THE CHURCH IS OF GOD -- NOT GOD! 1/22/04
The Roman Catholic Church shares numerous divine qualities that no other Church shares. While these unique divine qualities are being increasingly overlooked and denied by many, they have also been the occasions of equally damaging faulty and misleading conclusions by which others have obscured the Church’s very limited human and even faulty side. To not correctly understand the Church’s limited and faulty side is just as dangerous as not seeing its divine side. To attribute to God’s Church what only belongs to God is idolatry. This idolatry hides under the pious appearance of “obedience, submission and loyalty to the Church” but is love, neither for the Church nor for God. Nothing has so fueled the modernistic, rationalistic, humanistic attack on the Church as blindness to these errors among the faithful in the Church. We will never save our Church without removing the very reason why God has, in the first place, allowed this attack. This attack in many ways is God’s correction!
The Church’s Perpetuity:
That Catholic Church, which Jesus Christ established and perpetuated through His Apostles, will never perish. That is one of its many divine qualities, which no other church shares. We speak not only of the mere function as a governmental body (it is already the oldest government known to have existed in all human history) but also of continuity in its mission in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ in this world.
The Church’s endurance was foretold by the Prophet Isaiah: “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder. . . Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His Kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.” Isaiah 9:6,7
This, however, is no promise that the Church will not fail to spread this Gospel as it should, or that it will not as a consequence of such failure be shaken to its very foundations, and its external structures be tested or even destroyed. It is no promise that this Church will not wholly cease to exist in any locality or any nation. There is no promise of any size or number on this earth that will remain faithful to this Church at the end of this age. In respect to that matter, Jesus left us a chilling prospect: “When I return shall I find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) To place one’s confidence in any of these mere external features of the Church over God Himself is idolatry. Many will be crushed under the weight of the coming collapse of these externals which have become idolatrous fascinations to so many Catholics, denying them a true relationship to God Himself. The Church is of God, it is not God!
The Church’s Infallibility:
The one and only guarantee we have from our Lord Jesus Christ concerning infallibility is that both theological and moral truth will be preserved by the Church in union with the Chair of Peter. That is the declaration of the Son of God: “I say to thee [Peter]: That thou art Peter; and upon this Rock I will build My Church, and the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” Thus, only the Church built and resting upon Peter cannot be destroyed as an institution or by way of the message it was commissioned to spread to the ends of the world!
That truth, today, is very clearly defined. It is found faithfully preserved in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Those who find they have a substantial disagreement with any of its teachings cannot honestly consider themselves Catholic. To accept the teachings of the Church does not mean one must understand its teachings, but it means one accepts what Christ has preserved in His Church whether they understand it or not. That the Church proclaims or teaches in union with the Holy Father is truth is testimony to a unique provision of “infallibility” that is not present outside the divinely appointed head of the Church, though it is even to him restricted to his speaking as the foundation of that Church.
That the Church of Rome with its Bishop will always maintain the incorruptible truth does not, however, mean that any other Bishop, priest and parish throughout the world will maintain its purity or that any Catholic, including the Pope, will properly understand that truth! The duty of all the faithful in face of all error is to expose it and try to win the erring to the truth. To view this Church as having some kind of immunity among its ordained leadership to serious error or that any errors will be corrected by the hierarchy itself is to attribute to the Church and its leadership what belongs only to God. This idolatrous view of the “infallible Church” assuming the truth will always be taught or even understood by our leaders has led to a widespread complacency and a widespread ignorance of the Catholic faith. Have not these assumptions about our priests and bishops been a mere convenience for us and a form of idolatry? Why else have so many of our priests and Bishops so easily assumed positions above the God’s truths and His moral laws? Have not we been as Israel of old wanting rather than the sunshine of the rule of God the mere glitter of human authority over us? To Samuel they cried, “Make us a king to judge us like all the other nations!” This was a prescription for moral and spiritual disaster for Israel and it has also been for the Church! The Church, its priests and Bishops are of God, but they are not Gods! We must now ask the help of Heaven for our own correction and that we may become instruments of the New Evangelization and of a true spiritual awakening among our priests, that they also might receive its new Pentecost.
