Saints of Lent: Athanasius Contra Mundum

Sunday, March 5, AD 2017

We are proud that our own country has more than once stood against the world. Athanasius did the same.

He stood for the Tninitarian doctrine, ‘whole and undefiled,’ when it looked as if all the civilized world was slipping back from Christianity into the religion of Arius— into one of those ‘sensible’ synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended today and which, then as now, included among their devotees many highly cultivated clergymen. It is his glory that he did not move with the times; it is his reward that he now remains when those times, as all times do, have moved away.”

CS Lewis

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lent is a grand time to confront evil, both that evil which stains our souls, and the evil external to us.  Throughout the history of the Church there have been saints who risked all to bravely confront the popular evils of their time.  This Lent on each Sunday we will be looking at some of those saints.  We begin with Saint Athanasius.

Saint Athanasius, a Doctor of the Church, and the foremost defender of the divinity of Christ, is one of the key figures in the history of the Faith.  His era, the Fourth Century, was a time period of turbulent change, not unlike our own in that respect.  With the conversion of the Emperor Constantine to Christ, the Church was suddenly transformed from a proscribed cult into the religion of the Empire.  Instead of being executed for their faith in Christ, bishops found themselves important players in what was rapidly becoming a Christian Empire.  To many Christians, it seemed as if they had reached a golden period in human history when the Church could rapidly reach its goal of bringing all men to Christ.  History, however, never ceases to twist and turn as it charts the affairs of Man.

One of the more dangerous twists of History in the Fourth Century for the Church, was the meteoric rise of the Arian heresy.  A priest of Alexandria, Egypt, Arius propounded the doctrine that the Son, since he was begotten of the Father, was a creation of God, and not God.  He was the greatest of God’s creations, and next to God, but he was not God.  Of course, Arius thus destroyed the doctrine of the Trinity, and reduced Jesus from being God to being a creature serving God.  This doctrine, if it had prevailed, would have transformed Christianity into a Unitarian faith and inevitably downplayed the centrality of Christ.  The doctrine of Arius began to spread, until it was necessary for it to be addressed at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, the first of the ecumenical councils.  Called specifically to address Arianism, the Council was unequivocal in its condemnation of Arianism as indicated by the Nicene Creed written at the Council:

We Believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, only begotten, that is, from the substance of the Father; God from God, Light from Light, very God from very God, begotten, not made, Consubstantial with the Father, by whom all things were made, both things in heaven and things in earth; who for us men and for our salvation came down and was incarnate, was made man, suffered and rose again the third day, ascended into heaven, and is coming to judge the living and the dead. And in the Holy Spirit, and those who say “There was when he was not” and “Before his generation he was not” and “He came to be from nothing” or those who pretend that the Son of God is “Of other hypostasis or substance; or “created” or alterable” or “mutable”; the Catholic and apostolic Church anathematizes.

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4 Responses to Saints of Lent: Athanasius Contra Mundum

  • “but on the whole, taking a wide view of the history, we are obliged to say that the governing body of the Church came short, and the governed were pre-eminent in faith, zeal, courage, and constancy.”.
    St Athanasius , and (saint?) Cardinal Newman pray for us. Help us also to go against the world in defense of truth.

  • I think Newman had the Anglican Clergy in miss as he wrote about the 4th century. Its bishops he finally concluded were hardly more than agents of the Crown. So he crossed the Tiber. We do seem to face a similar situation in the American Church today, where since the early 8os, liberal bishops have been more about politics than preserving the faith. My worry is that Rome itself, which has been a check on their ambitions may be entering one of its lack periods. It nowsedems a place the aged prelate that Congressman Bob Doren once dubbed “the cockroach” for his behavior as Cardinal of Washington DC, for his currying walk, both literally and doctrinally away from the light, has found friends in high places in the Vatican.

  • I learned about the reconciliation of man with God that can only be done by God in the second grade, where I learned Aquinas taught by the good nuns and sisters of St. Felix. We need good sisters and nuns to teach our young children about Aquinas again.

  • Not just the liberal bishops, but most of them, in North America anyway, are preoccupied with politics and not concerned enough with the fact that Jesus HATED sin. Sin separates us from God, and I say this as someone who ought to go to Confession tomorrow.

    My opposition to unchecked immigration into the US is NOT due to hatred of the poor or being “unwelcoming” to the immigrant. This nation is $20 trillion in debt. There are not enough good jobs to go around. Every day there is another news story of an “immigrant” who has committed multiple crimes but has not been deported. Where is any Bishops conference demanding that Mexico, Haiti, Honduras, or even Cuba clean up its act? No, it’s always that the US has to let ’em all in and give them what I work for to provide for my family.

    I was in Catholic School from 1971 through 1976. The teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas were never mentioned. Oh, but we were sure to sing each week at Mass…with a guitar playing. Great things happen when God mixes with man and other drivel.

Pal Jesus Won’t Save You

Friday, January 16, AD 2015

Buddy Christ

“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

H. Richard Nieburh

 

One of the more distressing aspects of the times in which we live is a widespread and fundamentally incorrect response to the eternal question first asked by Christ to His Apostles, “Who do you say that I am?”  The question of course contained the answer:  Christ is forever “I AM”, the creator of all that was, is and will ever be, our eternal Master and the source of all love and hope.

This Christ has been transformed into Pal Jesus, an instant forgiveness buddy, who wouldn’t dream of imposing commands on anyone, and who loves us just the way we are.  Pal Jesus always forgives us, whether we ask for it or not, whether we seek to amend our lives or not.  He never tells us to go and sin no more.  This Christ, who, to paraphrase Chesterton, wears a new face of goofiness, is in stark contrast to the Christ presented to us in the Gospels who bids us all each to take up our Cross and follow Him.  Father Richard Heilman at One Peter Five gets at the heart of  this modern variant of a very old heresy:

And yet isn’t that exactly what has become of us? Consider this sobering analysis of our present condition from columnist Jeffrey Kuhner at the Washington Times:

For the past 50 years, every major institution has been captured by the radical secular left. The media, Hollywood, TV, universities, public schools, theater, the arts, literature — they relentlessly promote the false gods of sexual hedonism and radical individualism. Conservatives have ceded the culture to the enemy. Tens of millions of unborn babies have been slaughtered; illegitimacy rates have soared; divorce has skyrocketed; pornography is rampant; drug use has exploded; sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS have killed millions; birth control is a way of life; sex outside of wedlock has become the norm; countless children have been permanently damaged — their innocence lost forever — because of the proliferation of broken homes; and sodomy and homosexuality are celebrated openly. America has become the new Babylon.

This cultural assessment is bleak. And I believe that underlying it all is a deeper evil, a more ancient and intractable error which gives rise to all the rest. Many have pointed to “Modernism” as the heresy of our times. Modernism, while it takes many forms, is basically a break or rejection of our past in favor of all things new. And, while it seems evident that our Church is fully infected with the heresy of Modernism, I believe that it, too, is a symptom of this more fundamental threat.

What am I referring to? Something that impacts the very nature of human existence and the opportunity for our salvation. Lacking an official name, I call this monster, “Stealth Arianism.” Students of history know that the Arian heresy – the worst crisis in the Church before our present age – was rooted in the belief that Jesus Christ was merely a created being, not equal to God the Father.  Stealth Arianism follows the same fatal error, but with a twist: while the Arians of the fourth century openly denied Christ’s divinity, today‘s Arians will profess Jesus as God, and yet through their actions deny it. In other words, they don’t even know they are heretics. Many even believe that they are doing God’s work in their attempts to elevate Christ’s humanity at the cost of His divinity.

You see, once we diminish the identity of Christ as the Son of God, we are left to view Him as simply a historical figure that was a nice guy, a respectable teacher and a good example for how we are to live. Religion is then reduced to a nice organization that does nice things for people as we seek a kind of psychotherapy for self-actualization. And this is not only not what He came to give us, but it’s something He made sure to leave no room for.

In his Christological examination, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis makes the case plain:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Over the past 50 years, the Stealth Arians have done everything within their power to remove from our lived experience of Catholicism anything that would point to the divinity of Christ, and the supernatural quality of our faith. Everything has been stripped from our churches – sacred art, sacred architecture, sacred music, and the sacred elements of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – and we are left in the barren desert of the banal. It is no wonder many Catholics think nothing of approaching the Most Holy Eucharist dressed in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, and grabbing the host like they’re reaching into a bag of chips. As Flannery O’Connor said, “If it’s a symbol, to hell with it.” It’s more surprising that these individuals even bother to attend Mass at all.

