechism often refers to the Eastern Churches. I wonder if they are referring to the Eastern Catholic Churches or the Orthodox Churches? And why do they call the Byzantine Catholic Church "Eastern" since these are in the USA also? The usual pattern is for these priests to get married before becoming priests.
Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission. (1213)
If baptism is how we are incorporated into the Church, why is there a year(s) long RCIA program for baptized non-Catholics to join the church? It's especially infuriating that the RCIA programs are run by uninspired administrators or liberal Catholics. Those in the early church were baptized with very little instruction, so it's not as if you must have knowledge of many things to be a member of the Church, it's that the Catholic Church wants to control you. I suspect that many of these non-Catholics who are languishing in RCIA are more informed about the faith than many of the Catholics in the parish are.
The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments. (1257)
In RCIA the gospel was not preached at all. It seems the Catholic Church has misunderstood paragraph 1257 and uses baptism as a substitute for faith in the gospel, for faith in Christ.
For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament. (1259)
I can understand why the church would need to add this paragraph since they make someone who is ready to become a Christian wait for years. And why are they all baptized during Easter? The first mass baptism described in the book of Acts was 40 days later on the day of Pentecost.
As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them," allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism. (1261)
It's hard to take the line about urgency seriously when the Church makes someone sit through uninspired and heretical RCIA classes for years before finally allowing them to be baptized at Easter. (My wife had surgery during Easter and had to wait another whole year — by then we had moved and she had to start all over, and this time the RCIA was more liberal and heretical than the previous one.)
Why does the Church have to entrust children who have died without Baptism to the mercy of God anyway? Just say as was done in paragraph 1260 that "if they were cognitively developed and if they heard the gospel, and if they could endure sitting though years of uninspired and heretical RCIA classes, then they would have chosen to be baptized.
Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation. Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated. (1272)
Baptism doesn't do anything without faith. Why would Christ unite himself with someone merely because they participated in a rite or ritual?
The Holy Spirit has marked us with the seal of the Lord "for the day of redemption." "Baptism indeed is the seal of eternal life." The faithful Christian who has "kept the seal" until the end, remaining faithful to the demands of his Baptism, will be able to depart this life "marked with the sign of faith," with his baptismal faith, in expectation of the blessed vision of God — the consummation of faith — and in the hope of resurrection. (1274)
This statement is very tentative about saying that this person is redeemed. I think because the Church is uncomfortable with the idea of assurance of salvation, they have to phrase everything in uncertain terms. But the person described by paragraph 1274 is clearly saved and can and should expect to receive the blessings of redemption.
As early as the second century we have the witness of St. Justin Martyr for the basic lines of the order of the Eucharistic celebration. They have stayed the same until our own day for all the great liturgical families. (1345)
Actually there are many differences of detail between St. Justin Martyr's description and the modern mass. It is wrong to say that the liturgical rites of the mass has been passed-down from the apostles. All that can be said is that there was a Eucharist celebration and that it provides the basis for modern-day mass. Certainly, parts of some of the prayers are copied from those available in the writings of the early church fathers, but we don't even know if those were passed-down from the apostles — probably not.
All gather together. Christians come together in one place for the Eucharistic assembly. At its head is Christ himself, the principal agent of the Eucharist. He is high priest of the New Covenant; it is he himself who presides invisibly over every Eucharistic celebration. It is in representing him that the bishop or priest acting in the person of Christ the head (in persona Christi capitis) presides over the assembly, speaks after the readings, receives the offerings, and says the Eucharistic Prayer. All have their own active parts to play in the celebration, each in his own way: readers, those who bring up the offerings, those who give communion, and the whole people whose "Amen" manifests their participation. (1348)
Christ does not allow an unholy bishop or priest to act in his person just as God the Father did not allow the corrupt priests of Old Testament Israel to stand-in for him. Rather, God provides a way in which the bishops and priests (even unholy ones) can lead the congregation in a sacred ceremony that Christ uses to bless and to meet those with faith.
Us Catholics are considered to have participated because we say "Amen" once. This is why so many former Catholics convert to Protestantism so they can experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The Church thinks a dry ceremony led by uninspired and known-to-be liberal priests and bishops excites us.
