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19th century Catechism on the Church as the One True Church July 30, 2015

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, General Catholic, history, Interior Life, reading, sanctity, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, unity, Virtue.

More great commentary from the The Catechism Explained by Spirago-Clarke, circa 1880.  There is a ton of great content on the nature of the Church – the One, True Church – and on the grave reality of being outside the Church.  You may note a very much different approach to some of the topics below compared to what is frequently taught in the Church today.  In fact, there is what I take to be a clear condemnation of the post-conciliar “aggiornamento” in the text below.

For now, various excerpts from pp. 242-244, “The True Church:” (my emphasis and comments)

“When,” says St. Cyprian, “the devil saw that the worship of idols was abolished, and the heathen temples emptied, he bethought him of a new poison, and led men into error under cover of the Christian religion, the poison of false doctrine and pride, through which more than two hundred churches [St. Cyprian died in the 3rd century, and already there were hundreds of false sects?] have started u in opposition to the true Church founded by Jesus Christ.”

The True Church is one which is most persecuted by the world, and which has received God’s seal in the form of miracles.

Christ spoke often to His disciples of these persecutions: “The servant is not greater than his Master. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (Jn xv:20).  “They will deliver you up in councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues……..you shall be hated by all men for My name’s sake” (Mt x:17-22).  “Yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth a service to God” (Jn xvi:2).  “Because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (Jn xv:19).  Never in the history of the Catholic Church has it been free form persecution.  Whatever be the differences between the sects they unite against the Church…….The present day is not wanting in examples in the sufferings inflicted on religious communities, in the interference of the secular governments in things spiritual, in the opposition made to processions and meetings and other devout practices.  Can any Church be the true Church which does not oppose the spirit of the world? [From whence did that smoke of satan manage to penetrate into the Church?  Perhaps from some window opened in 1958?] Then too it is only in the Catholic Church that we have miracles……….We know that God would work miracles only in confirmation of the truth.

The true Church is that one in which the successor of St. Peter is to be found.

The Church rests on a rock and that rock is Peter (Mt xxviii:20)……..”Where Peter is, there is the Church” says St. Ambrose.

The true Church is known by the following four marks: she is One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic.

The true Church is One. She has at all times and in all places the same doctrine, the same means of Grace, and only one Head. [And yet we are told by Fr. Rosica, Cardinal Kasper, and many others, that doctrine can and indeed must change.  They tell us it will change first through their plans to change practice (which is asinine, practice cannot be separated from belief/doctrine), and then, once virtually everyone is converted to the new doctrine/practice, doctrine may be formally “changed.”  Of course in doing so, they are setting up a false, heretical sect.]

Truth can only be one; hence the teaching of the Church cannot change.  Christ wished His Church to be one; for that He prayed at the Last Supper (Jn xvii:20); “There shall be one fold and one shepherd” (Jn x:16); He appointed one Head for the whole Church (Jn xxi:17).  The Catholic Church is One: her Catechisms the world over teach precisely the same doctrine. Everywhere the Holy Sacrifice is offered, and the Sacraments given in the same way; the same ceremonies and feasts are observed all over the world  [Can this be said anymore, of the post-conciliar rites, or of what is taught?  Vernacular has gravely wounded the unity of the Church]…….Nor can heresy destroy this unity, for the heretic who refuses to submit is no longer a member of the Church. None need accuse the Church of want of progress because it holds fast by its old established doctrines; there is no true progress is giving up the truth and adopting error.  The truth cannot change; hence Bossuet might well say: “Protestantism, thou art changeable, therefore thou canst not be the truth!”  [Would that this were still adhered to!  Do these few sentences not express the anguish so many of us feel at what passes for doctrine in so many quarters of the Church today!  Is this not the very definition of the crisis?  Does this not speak of a different and hostile religion being promoted within the bosom of the Church, something unprecedented in its scope and prevalence since at least the Arian heresy?!?  Yes of course doctrine has not officially changed, but there have been few times in the Church’s history when more with great positions of authority within her have declared that they believe doctrine should  or “must” change]

The true Church is holy;, i.e., it has the means and the endeavor to lead all men to holiness.

