This Catholic Journey
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Name: Amber
Location: Reno, Nevada, United States

I am a 34-year-old single mother of three. I am a convert to Catholicism and came into the Church on April 7, 2007. This blog is a collection of thoughts and things I learn in my journey of faith. All comments are welcome!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Against Heresies (Book III, Chapter 3) - St. Irenaeus

The following is a very early list of popes written between 175 and 190, not many years after Irenaeus' Roman visit, lists the order from Peter to Eleutherius:

1. It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about. For if the apostles had known hidden mysteries, which they were in the habit of imparting to "the perfect" apart and privily from the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the Churches themselves. For they were desirous that these men should be very perfect and blameless in all things, whom also they were leaving behind as their successors, delivering up their own place of government to these men; which men, if they discharged their functions honestly, would be a great boon [to the Church], but if they should fall away, the direst calamity.

2. Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority -- that is, the faithful everywhere -- inasmuch as the Apostolic Tradition has been preserved continuously by those who are everywhere. potentiorem principalitatem necesse est omnem convenire ecclesiam, hoc est eos qui sunt undique fideles, in qua semper ab his qui sunt undique, conservata est ea quâ est ab apostolis traditio].

3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome despatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spake with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the apostolical tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Sorer having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.

4. But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time -- a man who was of much greater weight, and a more stedfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics. He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles -- that, namely, which is handed down by the Church. There are also those who heard from him that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bath-house without bathing, exclaiming, "Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within." And Polycarp himself replied to Marcion, who met him on one occasion, and said, "Dost thou know me?" "I do know thee, the first-born of Satan." Such was the horror which the apostles and their disciples had against holding even verbal communication with any corrupters of the truth; as Paul also says, "A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself." There is also a very powerful Epistle of Polycarp written to the Philippians, from which those who choose to do so, and are anxious about their salvation, can learn the character of his faith, and the preaching of the truth. Then, again, the Church in Ephesus, founded by Paul, and having John remaining among them permanently until the times of Trajan, is a true witness of the tradition of the apostles.

SEE ALSO: Eusebius, Church History V.6... FULL of language about the succession of Peter. It's completely irrefutable that there was papal succession going all the way back to Peter. To deny it, is to deny historical FACT.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Acts 2:42

Acts 2:42
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.


There was a time, when I was just getting "soft" on Catholicism, when my mom asked, "Is the Catholic Church the church in Acts 2:42?" At the time, I really didn't know. I was just beginning to set aside my misconceptions about the Church so I could learn what they actually teach instead of what I'd been led to believe my whole life. This question, of course, nagged at me for quite some time.

Is the Catholic Church the church in Acts 2:42?

Well, let's take a look...

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship...

For one, it's interesting to point out that this does not say they devoted themselves to Scripture. The apostles at this time weren't necessarily writing down everything they were teaching. They didn't say, "Hey, you can't believe this until it's written in Scripture!" The passed on the teachings orally and the early church devoted themselves to these oral teachings. Today, the Catholic Church devotes themselves to Scripture AND Tradition (the teachings passed on by the apostles')... the word of God comes to us through both means. We see this in other passages like 2 Thess 2:15 where it says, "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter."

One cannot sit through Mass and not hear the word of God throughout! The entire Mass is a prayer of thanksgiving! More Scripture is read in Mass than in any other church I've attended... In fact, the entire Mass is based in Scripture. How could anyone say we're not devoting ourselves to the apostles' teachings? They simply cannot!

Fellowship is an association of people who share common beliefs or activities. Catholics gather together every day of the week throughout the entire world. There isn't a time when a Mass is not being said. It's like one continuous prayer making it's way to heaven without ceasing. This was prophesied in Malachi 1:11: "My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty." At the time this was written, God's name was not great among the nations. What other church today has incense and a pure offering (the representation of Christ's sacrifice) in EVERY place, from the rising to the setting of the sun?

...to the breaking of bread...

