Those popes who bear the name, "Pius," are the greatest guardians of the Church against heresy. This blog is a watchdog for modernism in the Church. In reality, outside this blog, the members of the board temper their criticisms and opinions with prudence and charity so as to help souls in their journey towards Christ. But sometimes, for the sake of their own sanity, the authors of this blog just need to blow off some steam. The result is Totus Pius.

10 July 2006

Sometimes I Wonder How Protestants Survive Without the Sacraments...

...then we realized: they dont.

Just a few examples from our experience are in order. Now, as a disclaimer, these are just our observations and are not meant to be a fully articulated series of theological statements, nor are they meant to be a list of judgments. Just...simple observations.

That said, college life is tough for the soul. Many have described it as their own little agony in the garden. Of course any experience of ours is nothing in comparison to Christ's but...analogically similar. There's sex, drugs, drunkenness, crude language, crude behavior, crude...ness. So many aspects of college life are just...filthy. We daresay that these days - since the sixties - university life is something completely different than it ever has been. But we digress.

Going off to the university we knew that people would change. Being at Our Lady's University, we knew that surrounding ourselves with the right people would protect us from excessive temptation. Yet preparing to come home for the summer, we could only echo St. Paul's words in his second letter to the Corinthians:

"For I fear lest perhaps when I come I may not find you as I should wish, and lest I may be found by you not as you would wish - lest perhaps there be found among you contentions, envyings, animosities, dissensions, detractions, gossiping, arrogance, disorders - lest when I come again God should humiliate me before you, and I should mourn over many who sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness and immorality and licentiousness that they practiced." (2 Cor 12:20-21, Confraternity, emphasis added)

Now, we are no saint and we struggle and sin like everyone...but we have the sacraments - namely penance and Eucharist - to clean us and guard us from sin. As we found, those Christians who had fallen into the wickedness and snares of college life the most were Protestants - those who do not have the fullness of sacramental life to strengthen them. This is not to say that Catholics and Orthodox are any holier by their own merit than the Protestants and the godless; however, the Catholics and Orthodox are strengthened by the grace of God...and that's the key. The poor Protestants have no idea how hard they're making it for themselves! The more we think about it the more we realize how many of our friends are struggling with holiness yet they reject God's primary means of conferring grace - the sacraments!

Protestants have almost become the Pelagians that they condemned earlier on - they now say that being a good person is better than observing "personal" commandments about things they do "privately" and confessing Christ as Lord in prayer. For some reason people see social sin - sin which affects others - as somehow worse than "private sin," or sin which one does "in the privacy of one's home." St Paul and Christ Himself is clear on this - sin is a corruption of the good and that any corruption of any member of the body of Christ results in corruption of all.

One girl we know began college trying to maintain purity of heart and she succeeded...for a time. She was disgusted by everything going on around her. Then, just recently, we find out that she has been fornicating with a "boyfriend" for the past couple of months. Apparently shes "prayed" about this and come to the conclusion that she "doesnt really feel that its wrong." We will gloss over this because it makes us SO ANGRY...but thats immanentist right there...and we daresay that if one takes phenomenology too far, one could justify that (wrongly of course) with JP II's philosophical school.

Another example, a girl who was the picture of holiness in high school, she was your average good protestant: went to Bible studies, prayed, etc. Of course, a healthy sacramental life was, again, absent. As soon as she hit school she struggled etc...but by the end of the year she's been known to take part in all sorts of drunkenness and impurity. She's even been known to say things like "I try to love Jesus but this is who I am" We dont understand this. If you try to love Jesus, then you'll obey his commandments. You wont just say "deal" when a suggestion of having some purpose of ammendment is made.

These people are just...the most salient examples right now in our mind, but there are others...and it's sad how many Christians are running around not behaving as they should. At least Catholics and Orthodox have a way to be restored to a state of grace, Protestants are just left saying: "The hypocrisy is ripping me apart, and the absence of God is like a living hell for me. I need help. I'm dying inside. I just don't know what to do or where to go. I don't live for God, I don't witness, and I don't pray. People say that the definition of hell is "eternal separation" from God. I fell that I have that right now, so I guess I'm in hell!" (from Every Young Man's Battle) This poor kid needs confession, and fast! Because unfortunately only by a special and extra-ordinary grace will he be restored to a state of grace without it! So sad...

As much as it tears us apart seeing more and more once-holy Protestant friends fall away from holiness instead of growing in it, there is a positive point to all of this. Just as any sin damages the mystical body of Christ, every healing is bound not to heal just that member but also the body as a whole. We Catholics and Orthodox, WHO HAVE THE SACRAMENTS, MUST receive them frequently, not only for the health of our souls, but for the health of the souls who cannot receive them yet form one body with us. We all share one baptism, and with few exceptions, we are all one body...and we who have the fullness not only of truth but also of goodness, beauty, unity, and most importantly, of LIFE must take advantage of it.

