Protest-ant Beliefs vs. Catholic Church

December 27, 2011

Kerrin says,Catholic Salvation is:Through the Roman Catholic Church

Bread From Heaven: Yes, this is very true but only because Jesus founded the Church to bring the Gospel to every Generation until the end of Time. Without Jesus there would be no salvation through the Catholic Church or any other way.

Kerrin says, Catholic Salvation is: Merited by doing good works

Bread From Heaven:Absolutely WRONG. We cannot in any way merit salvation by our good works. Aside from our works making our faith perfect as James says, our works and sufferings etc are not for the purpose of saving ourselves but to make reparation for the temporal consequences of our sin. To purify our souls from attachment to sin. And what is not completed in this earthly life is completed by the grace of God in Purgatory. So that we may be Holy as He is Holy. (I Peter 1:16)For a full understanding of the Catholic teaching on purification see also my post–>Where is the Biblical Evidence for Purgatory?
Kerrin says, Catholic Salvation is: By faith PLUS the law, sacraments, and good works
Bread From Heaven: Well this is just what scripture says:
Law:

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Sacraments:Baptism

John 3:5 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Eucharist:

John 6:54 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life (see John 6:26–65)

Confession:

John 20:21 …I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, their sins [c]have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”

Good works

James 2:14-26 faith without works is dead.

Kerrin says, Catholic Salvation is: Attained by man

Bread From Heaven: Absolutely WRONG.

Kerrin says, Catholic Salvation is:A process from Baptism through purgatory

Bread From Heaven: Salvation is through Jesus Christ. But we cannot enter into the Holy Presence of God until we are purified. Baptism is the first purification from all sin, eternal and temporal. Confession is a further absolution of the eternal consequences of sin, the sacraments give grace to strengthen our souls to stay the course and Purgatory finishes the purification of our souls, so that we will be Holy as He is Holy.

Kerrin says, Catholic Salvation is: Never assured in this life

Bread From Heaven: As long as we live we are able to fall from grace through mortal sin. But we always have hope and if we should fall into mortal sin we can avail ourselves of confession. As long as we are not in mortal sin we are sure of salvation. But Protestants, pretend to assurance of salvation with their once saved always save tradition. However, because all know of Christians who have committed adultery or some other mortal sin, they will say that the truth of the matter is:
Once saved Always saved IF saved. So they contend that those who fall were never saved in the first place. Therefore, no one really knows that they are saved for sure. They may be pretty sure they may assert that they are sure, but the reality is that until they die they too retain the ability to sin mortally. There are some sects who contend that once saved always saved NO MATTER HOW MUCH ONE SINS OR THE GRAVITY OF SIN.

This theology is rejected by the majority of Protestants. They may say, “Once saved always saved” but in the back of their mind they are adding, “If saved.” This why they are constantly judging each other; trying to determine is so and so is a REAL Christian.

Kerrin says, Catholic:Sins are expiated by suffering in purgatory

Bread From Heaven: Not entirely true.As I have said earlier. Jesus paid the full price for the Eternal Consequences of Sin but we must make reparation for the temporal consequences of sin. Where is the Biblical Evidence for Purgatory?

Kerrin says:Mary and all the saints are also glorified

Bread From Heaven: As heroic examples of Faith for us to follow. They are not glorified in the same sense as Our Lord or worshiped.

Kerrin says, Catholic Salvation is: This work continues with daily sacrifices

Bread From Heaven:This is a misunderstanding of what we celebrate at mass. Do we have daily sacrifices? Yes. Are these daily sacrifices a continuing of the daily sacrifices of the Old Testament priests? NO. We do call the mass a sacrifice but not because it is a NEW sacrifice. Not because it is ANOTHER sacrifice. But, at our mass a great mystery takes place. At every Catholic Mass the curtain of time is pulled back and we enter in to that ONE SACRIFICE that our precious Lord made on the cross 2000 years ago. We re-present the ETERNAL SACRIFICE of Jesus Christ. It happened once in Time but since it is eternal we are able to bring that sacrifice into the present by following the command of God the Son to “Do this in Remembrance of Me.” –>Sacrifice of the Mass


What is Lacking Christ?

April 18, 2009


Bread From Heaven: But how can “what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions” possibly refer to a “lacking of time”? Can you support this with scripture?

Comment: Yes, Christ’s time on this earth was limited. His ability to walk and spread the gospel was limited.

Response: Of course I agree that His time on earth was limited. But I fail to understand how, limited time = what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions.

Comment: Lets put it in context:

Col 1:24-29 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church….of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. to this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

Paul is referencing His sacrificial service of spreading the gospel of Christ.

