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Aug 182017
 

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Jesus Christ founded the Church to give Salvation to mankind through the knowledge of the truth: “you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth” (The First Letter to Timothy 3, 15). This is the reason why the Lord guaranteed Her infallibility in issues concerning the salvation of Her people, and exclusively in terms of salvation issues: in other words, the infallibility of the Church exclusively applies to doctrinal principles of faith and morals. Therefore, the message of the Gospel is not left unprotected against human manipulation, for its contents have been systematically attacked all through the centuries.

We can affirm that the Divine Revelation would have been useless without the guarantee of infallibility of the Ministry of the Church (the Pope and Bishops), because God’s Message would be distorted along the centuries and would come to us deprived of its power of salvation.

During the ceremony of presentation of the new Catechism to the people, Pope John Paul II affirmed:

“The Lord entrusted to His Church the mission of keeping the depositary of faith and She has accomplished Her Mission all through tides of times” (Fidei Depositum, Introduction).

Therefore, that is the holy mission the Lord gave to His Church: to keep untouched the depositary of faith. The Church has always done and still does that. To accomplish Her Mission, the Church created the “Holy Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith” with the responsibility of keeping the purity of the doctrine in the whole of the Catholic World. Unfortunately, this Holy Congregation is often criticized inside and outside the Church, despite its ultimate importance to the Church and to our salvation. It is especially criticized every time it is obliged to call admonish those theologians that divert from the doctrine of the Church. The Holy Spirit all through the two-thousand-year journey of the Church has confirmed this doctrine. It is worth noticing that the Pope unconditionally relies on this Congregation in matters of doctrine. During the General Assembly of the Holy Congregation on November 24, 1995, the Pope addressed its members with these words: “Your work, in many aspects difficult and demanding, is of fundamental importance to Christian life. In fact, the goal of your work is to promote the integrity and purity of faith, which are essential conditions to guarantee that men and women of modern times may find the light that leads to the pathways of salvation” [LR, # 50, 16/12/95, page 14(614)].

The mission of the Church it to allow “the truth of the Gospel to shine bright”, affirmed the Pope.

“Pope John XXII had entrusted to the Council, as its main goal, the task of preserving and presenting the precious depositary of Christian faith in the best way possible…” (FD, Introduction).

The major concern of the Church has always been keeping faithful to the Lord and preserve His legacy intact, the “depositum fidei” (the depositary of faith) or, in the words of Saint Paul to Timothy and Titus, the “health doctrine”.

 

Professor Felipe Aquino

 

Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino

Aug 112017
 

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The Catholic Church is aware of the fact that She holds the plenitude of the means of salvation, as John Paul II said: “Our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head (Unitatis Redintegratio # 3). In other words, “the Catholic Church has been endowed with all divinely revealed truth and with all means of grace” (Unitatis Redintegratio # 4).

Our brothers who were born in the so-called Evangelical Churches and are thus separated of the totality of Catholic faith cannot be blamed for the separation that happened in the past. On the other hand, they are deprived of many means of salvation and sanctity that Jesus left to the Church as His Legacy: Sacraments, Marian Devotion, devotion to the saints and much more.

It is worth noticing that when the Catholic Church refers to Protestant Churches, She means traditional historical hierarchical movements like Anglican and Lutheran Churches. She does not mean those countless small sects that uncontrollably and independently multiply at each day: it is obvious that Jesus never authorized that.

Vatican Council II Lumen Gentium affirms that:

“This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which He erected for all ages as “the pillar and mainstay of the truth”. This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity” (Lumen Gentium # 8).

The Decree on Ecumenism of Vatican Council II also affirms that:

“For it is only through Christ’s Catholic Church, which is “the all-embracing means of salvation,” that they can benefit fully from the means of salvation. We believe that Our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, in order to establish the one Body of Christ on earth to which all should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God” (Unitatis Redintegratio # 3).

The unity inside Christ’s Church is manifested in several factors: doctrine, liturgy, governing, Apostolic Succession and so on. The Church has only one doctrine and only one profession of faith received through the Apostles. Those who do not believe is these articles of faith cannot affirm that they are Catholic in the true sense of the word.

The Catechism approved by the Pope in 1992 clearly shows that there is only one doctrine both in terms of dogma and morals.

The liturgical celebration of the Sacraments is an essential factor of unity. The whole world follows the Liturgical Calendar: everywhere you go around the world you will find the same liturgical celebrations and will be able to participate in the same Mass, with minor variations. Another factor of unity in the Church is the Holy Hierarchy that Jesus Himself wanted and enforced. The Apostolic Succession protects and guarantees the fraternal order inside the Church through the Sacrament of the Order. The main factor is the Pope, “the pillar of union” to whom all Clergy and Laity are subject.

