Monthly Archives: February 2019
The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families…that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.
–Sister Lúcia dos Santos of Fatima; courtesy of here.
We discussed the validity and liceity of the Sacraments, particularly Holy Orders, last time, noting that a church may recognize lineages of Apostolic Succession of bishops as having valid Holy Orders despite that lineage being outside that particular church. In short, the Church may recognize a man as a “real” bishop even if he was ordained irregularly. One way this can occur is though schism, pure and simple. That is, a bishop goes rogue and breaks away from the Church, then ordains as many men as he sees fit. Since the bishop was validly ordained in the Church, these ordinations he performs, though illicit and carrying the penalty of automatic excommunication for both the bishop himself and those he ordains, are valid. The men he ordains, in short, are real bishops, full stop.
We saw back here, though, that while some lineages indeed arose through schism (or in some cases, it would be better to say they were maintained despite schism), there are many small independent groups that were formed by individuals with their own ideas about how a sacramental church should be. Often there was no formal schism, and the founders of these groups sought out ordination to gain legitimate Apostolic Succession. How did they manage this? Through the phenomenon, mentioned but not described previously in this series, of wandering bishops.
In the process of looking at Apostolic Succession, we’ve looked at some of the (occasionally complex) terminology involved, and we’ve looked a bit at the major churches that claim Apostolic Succession. I want to look next at how the various churches recognize–or refuse to recognize–these claims. In order to do that, though, I’m going to have to talk a little bit about sacramental theology.
A sacrament, in the words of the Baltimore Catechism, is “an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace“. The churches claiming to have Apostolic Succession have (with a few nuances in one or two cases) retained the sacraments as part of their worship and practice. The number is traditionally set at seven: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist (or Communion), Confession (or Reconciliation), Matrimony, Holy Orders (ordination of a man as deacon, priest, or bishop), and Anointing of the Sick (or Extreme Unction).
Recently I’ve been posting on Apostolic Succession and church history in general. I thought about putting those posts under “Religious Miscellany“; but those posts are more general in nature, and cover religions other than Christianity. I decided it would be worthwhile to add a new index for such posts, which are more specifically about Christianity, the Church, and church history. Therefore, though I’ve written quite a lot about religion here over the years, this will be my most focused and specific index on religious matters. Enjoy!
Back here I discussed why it irritated me that a translation of the Gospel of Thomas that I was reading used the Aramaic forms of the names of the people mentioned within it (“Yeshua” for Jesus, “Thoma” for Tomas, and so on), instead of the more familiar forms of the names. More broadly, while such complaints may seem trivial, they’re not, really. The way you refer to something implies and even to an extent determines the way you think about it, relate to it, and act with regard to it. As Philip K. Dick said, “The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.” What we call something matters.
As far back as my third post here, I noted that I object to the term “Roman Catholic”, preferring just plain “Catholic”. I’ve reiterated that view at times over the course of my writing on the blog, but I’ve never explained my reasons for that objection. Those reasons are exactly what I am going to discuss now.
In the previous post, I discussed and defined the relevant terminology in discussing Apostolic Succession for those churches that claim it. In passing, I reeled off a list of the major churches that do claim to maintain Apostolic Succession. I am aware that many of them may be obscure, perhaps even unheard of, to the average American. Thus, I want to take a very brief look at these churches. Remember, the criterion is that they all claim valid Apostolic Succession. Additionally, all of them maintain the Seven Sacraments in one way or another (though there are subtle differences which I won’t go into here).
Hard science gives sensational results with a horribly boring process; philosophy gives boring results with a sensational process; literature gives sensational results with a sensational process; and economics gives boring results with a boring process.
–Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes, p. 45; courtesy of Wikiquote.