Tuesday, January 30, 2024
Rejecting the Filioque Is A Heresy

It is evident with the crisis in the Catholic Church concerning not only the sexual abuse crisis but also 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 deeper 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. In fact, the Orthodox are also heretics from the true Christian Faith in more than half a dozen ways as enumerated in the article "Should A Catholic Convert to Eastern Orthodoxy?"

"I am the Father are One" (John 10:30)

The Baltimore Catechism succinctly states, “In God there are three Divine persons, really distinct, and equal in all things – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” The Roman Catechism, the most authoritative catechism ever written, expresses the reality that Almighty God – the one and only God – is in fact a Trinity of Persons. The Catechism explains the role of the three Divine Persons in the Incarnation:

"It is a principle of Christian faith that whatever God does outside Himself in creation is common to the Three Persons, and that one neither does more than, nor acts without another. But that one emanates from another, this only cannot be common to all; for the Son is begotten of the Father only, and the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son. Anything, however, which proceeds from them extrinsically is the work of the Three Persons without difference of any sort, and of this latter description is the Incarnation of the Son of God.

"Of those things, nevertheless, that are common to all, the Sacred Scriptures often attribute some to one Person, some to another. Thus, to the Father they attribute power over all things; to the Son, wisdom; to the Holy Ghost, love. Hence, as the mystery of the Incarnation manifests the singular and boundless love of God towards us, it is therefore in some sort peculiarly attributed to the Holy Ghost."

We do not believe in three gods but in one God. The Athanasian Creed, one of the earliest professions of faith, confessed since at least the fifth century, declares:

“Thus the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. But there are not three gods, but one God. The Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, and the Holy Ghost is Lord. There are not three lords, but one Lord. For according to Christian truth, we must profess that each of the Persons individually is God; and according to Christian religion, we are forbidden to say that there are three gods or three lords.”

How is it, then, that there is a God the Father, a God the Son, and a God the Holy Ghost, but only one God? There is one divine substance, and three divine Persons. You and I are each only one substance and one person, but God is one substance and three Persons. Each of the Persons is fully divine and wholly possesses the divine substance. As Jesus Himself said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).

The Trinity is One. We do not confess three gods, but one God in three Persons, the “consubstantial Trinity.” The divine Persons do not share the one divinity among Themselves but each of Them is God whole and entire: “The Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Ghost is, i.e., by nature one God.” In the words of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215): “Each of the persons is that supreme reality, viz., the divine substance, essence or nature.”

What is the Filioque Controversy?

The Great Schism, also known as the East-West Schism, refers to the split between the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church, which culminated in 1054 AD. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius, and the legates of Pope Leo IX excommunicated each other. This formal declaration of excommunication marked the official schism between the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Roman Catholic Church. Papal authority, the Filioque controversy, and even the practice of Saturday fasting, among other differences, brought about this schism.

The Filioque controversy is the theological dispute that centers around the phrase "and the Son" (Latin: for Filioque) in the Nicene Creed, which originally stated that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father. The controversy arose between the Western and Eastern Christian churches.

In the early centuries of Christianity, the Nicene Creed was widely accepted in both the Eastern (Greek-speaking) and Western (Latin-speaking) parts of the Christian world. The original version of the Nicene Creed, as established at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, declared that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father. However, the Western Church later added the phrase "and the Son" (Filioque) to affirm the double procession of the Holy Spirit from both the Father and the Son.

The Roman Catholic Church had first introduced the phrase “and the Son” (Filioque in Latin) at the Third Council of Toledo in 589. The Lyons Council II stated the doctrine firmly:

We profess faithfully and devotedly that the Holy Ghost proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, not as from two principles, but as from one principle; not by two spirations, but by one single spiration. This the holy Roman church, mother and mistress of all the faithful, has till now professed, preached and taught; this she firmly holds, preaches, professes and teaches; this is the unchangeable and true belief of the orthodox fathers and doctors, Latin and Greek alike. But because some, on account of ignorance of the said indisputable truth, have fallen into various errors, we, wishing to close the way to such errors, with the approval of the sacred council, condemn and reprove all who presume to deny that the Holy Ghost proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, or rashly to assert that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son as from two principles and not as from one.

