Apologetics, Saint Francis de Sales, Saints, Theology, Traditionalism

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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Apologetics, Saint Francis de Sales, Saints, Theology, Traditionalism

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

Saint Francis de Sales 4“I am now concerned to show how your ministers have degraded the holiness and majesty of the spouse of Jesus Christ. They cry out loud and clear that she has remained eight hundred years adulterous and antichristians, from S. Gregory to Wycliffe – whom Beza considers the first restorer of Christianity. Calvin indeed would shield himself under a distinction, saying that the Church can err in things unnecessary for salvation, not in others. But Beza openly confesses that she has so far erred that she is no longer the Church. And is this not to err in things necessary for salvation, although he avows that outside the Church there is no salvation? It follows then from what he says – let him turn and turn about as he likes – that the Church has erred in things necessary for salvation. For if outside the Church there is no salvation, and the Church has so gravely erred that she is no more the Church, certainly in her there is no salvation. Now she can only lose salvation by giving up the things necessary for salvation; she has therefore erred in things necessary for salvation; otherwise, having what is necessary for salvation, she would be the true Church, or else men can be saved outside the true Church, which is impossible. And Beza says that he learnt this way of speaking from those who instructed him in his pretended religion, that is, from Calvin. Indeed if Calvin thought that the Church of Rome had not erred in things necessary for salvation he would have done wrong to separate himself from it, for being able to secure his salvation in it, and true Christianity residing in it, he would have been obliged to stay therein for his salvation, which could not be in two different places.

Perhaps I may be told that Beza says indeed that the Roman Church, as it is now, errs in things necessary for salvation, and that therefore he left it but that he does not say the true Church has ever erred. He cannot, however, escape in that direction, for what Church was there in the world two, three, four, five hundred years ago, save the Church Catholic and Roman, just exactly as it is at present? There was certainly no other, therefore it was the true Church – and yet it erred; or there was no Church in the world – and in that case again he is constrained to confess that this disappearance of the Church arose from intolerable error, and error in things necessary for salvation. For as to that dispersion of the faithful, and that secret Church that he fancies he can bring forward, I have already sufficiently exposed the vainness of it. Besides the fact that when they confess the visible Church can err, they dishonor the Church to which Our Lord directs us in our difficulties, and which S. Paul calls the pillar and ground of truth. For it is only of the visible Church that these testimonies are understood, unless we would say that Our Lord had sent us to speak to an invisible and unperceivable thing, a thing utterly unknown, or that S. Paul instructed his Timothy to converse in a society of which he had no knowledge.

But is it not to violate all the respect and reverence due to this Queen, this spouse of the heavenly King, to have brought back into the realm almost all the rout which with such cost of blood, of sweat and travails, she had by solemn penal sentence banished and driven from these her confines, as rebels and sworn enemies of her crown? I mean this setting up so many heresies and false opinions which the Church had condemned, infringing thereby the sovereignty of the Church, absolving those she had condemned, condemning those whom she has absolved. Examples follow.

Simon Magus said that God was the cause of sin, says Vincent of Lerins…But Calvin and Beza say no less; the former in the treatise on eternal predestination, the latter in his answer to Sebastian Castalio; though they deny the word, they follow the things and substance of this heresy, if heresy it is to be called, and not atheism. But of this so many learned men convict them by their own words that I will not stay upon it.

Judas, says S. Jerome…thought that the miracles he saw worked by the hand of Our Lord were diabolical operations and illusions. I know not whether your ministers think of what they are saying, but when we bring forward miracles, what do they say but that they are sorceries? The glorious miracles which Our Lord does, O men of this world, instead of opening your eyes, how do you speak of them?

The Pepusians, says S. Augustine…admitted women to the dignity of the priesthood. Who is ignorant that the English brethren hold their Queen Elizabeth to be head of their Church?

The Manicheans, says S. Jerome, denied free will: Luther has composed a book against free will…for Calvin I appeal to yourselves.

