Sunday, July 30, 2023
A Catholic Life Podcast: Episode 24

In today’s episode, on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, I address the following: 

  1. Upcoming Feastdays this Week
  2. The Often-Uncelebrated Feast of St. Peter’s Chains
  3. The Forgotten Feast of the Finding of St. Stephen’s Relics
  4. The Portiuncula Indulgence

This episode is sponsored by offers Latin prayer cards to learn and share prayers in the sacred language. Learn your basic prayers without spending more time looking at screens. Conveniently carry these Latin prayers with you on the go. Share basic prayers in Latin with your family and friends. prayer cards are available in various formats. Practice your pronunciation with easy-to-follow English phonetic renderings of Latin words. also offers Latin-English rosary pamphlets with the traditional 15 mysteries. Visit today and take advantage of generous free shipping offers on both domestic and international orders.

Subscribe to the podcast on Buzzsprout, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, I-tunes, and many other platforms!

Tuesday, July 25, 2023
Saturday Fasting & the Binding Force of Custom

Saturday Fasting in the East

By the end of the 600s AD, a controversy arose at the Council of Trullo regarding whether it was appropriate to fast on Saturdays – a practice that was observed in Rome but not elsewhere. Canon 55 of the Council states: 

“Since we understand that in the city of the Romans, in the holy fast of Lent they fast on the Saturdays, contrary to the ecclesiastical observance which is traditional, it seemed good to the holy synod that also in the Church of the Romans the canon shall immovably stand fast which says: ‘If any cleric shall be found to fast on a Sunday or Saturday (except on one occasion only) he is to be deposed; and if he is a layman he shall be cut off.’”

Importantly, the Council of Trullo was never accepted in the West as a valid Ecumenical Council as Rome was not represented at the Council and two canons of the council (e.g., Canons 13 and 55) condemned certain Roman practices. But by 711 AD, Pope Constantine, in a compromise, accepted the canons in the East as valid but allowed differing practices in the Western Church to continue. A subsequent letter by Pope Hardrian I in 785 quoted Tarasios of Constantinople as approving the canons, and the letter was thereby taken as Pope Hadrian’s own approval. The letter was read at the Second Council of Nicaea and in the aftermath, by the 12th century, some of the canons of the Council were incorporated in Gratian’s Decretum Gratiani, known more commonly as the Decretum, which was the main source of law of the Roman Catholic Church until the Decretals, promulgated by Pope Gregory IX in 1234, obtained legal force. 

Regarding Saturday fasting in particular, St. Augustine had previously written:

“God did not lay down a rule concerning fasting or eating on the seventh-day of the week, either at the time of His hallowing that day because in it He rested from His works, or afterwards when He gave precepts to the Hebrew nation concerning the observance of that day.” 

Hence there were differences from East to West when Saturday fasting was observed, but St. Augustine affirms that these differences were not matters of doctrine. There was no prohibition against Saturday fasting in divine law and no universal obligation in the Church to fast year-round on Saturdays either.

St. Augustine further writes on this disagreement while noting the binding force of custom: 

“As to the question on which you wish my opinion, whether it is lawful to fast on the seventh day of the week, I answer, that if it were wholly unlawful, neither Moses nor Elijah, nor our Lord himself, would have fasted for forty successive days. But by the same argument it is proved that even on the Lord’s day fasting is not unlawful. And yet, if any one were to think that the Lord’s day should be appointed a day of fasting, in the same way as the seventh day is observed by some, such a man would be regarded, and not unjustly, as bringing a great cause of offence into the Church. For in those things concerning which the divine Scriptures have laid down no definitive rule, the custom of the people of God, or the practices instituted by their fathers, are to be held as the law of the Church. If we choose to fall into a debate about these things, and to denounce one party merely because their custom differs from that of others, the consequence must be an endless contention, in which the utmost care is necessary lest the storm of conflict overcast with clouds the calmness of brotherly love, while the strength is spent in mere controversy which cannot adduce on either side any decisive testimonies of truth” 

In the East, the issue long preceded the Council of Trullo and was based on the sabbath having been a day for rest and prayer similar, though distinct, from Sunday. This tradition is seen in the Apostolic Constitutions:

“But assemble yourselves together every day, morning and evening, singing psalms and praying in the Lord’s house: in the morning saying the sixty second Psalm, and in the evening the hundred and fortieth, but principally on the Sabbath-day. And of the day of our Lord’s resurrection, which is the Lord’s day, meet more diligently, sending praise to God that made the universe by Jesus, and sent him to us, and condescended to let him suffer, and raised Him from the dead. Otherwise, what apology will he make to God who does not assemble on that day to hear the saving word concerning resurrection?” 

