Archives for July 2013

Delusional dissidents

This is far from a new topic for me. I have touched upon it in Catholics and politics, women priests, only Catholics go to heaven?, Catholic obedience, some leave the Church and public sinners.

As a convert, I think a lot about others like myself who realize (or at least suspect) that their Christian community is not in full accord with our Lord’s true teaching. We discover that it is NOT a matter of opinion, that there is truth and that it is knowable. We find that Jesus actually DID institute a Church for the purpose of preserving and teaching that truth until He comes again. When by the grace of God we are led to the Catholic Church, we know that we are home at last.

It is difficult then, to understand Catholic dissidents. “Cradle Catholics” (typically) to which faith has been given as a birthright, yet who walk away from it. Why do they do it? The Bible warns:

If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins but a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries.

This is a very serious, very blunt warning. The Catechism puts it this way:

How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

That is trying to “re-formulate” the concept (extra Ecclesiam nulla salus) “positively.” There really is no nice way to warn of eternal damnation.

There seems to be different classes of dissidents, among whom are:

  • lapsed Catholics: these are people who no longer honor the precepts of the faith. Often they attend no worship service of any kind (yet still consider themselves Catholic). Some have joined Protestant communities or other religions (these no longer consider themselves Catholic).
  • active dissidents: these are people who are active in the Church and consider themselves to be faithful Catholics but are not. They reject Christ’s teaching, infallibly interpreted by His Church, in favor of their own sinful preferences. Liberal Catholic politicians are the best example of this.
  • independent parishes: these are like the active dissidents, but who have broken away into schismatic groups.

It is that third group (“independent” parishes) that I want to look at here. It is important to keep the scale of this in perspective. Estimates vary, but there is on the order of 300,000 Catholic parishes worldwide. The number of these self-described “independent” parishes appears to be on the order of dozens (excluding the SSPX, schismatic but quite the opposite of the groups referenced here). Probably the sum total of parishioners in such schismatic groups would compare to a single, large Catholic parish such as mine here in the Atlanta area.

Yet, they get showered with the media attention and acceptance they desperately seek. The mainstream media is always in favor of attacking the Church however it can in hopes of diminishing her influence. To wit, a recent article in the New Haven Register caught my attention. It has been picked-up and spread by various media outlets (as its content so appeals to them).

When I read the article, I was taken aback by it. The only word that popped into my mind to describe them is “delusional” (adj: 1. having false or unrealistic beliefs or opinions; 2. maintaining fixed false beliefs even when confronted with facts). Consider:

  • They have separated themselves from the authority of the Church, given to her directly and explicitly by our Lord.
  • They think that they have all 7 sacraments. Lacking validly ordained priests, they do not. The only sacrament they validly offer is baptism. This is 1 less than any protestant community has. This is because as baptized Catholics, they are subject to canon law and their marriages outside of the Church are invalid by defect of form.
  • The article asserts that they have the “feel” of a Catholic “service.” So do Anglicans, but they do not claim to be Catholic. Our faith is about truth, not how we “feel.”
  • They embrace all the liberal sins: “re-marriage,” female priests, gay priests, re-married female gay priests, an so on. The article doesn’t mention abortion or contraception, but it is a safe bet that they strongly support a woman’s “right to choose” (the destruction of her unborn child).
  • This entire parish is objectively living in a state of mortal sin (if for no other reason than not fulfilling their Mass obligation). Their women ordination involved “priests” have excommunicated themselves latae sententiae.

The article notes that “all are welcome” by this group. Ditto the real Catholic Church. The difference is the real Church wants you to turn away from sin and turn to God. People turn to this group “because they’ve found their church no longer meets their needs” (to sin).

One couple notes that they “were really looking for a church that was all-inclusive in the world, because Jesus loved everybody.” That is the universal Church – the Catholic Church. The difference is understanding love. Jesus was clear that we are to repent of our sins and to sin no more, not do whatever we are tempted to – which rejects His love. There is more in the article, but you get the idea.