Get to daily mass. Receive communion daily. Confess your sins weekly. Do penance for you, the suffering souls in purgatory, and for those on earth who have no idea what they're doing. Maybe one day they'll behold God face to face...and witness the most beautiful liturgy - the One Liturgy - in heaven for all eternity. Let's just hope and pray that not only we but also they make it there.


Raindear said...

This is very true. I think there is another aspect, too.

Although Protestant sects vary greatly, making all generalizations somewhat subjective, I have noticed (even among zealous Protestants) a divorce between the cultural aspect of Christianity and it's ideological principles. Since they've undermined the authority of tradition in the realm of doctrine, they have no logical grounds to retain cultural traditions of entertainment, modesty, etc. Without cultural reinforcment, it is difficult for the young to understand or observe the principles of Christianity.

This is not to say that most Catholics have preserved the customs of Christian culture. Rather, when they do, it is less arbitrary.

Papa Venerabilis Pius XII said...

A very good point, Raindear. On another note, We are compelled to remind our predecessor that, despite baptism (which We think should still be confirmed with conditional baptism upon conversion) and some shared doctrine, Protestants should not be thought of as members or quasi-members of the mystical Body of Christ and, for that matter, neither should the Orthodox. Quoting the Catholic Encyclopedia on unity ( "Not only must the true Church be one by an internal and spiritual union, but this union must also be external and visible, consisting in and growing out of a unity of faith, worship, and government." Obviously, the Protestants fail on all three counts, and the Orthodox cannot claim unity regarding government. We seem to remember Belloc writing in The Great Heresies that there is no such thing as Christianity: there is the Church and there is heresy. We write this to counteract the false ecumenism that pervades Catholic-Protestant relations today (e.g. the Charismatic movement) and emphasize that crucial differences do exist (like the sacraments, as Pius IX pointed out). We pray that these obstacles can be overcome and that both the Orthodox and the Protestants can return to the One Catholic Church.

Papa Beatus Pius IX said...

We knew you'd bite.

Although this is true, to a degree, we must bear in mind that Belloc was no bishop and that the Catholic Encyclopedia is no infallible catechism. That said, what we are about to quote lacks infallibility, as well, yet it bears more weight than what you have cited.

"Even in the beginnings of this one and only Church of God there arose certain rifts,(19) which the Apostle strongly condemned.(20) But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions made their appearance and quite large communities came to be separated from full communion with the Catholic Church-for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame. The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect. The differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the Catholic Church-whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church-do indeed create many obstacles, sometimes serious ones, to full ecclesiastical communion. The ecumenical movement is striving to overcome these obstacles. But even in spite of them it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ's body,(21) and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.(22)

Moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ.

The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation.

It follows that the separated Churches(23) and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.

Nevertheless, our separated brethren, whether considered as individuals or as Communities and Churches, are not blessed with that unity which Jesus Christ wished to bestow on all those who through Him were born again into one body, and with Him quickened to newness of life-that unity which the Holy Scriptures and the ancient Tradition of the Church proclaim. For it is only through Christ's Catholic Church, which is "the all-embracing means of salvation," that they can benefit fully from the means of salvation. We believe that Our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, in order to establish the one Body of Christ on earth to which all should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God. This people of God, though still in its members liable to sin, is ever growing in Christ during its pilgrimage on earth, and is guided by God's gentle wisdom, according to His hidden designs, until it shall happily arrive at the fullness of eternal glory in the heavenly Jerusalem."

Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintgratio, Paragraph 3.

We think our post captures the complex situation whereby our separated brethren are at once deficient but still a part of Christ's mystical body, although not in the same way as those in full communion. We would like to refer our successor to St Paul's letter to the Ephesians:

"I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, exhort you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling which you were called, with all humility and meekness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, careful to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, even as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one Baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and throughout all, and in us all." (Eph 4:1-6)

This is not to excuse or mitigate the gravity of their deficiencies, but to point out that we must bear them and attend to them as brothers - half brothers but brothers nonetheless.

Papa Beatus Pius IX said...

Sed contra,

As you (Pius XII) wrote in your encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi:

"22. Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. "For in one spirit" says the Apostle, "were we all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free." [17] As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith. [18] And therefore if a man refuse to hear the Church let him be considered -- so the Lord commands -- as a heathen and a publican. [19] It follows that those are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit."


Papa Venerabilis Pius XII said...

We find great humor in the fact that this must be the first time that Our predecessor has quoted a document of Vatican Council II to support an argument.

But in all seriousness, regarding the letter of St. Paul, do Protestants actually share the same faith? They may hold to a part of Catholic doctrine (a smaller or larger part depending on the sect), but without the entire body of doctrine and tradition, can it be said that the faith of Catholics and Protestants are the same? We think not.

Also, in Our own reading of Unitatis Redintegratio, we were confused by the assertion that, "These liturgical actions [of the Protestants] must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation" (third to last paragraph of the document in your post). What exactly does this mean?

Additionally, if baptism is the only way that Protestants enter into imperfect communion with Christ's Mystical Body, do they have the proper intention when administering the sacrament? Obviously, they do not desire to bring souls into the Catholic Church. So, is it sufficient if their intention is not to bring souls into the true (objective) Body of Christ but into what they believe (subjectively) is the Church?

Apropos your second post, how should we reconcile Our encyclical with Unitatis Redintegratio?

Papa Beatus Pius IX said...

Thats exactly my question.


Anonymous said...

The last part of this article was SO true and was the way Catholics once practiced the faith. Yet I came of age inteh 70s and so abandoned all that with 19 years between confessions and I never ehard from the pulpit tha we still were expected to receive the sacraments. Thanks to Our Lady I had a reconversion and so returned to the orthodox practice of faith but so few know of this anymore. Most 'american catholics' under the age of 45 do not know.

How can we know unless someone preaches the Truth to us?

Papa Beatus Pius IX said...

Thank you for your response. A very good question, that, and what is so sad is that not only are some priests and bishops out there NOT preaching about frequent confession and communion, but some are actually preaching AGAINST these practices. All I can say is that 1) my experience is that every seminarian and young priest that I know values these things. and 2) the Truth wins in the end, read the Revelation to St John.

I thank God for your conversion; you have been very blessed. I have had a similar conversion in the past, for I, like so many others, have been poorly catechized. The tragedy is that now we have two generations of ignorant Catholics running around...and the second generation is now starting to have kids, many out of wedlock. Unfortunately, faithful Christians are in a state of exile in this world at this time, and we just have to pray that "after this our exile" our Lady might show unto us the blessed fruit of Her womb, Jesus.

Kip said...

You insult your church and your Pope - a wise and thoughtful man - with the spiteful things you say about Protestants.

You may claim that Protestantism is heresy and there is only one church, but our divorce was made final when you hacked our bodies with halberds and skewered us with pikes. Remind me please, what was the name of *that* sacrement.

If you us to come back to you, you will need to demonstrate that you have changed.

W said...

... but our divorce was made final when you hacked our bodies with halberds and skewered us with pikes. Remind me please, what was the name of *that* sacrement.

That's actually one of the Protestant Sacraments, because they were the ones who did the hacking and burning. Henry VIII and Elizabeth I created more Catholic martyrs than even Nero I'd wager.

And what about that pesky Peasants' War? All Protestants. The sacking of Rome? More Protestants.

Anonymous said...

At least we burned people at the stake so that they had time to repent...

Stephen said...


It's highly probable that the Low Countries and England are still flooded with the blood of Catholic martyrs who died at the hands of Protestants.

Kristin said...

I agree with you in the respect that Protestants need the sacraments to really advance in holiness...but still, I believe God works through them...if it were not for my dear Protestant friend witnessing to me about Jesus in High School. I would not be the Catholic I am today. Of course we have the fullness of truth, but you have to admit they are currently doing a better job in some areas than we are...mainly they stress having a deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ...many Catholics, even devout ones may follow the rules and traditions but still not have that personal one:one communication
with Him. I have to admit, when I am faced with a crisis, the first friends I usually turn to are my Protestant friends, because they are more likely to drop everything and just pray with me. And unfortunately, many Protestant sermons are more "Christ-centered" while too many Catholic homilies are focused on humanistic themes. In saying this, I am in no way deemphazing the sacraments, or the Catholic Church as the one true Church, these are beliefs that I hold firmly. However, I don't think we should look down on them as "spiritually inept" either. God works through everyone, and we are all "broken vessels" in one way or another.

Ron said...

Spiritually, Protestants and all others do not, cannot, and will not survive without God's sacraments. Sacraments are the epitome of the free gift of God's grace sanctifying us. Any other way (grape juice and crackers, 'worship services' speaking in tongues, selling books about the Rapture, etc)are simply works that won't save in the least.

Kristin said...

It depends on what they know...if a Protestant knows that the Catholic Church is the one true church and leaves freely, then no, they prob won't be saved. But..if they are ignorant of the truth and trying to love God and live a holy life, then that's a different story. Only God knows who will be allowed into heaven. He is merciful and loving and I doubt he would do anything that is unfair.

Anna said...

I think it is arrogant to attempt to presume who will enter heaven and who will not. Only God has the power to decide this, not us in our limited wisdom. We should focus on living a holy life, using the wisdom and knowledge that was bestowed on us. For all we know Hitler could be there....sure it's doubtful, but there is always the possibility that he repented before death.