It is evident that Rome’s conception of the holiness of the church is, first of all, to be understood as referring to a liturgical, ceremonial holiness, consisting in this that the church, as institute, possesses the proper form of worship and the proper use of the sacraments, through which the Lord works holiness in the believers as through these powerful means and instruments of Divine grace. And, in the second place, Rome refers to personal holiness, although we must remember that this holiness does not necessarily have to be the possession of all or of most within the church, but is always found in some and then in varying degree. We now continue with our quotations from the Radio Replies of Fathers Rumble and Carty.
392. What is meant in Scripture by “The Scarlet Woman”?
St. John says, in Rev. XVII, that he saw “a woman sitting on a scarlet colored beast full of names of blasphemy.” This “woman” has been popularly called “The Scarlet Woman.” Many fantastic explanations have been given as to her real character. Some people have said that the Scarlet Woman represents pagan Rome in the days when the Emperors persecuted the early Christians. But that certainly is not completely true for the “woman and the beast” are described as outlasting pagan Rome. Others, under the influence of religious prejudice, have said that the Scarlet Woman represents Papal Rome. But that is certainly quite untrue. For Papal Rome has ever labored to forward the cause of Christ, whilst the “woman and the beast” are opposed to Christ and the cause of Christ. There is no absolute certainty as to the Scarlet Woman’s full significance. Most probably, as the Church is the “Bride of Christ,” so the woman represents the “Bride of Satan.” I speak of course in the mystical sense. The “Woman,” therefore stands for the “Anti-Christian Spirit.” The “Beast” upon which the “Woman” is seated, and which she guides and controls, is the material force of this world. The “Woman and the Beast,” therefore, signify an antichristian idealism employing the material forces of this world against the cause of Christ, and against all that is holy and spiritual and good. And always through history, in every age, and right to the end, we shall have manifestations of their evil campaign. The campaign is as violent today as ever it was. Officially Christ is banished from commercial, civil, and national life. We see today a wrong nationalism, coupled with a wrong internationalism, which will have none of one thing only—of God revealed in Christ as absolute over all rulers and nations. The unchristian idealism controlling national and international relations on a purely worldly, materialistic, and selfish basis is a re-crucifixion of Christ and of His cause; and it constitutes a manifestation of the “Woman and the Beast” in our own days. (Although we, too, agree that this “Scarlet Woman” does not strictly represent Papal Rome, we do well to bear in mind, however, that the Romish Church through the papacy ruled over the kings of the earth, that she indeed spoke words of blasphemy, and made kings and nations drunk with the wine of her spiritual fornications, and that she persecuted the church and the saints of Christ Jesus, and her hands are red with the blood of the saints.—H.V.)
393. Why do some people presume that the Scarlet Woman means the Papacy?
Because they are very ignorant of the Catholic Church, hate it without understanding it, and are enabled by their peculiar mentality to believe whatever they would like to be true without further ado.
394. The Catholic religion, if holy and true, should produce almost invariably a peculiarly excellent type of individual.
You commence with an idea which is only a half-truth. The Catholic religion is able to produce excellent types. If a man seriously wants to be good, the Catholic Church will enable him to be good as no other power on earth (again Rome’s Arminianism and free-willism—H.V.). But there cannot be any guarantee that she will invariably produce excellent individuals, because that makes no allowance for the variation in the dispositions of men. Men are not inanimate objects to be sanctified against their will. So Christ compared His religion to seed which falls, some upon good ground, some upon shallow soil, and some upon stone. The seed is always equally good; but its fruit is dependent upon the quality of soil which receives it. (Indeed, this is exactly true. Only good soil can produce good fruit. But, this good soil, of course, refers to a man as he has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit of God and of Christ. It is not man’s free will that determines the good fruit, but the operation of the Holy Spirit of God.—H.V.)
