Missed the first part of this series? Find St. Peter here.
Or find all the Pope series here.
Make haste, and come to me before winter. Eubulus and Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren send thee their greeting. 22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you, Amen.” 2 Tim. 4:21
St. Linus… was not a saint when he reigned.
Welcome to the first section of a five-part series on the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II).
There are documents available on the Vatican website for all of this. That’s where I found the first-hand resources.
I wanted to start with Dei Verbum because it was one of the shorter documents, and it’s one of those prennial, always relevant topics, especially if you have vocal protestant friends.
Dei Verbum, Latin for ‘Word of God,’ explains how the Catholic Church uses both Holy Scripture and tradition to practice the one true faith.
If I had to break down this document into one key point, here it is:
It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.”
But there is SO much more in this document.
Really, this is the one document that could probably fight all Protestant arguments.
All responses to the good-looking Protestant friend’s questions are pulled directly from Dei Verbum.
Imagine you’re talking nicely with your protestant friend:
He said, “Each person should discern the word of God himself. I read it and find my own interpretation of the Bible.
Tell your friend, “For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God.”
Your friend may say, “Jesus didn’t say that.”
(You can answer here snidely that Jesus didn’t say not to watch porn either…)
Or you can say, if you’re a grown up, “The task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the church … This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it … guarding it scrupulously…”
Try to explain here, that the Church guards the scripture and tradition. The Church keeps it all safe because we stay against the gates of hell. We will not fall. The Catholic Church will continue, and thus, Christ’s teaching will with us.
Your nice, yet misguided, Protestant friend will say, “Of course Catholics would say Catholics are the only ones who can interpret the Bible. The Church didn’t even let you read it for yourself for a long time.”
Just respond calmly, “Easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful. That is why the Church from the very beginning accepted as her own that very ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament which is called the septuagint.” (which, remind me to write a learn something post on the septuagint.)
Again Protestant friend will say, “Catholics added books to the Bible.”
Refer your friend to the septuagint, the vulgate, the Council of Trent and the first copies of the Bible. Were protestants around when the Bible was first pulled together? Let me check… uh, no, they weren’t yet.
Remember to keep this conversation friendly, calm and polite. Protestants are still Christians. They just probably don’t know the kind of vast wealth the Catholic Church holds in her teaching and tradition. In fact, most Catholics don’t know about all of it, myself included.
I hope Protestants reading this are not offended. It’s not my intention. I just want to be clear on how to answer this often brought up arguments against being Catholic.
Getting back to tradition, your Protestant friend may throw around some “sola scriptura.”
Just answer, “But in order to keep the Gospel forever whole and alive within the church, the Apostles left bishops as their successors, ‘handing over’ to them ‘the authority to teach in their own place.’ This sacred tradition, therefore, and Sacred Scripture of both the Old and News Testaments are like a mirror in which the pilgrim Church on earth looks at God, from whom she has received everything, until she is brought finally to see Him as He is, face to face.”
“What does that mean?” your good-looking Protestant friend will ask.
“Therefore the Apostles, handing on what they themselves had received, warn the faithful to hold fast to the traditions which they have learned either by word of mouth or by letter and to fight in defense of the faith handed on once and for all,” respond to him. You may want to leave the “therefore” out of that quote, unless you’re a college professor.
This may spiral out of control about whether Christ really established a “one, holy, catholic and apostolic” Church on earth.
Try to stay away from that conversation unless you have wine.
Instead, stay on track about tradition and Scripture.
Tell your friend, “Consequently, it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.”
And that… “The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God’s word and Christ’s body. She has always maintained them, and continues to do so, together with sacred tradition, as the supreme rule of faith, since, as inspired by God and committed once and for all to writing, they impart the word of God himself without change, and make the voice of the Holy Spirit resound in the words of the prophets and Apostles.”
In the end, you will probably only win over a Protestant with love and a lot of prayer.
That’s the only way you’ll win anyone over. Don’t just talk like a Catholic, be a Catholic. Live out what you speak and you’ll change hearts.
It’s not about preaching to someone when you aren’t living what you say.
Finally, part of Dei Verbum is that “We now await no further new public revelation.”
It’s all done. Everything is there, in the Bible and in tradition and the teaching of the Church.
Here’s my favorite part:
“God, the beginning and end of all things, can be known with certainty from created reality by the light of human reasons (see Rom. :20); but teaches that it is through His revelation that those religious truths which are by their nature accessible to human reason can be known by al men with ease, with solid certitude and with no trace of error, even in this present state of the human race.”
Do you ever look out your window or stop in your tracks on a hike or look out the window of an airplane or scan the Grand Canyon or a waterfall and just know that God was there?
I get it a lot. I mean, the world is beautiful. And it’s God-made!
Just look at the colors present in the sky at sunrise or sunset. God did that.
Or the leaves in the fall or the tulips in the spring or the layers of an onion or the pattern of your cat’s hair. God did that.
God planned that.
GOD CAN BE KNOWN WITH CERTAINTY FROM CREATED REALITY.
We can know him, just by being on earth. It doesn’t take the Bible, it doesn’t take the liturgy, it doesn’t take a proselytizer. It just takes God’s creation to know him.
Then, we have the Bible and the liturgy and our friends to get to know him better. Oh, thank you God.
There is more in Dei Verbum about the Gospels and the relationship between the two testaments of the Bible.
It’s en easy to read document, you should check it out.
God bless, always.
Vatican II Series:
Introductory Post on Church Councils
Lord to whom shall we go?
Peter and everyone with him were completely surprised at all the fish they had caught. His partners James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were surprised too.
Jesus told Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you will bring in people instead of fish.” The men pulled their boats up on the shore. Then they left everything and went with Jesus.”
