Catholic Questions and Answers -
This section covers some of most frequently asked questions (FAQ) that we receive here at The Crossroads Initiative about The Church. If you have any questions you can check this page frequently for more Catholic Q & A. We are adding new Questions and Answers every week. Please select the topic that you have questions about. If you don't find an answer to your question, feel free to contact us and Dr. D'Ambrosio will try to answer.
Main Q & A Page
Dear Dr D'Ambrosio,
I subscribe to your fantastic Crossroads Initiative emails and I hope that you will keep them coming!
In your article regarding the ministerial priesthood and the priesthood of all believers, you didn't quite say why women and married men could not be ordained to the sacred priesthood. I would have liked to have seen a fuller answer, as there are in fact married men serving in the ordained priesthood in communion with the Holy See (both in England and America in particular). I think a fuller explanation why women are barred from ordination in the Roman Catholic Church would be useful, though I do appreciate that confirmed women carry the priestly, prophetic and kingly ministry through their anointing and public profession in sight of the bishop.
Rev R (Anglican priest in the Church of England)
Dear Rev. Roundtree,
Thanks so much for your kind words of appreciation for the Crossroads emails.
Regarding women and the ordained priesthood, the definitive statement on this was made by Pope John Paul II in his letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis and interpreted by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) as a witness to the Universal Ordinary Magisterim of the Church.
Of course, Scripture and Tradition, twin expressions of divine Revelation and the will of God, can be interpreted in various ways. There are elements of church life throughout the ages that are culturally conditioned and others that are part of the deposit of the faith or expressions of natural law and are therefore not simply functions of time, place, and culture. They are rather unchangeable. Scholars can have differences of opinion on what practices and beliefs are culturally conditioned and which are not. One of the roles of the successor of Peter is to serve as ultimate judge of the meaning and authority of Scripture and Tradition as they bear on a particular subject that is a matter of debate. In Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, the Pope notes that the New Testament Scriptures show Jesus choosing exclusively male apostles and the apostles choosing exclusively male presbyters to whom they gave a share of their priestly and apostolic authority and power. Post-biblical Tradition, as reflected by the unwavering practice in all geographic regions and generations of the Church up until the 20th century, presents us with an equally clear witness to an exclusively male episcopate and presbyterate. According to the 5th century “Vincentian Canon” of St. Vincent of Lerins, Tradition with a capital T can be located when a practice or doctrine is held “ubique, semper, et ab omnibus” (everywhere, always, and by everyone).
The Pope is bound to interpret, apply, and keep the Church faithful to Scripture and Tradition. He does not have the authority to innovate in ways that conflict from Scripture and Tradition. Therefore, in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, he states that neither he nor anyone else has the authority to admit women to the ordained priesthood and that this is a definitive judgment on his part.
As a historical theologian, I would like to address the criticism that the traditional prohibition of ordaining women was merely a function of a patriarchalism and misogyny that reigned from the ancient world to the present time. The ancient world outside of Jewish circles had no reticence to place women in key roles of cultic and religious leadership. The Vestal virgins of Rome were very prominent in the religious life of role and the most important prophets in the pagan world were women –the Sybils and the oracle of Delphi. Yet when the church expanded throughout the Greco-Roman world shortly after the Lord’s resurrection, it did not adapt its practices to a very culturally acceptable practice of women priestesses and prophets. And even going back to the original Jewish setting of the gospel, no one can reasonably claim that Jesus was bound by Jewish cultural and ceremonial taboos. He was hated by the Jewish religious authorities in part because he broke Jewish Sabbath customs, for example.
By the way, there was no prohibition in Scripture and Tradition against women serving as deaconesses, though it is not clear from early Church documents whether they performed a further liturgical functions than assisting in women’s baptism. The Pope has said nothing either for or against women being ordained to the diaconate.
With regard to married men being admitted to the priesthood, it is clear that this is an entirely different question. Some if not all of the twelve were apparently married men and married bishops and priests were common in the early church with married men continuously ordained to the priesthood in the Eastern Churches, both Orthodox and Catholic, from the 1st century to the present. The Western Church’s preference to restrict the presbyterate to celibate men is based on the example of Jesus and St. Paul as well as spiritual and practical considerations, but this is admittedly an ecclesiastic tradition, not a divine law. Exceptions are made, as in the case of Anglican Clergy who seek full communion with the Church of Rome. These exceptions can be narrowed or widened based on the decision of the Pope, who is Patriarch of the Western, Latin-Rite church.
