For the true Catholic, the person of supernatural faith, such times were not looked upon so much from a negative point of view, but from a positive one. If the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians, heresy is the stimulus for renewed fervor in studying the faith. After all, we never bother refreshing our knowledge until we are challenged in what we believe, or claim to believe.
Unfortunately, there are many Catholics who fail to use this wonderful opportunity of the Great Apostasy to not only ask questions, but to accept only answers from themselves and others based on the sound and solid teachings of the Church.
We appreciate more those things for which we have to suffer and labor. Such is our human condition. There would be fewer failures on the part of Catholics if they would exercise their minds and discipline their wills. Tragically for some, lack of virtue has led them into the rocky rapids of error where they have perished. They have perished because they lacked discretion, or they fell into the subtle traps of Satan through their own pride.
The first victims of error are generally the Sacraments. Either the Sacraments are rejected as to number, or they are neutralized in their efficacy through false opinions of unqualified individuals who set themselves up as teachers.
The Sacraments were the first target of the Modernist Reformers led by John XXIII and all those who succeeded him. What could be the reason for this? Actually, the reason was as simple as it was practical. The Church lives by supernatural grace. The Sacraments are the sources of supernatural grace. Therefore, eliminate the Sacraments and you eliminate the source of grace as instituted by Jesus Christ.
This is what has been done following the `spirit of Vatican II.' The Sacraments were reduced to nothing more than pious symbols after the fashion of the Protestants who broke from the Church in the time of Martin Luther.
Vatican II opened the windows not to let `fresh air' into the but rather, it opened the way for all the cesspool of heresy to inundate the Church.
In light of the fact that both clergy and laity have confused ideas concerning the Sacraments, it is deemed necessary and useful to set forth the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The scandalous confusion created by those who neglect the teachings and discipline of the Church has borne bitter fruit.
Instead of serving as a source of unity among the faithful, the Sacraments have become tools to further undermine that supernatural unity, both visible and invisible, which constitutes as it were the very life and essence of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ.
What are the Sacraments?
The Council of Trent states that the faithful must be instructed as to what constitutes a Sacrament. Furthermore, this same Council insists on the fact that "no one can doubt that the Sacraments are among the means of attaining righteousness and salvation."
As for a definition, the Council adopts the definition given by St. Augustine: "A Sacrament is a sign of a sacred thing." The same idea is contained in the following definition of St. Bernard: "A Sacrament is a visible sign of an invisible grace, instituted for our justification."
A Sacrament is a Sign.
There are two kinds of sensible objects. First, there are those that have been invented to serve as signs: Such as spoken and written languages, military standards, images and signals. All these and other similar objects are called `conventional signs' because they are invented and accepted by the majority of people to signify something.
The second kind of signs are invented for their own sake. To this class of sign belongs everything in nature.
With regard to words, if their ability to express ideas were taken away, their whole purpose would be defeated.
Again, to quote St. Augustine: "A sign, besides what it presents to the senses, is a medium through which we arrive at the knowledge of something else. From a footstep, for instance, which we see traced on the ground, we instantly infer that some one whose trace appears has passed."
A Sacrament is an instituted sign. It makes known to us by a determined appearance and similarity that which God, by His invisible power, effects in our souls.
Consider the following: The Sacrament of Baptism is administered by an external washing accompanied with specific solemn words. This signifies that by the power of the Holy Ghost all stain and defilement of sin is inwardly washed away, and that the soul is enriched and adorned with the admirable gift of heavenly justification; while, at the same time, the bodily washing accomplishes in the soul what it signifies - as the Roman Catholic Catechism of the Council of Trent states.
The immediate difference between the Sacrament of Baptism and the `ceremony of initiation into the Christian community' becomes evident when we consider that in Baptism there is a `washing away" while in the Apostate Church there is no such `washing away' of sin, but only an `initiation into the Christian community.'
It is for this reason that Baptism as administered in the Apostate Church is to be considered invalid. Baptism in the New Order Church headed by the Freemason Karol Wojtyla is invalid, as we shall see more in detail later, because of a lack of proper intention.