The Catechism describes groups like this as (at least) incredulous and schismatic:

Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

So how will they be judged? We never go there, thank God! Such judgment is His alone and in His mercy He may make allowances for genuine ignorance. However the Catechism warns:

Ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man “takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin.” In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.

The bottom line: do not be confused by these few groups or the common media coverage of them. Instead, pray for their return to God on His terms over prideful, arrogant viewpoints more in line with consumerism and politics than the Glory of God.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #104)

This week: Fr. Barron comments on Lumen Fidei. Catholic youth events beyond WYD. Jimmy Akin explains the “last judgment.” What it is to hold the human heart. Information on Tom Peters and his recovery. Some amazing talent comes out of nowhere. Jumpy the dog does his stuff.

— 1 —

Father Barron speaks on the new Lumen Fidei encyclical (spoiler: he likes it).

— 2 —

World Youth Day is great, but insufficient. We need more local events for youth like the UK’s Youth 2000 (August 22-26 this year):

— 3 —

Jimmy Akin answers “what is the last judgment?…”

— 4 —

God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The LORD looks into the heart.

Spotted by Marcel

The wise heart turns to the right; the foolish heart to the left.

— 5 —

Almost 2 weeks ago blogger Thomas Peters was seriously injured in a swimming accident. You may know this young man as the American Papist or from his excellent work with the National Organization for Marriage or CatholicVote.org. More information on Tom’s status is on this special blog. Please pray for him.

— 6 —

So, a Puerto Rican, a Korean and a New Yorker meet on stage…   but this is no joke! These three guys barely knew each other when they appeared on America’s Got Talent. This is there very first performance, ever, anywhere:

This is the beautiful 1985 hymn Pie Jesu (Merciful Jesus) from the requiem Mass written by Andrew Lloyd Webber in memory of his father. I wonder if the judges had any idea what they were listening to. Spotted by Lawrencinium.

— 7 —

Jumpy the dog does his stuff…

Spotted by my friend Tom C.

Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary to address this blogging need. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen for hosting this project!

The Faith of a Centurion

Guest contributor:   Ed Trego

As he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, begging him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard him, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment. (Matthew 8:5-13)

Do we have faith in Jesus and his ability to heal us? Is our faith strong enough? The centurion in the scripture above had faith far beyond that shown by most of the Jews, including, at times, the apostles. He also had far more faith than many Christians today. The centurion exemplified the kind of faith all people should have in our Lord.

A Roman soldier and occupier, this man would have been considered an enemy of Jesus by most of Israel. The Romans were the oppressors of the Jews and had killed many in the occupation. At the insistence of the Sanhedrin, they would eventually kill Jesus as well. Yet this Roman soldier had faith in Jesus far beyond what was evident in those Jesus had come to save. Some would certainly question the fact that Jesus even responded to him. Some might even consider Jesus a traitor for helping a Roman. But Jesus seemed to be constantly doing the unexpected. He was searching for faith, not nationality. Simply being a son of Abraham wasn’t enough. Recognition and acceptance of the savior was required. Even though his mission was to the Jews, Jesus obviously knew that others would be included in his mission. In fact, those who accepted him would eventually be ostracized by the Jews and forced to separate from them in their worship. How sad that his own people refused to acknowledge him.

As a gentile, the centurion had no reason to expect that Jesus would answer his plea, but he had faith that Jesus had the power to do what he asked. Without question, he recognized the authority of Jesus. His statements showed his understanding of Jesus’ power and authority. It’s apparent that the centurion did not believe that he deserved the mercy of Christ. “I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof”, he told Jesus. Interestingly, this same statement of humility is used at every Mass during communion. When offered the body and blood of Lord we respond, “I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed”.

