Rules for an Infallible Solemn Papal Definition

The solemn definition concerning the Infallible teaching of the Roman Pontiff was given in the 4th session of Vatican 1:

"We teach and define that it is a dogma divinely revealed: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of Pastor and Teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, is, by the divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals; and that, therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, irreformable." (McNabb, V. (1907). The Decrees of the Vatican Council. 46–47)

This same teaching was reaffirmed in the new Catechism of Catholic Church:

"The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful—who confirms his brethren in the faith—he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals"(CCC 891)

The definition of Vatican 1 and its reaffirmation in Vatican 2 can be summarized into 3 core criteria

1. The Pope speaking  as pastor and teacher of the universal Church (The SUBJECT)
3. A doctrine of faith or morals (The OBJECT)

(This criteria summary, including the allocation of the subject, act, and object, comes from the book ʻCathedra Veritatisʻ by John P. Joy, S.T.L. Its an excellent book that addresses the extent of Papal Infallibility. You can purchase the book at . I highly recommend it!)

The two most noted examples of solemn Papal definitions are ʻIneffabilis Deusʻ of Pius IX on the Immaculate Conception as well as Pius XIIʻs ʻ Munificentissimus Deusʻ on the definition of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. A quick look at those definitions is good way to see the rubrics set up in Vatican I in action. Ill add, in bold, the notes of subject, act, and object

"Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own [subject] : "We declare, pronounce, and define [act] that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God [object] and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful." (Apostolic Constitution, "Ineffabilis Deus". Pope Pius IX,  Dec 8, 1854.)

"Accordingly, after We directed Our prayers in supplication to God again and again, and invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God, who lavishes His special benevolence on the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the victor over sin and death, for the increasing glory of the same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the whole Church, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul, and by Our own authority [subject] We pronounce, declare, and define [act] that the dogma was revealed by God [object], that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, after completing her course of life upon earth, was assumed to the glory of heaven both in body and soul." (Apostolic Constitution, “Munificentissimus Deus,” Nov. I, 1950)

In future blog posts Ill go through some of the other ʻsolemn papal definitionsʻ listed by modern theologians, under the criteria of Vatican I.

image from the 'Public domain' via wikimedia commons (PD1923)Vatican I. Karl Benzinger

The Birthday of the great G.K. Chesterton!

Today is the birthday of the great Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936) He is definitely one of my heroes and I pray daily for his Beatification. Here are just 3 of my favorite quotes

“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.” – On Running After Ones Hat, All Things Considered

"Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a coloured pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling." - On Lying in Bed

"Paradox simply means a certain defiant joy which belongs to belief" - Heretics

image from the 'Public domain' via wikimedia commons.Chesterton in his study

Does everyone have a Guardian Angel?

It is a certain teaching of our Faith that each of us has a Guardian Angel from baptism

"Every one of the faithful has his own special guardian angel from baptism. (Sent. certa.)" (Ott, L. (1957). FCD. 120–121)

Furthermore, "According to the general teaching of the theologians, however, not only every baptised person, but every human being, including unbelievers, has his own special guardian angel from his birth. This view is biblically founded on the words of Our Lord. Mt. 18:10" (ibid)

"See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven." (Mt 18:10, Douay Rheims)

A look at the Early Churchʻs understanding of Mt 18:10 further reveals the Churchʻs teaching

“Therefore are they not to be despised for that they are so dear to God, that Angels are deputed to be their guardians” (St. Anselm)(Catena Aurea, Thomas Aquinas, S., & Newman, J. H. (1841).

“I esteem it, O my God, an inestimable benefit, that thou hast granted me an angel to guide me from the moment of my birth, to my death.” (St Augustine, De dilig. Deo. Medit. c. xii)( Haydock, G. L. (1859). Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary)

Also the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas address the question of ʻwhether each man is guarded by an angel?ʻ, in his Summa Theologica

“Jerome says: Great is the dignity of souls, for each one to have an angel deputed to guard it from its birth.

I answer that, Each man has an angel guardian appointed to him. This rests upon the fact that the guardianship of angels belongs to the execution of Divine providence concerning men.” (STh., I q.113 a.2 s.c.–resp)

image from the 'Public domain' via wikimedia commons.The Guardian Angels. Pietro da Cortona

Pentecost Sunday - ʻThe Father is greater than Iʻ

The Gospel for Pentecost Sunday was from John 14:23-31. What did Jesus mean when, in verse 28, he says for the Father is greater than I”?

It is an important question to address. In fact Cardinal Newman points out in his “The Arians of the fourth century” that this verse was often used by the Arians to attempt to show that the Son was not consubstantial with the Father. The Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary (1859) concisely demonstrates the orthodox interpretation of this verse and also refutes the false claims of the Arians:

“According to the common exposition, Christ here speaks of himself, as made man, which interpretation is drawn from the circumstances of the text, Christ being at that time, going to suffer, and die, and shortly after to rise again, and ascend into heaven, all which agree with him, as man, and according to his human nature. But the Arians can take no advantage from these words, (though with divers of the ancient Fathers, we should allow them to be spoken of Christ, as the Son of God:) the Father may be said in some manner to be greater than the Son, if we consider the order of the divine processions, that is, that the Father is the first person, and proceeds from no other; whereas the Son proceeds from the Father. If any one, says S. Chrys. will contend, that the Father is greater, inasmuch as he is the cause, from which the Son proceedeth, we will bear with him, and this way of speaking: provided he grant that the Son is not of a different substance, or nature. S. Athanasius allows the same, and takes notice, that though the Father is said to be greater, yet he is not said to be better, nor more excellent, than the Son; because they are one and the same in substance, nature, and other perfections. Wi.—The enemies of the divinity of Christ here triumph, and think they have the confession of Christ himself, that he is less than the Father. But if they would distinguish the two natures of Christ, their arguments would all fall to the ground. Jesus Christ, as man, and a creature, is inferior to his Father, the Creator; but, as God, he is, in every respect, equal to him. S. Basil, S. Aug. &c.—Others, likewise, answer it thus: Following the confused opinion of the world, and even of the apostles themselves, who as yet only considered Christ as a prophet, and as a man, eminent in virtue and sanctity, he was less than the Father. S. Chrys. Leont. Theophyl. Euthym.—And likewise the title of Father, (as we generally use the word) is greater, and much more honourable, that that of Son; and in this respect, Christ is inferior to his Father. S. Athanas. S. Hilar. S. Epiph. S. Greg. Nazianz. and S. Cyril.—But this appellation, though really true, does not destroy the equality of the persons, because Christ has declared, in numerous other places, that he is equal to the Father; that he is in the Father; and that he and the Father are one.”

image from the 'Public domain' via wikimedia commonsPentecost. Jean II Restout. 1732

The Sign of the Cross (Signum Crucis)

The ʻSign of the Crossʻ (Signum Crucis) is one of the most basic of Catholic prayers and is usually the first prayer that Catholic children learn. It is also one of the most ancient and powerful prayers in the Catholic prayer arsenal. 

The ecclesiastical writer Tertullian alludes to using the sign of the cross in his De Corona Militis, cap. iii. around the year 200A.D. It is also seen throughout the Early Church, in conjunction with the words ʻIn the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghostʻ, for the convection of baptism as well as a defensive sign against harm and evil (St. Cyprian, Tr. de Laps. , De Unit. Eccles. & L. 2, Testim., 258 A. D.)

Many early Martyrs of the Church, like the Twenty-three Christians of the company of St. Abundantius, also signed themselves on their way to their execution (303 A.D) (The Book of Saints. 1921)

Holy Church has always recognized the power of this prayer that has been used by Catholics throughout history and has even generously attached indulgences to the person that makes the sign of the Cross:

"The faithful, as often as they devoutly sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, with the invocation of the Most Holy Trinity: "In the name of the Father," etc., are granted: An indulgence of 3 years." (Apostolic Brief, July 28,1863; Ap., February 10, 1935) (Enchiridion Indulgentiarum n.55)

* Dont know how indulgences work? Check out THIS POST

image from the 'Public domain' via wikimedia commons (PD1923)Cristo attorniato da angeli e santi. 526AD

Chesterton on Theology, Religion, and God

“Theology is only thought applied to religion.” - The New Jerusalem

“If there were no God, there would be no atheists.” – Where All Roads Lead

“The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted: precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden.” – ILN

“The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.” – Introduction to the Book of Job

“It has been often said, very truely, that religion is the thing that makes the ordinary man feel extraordinary; it is an equally important truth that religion is the thing that makes the extraordinary man feel ordinary.” – Biography of Charles Dickens

image from the 'Public domain' via wikimedia commons. G.K Chesterton

Pilgrimage to Kalaupapa on the Feast of St. Damien

I was blessed to return to Kalaupapa (Home of Sts. Damien and Marianne Cope) with several members of our parish this past Friday, May 10th, on the Feast of St. Damien. It is such an awesome place. Here is a very short photo/video compilation of our visit. Sts. Damien and Marianne Cope, ora pro nobis!

Here are the links to other posts I have made about St Damien and St. Marianne Cope or about my previous visits to Kalaupapa

Mahalo e Ke Akua! St. Marrianne Cope!     

Mass on the Altar of a Saint with Fr. Lee, FSSP

St. Damien of Molokai, Patron of Hawaii     

A journey to the home of St. Damien of Molokai          

St. Augustine on the Necessity of being Catholic

"One cannot have [salvation] except in the Catholic Church. Outside of the Catholic Church one can have everything except salvation. One can have honor, one can have the sacraments, one can sing the alleluia, one can answer Amen, one can have the Gospel, one can have faith in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and preach, but never can one find salvation except in the Catholic Church."

(SERMON TO THE PEOPLE OF THE CHURCH OF CAESAREA, Chap. 6) (The Teachings of the Church Fathers. J. R. Willis, Ed.)

image from the 'Public domain' via wikimedia commons. St Augsutine

Do you practice gaining Indulgences?

An all too often forgotten immemorial Catholic practice is that of gaining or ʻwinningʻ indulgences. 

In order to do what we can (while in this earthly life) to engage in reparation for the temporal punishment due to our sins we ought to know what indulgences are and the necessary conditions for gaining them.

What is an indulgence?

"can. 992† An indulgence is the remission before God of temporal punishment for sins whose guilt is already forgiven, which a properly disposed member of the Christian faithful gains under certain and defined conditions by the assistance of the Church which as minister of redemption dispenses and applies authoritatively the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints."

How do we gain indulgences? (Notes in Red our mine)

"The conditions for the winning of Indulgences are, in addition to the reception of Baptism and communion with the Church;

α) The state of Sanctifying Grace at least at the close of the prescribed works; (You need to NOT be in mortal sin)

β) Subordination to the one granting the Indulgence;

γ) The habitual intention at least of gaining the Indulgence; (You have to INTEND to receive the specific indulgence)

δ) The exact performance of the prescribed works. Cf. CIC 925, 927; Suppl. 25, 2." (Ott, L. (1957). Fundamentals of Catholic dogma )

What types of indulgences are there?
* There are two types of indulgences. Partial and Plenary:

Partial - Partially remits from the temporal punishment due to sins

Plenary - Fully remits from the temporal punishment due to sins
* To acquire a plenary indulgence the following conditions are required:

1.  Sacramental confession
2.  Reception of the Blessed Sacrament
3. Prayer for the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff
4. Total detachment from sin, even venial sin. 

Where can we look to see approved indulgences?

There is a manual of indulgences put out by the Supreme Tribunal Apostolic Penitentiary (Tribunal of the Roman Curia in charge the governance of indulgences)  The manual is known as the ʻEnchiridion Indulgentiarumʻ.

image from the 'Public domain' via wikimedia commons. St Peter in Penitence by El Greco

The ʻRogation Daysʻ after the 5th Sunday after Easter

The Rogation Days are the "Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Ascension Day are observed by all Catholics of the Latin rite as days of solemn supplication, and are called Rogation days because the Litany of the Saints is chanted in the procession which takes place on each of the three days, rogatio being the Latin equivalent for the Greek word litany. " (Addis, W. E., & Arnold, T. (1887). A Catholic Dictionary)

The observance of the ʻRogation Daysʻ started in the 5th century when St. Mamertus (who was Bishop of Vienne) instituted these ʻlitaniesʻ as a public supplication asking God to hold back his wrath upon their city which had gone through nearly half a century of various calamities. As most true immemorial customs usually do, the example of the ʻRogation Daysʻ in Vienne was soon followed in many places places throughout the world.  It became a general observance throughout the Church soon after Pope Leo III introduced it in Rome in 816

image from the 'Public domain' via wikimedia commons.  St. Valentine Kneeling in Supplication

Is Hell Empty? (The answer from the from Church Fathers, Saintly Visionaries, the Church, & Christ Himself!)

There are many ways to demonstrate that the Tradition of the Church clearly shows that Hell is NOT empty.

1. You could look at the writings of the Doctors of the Church like St. Augustine (civ. Dei 21.3.1; ench. 93) or St. Thomas Aquinas (STh., Supplementum q.69 a.2) who clearly believed there ARE souls in Hell

2. You could look to the saintly testimony of saints like St. Drithelm or the visionaires of Our Lady of Fatima that were shown damned souls in Hell.

3. You could also consider the fact that it is a ʻDe Fideʻ teaching that "The souls of those who die in the condition of personal grievous sin enter Hell."(Ott, L. 1957)

It would logically flow that to believe that NO ONE is in hell is to believe that NO ONE dies in the condition of grievous personal sin. That is not a logical premise. period. 

4. Lastly, and most definitively, you could look to the very words of Christ in verses like Mt 25:34 ; Mt 7:13–14 ; Lk 13:23-24, and many others. As an example lets take a look specifically look at Lk 13:23-24

“And a certain man said to him: Lord, are they few that are saved? But he said to them: Strive to enter by the narrow gate: for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter and shall not be able.”

If no one is in Hell then why ʻstriveʻ? Did Jesus lie when he says "for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter and shall not be able"?

Certainly it should be clear that we cant discard the teachings St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, visionary Saints like St. Drithelm, De fide teachings of the Church, Our Lady of Fatima, and the very Words of Christ for a universalist view that Hell is empty!

Hell is real. Grievous sin can you send there. Souls have already been sent there. DON’T go to Hell! Go to Heaven!

image from the 'Public domain' via wikimedia commons.  Judgement of Christ by Antoine Joseph Wiertz