Are we sure?

Our certitudes communally and individually within the Church derive from objective historical facts and not from mere philosophical theory.

There is a threefold linking that is the basis of our security:

  1. The Christ-event grounds its own reality and certitude. ‘The risen Jesus manifests Him-self to his disciples and thus creates in them an experiential certitude regarding his Resurrection – this certitude then finds expression in the Christian keryg-ma’ (Juan Alfaro ‘Theology and the Magisterium’)
  2. The apostolic community, the early ecclesia, enjoys a primary and privileged position in mediating this Christ-event to the entire world. This first Christian community experienced the risen Lord and received an abundance of his transforming Spirit. They had no doubts about their proclamation, for it was rooted in what they could not possibly deny: their day by day experience of Jesus of Nazareth culminating in his Passion and death and crowned by the staggering experience of his risen life. ‘For this reason, the apostolic Church is normative for the Christian faith of every age, not simply because it is not possible to come in touch with the Christ-event except through the testimony of the apostolic Church but also and above all because the apostolic Church came into being through a privileged grace and revelation of Christ’ (Alfaro)
  3. Within this early Church were conceived and from her womb were born the New Testament writings. These compositions were authored by her members and attested to by the whole community under the guidance of her leaders, the Apostles and their successors. Thus the New Testament and the apostolic Church are interlinked as normative for all later ages. They in turn are tied in with the unshakable Christ-event. The Spirit of the risen Jesus, who transformed the apostolic community on Pentecost, also inspired the Scriptures and continues to dwell in the Church which Jesus founded. This risen Lord through his Spirit is the radical ground of our certitude, for he caused the Resurrection, inspired the New Testament and dwells in the pilgrim Church.

The Catholic Church, this ecclesial community in unbroken continuity from the first century to the twenty-first and beyond, cannot betray its indwelling Lord for He is with her until the end of time (Mt. 28:20). She cannot teach error, for ‘when the Spirit of truth comes, He will lead you to the whole truth’ (Jn. 16:13).

Human beings cannot have a more secure source of certitude.

14 Responses to “Are we sure?”


  1. 1 Katherine Jane February 28, 2010 at 12:21

    Catholics believe that theirs is the one true Church of Jesus Christ, firstly, because theirs is the only Christian Church that goes back in history to the time of Christ; secondly, because theirs is the only Christian Church which possesses the invincible unity, the intrinsic holiness, the continual universality and the indisputable apostolicity which Christ said would distinguish His true Church; and thirdly, because the Apostles and primitive Church Fathers, who certainly were members of Christ’s true Church, all professed membership in this same Catholic Church (See Apostles’ Creed and the Primitive Christian letters).

    Wrote Ignatius of Antioch, illustrious Church Father of the first century: “Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be; even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church.” Our Lord said: “There shall be one fold and one shepherd”, yet it is well known that the various Christian denominations cannot agree on what Christ actually taught. Since Christ roundly condemned interdenominationalism (“And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Mark 3:25), Catholics cannot believe that He would ever sanction it in His Church.

    To all of you, have a holy Sunday (my Mass this morning was sublime! Thank you Holy Father). I always love reading all your comments, teaches me so much!

  2. 2 Maria February 28, 2010 at 13:09

    Hi Gabriella- but as far as errors go, what about Vatican II and some of the things that were condoned there?

  3. 3 Scott Paul February 28, 2010 at 15:41

    Hi Maria, I will try and answer your question as it is the same one I’ve been asking myself for a long time until a good priest clarified everything. Of course, a comment from Gabriella is always welcome.

    We know for sure that the Holy Spirit is protecting the Church against errors in doctrine. Papal infallibility involves matters of faith and doctrine. We have Jesus’ promise that no one, not even the pope, can change doctrine. For example, if someone wanted to make our Blessed Mother part of the trinity they couldn’t do it. This can never happen.

    That does not mean that a pope can’t make any mistakes. If you look at the history of the Church you will find more than one bad pope – some were very sinful, some were very weak, some were both. What you won’t find are instances where doctrine was changed – even the worst popes could not alter doctrine nor ever tried to do so. Thanks to the Holy Spirit. The Church Christ founded is the same Church existing today. The teachings of the Church are the same as taught by Christ and His apostles yesterday, today and tomorrow.