Holy Scripture teaches us that Sacraments are to be numbered among signs, as previously explained: St. Paul attests that "All we who are baptized in Christ Jesus, are baptized in his death."(Rom. 6,3). Upon these words is based the justification to infer that Baptism signifies that "we are buried together with him by baptism into death." (Rom.6,4).
By Baptism, then, we are not simply "initiated in the Christian community" but are buried together with Jesus Christ into death.
The importance of understanding why and how the Sacraments are signs by the faithful cannot be ignored. For, this understanding will increase their belief in what the Sacraments signify, contain and effect within the soul. They will understand what holy fruits are effected by the proper reception of the Sacraments. Likewise, a clear understanding of all that surrounds the Sacraments will serve to understand what must be avoided.
Through a right understanding of the Sacraments, it is hoped that people will perceive the beneficence shown to us by God.
The Sacraments are `Signs of Sacred Things.'
There are natural signs, signs invented by man and signs instituted by God.
Briefly, natural signs, besides making themselves known to us, also convey a knowledge of something else, an effect, common to all signs. For example, smoke is a natural sign from which we immediately infer the existence of fire. We call this a natural sign because it implies the existence of fire, not by any arbitrary decision of people, but from experience. When we see smoke, we are immediately convinced of the presence of fire, even though we may not be able to see the fire itself.
Signs invented by man are all those which are not natural, but are conventional. Language is a good example. We cannot communicate ideas with other minds unless we have a mutually accepted means of communication. The Morse code is a unique conventional invention which conveys alphabetical meaning by means of dots and dashes. In our modern day, the 0 and 1 of the computer serve the same purpose. The entire `mystery' of computer science is that letters are represented by a combination of 0 and 1 in a series of eight per unit.
The particular sound of a trumpet has nothing in it, naturally, to convey an idea. It is convention, the mutual agreement among men, that makes a particular sound of the trumpet to mean `attack' or `retreat.' Failure to honor this convention can be most unpleasant - especially in battle.
God has instituted signs. All of the signs instituted by God were not of the same kind. Some were instituted by God to indicate something or bring back to mind its recollection. Signs of this kind were the purification of the Law, unleavened bread, and many other things which belonged to the ceremonies of the Mosaic worship.
God has appointed other signs with the power not only to signify, but to accomplish that which the signs signify.
The Sacraments of the New Law are among the signs which God appointed with the power to signify and to accomplish that which they signify.
What is the `Sacred Thing' Signified by the Sign?
There are not only different kinds of signs, but there are also different sacred things expressed by signs.
Theologians prove that in the definition of a Sacrament, the sacred thing referred to by the sign is the grace of God.
It is this grace of God which sanctifies the soul and adorns it with the habit of all the divine virtues. The soul is influenced by this sacred thing, the supernatural grace, and is consecrated and united to God.
The Sacrament, then, is a sensible object which possesses by divine institution the power not only of signifying, but also of accomplishing holiness and righteousness.
Clearly, everyone should be able to see that the images or statues of the Saints, crosses and the like, although they are all signs of sacred things, cannot be called Sacraments.
Here, too, it may be noted that the Modernist, Apostate Church has confused the two distinct applications of the term `sacred things.' For example, in the former `seminary' in Rochester, NY, on one side of the table ("altar") there was the Bible and on the other something resembling a Tabernacle. The obvious intent was to promote the idea that the printed word of God (a legitimate sacred sign) was on the same level as the Real Presence (a truly Sacred Sign of the presence of Jesus Christ: body, soul and divinity).
In all the Sacraments, the sacred sign does not only signify what is produced, but has the power to produce interiorly by the operation of the Holy Ghost that which it signifies.
These mystical signs, instituted by God, signify by the appointment of Jesus Christ not only one thing, but several things at once.
All the Sacraments Signify Something Present, Something Past, Something Future.
All the Sacraments do this. All of them declare not only our sanctity and justification, but also two other things most intimately connected with sanctification, namely the Passion of Christ our Redeemer, which is the source of our sanctification, and also eternal life and heavenly bliss, which are the end of sanctification.
