The Papists

Apologetics and Evengelization
  • April 14, 2014 12:07 pm
    Anonymous:  I've been thinking a lot about holy days of obligation. The question I'm pondering is this: Why has the Church decided that not participating in Mass on such a day is a mortal sin? On what grounds?

    Obligatory Sunday Mass—the year-round holy day of obligation—stems from God’s commandment to keep holy the Sabbath. The Christian “Sabbath” moved naturally from the Jewish-observed Saturday to Sunday to commemorate the Resurrection, the “eighth day,” “outside time,” that celebrates our salvation and anticipates our final happiness, union with God in heaven. 

    Strictly speaking, the Sunday obligation is a discipline of the Church (see here.) Moreover, the obligation is dispensed with if you are, for example, in a situation where it is well and truly impossible for you to attend mass. For example, in earlier times (or still today in certain parts of the world) where there is no Mass near you and/or there is no transportation to get to the Mass. 

    Other holy days of obligation follow a similar logic. Apart from the commandment to keep holy the Lord’s Day, these imposed obligations carry the weight of the authority of the Vicar of Christ: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” The obligations exist for the good of souls: to engage us in the life of the Church and the liturgical year, to give us a tug forward by the hand when attachment to sin or spiritual weariness might see us ready to abandon our daily taking up of our cross and following Christ.

    Catholic Answers notes, “The precepts of the Church are not opposed to, nor are they outside of, the Commandments of God. They are within those Commandments and are intended to help keep the faithful within the Commandments.” [x]

    There is a good short article about feast days/holy days of obligation at the Catholic Encyclopedia.

    You may also be interested in:

    What are the holy days of obligation? 
    Worship the Way God Commanded 

    I hope this helps.

  • April 14, 2014 12:07 pm
    Anonymous:  Apparitions at Garabandal and three days of darkness; what is the Church's position ?

    Msgr. Jose Vilaplana, Bishop of Santander, Spain, issued this statement which confirms that “All the bishops of the diocese from 1961 through 1970 asserted that the supernatural character of the said apparitions, that took place around that time, could not be confirmed. [no constaba].*”

    In other words, this is not an approved apparition and it would be wise for the faithful to refrain from placing their hope or faith in it. 

    Sidebar: When the Church does approve an apparition, that means the Church has found it to be “worthy of belief,” but the faithful are not required to believe it.

  • March 7, 2014 1:49 am
    layingdownamess:  Hey, guys. Have any of you heard the whole 'Jesus was born in July and Christmas is actually a pagan holiday' thing? If yes, can you explain it to me? Please & thank you!

    There is some debate as to what time Christ was actually born.  While virtually all scholars agree that he existed,* we are not sure about when he was born.  Many scholars argue that given that the nativity accounts claim that shepherds were grazing their flock, a December birth is unlikely, and therefore, a summer birth makes more sense.  Others respond by noting that winters in that part of the world are mild, and that it might have been possible. 

    Christmas Day is also the date of several pagan holidays (probably because of its proximity to the winter solstice,) leading some to claim that Christmas is actually a pagan holiday, and that Christians who celebrate Christmas are actually celebrating the pagan gods.  This is of course silly.  My friends celebrate my birthday on March 4th.  There are hundreds of people who celebrate birthdays on March 4th, but we are not all the same person just because we share a birthday. 

    In the end, does it really matter when Jesus was born?  No, it doesn’t.  All that matters is that He was born, He died for our sins, and because of that, we love Him by obeying Him and His Church because that is what will bring us to heaven, that is union with God.

    Does that help?  God bless!



  • February 20, 2014 11:21 am
    theincast:  Were Mary's labor and delivery of Jesus painless? Because she was born without original sin?

    Good question!  The tradition is that Jesus’s birth was painless.  St. Thomas Aquinas makes the argument for it in his Summa Theologica.

    It generally is argued that as the pains of childbirth are a consequence of original sin from which Mary was preserved from, she did not suffer the pains of childbirth.

    That being said, this is not a dogmatic teaching necessary for salvation, and some difference of opinion may be held on this point, so long as no opinion held violates dogmatic teaching necessary for salvation. (ex. That Mary bore her Son without any violation of her virginal integrity. (De fide on the ground of the general promulgation of doctrine) and After the Birth of Jesus Mary remained a Virgin. (De fide.))

    Does this help?  God bless!


  • January 23, 2014 3:15 pm
    Anonymous:  if (as in the philippines) god will permit any evil to fall on anyone, what is the point of praying about illness, natural disaster etc.? should we restrict our prayers to requests for patience and inner peace and hope for the world to come, since any hope of god making this one nicer is bound to bitterly disappoint?

    A great modern prophet who goes by the name of the Doctor, once said, “what’s the point in them being happy now if you know they’re going to be sad later? The answer is, of course, because they are going to be sad later.”  Similarly, why should we pray when evil may fall upon anyone, the answer is of course, because evil may fall upon anyone.  

    I think prayers asking for the peace, patience, and courage to deal with the conditions of life, and for the hope of a world to come may be a more “mature” attitude than asking for the conditions of life to be changed, but one should not think that God does not answer prayers of the second nature, for there have been miracles of healing which appear to defy explanation.  The fact that evil happens does not speak to the futility of prayer, but rather, the need for prayer, and the need to face evil with a prayerful attitude.  For, however great the evil and destruction we face are, when we encounter it with a prayerful attitude and a firm trust in God, whatever despair and pain we feel will in time fade in the light of the good things God will bring out of that sorrow.  Does this help? 

    In Christ,


  • January 20, 2014 10:23 am
    Anonymous:  To bless something (not a Sacramental blessing) Can the laity imitate the gesture of Blessing a Priest does at the end of the Mass?

    No. The laity should never imitate a priestly action because they do not have his authority. 

    However, the laity can can offer blessings sometimes. For example, parents can bless their children. There’s a good discussion of that, and the appropriate gestures, here. Check out the comments as well for clarifications.

  • January 14, 2014 4:08 am
    Anonymous:  is there a better word than "non-protestant" for churches (catholic & orthodox) that share valid sacraments, apostolic succession etc.?

    Hmm, I’ve heard people use the term “Orthodox Churches” to refer to both the RCC and the EOCs but that could be confusing.  I’m not sure there’s any term that’s used to refer to both, but anyone who knows of a term should educate me.  Personally, if I were to “invent” a term, I might say “apostolic Churches” as a way of shortening “Churches that have an apostolic succession,” but there is a protestant denomination called the “apostolic Church” so that could be confusing too.  If you’re a JP II fan you can call them the “two lungs” but not a lot of people might get that reference.

    - Niko

  • January 11, 2014 3:09 am
    Anonymous:  I use to be a very faithful Catholic, I even thought about a vocation to priesthood for a long time. The sad truth is I've fallen in college... And I am not happy. I feel fake and artificial and when I close my eyes I dream of the love I felt from the Father before I ran away from the church. I'm in a sexual D/s relationship with a wonderful girl... But I don't know if I can tell her about my can a man come back from something like this...I long for my home, my church

    You fell away from the faith in college.  Guess what, your normal.  More people than not will change in some way in college, and often times, we’re not happy about those changes.  We feel like we’ve fallen.  What defines us, is how we get back up.

    Look at St. Augustine.  He didn’t just fall in college.  He went on rager that lasted around two decades.  He was not exactly a model Christian.  And then, he changed.  He met people who really introduced him to the faith again, he left his former ways, and went on to be one of the most revered saints in history.  And there are a ton of other saints like him.  Moses the black was a murder and adulterer, and he became a saint.  So, God really doesn’t look at how far we fall, he looks at the efforts we take to pick ourselves back up, and really, He does most of the work, we just have to give Him the space to do it. 

    There’s a story called the prodigal son, (Luke 15) but really, it should be called the story of the running Father.  Because the son, when he realized that what he was doing wasn’t working, he prepared a long speech to tell his father, begging him to just take him in as a servant.  But, while the son was still a while off, the Father saw him and ran up to meet him.  The Father immediately called him his son, and prepared a feast for him.  The son didn’t even get a chance to say his speech.  Point is, turn to God, and give Him the space to work.  You want to come back home to the Church, just do it!  Find a priest who you trust, could be at your college or nearby, or back home.  Wherever.  Ask him to talk.  Hang out with a friend who’s faith you admire.  That’s how we give God the space to work.  We surround ourselves with people who God is working through.  Does that make sense?  And always know, that you are truly loved by God, and nothing you do can ever change that.  God bless!

    Your brother in Christ,


  • January 9, 2014 2:49 am
    Anonymous:  I don't know if you've seen the video on Youtube of what is supposedly Baby Jesus appearing at his birthplace. Do you know if the Church recognizes this occurrence as legitimate?

    I do not believe the Catholic Church has recognized any apparition of Christ at his birthplace. 

    Also, while it is not my aim nor the aim of this blog to credit or discredit any miracle/apparition/supernatural occurrence, if the video you are talking about is the one I’m thinking about, it does look pretty fake.  I mean, when I first saw it, I thought it kinda looked like 1980’s ghost movie style special effects.