I hope this explanation proves helpful to you.
Faithfully in Christ,
Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio
Q - Dear Dr.,
I find some of the things in your online newsletter interesting.
However, I am more of what nowadays we would call a "traditionalist". Thus, I'm afraid, we would have many points of disagreement.
Nevertheless, I was wondering if you had anything written or just
brief thoughts on the new mass vs. the old.
A - Hi Jack,
I really love the Mass according the missal of Pope John XXIII (before the changes) and I very much believe that bishops should make every reasonable effort to make provision for those who would like to attend it regularly.
By the same token, I do also believe that the Mass of Paul VI is wonderful when celebrated with reverence and according to the rules. I very much disagree with those who would claim this mass to be invalid or "Protestantized" or anything of the sort.
So I don't like to frame the question as the old mass vs. the new because I don't believe they are at variance doctrinally or should be in competition with each other. I think insofar as possible all of us should respect the supreme authority of the Pope and ecumenical council to initiate liturgical changes and we should respect those whose liturgical tastes may differ from ours, with no toleration for deviation from Catholic sacramental theology (such as the bodily presence of Christ in the Eucharist).
Yours in His service,
Q - Marcellino,
We believe since Vatican II that it is possible for Roman Catholics to pray with Muslims, because of our shared belief in the One True God. Please can you confirm, with scripture references where applicable?
Chris & Veronica B
A - Hi Chris,
I’m not aware of anywhere in Vatican II where we are told that we can or should pray with Muslims, though the Declaration on Non-Christian Religious (Nostra Aetate) does acknowledge that Muslims do believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I encourage to read that document which is very short and you can find online on www.crossroadsinitiative.com
I also know of nowhere in Canon law where we would be forbidden to pray with Muslims in an informal fashion. Grace before a meal with a mixed group of Christians and Muslims would be such an occasion, or a civic interfaith service of prayer might be another.
Formal worship together of course would not be appropriate.
Q - How does the Catholic Church answer the question, "What must I do to be saved?"
Al S., Corpus Christi, TX
A - Hi Al,
It would be best to lead you directly to the Catechism of the Catholic Church to answer your question, paragraphs 161 and 162:
161 Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation. "Since "without faith it is impossible to please [God]" and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life 'But he who endures to the end.'"
162 Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. We can lose this priceless gift, as St. Paul indicated to St. Timothy: "Wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith."44 To live, grow and persevere in the faith until the end we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith; 45 it must be "working through charity," abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church.46
For an online English version of the Catechism, visit http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc.htm
Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio
Q -Hello, Can you tell me what the Catholic Church's position is on the recent Bible Code discoveries? Authors such as Grant Jeffery’s book "the mysterious Bible Codes".
As a Math Teacher, I find these discoveries very reliable. Thanks
Sincerely, Rich G
A -Hi Rich,
I personally am not very familiar with the Bible Code theories. Generally, the Catholic Church does not take official positions on particular books or theories such as this. The Church over the course of its history has officially condemned certain specific interpretations of particular scripture passages, such as interpreting Jesus saying "I and the Father are One" to mean that there is only one divine person in God, not three. But entire books or theories typically are not officially approved or condemned.
The Church allows wide latitude in the interpretation of Scripture, within the limits of defined doctrine such as the Trinity, etc. The Catholic Tradition does however have established principles of Biblical interpretation as a guide for the evaluation of various interpretational theories. You can learn more about this by reading Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) which you can find online plus other resources on our Catholic Bible Study Library page http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_category/38/Catholic_Bible_Study.html
Q -Hello Marcellino,
I just read your website on "All Saint's Day" which is much venerated in Mexico.
I enjoyed reading your interpretation, had a question though -
What is Rapture?
A -Hi Eric,
The “Rapture” refers to a theological theory, developed by certain evangelical Protestants, that before the public, visible return of Jesus Christ at the end of the world, there will be a hidden coming in which all the redeemed will be caught up (“raptured”) to heaven by Jesus, leaving the rest of humanity to suffer through the final cataclysm. In the US, a series of movies called “Left Behind” were popular a few years ago.
