There is only one true faith, just as there is only one true God.
This one true God cannot be the origin or source of conflicting doctrines and the often bizarre manifestations of these contradictory doctrines.
We must not confuse religion with the style of clothing we wear or the color of the cloth on the grounds that "clothing is clothing" and that we all wear clothes.
The acceptance of diversity in how people dress (or not dress!) must not be equated with how people believe, or do not believe.
Concerning styles of dress and other secondary questions, the Latin saying is quite valid: "de gustibus non est disputandum" _ There's no arguing about taste. But, this can not be applied to religion as if all religions were equally true and equally good.
If all religions were equally true and equally good, the only logical conclusion from such a view would be that there is no religion to begin with. And, if there is no religion, then there cannot be a God _ a Supreme Being _ Who is the Author of religion.
This is the reason why our modern days are the most atheistic, despite the obvious fact that millions of people attend mosques, synagogues, temples, and churches.
Atheism only exists among human beings. It takes as many shapes as there are containers to receive it. This may startle some people. Truth has that quality about it: it startles us. And because we are startled, we generally do not wish to believe and accept it. This psychological peculiarity of people is used by Lucifer and his human worshippers with positive results.
Satan's success comes from his ability to lead people away from the supernatural to the natural. He does this by recruiting gifted individuals to serve him. In return, these individuals receive great wealth, much worldly glory _ and that is it.
Lucifer (Satan) could not long keep souls in his clutches without rewarding them with the appearance of prosperity. Oftentimes, good people are tempted to envy the apparent success of such individuals. The success if only apparent _ it is not real from the perspective of eternity.
It is from this perspective of eternity that our daily lives not only ought to be lived, but must be lived if we are to attain our ultimate goal.
This `ultimate goal' cannot be attained by living on a natural level of existence. It can only be reached by supernatural means because it is a supernatural goal.
This is where the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church is essential and efficacious. Without the doctrine of supernatural life, the Church would truly be nothing more than just another sect promoting a distorted view of reality and revelation. But, because the Roman Catholic Church is the only true representation of God's goodness and truth, it is the only authorized and qualified institution of religion that has any validity.
It does not take much reflection to conclude that the adherents and especially the leaders of religious sects, large and small, would resent this strong position of the Roman Catholic Church.
There is no grace outside this Church; nor can there be any true grace elsewhere.
It is a disservice to the leaders and followers of other man-made sects to pretend that there can be salvation in any other way. To be sure, this simple truth will anger many. It will anger all those who are using the name of religion for their material benefit and spiritual ambition. These individuals will be angered only because they know that this is true, and they fear lest their followers may be influenced by the truth.
The same may be said of all those mini-sects at the head of which are former Roman Catholic priests calling themselves either "true Catholics" or "Traditionalist Catholics" or using similar labels.
To be sure, they all have this in common: Like the older Protestant sects, these new-born sects that have germinated in the soil of the Second Vatican Council, are all united in rejecting legitimate Church authority.
These mini-sects differ among themselves in doctrine and obedience. Their doctrines will differ according to their particular needs; and their obedience will invariably be given to an "authority" of their choice.
Because there can be nothing supernatural outside the true faith and correct obedience which are essential to the true Church, the adherents of these sects, although they call themselves "Catholic" with their lips, are nonetheless Protestants in their deeds. And here the principle agere sequitur esse _ action flows from the essence of a thing _ is realized.
Jesus Christ is the center and focal point of all history. He is the one and only Redeemer and Savior of mankind _ of those who lived before the Incarnation and of those who lived, live, or will live since the Incarnation.
No genuine Catholic has ever denied this either in word or in deed. Genuine Catholics cannot deny this because they correspond to the supernatural grace of faith which is freely given them by God.
Grace is essential for every human being who will ultimately reach his or her final goal: the beatific vision. But, because not everyone will correspond to this supernatural grace, only those will enjoy the Beatific Vision who receive the grace of God, correspond with it and persevere in the state of Sanctifying Grace until death.
In a series of conferences presented to the kind reader in the pages of The Seraph, the clear doctrine of the Church on grace will be presented.
It is sincerely hoped that every reader of The Seraph will value this presentation of the Church's teachings on grace.
This knowledge will protect the reader from falling into the spiritual traps that Satan prepares for the bold and the presumptuous.
We begin this investigation by once again bringing to the kind reader's attention the authoritative teaching of Pope Pius XII concerning membership in the Roman Catholic Church which is properly and correctly called the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ.
Please refer to these words of Pope Pius XII whenever you have a doubt or question regarding the claims of heretics whose blind boldness knows no limit:
Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. "For in one spirit" says the Apostle, "were we all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free." As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith. And therefore if a man refuse to hear the Church let him be considered _ so the Lord commands _ as a heathen and a publican. It follows that those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit.
Notice what even Pope Pius XII says that is applicable to all those whom we can only condemn as Neo-Protestants: They are neither part of the Body of the Church nor do they have any supernatural life (a life of grace) which is given by the Holy Ghost.
It is truly a cause for heartache to observe the many priests who have closed their minds and hearts to their duties and have elevated themselves to a rank even higher than that of a bishop. Functioning as they are without the proper submission to a legitimate bishop, these clergymen and all those who imprudently follow them can only be considered outside the true Church, regardless of their loud protests of being "Catholics."
Again, please note the words of Pope Pius XII regarding Bishops and the true Church:
What We have thus far said of the Universal Church must be understood also of the individual Christian communities, whether Oriental or Latin, which go to make up the one Catholic Church. For they, too, are ruled by Jesus Christ through the voice of their respective Bishops. Consequently, Bishops must be considered as the more illustrious members of the Universal Church, for they are united by a very special bond to the divine Head of the whole Body and so are rightly called "principal parts of the members of the Lord; moreover, as far as his own diocese is concerned, each one as a true Shepherd feeds the flock entrusted to him and rules it in the name of Christ.
Yet in exercising this office they are not altogether independent, but are subordinate to the lawful authority of the Roman Pontiff, although enjoying the ordinary power of jurisdiction which they receive directly from the same Supreme Pontiff.
Therefore, Bishops should be revered by the faithful as divinely appointed successors of the Apostles, and to them, even more than to the highest civil authorities should be applied the words: "Touch not my anointed one." For Bishops have been anointed with the chrism of the Holy Spirit.
Those who, for their own purposes, have sought to twist the words of Pope Pius XII, have given their own erroneous interpretation to his words.
Please note that when the Holy Father refers to himself, he uses the title "Roman Pontiff," and when he refers to Jesus Christ, he uses the expression "Supreme Pontiff."
Those who do not wish to accept the clear teachings of the Church concerning the origin of a Bishop's authority, falsify the text by pretending to make the words "Roman Pontiff" and "Supreme Pontiff" to be synonymous.
The Pope is the "Roman Pontiff", successor of St. Peter. Jesus Christ, is the "Supreme Pontiff" and is higher than any Pope.
Rightly, then, does Pope Pius XII state that the Bishops are subordinate to him even though they both, pope and bishops, receive their mutual authority from the one Supreme Pontiff, Jesus Christ.
The study of Grace is of utmost importance because without grace we cannot attain our end.
Jesus had as His function the glorification of God, the Father. He also had as a purpose to have God glorified by all mankind.
Jesus reigns in heaven. How, then, can He continue His two-fold function? On earth, Jesus established the Church _ His `Mystical Body' to continue the mission begun by Jesus in His humanity.
Each must pass through the Church: believe, hope, and love that which the Church presents to us.
Every part of our being must be directed to Christ and to God through the intermediary of the Church.
Our Lord did not content Himself to leave us with an external rule of conduct. This, in itself, does not give us the strength to act. At the same time, He gave us an interior force which we call "grace" or the "gift of the Holy Spirit."
It is this interior force which we call "grace" that we will investigate so as to understand it better and to value it more.
Any respectable text book on theology could provide a nice and neat exposition on grace. However, it would be like describing a bicycle in a store window. After having gone into all the details of color, size, price, etc. of the bicycle, all this would still not put the bicycle into our hands. What we want to know is how grace works in us. It is the Christian who prays, sacrifices and suffers. Grace itself does not pray nor does it suffer.
Added to this, it may be said that perhaps the fundamental problem with most Catholics, clergy and laity, is that they studied their faith only in the abstract. They all had faith - abstract, theoretical, correct for the most part _ but this faith did not influence their daily lives.
This explains to a great extent how so many priests and laity can still say that they are "Catholics" while oblivious to the fact that what they now perceive to be their `faith' is nothing more than a rehash of past heresies. It proves that they have lost the true faith, and have boldly taken over our buildings.
In studying the subject of divine grace, we build a genuine spiritual life upon the truths flowing from this study.
Catholics lived a life of grace and it was this supernatural life of grace that brought down upon them the anger and vengeance of Lucifer. That is why there are far more saints, confessors and martyrs, in the early years of the Church than now. Then, people lived their beliefs and died for them; today, very few people live their faith and consequently, when asked about it, know almost nothing concerning it. Not many would be prepared to die for their faith simply because they would not know what they would be dying for.
Historically, the understanding of grace began to develop on the occasion of three great controversies. In giving an account of these controversies, the history of this development in theology follows.
Unfortunately, these three great errors concerning grace are facing Catholics full force. While in days gone by, the deposit of faith was jealously guarded by the sacred authority of Pope and Bishops, today it is dismantled by usurpers cleverly passing themselves off to the uncritical world as "pope' and "bishops."