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10 Responses to Pal Jesus Won’t Save You

  • Great quote from C.S.Lewis – crystal clear. Can we get PF to read him – bet that has never happened.

  • Jesus Christ is the love of God for mankind. God is love. The Holy Spirit is the love of the Father for His Son. The Blessed Virgin Mary is love, pure love. Only pure love might bring perfect love to mankind. There is no room for impure love in mankind.

  • Just be careful how you answer that. Your answer could be construed as blasphemous and an incitement to hatred and violence.

  • “Just be careful how you answer that. Your answer could be construed as blasphemous and an incitement to hatred and violence.”
    .
    “And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, they brought to him a paralytic, lying on his bed; and when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.’ And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming.'” Matthew 9:1-3
    .
    “But Jesus was silent. And the high priest said to him, ‘I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his robes, and said, ‘He has uttered blasphemy. Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?’ They answered, ‘He deserves death.’ Then they spat in his face, and struck him; and some slapped him, saying, ‘Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?'” Matthew 26:63-38
    .
    The charge of blasphemy and the response of the people to that charge has changed little in two thousand years.

  • Paul Primavera. Wow. Spot on. How time seems to stand still, and history is repeated. Great pick Paul.

  • Don: I follow sources on both the left and right. One from the evangelical left is a guy named fred clark, with a blog called the slactivist that started out as ripping apart the left behind series. But he also has a fascinating series of posts on his view of hell, arguing against its existence. Now I am Catholic, so no I don’t “believe it”. But the thought occurred to me that a back and forth between you guys would be fascinating. Granted he is evangelical, so there is the whole different branches business, but I still think a discussion between you too would be very interesting to see.

    As for me….while there is something tempting in his arguments, I can’t accept them not only because of being Catholic (I hope it’s lightly populated, but I’m not prepared to say I believe there is no hell) but I feel his argumentson could also be used to argue “why do good things happen to bad people?”

  • Scratch that last part….I meant bad things to good people. I know thone sentences end up being used together, but the latter sentence communicated the point more.

  • Among God’s many errors in inspiring the Holy Scriptures (e.g. male-only priesthood, if you do not work you do not eat, and His Son’s sacrifice was for many not all) did He also get it wrong re: the existence of Hell and the stories of His Son saying people will go there? Where would we all be without liberals, heretics, schismatics and dissenters to tell us what God should have written? Guy McClung, San Antonio

  • I would just add that Pal Jesus is only the first step in denying Christ. To those who see themselves as believers he becomes a buddy. To those who see him as a buddy, he becomes partially irrelevant or wrong about the morality they disagree with (e.g. sexuality) and finally he becomes the fool. Satan doesn’t mind getting to his destination by small steps.

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Pope Benedict on Saint Athanasius, a Saint For Our Times

Wednesday, May 2, AD 2012

 

His epitaph is Athanasius contra mundum, “Athanasius against the world.” We are proud that our own country has more than once stood against the world. Athanasius did the same. He stood for the Trinitarian doctrine, “whole and undefiled,” when it looked as if all the civilised world was slipping back from Christianity into the religion of Arius—into one of those “sensible” synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended today and which, then as now, included among their devotees many highly cultivated clergymen. It is his glory that he did not move with the times; it is his reward that he now remains when those times, as all times do, have moved away.

                                                        CS Lewis

Saint Athansius stood for the Trinity at a time when the Emperor, Constantius, was Arian, and much of the Church in the East had embraced some form of Arianism.  Exiled five times by Constantius and his successors, Athanasius was a pillar of iron who never bended and tirelessly proclaimed the Truth, no matter the forces arrayed against the Truth.  His relevance for our day needs no elaboration from me.  Here is Pope Benedict on Saint Athanasius:

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13 Responses to Pope Benedict on Saint Athanasius, a Saint For Our Times

  • Pope Benedict XVI is a gift from God

  • According to St Athanasius, some heathen philosophers visited St Anthony, expecting to make fun of him, because he could not read.

    “Antony said to them, ‘What do you say? which is prior, the mind or letters? And which gives rise to which, mind to letters, or letters to mind?’ When they answered that mind was prior, and invented letters, Antony replied, ‘He, then, whose mind is in health, does not need letters.'”

  • Kind of a good thing that after Constantius, Julian the Apostate focused more on paganism and not arianism.

    Missionaries always had an easier time converting pagans, opposed to those who fell into Arianism.

  • Johnny5.

    “…….opposed to those who fell in to Arianism.”

    Correct – think mormons, JW’s and Advetists.

  • Arianism was a persistant heresy, enduring for centuries. Unfortunately most of the barbarian tribes that overran the Western Empire were Arians converted by the Arian missionary Ulfilas, a converted Goth. Here is his creed:

    “I, Ulfila, bishop and confessor, have always so believed, and in this, the one true faith, I make the journey to my Lord; I believe in one God the Father, the only unbegotten and invisible, and in his only-begotten son, our Lord and God, the designer and maker of all creation, having none other like him (so that one alone among all beings is God the Father, who is also the God of our God); and in one Holy Spirit, the illuminating and sanctifying power, as Christ said after his resurrection to his apostles: “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49) and again “But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:8); being neither God (the Father) nor our God (Christ), but the minister of Christ … subject and obedient in all things to the Son; and the Son, subject and obedient in all things to God who is his Father … (whom) he ordained in the Holy Spirit through his Christ.”

  • Athanasius is without a doubt one of my favorite theologians. Ever since I read his magnificent “On the Incarnation of the Word” I was hooked. Additionally, the Life of St. Anthony is probably one of the most inspiring biographies (and probably partial hagiography!) I have ever had the pleasure of encountering.

  • The conversion of the Visigoths and Vandals from Arianism to Catholicism was actually quite rapid.

    The Visigothic kingdom of Toulouse accepted the Nicene symbol after the battle of Vouillé in 507, at which Clovis himself killed their king, Alaric II in combat. In sending his congratulations, the Pope, St Symmachus, addresses Clovis as “the most Christian King of the Franks,” [Christianissimus Rex Francorum] a title born by his successors.

    Clovis [Louis in French], a convert from paganism, but married to a Catholic, St Clotilde and instructed by St Gaston, Bishop of Cambrai, he was baptised on Christmas Day 496 by St Rémy, Archbishop of Rheims. Their names remain very popular baptismal names in France to this day. St Gaston [Latin Vedastus] became popular in England, under the Anglicised form of St Foster, a name found amongst the first Catholic settlers in Maryland.

    At the First Council of Orléans, convened by Clovis in 511, all the Gaulish bishops, to the number of 33, subscribed the Nicene symbol. Diplomatic efforts on the part of his successors secured the deposition of the Arian bishops in Burgundy.

  • The Visigothic kingdom of Spain remained Arian until 587 when King Recccared converted to Catholicism. The Vandals remained Arian until their African kingdom was conquered by the Byzantines under Belisarius in 533. The Ostrogoths in Italy remained Arian until their conquest by the Byzantines, with the aid of the Catholic Franks, in 560. The strife between the Byzantines and the Ostrogoths cleared the way for the Arian Lombards to conquer most of Italy. They remained Arian until the latter part of the seventh century.

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  • Donald R. McClarey

    Arianism lasted just so long as it enjoyed the patronage of the civil power and it was willing to intrude Arian bishops into the sees under their control

    Arianism had been adopted by the commanders of barbarian auxiliaries, when it was fashionable att he court of Constatinople and remained the religion of the ruling class, rather like the Protestantism of the Ascendancy in Ireland. It never became the religion of the masses.

    That is why its eradication was so rapid and complete, once that support was withdrawn.

  • “Arianism lasted just so long as it enjoyed the patronage of the civil power and it was willing to intrude Arian bishops into the sees under their control”

    Actually Michael the same argument could have been made about Catholicism in the wake of the Protestant Reformation in the areas that went Protestant, and it would have been just as faulty. Arianism was defeated through a combination of conversion, the Visigoths in Spain and the Lombards in Italy, and catastropic military defeat, the Ostrogoths in Italy and the Vandals in North Africa. Like most creeds it found it hard to sustain itself when the secular government was in the hands of its adversaries. The same thing happened in regard to Catholicism after the Protestant Reformation, with a notable exception to this rule being the land of my forefathers, Ireland. If the Arian barbarian successor states had been able to hold power for far longer than they did, they might well have been able to convert the subject masses to Arianism, as was the case in the areas conquered by Islam in North Africa and most of the Near East.

  • Donald R. McClarey

    “If the Arian barbarian successor states had been able to hold power for far longer than they did, they might well have been able to convert the subject masses to Arianism…”

    Civilised men will never adopt the manners and customs of barbarians. You can see this very clearly, in the case of France; South of the line of the Loire, from Geneva in the East to the mouth of the Charante in the West, where the barbarians were too few in number to displace the Gallo-Roman population, the tradition of municipal government and the written law was never lost.

    As for Protestantism, England was the only former province of the Roman Empire that adopted it. There, the pirate kingdoms of the South and East coasts had severed Britain from the continent from the withdrawal of the legions in 410 to St Augustine’s mission in 597, thus breaking the continuity of civilised life. Protestantism was, and remained, the revolt of the outer barbarians against the Roman order.

  • “Civilised men will never adopt the manners and customs of barbarians.”

    That is quite untrue, as the history of the successor states of the Roman Empire in the West indicates, with the Roman aristocracy being lost amidst the barbarian aristocracy in a few generations. The barbarian artistocracy adopted some of the customs of the Romans, but it was mostly a one way street.

    “As for Protestantism, England was the only former province of the Roman Empire that adopted it.”

    It was a near run thing in France and Austria, only decided ultimately by military force in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Parts of Switzerland of course became Protestant. The idea that Protestantism was the revolt of outer barbarians is incorrect. Protestantism had adherents throughout Europe. They were quite strong in all parts of Europe in the first half of the sixteenth century except for Spain and Portugal. The ultimate dividing lines between Catholic and Protestant, with the notable exception of Ireland, was determined by which creed the ruling house of an area followed, with military force ultimately determing whether Protestantism or Catholicism became the order of the day. Cuius regio, eius religio, “Whose realm, his religion” at the Peace of Augsburg in 1555 merely recognized the reality on the ground in the Holy Roman Empire between Protestants and Catholic rulers. This was what happened throughout Europe in the wake of the Reformation.

Cardinal Newman Development of Doctrine-First Note-Preservation of Type

Sunday, February 28, AD 2010

Continuing on with my series on the seven notes, I would call them tests, which Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman developed for determining whether some aspect of Church teaching is a development of doctrine or a corruption of doctrine.  We began with Note Six-Conservative Action Upon Its Past, and I would highly recommend that any one who has not read the first post in the series read it here before proceeding with this post.  We will now take the remaining notes in numerical order.  This post will deal with the First Note-Preservation of Type.

In regard to Preservation of Type, Cardinal Newman takes pains to point out that the idea underlying the doctrine remains of the same type while the external manifestations of the idea may change greatly.  His illustration from Roman history conveys his point well:

On the other hand, real perversions and corruptions are often not so unlike externally to the doctrine from which they come, as are changes which are consistent with it and true developments. When Rome changed from a Republic to an Empire, it was a real alteration of polity, or what may be called a corruption; yet in appearance the change was small. The old offices or functions of government remained: it was only that the Imperator, or Commander in Chief, concentrated them in his own person.  Augustus was Consul and Tribune, Supreme Pontiff and Censor, and the Imperial rule was, in the words of Gibbon, “an absolute monarchy disguised by the forms of a commonwealth.” On the other hand, when the dissimulation of Augustus was exchanged for the ostentation of Dioclesian, the real alteration of constitution was trivial, but the appearance of change was great. Instead of plain Consul, Censor, and Tribune, Dioclesian became Dominus or King, assumed the diadem, and threw around him the forms of a court.

In other words in determining  whether there has been the preservation of type in a development of doctrine we must look at the substance and ignore the form.  For example, in the Middle Ages laymen would often receive communion once a year out of great reverence for the body of Christ.  Now we are encouraged to be frequent communicants.  However, the underlying reverence that the Church commands for the body and blood of Christ remains the same.