If from the beginning Christians have celebrated the Eucharist and in a form whose substance has not changed despite the great diversity of times and liturgies, it is because we know ourselves to be bound by the command the Lord gave on the eve of his Passion: "Do this in remembrance of me." (1356)
These two ideas are not related. Just because Jesus said to do something in remembrance of him does not imply that all the added details of form are unchanging. The earliest descriptions of the Eucharist are nothing like the Last Supper of Jesus. The various varieties of liturgies have very little in common at the detailed level, only a few general high-level similarities. Paragraph 1356 drastically overstates the similarities and makes it seem like when Jesus instituted the Eucharist he provided all the details of the liturgy, but he did not. Probably the apostles developed the liturgy and as it was passed-on, each set of church leaders modified it to suit them. Even today it is still being modified (although the changes today are less substantive than in the past).
The whole Church is united with the offering and intercession of Christ. Since he has the ministry of Peter in the Church, the Pope is associated with every celebration of the Eucharist, wherein he is named as the sign and servant of the unity of the universal Church. (1369)
The pope is not united with the Eucharist of the Orthodox Churches yet the Catholic Church considers those Eucharistic celebrations to be sacramentally valid. Therefore, paragraph 1369 is provably wrong.
The tabernacle was first intended for the reservation of the Eucharist in a worthy place so that it could be brought to the sick and those absent outside of Mass. As faith in the real presence of Christ in his Eucharist deepened, the Church became conscious of the meaning of silent adoration of the Lord present under the Eucharistic species. It is for this reason that the tabernacle should be located in an especially worthy place in the church and should be constructed in such a way that it emphasizes and manifests the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. (1379)
Good luck finding the tabernacle in some of the modern liberal Catholic churches. With all the ugly modern stained glass and non-traditional statues, etc. they seem more like Protestant churches than Eucharistic Catholic Churches.
The Church obliges the faithful to take part in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feast days and, prepared by the sacrament of Reconciliation, to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter season. But the Church strongly encourages the faithful to receive the holy Eucharist on Sundays and feast days, or more often still, even daily. (1389)
This is saying that the Church obliges Catholics to feel true contrition for their mortal sins at least once a year, preferably during Easter. But if people are so disinterested in their eternal salvation that they will not deal with mortal sins for a whole year, what good is it for the Church to insist they at least feel contrition once a year? It would be better for the Church to oblige us to receive the Eucharist at every mass, prepared by the sacrament of Reconciliation when necessary. At least this way people would develop a habit of taking mortal sin seriously. Why would the Church allow people to wait a whole year? It's crazy.
In addition to the Anointing of the Sick, the Church offers those who are about to leave this life the Eucharist as viaticum. Communion in the body and blood of Christ, received at this moment of "passing over" to the Father, has a particular significance and importance. It is the seed of eternal life and the power of resurrection, according to the words of the Lord: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." The sacrament of Christ once dead and now risen, the Eucharist is here the sacrament of passing over from death to life, from this world to the Father. (1524)
It seems to me there is nothing different in the blessing of the Eucharist at this time compared with any other time. The last day is still a long way off even at death. It is important to receive eternal life during every day of our live, even our last day.
I doubt if I will get to receive the Eucharist on my deathbed because some clerk won't think I am a member of the parish.
Baptism, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the "sacraments of Christian initiation," whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For "by the sacrament of Confirmation, [the baptized] are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed." (1285)
I doubt if confirmed Catholics feel any obligation whatsoever to spread and defend the faith. In RCIA it was not mentioned. During the confirmation ceremony it was not mentioned. Since children are confirmed at age seven or so, I doubt if many of them are equipped to spread and defend the faith. Yet, according to paragraph 1285, this is an obligation.
"From that time on the apostles, in fulfillment of Christ's will, imparted to the newly baptized by the laying on of hands the gift of the Spirit that completes the grace of Baptism. For this reason in the Letter to the Hebrews the doctrine concerning Baptism and the laying on of hands is listed among the first elements of Christian instruction. The imposition of hands is rightly recognized by the Catholic tradition as the origin of the sacrament of Confirmation, which in a certain way perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church." (1288)
I doubt if the early church thought they were confirming people by the laying on of hands. Likely, they merely considered this as part of the baptismal rite. In Hebrews 6:2 the reference to baptism is in the plural, "baptisms," perhaps this refers to immersion in water three times. The early references to what the Church interprets to be confirmation makes no mention of laying on of hands but, rather, to anointing with oil.
