St. Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of the Apostle John, wrote a series of letters somewhere about c. 107-110, en route to his martyrdom in Rome. These letters are richly Catholic, so much so that the Reformer John Calvin was convinced that they couldn't be authentic. So how do we know that they are?
Continuing the series on “the Saints and prayer,” I spoke yesterday on prayer and the Eastern Church Fathers. I wanted them as a change of pace for two reasons: I find that Catholics in the West are much more familiar with Western Church Fathers like Augustine, Ambrose, Gregory, and Leo, than they are with Eastern […]
The Church refers to the Eucharist as a "pledge of future glory." What does that mean, and how does faithfully receiving the Eucharist ensure our salvation and bodily resurrection?
In Luke 24:13-35, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus have a surprise encounter with the risen Lord, Jesus Christ. There are basically four "stages" of communion in this encounter, and it's the same four stages, in the same order, that we find in the earliest Christian worship, and that we see in the Mass today. So let's look at each of the four stages, and then consider why it matters that they should all follow the same structure and pattern....
Protestants frequently claim that there are only 66 books in the Bible. This isn't the Bible used by early Christians, by Luther, by Calvin, or by the Catholic, Orthodox, or Coptic Churches. So where do they draw support? Strangely, they cite a single fourth century Church Father: St. Jerome. But there's a problem with that approach. Or more accurately: four problems.
Why should we care about the writings of the Church Fathers, or early Church history? Consider the Church of the early 100s. Protestants typically (a) reject the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ, that the Eucharist becomes His Flesh and Blood; and (b) believe that once you are saved, you'll never permanently fall away from the faith. But holding these views would require believing that the very same Symrnaean and Ephesian Christians praised by Christ in 96 A.D. are heretics by 107 A.D.
As Christians, we readily acknowledge that Jesus, in addition to being Divine, also had (and has) a true human body. But does Jesus also have a human soul? This is one of the earliest questions that the early Church had to resolve, and the answer is crucial for how we understand Christ Jesus.
It's frequently objected that the Catholic Church doesn't look like the early Church. Good. It's not supposed to.
Both St. Matthew and St. John take pains to specify that Christ's Tomb was never-before used. “Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid” (John 19:41). But why do they both specify this seemingly-mundane detail? Because the Virgin Tomb, like the Virgin Womb, tells us something about Who Jesus Is.
Did the early Christians believe in "sola Scriptura" (Scripture alone)? Or did they also believe in Apostolic Tradition? Keith Mathison, in his book "The Shape of Sola Scriptura," claimed that the Catholic view wasn't found in the first centuries of the Church, and that the earliest Church Fathers believed in sola Scriptura. Mathison's views are thoroughly debunked by (of all people) Karl Barth, the Reformed theologian Christianity Today called "the most important theologian of the twentieth century." And Barth capably proved the Catholic Patristic case... even though he personally believed in sola Scriptura!