Then they left everything and went with Jesus.”
Oh, what a great example.
Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock, I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth it shall be bound also in heave; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”
I am so far behind in reading the Catechism, you wouldn’t believe it.
I still get the emails everyday, but since they switched to the YouCat, I started reading from my copy of the Catechism. I’m on the Second Commandment… the scheduled readings are at the Seventh Commandment. Oh boy.
1. Use the weekend.
2. Read in the bathroom.
3. Read before bed.
I just kind of assume that everyone reads something before bed because I’ve just always done it.
If you don’t have books next to your bed, I highly insist you do this. It’s so much nicer to fall asleep with a book in front of your face as apposed to your phone or the TV.
Seriously, just read a few graphs. It helps you relax, and helps your eyes tire out while your mind slows down and your body relaxes.
Anyway, don’t try to force yourself to stay awake. Just read until you missed a word. Then stop. It’s OK.
Do it again the next night. You’ll be up to the calendar in no time.
4. Read while you wait for…
5. Slow down.
In case you aren’t aware, tomorrow, Aug. 15, 2013, is the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Yes, that’s a Holy Day of Obligation.
What’s it all about, anyway?
In 1950, Pope Pius XII wrote Munificentissimus Deus, defining the Dogma of the Assumption.
It’s really the go-to guide for this feast.
Pope Pius XII said, “Since ancient times, there have been both in the East and in the West solemn liturgical offices commemorating this privilege.”
This isn’t something new that Pope Pius XII thought would be a great idea. Cool! Let’s make a new feast day for Mary and make it a Holy Day of Obligation!
No, this has been a tradition in the Church throughout the world since “ancient times.” When the Church talks about “ancient times,” you know it’s pretty serious.
Pope Pius XII continued, “The fact that holy fast had been ordered from ancient times for the day prior to the feast is made very evident by what our predecessor St. Nicholas I testifies in treating of the principal fasts which ‘the Holy Roman Church has observed for a long time, and still observes.'”
There are even traditions that most (read: me) Catholics don’t follow… a fast before the feast day? What a great idea! I wish we hadn’t given that up. I may try that today (Wednesday). Except… usually, I fast breakfast and lunch and then eat dinner. I should work on that and what a great time to start.
There’s more from Pope Pius XII:
“The Holy Fathers and the great Doctors, in the homilies and sermons they gave the people on this feast day, did not draw their teaching from the feast itself as from a primary source, but rather they spoke of this doctrine as something already known and accepted by Christ’s faithful.”
ALREADY KNOWN by Christ’s faithful. It was already in our (Catholics) corporate knowledge. It was just something that made sense to us. Of course. Mary’s body was not corrupted. She was just lifted up into Heaven. This makes perfect sense.
Pope Pius XII explains exactly what we know in our hearts.
“She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not the subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body.”
Now, if you haven’t got to that part about the bodily assumption of all humans… go check out your copy of the Catechism. That’s right. We aren’t going to be angels. We’re going to be humans, perfected in Heaven. We’ll be near Christ in our human bodies, in the same way Mary is now.
Just like not bearing sin, she’s the the forerunner. She does it before us (and with us, of course). You can’t get any closer to Christ than Mary is. She’s there, walking in his footsteps. She walks so close behind her rabbi, she’s covered in the dust from his sandals.
Let me break down this quote.
ENTIRELY UNIQUE – she’s the only one that not only had an Immulate Conception, was chosen (AND ACCEPTED) and was taken up to Heaven. The only one. She’s special.
NOT THE SUBJECT OF THE LAW – that’s right, those biological laws. she wasn’t subject to them. She didn’t have to die. God spared her from that, because she, too, sacrificed her only son.
END OF TIME FOR REDEMPTION – the rest of us have to wait until Christ returns. and oh, what a wait. Mary didn’t have to wait. She didn’t have to be away from Jesus.
Pope Pius XII said, “The august tabernacle of the Divine Word had never been reduced to dust and ashes.”
I had to look up august in this sense. It means marked by majestic dignity. Is there any better way to describe Mary? Majestic dignity.
St. Robert Bellarmine said, “And who, I ask, could believe that the ark of holiness, the dwelling place of the Word of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, could be reduced to ruin? My soul is filled with horror at the though that this virginal flesh which had begotten God, had brought him into the world, had nourished and carried him, could have been turned into ashes or given over to be food for worms.”
St. Peter Canisius, the Vatican’s secret agent, said, “This teaching (of the Assumption) has already been accepted for some centuries, it has been held as certain in the minds of the pious people, and it has been taught to the entire Church in such a way that those who deny that Mary’s body has been assumed into heaven are not to be listened to patiently but are everywhere to be denounced as over-contentious or rash men, and as imbued with a spirit that is heretical rather than Catholic.”
WOW. St. Peter Canisius thinks this doctrine of Mary’s Assumption is pretty serious stuff.
And we should, too.
Pope Pius XII tells us, “Since our Redeemer is the Son of Mary, he could not do otherwise, as the perfect observer of God’s law, than to honor, not only his eternal Father, but also his most beloved Mother. And, since it was within his power to grant her this great honor, to preserve her from the corruption of the tomb, WE MUST BELIEVE (emphasis mine) that he really acted in this way.”
Now, Mary sits “in splendor at the right hand of her Son,” Pope Pius XII said.
Wait, the right side? So Jesus is in between Mary and God. Interesting.
It’s like… A HOLY FAMILY. Wow.
I’ll let you know how my fast goes… if it goes. Maybe I’ll give up coffee.
Yes. I’ll start with abstaining from coffee. And add on.
Check out other learn something posts: