Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Catholic Church: A Divine Institution

What benefit is there in a judge who judges in his days, and dies? A perpetual doctrine tested by a perpetual rule needs a perpetual judge! Who judged in the times following the Apostles but the Church in their next successors? Who in the century after, when heresy arose, but the Church in councils? Who in the heresy of Arius, the heresy of Eutyches, the schism of the Greek Church? Who judged in the Middle Ages? Who in later times? Who judges today? The same Judge always sitting, the same One living body, which by the illumination of Pentecost received the Truth.

What Church is it that speaks for God in the world? What Church but ONE not only claims, but possesses and puts forth at this hour an Universal Jurisdiction? What Church is it which is not shut up in a locality or in a nation, not bounded by a river or by a sea, but interpenetrates wheresoever the name of Christ is known? What Church, as the light of Heaven, passes over all, through all, and is in all? What Church claims a Universal Authority? What One sends missions to the sunrise and to the sunset? What Church has the power of harmonizing its Universal Jurisdiction, so that there can be no collision when its pastors meet? What Church is there, but One, before Whom kingdoms and states give way? When, yet, did the Church of Greece, for instance, make a whole nation rise? When did a voice issue from Constantinople before which even a civilized people forgot its civilization? Why came not such a voice from the East? BECAUSE there was no divine mission to speak it!

What created Europe? What laid the foundation of a new empire when the old had withered in the East? What was the mould from which Christian nations sprang? What power was it that entered into England when it was divided by seven jarring, conflicting kingdoms, and harmonized them, as by the operation of light, into one empire? What power is it that as it created all these, also survived them all? What created the very constitution of which we are so proud? Whence came its first great principles of freedom? Why do we hear, then that because the Catholic Church has a polity and is a kingdom, because it claims Supremacy, and is found everywhere supreme, therefore it is not to be tolerated? What Church but One has ever claimed a Primacy over all other Churches instituted by Christ? Did any Church before the great division, four hundred years ago, save that One Church which still possesses it, ever dream of claiming it? Has any separate body since that time ever dreamed of pretending to such a Primacy?

In answer you may say, “Yes, but the Primacy of Rome has been denied from the beginning.” Then it has been asserted from the beginning!!! Tell me that the waves have beaten upon the shore, and I tell you that the shore was there for the waves to beat upon. Tell me that St. Irenæus pleaded with St. Victor that he would not excommunicate the Asiatic Churches, and I tell you that St. Irenæus thereby recognized the authority of St. Vincent to excommunicate. What do wars of succession prove but the inheritance and succession of the crown? Because from the beginning this Truth has been denied, THEREFORE, from the beginning it has been both held and taught.

What other church is there that has even spread itself through all the nations of the world as speaking with the Voice of God? Does Protestantism ever claim in any form to be heard by nations or by individuals as the Voice of God? Do any of their assemblies or conferences put forth their definitions of faith as binding the conscience with the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven? Do they venture to loose the conscience, as having the power of absolving men?

Take Rome from the earth, and where is Christendom? Blot out the science of Catholic Theology, and where is Faith?

The Glories of the Catholic Church, Vol. II

No comments: