Apologetics 2:2 – Apostolic Succession

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Minor Mysteries (or sacramentals to Latin Catholics) are known to be outward signs of inward graces. Being that vestments express these graces in different degrees depending on the rank of the individual cleric, it’s quite evident why these Apostolic Crowns are worn by Popes, Patriarchs, & Bishops; in addition to also being decorated the way that they are – to show the importance of the role that Bishop has; that being the authority to guide the church and to teach the flock.

 

Catholic Teaching on Apostolic succession:

 

CCC 77: “In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority. Indeed, the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.”

 

Biblical proof for Apostolic Succession:

 

• 2 Timothy 2:2: “And what you heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well.”

 

• Acts 14:23: “They [the Apostles] appointed presbyters for them in each church.”

 

• Acts 1:16- 20: “My brothers, the scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was numbered among us and was allotted a share in this ministry.  He bought a parcel of land with the wages of his iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out. This became known to everyone who lived in Jerusalem, so that the parcel of land was called in their language ‘Akeldama,’ that is, Field of Blood. For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his encampment become desolate, and may no one dwell in it.’ And: ‘May another take his office.'(Emphasis)

 

Acts 1:25-26 Concerning the replacement of Judas:

 

To take the place of this ministry and apostleship , from which Judas hath by transgression fallen, that he might go to his own place. And they gave them lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”

 

Paul is succeeded by Timothy, who will be succeeded by “faithful people”, who will be succeeded by “others as well’.

 

Titus 1:5: “For this reason I left you in Crete so that you might set right what remains to be done and appoint presbyters in every town, as I directed you.”

Note: Titus is instructed to guide the flock, to teach, and to silence heresies from those outside of the true church that lack Apostolic Succession. (See Titus 1:10-11)

 

• Titus 1-10-11 “For there are also many rebels, idle talkers and deceivers, especially the Jewish Christians. It is imperative to silence them, as they are upsetting whole families by teaching for sordid gain what they should not.”

 

Note: the silencing of heretics is what you find within the Catholic Church by the magisterium, that being the Apostolic Tradition to anathematize heresies and individual heretics that do not recant their heterodoxy.

 

•2 Peter 1:3-4 bares witness to the teaching that Jesus Christ has promised the apostles and their successors guidance to teach truth by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

“His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power. Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.”

Early Church Fathers on Apostolic Succession:

 

Pope Clement I

“Through countryside and city [the apostles] preached, and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers. Nor was this a novelty, for bishops and deacons had been written about a long time earlier. . . . Our apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry” (Letter to the Corinthians 42:4–5, 44:1–3 [A.D. 80]).

Hegesippus

“When I had come to Rome, I [visited] Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. And after Anicetus [died], Soter succeeded, and after him Eleutherus. In each succession and in each city there is a continuance of that which is proclaimed by the law, the prophets, and the Lord” (Memoirs, cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4:22 [A.D. 180]).

Irenaeus

“It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known to us throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors down to our own times, men who neither knew nor taught anything like what these heretics rave about” (Against Heresies 3:3:1 [A.D. 189]).

“[T]he Church is one, and as she is one, cannot be both within and without. For if she is with [the heretic] Novatian, she was not with [Pope] Cornelius. But if she was with Cornelius, who succeeded the bishop [of Rome], Fabian, by lawful ordination, and whom, beside the honor of the priesthood the Lord glorified also with martyrdom, Novatian is not in the Church; nor can he be reckoned as a bishop, who, succeeding to no one, and despising the evangelical and apostolic tradition, sprang from himself. For he who has not been ordained in the Church can neither have nor hold to the Church in any way” (Letters 69[75]:3 [A.D. 253]).

St. Jerome

“Far be it from me to speak adversely of any of these clergy who, in succession from the apostles, confect by their sacred word the Body of Christ and through whose efforts also it is that we are Christians” (Letters 14:8 [A.D. 396]).

A common question by non Catholics: “Who and how does one gain Apostolic Succession?”

Answer: Apostolic Succession is given to men alone. These are men that were given formation in the faith and have been ordained via the Mystery (Sacrament) of Holy Orders. These apply to deacons, priests, and Bishops.

In laymen terms, these are clerics that were ordained by a Bishop in whom passes on this Apostolic Succession through the laying on of hands (Ordination) . Ordination must come from Bishops in whom were ordained validly and can trace their succession back to the apostles. This can be found only in the Catholic Church – with the exception of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and the Assyrian Church of the East.

CCC 1536 – Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.

Biblical Support for Holy Orders:

•Acts 13:2-3 – “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, completing their fasting and prayer, they laid hands on them and sent them off.”

