Trinity Sunday, 2017

This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man shall have believed faithfully and firmly he cannot be in a state of salvation.

Each year on Trinity Sunday, we post  the Athanasian Creed, as a useful antidote  in these times of false ecumenism. The Athanasian Creed arose at a time of bitter confusion and discord in the Catholic Church, much like today actually. The Creed arose from the Council of Alexandria in or about the year 361 which was presided over by St. Athanasius.

The Athanasian Creed is a perfect example of how the Holy Spirit inspires the Church to strengthen and clarify, but not to change its teachings in response to the various heresies that challenge the faith from time to time. The Arian heresy had nearly destroyed the Church and Athanasius was persecuted and even treated like a heretic for simply holding to the truth. But eventually, God purified His Church and the truth prevailed. The Athanasian Creed is thus a clarification of the eternal, unchanging dogma of the Faith.


Whoever wills to be in a state of salvation, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith, which except everyone shall have kept whole and undefiled without doubt he will perish eternally.

This is the Catholic Faith

Now the Catholic Faith is that we worship One God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is One, the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit; the Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated; the Father infinite, the Son infinite, and the Holy Spirit infinite; the Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.

And yet not three eternals but one eternal, as also not three infinites, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one infinite. So, likewise, the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty; and yet not three almighties but one almighty. So the Father is God, the Son God, and the Holy Spirit God; and yet not three Gods but one God. So the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord; and yet not three Lords but one Lord.

For like as we are compelled by Christian truth to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be both God and Lord; so are we forbidden by the Catholic religion to say, there be three Gods or three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made nor created but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and the Son, not made nor created nor begotten but proceeding.

So there is one Father not three Fathers, one Son not three Sons, and one Holy Spirit not three Holy Spirits. And in this Trinity there is nothing before or after, nothing greater or less, but the whole three Persons are coeternal together and coequal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the trinity in Unity and the Unity in Trinity is to be worshipped. He therefore who wills to be in a state of salvation, let him think thus of the Trinity.

But it is necessary to eternal salvation that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. The right faith therefore is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man. He is God of the substance of the Father begotten before the worlds, and He is man of the substance of His mother born in the world; perfect God, perfect man subsisting of a reasoning soul and human flesh; equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood. Who although He be God and Man yet He is not two but one Christ; one however not by conversion of the Godhead in the flesh, but by taking of the Manhood in God; one altogether not by confusion of substance but by unity of Person.

For as the reasoning soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again from the dead, ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life eternal, and they who indeed have done evil into eternal fire.

This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man shall have believed faithfully and firmly he cannot be in a state of salvation.

†  †  †

Most copies of the Athanasian Creed today represent the term, “Catholic Faith” uncapitalized in order to imply that it refers to the universal Christian church. This is incorrect. There was no protestant “faith” at that time. There was only the one, holy Catholic Faith and that is a fact that is not open to dispute. Today, more than ever, we need to reaffirm the beautiful old creed of our Church.

Extra ecclesiam nulla salus. Outside the Church there is no salvation. This dogmatic statement is based on the closing statement in the above Athanasian Creed, “This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man shall have believed faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.” It is a good antidote to those voices stridently claiming that as long as one “does good”, they will be saved. In diverse places recently, some have opined that anyone who states that non-Catholics are not saved is lacking in charity. In the light of the Athanasian Creed, however, it is a serious lack of charity to deny the truth of the Faith. Unless we teach the fullness of the Faith, how can others accept it and be saved?

At this morning’s Mass for Trinity Sunday, our Gospel is from Matthew 28, 18-20:

“At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: All power is given to Me in Heaven and on earth. Going therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.”

Thus, with a minimum of words, Our Lord states some essential items of the faith:

  He clearly establishes His divinity: “All power is given to Me”.

  “Teach all nations”, that is, He establishes the teaching magisterium of the Church. Note that He is not instructing them to print Bibles and distribute them for each man to interpret themselves.

  “Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”. In this, He establishes the first and most essential sacrament and also states the foundation of our Catholic faith, belief in the triune God.

  “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” This reinforces the teaching authority of the Church, and also proof that faith alone is not sufficient for salvation.

  “I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” Christ will be with the Church through all ages. This is the basis for our hope, even in perilous times like these. He is with us and will never leave us.

Father Leonard Goffine, in his book, “The Church’s Year”, has this lovely prayer for Trinity Sunday;

O incomprehensible, Triune God! O abyss of wisdom, power, and goodness!
To Thee all glory and adoration! In Thee I lose myself;
I cannot contain Thee, do Thou contain me.
I believe in Thee, though I cannot comprehend Thee; do Thou increase my faith;
I hope in Thee, for Thou art the source of all good; do Thou enliven my hope;
I love Thee, because Thou art worthy, of all love; do Thou inflame ever more my love, that in Thy love I may live and die. Amen.

O Immaculata, most beloved daughter of the Eternal Father, most beloved Mother of the Savior Son and most beloved Spouse of the Holy Spirit, pray for us thy children, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee profoundly, and I offer Thee the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the same Son Jesus Christ present in all the Tabernacles of the world, in reparation for all the sacrileges, outrages, and indifferences by which He Himself is offended. Through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.”

Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.

~ by evensong for love of the Immaculata
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!

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Dr. Mattei on the Synod

Rorate Caeli has just posted Professor Roberto de Mattei’s article on the upcoming Synod on Marriage and the Family.

Just time for a cut and paste, with a few highlights; sorry but no time to comment.

Roberto de Mattei
Il Foglio
October 1, 2014
The upcoming Synod of Bishops has been preceded by a rumpus in the media which attaches to it a historical significance greater than its ecclesiastical importance as merely a consultative assembly in the Church. Some are complaining about the theological war the Synod promises to be, but the history of all the Episcopal meetings in the Church (such is the etymological significance of the term “synod” and its synonym “council”) has been made up of theological conflicts and bitter debates on errors and divisions that have threatened the Christian community since its beginnings.
Today the subject of communion for the divorced [and remarried] is only the vector of a discussion that focuses on rather complex doctrinal concepts, such as human nature and the natural law. This debate seems to translate, on the anthropological level, the Trinitarian and Christological speculations which shook up the Church from the Council of Nicaea (325) to the Council of Chalcedon (451). At that time, discussions were held to determine the nature of the Most Holy Trinity, Who is one God in Three Persons and to define in Jesus Christ the Person of the Word, Who subsists in two natures, the Divine and the human. The Council of Nicaea’s adoption of the Greek term homoousios, which was translated in Latin to consubstantialis and, after the Council of Chalcedon with the words “of the same nature” of the Divine substance, to affirm the perfect equality of the Word and the Father, marks a never-to be-forgotten date in the history of Christianity and concludes an era of disorientation, confusion and drama of consciences similar to the one we are [currently] immersed in.

In those years the Church was divided between the “right” of St. Athanasius and the “left” of Arius’ followers, (the definition is by the historian of the Councils, Karl Joseph von Hefele). Between the two poles the third “party” of semi-Arians wavered, themselves divided into various factions. The term homoiousios, which means “of similar substance” was set against the Nicean homoousios, which means “of the same substance”. This is not a question of nitpicking. In the seemingly minimal difference between these two words, there lies an abyss: on the one hand, Identity with God, on the other a certain analogy or resemblance which makes of Jesus Christ an ordinary man.

The best historical reconstruction of this period is the one by Cardinal John Henry Newman, The Arians of the Fourth Century (tr.It. Jaca Book, Milano, 1981) an in-depth study which brings to light the culpability of the clergy and the courage of “the common people” in maintaining the orthodoxy of the Faith. Athanasius, as a deacon and champion of orthodoxy, afterwards a bishop, was forced as many as five times to leave his diocese, to walk the way of exile.

In 357, Pope Liberius excommunicated him and two years after the Councils of Rimini and Seleucia, which constituted a sort of great Ecumenical Council, representative of the West and the East, abandoned the Nicene term “consubstantial” and established an equivocal middle way, between St. Athanasius and the Arians. It was at that time St. Jerome coined the expression according to which “The whole world groaned and was amazed to find itself Arian”.

Athanasius and the defenders of the orthodox Faith were accused of being stuck obstinately on words and of being quarrelsome and intolerant. These are the same accusations made today against those, inside and outside the Synod Hall, who want to raise a voice of uncompromising firmness in defense of the Church’s doctrine on Christian Marriage, like the five Cardinals (Burke, Brandmuller, Caffarra, De Paolis and Muller), who after having expressed themselves individually, gathered together their statements in defense of the family in a book which by now has become a manifesto: Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church, just published by Cantagalli of Siena, Another fundamental text, Divorced “Remarried”, also owes its publication to Cantagalli. The praxis of the primitive Church, by the Jesuit Henri Couzel,

The writers in the “Corriere della Sera” and “La Repubblica” have been rending their garments at the “theological row” now in progress. On September 8, Pope Francis himself, urged newly nominated Bishops “not to waste energy in contrasts and clashes”, forgetting that he had personally assumed the responsibility of the clashes when he entrusted the job of opening the Synod “dances” to Cardinal Walter Kasper. As Sandro Magister noted, it was actually Kasper with his report on February 20, 2014, (made available by “Il Foglio”), who started the hostility that triggered off the doctrinal debate, thus becoming, far from his intentions, the standard-bearer of a party. The oft-times reiterated formula by the German Cardinal is: what has to change is not the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage, but pastoral [praxis] for the divorced and remarried. This has in itself a devastating significance and is the expression of a theological concept tainted at its roots.

So as to understand Kasper’s thought, we need to go back to one of his first works, perhaps the main one, “The Absolute in History in the last Philosophy of Schelling, published in 1965 and translated by Jaca Book in 1986. In fact, Walter Kasper belongs to the school of Tubinga, which, as he writes in this study, “started a renewal in theology and in all of German Catholicism with the encounter of Schelling and Hegel” (p.53). The metaphysics are Schelling’s (1775-1854), “a solitary giant” (p.90), whose Gnostic and pantheistic character the German theologian tries in vain to free himself of. In his last work Philosophie der Offenbarung (The Philosophy of Revelation), in 1854, Schelling opposes historical dogmatic Christianity. “Schelling – Kasper comments – doesn’t envision the relationship between the natural and the supernatural in a static, metaphysical and extratemporal way, but rather in a dynamic and historical one. The essentiality of Christian Revelation is really this, that it is history.” (p.206).

Also for Kasper Christianity, before being doctrine, is history, or “praxis”. In his most famous work, Jesus The Christ, (Queriniana, Brescia 1974), he develops his Christology in a historical key which is derived from The Philosophy of Revelation by the German Idealist. The Trinitarian concept by Schelling is the one of the Sabellian and Modalist heretics, the forerunners of Arianism. The three Divine Persons are reduced to three “modes of subsistence” of a one person-nature (Modalism), while the essence of the Trinity is realised in the manifesting of “Itself” to the world. Christ is not the intermediary between God and man, but the historical realization of the Divinity in the Trinitarian process.

Coherent with the Christology and ecclesiology of Kasper. The Church is, first and foremost, “pneuma” “Sacrament of the Spirit”, a definition for the German Cardinal that “corrects” the juridical one by Pius XII in Mystici Corporis (The Church, Place of the Spirit, Queriniana, Brescia 1980, p. 91). The Holy Spirit’s field of action does not coincide in fact, as Tradition wills, with the one of the Roman Catholic Church, but extends to a vaster ecumenical reality, the “Church of Christ” which the Catholic Church is part of.

According to Kasper, the Decree of Vatican II on Ecumenism presses for recognition that the one Church of Christ is not limited to the Catholic Church, but is shared with separate churches and ecclesial communities (ivi, p.94). The Catholic Church is “where there is no selective Gospel”, but everything is expanded in an all-encompassing manner, in time and space (The Catholic Church – Essence, Reality, Mission, Queriniana, Brescia 2012, p. 289). The mission of the Church is to “ step out of Herself” to regain a dimension that renders her truly universal. Eugenio Scalfari, who is acting like a third Pope,(i.e. after the Pope emeritus and the one reigning), even if ignorant in theology, confers the same idea to Pope Francis, asserting, that for him, the missionary Church is the one that “has to step out of Herself and go into the world” by implementing Christianity in history (“La Repubblica”, September 21, 2014).

These theories are reflected in Kasper’s moral theology, according to which, the experience of the encounter with Christ dissolves the law, or better, the law is a hindrance which man must free himself of to encounter the mercy of Christ. In his pantheistic philosophy, Schelling absorbs evil into God. Kasper absorbs evil into the mystery of the Cross, in which he sees the denial of traditional metaphysics and of the natural law which proceeds from it. “For Schelling the passage of negative philosophy to positive philosophy is at the same time[a]passage from the law to the Gospel” (The Absolute in History, p.178), writes the German Cardinal, who sees in turn the passage from the law to the Gospel in the primacy of pastoral praxis over abstract doctrine.

From this point of view, Cardinal Kasper’s moral doctrine is at least implicitly, Antinomianist. Antinomianism is a term coined by Luther against his opponent of the left, Johann Agricola (1494-1568), but dates back to the antique and medieval heresies indicating the rejection of the Old Testament and its laws, [which were]thought of as mere constriction and restriction, in contrast to the New Testament, i.e. to the new economy of Grace and freedom. More generally Antinomianism means the rejection of the natural moral law which has its root in the rejection of the idea of nature. For the Christian Antinomianists there is no law because there is no universal objective human nature. The consequences are the vanishing of the sense of sin, the denial of absolute morality, and the sexual Revolution inside the Church.

Within this perspective it is understandable how Cardinal Kasper in his recent book, which appeared in German in 2012 and was then translated into Italian for the fellows at Queriniana in 2013, (Mercy. The Fundamental Concept of the Gospel – The Key to life), proposes to break with the traditional equilibrium between justice and mercy, making of the latter, (which goes against tradition), the principal attribute of God. However, as Father Serafino Lanzetta observed in an excellent analysis of his volume, published at www.chiesa, “mercy perfects and completes justice but does not annul it; it presupposes it, otherwise it would not in itself have any reason to exist.” The disappearance of justice and the law makes the concept of sin and the mystery of evil incomprehensible, save for the reintegrating of them into a theosophical and Gnostic standpoint.