This doctrine was unheard of in the history of Christianity until the 19th century and is believed only by a wing of Protestantism called “dispensationalism”. Those who believe it have forgotten that it is a theory and simply accept it as something the bible unquestionably teaches.
I hope that helps clarify things a bit.
Q -To Whom It May Concern:
I have a question for Dr. D'Ambrosio. I heard inferences on Catholic Answers that we are not hold hands during the Our Father, but couldn't find out why not. Our church does that and most of the ones I've been too, in TX, NE, and MI have done so. Can you explain? I have heard you speak a number of times and purchased many of your tapes and cd's and I really enjoy hearing you speak. Thanks for your help. Cyndi J
A - Hi Cyndi,
In Church law, mandatory actions and postures are written in the missal in red. They are called "rubrics". To my knowledge, there are no mandated "rubrics" for what people are to do with their hands during the Our Father.
In Church law, if something is not prohibited, it is assumed to be allowed.
Therefore, as far as I know, there is no reason why the congregation should not hold hands during the Our Father.
This may be distasteful to some, but I don't think a case can be made that a priest and congregation may not or should not do it.
Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.
Q - What was your thoughts on what the Pope shared with the world last week, (that the catholic church is the only true way to salvation).
Bob L, Flower Mound, TX
A - On June 29, 2007, the doctrinal department of the Vatican issued a technical statement clarifying a few lines of a key document of the Second Vatican Council (The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church a.k.a Lumen Gentium) having to do with the relationship between the Catholic Church and various other Christian communities. Of course, the secular press delights in controversy and conflict, and so lambasted it either as some reactionary proclamation that “card-carrying” Catholics are the only ones going to heaven or as a backtracking, anti-ecumenical statement demeaning other religious groups. It was neither.
Christians who are not Catholic may have a hard time with this, but the Catholic Church has always maintained that the fullness of the means of salvation (tools and resources not only to get into heaven but to grow in holiness and intimacy with God) are present only in the Catholic Church as organized as a visible community, led by the Pope, the successor of Peter. But it also believes that all Christians who have faith and are baptized are truly joined, though imperfectly, to this Catholic Church. And it also believes that elements of the life of the Catholic Church are truly present and operative in other Christian communities. In other words, the Catholic Church is not just a legal, organization structure, but is a spiritual reality, a fellowship of all those who love the Lord Jesus and seek him.
At the time of the Reformation, all the Protestant communities abandoned some very important things that we believe the Lord wants his Church to have – specifically, the sacrament of holy orders through the laying on of hands by bishops, and the other sacraments that depend on validly ordained bishops – Eucharist, confirmation, reconciliation, and sacrament of the sick. However many non-Catholic Christians take advantage of the means of grace available to them (Scripture, baptism, Christian marriage, prayer, etc) to a great extent, sometimes to a greater extent than many baptized Catholics, and therefore can exhibit marvelous fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Vatican II document that the 6/29/07 statement comments upon also notes that those who have been fully incorporated into the Catholic Church but in whom the love of God has grown cold cannot be saved. From those to whom much is given, much will be expected. Having all the means of grace available imposes upon Catholics a greater measure of accountability.
So the 6/29/07 document is not a holier-than-thou sort of thing that non-Catholic Christians are inferior to Catholic Christians or that they won’t go to heaven. How should we respond to it? Each of us, regardless of where we go to Church, should shake ourselves and our families out of the complacency that would cause us to settle for spiritual mediocrity. We need to pursue the fullness of the life and truth that the Lord wants us to have, take full advantage of the fullness of the means of grace He makes available to us, and share those resources with all people, Protestants, Catholics, Christians and non-Christians.
To read the actual text of the 6.29.07 statement of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, go to this page.
Is it correct to say that we are divine?
Also, would you say that the resurrection is a greater gift than the passion and death of Jesus?
Would appreciate your thoughts on these queries. Many thanks. M
A - Dear M,
In theology, you always have to define the terms you are using. It is not the term itself but the meaning you intend which makes a statement orthodox or unorthodox.
If you mean by "divine" that we are like God, yes, we are divine insofar as we are made in his image and have been restored to his likeness through a sacramental life of holiness. If you mean by divine that we are equal to God, then of course it would be incorrect.
