In the years of 2014 to the present, the question of whether Catholics can re-marry after divorce has become much more talked about in light of the two Synods on the family and their subsequent Apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. I cannot go into the details about what Pope Francis communicated with this document, but I can give a basic summary. Amoris Laetitia (Eng. The Joy of Love) reaffirms the Church’s moral doctrine on the purpose of human sexuality and conjugal relations, even explicitly referring to the need to appropriate the message of Pope St. Paul VI’s Encyclical Humane Vitae. The document also states that there are “no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family” (251). On the matter of Catholics who have married in the Church but who have subsequently divorced and contracted a civil “marriage” while the first spouse is still alive, Pope Francis makes clear that this is contrary to the demands of the Gospel, and is objectively out of harmony with the Church’s understanding of marriage (303). To those who insist that they should be able to openly demand recognition, respect, and good-standing of their 2nd “marriage” as if it were awarded to them out of mercy, the Pope says they should be considered as persons seeking to flaunt an objective sin, and should consequently be subject to hearing the gospel again in order to be converted, or separated from the community in excommunication (297). With that said, the Pope still opened the door for Catholic “re-married” divorcees to receive Holy Communion (305, fn 351), not on the basis that re-marriage is acceptable or objectively good, but rather that, on a case by case basis, certain persons who are involved in these objectively sinful and unlawful relationships can be free even of grave and mortal guilt, thereby landing them in the venial category of transgressor. Causes for this are said to be difficult and complex circumstances which mitigate against a person’s level of culpability, reducing the severity of their guilt and sin before God (302). Continue reading
In my discussions with Protestant brethren, I continue to hear the idea that crazy things such as praying to Saints for intercession, venerating the dead pieces of human bodies, a process of post mortem pains to satisfy residual purgatorial punishment, and the Altar of the Church upon which Christ is sacrificed as a propitiation on behalf of the living and the dead are late Medieval inventions which have no place in the early Christian church. However, the historical record would strongly refute this erroneous conception. Here below I will provide statements from extremely credible early Church Fathers who lived in far distant regions from each other, showing how universal and traditional these beliefs and activities were already beginning in the middle of the 4th-century. In so doing, we capture the beliefs of Christians in North Africa, Egypt, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Antioch, Syria, Rome, and Milan. Continue reading
In the 3rd century, there were a group of Christians who began to try and celebrate the Eucharist with water instead of wine, and they were known as the Hydroparastatae or Aquarians. During the Decian persecution, they would substitute water for wine. St. Cyprian’s refutation of this erroneous practice comes to us in a letter to a certain Caecilius and it affords us the opportunity to see a 3rd century Saint expose the realism of the sacrifice of the holy Mass. I strongly encourage the readers to visit the full letter at the link after the citation to read the whole thing. Its priceless. Notice, most particularly, two things: how Cyprian describes the priest who offers the Eucharist to be doing what Christ himself did during the Last Supper, and how drastically important it is to get the Eucharistic tradition right in all its particulars.
For us Catholics, we are dogmatic that the Holy Mass involves the real presence of our Lord’s Body and Precious Blood, and that a real propitiatory sacrifice takes place in the celebration of the Eucharist. But what is the nature of the sacrifice? Does Christ undergo a new transition from being a heart-pulsing human body & soul, to losing all the oxygen in his heart and lungs through asphyxiation, all over again and again as we celebrate the Last Supper? Though I doubt anyone would assert this openly, and while the title of this article was meant to catch attention, some of us still have a difficult time explaining just how the Mass brings into the present moment the veritable death of our Lord. Curious minds care to know!
The Reformed Protestant blog Triablogue offered an attempt to rebut my previous article, Why All Bible Believing Christians Must Believe In the Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass . Please access that rebuttal at this link. Below is my response. I will refer to the interlocutor as SH, and his statements are within <<>> and italicized.
Christians throughout the world who are actively seeking to join the original “Church” which Christ founded are confronted with the myriad of communities and denominations which compete with each other. Each of these entities professes to faithfully pronounce the doctrine of the Gospel as handed down from our Lord Jesus to the Apostles, and from the Apostles onward. How to ascertain who is right? One could spend a million years picking through all the arguments, debates, claims, books, articles, journals, monographs, academic reviews, commentaries, and histories before they can boil the options down to 10 or 5 competitors. This is because there are truly so many intelligent minds that enter into the work of scholarly apologetics, and most of them are at least touching the surface, if not appropriating the whole, of the absolute truth of the content of Christ’s divine revelation. Most competing apologists grasp at least *something* true, and this is what makes it difficult to choose who is right over and against the others. X has a good point. Oh, Y has a good point. Ah, X has a good counter point to Y. <yawn> Y has a good counter point to X. On and on. Who has time for all of this? It is a truly daunting, even grueling, task for the average theologian, let alone lay person whose responsibilities allow only a sliver of time to devote to these matters.
What happens if someone is baptized, but does not receive the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist? Was not our Lord clear that those who never drank His blood would perish? It is a great question, and I will seek to give an answer from three ancient witnesses, all deemed Saints by both Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and Anglicans today. Continue reading