We find this error again in the Lutheran postulate of “only mercy”. The mediation of reason and of nature being abolished, for Luther the only way to rise to God is in “trusting faith” which has its preamble not in rational metaphysics, from which it must be totally freed, but in a sentiment of profound desperation, which has in turn its typical object in the “mercy” of God, instead of the truths revealed by Him. This principal, as Silvana Seidel Menchi demonstrated in Erasmus in Italy 1520-1580 (Bollati Boringhieri, Turin 1987), is developed in the heretical literature of the 16th Century thanks also to the influence of Erasmus’ treatise, De immense Dei misercordia (1524), which opened up the gates of heaven to “men of good will” (ivi, pp.143-167). In the sects originating from Erasmus and Luther which made up the extreme left of the Protestant Reformation, the 4th century anti-Trinitarian errors reappeared: Arianism, Modalism, Sabellianism, [all] based on the rejection or distortion of the idea of nature.

The only penitential path possible to experience the embrace of Divine Mercy is the rejection of sin in which we are immersed, and in the recognition of a Divine Law to respect and love. This law is rooted in human nature and is engraved in the heart of every man “by the finger of the Creator, Himself” (Rm 2, 14-15). It constitutes the supreme judgment of every action and of human events in their totality, that is, in history.

The term nature is not abstract. Human nature is the essence of man, that is what he is before being a person. Man is a person, a holder of inalienable rights, because he has a soul. And he has a soul given that, unlike any other living being, he has a rational nature. Natural is not what originates from the instincts and desires of man, but what corresponds to the rules of reason, which must in turn, conform itself to an objective order and immutable principles. The natural law is rational and immutable,[thus]because it is immutable inasmuch as it is spiritual, it is the nature of man. All individuals of the same nature act or should act in the same manner, since the natural law is written in the nature not of this or that man, but in human nature regarded in itself, in its permanence and stability.

Cardinal Kasper does not believe in a universal and absolute natural law. In Instrumentum laboris, the official Vatican document which prepares the ground for the Synod in October, this repudiation of the natural law is clearly in evidence, even if presented in a sociological key more than a theological one. “The concept of natural law today turns out to be, in different cultural contexts, highly problematic, if not completely incomprehensible. (n.21) – he says – also since “Today, in not only the West but increasingly every part of the world, scientific research poses a serious challenge to the concept of nature. Evolution, biology and neuroscience, when confronted with the traditional idea of the natural law, conclude that it is not “scientific.” According to Kasper’s program, the spirit of the Gospel whose values need to be communicated “in a comprehensible way to the man of today” contrasts the natural law. Which therefore renders necessary “that more emphasis be placed on the role of the Word of God as a privileged instrument in the conception of married life and the family, and recommend greater reference to the Bible, its language and narratives. In this regard, respondents propose bringing the issue to public discussion and developing the idea of biblical inspiration and the “order in creation,” which could permit a re-reading of the concept of the natural law in a more meaningful manner in today’s world. (…)The recommendation was also made to engage young people directly in these matters.” (n.30).

The inevitable consequences of this new idea of morality which the Synod Fathers will have to discuss, are outlined by Vito Mancuso, in “La Repubblica” of the 18th September. The natural law “is far too heavy a burden to carry”; we need therefore to focus on a deep journey of renewal in the matters of sexual ethics” which should result in the “subsequent necessary openness: yes to contraception; yes to premarital relations; yes to the recognition of homosexual couples.”

In the face of this catastrophic itinerary heading towards immoralism, why be surprised that five Cardinals have published a book in defense of traditional morality and that other cardinals, bishops and theologians have supported them in this position? Against those who are calling for a new doctrinal and pastoral discipline, Cardinal Pell wrote, “an insurmountable barrier” is being raised, based on “the almost complete unanimity on this matter which Catholic history has given the proof of for two thousand years. (Preface, Juan Pérez-Soba, Stephen Kampowski, Oltre la proposta di Kasper,(Beyond Kasper’s Proposal) Cantagalli, Siena 2014, p. 7).

It is to be hoped that it will be a free and open encounter, without the imposition of rules from on high that falsify the stakes. The stakes are not just a simple diversity in opinions, but the clarification of the Church’s mission. It is to be hoped as well, that the faithful prelates of Tradition will not be intimidated and will be able to bear patiently with the mass-media’s violence, and even the unjust and intense ecclesial censuring which they might have to endure.

“The best song is still ours” (p.8) writes Cardinal Pell, and Athanasius is still a model for our times and for all of those who don’t shrink back from the righteous battle in defense of the truth.

[Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana]


Please continue to pray the Rosary!