The consecration of the sacred chrism is an important action that precedes the celebration of Confirmation, but is in a certain way a part of it. It is the bishop who, in the course of the Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday, consecrates the sacred chrism for his whole diocese. (1297)
There is no mention of whether the sacrament of Confirmation is valid if this consecrated oil is not used. All these rites seem like non-essentials since the sacrament of Confirmation is based on the laying-on of hands in Hebrews 6:2 — the use of oil was added later and the special consecration of the oil even after that.
It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost. (1302)
Such a thing is not evident at all. There is no evidence anywhere that the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit recorded in the book of Acts was to be superseded by the sacrament of Confirmation — somebody just made that up. To say that this is evident from the details of the rite is as nonsensical as when Thomas Aquinas proves something as true because Augustine said it.
Confirmation brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace: (1303)
This is idealistic in the extreme. I seriously doubt that when the apostles laid hands on those they baptized that they were imparting these extra benefits. These are the same benefits of baptism. Was baptism not sufficient that we need the supercharged baptism add-on?
Every baptized person not yet confirmed can and should receive the sacrament of Confirmation. Since Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist form a unity, it follows that "the faithful are obliged to receive this sacrament at the appropriate time," for without Confirmation and Eucharist, Baptism is certainly valid and efficacious, but Christian initiation remains incomplete. (1306)
This implies that only baptism is required for salvation and that Christian initiation is concerned with more than salvation. It also implies that a baptized Christian who has not been confirmed or partaken of the Eucharist is in some way deficient in their faith; that they are less holy, or less able to live virtuously, or less able to share the gospel. Since all Protestants are in this predicament it implies that they are second-class Christians, and that the deficit is more than merely their being imperfectly united to the Church. It sounds pretty weird to me, as if they have radically overanalyzed and overstated it.
Preparation for Confirmation should aim at leading the Christian toward a more intimate union with Christ and a more lively familiarity with the Holy Spirit — his actions, his gifts, and his biddings — in order to be more capable of assuming the apostolic responsibilities of Christian life. To this end catechesis for Confirmation should strive to awaken a sense of belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ, the universal Church as well as the parish community. The latter bears special responsibility for the preparation of confirmands. (1309)
By "apostolic responsibility" is meant the duties of each Christian as a member of Christ's Church, the body of Christ.
Notice that every blessing from Confirmation is merely "more" of what was provided by baptism.
Paragraph 1309 implies that a person who is not Confirmed does not have a sense of belonging to the Church, that this gift is imparted via Confirmation. Yet none of the other descriptions of Confirmation mention this benefit. Notice also that it is the catechesis [religious instruction] which awakens this sense of belonging, not the sacrament of Confirmation itself. It seems weird to me that instruction by uninspired and liberal church administrators (which is what many catechists are) has more of an effect than the sacrament itself.
Candidates for Confirmation, as for Baptism, fittingly seek the spiritual help of a sponsor. To emphasize the unity of the two sacraments, it is appropriate that this be one of the baptismal godparents. (1311)
What if you don't know anyone (my situation in converting to Catholicism?) The requirement for a sponsor means such as me can never become Catholic nor Confirmed. In my case, someone I didn't know stood behind me while I was confirmed and I never saw them again.
Since I was baptized as a Protestant adult, I had no baptismal godparents. Many of the Catholic rules, practices, and traditions seem to assume that you were born into the religion and that your parents and relatives were all Catholic. There is no allowance for people outside of this situation. For example, because I don't have family members to go to mass with, I will never know anyone at mass. It is weird pretending that I am confessing my sins to these strangers and asking them to pray for me when I know they aren't and won't. The Catholic Church is a closed society (and for bishops and priests, it is a good-ol-boy society as the shuffling around of pervert priests demonstrates).
