Historical Background

OLD CATHOLIC CHURCH ORIENTATION (Historical Background)

OCCH - Historical Background page pic

OUR GOAL IS TO GIVE YOU SOME HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT AN OLD CATHOLIC COMMUNITY IS, WHEN WE SAY WE WORSHIP IN THE OLD CATHOLIC TRADITION.    

MANY PEOPLE OFTEN SAY THAT THEY HAVE NEVER HEARD OF AN OLD CATHOLIC CHURCH BEFORE AND THAT IS PROBABLY TRUE.    BUT THE SURPRISING FACT IS, THAT AN INDEPENDENT CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS EXISTED, INDEPENDENT FROM THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, SINCE THE 1100’S.

BEFORE WE GET INTO THOSE DETAILS, IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THE BASICS OF THE FAITH OF THE EARLY CHURCH AND WHAT MAKES A CHURCH CATHOLIC, AS AN INTRODUCTION TO THE OLD CATHOLIC CHURCH.

THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA DEFINES THE WORD ”CATHOLIC“ AS “THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE WORLD, “ OR ”UNIVERSAL .”    EWELLS THEOLOGICAL DICTIONARY QUOTES ST. IGNATIUS DEFINITION OF THE WORD CATHOLIC AS “WHEREVER JESUS CHRIST IS, THERE IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.”

THE DEFINITION OF UNIVERSALITY BEGINS TO APEAR IN THE NICENE AND APOSTLES CREEDS IN AD 450.   REGARDLESS OF THE DIVERSITY AND GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION OF CHURCHES, IT STRESS’S THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH IN SPITE OF CIRCUMSTANCES.    “WHEREVER JESUS CHRIST IS, THERE IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.”

THIS HISTORIC UNDERSTANDING OF THE CHURCH, DOES NOT FIT THE UNDERSTANDING OF MODERN DAY CHRISTIANS WITH THE TEACHING OF ROME’S PROCLAMATION,… THAT THEY ARE THE ONLY “TRUE CATHOLIC“ CHURCH,… AND THEY ALONE POSSESS THE COMPLETENESS OF CHRIST AND TRUTH.    SO WELL HAS THIS MISCONCEPTION BEEN TAUGHT, THAT MOST PEOPLE AND DICTIONARIES DEFINE THE WORD “CATHOLIC “AS ROMAN CATHOLIC.                                      

SO WHAT DID IT MEAN TO THE EARLY CHURCH TO BE “CATHOLIC“ AND WHAT WAS THE STRUCTURE AND NATURE OF THE LOCAL CHURCH IN THE FIRST CENTURIES OF CHRISTIANITY?

ACCORDING TO ST. PAUL, THE APOSTLES WENT ABROAD PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL AND ESTABLISHING COMMUNITIES OF BELIEVERS AND APPOINTING AND ORDAINING LEADERS OF LOCAL CHURCHES, TITUS 1:5-9.    OTHER REFERENCES MAKE MENTION TO THE OFFICE OF BISHOP AND DEACON, PHIL. 1:1; 1TIM. 1:3-16.   ST. CLEMENT, THE THIRD BISHOP OF ROME AROUND 96AD, MAKES REFERENCE TO BISHOPS, PRESBYTERS (THE PRIESTS), LEVITES (THE DEACONS), AND LAITY.  

BY THE MIDDLE OF THE SECOND CENTURY ST. JUSTIN DESCRIBED THE CHURCH STRUCTURE AS BEING GOVERNED BY A SINGLE PERSON, THE “PRESIDENT“ OF THE BRETHREN, THE BISHOP.     BASED UPON ALL THE EVIDENCE OF THE CHURCH FATHERS WRITINGS, THE OFFICE OF THE BISHOP WAS NOT JOINTLY HELD (AS WITH THE POPE) BUT EACH SINGLE BISHOP IS AND WAS THE PRESIDING PRESBYTER THAT GOVERNED THE LOCAL CHURCH AND LATER THE GROWING DIOCESE.  

