#12 INJURIOUS ASSERTION OF
THAT THE POPE IS ANTICHRIST.
Q. Has this assertion any foundation in Scripture?
A. That the Antichrist will come before the end of the world, the Scripture abundantly proves; but that the Pope is that Antichrist, is not only unscriptural, but antiscriptural.
Q. Where in Scripture do you find the insolent assertion refuted?
A. In very many places. In Matth. xxiv, wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilence, false prophets, tribulation, such as hath never been, nor shall be, and all this before the abomination of desolation (the Antichrist) shall be seen standing in the holy place; therefore, as these extraordinary scourges have not yet made their appearance, Antichrist has not yet come. In the same place, it is said, the Gospel shall be preached in the whole world, before the Antichrist and the consummation come. But the Gospel has not yet been preached in the whole world; therefore, the Antichrist has not yet come: therefore the Popes, who have existed even since the time of Christ, cannot be the Antichrist. [pg. 167]
Q. Have you any other texts?
A. Yes; texts in abundance. Daniel, chap vii connects the abomination of desolation, or the Antichrist, with the placing of thrones and the sitting in judgment of the Ancient of days. He gives power to the beast for a time, times, and half a time, or three years and a half, which exactly agrees with the period of his career fixed in the Apocalypse, (chap. xi,) forty-two months or twelve hundred and sixty days. Therefore, Antichrist’s reign is to be only three and a half years, and these immediately before the last judgment. But the Popes have reigned since the time of Christ; therefore the Popes cannot be Antichrist.
Q. What does the Apocalypse say, chap. xi?
A. That, during the above reign of Antichrist, during twelve hundred and sixty days Enoch and Elias will preach against him. But Enoch and Elias have not yet come; therefore, neither has Antichrist.
Q. What says 13th chap. of same Book?
A. That Antichrist will mark on the right hand or forehead all his followers; but the Pope has not done so; therefore he is not Antichrist. Again, no man is to be allowed to buy or sell, but he that hath the character, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. But Catholics have neither his charac- [pg. 165] ter, nor name, nor number, nor has the Pope prevented them from buying or selling; therefore, again, the Pope is not Antichrist.
Q. What do you find in Apoc. xiii chap.?
A. That Antichrist is to open his mouth into blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name in his tabernacle and them that dwell in heaven. But the Pope has made God’s holy name honored and adored in every clime and at all times; through him was the world converted to Christ; it was he who converted all the Protestants from barbaric Paganism; the Pope honors and venerates them that dwell in heaven,—’tis Protestants who dishonor and blaspheme the angels and saints, them that dwell in heaven; therefore the Pope, at least, is not Antichrist. The above text would go far to prove, that Antichrist is, or will be, a Protestant
Q. What remark do you make on Apocal. xvii, 7?
A. It says: “The beast which thou saw was and is not, and shall come up out of the bottomless pit.” But these words cannot be verified in any Pope; therefore, the Pope is not Antichrist.
Q. Is it clear from Scripture that Rome will be the seat of Antichrist?
A. No; it is much more evident that Jerusalem will be his seat. In the Gospel of
[pg. 166] St. Matth chap, xxiv, Christ speaks first of the temple of Jerusalem, and immediately after connects this with the abomination of desolation to be seen standing in the holy place; evidently pointing out that temple as the holy place where the beast should be enthroned: and this is clearly confirmed by the Apoc. chap. xi, 8, where, speaking of the wars to be carried on by Antichrist, and of those that were to be slain by him, St. John says: “And their bodies shall lie in the streets of the great city, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, WHERE THEIR LORD ALSO WAS CRUCIFIED.” Now, the Lord was crucified in Jerusalem, not in Rome; therefore Jerusalem, not Rome, will be the seat of Antichrist. See also, on this subject, 11th. 12th, 13th, and 17th chaps. of Apocalypse.
ON THE COUNCILS
Q. How many kinds of Councils are there?
A. Two kinds; general and particular Councils.
Q. What is a general or ecumenical Council? [pg. 167]
A. An assembly of bishops, to which all the bishops of the world are invited or summoned presided over by the Pope, or his legates, or at best confirmed and approved by him.
Q. What is a particular, national, or provincial Council?
A. An assembly of bishops, to which are invited all the bishops of a nation or province.
Q. Can a Council err in its decision on any matter of faith?
A. General or ecumenical Councils are infallible in matters of faith; not so particular Councils.
Q. Why do you say that a general Council is infallible?
A. Because, if a general Council erred in a matter of faith, the whole Church would be in error; now this cannot be, because the gates of hell shall never prevail against the Church.