You really can't separate the passion from the resurrection. The church speaks of them as one thing, the paschal mystery. It is the whole paschal mystery that is the gift. One aspect of it without the other would not have won our salvation.
P.S. We'll put this question & answer in the Catholic Q & A section of our site without divulging your name.
Our parish in Houston is bringing in a group called Alpha for some kind of 10-week faith formation program. The program seems awfully non-Catholic (notice I did not say "anti-Catholic"), and basically a watered down "least common denominator' formation program. When I asked one of the volunteers about this, I was told that you - Marcellino D'Ambrosio - fully endorsed the program. I don't know why they invoked your name, but I am curious - what do you know about the Alpha program, and do you in fact endorse it? Here is the website: www.alpha.org.
Thanks for your time.
Regarding Alpha, a bit of history and background.
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and is so called because it is intended to be a very initial, very introductory, very much incomplete intro the basics of the Christian faith—that there is meaning in life, that God exists, that he is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that Jesus died and rose to save us, that the Bible is the inspired word of God, etc. It was developed over years and years at an Anglican Church in London, Holy Trinity Brompton. One of its unique merits is that it assumes nothing, no church background or even religious background, and so has proved effective for helping the totally unchurched person and the person from even a Hindu or Muslim background to be able to find a point of entry to Christian faith. It can also be used to reactivate sluggish or nominal members of a Christian Church, but that is not its primary goal. It was meant to be a pre-RCIA sort of course that would set a person up for mainstream church participation and life.
Alpha was so successful at Holy Trinity Brompton that other Anglican churches began using it and then other Protestant Churches.
Around 1999 or so, Cardinal Basil Hume asked that an overview of Alpha be presented to 600 priests and Catholic pastoral workers. After that point, Alpha began to be used in the Catholic Church. It was brought to the Vatican congregation of the Laity at that time led by the US Cardinal Stafford, who gave it a positive review for its stated purpose, expressing however that followup resources needed to be produced and made available to help Catholics who had gone through Alpha integrate their new personal relationship with the Trinity into the sacramental life of the Church. Fr Raniero Cantalamessa and I were both asked to do followup video series for use in Catholic Alpha, and we both flew to London to record them. My book Exploring the Catholic Church is a transcript of this video course which is available in the US on my website as “Touching Jesus Through the Church.”
The Vatican, Fr. Cantalamessa, and I are very aware that Alpha does not provide a full, sacramental view of the Christian life or a fully Catholic view of the Bible and its interpretation. But what it does, it does well, better, I might add, than any Catholic evangelization courses that we’ve seen. I believe that it is a gift and a blessing if it is used as intended and is followed up in a Catholic setting with a course like mine or Fr. Cantalamessa’s and a complete immersion in Church life and specifically Catholic formation.
I hope that explanation helps you.
Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio
Q -Greetings, Marcellino --
I loved your commentary about drinking the Eucharistic wine in purification of our tainted blood. Simple in its accessibility -- profound it its reality.
I've had a question buzzing around my mind, but given your hectic schedule
(now with radio going full tilt it seems, praise God) and the fact we are, once again, mid-move back to Boca, I didn't know if I could bother you with a half-baked query. (Meaning I'm not sure I can articulate the question worthy of your answer.)
But reading your essay compels me to ask for you, at your convenience, to comment on the following: Lucifer was cast out of Heaven in a battle of wills because he, as archangel, refused to serve Our Lord in the guise of a lowly human form born of a woman? His demonic pride overshadowed his angelic station and Michael acted as the ultimate "bouncer." But if Lucifer hadn't lost his angelic footing, he wouldn't have been on his belly as a snake in the Garden of Eden. And without the serpent's mind games to Eve, we wouldn't have the fallen nature requiring Our Creator to take on
salvific flesh and enter time and earth for a reconciliation -- the very thing
Lucifer protested while yet in Heaven?
So without Lucifer's descent, what was the underlying impetus Lucifer believed to be the catalyst for Christ becoming Son of Man BEFORE
Satan's non servium made it obvious as to why?
I hope all is going well with you!
A - Dear Terry,
It is just a theological hypothesis that Lucifer’s rebellion was because of a premonition or revelation of the incarnation. It is not the official teaching of the Church.