The Filioque Defended at the Ecumenical Councils

The Second Council of Lyons began on May 7, 1274, in the Cathedral of St. John. The Pope gave a sermon outlining his threefold plan for the Council — to unite the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches, to send a Crusade to the Holy Land and to reform the morals of the clergy. On June 29th, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the entire Council and the Greek ambassadors took part in a High Mass sung by the Pope. The Credo (Nicene Creed) was sung in Latin and then again in Greek with the phrase “Qui a Patre Filioque procedit” (who proceeds from the Father and the Son) sung three times. The Greek acceptance of this doctrine was an important step towards the reunion of the two Churches. 

Yet, debate continued for centuries as this was again a point of disagreement at the Council of Florence in 1438. The Emperor and Patriarch agreed that the debates should begin, and on October 8, 1438, the delegates discussed the addition of “From the Son” (Filioque) to the Nicene Creed by the Roman Catholic Church. This was discussed in fourteen public sessions until December 13, 1438. Mark Eugenicus, the Metropolitan of Ephesus, claimed that the addition of the Filioque clause to the Nicene Creed had been against the Council of Ephesus in 431. While Mark Eugenicus was the main speaker for the Greeks, the Western Church answered through several speakers. The sessions were lively but the Latin speakers were unable to change Mark’s position.

March 1439 saw eight sessions between the 2nd and 24th where the procession of the Holy Ghost was debated. The Western Church argued that the Holy Ghost proceeded from the Father and the Son while the Greek Church through Mark Eugenicus insisted that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father only. Giovanni da Montenero, a Dominican provincial of Lombardy proved the Latin Church’s assertion through the use of Scripture, the writings of the Western and Eastern Fathers and the Councils. Da Montenero’s presentation convinced some of his hearers but not all. The Greeks were not used to metaphysical arguments or syllogisms in their theological discussions but they were very impressed by da Montenero’s quotes from the Eastern and Western Fathers.

Through this, a glimmer of light appeared. The Eastern Saints had stated that the Holy Ghost was produced “from both” and “through the Son” while the Western Saints wrote that the Holy Spirit came “from the Father and the Son.” Now it is axiomatic that Saints, whether East or West, cannot err in matters of faith for they are inspired by the same Holy Spirit. Therefore the words of both the Eastern and Western Saints must be true even though they expressed themselves differently. Bessarion, the Metropolitan of Nicaea and Greek delegate, phrased it this way: "The western and eastern Saints do not disagree, for the same Spirit spoke in all the Saints. Compare their works and they will be found harmonious."

The majority of the Greek delegates voted in favor of the Filioque doctrine. There were further debates about other points of contention. It was decided that both unleaven and leaven bread would be allowed for the Eucharist. Purgatory was defined and the primacy of the Pope was affirmed. None of these questions were answered without lengthy debate and it was not until July 5, 1439, that first the Greeks and then the Latin delegates signed the decree of union. (Parts of the decree are included in the Documents section beginning “Let the heavens rejoice…”) Mark Eugenicus refused to sign the decree even after discussions with the Pope. On Monday, July 6, there was a procession to the Cathedral in Florence followed by a Pontifical Mass. Cesarini read out the decree in Latin, asking the Pope and Latin prelates if they agreed. They all proclaimed Placet (it is agreed upon). Bessarion read out the decree in Greek then requested the Emperor and the Greek prelates to acknowledge the truth of the decree. They also stated their agreement. A Te Deum was sung and the delegates left the Cathedral praising God with psalms. The Council continued and reunited the Roman Church with other Eastern Churches — the Armenians (1439), the Copts (1442), the Syrians (1444), the Chaldeans (Nestorians) and the Maronites of Cyprus (1445). In 1443, the Council left Florence to continue at the Lateran Palace in Rome.