Response: I agree. And all that Paul suffered in this worthy endeavor, even simply the giving of his time rather than spending it upon his own desires was “filling up what was lacking”. This life was a concrete life of self denial, of taking up his cross and following Christ. This is a very good image of what we mean by beginning our purification in this life.

Comment: Paul is not saying that Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary was lacking.

Response: Well, what Paul says is,

Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

If what you mean, is that Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished all that God planned for it to accomplish. I agree. Absolutely. Amen! We do not in any way mean that His death fell short of what God planned. Or that Jesus somehow failed in His mission, goofed up, gave up too soon, blew it, fell short or anything like that. NOT AT ALL.

We say that, by the sovereign PLAN of God, Jesus would die to accomplish the forgiveness of the ETERNAL consequences of sin. He did that. Mission completed… perfectly.

But, the Catholic Church teaches, ALSO, that by the sovereign PLAN of God, all people, in order to enter into the presence of HIS GLORY, have to accomplish the forgiveness of the TEMPORAL consequences of sin, in order to be totally purified. Only God knows exactly what this entails for each individual. But, we do know we can begin the process of our purification by:

  1. Resisting sin so we don’t continue to pile on more and more of that which we will need purification.
  2. Self denial-Acts of charity, prayer, evangelization, acceptance of crosses from Christ, good works

Comment: IF that were the case, it would have been stated at least one more time in God’s word, and it just isn’t there.

Response: But surely you don’t mean that:

if something is in scripture only one time we can safely ignore it

OR

it is not true

or

something like that.

I am sure you do not know what the ramifications of this kind of hermeneutic is. Below are events, parables, etc. that are only mentioned once in Scripture. I am sure there are thousands more if we look at the OT or the other books of the NT:

Matthew

  1. Visit of the wise men (2)
  2. flight into Egypt (2)
  3. Much of the Sermon on the Mount is only in Matthew (Ch 5-7)
  4. Healing two blind men (9:27)
  5. The hidden treasue, dragnet, and pearl parables (13:44 ff)
  6. Shekle in the fish mouth (17:24)
  7. Parable o the laborers (Mt 20)
  8. Parable of the two sons-lazy and obedient (21:28)
  9. Parable of the 10 virgins (25)
  10. Last Judgement (25)
  11. Parable of the sheep & goats(25)
  12. Soldiers when tomb opens(28)
  13. Report of the soldiers to the Jewish authorities (28:11)

And these are just the ones we find in the Gospel of Matthew. Large sections of Luke and John would also be excluded if we reject, as scripture, that which is mentioned only one time.


Scripture and Purgatory

April 16, 2009


Bread From Heaven: God could have decided to save us in the way the Protestant Churches teach. Christ’s death COULD have sufficed completely, in the way Protestants believe and reject the necessity of absolute, real, material, holiness and perfection and purification…GOD COULD HAVE CHOSEN TO DO IT THAT WAY. And we admit that He certainly could have chosen to let us into Heaven putrid with sin but accept Jesus’ covering. But scripture would have been written very differently then, in that case.

It is not that we trample the scrifice underfoot. We simply submit to what the Church has always taught and believed.**

Comment: God DID choose to purify us through Christ’s death.

Response: So, you are completely pure? and sinless now? If not, then you have not been completely healed of the effects of original sin. You are still wounded.

Comment: I am concerned for your emphasis on what the “Church” teaches. You should truly focus on what God has taught us. The word of God which I have quoted mulitple times CLEARLY states that we are cleansed through the blood of Christ. Christ’s death has completed erased our sins and continues to do so.

Response: When we say, “The Church teaches….” It is no different than when someone says “The Bible teaches…” or “The Bible says…” The implication is clearly what we believe God is teaching.

Comment: If you say that we are not covered by his blood after our salvation, then you deny Gods omnipotence. For God is the same yesterday as he is today and remains for all eternity.

Response: I am denying God’s omnipotence only in your own imagination. It is uncharitable for you to denigrate my reverence for God just because I don’t interpret scripture the same way as you do.

Comment:1 John 1:7-9 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son CLEANSES us from ALL sin…..If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Response: OK, wonderful verse. But we both know that it does not intersect with reality as we know it, if we interpret it your way. The fact remains that, in spite of the fact that we sincerely believe in Jesus…we simply are not actually cleansed from ALL unrighteousness. We still sin.

But this verse does intersect with reality as we know it in ourselves when we examine the Catholic interpretation. Rather than absolutely ALL, the all in this verse must be talking about ALL (ETERNAL) CONSEQUENCES OF SIN/UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.

Comment:1 John 2:1-2 And if anyone sins, we have an ADVOCATE with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

Response: I can only agree with this verse.