The greatest children of the Church have always followed the principle: “Cum Petro et sub Petro” (With Peter and subject to Peter).

The Lord’s Providence has always been with the Church: we have had 264 Popes and the Church has never lacked a Visible Head. The Pope is Christ’s Representative on earth. In the words of Saint Catherine of Siena, the Pope is “sweet Christ on earth”. We have had 50 anti-popes so far, in other words, illegitimate popes who were fruit of human weakness, though we have never lacked a True Pope, Christ’s representative and Peter’s Successor who carries the burden of all sins of mankind.

 

Professor Felipe Aquino

 

Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino

Jul 292017
 

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After Gnosticism, Aryanism, Apolinarism and Macedonism the Church had to face some other heresies concerning Jesus Christ. These new heresies deeply disturbed the life of the Church but were eventually overcome in Catholic Councils.

Nestorianism. Nestorian (dead on 426) was the Patriarch of Constantinople and he defended the misconception that Jesus was in fact two people (a human and a divine person) with two different natures; therefore Mary was merely the mother of the man Jesus but not the Mother of God (as the protestants also affirm). That implied in the fact that Jesus might have two Selves. Nevertheless, Christians have called Mary as “Theotokos”(Mother of God) since the First Century.

That heresy was condemned in the Council of Ephesus (431 A.D.), mainly due to the efforts of Saint Cyril of Alexandria (dead on 444 A.D.). This Council established that Jesus is One Only Person (a Divine One): Jesus Self is Divine and He has two natures (a human one and a divine one) harmoniously united though distinct in this One Person Who is also the Word of God. The Council also thoroughly confirmed the Christian belief of the first centuries that Mary is Saint and “Theotokos”(Mother of God).

Monophysicism. Eutiches of Constantinople and Dionysus of Alexandria defended this heresy, which was in fact a magnified copy of Nestorianism and fell in the opposite misconception: they affirmed that Jesus had one only Nature and was one only Person. They affirmed that His Divine nature had absorbed his human nature and therefore He had not been a man in the strictest sense. That heresy was condemned in the Council of Calcedonia (451 A.D.) that re-affirmed that Jesus is one only Person (Divine) with two natures (human and Divine). During this Council Pope Leo Magnum sent a letter to Patriarch Flavianus of Constantinople re-affirming the dogma of Jesus’ double nature. The Council approved the Pope’s words and the Bishops said that: “Peter spoke through the mouth of the Lion”.

Monotelitism or Monoenergism. Serge, Patriarch of Constantinople (VIIth Century) defended that Jesus was one only Person with two natures, though one only Will (“theletes” in Greek) and one only Action. That idea also denied that Jesus was a perfect man and put the mysteries of Incarnation and Redemption in great risk. That heresy was condemned in the Constantinople Council III (681 A.D.). That Council established that Jesus is One Only Person, two natures, two wills and two acts. In other words, Jesus is perfectly human and perfectly Divine. During His earthly life He acted as God (in the miracles) when He wanted, though He totally redeemed mankind when He perfectly and totally took upon Him our human nature. The Letter to the Hebrews affirms that Jesus: “has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin” (The Letter to the Hebrews 4, 15) and that “he had to become like his brothers in every way” (The Letter to the Hebrews 2, 17).

 

Professor Felipe Aquino

 

Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino

Jul 142017
 

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Unfortunately, the unity of the Church suffered some ruptures. They are the schisms: that means the rupture of the communion with the Pope and not necessarily implies in heresy. It is the division of the Mystical Body; it is like tearing Christ’s seamless gown.

“After they had crucified him, they divided his garments by casting lots” (Matthew 27, 35).

The Church has always regarded the garments that the soldiers divided (without tearing them) as a strong symbol of the Unity Christ wants for Her.

Nevertheless, these garments have been torn in the worst moments in the history of the Church. Saint Hillary of Poitiers (dead 367 A.D.) brings us consolation by saying: “It has been always the great privilege of the Church to win when She is wounded, progress when She is abandoned and to grow in wisdom when She is attacked.”

It was precisely during Her worst moments of fight against heresies arisen in Her own Body that the Church solidified Her Doctrine in those principles we profess in the Credo.

Christ and the Apostles had warned the Disciples about the dangers of false doctors and false prophets. Jesus started warning people very early in His Mission, when He proclaimed the Blessings in His Sermon on the mount:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7, 15).

Saint Paul exhorted the elders and bishops of Ephesus in his farewell to them:

“Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, in which you tend the church of God that he acquired with his own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them. So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears” (The Acts of the Apostles 20, 28-31).

It is worth noticing that Saint Paul affirms that the wolves will emerge from “among the flock”.