Cardinal Newman concludes:

An idea then does not always bear about it the same external image; this circumstance, however, has no force to weaken the argument for its substantial identity, as drawn from its external sameness, when such sameness remains. On the contrary, for that very reason, unity of type becomes so much the surer guarantee of the healthiness and soundness of developments, when it is persistently preserved in spite of their number or importance.

Newman on the First Note:

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Athanasius Contra Mundum

Monday, February 1, AD 2010

Athanasius Contra Mundum

Saint Athanasius, a Doctor of the Church, and the foremost defender of the divinity of Christ, is one of the key figures in the history of the Faith.  His era, the Fourth Century, was a time period of turbulent change, not unlike our own in that respect.  With the conversion of the Emperor Constantine to Christ, the Church was suddenly transformed from a proscribed cult into the religion of the Empire.  Instead of being executed for their faith in Christ, bishops found themselves important players in what was rapidly becoming a Christian Empire.  To many Christians, it seemed as if they had reached a golden period in human history when the Church could rapidly reach its goal of bringing all men to Christ.  History, however, never ceases to twist and turn as it charts the affairs of Man.

One of the more dangerous twists of History in the Fourth Century for the Church, was the meteoric rise of the Arian heresy.  A priest of Alexandria, Egypt, Arius propounded the doctrine that the Son, since he was begotten of the Father, was a creation of God, and not God.  He was the greatest of God’s creations, and next to God, but he was not God.  Of course, Arius thus destroyed the doctrine of the Trinity, and reduced Jesus from being God to being a creature serving God.  This doctrine, if it had prevailed, would have transformed Christianity into a Unitarian faith and inevitably downplayed the centrality of Christ.  The doctrine of Arius began to spread, until it was necessary for it to be addressed at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, the first of the ecumenical councils.  Called specifically to address Arianism, the Council was unequivocal in its condemnation of Arianism as indicated by the Nicene Creed written at the Council:

We Believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, only begotten, that is, from the substance of the Father; God from God, Light from Light, very God from very God, begotten, not made, Consubstantial with the Father, by whom all things were made, both things in heaven and things in earth; who for us men and for our salvation came down and was incarnate, was made man, suffered and rose again the third day, ascended into heaven, and is coming to judge the living and the dead. And in the Holy Spirit, and those who say “There was when he was not” and “Before his generation he was not” and “He came to be from nothing” or those who pretend that the Son of God is “Of other hypostasis or substance; or “created” or alterable” or “mutable”; the Catholic and apostolic Church anathematizes.

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13 Responses to Athanasius Contra Mundum

  • The Eastern half of the Roman Empire seems to receive the brunt of everything bad.

    Arianism, Chalcedonian schism, the doctrine of ceasaro-papalism, and Islam.

    I really feel for those guys, our Orthodox brothers and sisters.

  • Arianism is still alive and well in our time, in the form of the Adventist religions – particularly the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  • And some Pentecostals.

    They don’t believe the Holy Spirit is not part of the triune God.

  • I think you’ve got a double negative there, Tito. 🙂

  • Don,

    I blame my public school education.

    😉

  • I blame the Reformation. 🙂

  • I tend to blame the French Revolution myself.

    Never trust a freemason frog.

    🙂

  • A lot of Catholic don’t believe in the divinity of Christ either.

  • “A lot of Catholics don’t believe in the divinity of Christ either.”

    Then they aren’t Catholics Tony.

  • Everyone is Catholic – some of us actually know it.

    I don’t want to be excessively critical and my Latin is very, very weak; however, doesn’t the Creed actually begin with I believe, instead of We believe?

    I think the distinction is a recognition of our free will. I freely choose to believe what the Church believes, but I cannot speak for what you believe. Hence when we are in Mass with divinity-denying Catholics (referenced above) we can still state what we believe as individual members of the Mystical Body of Christ. Or, perhaps, I don’t really know what I am talking about.

  • The Nicene Creed was written in Greek AK. I believe the English translation is an accurate rendering of the Greek, although I confess my Greek is weak!

  • It is all Greek to me 🙂

    The revised translation of the Novus Ordo begins the Creed with, “I believe” as opposed to “We believe”. I am fairly confident that is to emphasize that we are individual parts of the Mystical Body, each with a free will and that each of us on our own accord chooses to believe what the Church (We) believes.