Q. Why do you say the whole Church would err, if a general Council taught error?
A. Because the bishops assembled in a general Council represent the whole Church, and any error taught by them, is consequently an error of the whole Church.
Q. In what light, then, are we to look on the decision of a general Council?
A. As the decision of the Holy Ghost. [pg. 168]
Q. How does St. Peter speak at first general Council? Acts, chap. xv, 28.
A. “It hath,” he says, “seemed good to the HOLY GHOST and TO US, to lay no farther burden upon you.”
Q. Is it a great sin to refuse submission to a general Council?
A. It is the greatest act of criminal pride and presumption, accompanied by the awful guilt of heresy or schism, or both. We call it extremely criminal, as well as irrational; because the man who will not submit, prefers his own single opinion—and this in a matter, regarding which he is neither qualified nor authorized to judge—to the deliberately formed decision of an immense assemblage of the best qualified, and most competently authorized, legitimate judges.
Q. May it not be said, that we are obliged to abide by the decisions of a general Council, only when these are in accordance with the Word of God?
A. This is a mere piece of sophistry; it supposes that the Church may teach what is opposed to God’s Word. Now, this is impossible; for in that case, God must have failed in his word,—his Holy Spirit, as he promised, would not have taught his Church all truth for ever,—the gates of hell would have prevailed against [pg. 169] her. God did not tell the world to be guided by what they thought conformable to the Scripture, He sent his pastors to teach all nations, and told the nations, that he who would not believe these should be condemned.
Q. How many general Councils have been held?
A. Besides that held by the Apostles and first Pastors of the Church, nineteen others have been held.
Q. Where and when were the four first general Councils held?
A. The first at Nice in 325, the second at Constantinople in 381, the third at Ephesus in 431, the fourth at Chalcedon in 451.
Q. How many general Councils were held at Constantinople?
A. Four in all; in the years 381, 553, 680, 869, respectively.
Q. How many at the Lateran in Rome?
A. Five; in the years 1123, 1139, 1179, 1215 and 1512.
Q. How many at Nice?
A. Two; the first in 325, the second in 787.
Q. How many at Lyons?
A. Two; one in 1245, the other in 1274. [pg. 170]
A general Council was held at Vienne in 1311; one at Florence in 1439; one at Trent in 1545.
Q. Were the Lutheran and Calvinist ministers invited to assist at the Council of Trent?
A. Yes; they were entreated to attend, and every safe conduct they could desire offered them; it was their own fault that they were not present.
Q. Are Protestants bound to obey the decisions of this Council of Trent?
A. Certainly; because these decisions emanated from the lawfully constituted judges of the true Church of Christ.
Q. What was the last General Council?
A. The Council of the Vatican, held at Rome, December 8, 1869.
Q. How many ecclesiastical dignitaries attended it?
A. Forty-nine cardinals and 694 patriarchs, archbishops and bishops from all parts of the world.
Q. What dogma was defined in this Council?
A. The dogma of Papal Infallibility; that the Pope when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals, is possessed of that infallibility with which our Redeemer endowed the church. [pg. 171]
Q. When does the Pope speak ex cathedra?
A. The Pope speaks ex cathedra, when in his character of Universal Master and Pastor of all Christians, by his sovereign and apostolic authority, he defines some doctrine regarding faith or morals for the whole Catholic Church.
Q. Whence comes it that the Pope cannot teach error in place truth?
A. He is infallible: because God assists him, because the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of all truth, aids him according to the promise made to Peter, and in him, to his successors.
Q. Were the decrees of the Vatican Council accepted by the bishops of the Catholic Church?
A. With wonderful unanimity, not one bishop in the whole world refused to accept them.
ON THE OBEDIENCE DUE TO THE CHURCH.
Q. Are we obliged to obey the Church?
A. Yes; because our Saviour says, Matth chap. xviii, 17: “If he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican.” [pg. 172]
Q. What does Christ say to the pastors or the Church? Luke, chap. x, 16.
A. “He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.”
Q. What says St. Paul? Heb. chap. xiii, 17.
A. “Obey your prelates, and be subject to them; for they watch, as being to render an account for your souls.”
Q. Are we bound, in conscience, to obey the ecclesiastical, as well as the civil powers?
A. Yes; because both are instituted by the appointment of God. St. Paul, Rom. xiii, 1, 2, 3, &c.,—” Let every soul be subject to higher powers; for there is no power but from God; and those that are, are ordained of God; therefore, he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist purchase to themselves damnation,…wherefore be subject of necessity, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.”