The Church’s Authority:
The authority and power of this Church in union with Peter’s office is incredible. No other institution on earth compares in its power to affect the world. The Roman Catholic Church alone had the ability by a single unified consecration of Russia in 1917 to destroy the forces of Lenin’s Russian Revolution. It had the power later in that same consecration to prevent World War II. It had the power in 1945, 1949 and even up to 1960 to save the Church from the post Vatican moral, theological and ecclesiastical catastrophe we are now suffering. Indeed what Jesus said to Peter and His other Apostles has been proven true: “Whatsoever ye bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” The Church by its failure in 1917, 1923 and by 1960 to bind these scourges forced Heaven to also loose them on the world and the Church.
That promise of power, then, is not a promise, as many have thought, that those who hold magisterial authority will use it properly nor does Heaven’s concession to Church decision mean that that was its will or that the faithful then cannot disagree with and work to help correct such mis-actions which are contrary to the Gospel or the Voice of Heaven as was, for instance, the Magisterium’s resistance to Fatima. The Church is indeed required to always examine its actions and correct itself when it should and that requires from all the faithful their diligence and often their dissenting voice! Paul publicly rebuked our first Holy Father Peter for his withdrawing from Gentile Christians out of a desire to appease the Judaizing Christians. Actually Peter’s offense was against the special Gospel Revelation given by the Lord directly to Paul (apart from the Deposit of Faith), which had already been discerned by Peter and the Magisterium as being of God and authoritative. (Galatians 1:11,12; 2:7-14) Many of our Bishops in our day simply ignore such continuing revelation from Heaven to the Church, a sin far more grave than Peter’s.
That the Church is “holy” means that despite its errors, and the faults and sins of its members, it still is and always will be God’s divinely-chosen “set apart” instrument for the salvation and the ultimate perfection of its members. It means that God even uses those faults and failings to help perfect those who respond to these errors not in the flesh but in the Holy Spirit. That the Church is “set apart” by God Himself means no one has any excuse to give up on the Church or leave it. It means one is duty bound to protect it by prayer, love, and his witness to the truth against all error which seeks Her injury. Certainly no Catholic should obey any directive from any Church authority or Church agency that is in error and contrary to love or God’s Word. Obedience to Church authority only requires the sacrifice of personal preferences never the moral requirements of God or His clear directives even if those directives are denied or condemned by Church authorities! Joan of Arc wisely prefaced her pledge of obedience to the Church with the words, “so long as God is served!” Our respect for and submission to our Church authorities should be neither less nor more than for our God ordained civil authorities! How much of God’s work and His Word has been destroyed in the false name of “obedience to the Church!” The visionaries/prophets and Saints that have counseled, guided and corrected the Magisterium throughout the ages have nearly always had to act apart from the approval of the Church and often contrary to its verdicts. Recognizing our primary duty to God is a requirement of our Catholic Faith! The Church and its authorities are of God as much as our civil authorities, but neither are God! Too often our civil and Church authorities act like God, rather than His servants because we desired them to so act! When Israel demanded a king, the Lord God said to Samuel, “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them!”
The Church’s Sacramental Nature:
The Nature of the Church is defined by its seven Sacraments. This is another divine element of the Catholic Church. A Sacrament is simply a means by which God’s grace (He Himself!) can be imparted to us. The Church, therefore, is itself a Sacrament or the means by which men can discover God and His Salvation in the fullest possible way. The greatest danger to us in the Church, therefore, is the tendency to make these Sacraments and even the Church, ends in themselves. Faith in the Church or its Sacraments must take us beyond these means and bring us into real personal communion with and a loving relationship to God Himself. That the word “Mass” means “sending” shows the Church is only the initiator of our relationship and spiritual activity not the completion or end of it. It is outside the Church where we are to have most of our experiences with God. It is outside the Church where God wishes to speak to us, to teach us and guide us (John 10:1-5,27; 14:26). If this is not happening we have made the Church and the Sacraments magical formulas to gain our own ends and thus these means become our gods. The Israelites did this with the Brazen Serpent which God told Moses to erect and place in their camp for their healing. This soon became their object of worship or a kind of good luck charm. This was a detestable idolatry.
The church at Laodicea spoken of in Revelation 3:14-22 also was guilty of this detestable idolatry. Because they had everything externally correct in their church they thought they were spiritually “rich” and had “need of nothing [more].” They, however, left Jesus outside the door of their Church and their personal lives. This was done though they certainly had a valid Eucharist! The Eucharist guarantees only judgment to those whose hearts are set on other than Christ and His purposes. They did not think they needed anything else but the proper liturgy, the Deposit of Faith and the Magisterium! Their “lukewarm” religion thus was merely an external hypocritical show of piety. Jesus would rather have them “cold” or honest pagans or atheists than the hypocrites they had become. Apparently all the leadership in this church from the priests on down had quenched the spirit and closed the Church, their ears and hearts to the personal presence and instructive voice of the Lord, just as many Bishops and priests have done today. Fatima was only the beginning of an increasing rejection of Christ by many Bishops and priests. These leaders and their followers in Laodicea were turning the stomach of our Lord and He was about to vomit them out of His mouth.
Bishops today who quench the spirit in their parishes by suppressing, criticizing or even ignoring the same Voices of Heaven in our day (which is in fact the New Evangelization!) have made themselves gods and objects of idolatrous veneration. It is no wonder the Second Vatican Council’s Lumen Gentium” on this very matter presents the imperative of accepting “with gratefulness and consolation” ,u>the Holy Spirit’s distribution of “special gifts” of grace “among the faithful of every rank . . . as they are specially suited to, and useful for, the needs of the Church.” In regards to the Church leaders who are still held accountable to properly discern these phenomenaa, this document cautions these leaders that their “special task is not indeed to extinguish the spirit but to examine everything and keep that which is good” (Chapter II, no.12). Those who quench the work of the Spirit turn their titles of spiritual “father” into that which Jesus prohibited because they usurp the place of God Himself among their people. The Church and its ordained priesthood are of God, a means to God, but they are not our Gods! We make them Gods when we allow them to suppress or deny in us the Voices of Heaven, “the authentic calls of Christ and His Saints to the Church” (Catechism, par. 67)! In the same paragraph it is stated, “guided by the Magisterium, the sensus fidelium [the faithful] knows how to discern and welcome in[to the Church] these revelations.” While the Magisterium is to provide “guidance” it is the responsibility and privilege of the faithful to discern these revelations meant for the faith of the entire Church. Further, that the Catechism clearly speaks of revelation directed by Heaven “to the Church” means this cannot be merely “private revelation” which no one has to believe. Indeed the Catechism refers to this revelation meant for the Church as “so-called ‘private revelation!’ ” Anyone who says that a revelation of God directed “to the Church” does not have to be believed places himself above God and in defiance of Him! To then give credence to such a one is further idolatry! The fact is that as our bishops, priests have ignored and rejected Heaven’s messengers in our day, they have unwittingly opened the door of the Church to the self-proclaimed prophets and prophetesses of darkness, to witchcraft and the forces of Hell! Make no mistake about it, we would not have had the latter without the rejection of the former by many bishops and priests and a majority of Catholics who have tended to attribute to their priests and Bishops the qualities that only belong to God. That ignoring any serious claim of Heaven’s call could well mean a rejection of God and Heaven has make little difference to the majority of Catholics. To claim one cannot discern an authentic call of Heaven is admission of idolatry and unfaithfulness.