The original minister of Confirmation is the bishop. In the East, ordinarily the priest who baptizes also immediately confers Confirmation in one and the same celebration. But he does so with sacred chrism consecrated by the patriarch or the bishop, thus expressing the apostolic unity of the Church whose bonds are strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation. In the Latin Church, the same discipline applies to the Baptism of adults or to the reception into full communion with the Church of a person baptized in another Christian community that does not have valid Confirmation. (1312)
The statement that "the original minister of Confirmation is the bishop" implies that in the New Testament church, only the apostles baptized new Christians since in Hebrews 6:2 baptism and Confirmation are linked. However, we know that people other than the apostles baptized. Therefore, this statement in paragraph 1312 is provably false.
If the phrase "original minister of Confirmation" means that the power of the sacrament of Confirmation originates with the oil that the bishop consecrates, then this implies that the sacred oil performs the sacrament (the bishop passed-on his sacrament powers to the oil.)
Notice that the Orthodox Churches (called, "the East") have valid Confirmation even though the way they do it is different. This implies that the way the Catholic Church does it is not in any sense correct, it is merely a tradition (little-T). Also, it is odd that the Orthodox Churches (which are not in full unity with the "true" Church, the Catholic Church) have valid sacraments and are valid Churches. It is hard to understand how someone can be so closely united yet at the same time in disunity, especially when you consider that the Orthodox Churches have rejected some infallibly-decreed Catholic doctrines.
Confession / Reconciliation
The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God. (1445)
A shocking statement. When the Church is corrupt, or if we have an unholy bishop, it seems wrong to connect our relationship with the Church so intimately with our relationship with God.
The confessor is not the master of God's forgiveness, but its servant. The minister of this sacrament should unite himself to the intention and charity of Christ. He should have a proven knowledge of Christian behavior, experience of human affairs, respect and sensitivity toward the one who has fallen; he must love the truth, be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, and lead the penitent with patience toward healing and full maturity. He must pray and do penance for his penitent, entrusting him to the Lord's mercy. (1466)
Yes, the confessor should do all these things. But I doubt if some of them do these things because they seem to mock the sacrament in the way the approach it. They say such things as "you shouldn't beat yourself up about it," or "that's not a sin," then they tell you some liberal nonsense. Sadly, the Church provides no guidance for us poor hapless Catholics who must deal with such as these.
The celebration of the sacrament includes the following principal elements: the "priests of the Church" — in silence — lay hands on the sick; they pray over them in the faith of the Church — this is the epiclesis proper to this sacrament; they then anoint them with oil blessed, if possible, by the bishop. These liturgical actions indicate what grace this sacrament confers upon the sick. (1519)
These liturgical actions say nothing about what will become of the sick person, whether he will be healed, whether he will receive helps for his journey after death, or whatever. It's as if you are sending the person off on a missionary journey, then they die instead.
According to Latin tradition, the spouses as ministers of Christ's grace mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church. In the tradition of the Eastern Churches, the priests (bishops or presbyters) are witnesses to the mutual consent given by the spouses, but for the validity of the sacrament their blessing is also necessary. (1623)
So make up your mind — is the blessing by the priest necessary or not? This highlights one of my gripes. Different traditions have different ways of doing things and they are all considered valid. Yet each group considers their particular way as somehow true, or God ordained, or as having some sort of sign value.
Notice that the spouses confer this sacrament upon themselves. Of course, the Church has to get involved by witnessing it or giving consent. My daughter had to get approval from my anti-Catholic son to have a sacramental Catholic wedding so the clerks would know she was qualified to have a Catholic wedding. People notice these contradictions and it prevents people from wanting to be Catholic.
This is the reason why the Church normally requires that the faithful contract marriage according to the ecclesiastical form. Several reasons converge to explain this requirement: (1631)
Note that the Church dominates a Catholic's life as much as it can. For us Protestant converts, the Church is a group of forever total strangers. You would think that the Catechism recognizes cultural realities such as this but, as usual, they completely ignore it. They seem to assume that every Catholic was born into it from a practicing Catholic extended family.
I certainly don't consider my marriage to be a "state of life in the Church" — my "state of life in the Church" is to be forever a stranger whether I am at mass with my wife or not.
The clerks and administrators at my parish don't know if I'm married or not and they would certainly not believe me if I told them. They are a very suspicious and generally uneducated lot. For example, when my wife was in RCIA they asked her to specify which denomination she was and presented her with a short list to choose from. She told them "nondenominational" and they actually got angry when she insisted this is what she was. She finally had to check the box marked "Baptist" even though she was not a Baptist and this made them leave her alone.