It’s worth noting that his plea was not for himself or even for a family member. It was for a servant. Do we seek God’s help only when we or someone close to us are in need? Or do we, as the centurion, pray for those in need, regardless of their relation to us”

We should be very thankful for this healing performed for the Roman centurion. By responding to the needs of gentiles, Jesus demonstrated that his love and forgiveness was not limited to the Israelites, but would extend to the gentiles. There is another example of Jesus’ attention to gentiles in Matthew 15, verses 21-28. The Canaanite woman who approached Jesus asked for healing for her daughter who was possessed by demons. Jesus responded that it was not fair to take the children’s (Israelite’s) bread and throw it to the dogs (gentiles). But she persisted, finally saying, “Yet, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” At this Jesus answered, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Our hope of forgiveness and salvation is expressed in these healings. Had Jesus restricted his help to the Jews we, as gentiles, would have had no part in his salvation. Instead, out of love, God granted his blessings to all. Because of this love and acceptance, we have been grafted into the family tree of God. Jesus is our brother and Mary is our mother.

In today’s world expressions of faith are hard to come by outside the safety of the Mass or church services. It’s rare to see or hear anyone speak of faith and belief in Jesus in public venues. Those who do are mocked and ridiculed by many. Satan seems to have plenty of agents available to effectively silence all but the most innocuous forms of public faith expression. When was the last time you noticed someone saying grace before a meal in public? Have you seen anyone advising a friend or co-worker that prayer might be the answer to their problems? Do we, as Christians, live our faith or do we just bring it out on Sunday for show and tell.

Unless we are willing and even enthusiastic in our faith and recognition of Jesus, how can we expect him to recognize us when the time comes? When we stand before him in judgment which will we hear? “Come O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world… .” or “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels… ” (see Matthew 25:31-46)

One final thought about the centurion; could this be the same man who was present at the crucifixion of Jesus? Matthew and Luke relate the story of the healing of the centurion’s servant. Both Luke and Matthew, as well as Mark record the centurion’s statements at the crucifixion. Matthew and Mark record his statement that Jesus was “the son of God”. Luke records the statement as “This man was innocent, beyond doubt!” (see Matthew 27:54, Mark 15:39, and Luke 23:47)


The above meditation is a chapter from Ed’s new eBook “Thoughts of God”. Only $1.99 on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony and other fine publishers.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #103)

This week: Bishop Michael Bransfield speaks about God. Restoring the splendor of our Cathedrals and Basilicas for the Glory of God. The Lord’s Prayer beautifully sung in Swahili. The fruits of the Anglican Ordinariate. The concept of reverence. Fr. Barron looks at tolerance gone wild. The man on the street, boldly taking a stand — against the Bill of Rights!

— 1 —

Bishop Michael Bransfield (Wheeling-Charleston, WV) speaks about God, His pursuit of you and knowing what it is like to be a true Christian.

— 2 —

Undoing the post-conciliar attempts to “protestantize” our beautiful Cathedrals and Basilicas is a specialty of Conrad Schmitt Studios. Here is some of their restoration work:

Spotted by Jeffrey Tucker

— 3 —

The Lord’s Prayer (Baba Yetu), set to music and sung in Swahili by the Soweto Gospel Choir:

Spotted by Elizabeth Scalia

— 4 —

The Anglican Ordinariate has provided a means for Anglicans to retain elements of their patrimony AND be in full communion with Rome. They (those who have accepted then Pope Benedict’s offer) are now fully Catholic. They benefit being in full communion with the one Church instituted by Christ — and the Church benefits from them. This is true ecumenicalism.

— 5 —

Reverence, treating God as if…   as if He is…   God. The point is made relative to excellent conferences held at Franciscan University of Steubenville, but is much more broadly applicable.

— 6 —

Fr. Barron can not stop chuckling as he recounts the antics of Jefferts Schori, the current Episcopalian presiding bishop. He comments on the “loopy ideology of inclusively,” interpreting scripture and what true love is.

Jefferts Schori was featured in my piece in May entitled “the Episcopal experiment” where she preaches that diversity, not Jesus, saves (really, you can not make this stuff up). Her “Christian teaching” is so outrageous as to be funny, like something you might see in a satirical skit — except she is serious. People listen to and believe this crap and endanger their immortal souls. Is it any wonder why Jesus gave His Church an infallible Magisterium to preserve the truth?

UPDATE: satire site Eye of the Tiber comments.

— 7 —

Our citizens are far too busy these days delivering death in the womb and to those of old age, deciding what gender to marry and even deciding what gender to be. The last thing they need to slow them down is antiquated, legalistic mumbo-jumbo like the Bill of Rights!

Spotted by Fr. Z


Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary to address this blogging need. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen for hosting this project!

Review: Catholics Come Home

I discovered CatholicsComeHome.org three years ago when I was converting to Catholicism. The videos they produce are excellent overviews of the faith, moving and produced at the highest level of professionalism. They are really, really good and officially some of my favorites – occupying top slots on my video favorites page.

Who are these people? I read the About Us information and learned a little about their mission. Tom Peterson’s new book Catholics Come Home: God’s Extraordinary Plan for Your Life fills-in the complete story.

Author Peterson, a “cradle Catholic,” was a successful businessman with material wealth but distant from his faith. Looking for answers, he went to a retreat during which the Holy Spirit pointed him in a new direction. It was a life-changing conversion experience. First, live simpler. Second, use his media skills for the Church. The Catholics Come Home and Virtue Media (pro-life) lay apostolates were born. Later, Tom also founded EncouragePriests.org to support and encourage vocations.

Today there are so many people who are lost and broken. Helping these souls find their way back home is not only a duty; it is an act of mercy. It means doing what you can do to bring a soul back into a state of grace. This will not require preaching on street corners or confronting notorious sinners. Instead, I’m hoping this book will help demonstrate how the right word or the right action at the right time can be decisive in helping your relatives, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even strangers find their way home. This book also suggests ways to circumvent roadblocks and overcome challenges that lie ahead of you in your apostolic mission to get to heaven and help bring as many people with you as apossible.

This book is about Tom’s experience, the success of Catholics Come Home, the New Evangelization and – most important of all – our individual roles. The book is upbeat and encouraging, with many interesting details and tips. Pope Paul XVI reminded us that “the Church exists in order to evangelize” and Tom tells us how to begin strengthening our own faith and develop basic apologetic skills to fulfill our baptismal role of evangelist.

The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few” (Luke 10:2). About 24% of Americans are baptized Catholics, but only 1 in 4 regularly practice their faith. Mass attendance is down 71% from 1965 hitting a low of only 17% in 2008. These lost sheep need you. My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins (James 5:19-20).

This is a medium sized book, roughly 5×8″ at 158 pages. It is divided into 7 chapters, structured thus:

  • Forward by Dr. Scott W. Hahn
  • God’s Extraordinary Plan for You
  • Chapter 1: Downsize and Simplify
  • Chapter 2: Don’t Look Back
  • Chapter 3: Fast Before You Feast
  • Chapter 4: Ask, Seek, Knock
  • Chapter 5: Embrace the Mystery, Discover the Adventure
  • Chapter 6: Love Somebody to Heaven
  • Chapter 7: Home for Good
  • Afterword
  • Appendix
  • Acknowledgments

The Appendix has 11 pages of book recommendations, 2 pages of “wisdom,” 9 pages of “powerful prayers” and a 2 page list of organizations of interest to the budding apologist.

I recommend this book for faithful Catholics wondering if they are called to do more or who see others near them (i.e. “neighbors”) who are lost and hurting. You do not need a degree in theology nor do you need to be ordained to be effective, just the will and a little preparation.


Full Disclosure:  This book was provided to me at no charge by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for review. They seek only my honest, real opinion and that is what I give!

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