This being the case concerning the nature of all the Sacraments, saintly Doctors of the Church have rightly held that each of the Sacraments has a threefold significance: they remind us of something past; they indicate and point out something present; and they foretell something future.
This teaching of the Doctors of the Church is supported by the testimony of Sacred Scripture. When St. Paul says: "All we who are baptized in Christ Jesus, are baptized in his death," he gives us clearly to understand that Baptism is called a sign, because it reminds us of the death and Passion of our Lord.
When he says, "We are buried together with him by baptism into death; that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so, we also may walk in newness of life" he is also clearly showing that Baptism is a sign which indicates the infusion of grace into our souls, which enables us to lead a new life and to perform all the duties of true piety with ease and cheerfulness.
Then, when St. Paul adds: "If we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection," he is saying that Baptism clearly foreshadows eternal life also, which we are to reach through its efficacy.
A Sacrament Signifies the Presence of More Than One Thing at Times.
Apart from the different significations mentioned already, a Sacrament frequently indicates and marks the presence of more than one thing.
We see this in the Holy Eucharist. In the Holy Eucharist we perceive the presence of the real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and the grace which it imparts to the worthy receiver of the Sacred Mysteries.
Knowing the august nature of the Sacraments should lead all Catholics to an increased veneration for the great miracles of grace contained in the Sacraments of the New Law.
Why the Sacraments Were Instituted.
Certainly, God can sanctify and justify using whatever means He may so desire. He can forgive sins, for example, by merely having sinners wish to have their sins forgiven. Yet, He did not do this. Through the divine nature in Jesus Christ, God instituted the Sacrament of Penance.
There are many reasons commonly assigned to explain why God instituted the Sacraments. Understanding these reasons should teach us the proper use of the Sacraments. The Sacraments are abused by many clergy and laity because they have forgotten, or never learned, the reasons for their institution.
It should be observed that the Sacraments were instituted for those who believe in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. That this is so will become clear as we consider the usual reasons given by the Church.
The first reason given is the feebleness of the human mind. Constituted as we are by nature that we cannot aspire to mental and intellectual knowledge unless through the medium of the senses, sensible objects are necessary to reach spiritual knowledge.
So that we might more easily understand what takes place by the hidden power of God, the same Creator of the universe has most wisely, and out of His tender compassion towards us, ordained that His power should be manifested to us through the intervention of determinate sensible signs.
St. John Chrysostom expresses it thus: If man were not clothed with a material body, these good things would have been presented to him naked and without any covering; but as the soul is joined to the body, it was absolutely necessary to employ sensible things in order to assist in making them understood."(In Matt. Hom.82, n.4).
A second reason is because the mind yields an unwilling assent to promises. Thus, from the beginning of the world, God was accustomed to indicate, and usually in words, that which He had resolved to do. Sometimes, when planning to execute something, the magnitude of which might weaken a belief in its accomplishment, He added to words other signs, which sometimes appeared miraculous.
When God sent Moses to deliver the people of Israel, Moses distrusted God's help in the matter and feared that the imposed burden was heavier than he could bear, or that the people would not listen to him, the Lord confirmed His promise by a variety of signs.
In the New Law also, we see how God ordained that every important promise should be confirmed by certain signs. When He promised divine grace, pardon for sins, the communication of the Holy Ghost, He instituted certain visible and sensible signs by which He obliged Himself by pledges, as it were, and make it impossible to doubt that He would be true to His promises.
A third reason given is that the Sacraments, to cite St. Ambrose, may be at hand, as the remedies and medicines of the Samaritan in the Gospel, to preserve or recover the health of the soul. For, the efficacy of the Passion of Christ must flow through the Sacraments as through channels into the soul. This efficacy of Christ's Passion is the grace He merited for us on the altar of the cross, and without which we cannot hope for salvation. It is through the Sacraments, piously and devoutly used for the remedies of our spiritual ills, that the fruit of His Passion is really communicated to us.
A fourth reason showing forth the need for the institution of the Sacraments is that they are certain marks and symbols that distinguish the faithful. This is particularly true since, as St. Augustine observes, no society of men professing a true or a false religion, can be, so to speak, consolidated into one body, unless united and held together by some bond of sensible signs.
Both these objectives are accomplished by the Sacraments of the New Law: Distinguishing the Christians from the infidel, and uniting the faithful by a kind of sacred bond.
Yet another sound cause for the institution of the Sacraments is shown from the words of St. Paul: "With the heart we believe unto justice; but with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Rom.s10,10). By approaching the Sacraments, we make public profession of our belief that by receiving them the soul is infused with the grace expressed by the sacred sign.
The Sacraments also have a great influence in inflaming charity with which we should love one another. We are reminded as we partake of these Sacraments in common of the mystical bond which unites all the Faithful to each other.
As a final consideration, it may be stated the Sacraments repress and subdue the pride of the human heart, and exercise us in the practice of humility. For, they oblige us to subject ourselves to sensible elements in obedience to God from Whom we had before impiously revolted in order to serve the elements of the world.
Constitutive Parts of the Sacraments.
The sensible things that make up a Sacrament are two-fold: Matter which is called the element; and form which is commonly called the word.
This is the teaching of the Fathers of the Church. The saying of St. Augustine is familiar to all: "The word is joined to the element, and it becomes a Sacrament."
The words sensible thing mean not only the matter or element, such as water for Baptism, chrism for Confirmation, and oil for Extreme Unction - all of which are visible to the eye. Included are the words or form - these are addressed to the ear.
Both matter and form are clearly indicated by St. Paul when he says: "Christ loved the Church, and delivered himself up for it, that he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of love."(Eph. 5, 25,26).
To make the rite performed easier and more clear, words had to be added to the matter. For, of all signs, words are the most significant and without them what the matter of the Sacraments designates and declares would be utterly obscure.
Water, for instance, has the quality of cooling as well as washing, and may be symbolic of either. In Baptism, then, unless the words were added, it would not be certain which signification was intended. When the words are added, we immediately understand that the Sacrament has and signifies the power of cleansing.
The Sacraments of the New Law differ in this from the Sacraments of the Old Law. The Sacraments of the Old Law, had no definite matter and form and so were very obscure. Whereas, in the Sacraments of the New Law, the form is so definite that if any, even a casual deviation from it would render the Sacrament null. For this reason, the form is expressed in the clearest terms so as to exclude or preclude the possibility of doubt.
What about Other Ceremonies Used in the Administration of the Sacraments?
Specific ceremonies are added to the matter and form of the Sacraments. Except in cases of necessity, these may not be omitted without sin. In such cases, the Sacrament is not invalid because adjoining ceremonies were omitted.
From the earliest times, the Church used solemn rites in the administration of the Sacraments.
There are several reasons for this: First, the greatest propriety in manifesting such a religious reverence to the sacred mysteries requires that holy things are handled by holy men.
Secondly, these ceremonies serve to show more fully the effects of the Sacraments, placing them, as it were, before our eyes, and to impress more deeply on the minds of the faithful the sanctity of these sacred institutions.
Thirdly, the ceremonies elevate to sublime contemplation the minds of those who behold and observe them with attention, and excite within them faith and charity.
Ministers of the Sacraments.
Since the ministers of the Sacraments represent the person of Christ in the discharge of their sacred functions and not their own, be they good or bad, they validly perform and confer the Sacraments, provided they make use of the matter and form always observed in the Catholic Church according to the institution of Christ, and provided they intend to do what the Church does in their administration.
The faithful who sit in judgment of the ministers of the Sacraments deprive themselves of the fruits of grace of the Sacraments and resist the Holy Ghost
This is a fixed and well ascertained doctrine of the Church and is solidly established beyond all doubt by St. Augustine in his disputations against the Donatists. As Scriptural proof we might cite the words of St. Paul: "I have planted; Apollo watered; but God gave the increase. Therefore, neither he that planteth nor he that watereth is anything, but God who giveth the increase." ((I Cor. 3, 6).