The Church, the only way to Salvation:
That there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church is yet another divine element true of no other church or Christian denomination. But what does this mean? Does it mean that unless you are a material part of the Roman Catholic Church you have little or no chance to make it to Heaven? Those who think this have yet in another way made the Church itself their God. Does it even mean one must be at least a Catholic in the mystical sense (in the New Covenant) through a valid Baptism of some other church to make it to Heaven? Neither is this authentic Catholic teaching. Jesus clearly revealed there would be many completely outside the Christian Covenant that would “sit down with Abraham in the Kingdom of Heaven” while many who were in the Covenant would be cast out (Matthew 8:11,12).
That there is no salvation outside the Catholic Faith has a far deeper and more profound meaning than how this is often interpreted by traditionalist Catholics. It means that without the Catholic Faith, and the Catholic Church in this world, all Gospel truth, no matter where else it may presently be found, would soon be extinguished, and thus all human life would be eternally lost. With that Faith and that Church presently in the world many are finding saving grace without knowing its fullness or even recognizing the Church from which it comes. The important point here is that one does not have to be conscious of the source of saving grace for one to experience it. God’s saving grace through the Catholic Church reaches many outside its walls and outside personal involvement with its Holy Sacraments!
Evangelical and fundamentalist Protestants have similarly misinterpreted the statement of Peter in Acts 4:12: “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under Heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” It is, of course, an error to always hold that one must actually hear the Gospel story of Christ and His redemption to benefit from it. Some Catholics in the 18th century, claiming that unbaptized babies go to hell, created such a controversy that it moved Pope Pius the VI to present Limbo as an alternative destiny for the innocents. This was not to deny that unbaptized infants would end up in Heaven, but to end the controversy by avoiding the debate about Heaven while safeguarding the Catholic truth that no one (especially unbaptized children!) go to Hell without personally committing mortal sin. The Catechism in Par. 1257 opens the door to the solution on this when it admits that in respect to the salvation of man “[God] is not bound by His [seven] sacraments.”
A full answer lies in the Catholic doctrine of venial and mortal sin (of which only the latter brings any imminent danger of Hell) and, that in respect to those who are of age among the pagans, God judges those outside the knowledge of the moral light of Christian Faith differently than those with that light. Further, since the word salvation also refers to deliverance from venial sin, which can be fully absolved after death (though with far greater difficulty and with far less value in procuring the peace and security of this present world), to die without the saving effects of faith and Baptism may only mean, then, that one’s “salvation” would be post-mortem. That, of course, does not mean the same for those who live and die around us in mortal sin, who, merely because of their ignorance of Christian Faith, will often perish in an eternal Hell! And if men outside the Christian Faith can find deliverance even from mortal sin it would be a serious error to deny that the Christian Faith and the Sacraments would greatly accelerate and multiply the absolving of mortal sin among men. To understand the over all necessity of the Church for human salvation is not at all to deny that men can find safety and salvation outside the Christian Covenant. Though the Church is of God, it is not God! God is a whole lot bigger than His Church and He works in the hearts of all men though that is certainly only because of the Church and only because of those fewer and fewer within the Church who still have a burden for the salvation of lost humanity and the uniting of all humanity spiritually and materially into that one Body, the Family of Christ!
Is your faith the living faith Jesus promised in John 14-16? Or is it an empty self-centered form of religion that has denied and quenched the power of God in your life? An intimate personal relationship to God that goes beyond the Church’s sacramental provision is absolutely critical to one’s spiritual survival in our day. It is that faith that Our Blessed Mother is re-establishing in Her children through all of Her hundreds of apparition sites all over the world. Come to Her fountain and you will find rivers of Living Water from Her Son! Do not let pride or faith in mere religious form rob you of Heaven’s joy! DJW
Idolatry is not only a sin among those who we consider modernists and those who live for the pleasures and privileges offered in a more openly pagan world but it is also the sin of making the Church of God and its authority the end and final object of our faith, rather than God Himself.
“The time has come that judgment must begin at the House of God.” I Peter 4:17
“If My people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14