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Jul 222017
 

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The Church has had to face heresies since the first periods of Christian history: these heresies put the faith and the legacy of Jesus Christ in great danger.
The first centuries of Christian faith witnessed the dualistic Gnosticism that affirmed that matter is the work of evil and therefore Jesus could never have assumed a material human body. Therefore it denied Incarnation and the salvation of mankind through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Gnosticism affirmed that the Incarnation of God’s Word had only been an illusion. That heresy was born in Persia and was combated by the Apostles themselves (see The Letter to the Colossians 2, 9; The First letter of John 4,2; The Second Letter of John 7) and mainly by Saint Irenaeus (dead 202 A.D.). That may have been the worst heresy of all times.
During the II and III Centuries monarchical heresies like the adoptionism and subordinationism tried to deny the Holy Trinity: they did not accept the idea that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit were three distinct entities. They defended the idea that The Son and the Holy Ghost were mere manifestations of the Father Himself, subordinate to the Father and they were not at all Two Entities, equally Divine but distinct from the Father in One Only Trinity.
After those Trinitarian Heresies the Church witnessed a series of Christological Heresies:
1. Aryanism. Arias from Alexandria (dead on 334 A.D.) affirmed that Christ was just one more creature of the Father; the greatest of all creatures, from whom the Father had created all other creatures. This heresy was combated by Saint Athanasius and condemned during the First Council of the Church in Nicene (325 A.D.). The Council of Nicene taught that Jesus is “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, generated, not created and co-substantial with the Father.”
2. Apolinarianism. Apolinarius (300-390 A.D.), Bishop of Laodicea, defended that Christ did not have a human soul; He was God and therefore His human nature was subverted. Two Popes, Saint Gregory of Nazianzus (329-390 A.D.) and Saint Gregory of Nissa (dead on 394 A.D.), combated this idea and defended the principle that “those who are not taken by the Verb are not redeemed.”
3. Macedonism. Macedonius, Bishop of Constantinople, defended that the Holy Spirit was not God and that the Spirit was a mere creature of the Father. This heresy was condemned in the II Council of Constantinople (381 A.D.) that established that the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person.

“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord Who grants life and comes from the Father and the Son; and with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified” (Symbol Nicene-Constantinople).

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
 

Saint Peter's Square from the dome v2.jpg
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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

Jul 072017
 
Saint Peter's Square from the dome v2.jpg

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The Church regards Christians of different denominations with great respect. The Catechism of Catholic Church tells us something central concerning this issue:

“However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church” (Un. Redintegratio, 3; CCC # 818).

The Church also acknowledges that:

“Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth” are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: “the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements” (Un. Redintegratio, 3; CCC # 819).

The Catechism of Catholic Church also affirms that:

Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to “Catholic unity” (Lumen Gentium 8; CCC # 819).

These words do not mean that we should indifferently accept the unfortunate reality of the division inside the Christian family “as something natural”. No, it is not all right for brothers to be divided. Nevertheless, true ecumenism cannot happen by forcing an artificial agglomerate of many different denominations; true ecumenism only happens if all Christians realize that there is one single Church founded by Jesus that guarantees faith and the plenitude of all means of salvation.

Although the Catholic Church is aware of all that, She also knows that She holds the plenitude of all tools of salvation, or as John Paul II said, “all the tools of Grace” (Un. Redintegratio, 3-4).

Our Christian brothers who were born inside other denominations cannot be blamed for historical events of the past; nevertheless, they are deprived of many tools of salvation and sanctity that Jesus has left us: Sacraments, the devotion to Mary, the intercession prayers of the saints and so on.

It is important to take into account that, when the Catholic Church refers to protestant churches, She means the historical traditional denominations. She does not mean the numberless sects that are uncontrollably multiplying at present, in an independent way.

Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, makes it very clear:

“Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation (9*) through which He communicated truth and grace to all. But, the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, are not to be considered as two realities, nor are the visible assembly and the spiritual community, nor the earthly Church and the Church enriched with heavenly things; rather they form one complex reality which coalesces from a divine and a human element (10*) For this reason, by no weak analogy, it is compared to the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature inseparably united to Him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a similar way, does the visible social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ, who vivifies it, in the building up of the body (73) (11*)

This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic (12*) which our Savior, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd (74) and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority (75) which He erected for all ages as “the pillar and mainstay of the truth” (76) 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,(13*) 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.

Just as Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and persecution, so the Church is called to follow the same route that it might communicate the fruits of salvation to men. Christ Jesus, “though He was by nature God . . . emptied Himself, taking the nature of a slave” (77) and “being rich, became poor”(78) for our sakes. Thus, the Church, although it needs human resources to carry out its mission, is not set up to seek earthly glory, but to proclaim, even by its own example, humility and self-sacrifice. Christ was sent by the Father “to bring good news to the poor, to heal the contrite of heart” (79) “to seek and to save what was lost” (80) Similarly, the Church encompasses with love all who are afflicted with human suffering and in the poor and afflicted sees the image of its poor and suffering Founder. It does all it can to relieve their need and in them it strives to serve Christ. While Christ, holy, innocent and undefiled (81) knew nothing of sin (82) but came to expiate only the sins of the people (83) the Church, embracing in its bosom sinners, at the same time holy and always in need of being purified, always follows the way of penance and renewal. The Church, “like a stranger in a foreign land, presses forward amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God” (14*), announcing the cross and death of the Lord until He comes.”(84) By the power of the risen Lord it is given strength that it might, in patience and in love, overcome its sorrows and its challenges, both within itself and from without, and that it might reveal to the world, faithfully though darkly, the mystery of its Lord until, in the end, it will be manifested in full light (Lumen Gentium # 8).

 

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

Apr 212014
 

'Noah and His Ark' by Charles Willson Peale, 1819This film ‘Noah’, which was released recently in Brazil, presents a view that is inconsistent with the interpretation that the Church gives the episode of the flood and God’s covenant with Noah The film brings an interpretation that has nothing to do with the vision of the Church.Consider this.

The four chapters of Genesis (6-9) narrate the biblical flood and an expression of sin means that, beginning with Adam and Eve go spreading increasingly. This story contains, as you may notice when you read carefully, repetitions and contradictions. Exegetes (biblical scholars) conclude that the narration is a fusion of two documents (sources Priestly and Yahwist P J) keeping each their own details without which the sacred author would have to concern himself in harmonizing them with each other. This shows that the sacred author was not concerned with minor details, and aimed rather to a deeper sense, a religious message.

In the traditions of ancient peoples for nearly 290 ancient flood stories, and all with a common base: there is a major catastrophe because of a great offense against the divinity. The element of punishment that kills men and animals can be water, fire, earthquake, etc..

In Babylon there are four similar versions of the flood, similar to the Bible. Note that Abraham was derived from Mesopotamia. In the eyes of science there is certainly no one universal flood.

When the biblical text speaks of “whole earth” and “all men” it does not speak in a geographical sense, but religious, hyperbolic (Gen 41,54.57; Dt 2.25, 2 Chronicles 20:29, Acts 2:5) ie. mankind to the sacred author was reduced to those that transmit religious values ​​of humanity.

The message of the story of the Flood (Genesis 6-9) wants to show the following: God is holy and pure;God is just; can not let evil prevail; God is gracious; He invites us to conversion before correcting us. The flood marks the end of a period of religious history of mankind and marks the beginning of a new era; it is like the beginning of a new world, where God makes a covenant with Noah, the “father” of the new humanity.

Noah is a picture of Christ. Noah saved humanity by the wood of the ark, Christ will save you by the wood of the cross, from the flood of sin. Noah’s ark is a picture of the Church; just as no one survived outside the ark, no one is saved outside the Church. All who are saved, even if they do not belong to the Church, are saved through Christ and the Church, yet do not know it;

Flood waters are a figure of Baptism by water that gives life to the faithful and erases sins; the flood, as new creation, prefigures “the new heavens and new earth” (2 Peter 3,5-7.10) that there will be at the end of history.

As you can see, this vision of the Church has nothing to do with the vision presented in the film ‘Noah’.

Prof. Felipe Aquino

Professor Felipe Aquino is a doctor of mechanical engineering from the Universidade Estadual Paulista and is a teacher in the area Universidade Federal de Itajubá and was director of the Faculdade de Engenharia Quimíca de Lorena of the School of Engineering of Lorena, University of Sao Paulo for 20 years. He and his wife for 40 years Maria Zila (founder of the Cleofas Publishing) live in Brazil. They have five children and 9 grandchildren. 

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