the Arian crisisI have come to the conclusion that “The Real Presence” is an article of Faith, not to be proved, because I lack the intellectual horsepower to come up with any “Proof” which would satisfy the demands of Progressive Modernism and it’s followers. It is a mystery. So I am not going to try to prove it. It is really quite simple and enormous at the same time. We either believe what Jesus taught us, … all of it, … or we don’t, and that pretty much sums up one’s entire vision of reality and the direction of our lives.
This has been The – Prime – Question, the most important choice any human ever makes, as long as there have been human beings made in the image and likeness of GOD living on the planet. We either choose to believe and trust GOD, or we choose not to and go looking for our own answers, and those answers have given us the world we live in and experience every day, and how has that turned out so far?
I have touched on the idea of the Real Presence lightly in some previous posts, in the context of the behaviour of nominal Catholics when in the Presence and in church in general, this is the problem of “Smorgasbord Catholics”. I have also touched on it in the context of Apostasy, in that the belief in the Real Presence is a cardinal tenet of the Catholic faith. I suppose that looking at our current religious reality through the lens of Apostasy easily leads one to the view that there are few “Catholics” left in the West, and perhaps only slightly more “Christians”.
So what is Apostasy? Apostasy in Christianity is the rejection of tenets of Christianity by someone who formerly was a Christian. The term apostasy comes from the Greek word apostasia (“ἀποστασία”) meaning defection, departure, revolt or rebellion. Apostasy has been described as “a willful falling away from, or rebellion against, the beliefs of Christianity, sometimes excused as “going with the flow” and “not rocking the boat”.
For current examples of apostasy we need look no further than our local parish and ask the question about how folks “feel” about the Real Presence of Christ, Body Soul and Divinity, in the Holy Eucharist. Another example would be the belief in the need for a regular approach (monthly?) to the sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession for forgiveness of sins lest we eat and drink damnation upon ourselves by receiving the Eucharist while being not in a state of grace occasioned by not having attended confession and therefore having mortal sins on our soul.
So, first, to believe in the Real Presence, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, and secondly, to eat and drink this Body and Blood worthily, that is without sin upon you and in a state of grace. 1 Corinthians 23-32 is in every bible of every Christian denomination. Christian Truth is either all true, or none of it is for any sect. It is either all true, or is just another long running con game practiced by various gangs throughout history.
If that vision of Christianity is the actual truth then the World’s claim that Christianity is evil is true … it is all just “relative” … “I’m OK, your OK” and whatever you feel is good is good as long as it is what you want. And we are just as evil as the world. Many of us who have made a commitment to follow Christ and have drunk deeply from his redemptive hand have trouble receiving all the goodness of God because we always know who we still really are.
So, this is where my head is right now, I am thinking about just what is it that makes us “Catholic”, or not? And I am going to restate some truths, some cultural truths, or precepts that are at least 4 millennia old in the Judeo-Christian tradition, namely my Worldview, which from where I sit seems to be a view which make sense of ALL the events in our world, leaving none to be fixed at the expense of other people.
While some of these personal tenets of belief seem modern, this Tradition is as old as any on earth. These truths are the basic Judeo-Christian precepts related to reality and the existence and operations of evil in the world that Jesus and the early Hebrews, prophets and so on, going back all the way to Abraham, taught:
- We are all living in a fallen world (nature and humanity are in a fallen state).
- Evil began when Satan, originally an angel who was created by God for good, wanted to take God’s place (the very thing with which he tempted Eve—“you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” Genesis 3:5).
- Satan is God’s enemy but not equal to God.
- Satan took one-third of the angels with him in his rebellion. There are not two equal forces in the universe, but rather a King, and a rebel … this is a civil war, not a battle between equals. Where we find ourselves is living in that part of the universe controlled by the rebels and their followers, “the world”.
- We are involved in a spiritual war between Good and evil—a war not for or against people but against the spiritual powers that humans choose to serve for Good or ill.
- We are always serving one or the other—good or evil; nothing is static and there is no neutral demilitarized zone.
- Unable to affect God, Satan seeks to recruit and infect human beings, whom God loves, by using humankind with their weak free will for his rebellion.
- Humans are made in God’s image and are special to God. The demons, the rebels, prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls and prey upon souls through their desires and appetites.
- Though designed to be good, humans are given free will, which allows the possibility that human beings will choose, of their own free will, to do evil.
- The laws by which all of creation was made prevail, both physical laws and human ones, and breaking them incurs consequences. Bad choices have bad results and “your sins have kept good from you” (Jeremiah 5:25).
- Nature also groans and is affected by evil in part due to the sins of man.
- There is far more good than evil in the world and far more chance that we will live today rather than die. This tends to obscure the consequences of bad choices.
- God works so that evil tends to destroy itself—falling into the pit it digs for others.
- Evil is irrational. Evil “rationalizes” evil conduct in the interest of self love and concupiscence. In reality, it makes no more sense to be offended by Scriptural and Moral Truth than to be offended by gravity or the nuclear processes at work in the sun.
- There are authorities (in heaven and on earth), and the moral condition of those authorities influences those under their authority.
- There is an ultimate divine justice in eternity. We are not made for this world, our citizenship is in heaven for eternity unless we choose to reject and repudiate our citizenship through self love.