The Greeks left for home on October 19, 1439, and arrived in Constantinople in February 1440. Sad news awaited the Emperor — his wife had died. This may explain why he failed to act promptly when some of the Eastern prelates who had remained behind in Constantinople refused to have anything to do with those who had agreed to a union with the Roman Church in Florence. There were soon more overt acts against the union of the Churches. Anthony, Metropolitan of Heraclea, made a public repudiation of his signature to the document in Florence. Mark Eugenicus wrote and spoke against the union. Early in 1441, a group of prelates who had signed the decree in Florence disavowed the union.

The new Patriarch of Constantinople, Metrophanes, (Patriarch Joseph had died at the end of the Council of Florence) declared in favor of the union and wrote an encyclical proclaiming it. However, his voice was not enough to overpower the flair and common touch of Mark Eugenicus’ writings. In 1444 the Papal fleet and army joined with Venice and Hungary to fight the Ottoman Turks. The Turkish army of about 60,000 men attacked the Christian armies of about 20,000 to 30,000 men at Varna on November 10, 1444. A brave effort to capture Murad II, the leader of the Ottomans, by the young King of Hungary and his 500 horsemen failed and the Christians were defeated. Many Christians were killed and the way to Constantinople was open to the Turks who did indeed capture the city in 1453. In the years 1450 to 1451, the Eastern Orthodox Church convened a Council in Constantinople and rejected the decree from the Council of Florence. The pro-union Patriarch was dismissed and the Orthodox Athanasius was appointed to take his place.

So what was the point of those years of arguments, of careful research, of endless discussions? Even though the union did not last, several points of doctrine were discussed and defined. Giovanni da Montenero’s masterful examination of the procession of the Holy Spirit through Scripture, the writings of the ancient Fathers and the Councils is just one example of the intricate and intense work that went into these definitions. For those years in Ferrara, Florence, and Rome, hundreds of men gathered to understand difficult theological concepts with the sincere wish to reunite. Perhaps in some hearts, this wish was joined with the hope for help in defeating the Turks or other less than purely selfless motives. Still, they continued — the illness of the elderly Patriarch and the Emperor, the monetary difficulties of the Pope, the homesickness and worry over their homeland, the frustrations between two different cultures — and all of these pressures delivered arguments that give us a deeper understanding of our faith. For more on the Councils, see the book "Nicea to Now."

The Church Fathers Defended the Filioque

Church Fathers in the West, such as St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430), supported the Filioque clause. St. Augustine emphasized the unity of the Trinity and argued that the Holy Ghost's procession from both the Father and the Son was consistent with the shared divine essence of the Trinity.

The Orthodox churches - and there are several that are not in communion even with one another - deny that the Holy Ghost, the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, proceeds from 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 as well as shown in a powerful video debunking the errors of the Orthodox churches. All those who want to learn the truth should be compelled to watch that video.

Sunday, January 28, 2024
A Catholic Life Podcast: Episode 50

In today’s episode, on Septuagesima Sunday, I address the following: 

  1. The Liturgical Changes for Septuagesima 
  2. The Value of Fasting in Septuagesima
  3. The Feast of the Prayer of Christ 
  4. Upcoming Feastdays this Week

This episode is sponsored by PrayLatin.comPrayLatin.com offers Latin prayer cards to learn and share prayers in the sacred language. Learn your basic prayers in Latin conveniently on the go. Practice your pronunciation with easy-to-follow English phonetic renderings of Latin words. PrayLatin.com offers prayer cards in various formats, including Latin-English rosary pamphlets with the traditional 15 mysteries. Shop for additional Latin resources like missal booklets, server response cards, and more. Visit PrayLatin.com today.