Q. What follows from these passages?
A. That we are obliged to obey the civil authorities, and to observe the commandments of the Church.
Q. But are not the commandments of the Church the mere commandments of men?
A. True; but we are obliged to keep the commandments of men, when God ordains it, [pg. 173] For example, the command of a father or a magistrate, is only the commandment of man; yet we are bound to observe both, because God so ordains; thus also are we bound to obey the Church, because it is the command of God we should do so.
Q. Does not Christ say, Matth. chap. xv, 9: “In vain do they worship me, teaching doctrines and commandments of men?”
A. Yes; but Christ speaks here of vain and useless human commandments, not in accordance with, but opposed to, his law.
Q. To what
purpose are the commandments of the Church?
A. They serve to lead us to the better observance of the commandments of God. Thus the law of God ordains, that we render to him the worship that is due to him,—that we should Fast and confess our sins, and receive the holy communion; but the law of God does not tell us how, or when, or how often, it is necessary to perform these acts of religion; he has left it to the Church to settle these matters of detail.
Q. Has the Church any right to appoint feast-days? [pg. 174]
A. The Christian Church has surely
a right, which even the Jewish Church possessed.
Q. Where do you find, in the Old Testament, feasts of precept instituted by the synagogue?
A. In the Book of Esther, chap. 9th, and in the last chapter of the Book of Judith.
Q. Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?
A. Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her;—she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.
Q. Has the Church power to appoint days of fasting?
A. Certainly; for St. Augustine, one of the bishops of the early and confessedly pure Church, taxed Aerius with heresy, for having disputed that right.
Q. Can the Church forbid us the use of certain kinds of food on particular days?
A. Yes; for she did so even in the time of the Apostles, Acts xv, 29—”That you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled.” .[pg. 175]
Q. If the Christians of these times had used these forbidden meats, would they have committed sin?
A. Certainly; because, in that case, they would have violated a commandment of the Church.
Q. May not Protestants say, that that which entereth the mouth defileth not the man?
A. Yes; but we reply it is not the meat, it is the disobedience, which renders the man unclean; and we ask them, where did Adam and Eve put the fatal apple? Besides, in the passage alluded to, Matth. xv, 11, Christ is speaking, not of food taken in opposition to a precept of his Church, but merely of food taken with unwashed hands.
Q. Why does
the Church forbid certain meats on particular days?
A. Not that in these meats there is anything unclean, but to chastise and mortify the body.
Q. Were there not some heretics in ancient times, who termed certain kinds of food unclean and the creatures of the devil?
A. Yes; the Marcionites and Manicheans; and this doctrine of theirs is styled by the Apostle the doctrine of the devil. [pg. 176]
Q. Is it a very ancient Christian practice to abstain from the use of flesh meat two days in the week?
A. Yes; this practice commenced with Christianity itself; for St. Epiphanius, in his Catechetical Instructions, says: ” An Apostolic law has ordained a fast of two days in the week.”
Q. Were Friday and Saturday the two days of abstinence always observed over the whole Christian Church?
A. No; in some places the Wednesday and Friday were the days observed; and as to these disciplinary portions of Christian doctrine, it is proper, as St. Jerome remarks, to conform to the usages of the Church where we may happen to dwell.
Q. Why have the Greeks appointed Wednesdays and Fridays, as their days of abstinence?
A. Because Christ was sold or betrayed on Wednesday, and put to death on Friday.
Q. Why does the Western or Latin Church observe Friday and Saturday?
A. In honor of the death and burial of Jesus Christ.
Q. Does not the Apostle blame the Colossians for saying: “Touch not, taste not, handle not;” and again: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink?“—Coloss. chap. Ii, 16. [pg. 177]
A. The Apostle is speaking here of the Jewish distinctions between meats; they considered some meats in themselves clean and others unclean; it is this false and superstitious notion, as well as other abrogated Jewish observances, that the Apostle here condemns and this is quite evident from the words immediately following those above quoted: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of a festival day, OR OF THE NEW MOON, OR OF THE SABBATHS.”