    Also, in all the generally accepted apparitions, Christ or Mary appear giving the person privy to the apparition a very specific task or mission.  There’s never an instance of them just appearing on camera for a couple seconds as if by accident.  So, that’s another reason why I’m skeptical of the claim that clip makes.  Does that help? 

    God bless!


  • December 31, 2013 7:17 pm
    ohcac:  How do Catholics justify the many modernizations and innovations in their history: The Filioque, Papal Supremacy, Papal Infallibility & The Immaculate Conception. And recent modernizations due to Vatican II such as the New Mass. Coming from the Orthodox perspective, how can any Catholic claim that their church is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, with all the doctrinal changes that were never existent in the early church?

    Good questions. Any kind of thorough answer would be book length—several book lengths—so I’m going to try for a brief overview and link you to some more detailed resources. 

    The short answer is that none of the things you mention are doctrinal changes or inventions. It’s important to remember that when a Council or a pope defines a specific teaching, that teaching didn’t just show up overnight, or in a vacuum, or because some scholar in his cell decided it was a good idea. Historically, teachings have only been defined when what was commonly accepted and believed by the Church was challenged by heretics. They weren’t “invented” or “added” by the definition—they were supported and bolstered as long-standing truths.

    This is especially important for understanding how the Trinity is described in the Creed (and the Immaculate Conception.) That part of the Creed was formulated to address a heretic who specifically denied that the Holy Spirit proceeded through the Father, but “filioque” was not un-thought or un-believed. See this, which includes citations from some Church Fathers, and this which addresses the question of Councils adding things to creeds.

    Anyone who does even a little googling will quickly realize that there’s no lack of evidence about the Catholic position on all these issues—the hullaballo starts because everybody interprets the evidence differently.

    Really all these questions come down to one: the nature of the pope’s authority (or primacy). What is it and how does it work? If it’s what Catholics say, then it explains the “whys” of all the other issues, and any good historian can explain the technical “how” of these issues coming about and being answered in the historical Church. So, if you really want to understand the Catholic position, my advice would be to read as widely and deeply as you can—from genuine, orthodox, actually-Catholic writers—about what we believe the pope’s authority to be and why that’s so. (The links below on the issue go wide and deep once you start clicking through.)

    While we’re on the the papacy: let’s be very careful about the definition of Petrine infallibility. It doesn’t mean what most people think. Infallibility is a negative charism: because the Holy Spirit guides the Church, the Vicar of Christ cannot teach error in matters of faith and morals. It’s not a guarantee that the pope is holy, or perfect, or a good leader, or right about everything. In his person, he could be a sinner and a heretic (and we have had some pretty terrible popes.) But because the gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church, no matter how bad a man a pope may be, he is incapable of formally teaching error in on faith and morals in the name of Christ. See more, see more. And this article is long but very thorough.

    Petrine primacy: The nature of the pope’s primacy as understood by Catholics has its roots not only in the whole of Scripture, but in the actions of the earliest popes and the writings of the Fathers. I’ve collected some resources in this tag (start about 5 pages back for the really relevant stuff.) These articles and these break the issue down by sub-question and type of evidence. And I strongly recommend Fortescue’s book The Early Papacy.

    Here and here and here are some resources on the Immaculate Conception.

    And in general, this website is really useful.

    Now, concerning the New Mass: 

    I’m not going to make any friends for saying this, but here’s the basic truth: the Novus Ordo as implemented immediately after the Council was, by and large, an unholy disaster. And I don’t use the word “unholy” lightly. Grave abuses were committed and even institutionalized in popular feeling. However: the aesthetics, propriety, and “goodness” of the Novus Ordo liturgy—in both theory and practice—is a completely separate question from its validity. The Novus Ordo Mass is a valid Mass when said according to the rubrics by a validly ordained priest. Whether one believes it to be a valid mass or not depends on what one believes about the authority of Councils and the pope in regards to the liturgy, which of course hinges on the previous questions about authority.

    Two final thoughts: a good resource is always the Catechism, searchable online here. Also important is something that’s often tricky to discuss and understand without confusion: the very important notion of the development of doctrine. See here, for starters. In a nutshell: it is not innovation, modernization, or corruption to explicate with a newly developed understanding a truth that has been present implicitly from the beginning. (If this wasn’t the case, Scriptural exegesis would be crippled, and Protestants would have a legitimate point when they use “But the Bible doesn’t say that!” as an argument against sacraments, the priesthood, etc.)

    I hope this helps answer your questions. Please check out the links; it”s worth the time to become familiar with the historical evidence and why we interpret it the way we do.