If marriage is a liturgical act, why do they say that the spouses administer the sacrament? Certainly the spouses don't perform any sort of liturgy. All they do if follow along with the minister like puppets.
Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery
If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another's husband to herself. (2384)
Why doesn't the example given mention a woman who does this?
There are two cases in the New Testament given in which divorce is okay. These are ignored by the Catechism and the Church.
The idea of annulments is a mockery of paragraph 2384.
The Orthodox Churches allow for up to two divorces followed by remarriage. If a person in that situation became Catholic, their divorce and remarriage would not disqualify them from receiving the Eucharist. This kinds of things always make me suspect that there are flaws in the teaching.
Anointing of the Sick
Only priests (bishops and presbyters) are ministers of the Anointing of the Sick. It is the duty of pastors to instruct the faithful on the benefits of this sacrament. The faithful should encourage the sick to call for a priest to receive this sacrament. The sick should prepare themselves to receive it with good dispositions, assisted by their pastor and the whole ecclesial community, which is invited to surround the sick in a special way through their prayers and fraternal attention. (1516)
I was told not to call the priest in this situation because the parish could not find proof that I was a member of their parish. Certainly I have not been invited to surround the sick in a special way. I have never heard of any of these people and all I hear is their names being mentioned during mass. Maybe some people are part of this tight-knit parish community, but I'm sure not and I never will be. In one parish I went to mass several times a week and spent an hour a week in adoration of the blessed sacrament but was still looked on as if it was my first time in the parish.
Christians at large
This treasure [the Good News], received from the apostles, has been faithfully guarded by their successors. All Christ's faithful are called to hand it on from generation to generation, by professing the faith, by living it in fraternal sharing, and by celebrating it in liturgy and prayer. (3)
The laity are to participate in handing on the Good News; this task is not only for the clergy. Note the ways we are to do this:
I can't imagine how #2 and #3 contributes to the goal of handing on the Good News. If #1 refers to reciting the Nicene Creed in church then ditto for #1.
If #1 refers to sharing the faith with others then I suppose I do this with my web site. I wonder whether the in-depth analysis I do qualifies as "professing the faith?" Or is #1 merely limited merely to my public statements that I am a Christian.
Mindful of Christ's words to his apostles: "He who hears you, hears me", the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms. (87)
Unfortunately, it is unwise for the laity to receive the teachings and directives from their pastors: Examples:
"The whole body of the faithful . . . cannot err in matters of belief. This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of faith (sensus fidei) on the part of the whole people, when, from the bishops to the last of the faithful, they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals." (92)
Notice that everyone needs to agree. As soon as the teaching magisteriumof the Church makes the few changes I am recommending I will wholeheartedly give my approval. But in good conscience I simply cannot accept that wickedness is goodness, and that untruth is truth.
Thanks to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the understanding of both the realities and the words of the heritage of faith is able to grow in the life of the Church (94):
Since the Holy Spirit is doing this work, we should expect that any untruth or corruption of wickedness is outside of the Holy Spirit's work — these are the work of sinful men.
The laity are to study and contemplate under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit — this includes theological research.
When we read the scriptures and they collide with the teaching and preaching of the bishops, what are we to do? We know the Holy Spirit inspired the scriptures so, if there is a conflict, it must be with the teachings of the bishops. For all we know, they will correct their views in the future (perhaps when enough Catholics object to the errors and contradictions).
We do not believe in formulas, but in those realities they express, which faith allows us to touch. "The believer's act [of faith] does not terminate in the propositions, but in the realities [which they express]." All the same, we do approach these realities with the help of formulations of the faith which permit us to express the faith and to hand it on, to celebrate it in community, to assimilate and live on it more and more. (170)
In accepting the teachings of the Catholic Church we are to go beyond the mere statements and formulas to the living truths they embody. This is why I can reject Aristotle's philosophy and transubstantiation but still accept that the consecrated elements of the Eucharist are literally Christ in body and blood and that I can adore him during and after mass in this form. I accept the reality of the doctrine but I don't accept the way it is stated (the Orthodox Churches don't accept the way the Catholic Church states it either, yet the Catholic Church accepts the Orthodox views of the Eucharist to be correct and valid).
We express the faith in words and statements even though these are very inadequate, yet we have no other choice. I think the correct way to view Catholic teaching is to get at what the realities are behind the words and accept that. Perhaps there are various ways that something could have been expressed and the Catholic Church for whatever reason chose one of these — this doesn't mean that we can't think of it in the other ways.
"When the work which the Father gave the Son to do on earth was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that he might continually sanctify the Church." (767)
If it's important to the Holy Spirit for the Church to be holy, it should be important to Catholics as well. Us Catholics are not able to sanctify the Church as the Holy Spirit can; all we can do is reject what can be rejected and endure what can't, all the while remaining loyal as best we can.
I doubt if God expects us to be starry-eyed, head-in-the-clouds subjects of the bishops. If the laity didn't object to the despicable deeds of priests, the bishops would have continued to merely shuffle around the pervert priests. Us Catholics must participate in the Holy Spirit's sanctifying of the Church by recognizing everything that is unholy.
The whole Church is apostolic, in that she remains, through the successors of St. Peter and the other apostles, in communion of faith and life with her origin: and in that she is "sent out" into the whole world. All members of the Church share in this mission, though in various ways. "The Christian vocation is, of its nature, a vocation to the apostolate as well." Indeed, we call an apostolate "every activity of the Mystical Body" that aims "to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth." (863)
Even the laity have an apostolic ministry when engaged in spreading the Kingdom of Christ. In doing this they must not be "loose cannons" but, rather, be connected to their bishops who provide continuity back to the apostles. But sadly, the bishops all too often quench the laity's efforts and disallow them to use their gifts. This is especially true for those who have taken vows of obedience.
"In virtue of their rebirth in Christ there exists among all the Christian faithful a true equality with regard to dignity and the activity whereby all cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ in accord with each one's own condition and function." (872)
This is laughable. The clergy does not consider the laity to have equal dignity. I suppose you could say this is true by defining the words "condition" and "function" in such a way as to keep the laity from having much of an importance or role.
Since, like all the faithful, lay Christians are entrusted by God with the apostolate by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, they have the right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth. This duty is the more pressing when it is only through them that men can hear the Gospel and know Christ. Their activity in ecclesial communities is so necessary that, for the most part, the apostolate of the pastors cannot be fully effective without it. (900)
The clergy can't be effective without the laity. If we apply this to various episodes in church history we must conclude that the church was rarely effective at all since the laity were rarely engaged in the work of the ministry.
"Christ . . . fulfills this prophetic office, not only by the hierarchy . . . but also by the laity. He accordingly both establishes them as witnesses and provides them with the sense of the faith [sensus fidei] and the grace of the word" To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer. (904)
What if the laity don't agree with the bishops, if their "sense of the faith" is offended by what the bishops decree? I'm sure the answer would be, "the decrees of the bishops trump the sensus fidei of the laity." In other words, there is no such thing as the "sense of the faith" of the laity; it is a pie-in-the-sky statement designed to make the laity feel like they have a role in determining infallible doctrine. But this sensus fidei provides no check-and-balance role at all.
How can Catholics at large fulfill their role as teachers of the faith when their church neglects to teach them the faith. Rather, they learn about "churchy" traditions and superstitions (bury statues upside down to sell your house).
"In accord with the knowledge, competence, and preeminence which they possess, [lay people] have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (907)
The laity have the duty to let their pastors and fellow Catholics know their opinions. The problem with this is that they won't be listened to unless they are part of the parish's governing body. I heard my former bishop once accuse us laity of being too critical of the clergy when someone confronted him with an ongoing, genuine, serious liturgical abuse. Apparently, this bishop didn't believe paragraph 907, yet us Catholics at large are supposed to believe everything without question.
Giving out opinions when not asked for them usually doesn't work out too well.
Because they are members of the Body whose Head is Christ, Christians contribute to building up the Church by the constancy of their convictions and their moral lives. The Church increases, grows, and develops through the holiness of her faithful, until "we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (2045)
I wish the bishops were as concerned with their own holiness as they pretend to be about the laity's holiness.
Note that the laity contributes to building up the Church just by being good Catholics. But the bad bishops and popes have done far more damage to the Church by their abuses and corruptions. If the Church leadership really cared about "building up the Church" they would address the issues that affect it the most.
By living with the mind of Christ, Christians hasten the coming of the Reign of God, "a kingdom of justice, love, and peace." (2046)
I doubt if Jesus is waiting to return based on whether Christians are devout. Paragraph 2046 is just plain dumb.
Qualification of Bishops
This treasure [the Good News], received from the apostles, has been faithfully guarded by their successors. (3)
Based on this, we should reject those so-called successors of the apostles who have not faithfully guarded the Good News; they are usurpers and imposters (and there are plenty of them). Thus, we have two aspects to the institutional church: (1) the idealized, abstract church, guided by the Holy Spirit, and (2) the down-to-earth, real-life, on-the-ground situation in which we must determine who and what to believe. It is difficult to remain a starry-eyed Catholic in the face of the realities of #2 — the priestly scandals and the shuffling-around by the bishops demonstrates the danger of this.
"Having shown that the Spirit is the source and giver of all holiness, we now confess that it is he who has endowed the Church with holiness." The Church is, in a phrase used by the Fathers, the place "where the Spirit flourishes." (749)
We must reject unholy actions and words by church leaders as not being part of the Church; as not being from the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Catholic Church is wrong to claim that all bishops ordained via apostolic succession and the sacrament of Holy Orders are truly Church leaders.
The ordained ministry or ministerial priesthood is at the service of the baptismal priesthood. The ordained priesthood guarantees that it really is Christ who acts in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit for the Church. The saving mission entrusted by the Father to his incarnate Son was committed to the apostles and through them to their successors: they receive the Spirit of Jesus to act in his name and in his person. The ordained minister is the sacramental bond that ties the liturgical action to what the apostles said and did and, through them, to the words and actions of Christ, the source and foundation of the sacraments. (1120)
I don't have any comfort from knowing that liberal and pervert priests are administering the sacraments. Seems to me a system in which each parish chooses its ministers would be more comforting of a way to guarantee the validity of the sacraments.
The apostolic succession the apostles had in mind assumed that the bishops would be qualified. There are strong statements in the New Testament providing the qualifications of bishops, however, these were not used throughout church history. Many bishops were ordained with no regard for whether they were spiritually qualified.
The Catholic sacramental liturgies were not practiced by the apostles at all. It is not correct to say that the ordained minister provides the link back to the apostles when the apostles didn't teach or practice what these ordained ministers now do. Paragraph 1120 is just plan weird.
This is the meaning of the Church's affirmation that the sacraments act ex opere operato (literally: "by the very fact of the action's being performed"), i.e., by virtue of the saving work of Christ, accomplished once for all. It follows that "the sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God." From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them. (1128)
Certainly a sacrament will not be effective when the recipient is in mortal sin.
How does it help us to know whether or not a sacrament is valid by specifying that the celebrant has the intention of the Church? Just as we don't know whether or not they are in mortal sin, we also don't know what they intend. And when they have willful liturgical abuses, it is even harder to assume that they are intending the right thing.
It makes more sense to believe that the sacraments are effective and valid because of the faith of the recipients, the ones who must have the proper disposition to receive the fruits of the sacraments.
As I discuss elsewhere, it is not even certain whether apostolic succession has been permanently broken. Since the Church bases so much on this you think they would spend some effort proving whether this is the case.
The early church had heretical and schismatic bishops ordained via apostolic succession who were in charge of whole cities and who ordained priests. How can a heretic intend to do what the Church intends?
In Sacred Scripture the term "soul" often refers to human life or the entire human person. But "soul" also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him, that by which he is most especially in God's image: "soul" signifies the spiritual principle in man. (363)
This perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity — this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed — is called "heaven." Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness. (1024)
Sacred Scripture calls this mysterious renewal, which will transform humanity and the world, "new heavens and a new earth." It will be the definitive realization of God's plan to bring under a single head "all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth." (1043)
In these two paragraphs we read of heaven and the new heavens and new earth.It seems that paragraph 1024 is referring to that time before the new heavens and new earth appear, in other words, the time before we are given glorified bodies. Thus, in heaven, we have only our spiritual soul; we have no physical body. Yet the descriptions of heaven are more glorious than those of the new heavens and new earth. This seems backwards to me. It seems that the eternal new heavens and new earth will be far superior to the temporary time spent as a disembodied spirit in heaven.