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

Tuesday, January 23, 2024
The Value of Fasting in Septuagesima

Septuagesima is both the name of the third Sunday before Lent as well as the season itself that runs from this day up until Ash Wednesday. The other Sundays in the Season of Septuagesima are Sexagesima Sunday and Quinquagesima Sunday. In some places, a custom of observing a fast of devotion, in anticipation of and in preparation for the Great Lenten fast, was observed as Father Weiser mentions in his “Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs”:

“This preparatory time of pre-Lent in the Latin Church was suggested by the practice of the Byzantine Church, which started its great fast earlier, because their ‘forty days’ did not include Saturdays. Saint Maximum (465 AD), Bishop of Turin, mentioned the practice in one of his sermons. It is a pious custom, he said, to keep a fast of devotion (not of obligation) before the start of Lent.” 

Dom Guéranger mentions where and how the fast of Septuagesima began, noting that the law of custom governed this fast in certain places but not universally:

“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.” 

Eastern Catholic Rites still do this to an extent. For instance, Cheesefare Week is the week preceding the Great Lent in Eastern Christianity. It is the last week during which dairy products and eggs are permitted before the strict fasting period of Lent begins. Meatfare Week is the week immediately preceding Cheesefare Week. During this week, Eastern Christians traditionally consume meat for the last time before the Lenten fast.

Septuagesima is an appropriate time for us to begin preparing our bodies for the upcoming Lenten fast by incorporating some fasting into our routine. Fasting on Wednesdays, Fridays, and even Saturdays at this time will help make the transition to a true Lenten fast easier on the body. 

Want to learn more about the history of fasting and abstinence? Check out the Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting and Abstinence.

Sunday, January 21, 2024
A Catholic Life Podcast: Episode 49

In today’s episode, on the 3rd Sunday after Epiphany, I address the following: 

  1. The National Day of Penance for Violations Against Human Life
  2. Upcoming Feastdays this week
  3. The Burial of the Alleluia

I would like to thank CatechismClass.com for sponsoring this episode.  CatechismClass.com, 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 CatechismClass.com is the gold standard in authentic Catholic formation online.

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Friday, January 19, 2024
Why All Catholics Must Fast & How to Start This Year

The Purpose of Fasting

In principio, in the beginning, the very first Commandment of God to Adam and Eve was one of fasting from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (cf. Genesis 2:16-17), and their failure to fast brought sin and disorder to all of creation. The second sin of mankind was gluttony. Both are intricately tied to fasting.

Both Elijah and Moses fasted for forty days in the Old Testament before seeing God. Until the Great Flood, man abstained entirely from the flesh meat of animals (cf. Genesis 9:2-3). Likewise, in the New Testament, St. John the Baptist, the greatest prophet (cf. Luke 7:28) fasted and his followers were characterized by their fasting. And our Blessed Lord also fasted for forty days (cf. Matthew 4:1-11) not for His own needs but to serve as an example for us. Our Redeemer said, “Unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). Fasting and abstinence from certain foods characterized the lives of man since the foundation of the world.

The Church has hallowed the practice of fasting, encourages it, and mandates it at certain times. Why? The Angelic Doctor writes that fasting is practiced for a threefold purpose: 

“First, in order to bridle the lusts of the flesh…Secondly, we have recourse to fasting in order that the mind may arise more freely to the contemplation of heavenly things: hence it is related of Daniel that he received a revelation from God after fasting for three weeks. Thirdly, in order to satisfy for sins: wherefore it is written: ‘Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning.’ The same is declared by Augustine in a sermon: ‘Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one's flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, kindles the true light of chastity.’”  

St. Basil the Great also affirmed the importance of fasting for protection against demonic forces: “The fast is the weapon of protection against demons. Our Guardian Angels more really stay with those who have cleansed our souls through fasting.”