Yet the same Council of Trullo in Canon 56 shows the universality of the form of abstinence in both East and West at that time:

“We have likewise learned that in the regions of Armenia and in other places certain people eat eggs and cheese on the Sabbaths and Lord’s days of the holy Lent. It seems good therefore that the whole Church of God which is in all the world should follow one rule and keep the fast perfectly, and as they abstain from everything which is killed, so also should they from eggs and cheese, which are the fruit and produce of those animals from which we abstain. But if any shall not observe this law, if they be clerics, let them be deposed; but if laymen, let them be cut off.”

The controversy would continue when in 867, the patriarch of Constantinople, Photius, wrote an encyclical to the other patriarchs of the Eastern churches, accusing the Roman Catholic Church of several errors alleging, among them Saturday fasting and “giving permission to the people to eat flesh food and animal products (cheese, milk, eggs) during the first week of Easter.” 

Photius audaciously issued an attempted ex-communication of the Pope, for which he was condemned and disposed of as Francis Dvornik notes:

“By daring to pass judgment on a Pope, Photius committed a deed till then unheard of in history, one that endangered the unity of Christendom, for which there could be neither excuse nor justification. Rightly or wrongly, his action set a precedent invoked or imitated by all those who later were to break the unity of the Church.” 

The Binding Force of Custom

The tension regarding fasting and abstinence would continue to intensify and would, unfortunately, be one of several factors that would lead to the Great Schism of 1054 between the Orthodox and the Catholic Church. However, the tensions of this time highlight the misunderstanding of the binding force of custom.

St. Augustine further addressed this point directly when he wrote: “The customs of God’s people and the institutions of our ancestors are to be considered as laws. And those who throw contempt on the customs of the Church ought to be punished as those who disobey the law of God.”  St. Thomas likewise asserts: “Custom has the force of law, abrogates law, and interprets law.” 

The force of custom concerning fasting is also seen in the churches in Gaul in modern-day France, who adopted the Roman practice of fasting on Saturday. Dom Guéranger mentions this while also noting how changes were likewise occurring in terms of where and how the fast of Septuagesima, the period before Lent, began:

“The first Council of Orleans, held in the early part of the 6th century, enjoins the Faithful [of Gaul] to observe, before Easter, Quadragesima, (as the Latins call Lent,) and not Quinquagesima, in order, says the Council, that unity of custom may be maintained. Towards the close of the same century, the fourth Council held in the same City, repeals the same prohibition, and explains the intentions of making such an enactment, by ordering that the Saturdays during Lent should be observed as days of fasting. Previously to this, that is, in the years 511 and 541, the first and second Councils of Orange had combated the same abuse, by also forbidding the imposing on the Faithful the obligation of commencing the Fast at Quinquagesima. The introduction of the Roman Liturgy into France; which was brought about by the zeal of Pepin and Charlemagne, finally established, in that country, the custom of keeping the Saturday as a day of penance; and, as we have just seen, the beginning Lent on Quinquagesima was not observed excepting by the Clergy. In the 13th century, the only Church in the Patriarchate of the West, which began Lent earlier than the Church of Rome, was that of Poland its Lent opened on the Monday of Septuagesima, which was owing to the rites of the Greek Church being much used in Poland. The custom was abolished, even in that country, by Pope Innocent the fourth, in the year 1248.” 

These are important principles to keep in mind the next time someone who is Orthodox falsely condemns the Roman Catholic Church for advocating and even obligating Saturday fasting.

Want to learn more about the history of fasting and abstinence? Check out the Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting and Abstinence.
Sunday, July 23, 2023
A Catholic Life Podcast: Episode 23

In today’s episode, on the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, I address the following: 

  1. The Upcoming Assumption Fast
  2. Upcoming Feastdays this Week
  3. The Apparitions of St. James to Free Spain from Islamic Rule

I would like to thank for sponsoring this episode., the leader in online Catholic catechism classes, has everything from online K-12 programs, RCIA classes, adult continuing education, marriage preparation, baptism preparation, confirmation prep, quince prep classes, catechist training courses, and more. It is never too late to study the fullness of the Catholic Faith, and is the gold standard in authentic Catholic formation online.