The Donatists believed that the Church was destroyed throughout the world and remained only with them: your ministers say the same. Again, they believe that a bad man cannot baptize; Wycliffe said just as much, whom I bring forward in mockery, because Beza holds him for a glorious reformer. As to their lives, their virtues were such as these: they gave the most precious Sacrament to the dogs, they cast the holy Chrism upon the ground, they overthrew the altars, they broke the chalices and sold them, they shaved the heads of the priests to take the sacred unction from them, and they took and tore away the veil from nuns to reform them.

Jovinian, as S. Augustine testifies, would have any kind of meat eaten at any time and against every prohibition; he said that fasting was not meritorious before God, that the saved were equal in glory, that virginity was no better than marriage and that all sins were equal. Your masters teach the same.

Vigilantius, as S. Jerome says, denied that the relics of the Saints are to be honored, that the prayers of the Saints are profitable, that priests should live in celibacy; [he rejected] voluntary poverty. And what of all those things do you not deny?

About the year 324, Eustathius despised the ordinary fasts of the Church, ecclesiastical traditions, the shrines of the holy Martyrs and places dedicated to their honor. The account is given by the Council of Gangra in which for these reasons he was anathematized and condemned. See how long your reformers have been condemned.”

– Saint Francis de Sales, The Catholic Controversy – 


 

– Lucas G. Westman

 

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Apologetics, Saint Francis de Sales, Saints, Theology

A Saint For the Common Man & Woman

Below are two homilies introducing the theology and apologetics of Saint Francis de Sales; a Saint who is truly for the common man and woman. Saint Francis is adamant in his emphasis that holiness is not only for those who are clergy and living a consecrated religious life. Holiness is also for mothers and fathers, laborers and managers, secretaries and janitors, business owners, lawyers, carpenters, welders, and any other person living in the world. We are all called to holiness, so me must strive to that end with the help of the sacramental life of the Church.

 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Saint Francis de Sales, Saints

Saint Francis de Sales, Pray For Us!

saint-francis-de-sales-2Today is the feast day of my Patron Saint, Saint Francis de Sales. His story is truly incredible, and his book, The Catholic Controversy, is a beautiful defense of the Catholic faith. One thing that immediately grabbed my attention when I read the book is that the arguments made between Catholics and Protestants have not really changed much since the “reformation.” Moreover, this great apologist was charged with the task of re-converting thousands of Protestants, and he accomplished his mission in a dreadfully hostile environment. He was successful because he coupled rigorous argumentation with his ardent faith in God, the Church, and the one true Gospel. Saint Francis de Sales is a shining example of what it means to be a ‘pillar and bulwark of truth.’

Another important work by St. Francis is, Introduction to the Devout Life. The writing in this treatise is powerful, clear, and inspiring. This book carries with it the important mark of spirituality characteristic of this wonderful Doctor of the Church. In the tumultuous and distracting times we currently live in, it is often beneficial to take a step back in order to examine ourselves, to work towards a better understanding of what it means to live a life to the glory of God. This introduction, presented by St. Francis, is a guide for pursuing a holy and devout life while living in the world, not isolated from it. This is particularly important for the layman, since we are often confronted with the trials of the world in challenging and nefarious ways. In addition to this, the obstacles facing the Catholic Church, whether it is the common man or the Priest, are only going to increase in their intensity. If this is going to be our state of affairs in the future, and I believe it is, then we ought to prepare our hearts and minds for this scenario by constantly renewing ourselves with daily devotions to God. This book is a great tool for that end.

St. Francis’s writings are vast. He is a saint that is for the common man and woman seeking to live their lives in devout fashion, aiming for His eternal glory in the beatific vision.

Here are some highlights of his life (taken from chronology of his life found in the preface of Introduction to the Devout Life):