The Baltimore Catechism echoes these sentiments: “The Church commands us to fast and abstain, in order that we may mortify our passions and satisfy for our sins” (Baltimore Catechism #2 Q. 395). Concerning this rationale, Fr. Thomas Kinkead in “An Explanation Of The Baltimore Catechism of Christian Doctrine” published in 1891 writes, “Remember it is our bodies that generally lead us into sin; if therefore we punish the body by fasting and mortification, we atone for the sin, and thus God wipes out a part of the temporal punishment due to it.” 

Pope St. Leo the Great in 461 wisely counseled that fasting is a means and not an end in itself. For those who could not observe the strictness of fasting, he sensibly said, "What we forego by fasting is to be given as alms to the poor.”  To simply forgo fasting completely, even when for legitimate health reasons, does not excuse a person from the universal command to do penance (cf. Luke 13:3).

How Can Catholics Help Restore the Practice of Fasting?

While no authority in the Church may change or alter any established dogmas of the Faith, the discipline of both Holy Days of Obligation and fast days may change. The days of obligation and the days of penance are matters of discipline, not matters of dogma. Lawful authorities in the Church do have the power to change these practices.

In the observance of the two precepts, namely attending Holy Mass on prescribed days and fasting and abstaining on commanded days, we obey them because the Church has the power by Christ to command such things. We do not abstain from meat on Fridays for instance because the meat is unclean or evil. It is the act of disobedience that is evil. As Fr. Michael Müller remarks in his Familiar Explanation of Christian Doctrine from 1874: "It is not the food, but the disobedience that defiles a man." To eat meat on a forbidden day unintentionally, for instance, is no sin. As the Scriptures affirm it is not what goes into one's mouth that defiles a man but that disobedience which comes from the soul (cf. Matthew 15:11).

Yet, even with such a distinction, the Church has historically been wise to change disciplines only very slowly and carefully. As Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once remarked, "It is a long-established principle of the Church never to completely drop from her public worship any ceremony, object or prayer which once occupied a place in that worship." The same may be said for matters concerning either Holy Days of Obligation or fast days. What our forefathers held sacred should remain sacred to us in an effort to preserve our catholicity not only with ourselves but with our ancestors who see God now in Heaven.

St. Francis de Sales remarked in the 16th / early 17th century, “If you’re able to fast, you will do well to observe some days beyond what are ordered by the Church.” To that end, I have launched the Fellowship of St. Nicholas to coincide with the publication of “The Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting and Abstinence” as a means for Catholics to commit to stricter fasting and to encourage one another. Spend some time learning about how strict fasting underscored Catholic life not just in Lent but weekly on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, on the vigils of great feasts, and in the forty days leading up to Christmas.

Want to learn more about the history of fasting and abstinence? Check out the Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting and Abstinence.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024
2nd Edition of "The Definitive Guide to Fasting and Abstinence" Now Available

In early 2023, I launched "The Definitive Guide to Fasting and Abstinence" based on over 3 years of research into the forgotten and untold history of how the Catholic Church went from roughly one-third of the year of fasting (and two-thirds as days of abstinence) to only two days of fasting. I published the book so that it would be available in time for Lent, and even though many priests said that 95% of it was new to them, I still had more research to undertake to finish my study of this forgotten history.

After another year of work, I'm delighted to launch the 2nd edition of the book. The 2nd edition features the following topics which were not covered (or covered only briefly) in the first edition:

