Monday, August 06, 2012

Defending the Faith from Hearsay and Heresy

             Hearsay and Heresy are more than tongue twisters.  If you can look beyond phonics and spelling rules, there is a world of difference between those two words.  
Hearsay is a legal term for a testimony when a witness has no direct knowledge of a fact presented.  A hearsay testimony is usually gathered from what someone else stated or asserted from unverified information.  Generally, Courts reject hearsay (save for several exceptions). 
Heresy is, according to Canon law, the obstinate denial or doubt, after baptism, of a truth which must be believed by divine and catholic faith.  According to my favorite lawyer, St. Thomas Aquinas, "The believer accepts the whole deposit as proposed by the Church; the heretic accepts only such parts of it as commend themselves to his own approval."
If I told you that the Eucharist is NOT the true Body of Christ, that is heresy.  You shouldn’t believe me because the Church teaches in the words of St. Augustine that: "That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ" (Sermons 227 [A.D. 411]).
If I told you that there is a miracle of the Eucharist in Lanciano, Italy where a doubtful priest celebrated the Eucharist and it turned to real flesh and blood before his eyes during the Consecration, at first glance you can probably dismiss that in Court as hearsay.  But if I can prove other verified sources:  a photograph of the miracle, scientific proof and official Church approval of the validity of its miracle, then it would be an indisputable fact for any Catholic.
Another example:  If you lived back in the 1800s and a peasant girl named Bernadette Soubiroux announced that she was seeing the Blessed Mother and that the apparition claimed that she is the Immaculate Concepcion, you’d probably dismiss that as hearsay.  But today, given the declaration of the Fourth Marian Dogma on the Immaculate Concepcion (conceived without sin) and the Church approval of the apparitions at Lourdes, it would be heretic for me to declare the Dogma of the Immaculate Concepcion false.
      Our Catholic faith is attacked by so many heresies and misconceptions based on hearsay.  And if history repeats itself (and prophets prove themselves divinely inspired), a schism is at the doorsteps of our Church with Our Lord and Our Lady as the dividing line.
           My fellow Catholics, we are all called to be soldiers of Christ and His Blessed Mother!    No we're not all expected to be defense attorneys, brilliant apologetists and fiery homilists.  We're not commissioned to look for for scuffles and engage in heated debates, either. But if attacks come in our sphere of influence, against the Eucharist, Our Lady (any Marian Dogma) or our Church, we must be prepared to defend firmly, calmly and honorably.
        Previously, I'd type out a reply to comments in the heat of the moment but I have since learned from the impassioned replies to my reply, to take a moment before saying anything. The last thing we Catholics want to do is to respond with the anger of the dark side because we squander the opportunity to witness with love and defeat the message of Christian brotherly love.
            St. Paul exhorts us "Put on the armor of God that you may stand against the devil's schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this dark world, against the spirits of wickedness in these high places." In a spiritual battle, the armor of God encompasses devotion to the rosary of the Blessed Mother and devotion to the Eucharist by frequent Communion and Adoration.   St. Claire drove off the Saracen invaders of her convent by prostrating herself in Adoration to Eucharist and that the Battle of Lepanto was won by the faithful praying the rosary.
           So now I hold off before typing a knee-jerk reply, with a spiritual communion, a rosary, or a quick prayer for St. Andrew's intercession, if I should say anything, what to say and how to say it.
            Onward, Catholic soldier! Here's a homemade banner for you in case you are tempted to fear, anger or anxiety:
Despite what it looks like, that's not a lady with a modest skirt, earrings, pumps and shoulder pads.
  That's a mo-hawked Roman soldier with short legs and a smile.


Victor S E Moubarak said...

You're right in what you say about certain truths which, even some Catholics, find it difficult to believe. Like the Eucharist and Blood of Christ. I was surprised that some priests did not know about the Miracle of Lanciano.

I think the problem is that our Church does not teach such truths and beliefs clearly and loudly enough to its own congregation, never mind others of different denominations and Faiths.

Such subjects rarely get talked about in sermons. It seems to me the Church is more concerned about matters such as changing the responses during Mass, Vatican II, and such similar matters which may be way high above the heads of the parishioners; rather than concentrating on the basics: Who is God? Jesus? Mary? The Holy Spirit? Eucharist? and ... dare I say it ... who is the devil and what is his main mission on earth?

Sorry to have taken so long in my response.

God bless.

Carol@simple_catholic said...

Amen, amen. Well said Annabelle.

I also agree with Victor's response wholeheartedly, especially about homilies needed to get back to the basics.