Archive for the ‘Infallibility’ Category

April 25th

April 26, 2010

Today’s Gospel reminds us that Jesus, Himself, is the Good Shepherd and that we, His sheep, hear His voice and follow Him.  How do we hear His voice?  We hear the voice of Jesus through the Sacred Scriptures, through Tradition (that which has been handed down to us from the Apostles) and through the Church.

Jesus Christ handpicked twelve Apostles who closely accompanied Him throughout His public ministry.  Those Twelve were eyewitnesses of His bodily Resurrection and they were commissioned by Him to take His message to the ends of the earth.  Jesus gave the Apostles, and their successors, the authority to teach in His name.  Jesus said to the Apostles: “He who hears you, hears Me.”  (cf. Luke 10:16)

The Apostles were given the Holy Spirit to guide them into all Truth.  (cf. John 16:13)  The Holy Spirit guides the Church and protects it from teaching error.  Because we know that the Holy Spirit guides the Church we can have confidence that the Church will never lead us into error when it teaches on faith or morals.  Through the Apostles and their successors we hear the voice of Christ.  The Church carries on the mission of Christ and teaches in His name.

The Church was promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to lead it into all Truth, yet we know that gift was entrusted to weak vessels.  The shepherds of the Church are sinners, just as are all the members of the Church.  We know that the Church is holy and at the same time it is constantly striving to become holy.  The Church is the spotless bride of Christ and the Church is full of sinners who stand in need of forgiveness.

There have always been scandals and failures in the Church, there have always been attacks on the Church from within and from without.  We must not allow ourselves to become discouraged by the human element of our Church.  We know that we can trust the teachings of the Church on faith and morals because we know that the Holy Spirit will not allow the Church to lead us into error.  Jesus Christ promised that the gates of hell would never prevail against the Church.  (cf. Matthew 16:18)  The Church is the pillar and foundation of truth in the world.  (cf. 1 Timothy 3:15)

Let us pray for our Church and her shepherds during these days.  May the Lord bless and strengthen our Holy Father and the bishops united with him.  May they have the wisdom and the courage that they need as they continue to guide the Church.

God bless,

Father White

Third Sunday of Easter

April 19, 2010

The central character in today’s Gospel, after that of Jesus Himself, is Saint Peter: the first Pope of our Church.  Jesus Christ built His Church upon the foundation of Saint Peter and the Apostles: that is what we mean when we say in the Creed that we believe in One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.  Our Church is Apostolic because it is founded upon the Rock of Saint Peter, whose name literally means “rock,” as well as upon the other Apostles and their successors the bishops.

The reason that the apostolic origin of our Church is important is because it is through the Apostles and their successors that we are linked through the centuries back to Jesus Christ.  The Apostles closely accompanied Jesus throughout His earthly ministry and they were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ bodily resurrection.  They met with Jesus after He rose from the dead and they talked with Him; they touched the nail marks in His hands and in His side.  Jesus Christ entrusted them with the Good News, He commissioned them to take His message to the ends of the earth.  Jesus sent the Apostles to baptize and teach all nations.

Furthermore, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide the Apostles into all Truth.  Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church.  He gave the Apostles the authority to teach in His name.  Because of Apostolic Succession, we know that the teachings of Jesus Christ have been faithfully handed down from Apostles through their successors, the bishops, down to our very day.  Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit, Who is God, would be with the Church and guide it.  Because of Apostolic Succession, we can have great trust and confidence that the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit and therefore will not lead us into error.  The Holy Spirit guides the Church when she teaches on faith and morals; if that were not true, we would have no way to know the Truth.