IGNATIUS WAS THE FIRST PERSON TO USE THE ADJECTIVE “CATHOLIC“ WITH REGARD TO THE CHURCH PRESIDED OVER BY THE BISHOP.   EACH CHURCH SHARED A COMMON FAITH, THE SACRAMENTS, AND THE GOSPEL WITH OTHER CHURCHES AND DIOCESES THROUGH INTERCOMMUNION AND CONCELEBRATION, BUT WITHOUT A SINGLE RULING INDIVIDUAL OR DIOCESE WHICH IS OPPOSED TO THE TEACHING OF ROME.

CYPRIAN WROTE, “YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT THE BISHOP IS IN THE CHURCH, AND THE CHURCH IS IN THE BISHOP.   IF ANYONE IS NOT WITH THE BISHOP, HE IS NOT IN THE CHURCH.“  

AS THE CHURCH GREW AND THE POPE’S ROLE BECAME GREATER BECAUSE ROME BECAME THE POLITICAL CENTER OF POWER, ALL THE BISHOPS OF THE CHURCH WERE CONSIDERED TO BE EQUAL IN AUTHORITY.   NO ONE HAD ANY AUTHORITY OVER OTHER BISHOPS.   NEVERTHELESS, OVER TIME THE POPE WAS RECOGNIZED AS BEING FIRST AMONG EQUALS.      

THIS LACK OF AUTHORITY OF ANY ONE INDIVIDUAL BISHOP PROHIBITED THEM FROM DECLARING NEW DOGMAS, NOR WAS THERE A UNIVERSAL PRIMACY OF JURISDICTION.   UP UNTIL THIS TIME THE WHOLE CHURCH, KNOWN AS THE ONE HOLY AND APOSTOLIC CATHOLIC CHURCH, HELD TO THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE FAITH, ESTABLISHED BY THE FIRST SEVEN ECUMENICAL COUNCILS OF THE EARLY CHURCH, WHERE THE WHOLE CHURCH WAS LED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND WAS REPRESENTED BY BISHOPS WHO WERE UNDER THE LEADING PATRIARCHS FROM JERUSALEM, ANTIOCH, CONSTANTINOPLE, ALEXANDRIA AND ROME.

  • First Ecumenical Council – Nicea, 325 A.D.
  • Second Ecumenical Council – Constantinople, 381 A.D.
  • Third Ecumenical Council – Ephesus 431AD.
  • Fourth Ecumenical Council – Chalcedon, 451A.D.
  • Fifth Ecumenical Council – Constantinople II, 553 A.D.
  • Sixth Ecumenical Council – Constantinople III, 680 A.D. – Constantinople, 692 A.D.
  • Seventh Ecumenical Council – Nicea, Asia Minor, 787 A.D.

THESE EARLY CHURCH COUNCILS:

  • FOUGHT OFF THE HERESIES OF THE GNOSTICS AND OTHER FALSE TEACHINGS OF THE EARLY CHURCH
  • FORMED THE APOSTLES AND NICENE CREED
  • NAMED THE BLESSED MOTHER THE “THEOTOKOS,“ THE MOTHER OF GOD
  • DEFINED THE DUEL NATURE AND DIETY OF JESUS THE GOD MAN
  • DEFINED THE TRINITY
  • FORMED THE CANNON OF SCRIPTURE AND THE BASIC FOUNDATIONS OF FAITH.

THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF PAPAL SUPREMACY IN 1054 CAUSED A DIVISION BETWEEN EASTERN AND WESTERN BISHOPS AND RESULTED IN THE GREAT SCHIZM (of 1054),… EFFECTIVELY DIVIDING EAST FROM WEST.

AN EVEN GREATER DIVISION WAS CREATED WHEN PAPAL INFALLIBILITY WAS MADE A DOGMA OF FAITH BY THE ROMAN CHURCH IN 1870.    IT WAS AT THIS POINT IN CHURCH HISTORY THAT THE DOGMAS OF SUPREMACY AND INFALLIBILITY OF THE POPE WERE SO STRONGLY ESTABLISHED IN THE ROMAN CHURCH THAT THERE WERE NOW TWO SEPARATE CHRISTIAN CHURCHES,… THE ROMAN IN THE WEST AND THE ORTHODOX IN THE EAST.  

THE ROMAN CHURCH FOCUSED ON A CENTRALIZED FORM OF GOVERNMENTAL CONTROL WITH THE POPE BEING OVER THE WHOLE CHURCH.     WHILE THE ORTHODOX OF THE EAST FOCUSED ON THE AUTONOMY OF EACH BISHOP PRESIDING OVER HIS DIOCESE OR GEOGRAPHICAL AREA AND STILL CARRYING ON THE TRADITIONS AND TEACHING OF THE EARLY CHURCH.