  1. Detailed explanations of how fasting changed in other countries besides America, including Spain and the Philippines.
  2. A detailed explanation of who was exempt from fasting and/or abstinence and how those changes were documented and taught in various catechisms over the centuries
  3. Easter Week food traditions, highlighting their connection with the Lenten fast
  4. Armenian fasting and abstinence rigors
  5. Maronite fasting guidelines
  6. The heroic example of St. John of the Cross and the Primitive Rule of Pope Innocent IV vs. the mitigated rule approved by Pope Eugenius IV
  7. How the time of the meal on fasting days differed (e.g., sunset for Ember Days but 3 PM for the weekly devotional fasts)
  8. The food customs that originate due to Ember Days
  9. The forgotten fast from fleshmeat and foods cooked in fat on Holy Innocents Day
  10. Why do the laws of fasting and abstinence bind mortally
  11. The Bula de Cruzada history
  12. Semi-Fast vs. Full-Fast Days
  13. The time of the conventual Mass and how the traditional midnight fast would (or would not) impact that.
  14. Testimonials from those who followed the traditional fasting proposed in the first edition of the book
  15. Drinks other than water and if they were allowed in connection with the Eucharistic Fast
  16. The distinction between black fasting, the Passion Fast, and Xerophagiae
  17. The Importance of Thanksgiving after Holy Communion
  18. St. Michael's Lent
  19. The Assumption Fast
  20. The distinction of simple vs. complex liquids: What does it mean that liquids are allowed? What is a liquid, and what is not?
  21. Chocolate: Is it a liquid or a solid? When and how may it historically be consumed, if at all, on days of fasting
  22. Why and when beaver, muskrat, and capybara became permitted on days of abstinence for some
  23. Protestant Fasting: Does it exist? If so, how is it? What is the so-called "Daniel" Fast practiced by some?
  24. Lard, Bouillon, and Broth explained over time
  25. The size of the one meal explained, including how long is too long
  26. And much more! 
All in all, the second edition is more than double the length of the first edition! Even if you purchased the first edition of the book, the 2nd edition should be in every Catholic home that is striving to restore the fasting and abstinence practices of our ancestors for the conversion of sinners, reparation of sin, and the increase of virtue in our own lives.

Ordering Options:

“This work is highly important for faithful Catholics! Matthew has written a book that contains the potential for notable impact on our Prayer Life, Personal Sanctity, and increased historical understanding of the teachings of Holy Mother Church. Since Vatican II the understanding of Fasting, Holy Days of Obligation, and the need to gain self-control have been lessened by transfers of Solemnities and the emotional dispensations from fasting given by ecclesiastical authorities. Armed with this renewed knowledge of age-old practices used by serious Catholics in offering personal acts of sacrifice through abstinence and fasting, a barrier of a hum-drum prayer life can be broken, and Catholics can achieve new levels of Active Participation in the life of the Church.” (Father Scott DuVall)

“To paraphrase St. John Henry Newman, prayer and fasting are the two wings that carry us to Heaven.  We cannot achieve eternal life unless both wings are functioning.  The Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting and Abstinence is not only a history of the practice of fasting, but also more importantly a guide to show Catholics how to love fasting in an age where satisfaction for sin is most needed!” (Father John Lovell, Co-Founder of the Coalition for Canceled Priests)

“The Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting and Abstinence fills a great lacuna in the life of the Church. Matthew’s articulate and cogent account of an integral Catholic way of life is one which gives rightful place to the body and its healthy, holistic, and holy subordination to the soul and spirit. Matthew’s book is not only a call to arms, but a call to the recovery of the vital narrative memories of the saints of yesterday, who in their fundamental anthropology, struggles, and strivings are no different from us, the saints of today. With sobriety, intelligence, and authentic piety, The Definitive Guide to Catholic Fasting and Abstinence serves as a point of reference, understanding, and motivation so that the strength and the joy of our forefathers may be ours in the here and now.” (Father Cassian DiRocco)

“Many ask what do I do to stem the tide of evil and promote the salvation of souls? This book gives us one of the most important tools. By giving a thorough history and explanation of the laws and practices of fasting and abstinence, the reader cannot help but be motivated to more than the current minimal requirements. The famous quote by Archbishop Fulton Sheen came to mind as I realized the potential for others to be moved by this book: ‘Who will save the Church? ...the laity.’  I believe a return to the Church’s rich traditions could be a big part of the work of the laity to save the Church. This book will also inspire priests, as most of us were never instructed in this tradition but will be inspired as well to do more fasting and lead the souls in their care to use the power of fasting and abstinence.” (Father Joseph Nicolosi). 

Monday, January 15, 2024
Who Were the Apostles of Jesus Christ?

