Welcome to my website!
My name is Erick Ybarra, and this site is devoted to a classical defense of traditional Christianity, which I believe is held in its fullness by the Catholic Church. I am a revert to the Catholic Church, having left it in my early teens for an oxymoron: philosophical atheism. I vaguely remember bringing either a book by Ayn Rand or one on Astro-Physics to read at Mass instead of following the Missal. You get the idea. By the time I reached University in 2005, God awakened my soul and showed me that my mind, as strong as it was thanks to Him, was grinding its gears and wasting away in a dark spiral downward into oblivion and death. Initially, the platform that this conversion took place was a zealous Baptist community which introduced me to the Holy Scriptures, Apologetics, Evangelism, passionate preaching, meticulous discipleship, and the intense study of Christian doctrine. I am ever grateful for this, and quite frankly, if it were not for that, I cannot say that I would be where I am now. Several years went by, and providence had me embarking upon a new chapter into the origin of Christianity and finding its authentic expression today. I was troubled by the vast incoherence, inconsistency, and divergence of belief and practice amongst the Protestant denominations. I had gone from being a strong soteriologically-Calvinistic evangelist who always kept a good set of books in my bag wherever I went (of course, my Bible, aka the Sword, in my back pocket) to gradually being more open to hearing groups of Christians that did not agree with what may have been thought of at the time a sectarian mindset.
Even so, I would end up in a place where my curiosities put me into libraries and books to study Church History, particularly on the matter of religious authority. The abiding question is “Who speaks for Jesus Christ today”? That questioned seemed to plague modern Protestantism, especially when one is strongly rooted in a variety of positions within different communities. By a very careful and hesitant study of the Bible, the Church Fathers, the Early Ecumenical Councils, and the concept of Apostolic succession, I wound up in a high-Church Anglo-Catholic community where I could love every bit of what I wanted in Church History without being so tied down in fine dogmatic exactitude. As an Anglican, one neither has to feel burdened by the intellectual and spiritual problems which reside in the democracy of Protestant religion, nor does one have to envelope themselves in a “pseudo-Kingdom-of-God-theocracy-type” form such as Catholicism, or even perhaps, Eastern Orthodoxy (also applies, in lesser ways, to the other major families of Eastern Christianity). For instance, I could hold to the ancient liturgy as the form of worship; the 7 sacraments all which confer divine grace; the theocratic principle of Apostolic office; justification as including the interior renovation of the human being; and most of all the belief most widely held by ancient Christianity, Christ truly present in body, soul, blood, and divinity upon the parish Altar. In many ways, it was the place I needed to be, in the mystery of providence, in order to calmly give myself to prayer the study of the Holy Scriptures and the Tradition of the Holy Fathers. This was very much a re-construction of the Oxford Movement, a sort of via media as Blessed John Henry Newman attempted to construct. With the comfort of knowing I was associated with historical Christianity, I was able to give more concentrated thought to my research, and eventually, I came to see that either Eastern Orthodox or Catholicism was where I needed to be. A variety of reasons stand behind this move from Anglicanism, but I will mention a couple: (1) The Anglican parish I belonged to strove to separate itself from the modernist liberalism which came in full force in the 60s and 70s, and would lead to aberrant practices such as the softening down on homosexuality, the ordination of woman, and a drifting away from its own heritage from the English Reformation, and so I was part of a small split-off which came from another split-off, and we were not all that sure about what it meant to say et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam when we recited the Symbolum Nicaenum (Nicene Creed). That was deeply troubling. And (2) there was troubling variance is what was allowed to be believed as an Anglican (39 Articles or guidelines?). Many more reasons exist, of course, but this isn’t the space for that sort of essay.
Being stuck between Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholicism, I knew that much of deciding factors would depend on identifying which of the two was a faithful continuation of the ecclesial primitiva (the primitive Church). It was clear to me that the doctrine of the Filioque, Papal Supremacy (even infallibility), purgatory, and other distinctively Catholic doctrines (these being only roughly reconciled with Eastern theology) were taught by the Scriptures and the Holy Fathers of the Church. For example, it is admitted by non-Catholic historians that Pope St. Leo the Great (440-461), a hero in Eastern Christianity to this day, held to the basic tenets which theologically ground the doctrines of Papal supremacy and infallibility codified at the Council of Vatican I (1870). Of course, he was not alone in this, and we even have major heroes of the East, such as St Maximos the Confessor, St. Theodore the Studite monastic, St. Nikiphorus of Constantinople, and many others, who all held beliefs which all but say in explicit terms what the Vatican Council taught. In addition, it was notable how all 7 of the Ecumenical Councils depended largely on the defense of them by the prelates of the Apostolic See of Rome, even against the fall outs which occurred in the Eastern churches. Almost all Eastern Orthodox Christians today admit that Rome was the orthodox Head and Primate of the universal Church for the first 1,000 years. Well, how likely would it be that said Head and Primate would be right on everything but the rationale for his authority ? Consequently, as much as I love Eastern Christianity, and long to be able to take part in it, I was forced to choose. Even to this day, my heart remains heavy in the long for re-union with the Orthodox Churches, as well as the other families of Eastern Christianity. Who can deny that the Latin West has suffered from the separation in the realm of monasticism, spirituality, and disciplinary vigor? How can one not feel the pains of Christ in our Coptic separated-brethren who suffer daily for the name of Christ?
Upon reverting into the Catholic Church, I can’t say that my expectations were met. That should not have been surprising. I soon learned that the Catholic Church, true as it is, was not the place where one saw the end of divisive scandal, indifferentism, religious relativism, and a host of other tactful darts from the enemy. It was fairly quickly that I digested the fact that part of this journey would require me to learn how to navigate the rough waters by sticking to the rock solid doctrine and practice which has, by the promise of God, continued in the Church despite the many evil forces within which masquerade as Catholic truth. I am sure St. Paul, I believe, learned something similar to this. How often would he reflect, it seems, on how unseemly God can be. He commands one thing, but plans a life which seems like it is providentially designed to frustrate that very thing. The purpose of this is for us to “in hope against hope” (Rom 4:17-22), persevere in faith, giving glory to God.
This website is a share in my navigation. Subjects will range from apologetics, doctrine, politics, evolution/creation/ID, philosophy, Biblical worldview, and my own ramblings. I pray that God will use it for His glory for all readers, whether to encourage Catholics, convince non-Catholic Christians, compel non-Christians, or inspire the neutral observers.