All of these precepts are covered in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but are also drawn from history and the Judeo-Christian Tradition. There is a Divine Plan and we are a part of it, “wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.” (I think that last bit is the Apostle Paul the Evangelist)The Real Presence is Truth. We, each and every one of us are faced with a choice. GOD doesn’t “send” anyone anywhere. We choose our path in life. The “easy way out” isn’t. Unless one doesn’t believe in the divinity of Christ, unless our choice is to believe that Jesus Christ is the “son of God” only in the same way that we are all sons and daughters of God.
This would be a rebirth of the oldest heresy, the zombie heresy which keeps coming back from the dead century after century. That is the Arian heresy and looking at what is going on around us in the world and in the church these days it becomes a much more focused vision when looked at through the Arian lens. the blind leading the blind is bad enough but what about the blind leading the faithful who can see?
We, as a church and as a faith, have been in crisis many times in history. The examples are legion … but let us only look just now at the one prime example of a time of great error namely the Arian crisis. In a very real way the apostasy we are witnessing today has it’s roots in the Arian crisis … which has never really gone away … Real Presence or just a memorial to a good man?
I will get to that time of ERROR and CONFUSION in a moment but first we need to clarify an often misunderstood but important term. “indefectible” is a term so misunderstood that it is often cited by non Catholic Christian sects as “proof” that the Catholic church is guilty of telling whoppers and as proof that it is NOT the True church founded by Jesus Christ. We cannot let the confusion of our present days distract us from the words of Jesus Christ Himself. We have it on his authority that the Catholic Church is “indefectible”.
The “indefectibility” of the Church means that the hierarchy and the faithful, and thus, the sacramental and social life of the Church, will always remain intact somewhere. The indefectibility of the Roman Catholic Church is the church teaching that it will endure to the end of the world and never become corrupt in faith, authority, morals, or sacraments.
- “In the process of testing such formulations, the Church has moved cautiously, but with confidence in the promise of Christ that it will persevere and be maintained in the truth (cf. Mt 16.18; Jn 16.13). This is what is meant by the indefectibility of the Church . . . “
- “The apostolic tradition in the Church cannot undergo any essential corruption because of the permanent assistance of the Holy Spirit which guarantees its indefectibility.”
- “This is the meaning of indefectibility, a term which does not speak of the Church’s lack of defects but confesses that, despite all its many weaknesses and failures, Christ is faithful to his promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it [the Catholic Church].”
- “By this term is signified, not merely that the Church will persist to the end of time, but further, that it will preserve unimpaired its essential characteristics. The Church can never undergo any constitutional change which will make it, as a social organism, something different from what it was originally. It can never become corrupt in faith or in morals; nor can it ever lose the Apostolic hierarchy, or the sacraments through which Christ communicates grace to men. The gift of indefectibility is expressly promised to the Church by Christ, in the words in which He declares that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Some of the scriptural verses the Catholic Church uses to support “indefectibility” are:
- Daniel 7:13-14, “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. 14 “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations, and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.”
- Matthew 16:18, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.”
- Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
- Luke 1:33, “and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.”
- 1 Timothy 3:15, “but in case I am delayed, I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. 16 And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness.”
So our current smoke and turmoil is nothing new. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps on this petty pace … I have to keep it ever before me … the Catholic Church is not and never has been a product of the Roman Curia. As Hilaire Belloc famously said: “The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine—but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.” -Hilaire Belloc.
Oh me of little faith. A prayer … O Jesus Christ, Son of the eternal Father, our Lord, true King of all things! “What didst Thou leave in the world for Thy descendants to inherit from Thee? What didst Thou ever have, my Lord, save trials, pains, and insults?” Indeed You had only a beam of wood to rest upon while drinking Your bitter cup of horror. Those of us, then, who desire to be Your true children, and not to renounce their inheritance, must never flee from suffering.
We know that “indefectibility” cannot mean everywhere, otherwise the fall of north Africa to the Moslems, or the schism of half of Europe during the Protestant revolt, would never have been possible. We know that it cannot be nowhere, as if the Church would disappear into an invisible ideal to be rediscovered later—as Protestants often believe happened to the Church from about 300 to 1500 AD.
The reason so many people are renewing their study of the Arian crisis is that there were indeed times during that terrible trial when very few bishops and priests were really Catholic, as compared with a vast number on the heretical side.
Quoted from Church Militant: “In 2014, the outspoken prelate, Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan, remarked in an interview with Church Militant that the Catholic Church was in Her fourth great crisis. He identified the present crisis as “relativism reigning inside the Church,” exhibiting itself through “doctrinal, moral and tremendous liturgical anarchy.”
So many faithful Catholics are scandalized at the action and inaction of members of the Church’s hierarchy. It’s easy to say the Church weathered the storms of crisis before, and She will survive this one just as Her Spouse promised in the Gospel: “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”
There is, however, a confusion that has set upon the Mystical Body of Christ. In fact, confusion is one of the hallmarks of the Church’s various crises. The fourth century saw the rise of the pervasive heresy of Arianism — a vicious denial of Jesus Christ as God. Right now it seems common sense: “Of course Jesus is God! How could any Christian say otherwise?” But from the end of the apostolic age in the early second century and into the fourth century, it was a doctrine the Church enunciated to clear up the confusion of the time.
Athanasius made a famous quip about “You have the buildings, but we have the faith,” because most of the physical churches were in the hands of Arians or semi-Arians.”
So, it comes down to Faith … The Real Presence of our Lord and Redeemer in this world is a Truth which one either chooses to believe or chooses to disregard and the choice is made manifest in the realities of our daily lives and the society in which we find ourselves.