Saint Francis de Sales: See How Long Your Reformers Have Been Condemned – Part II

Saint Francis de Sales 3“Eunomius would not yield to plurality, dignity, antiquity, as S. Basil testifies. He said that faith alone was sufficient for salvation and justified. As to the first point, see Beza in his treatise on the marks of the Church; as to the second, does it not agree with that celebrated sentence of Luther’s, whom Beza holds to be most a most glorious reformer: ‘You see how rich is the Christian, that is, the baptized man, who even if he wishes is not able to lose his salvation by any sins whatever, unless he refuses to believe’?

Aerius, according to S. Augustine, denied prayer for the dead, ordinary fasts and the superiority of a bishop over a simple priest, Your masters deny all this.

Lucifer called his church alone the true Church and said that the ancient Church had become, instead of a church, a house of ill-fame: and do your ministers cry out all the day?

The Pelagians considered themselves assured and certain of their justice, promised salvation to the children of the faithful who died without Baptism and held that all sins were mortal. As to the first, this is your ordinary language and that of Calvin. The second and third points are too ordinary with you to have anything said about them.

The Manicheans rejected the sacrifices of the Church, and images, as your people also do.

The Messalians despised sacred orders, churches, altars, as says S. Damascene, and S. Ignatius says, they do not admit the Eucharist and the oblations, because they do not acknowledge the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Savior, Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, which the Father mercifully raised up. Against whom S. Martial has written.

Berengarius taught the same, long afterward, and was condemned by three Councils, in the two last of which he abjured his heresy.

Julian the Apostate despised the sign of the cross. Xenaias did the same, the Mahometans treat it no worse. But he who would see this at full length, let him look at Sanders, and Bellarmine in his Notes of the Church. Do you see the mould on which your ministers lay and form their reformation?

Now, aught not this agreement of opinions, or, to speak more rightly, this close parentage and consanguinity which your first masters had with the most cruel, inveterate and sworn enemies of the Church, ought not this alone to dissuade you from following them, and to bring you under the right banner? I have not cited one heresy which was not held as such by that church which Calvin and Beza confess to have been the true Church, that is, in the first five hundred years of Christianity. Ah, I pray you, is it not to trample the majesty of the Church under foot thus to produce as reformations, and necessary and holy reparations, what she has so greatly abominated when she was in her purest years, and which she had crushed down as impiety, as the ruin and corruption of true doctrine? The delicate stomach of this heavenly spouse had scarcely been able to bear the violence of these poisons and had rejected them with such energy that many veins of her martyrs had burst with the effort, and now you offer them to her again as a precious medicine! The fathers whom I have quoted would never have placed them on the list of heretics if they had not seen the body of the Church hold them as such. These fathers being in the highest rank of orthodoxy, and closely united with all the other Catholic bishops and doctors of their time, we see that what they held to be heretical was so in reality. Picture to yourselves this venerable antiquity in heaven round about the Master, who regards your reformers and their works. Those have gained their crown combatting the opinions which the ministers adore; they have held as heretics those whose steps you follow. Do you think that what they have judged to be error, heresy, blasphemy, in the Arians, the Manicheans, Judas, they now judge to be sanctity, reformation, restoration? Who sees not that this is the greatest contempt for the majesty of the Church that can be shown? If you would be in the succession of the true and holy Church of those first centuries, do not then oppose what it has so solemnly established and instituted. Nobody can be partly heir and partly not. Accept the inheritance courageously; the charges are not so great but that a little humility will give a good account of them – to say good-bye to your passions and to give up the difference which you have with the Church: the honors are infinite – the being heirs of God, coheirs of Jesus Christ in the happy society of all the Blessed!

– Saint Francis de Sales, The Catholic Controversy – 


– Lucas G. Westman

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