Q. Does he not say, 2d Cor. iii, 17: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty?”
A. Why, this text may be quoted with as good a grace to throw off the whole law of God. “Liberty;” yes; but a rational and religious liberty consistent with the obligations and duties of one bound to observe the laws of Christ. “Free,” as St. Peter says, “as free and not as making LIBERTY a cloak for malice, but as the servants of God.”—l Peter, chap ii, 16.
A. The Apostles.
Q. How do you prove this?
A. Firstly, by the rule of St. Augustine and, secondly, by the testimony of the Fathers. [pg. 178]
Q. What is St. Augustine’s rule? Epist. 18th.)
A. “Every practice received by the whole Church, whose origin cannot be traced to any bishop, or Pope, or Council, must be regarded as an Apostolical institution. ” Now Lent has been observed in all Christian ages and nations and cannot be traced to any merely human source posterior to the time of the Apostles; therefore it was instituted by the Apostles.
Q. What do you reply to those who say it was invented by the Council of Nice?
A. That this cannot be true; for Tertullian and Origen, who lived before that Council, make mention of it in their writings.
Q. Do you know any Father who has expressly declared that Lent was instituted by the Apostles?
A. Yes; St. Jerom and St. Leo declare it formally; the former, Epist. ad Marcel., says: “Following the Apostolical institution, we observe a fast of forty days;” the latter, Serm. 9 de Jejun—”It was the Apostles, who, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, established Lent.”
Q. Were people, in these times, obliged in conscience to fast during Lent?
A. Yes; for St. Jerome, Epist. ad Marcel, says: “The Montanists fast three Lents in the year; We fast only one. That they observe three is a voluntary act of their own; but we observe one, because we are obliged.” St. Augustine says: ” Our fast at any other time is voluntary ; but during Lent, we sin if we do not fast.” [pg. 179]
Q. Why did the Apostles institute the fast of Lent?
A. First, in honor of our Saviour’s fast of forty days; secondly, in honor of his passion; and, thirdly, to prepare ourselves, in the spirit of mortification, for the better celebration of the Easter solemnity.
Q. In what manner should Lent be observed?
A. We ought to attend in this to the Lenten Instructions of our respective bishops; to abstain from the use of flesh meat on the days its use is prohibited; to take only one meal about noon, and a slight collation in the evening. The sick are under no restrictions, when the nature of the disease requires a relaxation of the law; and if a sufficient reason be given to; the lawful superior, the collation may be taken in the morning.
Q. Are all Christians bound to fast?
A. No; various classes are exempted; 1st, all under twenty-one years of age; 2dly, all the aged who can be prudently deemed too weak to fast; 3dly, women with child and nurses; 4thly, all that are engaged in heavy and laborious employments; and, 5thly, the poor,who are never certain of sufficient and regular food. [pg. 180]
Q. What should a Catholic reply to those who scoff and rail at fasting and abstinence?
A. He, should tell them, that those who will not hear the Church, are declared, by Christ himself, to be as heathens or publicans. He should repeat to them the words of St. Augustine—“It is an impudent folly to blame that which is practiced by the whole Church.”
Q. Upon whom does this reproach fall with full force?
A. Upon Luther, in an especial manner, who blamed fasting, although practiced over the whole Church.
Q. Can you prove, by any Scriptural example, that Catholics do well to abstain from certain kinds of food?
A. Yes; the prophet Jeremias praised the Rechabites for abstaining from wine, because Jonadab, their father, had forbidden them the use of it; hence, the Catholics cannot do evil by abstaining from any particular food, when the Church, their mother, orders them to do so.
Q. In what manner can we show a Protestant, that he speaks unreasonably against fasts and abstinences?
A. Ask him why he keeps Sunday, and not Saturday, as his day of rest, since he is unwilling either to fast or to abstain. If he reply, that the Scripture orders him to keep the Sunday, but says nothing as to fasting and abstinence, tell him the Scripture speaks of Saturday or the Sabbath, but gives no command anywhere regarding Sunday or the first day of the week. If, then, he neglects Saturday as a day of rest and holiness, and substitutes Sunday in its place, and this merely because such was the usage of the ancient Church, should he not, if he wishes to act consistently, observe fasting and abstinence, because the ancient Church so ordained? [pg. 181] End- CityofGod.Blog
Daily Indulgence: A DEVOUT PRACTICE: Indulgence 7yrs. (Pius VI Audience, Feb28, 1778, S.P. Ap., Feb 16, 1932).
#667. “The faithful who visit the sick in hospitals in order to perform the works of charity, may gain:”