Mission of the Apostles - Tommaso Minard

What were the Apostles of Jesus really like?  CatechismClass.com is pleased to offer an affordable, self-paced, online course and paperback that examines the Apostles in detail.

The Holy Days up until 1911 reveal something quite interesting as all of the feasts of the Apostles were Holy Days of Obligation on the Universal Calendar. The feasts of the Apostles were raised to public holidays in 932 AD, as Father Weiser relates (p. 279). The Church, by reducing the number of Holy Days of Obligation, removed the feasts of the Apostles. And this has diminished their importance in the lives of the average Catholic. How many Catholics can even name all 12 Apostles? How many know the name of the traitor or the name of the Apostle who took his place? Catechesis has failed the modern Catholic.

Before the changes to the Roman Calendar in 1955, nearly all feasts of the apostles were preceded by a special Vigil Day. And the Church put those days in place to help us prepare for the importance of a feast of an apostle. Sadly, the observance of fasting on the vigils of the apostles in many places disappeared back in the 1700s.

This course and book examine the Gospels, the Fathers of the Church, Apocryphal writings, encyclicals, and other sources to search out the Apostles’ personalities and history.  Along the way, you will look at the prayers, poetry, music, and architecture the Apostles inspired and see how these twelve men are still teaching us today, almost 2,000 years after their deaths.  You will see how the faith spread throughout the Roman Empire and even beyond its borders and how each Apostle met his death.  You will be surprised at the many different paths of the Apostles as they witnessed Christ.

If you can not name all 12 Apostles and a description of what each of them did after the Ascension, this course is for you!

To learn more about the online course, Please Click here

To preview the paperback book option, Please Click here

Sunday, January 14, 2024
A Catholic Life Podcast: Episode 48

In today’s episode, on the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany, I address the following: 

  1. An overview of the many Feastdays this week
  2. The Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity

This episode is sponsored by PrayLatin.comPrayLatin.com offers Latin prayer cards to learn and share prayers in the sacred language. Learn your basic prayers in Latin conveniently on the go. Practice your pronunciation with easy-to-follow English phonetic renderings of Latin words. PrayLatin.com offers prayer cards in various formats, including Latin-English rosary pamphlets with the traditional 15 mysteries. Shop for additional Latin resources like missal booklets, server response cards, and more. Visit PrayLatin.com today.

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

Sunday, January 7, 2024
A Catholic Life Podcast: Episode 47

In today’s episode, on the Feast of the Most Holy Family, I address the following: 

  1. Feast of the Most Holy Family & the Consecration to the Holy Family
  2. The Forgotten Season of Epiphanytide
  3. Sanctify the New Year by Going Deeper Liturgically
  4. Restoring Customs of Christendom

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Wednesday, January 3, 2024
The Church Can Not Bless, Condone, or Sanctify Homosexual Relations

Sodom and Gomorrah afire, painting by Jacob de Wet II, 1680

The Church Calls All Men to Salvation

“Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Isaias 5:20).

In a seeming reversal of its 2021 prohibition against blessing any same sex couples, the Vatican’s December publication of Fiducia supplicans allegedly opened the door for priests to bless same sex couples. Bree A. Dail writes:

The new Prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith states people in “irregular” unions, such as same sex unions, may NOT receive anything resembling liturgical blessings, or blessings of their unions. They may, however, receive spontaneous blessing, limited to “the invocation of a blessing that descends from God upon those who recognizing themselves to be destitute and in need of his help do not claim a legitimation of their own status, but who beg that all that is true, good, and humanly valid in their lives and their relationships be enriched, healed, and elevated by the presence of the Holy Spirit. These forms of blessing express a supplication that God may grant those aids that come from the impulses of his Spirit what classical theology calls ‘actual grace’ —so that human relationships may mature and grow in fidelity to the Gospel, that they may be freed from their imperfections and frailties, and that they may express themselves in the ever-increasing dimension of the divine love.”