Every Mass includes the breaking of bread! Holy Communion is offered at every Mass throughout the world. Malachi 1:11 also applies here. This is the pure offering as we continuously remember Christ's sacrifice... It isn't once a month or once a week on a Wednesday... It's EVERY day throughout the entire world! We're definitely not leaving out the breaking of bread in Acts 2:42!

...and to prayer.

The Mass IS a prayer. And within that prayer we say more prayers! Prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of repentance, prayers of praise, prayers of song!

Growing up, I'd have a symbol only communion once a month or so. We'd usually have an opening prayer and a closing prayer for each service. We'd sing a few songs and then a pastor would discuss a topic, read a few verses and give us his interpretation of them, which I generally accepted without question. But how could I know that his interpretation was correct? or that it matched what was taught by the apostles and the earliest of Christians? I often wonder why it never occurred to me to find out if what I was being taught was historically understood the same way.

So, is the Catholic Church the church of Acts 2:42? Without a doubt! In fact, it fits this description more fully than any other. I am so thankful to be Catholic!

Thank you, Jesus, for bringing me into the church of Acts 2:42 in all it's fullness! Amen.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Assumption of MaryToday is the feast of the Assumption of Mary and a holy day of obligation for Catholics. In honor of this wonderful occasion, I'd like to quote St. John the Theologian from his Apocryphal Works on the Assumption of Mary.

Then the Saviour said: Let it be according to your opinion. And He ordered the archangel Michael to bring the soul of St. Mary. And, behold, the archangel Michael rolled back the stone from the door of the tomb; and the Lord said: Arise, my beloved and my nearest relation; you who hast not put on corruption by intercourse with man, suffer not destruction of the body in the sepulchre. And immediately Mary rose from the tomb, and blessed the Lord, and falling forward at the feet of the Lord, adored Him, saying: I cannot render sufficient thanks to You, O Lord, for Your boundless benefits which You have deigned to bestow upon me Thine handmaiden. May Your name, O Redeemer of the world, God of Israel, be blessed for ever.

And kissing her, the Lord went back, and delivered her soul to the angels, that they should carry it into paradise. And He said to the apostles: Come up to me. And when they had come up He kissed them, and said: Peace be to you! as I have always been with you, so will I be even to the end of the world. And immediately, when the Lord had said this, He was lifted up on a cloud, and taken back into heaven, and the angels along with Him, carrying the blessed Mary into the paradise of God. And the apostles being taken up in the clouds, returned each into the place allotted for his preaching, telling the great things of God, and praising our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, in perfect unity, and in one substance of Godhead, for ever and ever. Amen.


Thank you Jesus for the Blessed Mother! May we all grow closer to Christ through her prayerful intercession!

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Tradition

If is important to understand that nothing in Tradition contradicts Scripture.

The early church was very careful to guard against heresy. This is why we can see evidence in the Bible of writings that corrected churches that were going in the "wrong" direction. The Bible also tells us of the necessity of keeping tradition. These are not the traditions of men that Christ warns against but apostolic traditions:

1 Corinthians 11:2 (NAS)
Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.

2 Thess 2:15 (NAS)
So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.


2 Thess 3:6 (NAS)
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.


To ensure that apostolic tradition would be passed down, Paul said to Timothy, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. " (2 Timothy 2:2)

Christ himself promised that the gates of Hades would not prevail against His church:

Matthew 16:18
I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.


It is well established that the Catholic Church has its roots at the time of Christ. They have documented succession from the apostles. They were the only church (outside of the Orthodox church 1054 AD) for 1500 years until the Reformation. So, we have to ask ourselves. Did the early church screw it up? Or did Christ keep his promise to protect his church? Some claim that there was a "remnant" of truth (a protestant-type Christianity) that was "underground" and finally emerged at the Reformation, but there is not one shred of evidence for this, secular or otherwise. Also, Christ did not promise to protect a "remnant".

Christ established a visible Church... the Church is more than just the invisible body of Christ. He also gave His Church authority. For Protestants, their authority is the Bible alone but it is evident in the Bible that this profitable but not necessarily all-sufficient. The Church is the pillar and foundation of truth, not the Bible:

1 Timothy 3:14-15
Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.


Matthew 18:15-17 (NIV)
"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.