There is also various theological hypotheses regarding whether the Incarnation would have happened anyway, even without the fall (I believe several Franciscan theologians in the middle ages advanced this idea) due to his desire to be so profoundly united with us.
So, it is all marvelous to meditate upon and wonder about if it increases devotion and prayer, but there are no sure answers to any of these questions.
Q - Thank you for pointing me to the article on your web site concerning Vatican II's Declaration on non-Christian religions.
But, I found this (see excerpt below) to be very shocking.
Allah is not the God of the Christian Bible, he is the god of the Koran. What kind of foolishness is this? The Moslems want all 'infidels' ie. Christians and others dead. What explanation does the Church have for such a statement?
3. The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself, merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes great pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.
Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this Sacred Synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.
A -Hi There,
The Arabic word “Allah” simply means “God.” Christian Arabs refer to God as “Allah” as well. The Vatican statement does not say that the image of God in the Koran is exactly the same as the Trinitarian God of the New Testament. Instead, all that it says about the one God that they adore are the characteristics of the true that they do indeed recognize and teach.
Protestants, Catholics and Jews worship the same God, but that unfortunately has not kept them from killing each over the years. So the fact that some Muslims want to kill Christians doesn’t really have much to do with whether they and we worship the same God. We know, of course, that there is only one God anyway. Ours is the only one that is.
What Muslims believe regarding God, Christ, and Christians may be something to bone up on a bit more. On my site, I’d recommend the book by Daniel Ali and Robert Spencer entitled Inside Islam. I think you’ll find it extremely helpful with ample citations from the Koran. http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/resource_info/33.html
Q - Good morning!
I want to buy the book "Principles of Catholic theology" by former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger but I have read some excerpts on Catholic Answers Forum (http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=64132) and I don't know what to think. Does Cardinal Ratzinger really refute the papal infallibility in this book?
Thank you very much for your help!
Julie C., Quebec, Canada
A - Dear Julie,
Not to worry. First of all, Papal Infallibility is not even mentioned here. Card. Ratzinger could not and cannot deny this which is defined dogma. Here his discussion is specifically about what to require from the Orthodox when it comes to the way the Papacy is exercised and regarded. He is simply saying that the way in which Papal government (not teaching authority) is exercised in the 19-20th cent was not necessarily the way it was exercised in the first 1,000 years of the church (which is true) and that the Orthodox should not be required to accept this style and form of papal primacy in order to come back into full communion.
This is more a question of canon law and discipline than it is of dogma.
Yours in his service,
From Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, p. 198,199
Against all expectation, the bishop of Rome is among us, the first among us in honor, 'he who presides in love.' It is clear that, in saying this, the Patriarch did not abandon the claims of the Eastern Churches or acknowledge the primacy of the west. Rather, he stated plainly what the East understood as the order, the rank and title, of the equal bishops in the Church – and it would be worth our while to consider whether this archaic confession, which has nothing to do with the 'primacy of jurisdiction' but confesses a primacy of 'honor' and agape, might not be recognized as a formula that adequately reflects the position that Rome occupies in the Church
Later, on p. 216 and 217 you see that what is in question is the style or form in which Roman primacy is exercised in the East:
Nor is it possible, on the other hand, for him to regard as the only possible form and, consequently, as binding on all Christians the form this primacy has taken in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In other words, Rome must not require more from the East with respect to the doctrine of the primacy than had been formulated and was lived in the first millennium. When the Patriarch Athenagoras [Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople], on July 25, 1967, on the occasion of the Pope's visit to Phanar, designated him as the successor of St. Peter, as the most esteemed among us, as one who presides in charity, this great Church leader was expressing the ecclesial content of the doctrine of the primacy as it was known in the first millennium. Rome need not ask for more."
Q - Dear Dr. D’Ambrosio –
I received this from a friend of mine – can you help? Alicia
I have been reading the Luke Hart series from the Knights of Columbus and have come across a couple of things that I have found to be a sticking point for me, a little hard to swallow.
I totally agree with the following statement in the Catechism:
"It is impossible to see (know) God's Son without the Spirit, and no one can approach the Father without the Son. (C 683)
This is the statement I have trouble with:
"Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of His Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it can be saved." (C 1260)
These two statements seem to be mutually exclusive. If one has not heard the Gospel, how can he approach the Father? The Bible says "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God," (can't remember the passage, but it is in there) It also says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." So, if one has not heard, how can one have saving faith?