Subscribe to the podcast on Buzzsprout, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, I-tunes, and many other platforms!

Friday, July 21, 2023
The Catholic Guide to Productivity

"He that is loose and slack in his work, is the brother of him that wasteth his own works" (Proverbs 18:9)

Mid-Year Goal Evaluation

Now that we are in the second half of the year, it is an ideal time to assess our year thus far in terms of our spiritual progress. I have often recommended people set Catholic-based goals as part of their New Year's Resolutions. And I strongly encourage people to reflect each week on how those goals are going - in addition to other goals (e.g., professional, family, financial, fitness, etc). Goals are not useful if we set them and forget them. And the same is true for our good resolutions made in Confession or our ambitious plans at the beginning of the year to study the Faith more, to pray more often, to assist at Mass more days in the week, to fast more, or to conquer our vices or dominant fault. We need reminders to assess what we are doing. I encourage people to spend time each week to assess all of these. I have found that either Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays, work best for this kind of review.

The Importance of a Daily Schedule

As James Clear makes evident in his best-seller "Atomic Habits," small, incremental changes in day-to-day life can have an enormous impact over the long term. A daily schedule is one way we can better organize our lives for greater productivity to fulfill our vocation. Since so many people are prone to say they do not have time to pray, study, or assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass during the week, crafting a schedule that is conducive to Catholic life is an ideal starting point for achieving Catholic-based productivity.

Father Patrick Troadec, in "From Epiphany to Lent," provides a short but helpful reflection on the importance of having a daily schedule:

We have various obligations depending on our role in society, and it is not rare that we neglect certain of our duties and let ourselves be absorbed by others...or by leisure...We can fail in some of our duties simply because we are disorganized, but certain other activities we do sometimes neglect deliberately because we find them distasteful.

So the first question we have to ask ourselves is this: Among our duties, do we not have a tendency to put too much emphasis on one aspect, to the detriment of some other? Once we have made an inventory of our duties, we have to prioritize our activities, sifting what seems urgent from what is really important, and giving an absolute priority to what is important. That will help us to see where best to start and what time to dedicate to each activity.

And so if we wish our life to be more fruitful and effective, it is good to reflect on the way we spend the precious time which God gives us for working out our salvation. Too many people let themselves be caught in the two-sided trap of overwork and idleness. So it is important to reflect on the means of avoiding this double pitfall. The means is simple and it is within everybody’s grasp: it is a daily schedule. A daily schedule that is well made, well structured, can help us bring more peace into our life, more serenity and more effectiveness.

For there are two ways of living: allowing the events of the day to carry us along as the various occupations arise one after the other, or else guiding those events by determining the place and the time for every occupation. And there is no doubt that this second solution is the better and the more effective of the two.

With a daily schedule that is well thought-out, we truly conform our will to the will of God and we run much less of a risk of sacrificing the essential to the secondary, the important to the trivial. Help me, Lord Jesus, always to organize the broad lines of my days, to plan a time for everything, to be always occupied with something and to avoid not only idleness but overwork, both of which are harmful to my balance and to my spiritual life. 

In the past, I shared "A Daily Schedule for A Christ-Centered Life," which can be adapted for your needs. The principle of finding morning and evening times for prayers is key. Practicing our routine daily, in the same spot and at the same time, is highly effective. And as James Clear teaches in "Atomic Habits," habit stacking can be very effective. This practice involves attaching a new habit to an existing one, using the current habit as a cue for the new behavior. For instance, saying that you will say morning prayers and the Angelus after brushing your teeth and showering is habit stacking. You then know when to do it. And you set a specific place each day for it. This has been shown to significantly increase the likelihood of success.

Principles of Atomic Habits to Use for Catholic Goals

The main points of the book can be summarized as follows. Think through each on how it can help you grow in sanctity this year.