Note above that it does not say, take it to "a" church but "the" church!

For me, what this boiled down to is: Do I believe that God would want His followers to know the truth and if He did, did He do his part to protect it for the first 1500 years or did all those people die believing they had truth when they really didn't? Can I offer you some hard evidence that the early church was fully truthful? No. But I do believe that Christ kept his promise and I do believe that the writings of the early church are very Catholic in theology. I do believe that the Catholic Church has proven through its records of succession that it is the Church established by Christ.

I believe that the Holy Spirit infallibly guided men to decide which books of the Bible were considered inspired... Why then would it be impossible for the Holy Spirit to continue to guide His Church into all truth? (John 16:13)

More verses supporting Tradition:
John 21:25
Acts 20:35
2 Timothy 1:13
2 Timothy 2:2
2 Peter 1:20
2 Peter 3:15-16
Romans 10:17
1 Corinthians 15:1-2

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bible alone?

In order to find truth,
one must be open to find it...
wherever that may be.


I reached a point where I began to question what was TRUE. Of course, I knew that I had "some" truth but certain things were just not adding up. It was not until I truly opened my heart, that I was able to see the complete truth that God was calling me to see.

One of those things that didn't add up was the idea that the Bible was the "sole rule of faith". Many Protestants, when asked, "What is the pillar of truth?" will reply, "The Bible!"

But the Bible says:

1 Timothy 3:14-15 (NIV)
Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.


The church is the pillar of truth... and if the church is the pillar of truth, aren't Catholics correct when they look to the church for the authority to interpret Scripture? The Bible itself does not make a claim to be the sole rule of faith but it DOES state that the church is the "pillar and foundation of truth".

Christ clearly established a visible Church... but that's for another post!

What I want to talk about is "sola scriptura".

Protestants often argue that the Bible claims to be the sole rule of faith in the following passage:

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.


This passage indicates that Scripture is useful... It does not say that Scripture is enough, plenty, or all that is needed... This passage also does not say Scripture "alone". Look at the verse before: 2 Timothy 3:15 (and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus). Since the New Testament did not exist at this time, this was referencing the Old Testament. If we are to use the Protestant interpretation of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, then we might be able to assume that the OT "alone" was to be used as the sole rule of faith. Neither Protestants nor Catholics would agree with that idea! But we CAN agree that the OT is useful, just as the Scripture reads...

The following is another verse often used to "prove" sola scriptura:

John 20:30-31 (NIV)
Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.


The problem here is that "this book" refers to the book of John. But would anyone agree that the book of John alone is sufficient? Plus, this passage indicates that it will help us to believe, not that it is necessary in order to believe.

If the Bible was the sole rule of faith, what did early Christians do before the Bible existed?

They passed along traditions! Christ did not condemn ALL traditions... just the traditions of men... but clearly, we were to "stand firm and hold" to some traditions!

2 Thess 2:15 (NAS)
So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

2 Timothy 2:2 (NAS)
The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

1 Corinthians 11:2 (NAS)
Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.


These apostolic teachings (or traditions) have been passed down for 2000 years in the Catholic Church... This means that instead of the Bible as the sole rule of faith, Catholics believe that the Word of God is the sole rule of faith.

Another question that came to mind is: If the Bible is the sole rule of faith and the 25,000+ Protestant, Bible-only denominations all claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit in their interpretation of the Bible, how is it that the Holy Spirit is contradicting Himself? The Holy Spirit cannot contradict Himself.

The Catholic Church has not changed on issues of faith or morals in 2000 years... They hold to the teachings of the apostles... My heart was open and I found the Church that Christ established, the pillar of truth. The Word of God is now my sole rule of faith... this does not disregard the Scriptures but makes the Scriptures come alive in my life so that I can experience the fullness of faith that Christ intended for all Christians. And I've found the unity in the body of Christ that I was seeking

Ephesians 4:4-6 (NIV)
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

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