The Church was given the gift of the Holy Spirit in order that it could teach us and lead us into the fullness of Truth.  Of course, we know that gift was entrusted to weak vessels.  All the leaders of the Church are sinners, just like you and I, just like the Apostles.  Remember: Jesus built His Church upon the Apostles and one of the Twelve Apostles is the one who handed Him over to be killed.  Saint Peter, the Rock, denied Jesus three times.  The Gospel tells us that in the Garden of Gethsemane all of the Apostles, those upon whom the Church was to be built, “forsook Him and fled.” (cf. Matthew 26:56)  Isn’t it a scandal that those who would lead the Church abandoned Jesus?  Yes.  And yet we must remember that we all abandon Jesus whenever we sin.  When we sin, we choose some thing over our God, Whom we are to love above all things.

Throughout the history of the Church there have been scandals and failures; and yet the Church has never taught error.  On the one hand the Church is the spotless Bride of Christ which leads us into deeper union with our God; on the other hand, the Church is made up of weak sinners who betray their Lord.  We know that both of these things are true of the Church and yet are not a contradiction: they are a paradox, but not contradictory.  The Church is called to be holy; in Heaven it is already perfectly holy.  We, members of the Church on earth, are to strive for that holiness.

The all-too-human side of the Church can at times cause us to become discouraged; and yet we should never lose hope.  It can be difficult to experience the betrayals and attacks upon the Church from within and from without.  Yet we know that Our Lord has already won the victory.  Jesus Christ promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church and therefore we can have great hope.

Those same Apostles, who abandoned their Lord and ran for their lives when Jesus was arrested on Holy Thursday, were completely transformed at Pentecost.  Once they had received the Holy Spirit, they went out boldly preaching the Good News that Jesus Christ had truly arisen from the dead.  Those same Apostles, who deserted their Teacher in the Garden of Gethsemane; were later beaten, tortured and killed for the message that they proclaimed after the Holy Spirit had strengthened them.

Let us not become discouraged or despondent but let us all remember to pray for the shepherds of the Church and especially for our Holy Father: “Almighty and Everlasting God, have mercy upon Your servant Pope Benedict, our Supreme Pontiff, and upon all bishops, priests and deacons.  Direct them, according to Your loving kindness, in the way of eternal salvation, that with Your help they may ever desire that which is pleasing to You and accomplish it with all their strength.  Amen.”

July 26th

August 25, 2009

One of the questions that I am asked after people hear that I am a convert is: “What drew you to the Catholic Faith?”  The main thing that convinced me to join the Catholic Church was the fact that the Church has received authority to teach from Christ Himself.  Let me share with you how I discovered that Truth.

Although I had been raised Baptist, by the end of high school I had pretty much left the practice of any faith behind.  For several years I did not think about God much at all.

When I did finally begin to search for God, I had no idea where to begin.  I found trying to decipher the Bible nearly impossible.  I spoke to people of various Christian denominations and I received many different answers to my many questions and everyone quoted the Bible.  I learned that some denominations believe that a person needs to be baptized in order for them to be saved; others hold that one only needs to believe in Jesus Christ and then one is already saved.  Both groups quoted Scripture and each one contradicted the other.  I found this very frustrating.

I already believed that the Bible was the inspired Word of God; I also had a sense that God would not contradict Himself.  If God is Truth, how could He say one thing and the opposite at the same time?

I prayed fervently to know God as He really is, and not someone’s opinion of Him.  During this time of searching a Catholic engaged me in dialogue.  He told me that I should be baptized and he quoted Scripture to support the necessity of Baptism.  I asked him what made him think that his interpretation of Scripture was the correct one.  He told me about the authority that the Church received from Christ.  He explained how Jesus gave the Keys of the Kingdom to Saint Peter and how Jesus promised that the gates of hell would never prevail against the Church.  He showed me in Scripture where Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to the Apostles to lead them into all Truth.

He then explained that the authority given to the Apostles was handed down through the generations by the laying on of hands.  When I learned that there was an unbroken succession from the current Pope and the Bishops all the way back through the Apostles to Christ, and that through them the Church was preserved in Truth and could teach with the authority given by Jesus Himself, I knew that I had to become a Catholic.  There were a lot of things that I had yet to learn, but I was well on my way into the Catholic Church.

God bless,

Fr. White