  1. The Four Laws of Behavior Change: James Clear outlines four fundamental principles that drive habit formation:
    1. Cue: A trigger that initiates the habit.
    2. Craving: The desire or motivation to act on the habit.
    3. Response: The actual behavior or habit itself.
    4. Reward: The positive outcome or benefit from performing the habit.
  2. Make Habits Obvious: To build good habits, Clear advises making cues and triggers more visible and noticeable. This could involve setting up visual cues or creating specific routines to prompt the desired behavior. Having your Rosary out is one such cue. If it is in the closet or in a bag, you will not think to pray it.
  3. Make Habits Attractive: Linking positive emotions and rewards to habits can make them more appealing. By associating enjoyable experiences with the habit, we are more likely to repeat it.
  4. Make Habits Easy: Simplifying the process of habit formation increases the likelihood of success. Reducing friction and lowering the barriers to entry for positive habits makes them easier to adopt.
  5. Make Habits Satisfying: Providing immediate and satisfying rewards for completing a habit reinforces the behavior. Feeling a sense of accomplishment can reinforce the habit loop.
  6. Break Bad Habits: To break undesirable habits, it is essential to identify the cues and triggers that lead to them. Understanding the underlying reasons for these habits helps in replacing them with positive alternatives.
  7. The Role of Identity: Clear emphasizes the significance of seeing ourselves as the type of person we want to become. By adopting a new identity and belief system, we align our habits with our desired self-image. We are Catholics. That means something with how we live and act. And this identity requires a behavioral change.
  8. The Two-Minute Rule: A practical strategy to overcome procrastination and build new habits is to start with actions that take less than two minutes to complete. This simplifies the task and provides momentum to continue. This is a great way to help us pray the Angelus more. Just set a timer on your phone or watch for 6 AM, Noon, and 6 PM each day. The Angelus takes only a few minutes to pray.
  9. Habit Stacking: This technique involves attaching a new habit to an existing one, using the current habit as a cue for the new behavior. This method increases the likelihood of forming the new habit.
  10. Environment Matters: Modifying the environment can significantly impact habit formation. By organizing our physical and digital spaces to support positive habits, we make it easier to follow through. Having a specific place to pray is one way we can adapt this. It does not even need to be an entire room. Having a certain chair used only for spiritual reading or setting up a home altar can be very effective.
  11. Plateau of Latent Potential: Often, breakthroughs come after consistent efforts, even when it seems like progress is slow. Habits may take time to show their full impact.
I have also found the principles of David Allen's "Getting Things Done" book to be highly effective in helping me achieve all my responsibilities while prioritizing my spiritual goals. The following flow chart from his resources is something that I regularly use, and I would encourage you to download it and use it as well.

Yet In All Things, Priorities Come First

In all of the talk of productivity, first things must still come first. And to the Catholic, that is the priority of Sunday Mass which is foundational in our life. If possible, we can and should go to Mass more often during the week. But at a minimum, Sunday must be a day of rest and a day of worship of God. All else must be based on that understanding - productivity can never overtake the 3rd Commandment and the Precepts of the Church.


Now that we are halfway through the year assess how you can make renewed progress for the spiritual life in the second half of the year. Finish strong. Fight the good fight. Do not treat the Catholic Faith as one part of your life but rather, treat it as the center of your life. Prioritize your Catholic values and goals. As our Lord said, "Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).

If you have any recommendations for how to organization your productivity to live a Catholic life, or if you have any links to books, podcasts, articles, or videos that you found helpful, please paste them in the comments below.

Monday, July 17, 2023
Weekday Traditional Latin Mass and Eastern Rite Options In and Around Chicagoland

Photo of St. John Cantius on All Souls Day (c) A Catholic Life Blog, 2022

Traditional Latin Mass Options on the First Sunday of Each Month

The website "The Four Marks" has a great list of options of Traditional Latin Mass and Eastern Rite options in and around Chicagoland for the First Sunday of the month when the Tridentine Mass is forbidden in the Archdiocese of Chicago. After the draconian changes announced in January 2022, the number of TLM locations in the Archdiocese was significantly reduced. In addition to forbidding the TLM at several places which had offered it for many years, the TLM was forbidden at all parishes on the first Sunday of each month as well as Christmas, Easter Sunday, and Pentecost Sunday. I highly recommend using the list at The Four Marks for those dates.