God is God and certainly He can do anything. His Word also says "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy." He is totally sovereign. But His word is not inconsistent and it says of itself that it is forever settled in heaven.
I agree with the Catholic belief that tradition and the teaching of the church are also very authoritative. But (C 1260) seems to be saying that anyone can be saved if he sincerely follows his own brand of truth. Does that mean a Bhuddist, or Moslem, or a Unitarian who sincerely follows his understanding of God and his own conscience can be saved? Even if what he believes is contrary to the gospel?
The Bible says in Isaiah 53 that "All like sheep have gone astray, each one of us in his own way, but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.( Jesus ).
Yes, I would agree that Jesus dies for all, but I do not agree that all will be saved simply because of this. The atonement must be applied to the individual by baptism, repentance, faith and by following Christ. This is what I have been taught by my Pastors and understand the Bible to be saying.
Please understand I am not being argumentative, just trying to understand the Catholic perspective Kathryn
A - Dear Alicia and Kathryn,
This is a complex issue and I must confess that though I regularly covered this in my graduate courses, I don't have it in book or CD form.
If I wait till I have time to answer adequate, it could take forever! So here is a short explanation.
Objectively, no one comes to the Father except through what Jesus did for us on the cross.
Subjectively, yes, this salvation must be appropriately personally through faith. People can say yes to Jesus only if grace is given for the person to say yes (Jn 6:44). Given that God wants all men to be saved (I think that famous Scripture is from Titus or one of the Timothy letters), the Church teaches that God gives saving grace to everyone at least once in his or her lifetime.
So what if the gospel has never been preached to a person and baptism never offered? If they respond to grace within by saying "yes" to God and his will as they understand it, presumably, they'd desire to know the full truth of God's will and say yes to that as well. So they'd say yes to Jesus and to baptism and authority of the Catholic Church--her teaching and pastors.
This would be "baptism by desire" but the desire would be implicit. So faith and baptism are still involved, but it is seed faith and baptism by desire.
This is presented as a possibility in Church teaching, not a guarantee. In fact, it is hard to persevere in the state of grace even making use of all the means of grace and the Catechism in hand. How much harder would it be for folks like this. Therefore, it is urgent for us to share the fullness of the truth and means of grace in the Catholic Church with EVERYBODY!
Hope this helps a bit,
Q - Dear D'Ambrosio -
In Matthew 12:31-32 the verses state that blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. What does that mean? Our bible study group was wondering.
A - Hi Lynn,
First of all, thanks so much for your pledge of a monthly contribution. We really appreciate your support.
On the unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Pope JPII, this refers to the refusal to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to repent and ask forgiveness. Contrition is a work of the Holy Spirit, but it can be resisted. This is part of the work of the Spirit, the Advocate, our Defense lawyer, so to speak. A good defense lawyer tells you the weakness in your case and tells you how to plead (if you are guilty, don’t plead innocent and tick off the church, getting a more severe sentence!)
Hope this helps.
By the way, has your bible study ever considered doing my Feast of Faith series for the Year of the Eucharist?
In His service,
Q. - Dear Dr. D'Ambrosio,
My husband and I have questions regarding Vatican II. He has an aunt who has been trying to show us the error in it. She said that there were 6 Protestants on the committee and someone else is now determined to be a Freemason. She also went on about the Latin Mass. She actually questions the presence of Christ in the Eucharist if the mass in not in Latin. Was the decision to move forward with Vatican II made in the state of infallibility? She also pointed out that the Council of Trent stated that the Mass was never to be modified and the even Saints have given up their lives to hold true the Latin Mass. She believes as well as people like Mel Gibson, that the Latin Mass is utilizing the only sacred language and that the Priest facing the crowd is a heresy. We are to be pointing our prayer towards the Lord as a collective Community. Her point is why did it have to change, it was good enough for the thousands of congregations and our blessed saints for all those years. It's hard to argue with this. What makes the 20th century so special that we had to completely modify how we celebrated the Liturgy. The Church has never conformed it's teachings or it's methodology to suit the people prior to this. These points transcend time.