  • 1594 – At the order of Charles Emmanuel, Duke of Savoy, Francis’s bishop, Claude de Granier, sent Francis into Chablais, a region in the southern shore of Lake Geneva that was under Calvinist domination. His purpose was to reinvigorate Catholic life there. Francis labored intensely for four years, rebuilding the Church in the company of his cousin, Canon Louis de Sales. They faced peril from all sides: foul weather, wild animals (Francis was once treed for the night by wolves), and paid assassins. His father, certain that Francis would be murdered, tried to dissuade him by refusing him any support: no horses, no money, no servants. However, Francis rejoiced to be thus alone and exposed, seeing himself now under the sole protection of God’s providence.
  • 1595 – Francis wrote The Controversies, articles of mediation on the truth of the Catholic faith, which he posted in public places to initiate dialogue with the people of Thonon, the capitol of Chablais. Progress grew slow, but Francis persevered and eventually drew more and more people back to the Church. Even Protestants came to hear him preach, and a number of influential Calvinists were converted to the Roman faith. He won the respect of all with whom he came in contact with because of his profound commitment to the Church and to the teaching of the Council of Trent (1545 – 1563), which he upheld and taught in a clear and engaging manner. He was generous and gentle to Catholic and Protestant alike, inspiring confidence and affection.
  • 1597 – Francis began to meet secretly with Theodore de Beze, patriarch of Geneva and successor to John Calvin, who was a great theologian and venerated Calvinist. Beze, at age seventy-eight, while loyal to the teaching of Protestantism, had begun to seek a rapprochement with Rome in the hope of achieving Christian unity. Heated theological discussion between Francis and Beze ensued. A message, dated May 20, reached Francis from Pope Clement VIII; the Pope praised Francis for his zeal and dedication. Minister de Beze was almost converted to Catholicism while hearing Francis preach on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
  • 1617 – Francis’s Treatise on the Love of God, ten years in the writing, was published in August in Lyons. Francis was convinced that the true way for spiritual advancement was not extraordinary visions and raptures but constant renewal of one’s desire to belong to God, to do His will, and to live a life of activity. Biblical justification, according to Francis, is the resolute orientation of our hearts and minds toward what is beautiful, true, and good.

The Prayer of St. Francis de Sales

Be at Peace

Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life;

rather look to them with full hope as they arise.

God, whose very own you are,

will deliver you from out of them.

He has kept you hitherto,

and He will lead you safely through all things;

and when you cannot stand it,

God will bury you in his arms.

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;

the same everlasting Father who cares for you today

will take care of you then and every day.

He will either shield you from suffering,

or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace,

and put aside all anxious thoughts and imagination.

St. Francis de Sales 1567-1622


 

– Lucas G. Westman

 

 

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Apologetics, Saint Francis de Sales, Theology

Saint Francis de Sales & the Pretended Ministers of the Reformation

saint-francis-de-salesAs a Catholic convert, I become greatly concerned when I hear the warm and fuzzy proclamations of those committed to ecumenism and endless religious dialogue, rather than the declaration of Gospel truth for the sake of converting those outside of the Catholic Church. My concern increases exponentially when the Vatican announces Martin Luther a “witness to the gospel.” The problems with this declaration are legion, and the very mission of the Church as the carrier of Gospel becomes blurred if heresy can be mixed with truth. To unite with the teachings of Luther, which is the result of declaring him a “witness to the Gospel”, is to de facto reverse the anathemas pronounced by the Council of Trent. Moreover, to claim Luther a “witness to the gospel” is to tell Lutherans that there is salvation outside of the Catholic Church. And if there is salvation outside of the Catholic Church, then Catholics are simply participating in another denomination trying to do the best they can to follow Jesus. The liberal, subjective autonomy of private revelation, previously considered to be an egregious error by the magisterial authority of the Church, becomes the basic foundation of the new ecumenism. Rather than the Church Militant doing spiritual battle for lost souls, the Church ecumenical seeks to mix divine truth with the heresy of the pretended ministers of the Protestant-revolt. It is vitally important, then, to examine the statement that Luther is a “witness to the gospel” so that we may dismiss such a claim as totally fallacious, and secure the faith of the laity against those seeking to undermine the Church.

Before identifying the heresies of Martin Luther, let’s take a look at his own words[1]:


– “Now, listen, Donkey of a Pope, with your long donkey ears and your damned lying mouth…But here I must stop; if it is the will of God, I will do it still better in another book. If I die in the meantime, may it please God that someone else should do it a thousand times stronger. For the devilish Popery is the last misfortune on earth, and the first thing that all the Devils proclaim with all their might. May God help us, Amen.” (Pg. 12, 13)

– “I will begin with myself, and make a little confession to you, holy Fathers; give me a good absolution, what will also do you no harm. I once awoke at midnight, when the Devil began to dispute with me in my heart after the following manner (as he is able to make many a night of mine bitter and miserable enough): ‘Listen [it is the Devil who speaks to Luther], listen, you learned man, do you know that for fifteen years you have almost daily said Mass privately? How will it be if, in such Masses, you have merely been practicing idolatry, and have adored, and held up for the adoration of others, not the Body and Blood of Christ, but merely bread and wine? I (Luther) answered: ‘I am a consecrated Priest, have received the chrism and ordination from the Bishop, moreover, I did all that according to order and obedience, why then should I not have consecrated, since I repeated the words seriously, and said Mass with all possible devotion? You (the Devil) certainly know that. ‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘it is true. But Turks and heathens also do everything in their churches according to order and earnest obedience. The Priests of Jeroboam at Dan and Bethel did everything with perhaps greater devotion than the true Priests in Jerusalem. What, if your ordination, chrism and consecration were also unchristian and false, like that of the Turks and of the Samaritans?”

The conversation with the Devil continues,

“Here indeed the seat broke forth and my heart began to tremble and to beat. The Devil knows well how to put his argument, and to push it further, and he has a deep, powerful voice. In suchlike disputations there are no frequent nor long pauses; but in the twinkling of an eye answer follows answer. And from my own experience I can well understand how it is, that in the morning people may be found dead in bed. He (the Devil) can strangle the body. That is one way. But he can likewise so frighten the soul in disputing with it, that in an instant it is force to depart, as many a time almost happened to me. Well, he (the Devil) had attacked me in this disputation. And, in the sight of God, I did not wish to leave such an endless list of abominations lying on myself, but to defend my innocence.”

Finally, Luther provides arguments made by the Devil against private Mass,

“Listen to the reasons which he (the Devil) alleged against my ordination and consecration. For the first, he (the Devil) said: ‘ You know that you did not believe properly in Christ, and that concerning faith you have been as good as a Turk. For the Turk, yes, even I, with all the Devils, also believe all that is written about Christ (James II), that is, how he was born, died, and ascended into heaven. Yet none of us rejoice or trust in Him as in a Savior. But we fear Him as a severe judge. Such a faith you also had, and no other, when you were ordained and said Mass; and all the others, both the ordaining Bishop, and those whom he ordained, also believed the same. Therefore, you also all went over from Christ to Mary and to the Saints; they had to be your consolation and your helpers against Christ. This neither you, nor any other Papist, can deny. Therefore, you were ordained and have said Mass as heathens, and not as Christians…Therefore your ordination and also your consecration are nothing but blasphemy, and a tempting of God, and neither are you a Priest, nor is the bread in your Mass the Body of Christ.”[2]

– “I herewith let you know that in future, I will no longer do you the honor of allowing you, or even an Angel from Heaven, to judge my doctrine…There has been enough of this stupid humility now for the third time at Worms, and, nevertheless, it was of no use; but I will make myself heard, and, as St. Peter teaches, I will prove the motives and reasons for my teaching before the whole world, and I will not allow it to be judged by anybody, not even by any of the Angels. For, since I am certain of it, I intend, by means of it, to be your judge and also (as St. Paul says), that of the Angels; so that whoever does not accept my teaching, cannot be saved. For it is God’s and not mine. Therefore, my judgment is at the same time God’s and not mine.” (emphasis added)

– “And in order to return to the point. If your Papist makes much unnecessary fuss about the word (Sola, alone), say straight out to him, Doctor Martinus Luther will have it so, and says, Papists and donkeys are one and the same thing…For we will not be the scholars or the disciples of the Papists, but their masters and judges. We must once in a way act a little haughtily and noisily with these jack-asses.”

– “This is my answer to your first question; and as to their unnecessary noise about the word Sola, I beg of you not to give those donkeys any other or further answer, but simply this much; D. Luther will have it so, and says he is a Doctor above all Doctors in the whole of Popery.”


The list of quotes such as this can be added to at length. The hatred Luther possessed for the Catholic Church from which he defected is on record for all to see. He chastises the Papal office as the seat of the anti-christ, by his own word he receives approval for his doctrines from the Devil himself, and he plainly sets himself up as the infallible authority to which God has given revealed truth. Indeed, to reject the Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium of the one true Church requires a deceptive replacement, to which Luther attributed all three of these pillars of authority to himself. Reject the teachings of the Catholic Church, follow these novel teachings received in private revelation or be damned is the rally call of every true heretic. Public and objective revelation from God through Christ is replaced with subjective and private interpretation to an individual in the inner confines of their own unsettled mind.