Traditional Latin Mass Options for Other Sundays

The following TLM locations are available on most Sundays (except for the First Sunday of the month, Christmas Day, Easter Sunday, and Pentecost Sunday):

  • St. John Cantius Church (Chicago): 7:30 AM Low Mass, 12:30 PM High Mass
  • Saint James at Sag Bridge (Lemont): 12 PM
  • Our Lady Immaculate (Oak Park): 9 AM (unaffected by the Archdiocese's persecution as this is an SSPX chapel)
  • Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Chapel (Elgin): 10 AM (unaffected by the Archdiocese's persecution as this is an independent chapel)
Weekday Traditional Latin Mass Options

For those looking for weekday Tridentine Mass options or Eastern Rite Liturgies, there are also options in Chicago or within relatively close 40-mile driving distance:

  • St. John Cantius Church (Chicago): 8:00 AM Low Mass (Monday through Friday), 7:30 PM High Mass (Wednesday), 8:30 AM Low Mass (Saturday)
  • St. Joseph Church (Rockdale): 7:30 AM Low Mass (Monday through Friday), 5:30 PM (Thursday), 8:00 AM Low Mass (Saturday)
  • Our Lady Immaculate (Oak Park): 7:00 PM (First Fridays and certain feast days. Check the calendar before going).
  • SSPX Priory (Chicago): This is at the priory and not at the Oak Park church: 11:00 AM (Monday), 7:15 AM Low Mass (Tuesday through Thursday), 7:15 AM Low Mass (Fridays except for First Fridays and special feasts). Check the calendar before going.
Weekday Eastern Rite Liturgy Options

For all of the Sunday options, see The Four Marks, as they are unaffected by the Archdiocese. Their regular Sunday Liturgies are available on all Sundays of the month. For weekday options, these options exist in close proximity to the city of Chicago:
  • Mart Mariam Chaldean Catholic Church (Northbrook): 6:30 PM Divine Liturgy in Surath (Friday)
  • St. John the Baptist Melkite Catholic Church
  • St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Cathedral (Chicago): 8:30 AM Divine Liturgy in Malayalam (Monday through Friday), 7:00 PM Divine Liturgy in English (Monday through Friday), 8:30 AM Liturgy in Malayalam (Saturday).
  • St. Mary’s Syro-Malabar Knanaya Catholic Church (Morton Grove): Divine Liturgies all in Malayalam: 8:15 AM (Monday through Friday), 7:00 PM (Monday through Thursday), 10:00 AM (Saturday). Divine Liturgy in English: 6:00 PM (Friday)
  • St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral (Chicago): 5:00 PM Vespers (Saturday), 6:00 PM Matins (Saturday)
  • SS. Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church (Chicago): 8:00 AM Divine Liturgy in Ukrainian (Monday through Friday), 9:00 AM Divine Liturgy in Ukrainian (Saturday)
  • St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Catholic Church (Chicago): 9:00 AM Divine Liturgy in the Chapel (Monday - Friday), 9:00 AM Divine Liturgy in the Church (Saturday), 5:00 PM Vespers (Saturdays), 6:30 PM Vespers (Eve of Major Feasts)
  • Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Church (Palatine): Divine Liturgies: 8:00 AM (Monday through Friday), 9:00 AM (Saturday), 7:00 PM (Weekday Holy Days)
  • St. George Byzantine Catholic Church (Aurora): 6:00 PM Divine Liturgy (Monday through Thursday), 1:00 PM Divine Liturgy (Friday)
  • Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church (Homer Glen): 7:00 PM (Thursday and Holy Days)
  • St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church (Whitting, IN): 5:00 PM Great Vespers (Saturday)
If you know of any other options, please leave the details in the comments section below.
Sunday, July 16, 2023
A Catholic Life Podcast: Episode 22

In today’s episode, on the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, I address the following: 

  1. Should Civil Society Outlaw Sin?
  2. What Really Was the Spanish Inquisition?
  3. The Upcoming feastdays of this week, which include some interesting Pre-1955 Elements

This episode is sponsored by offers Latin prayer cards to learn and share prayers in the sacred language. Learn your basic prayers without spending more time looking at screens. Conveniently carry these Latin prayers with you on the go. Share basic prayers in Latin with your family and friends. prayer cards are available in various formats. Practice your pronunciation with easy-to-follow English phonetic renderings of Latin words. also offers Latin-English rosary pamphlets with the traditional 15 mysteries. Visit today and take advantage of generous free shipping offers on both domestic and international orders.

Subscribe to the podcast on Buzzsprout, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, I-tunes, and many other platforms!

Thursday, July 13, 2023
Tridentine Brewing Launches Merch Shop

Tridentine Brewing Review

Tridentine Brewing is a family homebrewing operation founded by the Alcorn family. I first learned about Tridentine Brewing in early 2021 after hearing of fellow Chicago-area Catholics affiliated with the Shrine of Christ the King (ICKSP) who had bottles of it. As an avid fan of craft beer, I looked them up online but was unable to find any information about them. Thankfully, by autumn 2021, I was able to come across the then-newly established Twitter account of Tridentine Brewing which is run by Trevor. By All Souls Day of that year, he had graciously sent me several bottles of beer and a box of merchandise for free, which are pictured above.

The brews are delicious. The designs are beautiful. And the stories of the beers, carefully summarized and explained in the documentation sent to me, showed a level of detail far beyond what I am accustomed to from even commercial craft breweries! There is a reason they are winning homebrew awards. I do hope to see them commercially producing in the near future!

Tridentine Brewing is a home brewing operation and does not commercially sell its beer - it is always given away. As such, I wanted to wait until they had something to sell before publicly promoting them. And I'm happy to announce that Tridentine Brewing has launched its online store offering tin tackers, magnets, coasters, decals, and more for sale!

Tridentine Brewing Beers

Please check out Tridentine Brewing's online merch shop today and support a family brewery that I know supports Traditional Catholic causes and regularly gives and supports traditional Catholic orders and organizations. Your purchase will undoubtedly be going back to help the cause. Check them out today.

Tridentine Brewing recently appeared on an episode of "Hope in the Desert" with Fr. Lovell of the Coalition of Canceled Priests. Give them a listen today!

Sunday, July 9, 2023
A Catholic Life Podcast: Episode 21

In today’s episode, on the 6th Sunday after Pentecost, I address the following: 

  1. Offering Up Fasting while in the state of grace for Priests
  2. Upcoming Feastdays this Week

I would like to thank for sponsoring this episode., the leader in online Catholic catechism classes, has everything from online K-12 programs, RCIA classes, adult continuing education, marriage preparation, baptism preparation, confirmation prep, quince prep classes, catechist training courses, and much more. They are currently offering a special July sale on their collection of Catholic book summaries – study the richness of traditional and contemporary Catholic classics in a fraction of the time with 5-page summaries of each book.

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Friday, July 7, 2023
Should A Catholic Convert to Eastern Orthodoxy?

The Divine Liturgy celebrated at St. Mary's Byzantine Catholic Church in Whitting, IN shows that it is possible to have the beauty of Eastern Liturgies in Communion with Rome.

Is Orthodoxy the True Faith?

It is evident with the crisis in the Catholic Church concerning not only the sexual abuse crisis but the crisis in the Liturgy after Vatican II that some Catholics have become disillusioned with the current Catholic hierarchy. From an outside perspective, some might ask why they should remain Catholic and not convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, which is known for reverent, ancient liturgies under the name of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (or St. Basil the Great at some times).

But on a more deep analysis, there is no refuge in Orthodoxy. While we often think of the Orthodox as schismatics and not as heretics, the doctrinal crisis has also affected them. Some definitions to start from the Catholic Modern Dictionary of Father John Hardon:

Heresy: In the Roman Catholic Church, heresy has a very specific meaning. Anyone who, after receiving baptism, while remaining nominally a Christian, pertinaciously denies or doubts any of the truths that must be believed with divine and Catholic faith is considered a heretic. Accordingly four elements must be verified to constitute formal heresy; previous valid baptism, which need not have been in the Catholic Church; external profession of still being a Christian, otherwise a person becomes an apostate; outright denial or positive doubt regarding a truth that the Catholic Church has actually proposed as revealed by God; and the disbelief must be morally culpable, where a nominal Christian refuses to accept what he knows is a doctrinal imperative.

Schismatic: According to Church law, a schismatic is a person who, after receiving baptism and while keeping the name of Christian, pertinaciously refuses to submit to the Supreme Pontiff or refuses to associate with those who are subject to him. The two factors, submission to the Pope and association with persons subject to him, are to be taken disjunctively. Either resisting papal authority or refusing to participate in Catholic life and worship induces schism, even without further affiliation with another religious body. Like heresy, schism is formal and culpable only when the obligations are fully realized.

How is the Orthodox Church Falling Into Heresy?