She further points out that the fall of the Church started before Vatican II... it is difficult to argue with her when you look at in the light of the Church today, especially in America. A good portion of the Bishops have serious problems, the Priesthood has been desecrated by homosexual and immoral activity. A large # of parishes across the country are operating with one Priest and in some cases no Priests, consequently the congregations are not receiving the outpouring of support and teaching that the Priests need to be giving, not to mention the lack of distribution of the Sacraments.
As you can tell by this e-mail we have serious concerns about the Church. We would never leave the Church, but we are searching for answers to these questions. For myself, if the decision to move forward with Vatican II was made in the state of infallibility, then the discussion is over, I will submit. If it was not, then a clear understanding of the how and why of it will be crucial for us to put this to rest.
Thank You in advance for your time and may God Bless you and your efforts,
A. - Hi Mr. and Mrs. F,
Time prevents me from answering your questions extensively via email. I’ll jot a few things here quick but I strongly recommend that you visit my website and purchase the 2 CD set by me called “Vatican II: The Real Story.” I’d also suggest Fr. Mitch Pacwa’s book on my website: “Forgive Me Father, I’m Frustrated.”
1. There were no Protestants voting at the council. The only Protestants and Orthodox there were observers.
2. Vatican II did not issue any infallible teaching – technically infallible pronouncements only make up a very small minority of Conciliar and Papal Teaching
3. Catholics are NOT free to dismiss ordinary teaching of the Magisterium just because it is not an infallible definition of dogma. Catholics are required to give religious submission of intellect and will to ordinary magisterial teaching. Vatican II’s teaching was passed by votes of the bishops attending in the neighborhood of 2000 yes to about 40 nos. Virtual unanimity here. All documents were approved by the pope.
4. The first Eucharist was not in Latin but Aramaic. As soon as Christianity moved out of Palestine into the Greco-Roman world, the liturgy was changed to the vernacular, which was Greek, the common language of the Mediterranean world. The Eucharist was in Greek in Rome for 350 years. When Greek was no longer spoken by the majority of the residents of Rome, the Mass was changed into the vernacular by Pope Damasus around 380 AD, which was at that time Latin. Vatican II was following the most ancient tradition of the church in allowing greater use of the vernacular in the liturgy.
5. The council of Trent did not say that the Mass should never be changed. The Missal of Pius V which came after Trent used some language that has been interpreted that way by Latin Mass enthusiasts. In fact, no Pope has the authority to bind future popes or councils with regard to liturgical law and the form of the liturgy. The current Pope has full authority over such things.
6. The problems in the church today that you speak of are very serious, but Vatican II cannot be blamed for them. Similar moral problems unfortunately exist within mainline churches in the Western world. The culture war in the Western world (sexual revolution, rebellion against authority, gay “rights”, contraception, abortion) has spared no one.
Much needs to be done for the renewal of the church and the evangelization of society. But rejection of Vatican II and a retreat to 1950’s style Catholicism is just not the solution.
Hope that helps a bit.
Q - Mr. D'Ambrosio:
With all due respect, the Council of Nicea did not change the mass that was codified by St Pius V and replace it with a Protestant Masonic one. I understand that the church at times needs to change a bit, but to throw away 70% of the Tridentine Mass as handed down by our Lord and replace it with something that we have today is a travesty, and the fruits of what this mass has brought proves the Traditionalist's point. Besides, the Council of Nicea actually restored the integrity of the Church, something Vatican II has not done.
A - Dear J,
You note that the Tridentine Mass was handed down from our Lord. But the Lord handed on a Mass in Aramaic, not Latin. And the apostles handed on a Eucharist in Greek. In fact Mass in Rome was said exclusively in Greek for 340 years or so before Pope Damasus did a very liberal thing and threw out the language of the inspired words of the New Testament in favor of the vernacular, which at that time was Latin.
If you want to be a truly consistent traditionalist, I’d say that you’d have to go back to Greek, or better yet Aramaic.
In His service,
P.S. I love the Latin liturgical heritage of the Church, as did the fathers of the Second Vatican Council. The total disappearance of Latin Chant and acclamations after Vatican II is not what they intended or directed. I support what they directed, namely that wider use of the vernacular be combined with an effort to preserve the Latin heritage, with all people in all nations knowing and regularly using the Latin Mass acclamations.
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