    Just another reason why the Mass should be in a dead, uncorrupted, static language. Well, at least the propers should be.

    Kyrie Eleision (that’s all the Greek I know 😉

  • I think the official Latin uses “Credo” which I believe (ha ha) translates to “I believe” rather than “we believe.”

Advent and Anti-Christ, Part I

Sunday, November 29, AD 2009

Prior to his conversion to Catholicism, John Henry Cardinal Newman, soon to be Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman,  preached in 1835 a series of Advent Sermons on the Anti-Christ.  I have always found them extremely intriguing, and I am going to present them on each of the Sundays in Advent this year.

In this first sermon Newman gives us an overview of the Anti-Christ and the time of his appearance.  We see in this sermon Newman’s total command of history and how he uses this knowledge to draw out the implications of the few mentions of the Anti-Christ in Scripture.  Newman intellectually was always first and foremost a historian of the highest order and he puts this talent to good and instructive use in this sermon.  When Newman converted the Church gained one of the finest intellects of the Nineteenth Century or any century for that matter.  Much of Newman’s work concerned the working out of God’s plan for salvation through human history, and his examination of the Anti-Christ places that mysterious part of revelation into that plan.

“Let no man deceive you by any means:
for that Day shall not come,
except there come a falling away first,
and that man of sin be revealed,
the son of perdition.”

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21 Responses to Advent and Anti-Christ, Part I

  • How prescient Cardinal Newman was.

    Including Mohammad as a proto-Anti-Christ. Many have backed up Newmans assertion that heretical forms of Christianity such as Nestorianism contributed to the rise of Islam.

    Hilaire Belloc I believe (I don’t recall who exactly) called Islam another Christian heresy.

    How right he was!

  • You are right, Tito. Belloc said it in “The Great Heresies.”

  • Evil begets evil. But thanfully, God begets God, and what greater good is there than God?

  • I know we can’t know the timing of these things. I also know they will happen again and again with increasing frequency and severity until the final one; however, it sounds like the good cardical is talking of a conspiracy. Are we listening? Becuase it seems most people freak out and dismiss any time I hint of a conspiracy. Makes you think hmm.

    Could it be a liberal conspiracy? I am not referring to Demomcrat liberals or even Republican liberals, just liberal thought in general. Liberalism has some great aspects. I happen to like much of libertarian (the classical liberal) thought; however, liberal is also plagued with utility, permissiveness, license and radical individualism. Could this be the Devil taking us by the hand and making us his friends in our own undoing?

    Karl Marx certaintly thought so. He developed ideas, ideologies and an ‘economic’ theory that seek to do nothing other than totally destroy Western Civ. aka Rome aka Christendom. The tool he used to present his destructive agenda is Marxism/Communism and it’s newer forms of Critical Theory hidden away in liberalism, both the neo-con and the lefty-loony viriety.

  • Vince C.,

    I like the link in your name!

    I added it to our Catholic resources list.

    Keep up the great witness to our beautiful faith!

  • One point of clarification – John Henry Cardinal Newman is not yet identified as “Blessed” that is supposed to happen next year when the Holy Father visits England. Hopefully his canonization will follow sooner rather than later.

  • Let us pray for the conversion of the Antichrist, so that he, too, might enjoy the Beatific Vision and be an endless hymn of praise of God’s Mercy.

  • Thank you Dontex! I was gettting ahead of myself. It has been a long wait for we Newman devotees! I have amended the post.

  • The antichrist has always been at work ever since he decided to be greater than God. And his work is visible. Look at those that want anything that has to do with Christianity taken out, look at all the sexuality on TV, internet and so on. Look at sexual liberation men giving themselves to men, women to women “Because they gave up the natural order “ now where have I heard those words before; check out the driving force behind religions. Islam says that if one is not converted to Islam they need to be killed. Today the war is over oil, but after the crises is over, what reason will there be to go to war. I remember reading the story of the Jewish holocaust, and in a meeting of high ranking Nazi officials the final resolution was being discussed, and one general asked “ and after we do away with the Jewish people , who will be next “. After the oil war is over whom they will persecute.
    Read the story of Sodomma and Camorra why did God destroy them and see if those same reasons are not prevailing in our society today. Oh yes my dear brothers and sisters the anti-Christ is lose, angry and wild. He knows the day of the Lord is at hand. He also knows what awaits him.
    But fear you not because as the apostle said “IF I AM WIH THE LORD, WHAT EVIL CAN BEGET ME”
    Christ be with you all.