•Acts 14:23 – They appointed presbyters for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith.

Paul and Barnabas appointed presbyters (priests).

• 2 Tim 1:6,9 – For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. … He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began.

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Homosexual Relations: Is it true love?

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CCC 2204: “The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason it can and should be called a domestic church. It is a community of faith, hope, and charity; it assumes singular importance in the Church, as is evident in the New Testament.” (Eph: 5:21 – 6:4)

Marriage is to be between a man and a woman alone. This is to be a life long relationship dedicated to the bonding of both spouses with the aim of getting each other to Heaven, along with the children they produce with the duty of raising them in the Catholic Faith. In these times we live in, it’s not uncommon to hear that countries throughout the world have or are pushing forth laws to legalize homosexual “marriages.” What does the Church have to say in this regard, and what are the consequences?

 

The Church says the following:

 

Catechism 1603: “… God Himself is the author of marriage … Marriage is NOT a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes. These differences SHOULD NOT cause us to forget it’s common and PERMANENT characteristics.”

Since God is the author of marriage and Wills that marriage is to be between a man and a woman alone, and since Marriage is not a human institution in which can be changed simply because of the desires of the flesh amongst those that are against God’s Holy Divine Plan, the question remains; who are we, as mortals with limited knowledge, to question the All Immortal, Loving, & Knowing Divine God and His Plan?

 

– The Consequences –

 

While we will not address all of consequences of these relationships, such as the negative results in health because of the diseases spread by these relationships; we will address the spiritual since the spiritual consequences are the most important.

False Love: Just like all relationships outside of marriage in which revolve around the sins of the flesh; there is a lack of true love since the relationships are based upon using both persons as sexual objects for temporary pleasures. While one may argue that there can be “true love” within these relationships, the question remains: what kind of love revolves around risking the eternal soul of ones significant other – not to mention their own soul?

The purpose of marriage is to help both spouses get to heaven. Since the homosexual “marriage” is a sin against God’s plan, we have no choice but to conclude that it’s a relationship based upon nothing but the unfortunate loss of souls.

 

“And God Blessed them, and God said to them: ‘BE FRUITFUL and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.” – (Genesis 1:28)

God makes it clear that a true fruitful relationship within the Holy Sacrament of Marriage is based upon the multiplying of children, for both Husband and Wife become one flesh. (Mark 10:8)

Since only a man and a female can reproduce, its quite evident that relations between individuals of the same sex cannot hold the claim of having a valid marriage, for this contradicts God’s plan all together and does not bare fruit as God commanded.

What does God say about those in whom do not bare good fruit? When Jesus cursed the fig tree for not baring forth any fruit, He made an analogy in which He compared this very parable to individual people in who do not bare any fruit. “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire.” (Matt 7:19)

Since damnation is the end result of these relationships, what must we do for those in whom are within these wicked relations? As Catholics, we must continuously pray for these poor people that they turn away from their spiritual plague of homosexual activity in addition to also remembering that we have our own weaknesses as humans with a fallen nature. May God grant them many graces to overcome their many sins, and may He grant us also many graces to overcome our own wickedness.

 

 

 

 

Persecution for the truth.

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Being True God and True Man, Christ had come into the world to save sinners. When He, being the Word of God & the Truth, made known the Gospel to those around Him; many rejected Him because they knew Him not. Because of the fact that men have put their pride above Truth, they persecuted Him in many forms.

 

When His Majesty, Our Lord Jesus Christ, made known to the Pharisees that He was God Almighty in John 8:58-59, we can see that He had stones thrown at Him. In Matthew 12:24, Christ was also accused of doing works of the devil because of His casting out of demons. Not only was our Lord persecuted in these very examples, but He also persecuted in such a fashion that He was spat upon, beaten, scourged, & forced to carry & endure the Holy Cross even to the point in where He was crucified upon it to the point of death.

 

With that in mind, let it not be forgotten that no servant is greater than his master. (John 15:20, Mt 10:24, Jn 13:16) Since we are members of the Body of Christ (Romans 12:5, 1 Cor 10:17) While all of us may not be persecuted in the exact same form, and while many of us may not be maryred (God Willing), we should not be surprised if we also come across being persecuted for the Truth; that being Jesus Christ & His Body, the Holy Catholic Church. As Matthew 10:28 says, let us not fear! : “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

 

In the Byzantine Rite during Paschal season, we Chant: “Christ is Risen from the dead trampling death by death, and to those in the tombs giving life.” As they say, there is the light at the end of every tunnel and a rainbow at the end of every storm. So while we may suffer for the truth now, we shall rejoice since our reward will be great in Heaven. (Rev 2:10, Matt 16:24-25, Matt 5:10, Rev 6:9-11)

May God give us the hearts and courage of the martyrs!