In addition to these highlighted errors and statements, Luther took his scissors to the Bible itself, the book in which he allegedly revered above all “Papist” innovations. How can one love the written word of God if motivated to squint at its pages to find what is not liked, and chastise letters of the Sacred Page as “Epistles of straw” as Luther does with Saint James? How can one love the objective revelation of God, given to his Church and preserved in her traditions through the liturgy, when they are met with revulsion against the private doctrines created in secret against the sacred deposit of faith handed to the Apostles?

Let us now consider and properly identify the heresies Luther promulgated against the true teachings of the Roman Catholic Church[3]:


  1. It is a usual, but a heretical opinion, that the Sacraments of the New Law give justifying grace to those who place no hindrance in the way.
  1. To deny that sin remains in a child after baptism, is, through the mouth of Paul, to trample both on Christ and Paul.
  1. The tendency to sin, although there is no actual sin, delays the soul, after leaving the body, from entering heaven.
  1. The imperfect charity of one about to die necessarily induces a great fear, which of itself is enough to make the pains of Purgatory, and excludes from the kingdom.
  1. That the parts of Penance are three – Contrition, Confession, and Satisfaction; is founded neither in Scripture, nor in the ancient Holy Christian Doctors.
  1. Contrition, which is obtained by examination, recollection, and detestation of sins, by which a person recollects his years in the bitterness of his soul, pondering on the grievousness, the multitude, and the foulness of his sins, the loss of eternal beatitude, and the incurring eternal damnation – this contrition only makes a man a hypocrite, and a great sinner.
  1. That proverb is must true, and better than all the doctrine about conditions given as yet: the highest Penance is not to act so again, and the best Penance is new life.
  1. Presume not by any means to confess venial sins, and not eve every wicked sin; for it is impossible that you should know all your mortal sins, and hence, in the primitive Church only these manifestly mortal were confessed.
  1. When we wish clearly to confess everything, we act as if we wished to leave nothing to the mercy of God to pardon.
  1. Sins are not remitted to any one, unless (the Priest remitting them) he believes they are remitted – yea, the sin remains, unless he believes it remitted; for the remission of sin and the donation of grace is not enough, but we must also believe it is remitted.
  1. You should on no account trust you are absolved on account of your contrition, but because the words of Christ: ‘Whatsoever though shalt loose.’ Hence, I say, trust, if you obtain the Priest’s absolution, and believe strongly you are absolved, and you will be absolved, no matter about contrition.
  1. If by impossibility you should confess without contrition, or the Priest should absolve you only in joke, and you, nevertheless, believe you are absolved, you are most certainly absolved.
  1. In the Sacraments of Penance and the Remission of Sins, the Pope or Bishop does no more than the lowest Priest – nay, if a Priest cannot be had, any Christian, even a woman or child, has the same power.
  1. No one ought to answer a Priest that he is contrite, nor ought a Priest to ask such a question.
  1. They are in great, error who approach the Sacrament of the Eucharist with trust, because they have confessed, are not conscious to themselves of any mortal sins, have said the prayers and preparations for Communion – all these eat and drink unto themselves judgment; but if they believe and trust, they will obtain grace; this faith alone makes them pure and worthy.
  1. It seems advisable that the Church, in a General Council, should declare that the laity should communicate under both kinds, and the Bohemians who do so are not heretics, but schismatics.
  1. The treasures of the Church, from which the Pope grants indulgences, are not the merits of Christ or his Saints.
  1. Indulgences are pious frauds of the faithful, and remission of good works, and are the number of those things that are lawful, but not expedient.
  1. Indulgences are of no value to those who truly obtain them for the remission of the punishment due to the Divine justice for their actual sins.
  1. They are seduced who believe Indulgences are salutary and useful for the fruit of the spirit.
  1. Indulgences are necessary only for public crimes, and should be granted only to the hardened and impatient.
  1. For six classes of persons Indulgences are neither useful nor necessary – to wit, the dead, those on the point of death, the sick, those who are lawfully impeded, those who have not committed crimes, those who have committed crimes, but not public ones, and those who mend their lives.
  1. Excommunications are merely external penalties, and do not deprive a man of the common spiritual prayers of the Church.
  1. Christians should be taught rather to love excommunication than to fear it.
  1. The Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, is not the Vicar of Christ instituted by Christ himself in St. Peter, Vicar over all the Churches of the world.
  1. The word of Christ to St. Peter, ‘Whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth,’ extended but to what St. Peter himself alone had bound.
  1. It is not certainly in the power of the Pope or the Church by any means to lay down articles of faith nor laws of morals, nor good works.
  2. If the Pope, with a great part of the Church, should think so and so, although not in error, it is, nevertheless, neither sin nor heresy to think the contrary, especially in a matter not necessary to salvation, until by a General Council one thing is rejected and the other approved.
  1. We have a way open to us for weakening the authority of Councils, and freely contradicting their acts, and judging their decrees, by freely confessing whatever appears true, no matter whether approved or condemned by any Council.
  1. Some of the articles of John Huss, condemned in the Council of Constance, are most Christian, most true, and most Evangelical, such as not even the universal Church could condemn.
  1. The just man sins in every good work.
  1. A good work, be it never so well performed, is a venial sin.
  1. It is against the will of the spirit to burn heretics.
  1. To fight against the Turks is to oppose the will of God, who punishes our iniquities through them.
  1. No man can be certain that he is not in a constant state of mortal sin on account of the most hidden vice of pride.
  1. Free will after sin is a matter of name alone, and while one does what is in him, he sins mortally.
  1. Purgatory cannot be proved from the Holy Scriptures contained in the Canon of Scripture.
  1. The souls in Purgatory are not sure of their salvation – at least all of them; nor is it proved by reason or Scripture that they are beyond the state of merit or of increasing charity.
  1. The souls in Purgatory continually sin, as long as they seek relief and dread their punishment.
  1. Souls freed from Purgatory by the suffrages of the living, enjoy a less share of beatitude than if they satisfied the Divine justice themselves.
  1. Ecclesiastical Prelates and secular Princes would do no wrong if they abolished the mendicant Orders.