Comment:Romans 8: 1 There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Response: Again I agree. The CCC even says the purification of Purgatory is entirely different than the punishment of the damned/condemned.

Comment: Trust God, trust God’s word, Trust in His Holy Spirit to guide you. If anything goes against His word(the Bible), it is in error and is not to be trusted.

Response: I could not agree more. And there is nothing in the Catholic Faith that contradicts one thing in Sacred Scripture. NOTHING. What the Catholic Faith contradicts in NOT Scripture but Protestant Interpretation of Scripture. That is something different.

But, this is so hard for Protestants to grasp because they are convinced that they are able to infallibly interpret scripture, even though they would never make this claim for themselves. That is what it boils down to. So, they also think they can infallibly judge the Catholic Church and any number of other churches, to be in error according to their private interpretation of scripture. I was a die hard sola scriptura Protestant. I could never have become Catholic if there were blatant contradictions of scripture. Catholic interpretation of Scripture is more credible because the writers in the very first century interpreted scripture the same way as the Church does today. The Protestant Churches have new and modern interpretations and there are so many variations among the Protestant sects it makes one dizzy.

Comment: Catholic tradition is unscriptural, and therefore blasphemous.

Response: Do you reject the verse below?

2 Thessalonians 2:15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

Where in Scripture does it say that we can only believe things about the faith that are in scripture?


Suffering and Purgatory

September 26, 2008

Q. I have heard that Purgatory was a late invention by Roman Catholicism to make money to build Catholic Churches.
i.e. TETZEL the Dominican friar who sold Indulgences in 1517 in Germany.

I do believe as a Catholic that there will be some form of Purification after death in order to prepare us for heaven.

I am not just keen on the SUFFERING BIT of purgatory as nobody likes to suffer!

A. Yes, Tetzel’s selling of indulgences in Germany lit the fire under Martin Luther. And Luther was correct, Tetzel was abusing the the teachings of the Church in order to raise money. But Purgatory was NOT invented as a fundraising scheme in the 1500’s. As you may have seen the Jews long before Christianity believed in a purification after death. The Name PURGATORY was given to conceptualize this purification, just like Trinity and Incarnation which we have already said are not in the Bible. This name may have come into use later but I don’t know at what date.

Try not to worry about the suffering in Purgatory. We also suffer here in this life and if offered up in union with Christ it will enable to remove some of the suffering we are due in Purgatory. Just as the suffering in this life is not unbearable so our suffering in Purgatory will be bearable. But our Catholic doctrine of suffering is so very beautiful. If we can recollect ourselves and rejoice in our suffering as Peter says in his epistle and offer it up for our own purification or the Holy Souls in Purgatory we can begin our Purgatory in this life. It changes every suffering great and small and brings us so much peace in the midst of our suffering; unlike those who just grit their teeth and bear it, and believe there is no purpose or reason for their suffering. We can also avoid time in Purgatory by giving alms and of course diligently AVOIDING SIN.


PURGATORY – Part 2

September 22, 2008

Click here for :PURGATORY PART I , and Early Fathers on Purgatory, or all my posts on Purgatory.

Q.The Lord Jesus, the founder of Christianity, never said anything about Purgatory and the Gospel and New Testament references are few and INDIRECT: many have different interpretations to them.

The Lord Jesus just talked about Heaven and Hell in the Gospels.

If you read John Chapter 14 verses 1 -9 Jesus is talking to his disciples and about when he had prepared a place for them in Heaven he would take them to where he was in HEAVEN: NOT PURGATORY!!!!

When I DIE I WANT TO GO TO HEAVEN TO BE WITH JESUS NOT PURGATORY.

A. You have obviously been influenced heavily by Protestants who believe anything not found in the Bible is not worthy of belief. And yet the Protestants have nothing, zip, nada in Scripture that commands this restriction or even recommends it. It is a Protestant Tradition. The doctrine of sola scriptura is a recent doctrinal invention; first contrived by Martin Luther 500 years ago.

Your objection to the sparsity of scriptural support for Purgatory is exactly the same sort of objection that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have to the doctrine of the Trinity.

“Where is it spelled out in Scripture?” they ask.

For that matter:

Where is the incarnation spelled out clearly and indisputably in scripture?

They are indebted to the Catholic Church for everything they have. For all that they have lost, they are indebted to the relatively recent reformers.

Jn 20:30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.

Jn 21:25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

From these scriptures, it is obvious that all Jesus did and said is NOT even close to being contained in the Sacred Scriptures.