BREAKING NEWS: The Orthodox Church of Puerto Rico enters into communion with the Catholic Church.

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“This news comes from Puerto Rico:
June 10, 2017 the Pan Orthodox of St. Spyridon in Trujillo Alto, PR community were received into the Catholic Church as a Greco Catholic Byzantine community under the “Omophorion” (jurisdiction) of the Latin Archbishop, Metropolitan Roberto González, O.F.M.

 
The welcome ceremony was presided over by the Vicar General of the Archdiocese, father Alberto Figueroa Morales on behalf of the Archbishop. The priests and parishioners made the profession of faith and during the liturgy were commemorated the Supreme Pontiff, Francisco and metropolitan Robert.

 
This makes the community of San Espiridión the first Eastern Catholic in Puerto Rico community. Welcome to the priests and parishioners of San Espiridión to the Catholic Church. They will continue celebrating the Divine Liturgy and sacred mysteries according to the Byzantine tradition. The continuous liturgy in the Church Slavonic language, English and Spanish… following the liturgical calendar Julian (old calendar).

 
The community was under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (Istanbul). Now it has been under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of San Juan of Puerto Rico. Probably then pass to belong to any of the Slavonic Byzantine Eastern Catholic churches, although they continue to remain under the local Latin metropolitan authority.

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View of the Temple of Saint Spyridon.

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The Vicar General of the Archdiocese, Fr. Alberto Figueroa Morales, to bless the new community greco Catholic in San Juan after having received the profession of faith of them.

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Peter DiLeo explains the Community agreement document
between the Archdiocese and the community of San Espiridión.The Archimandrite chaired the first Divine Liturgy as a Greek Catholic community.

The Church was built in the 1930s on the grounds of the old leper, in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. The brothers missionaries Orthodox St. Peter of Cetinje brought this mission to the islands of the Caribbean from the Archdiocese of Mexico of the Greek Orthodox Church in the diaspora and to evangelize new believers.”

Credits to:

http://saeculorumvalue.blogspot.com.ar/2017/06/monasterio-ortodoxo-entra-en-comunion.html?m=1

Apologetics 2.1: Addressing the Heresy of Sola Fide

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Since Protestants confidently proclaim that faith alone is the solution to being saved, the question remains; why does scripture oppose this heretical and unbiblical doctrine?

It’s quite evident within the scriptures that we are to do good works in response to having faith in Christ. This is called cooperating with God’s Grace. The scriptures state that we are to imitate Christ in all things (Eph 5:1-2) and that we are to keep His Commandments (Rev 22:14) in order to be saved. 1 Peter 2:12 says that we are to be an example to the gentiles by our good deeds in order that they may glorify the True God. Matthew 5:16 reaffirms this same request, since our good works “shine before men.”

This is why Matthew 16:27 makes it absolutely clear that we will be judged by all the good works we have done to glorify God, for it states: “For the Son of Man is to come with His Angels in the Glory of His Father, and then He will repay every man for what he has done.”

Bear in mind that later in Matthew 25:31-46; Jesus speaks of separating the sheep from the goats in accordance to how they served God, the sheeps being the saved and the goats being the damned. The Protestant position of faith has no room within this scripture, for Jesus makes it clear that these good works, in absolute union with faith, are necessary for salvation as mentioned above.

Remember that even the Devils have faith in God, thus if we are to have faith alone and not do what God requests in this regards (Obeying the commandments, feeding the hungry etc.) we would only be cast away into Hell as “sinful and slothful servents.” (Matt 25:23-30) Did I forget to mention that the book of 2nd Corinthians 5:10 makes it absolutely clear that “all will be made manifest.. so that each one may receive what is due to him for the THINGS DONE while in the body, whether good or bad”?
Sounds like good works are necessary here for salvation. To reject this is to simply to be in self denial and pride. Had this not been true, the rich man would have not been damned. (Luke 16:22)

In conclusion, faith without works is dead. “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man say he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?” (Luther would say yes… continuing… ) “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to him “Go in peace, be warned and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17) Lets not forget James 2:26: “For as the Body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.”

Fun fact: Martin Luther, the founder of the heresy of Protestantism, desired to remove the book of James from the Bible because of this very key doctrine in which he invented. It’s ironic considering that not only had he removed 7 books from the Old Testament, but also accused the Catholic Church for being unbiblical and twisting scripture in which he has edited in order for it to fit his doctrines.

Axios!

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Friends, we would like to announce the election of the Melkite Church’s new Patriarch: His Beatitude Joseph Absi of Damascus, Syria. May God Bless his mission on saving souls and guiding our holy Melkite Catholic Church. Axios!

Movie: The life of Beshara Abou

May 19, 1853
Death: Feb. 22, 1930

The Servant Of God, Melkite Priest, Monk Béchara Abou Mrad BSO., was born Selim Jabbour Abou-Mourad at Zahleh in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, probably on May 19, 1853, and entered St. Savior’s Monastery on September 5, 1874. Receiving the habit, he entered the novitiate of the Salvatorian Basilian Order on September 19. Béchara (Good News) became his religious name.

Taking his vows on November 4, 1876, he was ordained deacon in the chapel of Holy Savior Seminary by Msgr. Basilios Hajjar, Metropolitan Archbishop of Bosra, Hauran and Syria, and Visitor Apostolic for the Order, on March 26, 1882.

Monk Béchara was ordained to the priesthood in the Church of Holy Savior Monastery by the named Msgr. Hajjar on December 26, 1883.

Director of Discipline and then confessor and spiritual director in the seminary of the Salvatorian Fathers for 31 years, between November 8, 1891, and December 4, 1922, he served as itinerant missionary in the district of Deir-el-Qammar, Mount Lebanon.

Successively he served as a tireless parish priest and confessor at Sidon Cathedral in South Lebanon from December 4, 1922 till February 1, 1927, when he returned to the Basilian Motherhouse, the Holy Savior Monastery, near Sidon, where he passed peacefully away on February 22, 1930 at 6.30 am. Funeral service and burial were celebrated at the Holy Savior Church.

On Saturday, December 11, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI issued a decree, naming among others Monk Béchara as venerable.

Burial:
Holy Saviour Church, Sidon
Sidon
Al-Janub, Lebanon

 

 

 

Blog Repost: Dintinguishing the differences between Heresy, Schismatic, and a Parasynagogue

In a letter to his spiritual child Amphilochios of Iconium written c. 373 A.D, St. Basil the Great distinguishes three ways in which there can take place a separation of a baptised person from the communion of the Catholic Church. These three ways affecting Christian unity were said to be heresy, schism and parasynagogue, depending on whether a disagreement fell on actual faith in God, on church discipline or on ecclesiastical rulings.

(1) Heresy. From the writings of St.Basil we find that from antiquity heretics were considered to be people

“who were altogether broken off [παντελώς απερρηγμένους] and alienated [απηλλοτριωμένους] in matters relating to faith.”
Heresy is a disagreement (διαφορά), a discrepancy on vital issues of faith and culminates in the negation of the unity of God and the Church. As causes of separation (χωρισμός; αλλοτρίωσις) St. Basil mentions pride and arrogance (μεγαλοφροσύνη) originating in the human faculty of free choice (προαίρεσις).

Because it was an act of deliberate choice, heresy was not tolerated in the church. Its authors were cautioned first; then if they refused to obey, they were excommunicated from the church.

(2) Schism. The Fathers of the Church defined schism (σχίσμα) as a disagreement (διαφορά) among church members concerning ecclesiastical questions capable of mutual solution. Often (but not always) these disagreements were not of such a serious nature as to warrant a lasting feud among members of church communities.

(3) Parasynagogue. “Rival” or “counter-assemblies” were called “gatherings set up by insubordinate priests or bishops and by uninstructed people”. On this St. Basil says:

“If someone (deacon, priest or bishop) has been found in error (πταίσματι: ‘fault,’ ‘sin’)and has been asked to cease from liturgical functions but has not submitted to the canons of the Church but instead has granted to himself priestly functions and some persons abandon the Church and join him, this is parasynagogue”.

In describing the impropriety of those who originate rival assemblies St. Basil uses the term ανυπότακτος, the opposite of ευταξία, the good order and discipline of the church. Each parasynagogue or constitution of a rival assembly implies the breach of ecclesiastical unity resulting in exclusion from the Eucharistic Communion of the Church. (i.e One cuts themselves off from the communion of the Church).

Canon 5 of the Council of Nicaea (324A.D) speaks of breaches of church unity caused by unruly clergy. According to the canon the end result for the unruly clergy is ακοινώνητος γίνομαι, “to become excommunicated”. The cleric becomes excommunicated, not necessarily in the juridical term, but in the sense that unless he repents he can no longer receive Holy Communion in the Church in which alone abides the Holy Spirit.