Christ founded the Church for the very purpose of making men holy.  The Catholic Church is holy.  All its teaching is lofty and pure; the great principle underlying its commands are self-denial and the love of one’s neighbor; all its sacraments and especially Penance and the Holy Eucharist are great aids to the sanctification of mankind, and the complete following out of the evangelical counsels can lead man to the highest point of perfection………...The misdeeds of some members, or abuses occurring within the Church are due not to the Church, but to the perversity of men.  Even among the Apostles there was a traitor, and Christ compared some members of the Church to weeds and worthless fish.  Can any Church be holy which adopts Luther’s teaching that faith alone is sufficient for salvation, and good works unnecessary? Or Calvin’s doctrine that some men are predestined by God to hell fire?  Or any church which, on its own confession, owns that none of its members have been saints and their sanctity confirmed by miracle?

The true Church is universal or Catholic, she is empowered to receive men into her bosom in all places and all times.

Christ died for all men, and on ascending into Heaven gave His Apostles the mission to teach all the nations of the earth till the end of time (Mt xxviii:20).  Hence His Church was meant to be for all nations, and this is confirmed by the miracle of tongues on the first Pentecost.  The Catholic Church is universal; her teaching applies to all people……..At present the Catholic Church is alone spread out over the entire world.  “Heretics are everywhere,” said St. Augustine, “but no particular heresy is everywhere.”……..Can, then, any church which depends entirely on the government, as, for instance, the Russian Church, or the Anglican, which is wholly national in England, be the true Church?  Or can one which has no real success among the heathen have a claim to truth?

The true Church is Apostolic, she comes down from the time of the Apostles, her teaching is always what it was in the time of the Apostles, and her ministers are legitimate successors of the Apostles.   

“That is the true Church,” says St. Jerome,” which was founded by the Apostles and endures unto the present day.”  The Catholic Church is Apostolic; it has lasted 2000 years, Luther himself confessed that it was the oldest.  The teaching of the oldest  of the Fathers agrees perfectly with our Catechism, and our services are substantially the same as those of the first ages. [I would say, regarding this 19th century Catechism, that is true, though I think the 1990 Catechism may be more problematic in that regard, introducing some post-conciliar concepts or understandings which are difficult to reconcile with the clarity expressed, for instance, in this post.]

….It is remarkable that men of the greatest learning and virtue have, even in the face of great sacrifices, entered the Catholic Church, while those who have deserted it have generally shown by their lives what they really were.  We have reason to rejoice in our religion that it offers us such special consolation in trouble and at the hour of death.

————-End Quote————-

It should be noted that no Catechism, even that released with Vatican approval as with the case of the 1990/97 Catechism, is an authoritative doctrinal source in its own right. They are simply vehicles to convey the understanding of Doctrine of its authors, which are hopefully experts and fully faithful to the Truth Christ has revealed through His Church.  Whether that is the case in all instances with the 1990 Catechism, produced under the direction of the problematic Cardinal Schoenborn, or not, is open to argument.  But I can say that Catechisms like the Spirago-Clarke, the Penny Catechism of Pope St. Pius X, the earliest versions of the Baltimore Catechism, etc., were all unanimous in their presentations of the Faith.  Which, of course…….go figure.

Modernism, rationalism, liberalism, et. al., began to badly infect Catholic literature around 1900.  It infected biblical scholarship first, which is why good priests will often recommend not using a study bible produced after 1800 (Haydock – about 1805).  Later, supposed compendiums of Doctrine became infected.  Some see elements of modernism in the 1914 Catholic Encyclopedia.  Now, it’s very difficult to find wholly reliable sources on Doctrine produced since 1950 or a few years later.

More on that in a minute, God willing.  I think this Spirago-Clarke Catechism very good, though I do think they might get a bit squishy regarding Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus.  More on that on Monday, God willing.



1. Ever mindful - August 1, 2015

I agree that the Spirago Catechism Explained is both clear and profound, and I plan to read it again, carefully, now five years since I first read most of it

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