We may deduce from these words that as trees are not injured by the wickedness of those who planted them, so those who were planted in Christ by the ministry of bad men sustain no injury from the guilt of those others.
Besides this, it is common knowledge that Satan inspires calumnies against the ministers of the Church for the precise purpose of leading the self-righteous into greater sins than those they presume to see in their ministers.
Judas Iscariot, as the holy Fathers infer from the Gospel of St. John, conferred Baptism on many; and yet none of those whom he baptized are recorded to have been baptized again.
St. Augustine puts it very well: "Judas baptized, and yet after him none were rebaptized; John baptized, and after John they were rebaptized. For the Baptism administered by Judas was the Baptism of Christ; but that administered by John was the baptism of John. Not that we prefer Judas to John, but that we justly prefer the Baptism of Christ, although administered by Judas, to that of John although administered by the hands of John."
This does not mean that the ministers of the Sacraments have no obligation to purity of morals and integrity of life.
It should not be forgotten that the Sacraments, although they cannot lose the divine efficacy inherent in them, bring eternal death and perdition to him who dares administer them unworthily.
Effects of the Sacraments.
There are two principal effects of the Sacraments. The first effect is the greatest: Sanctifying grace is given to the worthy recipient of the Sacrament.
The second effect of certain Sacraments is the character which they impress on the soul. Three are such Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders.
This is a character which leaves a distinct impression on the soul which perpetually inheres and cannot be blotted out.
The character has a twofold effect: it qualifies us to receive or perform something sacred, and distinguishes us by some mark one from another.
In Baptism, the character makes it possible for us to receive the other Sacraments. Then, too, it distinguishes us from all those who do not profess the true Faith.
In Confirmation, the character arms us and singles us out as soldiers of Christ, giving us the strength to profess publicly our Faith and to defend His name; to fight our internal enemy and against the spiritual powers of wickedness in high places; and at the same time we are distinguished from the recently baptized who are as new-born infants.
In Holy Orders, the character confers the power of consecrating and administering the Sacraments, and also distinguishes those who are invested with this power from the rest of the faithful.
The rule of the Roman Catholic Church must be observed which teaches that these three Sacraments impress a character and are never to be repeated.
Of even greater importance for us today is to harken to the words of the Code of Canon Law regarding the Sacraments:
"As all the Sacraments instituted by Christ our Lord are the principal means of sanctification and salvation, the greatest care and reverence should be employed in their suitable and proper administration and reception. It is forbidden to administer the Sacraments of the Church to heretics or schismatics, even though they err in good faith and ask for them, unless they have first renounced their errors and been reconciled with the Church (Canon 731).
All those who continue to attend the churches embracing the heresies of what may be called the `post-Conciliar Church' are deemed heretics - even those who are of good faith. Unless they renounce the heresies of this Apostate Modernist Church, they may not receive the Sacraments.
Likewise, those who adhere to the usurper bishops and priests in the self-styled `Traditional Church' are deemed to be schismatics because they refuse to subject themselves to the authority of orthodox Bishops. Such bishops, priests and their followers are schismatics. And, even if they be in good faith, they may not receive the Sacraments until they have renounced their errors and have been reconciled with the Church.
Note well that it is not sufficient to simply renounce one's errors. It is necessary to be reconciled with the Church. This reconciliation can only be accomplished before a legitimate representative of the Church, namely, a Bishop or a priest delegated by the Bishop.
Excommunicated public heretics or schismatics are not reconciled with the Church through private absolution in the internal forum of the confessional. Such absolution is only valid for private heretics and schismatics who are so in the secret of their hearts. For example, if a person were to privately hold an heretical position, that person would be automatically excommunicated (ipso facto). Such an excommunication may be absolved in the confessional provided the confessor has the delegated authority for doing so. If he does not, the absolution is null and void.
We are ushered into the spiritual life by means of the Sacraments. It is by the same means that we are nourished and preserved, and grow in the spiritual, mystical life of grace.
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