A man may write his autobiography. But all that he was, cannot be contained in a book. A person who is intent on more deeply understanding that man can certainly get a whole lot more information by interviewing those who actually lived with him and knew him best. Protestants will not accept anything beyond a book. Catholics want to know and have preserved everything that those who knew Jesus best passed on by word of mouth and by letter. And they treasure these things in their hearts and in their Faith.

I hope you go to Heaven too. Whether you or anyone else believes in Purgatory or not will not help you avoid it if it is necessary in order for you to “be HOLY as HE is HOLY.” If at your death you are perfectly Holy then you too will go straight to Heaven.


Where is Purgatory in Scripture?

July 20, 2008

Q. Where is Purgatory in Sacred Scripture?

A. Well, the word purgatory does not appear anywhere is Sacred Scripture. However, the words trinity and incarnation also do not appear anywhere in Sacred Scripture. So, the fact that a word does not appear in scripture does not categorically exclude the truthfulness of the doctrine it conveys. If it did we would all need to join the Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, the Doctines of the Trinity and Incarnation are clearly found in scripture. And so is the Doctrine of Purgatory.

Matthew 12:32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Here Jesus implies that some sins will be forgiven in the “age to come.” We know that sin cannot be forgiven in Hell and there is not need for any sin to be forgiven once you are in Heaven. So, there must be some other state/age/place where sin CAN be forgiven after this age or this life. We call this Purgatory. This word comes from the Latin word for pure purigare. It is an intermediate state between life in this world and Heaven in which the soul is purified.

1 Corinthians 3:15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

You might want to look at this whole passage in context. Again, we know that once someone is in Hell, there is no escaping. And we also know that in Heaven there is no suffering, so this passage must be talking about a purification before Heaven is attained.

1 Peter 3:18-20 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison 20who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.

1 Peter 4:6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

Luke 16:22-26 “Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23″In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.24″And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’25″But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.26’And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us. Read the rest of this entry »


Where Did the Catholic Church Get the Idea of Purgatory?

July 18, 2008

Q. Where did the idea of Purgatory come from?

A. From Sacred Scripture and our elder brothers in Faith, the Jewish Faith. Please see my post: Where is Purgatory is Scripture? for the evidence of Purgatory in Scripture. The quotes below are from Kaddish,Religion Facts: Judaism and Judaism 101 .

Religion Facts: Judaism

Judgement

Traditional Judaism includes belief in both heaven and hell, as we will see below. How is one’s destination decided? The School of Shammai offered this description:There will be three groups on the Day of Judgment: one of thoroughly righteous people, one of thoroughly wicked people and one of people in between. The first group will be immediately inscribed for everlasting life; the second group will be doomed in Gehinnom [Hell], as it says, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence” [Daniel 12:2], the third will go down to Gehinnom and squeal and rise again, as it says, “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on My name and I will answer them [Zechariah 13:9]… [Babylonian Talmud, tractate Rosh Hashanah 16b-17a] Read the rest of this entry »


Does God Forgive and Then Punish Us?

July 16, 2008

Q. If Jesus died for our sins on the cross then why does the Catholic Church teach that we still need to be punished in Purgatory?

A. The non Catholic view of salvation says that Jesus died for our sins and if we repent and believe:

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins …

End of story. However, we see in Sacred Scripture that there is more to the story. For instance, in this very verse it goes on to say:

.…and purify us from all unrighteousness.

This is the Catholic Doctrine of Purgatory in a nutshell. We see in scripture and in our everyday life two aspects or dimensions of sin. By offending the eternal God we commit a sin that has eternal consequences. We being finite are completely unable to make reparation for the eternal consequences of sin. Only an eternal being is able to do this. So, God incarnate, suffered and died on the cross to save us from the eternal consequences of sin. And we appropriate this gift by baptism, faith, repentance of sin in general and particular etc.

However, there remains the temporal consequences of sin. All sin, large and small, has consequences. These consequences are more obvious at times than others. If I speed and suddenly notice red lights flashing in my rear view mirror, confessing and repenting of my sin of speeding does not make the police car disappear. I still get the ticket. I still suffer the consequences of my sin. If I have sex outside of marriage and get an STD, going to confession does not make the STD disappear. The consequences of other sins may not be as obvious. But they all need to be suffered by us either in this life or the next. This is how we are purified of the temporal consequences of sin.

As with all the stories of God dealing with His children, He does His part and His children do their part.

  • God warned Noah about the Flood but Noah had to build the ark.
  • God promised to make a nation out of the seed of Abraham but Abraham had to go.
  • God told Moses He would set Israel free but Moses had to lead them out.
  • God promised Israel the land of Canaan but Israel had to conquer it.