Saint Peter puts the same stress in his exhortations:

“There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will introduce destructive heresies and even deny the Master who ransomed them, bringing swift destruction on themselves” (The Second Letter of Peter 2, 1).

It is very important to notice in this sentence that Peter mentions “destructive heresies” that abound today in countless sects.

 

Professor Felipe Aquino

 

Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino

Jun 302017
 

Saint Peter's Square from the domeThe great Bishop of Cartage (d. 258 A.D.) poses to mankind this central question:

“The enemy was unveiled and defeated by the Coming of the Christ, (and) he schemes new ambushes to deceive naïve people, (hiding) under the Christian name itself. He creates heresies and schisms to subvert faith, corrupt truth and break unity…”

“How can faith be protected by people who do not keep that unity Paul recommends us?” (ref: The Letter to the Ephesians 4, 4-6). “How can they affirm they are part of the Church if the forsake Peter’s Ministry, on which the Church is founded?”

Saint Cyprian has clearly showed us the central importance of the Unity of the Church. It is worth plunging in his texts, written more than 17 centuries ago:

“Those among us who guide the Church as Her Bishops must firmly keep and defend this unity, and give testimony of Episcopal undivided unity… Episcopal Ministry is one single reality and each Bishop shares its totality. The Church is one single reality although it embraces the world and grows continually in Her fecundity. The same way there is one single light in millions of sun rays, a single tree in uncountable branches, a single trunk supported by uncountable roots and several rivers from a single spring, the same way the enormous crowd of Christians keep the same unity in origin although it seems divided by the tremendous and prolific diversity of the new generations. Unity does not allow a sunray to behave as a separate entity of a solar center; broken branches will not grow and if you dam the spring the river will immediately run dry. Likewise the Lord’s Church pours Her light over the world as one single light that casts uncountable rays but never loses its unity. She unfolds Her branches all around the world with great fecundity; She flows along rivers with generosity but it is one single Head and one single spring, one single origin of one single Mother of immense fecundity. We are all children of Her womb, nursed by Her milk and vivified by Her spirit.

Christ’s wife cannot be transformed into an adulteress: She is incorrupt and pure, She does not know more than one single home and keeps with chastity the sanctity of Her single talus. She keeps us for God and gives the children of Her womb to the Kingdom. Those who divorce the Church to follow an adulteress also divorce the promises of the Church. Those who forsake Christ’s Church shall never receive Christ’s reward. They become strangers and profane enemies. Those who do not have the Church as their Mother cannot have God as their Father. Those who are outside the Church will find the same salvation of those who stayed outside Noah’s Ark. The Lord exhorts us: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12, 30). Those who disturb Christ’s peace and harmony are Christ’s enemies; those who gather elsewhere, outside the Church, scatter Christ’s Church.”

 

Professor Felipe Aquino

 

Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino

 

Jun 232017
 

Saint Peter's Square from the dome“If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others” (The Letter to the Philippians 2, 1-4).

Saint Paul’s words in his Letter to the Philippians show very clearly the practices that wound unity: competition and vainglory. He also prescribes the medicine: humility.

The Apostle exhorts the Corinthians:

“I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose” (The First Letter to the Corinthians 1, 10).

He also insists with the Romans:

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (The Letter to the Romans 15, 5).

How can we possibly glorify God as one heart and with one voice if there is strife among us?

Wounds in the Unity of the Church have always been and shall always be the most painful and harmful wounds in the life of the Church. Separatist groups and new denominations have happened because of human sinful nature. In the words of Origen (184-254):

“Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers” (Origen, Hom. in Ezech. 9,1:PG 13,732 – see CCC# 817).

Saint Ciprian (died 258 AD), Bishop of Cartage wrote one of the best texts about the unity in the Church. He shows how the evil one strives to divide the Church in these words:

 “The enemy was unveiled and defeated by the Coming of the Christ, (and) he schemes new ambushes to deceive naïve people, (hiding) under the Christian name itself. He creates heresies and schisms to subvert faith, corrupt truth and break unity… He steals men from the Church and plunge them into  unconscious darkness, enticing them into misleading thought that they are walking towards the light and getting distance from the secular night. They go on affirming they are Christians but they do not keep Christ’s Good News, His precepts and His laws! They think they have light though they walk in darkness! The seductive and lying enemy, in the words of the Apostle, transforms himself into an angel of light and introduce his ministers as ministers of justice; he announces night as day, eternal loss as salvation, …(and announces) the Antichrist under the Name of Christ; (the evil one) darkens and frustrates truth with subtlety and affirms that true things are illusions. That happens, dearest brothers, because nobody goes back to the origin of truth, nobody goes to its source nor guards the doctrine of heavenly teaching” (excerpt from the text “On the Unity of the Church”).

 

Professor Felipe Aquino

 

Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino

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