TO SIMPFY THE FOUNDING DOCUMENTS OF THE OLD CATHOLIC CHURCH IN EUROPE AND THE STATEMENT OF FAITH, THEY FOLLOWED THE ORTHODOX STRUCTURE OF AUTONOMY FOR THE BISHOPS, HOLDING ONLY TO THE FIRST SEVEN ECUMENICAL COUNCILS OF FAITH AND TRADITIONS OF THE FIRST ONE THOUSAND YEARS OF THE CHURCH.   THAT IS HOW OLD CATHOLIC JURISDICTIONS FUNCTION TODAY.

YET THERE IS SOMETHING EVEN MORE INTERESTING IN OLD CATHOLIC HISTORY.   NOT ONLY DID THE OLD CATHOLIC’S LEAVE ROME IN 1870,… BUT IN REALITY THEY WERE ALREADY AN INDEPENDENT CHURCH CREATED BY ROME IN CHURCH HISTORY IN 1122 AD.

THIS STATUS OF INDEPENDENCE WAS NOT A BREAKING AWAY FROM ROME, BUT RATHER ROME VIEWING THE CHURCH IN HOLLAND AS BEING AN ACTIVE CHURCH IN THE WILDERNESS OF EUROPE IN THE 1100’S, THUS IT WAS FORMALLY RECOGNIZED AND GRANTED INDEPENDENT STATUS BY THE POPE IN 1122 AND AGAIN 1123 AND REINFORCED IN 1215 BY THE FOURTH LATERAN COUNCIL.    

THE CHURCH IN HOLLAND WAS GRANTED THE RIGHT TO ELECT THEIR OWN BISHOP.   AGAIN IN 1520 THE AUTONOMOUS STRUCTURE OF THE CHURCH OF UTRECHT, HOLLAND WAS REAFFIRMED BY POPE LEO X, GRANTING THIS UNIQUE PRIVILEGE TO BE FOUND NOWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD.  

AGAIN, THESE HISTORICAL PAPAL DECISIONS GRANTED THAT THE PRIESTS AND PEOPLE COULD ELECT THEIR OWN BISHOP AND THE BISHOP COULD CONSECRATE BISHOPS WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF ROME.    

THIS AGREEMENT SO GRANTED THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE CHURCH OF HOLLAND, THAT THE BISHOP OF UTRECHT WAS GIVEN FULL INTERNAL INDEPENDENCE FOR BOTH THE CHURCH, TEMPORAL AFFAIRS, AND FOR HIS SUCCESSORS WITHOUT OUTSIDE JURISDICTIONAL INTERFERENCE.   IT ALSO STATED THAT NO CLERGY OR LAITY FROM UTRECHT WOULD EVER BE TRIED BY A ROMAN TRIBUNAL.

DURING THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN HOLLAND WAS OUTLAWED AND GREATLY PERSECUTED.   PROTESTANTS OCCUPIED CATHOLIC CHURCH BUILDINGS BECAUSE THEY WERE CONFISCATED BY THE GOVERNMENT.   AS MUCH OF THE COUNTRY BECAME CALVINISTS, THE CATHOLICS WERE FORCED UNDERGROUND.  PRIESTS WORE PLAIN BLACK CLOTHING, AND MASS WAS HELD IN ATTICS OR ANY SECRET PLACE THEY COULD FIND.   SO BAD WERE THE CONDITIONS THAT THE POPE DECLARED THE CHURCH OF UTRECHT NON EXISTENT.  

LATER WITH THE COUNTER REFORMATION IN THE ROMAN CHURCH, THE POPE WANTED TO “ROMANIZE” THE DUTCH CHURCH AGAIN SO HOLLAND WAS RECLASSIFIED AS A MISSION FIELD, THEREFORE THE DECREES OF POPE LEO X IN 1520 CONCERNING THE CHURCH’S INDEPENDENCE WERE CANCELED.

TO MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT, HOLLAND’S INDEPENDENCE CEASED AND ROME WOULD NOT RECOGNIZE THE PEOPLES ELECTED BISHOP OF UTRECHT.   ROME THEN APPOINTED A ROMAN BISHOP FOR HOLLAND.   THEREAFTER, THERE WERE TWO BISHOPS RESIDING IN HOLLAND.  

