About Me

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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.

10 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hello Erick! Thank you so much for all your videos and blog posts, the sources you have provide have shown anything but our Catholic faith is wholly wrong. I have a request, I and I’m sure a good number of others would love (if not need) to read or listen to your thoughts on Palamite theology and if it can be reconciled with Thomism. This is a question I struggle with and anything you could provide would be of great help! Thank you!

  2. Your blog is very interesting and your articles about papal supremacy in the first millennium of the Church are one of the best I have ever read. I am a sedevacantist and I would like to know what do you think about this article written by an ex-sede now an Eastern Orthodox apologist. Is his argument that Rome is an integral component of the Papacy correct? I also would like to hear your opinion about sedevacantism in general. https://www.thesedevacantistdelusion.com/rome

  3. Greetings. I am part of a FB group in which you are also a member, the Protestant, Orthodox, Catholic, Discussion group (POCD) and I am always interested in your replies.

    For me, I am Kenneth Smith and I am a former Baptist minister converted to the Roman Catholic faith since 1990. I have a seminary degree, and thus a theological education, but as a Baptist. As a Baptist my connection to the Apostolic world, and thus its continuity, was in the book I held, which ironically was canonized by the very institution which my former creed said had gotten everything wrong. Since my conversion I value very highly those churches which existed in the Apostolic era and which have continued as they were then, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, all those with valid Orders from the Apostolic era. However, because I give the Eastern Orthodox this credence, I am susceptible to their very pointed criticism of the Roman Catholic faith, especially the validity of her orders. Now, I am familiar with Catholic traditionalists’ similar criticisms, but those are based on the Thomist criteria of what makes a sacrament valid. I am satisfied with the answer provided by the chief traditionalist group, the SSPX, that despite the changes subsequent to the Second Vatican council, Catholic Orders remain valid. However, as you know, the Orthodox are not so kind.

    And this has been quite a revelation to me, and the occasion for which I write to you on your blog site. If possible could you address this criticism of the validity of Catholic orders from the Orthodox perspective. From what I have been able to glean from discussions, Catholic holy orders have been invalid since the schism and for that reason: the Catholic world left the integrity of the Catholic faith by daring to introduce a change which the east did not share and did not participate. Or similar. And that because the Bishop of Rome left the greater body of Catholic fellowship with the other Patriarchs that terminated further validity of Catholic orders, and consequently the validity of all Catholic sacraments. Baptism is not valid; neither is the Holy Eucharist. This is quite upsetting to me, as it seems to be a fantastic claim that I normally associate with my former confreres in the Baptist world. Could you clarify their criticism?

    For instance, the Catholic Church maintains valid orders by first having received them from Christ, and thereafter by maintaining proper matter, form, and intent when consecrating or effecting a sacrament. For the Orthodox however, this stipulation is irrelevant in the face of the lack of unity which Rome failed to maintain with the East. That I cannot understand, ,and it vexes me because they are indeed an Apostolic Church.

    Your consideration on this would be greatly appreciated.

    Cordially,

    Kenneth Smith

    • Kenneth Smith,

      As far as I know, the “Orthodox Church” does not have a single view on the validity, nor efficacy, of Catholic sacraments. For example, one of the English world’s most referred to spokesmen for the Orthodox Church vis-a-vis the Roman Catholic Church is Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, and in his recent keynote lecture for the International Orthodox Theological Association on Jan 11th, 2019, he speaks to this very question of the Orthodox viewpoint of the validity of sacraments outside the “Eastern Orthodox Church”. I have here a link which which will take you directly to minute 39:38 where he will begin to speak at minute 40 specifically on this question. You should listen until minute 43 (about 3 minutes total). You will want to click here below:

      In addition to Metropolitan Kallistos, there is another widely referred to spokesman for Eastern Orthodoxy from the Moscow Patriarchate, and he is Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamps. He answered some interview questions back in 2009 for the Vertograd Orthodox Journal wherein he states very clearly that Roman Catholic sacraments are valid. The reference to this can be found at the link here below (although you might want to search for some original reporting just for assurance):

      https://eirenikon.wordpress.com/2009/10/23/archbishop-hilarion-alfeev-on-catholic-sacraments/

      Historically speaking, this question has also not been perfectly monolithic. For example, 400 years after the popular date of the schism (1054), when the Latins and Greeks gathered together for the Council of Ferrara-Florence, the idea at the commencement of the Council was that both side represented the Church “in some sense”, and , upon reconciliation (all Greek/Rus representatives signed the decrees, save Mark of Ephesus), no side rebaptized or re-ordained the other. This would show they implicitly recognized each others sacraments. Again, at least in some sense.

      Also, taking this to the 1600s-1700s, there was intercommunion between the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. If you could get a hold of Metropolitan Kallistos Ware’s article entitled “Orthodox and Catholics in the Seventeenth Century: Schism or Intercommunion?” in the journal Studies in Church History (Vol 9, March 2016, pg. 256-276), he will detail some of this history.

      I have also written myself an extensive article on the Patristic understanding of the validity of baptism, even that which is performed by heretics here below:

      https://erickybarra.org/2018/06/08/the-apostolic-and-patristic-tradition-on-baptism-by-heretics/

      Now, having said all of this, there are several groupings in the Orthodox Church, not to mention the radical Orthodox schismatic groups (non-canonical groups), who do not accept any of the Catholic sacraments as valid or efficacious. This would obviously be a contradiction to the Patristic consensus on the question.

      Perhaps your question is a bit more specific?

      • Yes, a bit more specific. In lieu of the general disregard that is shown for Thomas Aquinas’ reasoning, I think I can safely assume that his reasoning for the validity of a sacrament which I noted above is dismissed by the Orthodox as invalid because it is from him and he is a scholastic. So I would like to understand how a sacrament is valid to the Orthodox — how do they know their sacraments are valid, and by contrast are able to state matter of factly, at least some of them, that Catholic sacraments are not, therefore, valid. and thus not sacraments at all. So there must be a theological rationale by which they are understand sacraments to be valid, just as in Roman Catholicism. And because of this, some say Catholic sacraments are valid, and the more ardent among them state that they are not, and they disagree with Bishop Kalistos.

        Thanks for the links above. I will listen to them immediately.

        Kenneth

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