The evidence against Martin Luther is overwhelming. Not only does he proclaim vicious slanders against the Roman Catholic Church, he teaches gratuitous heresy. In addition to these listed, one cannot forget that his teaching also allowed for the defamation of the Sacrament of Marriage.[4] To claim that Martin Luther is a “witness to the gospel” is a statement that deserves condemnation and ought to be rejected by faithful Catholics.

In addition to the above evidence, St. Francis de Sales undercuts any claim to authority the pretended ministers of the reformation gave to themselves so that they might preach their new gospel, which is no gospel at all. This is significant because St. Francis was tasked to re-convert Calvinist Geneva back to the one, true, faith of Catholicism. In order to maneuver the anti-Catholic environment of Geneva, St. Francis had to first show that the mission of the “reformers” was illegitimate to begin with. He does this by demonstrating that the mission did not, nor can it, come from Princes or the people because a true mission requires the laying on of hands in order to transmit authority.[5] In addition to the inability of a valid mission coming from the seculars, Saint Francis also lays out what I call the Protestant conundrum of authority,

“If it be that from which they have taken mission, their mission is false, for from a false church there cannot spring a true mission. Whichever way it be, they had no mission to preach what they preached, because, if the Church in which they were ordained were true, they are heretics for having left it, and for having preached against its belief, and if it were not true it could not give them mission.”[6]

The logic supporting this argument seems to be inescapable. To possess a true mission, and to be a true ambassador of Christ, one must have been sent by the laying on of hands from a true authority. If, therefore, the pretended ministers were given a mission by a true authority, then they are heretics for having preached against the teachings of the Church. If the Church is a false Church, as the “reformers” are adamantly committed to teaching, then they cannot have a true mission to preach because only a false mission can come from a false Church. There is simply no way to get around this conundrum. And this argument supports the evidence provided above. The heresies taught by Luther are multitudinous, and as far as the evidence indicates, according to his own testimony, the Devil himself gives approval to his doctrines. There could not be a more false mission than one that the Devil gives approval.

There is one move left for the “reformers” to make, and that is to claim an extraordinary mission. The argument could be made that the Church has become so heretical, and so devoid of gospel truth, that God extended a mission that goes beyond the norms of institutionalized transmissions of authority. There are many issues with this argument; one would be that it contradicts the words of Christ himself that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. Another argument, provided by St. Francis, is that such a mission would require the proof of miracles. However, there are no miraculous signs validating the teachings of Luther, Calvin, Bucer, Beza, etc. Moreover, to get around the total absence of the divine stamp of the miraculous, many Protestants teach that the era requiring signs and wonders ended with the Apostles. This is an argument made out of convenience, rather than the discernment of truth. Especially because the miraculous still exists within the structures of the Roman Catholic Church, which include Eucharistic miracles and Marian apparitions resulting in the conversion of entire nations to the Catholic faith.

St. Francis says,

“Never was any one extraordinarily sent unless he brought this letter of credit from the divine Majesty. Moses was sent immediately by God to govern the people of Israel. He wished to know his name who sent him; when had learned the admirable name of God, he asked for signs and patents of his commission: God so far found this request good that he gave him the grace of three sorts of prodigies and marvels, which were, so to speak, three attestations in three different languages, of the charge which he gave him, in order that any one who did not understand one might understand another. If then they allege extraordinary mission, let them show us some extraordinary works, otherwise we are not obliged to believe them. In truth Moses clearly shows the necessity of this proof for him who would speak extraordinarily: for having to beg from God the gift of eloquence, he only asks it after having the power of miracles; showing that it is more necessary to have authority to speak than to have readiness in speaking.”[7]

The damage the Vatican is doing to the faithful they are supposed to guide to truth and navigate away from error is extensive. Rather than calling Lutherans to repentance, and calling them back into the Church, a new mission of ecumenism has replaced the truth that there is no salvation outside of the Church. Truth and heresy have no home together. If such a union is sought after without the necessity of correction, it is the truth that will end up compromising itself, rather than the errors of heretical theology.

The evidence and argumentation against Martin Luther is overwhelming. To claim that he is a “witness to the gospel” is an egregious error deserving repudiation.

 

– Lucas G. Westman


[1] All quotations taken from, Luther’s Own Statements, O’Connor S.J.

[2] Fr. O’Conner says, “Now, I do not , say that Luther here for the first time learnt the doctrine of justification by faith alone, or that he was taught for the first time on this occasion to do away with the Mass, with Mary and the Saints. It is quite possible that some, or all of these doctrines, were preached by Luther before this celebrated disputation. But this I do say, and I say it most distinctly and most emphatically: Luther received the full and unqualified approval of the Devil for these new doctrines. It was the Devil who spoke in favor of the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and against Mass, Mary, and the Saints.” (Pg., 18)

[3] This list of heresies is taken from St. Alphonsus Maria DeliGuori’s, The History of Heresies and Their Refuation Vol. I.

[4] “They say they could not introduce into the New Testament the provisions of the Old Law, which permitted a plurality of wives, as Christ says they shall be two in one flesh, but they likewise say that there are certain cases in which the New Law can be dispensed with; that the case of the Prince was one of these; but that, in order to avoid scandal it would be necessary that the second marriage should be celebrated privately, in the presence of few witnesses; and his document is subscribed by Luther, Melanethon, Bucer, and five other Lutheran Doctors. The marriage was soon after privately celebrated in presence of Luther, Melanethon, and six other persons.” (Ibid, Pg. 307)

[5] “And first, as to ordinary and mediate mission, they have none whatever. For what they can put forward is either that they are sent by the people and secular princes, or else that they are sent by the imposition of the hands of the bishops who made them priests, a dignity to which at last they must have recourse, although they despise it altogether and everywhere. Now, if they say that the secular magistrates and people have sent them, they will have two proofs to give which they can never give, the one that the seculars have done it, the other that they could do it, for we deny both the facts and the right.” (The Catholic Controversy, Pg. 5)

[6] Ibid, Pg. 8

[7] Ibid, Pg. 9

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