The first great controversy was begun by a monk named Pelagius. Like all errors, there is an element of truth. It is when the truth fades that the error breaks through and holds the attention of the mind. The will, in turn, falsely perceiving the good in the truth presented to it by the intellect, focuses on the good while ignoring the evil.
By the time that good sense jolts the mind and good will advises the will, pride has taken root in the deep and secret recesses of the soul.
So, Pelagius, basing himself on the truth that one cannot be saved without personal collaboration, went so far as to ignore the need for grace. It was enough that the individual applied himself in order to be saved. The desire and the deed of salvation depends upon the individual.
Some of the consequences flowing from this theory are as follows:
1. Human nature is good; original sin is denied because Adam and Eve lost nothing..
2. There is no need for children to be baptized.
3. No grace at all is necessary. Grace is nothing more than a way of facilitating the observance of the commandments.
4. There is no predestination, properly speaking.
St. Augustine of Hippo was the primary defender of Catholic doctrine concerning grace against the Pelagians.
This same Doctor of the Church should be called forth to reduce the proud proponents of neo-Pelagianism with the same incisive reasoning used against the original Pelagians.
Next in line came the "semi-Pelagians." These posed the question: "Which has the initial role in salvation grace or the will?"
Semi-Pelegians claim that the will has the initial role in salvation. But, this doctrine was condemned at the Second Council of Orange in 529 A.D. Subsequent councils condemned Semi-Pelagianism and finally, the great Council of Trent did likewise.
The third great controversy on grace was Protestantism.
The entire doctrine of Protestantism is based on the following two points:
1. Salvation is entirely dependent upon confidence in the merits of Christ.
2. Salvation is an individual matter.
Starting from the idea that man owes his salvation to the merits of Christ, the Protestant insists so strongly on human inability to do whatsoever that is good, because of the total corruption of human nature, that it concludes to the uselessness of works. The sacrifice of Christ has a sovereign value that renders all else useless. For the Protestant, it is enough to have confidence.
How are the merits of Jesus Christ applied ? They answer: By faith alone. But, `faith' must be understood in the Protestant sense, namely, believe that Jesus died for me and that His merits are sufficient to justify me. This is what they mean by `confidence.'
From this flows the logical attitude towards indulgences and the need for purgatory: These are not necessary.
On the other hand, if faith alone justifies, salvation does become a personal, private matter. From this flows the rejection of any other human intermediary: there is no need to pray to any `saints' or to have others pray for us. Then, too, there is no need for any kind of church government _ especially doctrinal authority.
All that is necessary for the Protestant is to take the word of God by himself there, where it is to be found, i.e., in the Bible. This is private interpretation of the word of God.
In Protestantism, the Church is merely a visible social entity. The mission of the Holy Spirit is reduced to individual inspiration of the Scriptures. There is no Church; there is no interior justification. These have no purpose for existence.
Obviously, the Protestant basis himself on the mercy of God because of the merits of Jesus Christ. Where is the justice of God? The Protestant would rather not answer that.
Although the above are the three greatest controversies and errors against the true doctrine on grace, there were two other minor movements within the Church that are not, strictly speaking, errors concerning grace.
These two movements originated with Baius and Jansenius. From these two came the respective names of those who adopted their views: Baianism and Jansenism.
The doctrine of Baius is generally presented by authors as an error concerning the nature of man's primitive state. But, it would be more to the point and correct to say that it is an error concerning the love of God.
The Council of Trent had given rise to a true spirit of reform that sought to bring the Catholic religion to greater fervor.
Baius pushed this idea too far and perceived everything to be a sin that was not the love of God. Consequently, he denied natural love. He denied the natural love parents could have for their children and vice versa.
Unfortunately, there are several texts of the Fathers that lend themselves to such an interpretation. Thus, for example, the text of St. Augustine where he says: "There are only two loves, either the charity that loves God, man's last end, or a vicious one that loves the creature and is totally forbidden by the law."
Interpreting these words of St. Augustine literally (and out of context), Baius concluded that anything that is not a supernatural good is a sin, without taking into account that there is an intermediary good that is purely natural.
As far as grace is concerned: Baius held that it is a kind of `instinct.' And, that the two loves in man are two instincts (grace and cupidity) which we follow necessarily. And as for freedom, Baius would teach that it is reduced to a freedom entirely external - a freedom of co-action.
The doctrine of the Jansenists continues the error of Baius. Their doctrine, however, concentrates more on the efficaciousness of grace and its relation to the free will.
The Jansenists say: Man without grace can only sin. Since Original Sin, concupiscence necessarily dominates man.
Another error of the Jansenists is their belief that our Lord died only for the predestined.
It is interesting to note that this error took hold among the clergy and Religious.
This concept of love for God seemed wonderful. Tragically, the fact that there is a natural love between corrupted love for creatures and the supernatural love of God led to many practical errors in spirituality. Purely natural love for creatures is not sinful.
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