Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chapters II and III, Catholic and Protestant Justification

Click here to go to beginning of book review

The root of the Protestant revolt was based upon the Protestant redefinition of the means and nature of the justification of man through the action of Christ. Chapters II and III of this book essentially compare 1,500 years of Catholic thought on this aspect of our faith with the novelties of the English protesters.

In a sentence: The Catholic position is that as adopted sons and daughters of Christ we are made clean by the merits of Christ's Passion. Assuming that we cooperate with this opus operatum of the Church which we spoke of earlier in the order of grace... our souls can become clean... particularly if we persist in this quest for a divine life in Jesus Christ. This is true for any and all of us no mater what provided we pursue a state of grace with faculty of reason! Without faculty of reason the discussion changes slightly but that is really a separate issue beyond our historical inquiry here. The revolter's position is that our souls are ALWAYS as black as pitch no matter how closely we follow the Savior. Christ's merits COVER up our blackness... but they are incapable of BLOTTING OUT our sin. "Works are dead" shouts the Protestant Rebellion.

In contrast, we Catholics know that OneNess is not achieved without cooperation.

Davies points to a fable which best captures the truth about sanctifying grace by analogy:
There was a fable about a common briar "into which was budded the stem of a royal rose. When June came, it bore fragrant roses of great beauty and, passing by, the gardener smiled and said: 'Your beauty is not due, dear briar, to that which came from you but to that which I put in you'."

The adoption that Saint Paul speaks about in the epistles is so much more than adoption. It is more like a grafting as it were... for we become PART of the DIVINE Life. This is what holiness is. The Protestant demands that NO ONE can become holy except God Himself who IS Holy. The notion of growing in personal holiness is totally rejected. This explains their hatred for the Mass.

"For a Protestant, justification means declaring a man just: for a Catholic it means making him so" (p. 19). Luther overthrew a system of belief developed over fifteen centuries on the basis of his personal interpretation of Romans 1:17. Luther tells us "we must give up trying to escape sin" writes Henri Rondet.

Grace for the reformer was external to a man... not something which God could put INSIDE a man.

The natural consequences of these novelties was unimaginable in a world which was largely Christianized already. The effects were devastating as we shall soon see.

On page 21 we see that the reformer was already saying... (I paraphrase here) no need to destroy the pope... just destroy the Mass and you will rip the heart out of the Catholic Church.

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