The Orthodox generally reject the following dogmatically defined truths which a Christian must accept:

  1. The Holy Ghost proceeds from both the Father and the Son. Those interested in the Church's treatment of this should look into Father Henry Chadwick's "The Early Church" or "Fr. John Meyendorff's "Byzantine Theology," which address this well. The Church Fathers all believed in the Filioque.
  2. The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (i.e., that She was conceived without the stain of original sin) despite significant proof from the Early Church Fathers. It is well known that a number of Orthodox prelates believed this.
  3. Papal Supremacy. This is well defended by Fr. Francis Dvornik in "Byzantium and the Roman Primacy."
  4. The indissolubility of Marriage since the Orthodox allow a second and even a third marriage for divorced persons. On the contrary, the Magisterium has always maintained the prohibition of divorce and remarriage, even for Eastern Rite Catholics (Council of Lyon II [1274], Benedict XIV [1743] due to our Lord's own words (Matthew 19:6).
  5. The state of the soul needed to approach the Blessed Sacrament.
  6. The use of artificial contraception as being opposed to the will of God.
  7. The fact that Baptism may validly be received only once.
There is No Unified Body of Doctrine in the Orthodox Church

The Orthodox Church is actually not a unified Church but a collection of different groups with different beliefs, which attacks two fundamental marks of the Church. The four marks of the Church can only be present in the Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ. And Orthodoxy attacks two of them significantly:

Oneness: St. Paul in his Epistle to the Ephesians asserted that there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5). The Church is one because she was founded by Jesus, the one and only Son of God, Who taught one unified body of doctrine. Granted, there is great diversity in the Church regarding cultures, gifts, ways of life, and offices, yet there is unity in government (under the visible head, the Pope), faith, and sacraments. The Roman Catechism explains, “The first mark of the true Church is described in the Nicene Creed, and consists in unity….”  Likewise, the Baltimore Catechism teaches, “The Church is one because all its members agree in one faith, are all in one communion, and are all under one Head.” 

Catholicity (i.e., Universality): The word "Catholic" literally means “universal.” The Church is the universal body of believers established by Christ and meant for all people of all corners of the world for all times (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Apoc. 5:9-10). The etymology of the word “catholic” is the Greek adjective katholikos, which is related to the adverb katholou, meaning “in general” or “according to the whole.” This definition helps communicate the fact that the Catholic Faith is for people of every place, culture, and class. There is no one who is not called to a member of the true Faith. As St. John relates in the Book of the Apocalypse: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; because Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God, in Thy blood, out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Apoc. 5:9).

How exactly does Orthodoxy violate this? A revert from Orthodoxy explains: 

In hindsight, I came to realise that what Greek Orthodoxy lacked was the universality of the Creed; “I believe in ONE, holy, CATHOLIC and Apostolic Church…”. I experienced holiness and Apostolic succession, but didn’t feel the oneness in the increasingly splintering Orthodox churches nor any sense of universality. I felt cut off from my family and peers, because the Greeks showed no interest in my desire to evangelize the Australian people. I was told sternly, “That’s not our way, not our spirit. No one will listen to you because you are not Greek. Besides, you joined a Greek church, why do you want to change us? We are Greek, that’s who we are.” I couldn’t reconcile this attitude with Christ’s solemn command to baptise the nations, nor the actions of the Apostles in the Book of Acts.

As long as the Orthodox attack fundamental dogmas of the Christian Religion, they can never be an option. On the contrary, the Catholic Church comprises many Eastern Rite Catholics who left Orthodoxy to be reunited with Rome and the oneness of doctrine but retain their beautiful and reverent liturgies. 

In fact, some groups like the Society of St. Josaphat are aligned with the SSPX in the fight for Tradition and for the preservation of the Eastern Rites.

Resources for Anyone Tempted to Leave Traditional Catholicism for Orthodoxy




Sunday, July 2, 2023
A Catholic Life Podcast: Episode 20

In today’s episode, on the 5th Sunday after Pentecost, I address the following: 

  1. Why and How to Practice the Presence of God
  2. The Octave of Ss. Peter and Paul and the Commemoration of All Holy Popes
  3. The Feasts of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria and Ss Cyril and Methodius

This episode is sponsored by offers Latin prayer cards to learn and share prayers in the sacred language. Learn your basic prayers without spending more time looking at screens. Conveniently carry these Latin prayers with you on the go. Share basic prayers in Latin with your family and friends. prayer cards are available in various formats. Practice your pronunciation with easy-to-follow English phonetic renderings of Latin words. also offers Latin-English rosary pamphlets with the traditional 15 mysteries. Visit today and take advantage of generous free shipping offers on both domestic and international orders.

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