    Regarding Vatican Council II, this was not a dogmatic council but a pastoral one. What has happened in our church has been caused by men who, in the spirit of modernity (and influenced by the 60s cultural revolution), have gone wild because if one studies the Council documents carefully, nowhere does it say that Latin should not be used at Mass, or Gregorian chant forgotten, or that it’s the same thing if one prays in a Catholic Church or in a protestant one, or that priests can dress like lay people and nuns wear miniskirts, or that jumping up and down and talking in tongues is the perfect way of praying, so on. In all this “modern” mess, you will note that the Holy Spirit is there, in the small groups of Catholics holding on to Tradition with great love for the Magisterium and in those good and holy Catholics who know deep inside that something is wrong and are looking for the Truth. And where the Holy Spirit is present, there is growth and love for the Church.

    In all this “modern” mess you will also note that all those who went “wild” after the Council have not been successful in changing the Church’s teachings on divorce, abortion, so on, all those things that belong to Her doctrine based on the teachings of Christ and that can never change. But they tried to change all this, how they tried! And are still trying! Having found success only in the Protestant groups.

  4. 4 Kieran February 28, 2010 at 16:56

    “It is admitted on all sides, by Protestants and Catholics alike acknowledged, that Christ has established a Church; and, strange to say, all our Protestant friends acknowledge, too, that He has established but one Church — but one Church — for, whenever Christ speaks of His Church, it is always in the singular. Bible readers, remember that; my Protestant friends, pay attention. He says: “Hear the Church,” — not hear the churches — “I have built My Church upon a rock” — not My churches. Whenever He speaks, whether in figures or parables of His Church, He always conveys to the mind a oneness, a union, a unity.
    He speaks of His Church as a sheepfold, in which there is but one shepherd — that is the head of all, and the sheep are made to follow his voice; “other sheep I have who are not of this fold.” One fold, you see. He speaks of His Church as of a kingdom, in which there is but one king to rule all; speaks of His Church as a family in which there is but one father at the head; speaks of His Church as a tree, and all the branches of that tree are connected with the trunk, and the trunk with the roots; and Christ is the root, and the trunk is Peter and the Popes, and the large branches are the bishops, and the smaller branches the priests, and the fruit upon that tree are the faithful throughout the world; and the branch, says He, that is cut off from that tree shall wither away, produce no fruit, and is only fit to be cast into the fire — that is, damnation.
    This is plain speaking, me dear people; but there is no use in covering the truth. I want to speak the truth to you, as the Apostles preached it in their time — no salvation out of the Church of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”.
    Fr. Arnold Damen S.J.

  5. 5 Maria February 28, 2010 at 18:13

    Scott Paul -thank you. That was a really good response. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question

  6. 6 Michael February 28, 2010 at 18:17

    Thank you for this – I will definitely bookmark it and use it when I need to. God Bless you!

  7. 7 anne bender February 28, 2010 at 23:56

    Great article and I love the picture! What a beautiful church! Is it yours?

    Gabriella, I don’t know if you saw my reply to your comment on my blog, but I want to tell you how sorry I am about the loss of your son, and I am praying for you and your family on this anniversary of his passing. I am glad that my words were comforting to you!

  8. 8 Maria March 1, 2010 at 00:39

    Anche, Gabriella, mi dispiace il comment sul il mio blog. No ho voluto il conversazione andare in quello modo. E mi dispiace questo italiano povero😉

  9. 9 HeartfeltHeartlook March 1, 2010 at 02:35

    Hello!!! It was good to see you.

    I sooooo enjoyed this post. How do I follow your blog?

    Hugs to you!!!

  10. 10 Ehawee March 1, 2010 at 09:09

    Thank you very much for another most instructive post. Sometimes they need to be read slowly and let line by line sink in but on the whole, and in my humble opinion, your blog is great theology for the young, it’s theology put simply.
    I finally understand many things about my religion.
    God bless you.

  11. 11 Bill Turner March 1, 2010 at 19:19

    Ehawee, it’s simple theology also for the not so young🙂

    Kudos Gabriella.

  12. 12 Cinzia March 2, 2010 at 00:19

    Yes it’s fantastic theology that even I can understand😀

    Are we sure?

    Well I am definitely and absolutely, 100% sure !!

  13. 13 Mary Nicewarner March 2, 2010 at 00:24

    Gabriella,
    Wonderful post! This is why I’m Catholic [thank you, Lord]! It’s such a grace to walk into Church and have this certainty. No other church can claim it. The comments were great, too. Very informative🙂

    Peace be with you, Gabriella. You are always in my prayers.

  14. 14 Daily Grace March 3, 2010 at 03:35

    Oh Gabriella, if we could only be like the early church, when the non-believers looked around and said ” see how they love one another”. It was that example of love that brought the non-believers to the faith. I only pray that the Lord might help me be an example of that early Christian love, the love that brought others to the faith.

    May we grow in love during this Lenten season and may we extend our hands, hearts and homes in a way we have yet to do.

    God bless and thank you for this beautiful post.


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