395. Is not Protestantism as well able to give the spiritual outlook as Catholicism?
That cannot be admitted. It is undeniable that Protestantism as such cannot preserve Christian truth intact, and dare not insist upon the fullness of Christian moral teaching. As a result of the Protestant Reformation we find articles of faith denied; fasting and other forms of mortification not taught; the sense of sin diminishing (notice, please, in which respect the Protestant Reformation has denied articles of faith. All these things simply refer to Romish customs imposed upon the people without any endorsement in the Scriptures. And, as far as the allegation is concerned that “the sense of sin is diminished,” this is simply untrue, as is very evident from Luther’s struggle to attain unto the consciousness of the forgiveness of his sin.—H.V.); the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience inspiring monastic life ignored; a clergy unable to rise to the ideals of celibacy, and as unable to give sound spiritual advice as the laity are unwilling to receive it; nationalism displacing the universal outlook of Christianity; materialism supplanting supernaturalism; whilst more and more philanthropy and humanitarianism tend to displace that Christian charity which is in the order of grace, and supposes a pure and disinterested love of God rather than merely of our fellow men. (Of course, we must also bear in mind that these Radio Replies are opposing, not real and true Protestantism, but Modernism, which is nothing else than a false caricature of Protestantism.—H.V.)
396. What regulated conduct of Catholics is the least that visible fellowship of the Church requires?
By “visible fellowship” I presume you mean public adherence to the Catholic Church on the part of the person concerned, and acknowledgment by the Catholic Church that he belongs to her fold. For that, the least required is that the person who professes to be a Catholic has not been excommunicated officially by the Church. The Church, of course, insists that all Catholics are obliged to regulate their conduct in accordance with the ten commandments and the precepts of the Church. Insofar as they do not, they sin; and if they, sin publicly in serious degrees, they are forbidden the reception of the Sacraments until they sincerely repent and resolve to do their best to observe the laws of God once more. But whatever their sins, and even though interiorly they are not in God’s love and friendship, they still retain external membership of the Church, or, as you call it, “visible fellowship.” They are sinners, but they are still Catholics; and the Catholic Church, instead of abandoning them, simply pleads with them to abandon their sins. Conscious that part of her duty is to be a kind of hospital in a spiritually sick world, she does not throw the patients out of the window on the score that they are in grave need of spiritual care. So long as a Catholic continues to profess his faith, and has not so directly defied the authority of the Church as to merit excommunication, he is fulfilling at least the minimum required for continued visible fellowship, and will be publicly acknowledged by the Catholic Church as one of hers.
397. What are some of the qualifications of a good Catholic?
A good Catholic is essentially a man of duty. Now we can classify our duties as being towards God, towards ourselves, and towards our fellow men. (I would rather classify a Christian as a man of God, or as a man of Divine grace.—H.V.) A good Catholic, therefore, is one who fulfills his duties in all three cases. He loyally accepts and lives up to the religion God has revealed, gladly professing the Catholic Faith, regularly fulfilling the duties of prayer, sacramental life and worship prescribed by the Catholic Church, and obeying the commandments of God and the laws of his religion in all things. In addition to this, he fulfills his duties to himself, controlling his lower passions, avoiding vice and cultivating personal virtue according to the dictates of reason and of conscience. As regards his fellow men, he regulates his relations towards them by the master virtues of justice and charity in all things. A man who fulfills all these duties is a really good Catholic. If he does not do so, then insofar as he professes the Catholic Faith he is a Catholic. But his goodness or badness as a Catholic must be measured by the degree in which he succeeds or fails in; living up to the ideals I have given.
398. How is the Roman Church superior to other Churches in the help it gives towards holiness of life?
I have already explained that to some extent under No. 390. But in addition to the ideals and standards of the Catholic Church by which a man knows clearly how to serve God, the worship of the Catholic Church is more helpful than any other Church can offer. The Sacrifice of the Mass, offered in supreme adoration to God, lifts men’s souls to Him as nothing else can do. The Sacraments, too—and all seven—have an immense influence on souls, Baptism conferring the spiritual life; Confirmation strengthening it; Confession destroying later sins which come between the soul and God: Holy Communion bringing Christ to each as the very Guest of the soul; Extreme Unction preparing the soul for its meeting with God. The Sacrament of Matrimony is specially ordained to sanctify the duties of the state of marriage, whilst Holy Orders gives a priesthood which has meant an incalculable stream of blessings to the faithful. In addition to those helps, the innumerable practices of piety, prayer, self-denial and abnegation inspired by the Catholic religion result in a greater spirituality and sanctification of men. Finally the discipline of the Catholic Church, based on obedience to the will of God, has resulted in that general sense of order in the Church which is essential to spiritual progress. In necessarily brief replies I cannot do more than just touch upon the subject; but at least I have said enough to stimulate your own further thoughts.