We clearly get a glimpse of the eternal and temporal consequences of sin in 2 Sam 12:13-14:

Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD ” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD has taken away your sin; you shall not die.14″However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.”

In this passage David is confronted by the Prophet Nathan about his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah. David, repents. And Nathan announces that God has forgiven him for this sin. But, his child would die as a consequence of his sin. So God’s forgiveness did not negate a temporal punishment for his sin.

UPDATE: And in the NT as a commenter pointed out:

Acts 9:15-16:

“But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’”

Here is Saul who will be transformed into Saint Paul by Christ; who is promised suffering the moment of his conversion to Christianity. And the NT tells us many of these sufferings and Sacred Tradition informs us of his death by beheading. Remember he killed and persecuted many Christians before his conversion so he had much to suffer for his sin.

Martin Luther taught that we are covered over with the righteousness of Christ as a blanket of snow on a pile of dung and that is how we enter Heaven–still impure inside. However, the Catholic Faith teaches that we are completely purified of all sin, both temporal and eternal before we can enter into the presence of God in Heaven. So, using Luther’s analogy, when we enter the presence of God we are pure and white through and through.


Does the Catholic Church Still Believe in Purgatory?

April 21, 2008


Q. Does the Catholic Church Still Believe in Purgatory?

A. Yes

Q. What is Purgatory?

A. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church

THE FINAL PURIFICATION, OR PURGATORY

1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:

I Peter 1:7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

St. Gregory the Great: “As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.( Dial. 4,39:PL 77,396; cf. Mt 12:31.)

Mt. 12:31 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Read the rest of this entry »


Benedict the Re-Gatherer

December 3, 2007

Ok so it’s an awkward title, but the veritable forest of olive branches that il Papa has been extending in so many directions has given me the impression of a pope laboring to draw together once again the broken church of history perhaps in a conscious effort to prepare us for the ultimate re-gathering that only Christ himself can achieve. Besides, it’s Advent and things apocalyptic fill the Catholic spirit and mind.

Spes Salvi is masterful in so many ways, it is difficult to appreciate it all just now. But many facets of this magisterial document are coming into focus. Its lack of all reference to the Second Vatican Council is perhaps a strong indication that we are now past the post-conciliar age and entering a wholly new epoch in the life of the Church. This is an invitation, even an insistence that we look wide eyed at the present state of affairs and plan for the future. And the future which Benedict is preparing for us in various acts this year is a brave one indeed.

  • The allusion to a new conception of Purgatory as a purification at the moment of Judgment, Christ’s divine and holy love burning away one’s imperfections due to sin, is clearly Eastern in spirit. Western conceptions of purgatory form just one item on the laundry list of Eastern complaints against the West, but an important one. Taken together with the considerable achievements of the recent Ravenna Document, the turn to the East is advanced now again one step with this generous olive branch. Eastern complaints of Latinization are met with a small but significant dose of Western Hellenization. If only by a toe, the once firm frontier is crossed.

  • In Liberation Theologized South America, evangelical Christians and Pentecostals are having a field day. One of their most potent charges is that the Catholic Church has abandoned the pursuit of Heaven. Not only the Bible but salvation itself they can claim as their proper domain when the popular perception prevails that Catholic clergy only talk about social analysis and the transformation of sinful political and economic structures. While not abandoning the demands of Christian charity and justice, in Spes Salvi we find the clearest articulation of the Church’s fundamental orientation toward Salvation through Christ since before the Council. As articulated in Antonio Socci’s commentary partially translated on the Catholic blog, Rorate Caeli, Spes Salvi may be seen as a correction to Gaudim et Spes’s more earthbound image of God’s Kingdom. One may hear in Benedict’s words a call to ex-Catholic evangelicals and pentecostals to be reconciled to the Church whose aim is the Heavenly Jerusalem.

  • Catholic traditionalists have certainly had their share of olive branches this year. Summorum Pontificum was perhaps the first of several gifts which may lead to a reg-athering of that corner of the Church.

  • The 400,000 members of the world wide Traditional Anglican Communion, an Anglican splinter group formed in protest to the ordination of women, were given hope of reunion en masse with Rome this fall when their petition written with the reported assistance of Vatican officials was formally submitted and received.

  • The Church’s Chinese mission was advanced earlier this year with the long awaited letter to the Chinese Church which was full of conciliatory sentiment and affirmed that for the Church to be herself she must be fully Chinese and fully Catholic. The first fruit of this olive branch was the appointment by the Chinese government of a new bishop of Beijing acceptable to Rome. A formidable achievement, détente is in the air.

Pope Benedict has clearly been working overtime in 2007. May all his efforts be blessed.