What is the proper attitude and conduct a Catholic should have towards all these "preachers and teachers of Catholicism"?
J.A.R., Rome, NY
A. A person can only absorb a limited amount of information. Although our spiritual ability is infinite, our physical capacity is not. No matter how intelligent a person may be, there is a limit to the amount of information that can be assimilated and understood.
Then, too, there is the background of schooling and training in any specific field of study that will limit an individual's ability to correctly understand and evaluate the information presented on the Internet.
As a young teen-age student in the seminary, among the few things that have made a great impression on me were not so much the things learned in the classroom, as the wisdom expressed by a priest while walking along the garden path of the seminary grounds.
Even the priest's name has not been forgotten while not a single teacher's name can be recalled. This priest never taught me in class. Only once did I ever speak with him. Yet, what he said remained with me all my life.
He said: "Life is too short for inferior books." This priest was a Holy Ghost Father residing at the Holy Ghost Missionary College in Cornwells Heights, Pa. His name was Fr. Stanislaus Zaborowski, CSSP.
Your life is too short to waste on inferior junk passing for `religious information.'
There is no doubt about it: The religious junk peddlers are the first to express their `righteous indignation' which is only a mask to hide their hypocrisy.
Just as you cannot stop a swarm of locusts, you cannot stop these usurpers of the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church.
Don't waste your time! Discipline your curiosity and imagination. It is easier to play the stock markets with limited knowledge with the chance of winning than to get involved with trying to evaluate the different religious demagogues who have invaded the Internet like a hoard of mosquitoes.
The true authority in the Church has provided us with guidelines in the form of dogmatic truths and laws.
For the true Catholic (and even these fakes do not shrink from imagining themselves to be "true Catholics" so, beware!) the threefold authority of Jesus Christ was given to the Apostles and their successors, the bishops. PERIOD!
If you don't accept this interiorly as well as exteriorly, you are not a Roman Catholic. It makes no difference what anyone claims to be. A person is what he is; claims are only proven by the facts. And the simple fact is that the vast majority of individuals using the Internet to play preacher or teacher are nothing more than `wannabes' _ they wanna be `preachers' and `teachers.'
If you associate with them by giving them a hearing, you will eventually end up like them: screaming blasphemies and calumnies against the true teachers of the Church, and, sadly, losing your soul.
To use a cliché, you have to learn to crawl before you can walk. Meaning? Before you can safely expose yourself to the clever sophisms of these false teachers, you have to know your faith very well. At the very least, you must distrust your own judgment and avoid becoming a `vacuum cleaner victim' _ being sucked in.
The only person who has a right to pontificate is a pontiff. A bishop is a pontiff. He is the first person to whom we should look for answers in matters of religion. Next in line are the priests who are under the bishop.
If a priest is not under a valid and legitimate bishop, flee for your supernatural life! You will only hear half-truths (more dangerous than outright lies) that will lead you astray from the sources of grace.
The sacred hierarchy consists of legitimate Pope and Bishops. Only they are the official teachers in the Roman Catholic Church. Any `expert' or `renowned' theologian teaches at the sufferance and supervision of the bishop.
The bishop is the one who has been chosen by the Holy Ghost to represent the visible Church. It is the Holy Ghost who guides the bishop in this office of teaching if the bishop is a valid and legitimate representative of the Church doing his duty.
The Holy Ghost is the soul of the Church: "Christ is the Head of the Church, the Holy Ghost her soul" (Pope Leo XIII, Divinum illud). The Holy Ghost does not by-pass the order of things established by the Son of God. Therefore, the fanciful arguments of those who would boldly and brazenly usurp the teaching authority of the Church appealing to some kind of "extraordinary circumstance" deceive themselves and those who would listen to them.
Dogma: Only Popes and Bishops possess ecclesiastical jurisdictional power by Divine right.
The office of preaching the Catholic faith is entrusted chiefly to the Roman Pontiff for the universal Church, and to Bishops for their respective dioceses. (c.1327).
No one may exercise the ministry of preaching unless he has received a mission from his lawful superior, either by special grant of the faculty to preach, or by receiving an office to which the function of preaching is attached according to canon law. (c.1328).
Of paramount importance today is a respect for the laws of the Church regarding the publication of religious works.
If there is any doubt about the kind of published religious material you encounter either on the Internet or elsewhere, let the following directive of the Church be your guide:
1.The Church has the right to forbid the publication of books by the faithful unless she has officially examined them in advance, and for just cause to prohibit books, by whomsoever they may have been published (c.1384,§1).
2. Even though published by laymen, the following require previous approval: a. Books of the Sacred Scriptures, or annotations and commentaries of the same. This refers either to the original text or to ancient translations; modern translations are specially dealt with in canon 1391.
b.Books which treat of Holy Scripture, theology, church history, canon law, natural theology, ethics, or other such religious and moral branches; also books and booklets of prayers or devotions, or of instruction and training in religion, morals, asceticism, mysticism, and the like, even though they seem to favor piety; and in general all writings which contain anything of special importance to religion and good morals. (c.1385).
You may take as a `rule of thumb' that with the exception of The Seraph and other writings approved by our bishop, everything else appearing on the Internet or published in any other form constitutes a serious violation of Church Law.
This may appear very `severe,' but when considered in the light of the supernatural life of the soul and eternity, the greatest caution is required to protect our spiritual health.
More souls have been lost through presumption than from caution.
It is no defense to publish without ecclesiastical approval to say that questionable books concerning religion had been published in the past with the required approval. Such an argument is absurd. It's like saying: Because some people disobey traffic laws such laws should be abolished.
What is needed is a serious return to the wise laws of the Church. The first to give an example to others should be the Secular and Religious clergy. If the clergy respect the law, the laity will follow.
Besides, what right-minded individual would want to waste time reading what the Church has already condemned?
Finally, what can be said of those who persist in their obstinate and contumacious rejection of authority? Following the example of St. Paul, they should be treated as the heathen and publican _ as Pope Pius XII himself suggests.
Return to Contents
Return to Homepage.