  • No Nick I’m afraid not! To pray for the conversion of the Antichrist would be in vain. He is confirmed in evil! It would be like trying to pray for the conversion of Satan and that you must know is impossible. The prince of Darkness is confirmed in Evil for all eternity.

  • I agree with Gabriel about Satan being confirmed evil for all eternity, though I am not sure if it is applicable to the anti-Christ.

    Satan, being created an angel by God has perfect knowledge. Angels are not human but are something akin to spiritual beings that had perfect intelligence. So when he consciously chose to oppose God it was final since in his own mind he thought better of himself instead of God.

    The anti-Christ will be a man, not an angle, so he (or she) will be imperfect, hence then he may still be able to repent.

    As Saint Theresa of Avila said, she still prays for Judas because we truly don’t know if he asked for forgiveness at the moment of his death.

  • Which antichrist? Nero, Mohammad, Marx, Hitler, or The Anti-Christ?

    I think many antichrists can repent but the final Anti-Christ, I am not so sure. He may be so closely tied to Satan that there is no hope for him. Isn’t he supposed to be slain and then rise again in mockery of Christ? If so, how is that possible unless Satan is completely animating and possesing him? If he is that given over to Satan I don’t think he can return to God, not that God wouldn’t have Mercy, but rather becuase the evil is so consuming that he wouldn’t consider surrender to God anything desireable.

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  • The Anti-Christ is Satan only in the form of a human being, just as Christ is God in a human form.
    Satan nor any of the fallen angels will be pardoned or can be pardoned for their sins and crimes, this is way they hate us humans so much cause we have the opportunity to repent they can’t and do not have the opportunity to repent. They knew and saw God as He is in all his glory.
    They literally saw and understood God but decided to go against him, freely and willingly.

  • Excellent point Rafael.

    Because they are angels they have perfect knowledge, hence they would choose not to repent if they were allowed to repent.

    I am not sure on this point, but the angels that followed Lucifer hated humans because God placed them above angels I believe.

  • I suppose it is possible that Anti-Christ is Satan but it is also possible that he is just another poor power-hungry, disobendient human given over to Satan through sin. Either way he is a problem and he loses.

    Tito, we are not above the angels. To my knowledge only one creature is above the angels and she is perfectly human, the Queen of men and angels, our Blessed Virgin Mary. The rest of us are lower than the angels and we are integrated with our bodies and struggle against our flesh. You are correct about the perfect knowledge of angels and their perfect and fixed free wills. Once an angel makes a choice it is eternally fixed. St. Michael will always serve God fully and Satan aka Lucifer will always be disobedient and he knows his time is short.

    I think Satan and the fallen angels (demons) rebelled against God not because He made us higher than angels but precisely becuase He made us lower than angels. I think when God showed them that He was taking human form, a lower form than an angel, their pride was bruised. The virtue opposite the vice of pride is humility. God humbled Himself to become a small, vulnerable, cold, poor, homeless baby. Satan went nuts and a third of heaven was cast out with him.

    Come Lord Jesus!

  • I see no evidence in Scripture that the anti-Christ will be an avatar of Satan.

  • No! I don’t believe the Antichrist is Satan himself. Satan also known as the dragon, the ancient serpent of old! Who gave his power, worldly glory, status to the beast, the Antichrist to make war with the saints and to conquer them and there was given to it (by Satan) power over every tribe and people and tonque and nation.
    And later, the beast or Antichrist was captured along with the false prophet who worked wonders to lead many astray and both were cast alive into the fiery lake of burning brimstone and also those that worshipped the image of the beast.
    Shortly after that St. Michael the archangel seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan and cast him into the bottomless pit.
    Since Satan is the prince of this world he can give his power and earthly glory to whom he likes!!!!

  • To read what the church teaches on the Antichrist go to NewAdvent.com click on encyclopedia click A find and click Antichrist.

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