CHURCHES OF GERMANY, AUSTRIA, BOHEMIA, AND SWITZERLAND QUICKLY JOINED TOGETHER CREATING THE FIRST UNION OF UTRECHT WITH THE BISHOP ELECTED BY THE CLERGY AND THE PEOPLE OF HOLLAND.  

IT HAS BEEN STATED FROM THE BEGINNING THAT IN THE EYES OF ROME, THE OLD CATHOLIC CHURCH OF UTRECHT HAD VALID APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION AND ITS CLERGY CELEBRATED VALID SACRAMENTS AND THAT THE CHURCH WAS INDEPENDENT AND NOT HERETICAL.

THE POPE’S CLAIM TO WORLD WIDE SUPREMACY CAUSED THE GREAT SCHISM IN 1054 WHEN THE POPE EXCOMMUNICATED THE FOUR EASTERN PATRIARCHS FOR NOT ACCEPTING HIS AUTHORITY.

THE DECREE OF PAPAL SUPREMACY, FOLLOWED BY VATICAN ONE IN 1870 WHEN POPE PIUS IX DECREED THE DOGMA OF PAPAL INFALLIBILITY, CREATED THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE UNION OF UTRECHT.   NOTE:  THE WORD “DECREED” IS USED HERE BECAUSE ON THE FIRST VOTE OF THE COUNCIL,  88 MEMBERS VOTED NO, 91 ABSTAINED,  AND 62 VOTED YES.  

UNDER PRESSURE FROM THE POPE, A SECOND VOTE WAS HELD.   THOSE WHO OPPOSED INFALLIBILITY LEFT TOWN, WITH A MINORITY OF 62 YES VOTES, IT GAVE THE POPE HIS WISH OF INFALLIBILITY.   AGAIN, PAPAL INFALLIBILITY WAS NOT A DOGMA OF FAITH OF THE HISTORICAL EARLY CHURCH.

THIS SPARKED THE GROWTH OF THE OLD CATHOLIC MOVEMENT AND IT EXPANDED RAPIDLY SO THAT BY THE MID 1800’S,…  THOSE WHO DISAGREED WITH THE DOGMA OF INFALLIBILITY, WERE MOVING TOWARD THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE DECLARATION OF UTRECHT, WHICH WAS FORMULATED BY THE OLD CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF HOLLAND, GERMANY, AND SWITZERLAND THAT ASSEMBLED AT UTRECHT ON SEPTEMBER 24TH, 1889.    

IT DID NOT TAKE LONG TO SPREAD AROUND THE WORLD TO INCLUDE THE COUNTRIES OF ENGLAND, CANADA, CROATIA, FRANCE, DENMARK, ITALY, PHILIPPINES, CHINA, HUNGRY, AND AMERICA CONTINENT.

THE OLD CATHOLIC CHURCH FROM THE BEGINNING HAS CONTINUED TO USE THE ROMAN RITE FOR ITS LITURGY BUT IN THE LANGUAGE OF THE PEOPLE RATHER THAN IN LATIN.  

IN 1874, THE OLD CATHOLIC CHURCH CHOSE TO REMOVE THE REQUIREMENT OF CELIBACY FOR THEIR PRIESTS, ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE AND CHURCH HISTORY, AS MARRIAGE WAS OPTIONAL PRIOR TO THE 11TH CENTURY.

WITH THE DECLARATION OF UTRECHT AND THEIR STATEMENT OF FAITH, THE OLD CATHOLIC CHURCH DECLARED THEY WOULD ADHERE TO THE FIRST SEVEN ECUMENICAL COUNCILS OF THE EARLY CHURCH.

TO FULLY UNDERSTAND SOME OF THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE BELIEFS OF OLD CATHOLICS AND THE ROMAN CHURCH OF THE 1800’S, YOU HAVE TO COMPARE IT TO WHAT THE EARLY CHURCH BELIEVED AND ITS EFFECT ON US TODAY.   TO DO SO YOU HAVE TO TAKE A LOOK AT THE EARLY CHURCH AND THEY’RE TEACHING ON THREE KEY POINTS;

  • THE FALL OF MAN
  • THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
  • PURGATORY.

ORIGINAL SIN:   ROMANS 5:12 SAYS, “WELL THEN, IT WAS THROUGH ONE MAN THAT SIN CAME INTO THE WORLD, AND THROUGH SIN DEATH, AND THUS DEATH HAS SPREAD THROUGH THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE BECAUSE EVERYONE HAS SINNED.  

AS ST. CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA STATES, HUMAN NATURE ITSELF HAS FALLEN ILL WITH SIN; THUS WE ALL SHARE ADAM’S SIN AS WE ALL SHARE HIS NATURE.  

SAINT MACARIUS OF EGYPT SPEAKS OF A LEAVEN OF EVIL PASSIONS AND OF SECRET IMPURITY AND THE ABIDING DARKNESS OF PASSIONS, WHICH HAVE ENTERED INTO OUR NATURE IN SPITE OF OUR ORIGINAL PURITY.  THIS IS AN IMPORTANT POINT OF THEOLOGY.  

THE EARLY CHURCH DID NOT TEACH THAT MAN INHERITED THE BAGGAGE OF GUILT FROM ADAM’S SIN, AS WAS TAUGHT BY ST. AUGUSTINE AND WAS CARRIED OVER INTO THE ROMAN CHURCH.   RATHER, THE EARLY CHURCH TAUGHT THAT THE EFFECTS OF ADAM’S SIN STAINS OR WEAKENS OUR NATURE WHICH CAUSES SPIRITUAL CORRUPTION AND DEATH,… MUCH LIKE A WEAKENED IMMUNE SYSTEM CAUSES SICKNESS.

SCRIPTURE SAYS “THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH.”   THUS WE NEED A REDEEMER, A SAVIOR TO SET US FREE NOT FROM GUILT, BUT FROM SIN AND DEATH TO RECONCILE US AGAIN INTO THE COMMUNION OF LOVE WITH THE FATHER THROUGH CHRIST JESUS WHICH WE WERE CREATED TO PARTAKE OF IN THE GARDEN, HAVING BEEN CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD.  

THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY:   AT THE TIME IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE OLD CATHOLIC CHURCH, THERE WERE TWO DOCTRINES ABOUT OUR LORD’S MOTHER THAT WERE BINDING ON ALL CHRISTIANS.  

  • THE FIRST IS, THAT WHEN HER SON JESUS WAS BORN SHE WAS A VIRGIN, MEANING JESUS HAD NO EARTHLY FATHER, WHICH IS AN ARTICLE OF THE NICENE CREED.   THIS IS ALSO BASED ON THE GOSPELS, MATT. 1:20 AND LUKE 1:35.
  • THE SECOND IS THAT SHE IS RIGHTLY CALLED THEOTOKOS (THE GOD BEARER, OR MOTHER OF GOD), A TITLE WHICH WAS ACCEPTED BY ALL CHURCHES AND DECLARED BY THE ECUMENICAL COUNSEL OF EPHESUS IN THE YEAR 431AD.

ON THE OTHER HAND AND CONTRARY TO EARLY CHURCH TEACHING,… IN THE MID 19TH CENTURY POPE PIUS IX DECIDED TO USE HIS POWER AND DE FACTO PAPAL INFALLIBILITY TO CREATE A DOGMA BY HIMSELF WITHOUT AN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL.   THE DOGMA OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF MARY IN 1854,… THE BELIEF THAT THE BLESSED MOTHER WAS WITHOUT SIN, ORIGINAL OR ACTUAL, FROM BIRTH.   THIS BELIEF IS NOT FOUND IN SCRIPTURE AND UNKNOWN BY THE CHURCH FATHERS OR IN THE EARLY CHURCH.   IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT SEVEN OTHER POPES WERE AGAINST THIS TEACHING.

THE ROMAN CHURCH DEVELOPED THE DOCTRINE OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION BASED ON THE BELIEF THAT ORIGINAL SIN WAS NOT JUST A DEFECT, BUT ALSO INHERITED GUILT WAS THE RESULT OF THE ACT OF CONCEPTION BY FALLEN MAN THAT RESULTED IN SIN.   THUS THEY “REASONED” THAT THE LORD’S MOTHER RECEIVED SPECIAL GRACE, BECAUSE SHE COULD NOT BE SEPARATED FROM JESUS BY GUILT.  

LATIN THEOLOGIANS OF THE MIDDLE AGES ARGUED THAT OUR LORD’S MOTHER WAS EXCLUDED BY SPECIAL DIVINE PRIVILEGE FROM GUILT/SIN, WITH WHICH EVERYBODY ELSE WAS CONCEIVED AND BORN IN.   THERE WAS NO SUCH TEACHING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT AND ON THE CONTRARY, ST. PAUL WROTE IN ROM. 3:16, “ALL HAVE SINNED AND COME SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD.”   AND WE JUST READ, ROMANS 5:12 WHICH SAYS, “WELL THEN, IT WAS THROUGH ONE MAN THAT SIN CAME INTO THE WORLD, AND THROUGH SIN DEATH, AND THUS DEATH HAS SPREAD THROUGH THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE BECAUSE EVERYONE HAS SINNED.”

THE CHURCH FATHERS ALL TAUGHT THAT THE LORD ALONE WAS WITHOUT SIN.    ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM AND OTHER FATHERS EVEN SAID THAT THE BLESSED MOTHER SINNED —- WHEN SHE INTERFERED AT THE MARRIAGE OF CANA WHEN JESUS REBUKED HER IN (JN. 2:3),… “WOMEN, WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?   MY HOUR HAS NOT YET COME.”   AT LEAST THIS SHOWS THAT THE FATHERS DID NOT KNOW OF ANY SUCH TEACHING IN THE FIRST FIVE CENTURIES OF THE EARLY CHURCH.  

DOWN THROUGH THE AGES NONE OF THE HISTORIC EASTERN CATHOLIC, EASTERN ORTHODOX, NOR THE ORIENTAL CATHOLIC CHURCHES BELIEVED OR TAUGHT THE DOGMA OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION.

IN THE MAGNIFICAT IN LUKE 1:46-48, THE BLESSED MOTHER HERSELF SAID TO THE ANGEL OF THE LORD WHO VISITED HER, “MY SOUL PROCLAIMS THE GREATNESS OF THE LORD AND MY SPIRIT REJOICES IN GOD MY SAVIOR;  BECAUSE HE HAS LOOKED UPON THE HUMILITY OF HIS SERVANT.”   MARY IS ACKNOWLEDGING A NEED OF A SAVIOR FOR ALL OF HUMANITY HAS SINNED, ROM. 3:23.

PURGATORY:   ROME’S TEACHING THAT SIN ENTAILS BOTH ETERNAL AND WORLDLY PUNISHMENT DID NOT EXIST IN THE EARLY CHURCH.  

THE EARLY CHURCH DID NOT BELIEVE THAT A PERSON WHO HAD BEEN JUSTIFIED AND REDEEMED BY CHRIST MUST STILL GO TO A PLACE CALLED PURGATORY FOR CLEANSING/PURIFICATION BECAUSE THEY DID NOT MAKE RESTITUTION FOR “THINGS STILL IMPERFECTLY PURIFIED” (RC CAT),… OR THAT THEY MUST PERFORM PENANCES IMPOSED BY A CONFESSOR (OR BY SELF-IMPOSED PENANCES),… OR THAT THEY MUST SUFFER PATIENTLY THE TRIALS AND BURDENS IMPOSED ON THEM BECAUSE OF THEIR SIN.  

PURGATORY INFERS BEING IN PLACE OF PHYSICAL PUNISHMENT WHERE A PERSON WOULD WORK OFF THEIR DEBTS TO GOD.   AND,… ACCORDING TO ROME,… PEOPLE COULD ALSO PRAY OR PASS ON THEIR MERITS TO OTHERS TO RELIEVE OR SHORTEN TIME IN PURGATORY.   NOT ONLY DOES SCRIPTURE SAY THAT CHRIST JESUS DIED ONCE FOR THE SINS OF HUMANITY, BUT ALSO THAT JESUS SAID “IT IS FINISHED” FROM THE CROSS.  

LISTEN CAREFULLY TO ROM. 5: 8-11.   “BUT GOD DEMONSTRATES HIS OWN LOVE FOR US IN THIS:  WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS, CHRIST DIED FOR US. SINCE WE HAVE BEEN JUSTIFIED BY HIS BLOOD, HOW MUCH MORE SHALL WE BE SAVED FROM GOD’S WRATH THROUGH HIM!    FOR IF, WHEN WE WERE GOD’S ENEMIES, WE WERE RECONCILED TO HIM (THE FATHER) THROUGH THE DEATH OF HIS SON, HOW MUCH MORE, HAVING BEEN RECONCILED, SHALL WE BE SAVED THROUGH HIS LIFE (RESURRECTION).   NOT ONLY IS THIS SO, BUT WE ALSO REJOICE IN GOD THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THROUGH WHOM WE HAVE NOW RECEIVED RECONCILIATION.”   WE ARE EITHER COMPLETELY RECONCILED OR WE ARE NOT.

FUTHERMORE, ST. PAUL CLEARLY STATES IN SCRIPTURE THAT WHEN A BELIEVER DIES HE IS ABSENT FROM THE BODY AND PRESENT WITH THE LORD (2COR. 5:8).   THE SOUL AND SPIRIT ARE IN THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST, AND THE SCRIPTURE SPEAKS OF THE BODY AS BEING ASLEEP IN THE LORD, WAITING TO BE RESURRECTED WHEN CHRIST RETURNS.

THE EUCHARIST IT WAS THE PERCEPTION IN THE ROMAN CHURCH JUST PRIOR TO THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION, THAT THE WORK OF THE CLERGY WAS TO OFFER THE EUCHARIST DURING THE MASS.   THE RESULT OF THIS IDEA CREATED THE “ENDOWMENT” SYSTEM WHERE A WEALTHY INDIVIDUAL GAVE MONEY TO BUILD A “CHANTRY” CHAPEL OFF TO THE SIDE AND WITHIN A CHURCH.    THEN THE PRIESTS WERE PAID TO SAY MASS INDEFINITELY FOR THEIR SOUL TO BE FREED FROM PURGATORY. 

SOME FORMS OF THIS SYSTEMS STILL LINGER ON TODAY.   THERE WAS NOTHING IN THE EARLY CHURCH, OR FROM THE CHURCH FATHERS, OR FROM THE EASTERN CHURCH TO JUSIFY THIS PRACTICE OR ITS RESULT.  

THE EARLY CHURCH TAUGHT THAT OUR LORD’S SACRIFICE WAS “NOT ONLY FOR ORIGINAL SIN,”  BUT ALSO FOR ALL ACTUAL SINS AND THAT THE ONE AND ONLY OFFERING OF CHRIST, ONCE MADE, IS THAT PERFECT REDEMPTION AND SATISFACTION FOR ALL THE SINS OF THE WHOLE WORLD, BOTH ORIGINAL AND ACTUAL.

THERE IS NO OTHER SATISFACTION FOR SIN BUT CHRIST’S ALONE.   THE EUCHARIST IS THE CENTER OF OUR WORSHIP AS OLD CATHOLIC’S BECAUSE JESUS SAID OF THE BREAD AND THE WINE,, “THIS IS MY BODY, THIS IS MY BLOOD,” AND “ DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.”   IN THE EUCHARIST WE PARTAKE MYSTICALLY OF CHRIST’S BODY AND BLOOD WITHOUT THE NEED FOR DEFINITION OR EXPLANATION.  

THE EUCHARIST HAS BEEN CALLED THE HOLY MYSTERY FROM THE DAYS OF THE EARLY CHURCH AND THAT IT IS.   CHRIST’S PRESENCE IS IN THE BREAD AND WINE BECAUSE JESUS SAID, “THIS IS MY BODY AND THIS IS MY BLOOD.”   IT IS A HOLY MYSTERY AND THAT IS ALL THAT NEEDS TO BE SAID.

THE EUCHARIST GIVEN TO THE CHURCH,… THE BODY OF CHRIST,… IS NOT A CONTINUAL REPETITION OF CHRIST’S SACRIFICE ON THE CROSS, NOR IS IT A REPEAT OF THAT SACRIFICE.   THAT SACRIFICE WAS OFFERED ONCE.  

THE EUCHARIST IS A PERPETUAL MEMORIAL OF THE SACRIFICE OFFERED ONCE ON THE CROSS.   IT IS AN ACT THAT RE-PRESENTS ON EARTH, IN A SACRAMENTAL MANNER, THE ONE OFFERING JESUS CHRIST PRESENTED IN HEAVEN FOR THE SALVATION OF REDEEMING MANKIND BY APPEARING FOR US IN THE PRESENCE OF THE FATHER.   HEB. 9:11-12, “AND HEB. 9:24 & 26   “WHEN CHRIST CAME AS HIGH PRIEST OF THE GOOD THINGS THAT ARE ALREADY HERE, HE WENT THROUGH THE GREATER AND MORE PERFECT TABERNACLE THAT IS NOT MAN MADE, THAT IS TO SAY, NOT A PART OF THIS CREATION.   HE DID NOT ENTER BY MEANS OF THE BLOOD OF GOATS AND CALVES; BUT HE ENTERED THE MOST HOLY PLACE ONCE FOR ALL BY HIS OWN BLOOD, HAVING OBTAINED ETERNAL REDEMPTION.   FOR CHRIST DID NOT ENTER A MAN-MADE SANCTUARY THAT WAS ONLY A COPY OF THE TRUE ONE; HE ENTERED HEAVEN ITSELF, NOW TO APPEAR FOR US IN GOD’S PRESENCE, NOR DID HE ENTER HEAVEN TO OFFER HIMSELF AGAIN AND AGAIN….. BUT NOW HE HAS APPEARED ONCE FOR ALL AT THE END OF THE AGES TO DO AWAY WITH SIN BY THE SACRIFICE OF HIMSELF.”

PARTAKING IN THE EUCHARIST, EACH BELIEVER IS TO LIVE IN COMMUNION WITH JESUS AND WITH ONE ANOTHER,… OFFERING OURSELVES AS A LIVING SACRIFICE TO THE LORD.   AS BELIEVERS, OUR SACRIFICE IS TO SURRENDER OUR SELFISH DESIRES AND PRIDE AND THEN CHOOSE TO PICK UP OUR CROSS AND FOLLOW JESUS MK. 8:34-37.  

THIS IS THE HUMBLE ATTITUDE IN WHICH TO APPROACH THE HOLY MYSTERIES OF THE EUCHARIST.   ‘THE MEDICINE OF IMMORTALITY” IS WHAT THE EARLY CHURCH CALLED THE EUCHARIST BECAUSE OF THE GRACE OF GOD RECEIVED THROUGH IT.

 

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS OLD CATHOLICS AND ROMAN CATHOLICS HAVE IN COMMON?                                                        

LITURGY:  Same      

NUMBER OF SACRAMENTS:    Same (7)          

REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST  IN THE EUCHARIST:  Yes/Same

COMMUNION OF SAINTS:   Yes

HOLY ORDERS:   Yes

MARY AS MOTHER OF GOD:    Yes

 

WHAT ARE SOME DIFFERENCES BETWEEN OLD CATHOLICS AND ROMAN CATHOLICS?

PAPAL INFALLIBILITY:  Rome-Yes / Old Catholic-No                        

CELIBACY OF PRIESTS:  Rome-Required / Old Catholic-Married/Preferred  (1 TIM. 3:1-12)

CONTRACEPTION:   Rome-a Sin / Old Catholic-a Marital Choice

SIN:   Rome-Venial and Mortal / Old Catholic-All Sin is Sin

SINS ARE FORGIVEN:   Rome-Confession / Old Catholic-Personal Repentance

CONFESSION TO A PRIEST:   Rome-Required (for mortal sins) / Old Catholic-only when asked.            

REMARRIAGE AFTER DIVORCE:   Rome-No / Old Catholic-Yes

PARTAKERS OF THE EUCHARIST:   Rome-only RC / Old Catholic-All baptized believers in Christ.

HISTORIC CATHOLIC DOCTRINES:  Rome-Dogmas added / Old Catholic-Only hold to the first 7 councils of the early Church.

IF YOU ARE FURTHER INTERESTED IN READING THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS THAT WERE WRITTEN TO ESTABLISH THE UNION OF UTRECHT AND THE OLD CATHOLIC CHURCHES IN EUROPE IN 1874 AND 1889, PLEASE GO TO THE WEB PAGE OF THE OLD CATHOLIC COMMUNION OF NORTH AMERICA – OCCNA.ORG AND CLICK ON DOCUMENTS.

 

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