Yet, in this latest ordeal, disorder and confusion have been sowed. News headlines announced: “Pope Francis officially approved allowing priests to perform blessings on same-sex couples as long as the ritual does not resemble marriage." Those who had same-sex attraction could previously ask for blessings like anyone else who struggles with any number of sins. What this document has done is change the optics of the Church to apparently soften its stance against “gay marriage.”

While anyone may ask for a blessing, the blessing of two individuals in a known arrangement against the 6th Commandment cannot be permitted. It is as nonsensical as asking a priest to bless the building in which Planned Parenthood was killing children while stating that the blessing was just on the building and not on the evil done there. Or it would be as ludicrous as blessing the members of a KKK chapter while stating that it was just an individual blessing and did not mean anything regarding the activities the men came together to do. The blessing of two people who are regularly and publicly engaging in sodomy can not be blessed without blessing the underlying “union.”

Is the new document scandalous? Will it lead to the loss of souls?  Is it an attempt to normalize things with secular culture? Should it be opposed? Yes, to all of these. But did it change Church teaching? No, since Catholic dogma cannot change.

The 6th Commandment Recap

The sixth Commandment condemns incest (sexual relations with a relative or in-law), fornication (sexual relations with someone of the opposite sex when neither of is in the state of marriage), homosexual relations (sexual activity with someone of the same sex), masturbation (the stimulation of one’s own sexual organs for pleasure), rape, and other similar offenses. Prostitution, artificial insemination, pornography, seducing others, sexually abusing children, dressing immodestly, reading impure literature, listening to impure jokes, songs, or movies, or using artificial contraception are likewise all condemned.

Divine Law, as stated in the Commandments, does not and change not change.  Should anyone try to argue that the Scriptures themselves do not discuss homosexual activity, he should read Leviticus 18:22, which states: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind, because it is an abomination.” 

The Church Does Not Hate Those with Same-Sex Attraction (SSA)

It is often a scapegoat in our culture that the Church hates anyone who has or has ever experienced same-sex attraction. This is false. The Church does not condemn being homosexual since some people may not be able to help their sexual orientation. What the Church forbids is homosexual activity, which is engaging in sexual acts with a person of the same sex. It is technically impossible for two people of the same sex to marry since marriage is between one man and one woman for the purpose of raising children.

Those who do experience SSA should consult the resources of Courage. Courage members are men and women who experience same-sex attractions and who have made a commitment to strive for chastity and to conform their lives to the actual and unchangeable teachings of the Catholic Church.

The Church’s Laws on Marriage

The Church likewise condemns forced marriages against a person’s will, marriages solemnized in front of non-Catholic ministers, and adulterous “second” marriages when a person’s spouse is still living since divorce is not possible.

Canon law does not prohibit Catholics from attending invalid weddings for non-Catholics but Catholics must discern if their attendance at such weddings would be a cause for scandal. And we must also think what we can do - if anything - to help that person know the Catholic Faith. It is clearer that it is not permitted to attend the wedding of a Catholic who marries outside of the Church. Likewise, it would not be appropriate to attend the alleged marriage of any same-sex couple since it is not a valid marriage, and one’s presence will undoubtedly cause scandal by seemingly approving of the event.

Let Us Invoke St. Charles Lwanga and His Companions

St. Charles Lwanga was born in 1865 in Bulimu, Buganda, Uganda. He was a servant of King Mwanga of Uganda. In 1885, he converted to Catholicism, and for that, he was burned to death in 1886 at Namugongo, Uganda, because they refused to give in to the homosexual demands of King Mwanga. Yet, St. Charles did not scream in pain as he burned to death. He even helped arrange the sticks for the fire and said he was pleased to die for the True Faith. 

St. Charles Lwanga is one of 22 people that we remember for dying for their faith in Uganda. May he intercede for all who struggle with SSA, and through his prayers, may all those who foster sin and confusion cease their errors at once.


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