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  • 08/08/2012 11:51 AM | James Doan

    Fr. Hugh Barbour, O. Praem, Ph. D.
    (Ad Veritatem May 2005)

    QUESTION:  I had a discussion with an Evangelical friend on the virginity of Our Blessed Mother. I pointed out that the Protestant reformers Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli taught the historic Christian doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity. He didn't care and said that our salvation doesn't depend on belief about Mary's virginity. All we have to do, he said, is believe that Jesus is our personal Lord and Savior and we will be saved.  He also said Catholicism isn't "true" Christianity. What should I tell him?

    ANSWER: The Reformers indeed taught the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity, but that usually doesn’t impress modern-day Protestants like your friend.  Protestants agree with the Catholic Church’s teaching that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation.

    But faith in Christ includes faith in and assent to what He taught in His commandments and doctrines. Your friend’s minimalist attitude toward what is necessary to salvation risks turning Christianity into a mechanical ideology: “Say the ‘sinner’s prayer’ and you’re in, nothing else matters. Just don’t become a Catholic.” Point out that if there are no conditions for salvation other than faith in Christ as one’s Savior, then not being a Catholic cannot be a condition for salvation. If he says you can't be a Catholic and be saved, then he’s added a condition and is being inconsistent. This may help him see that there's more to salvation than mere faith in Christ. Jesus reminded us that faith alone isn’t sufficient: “Why do you say to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but do not do the things I command?” (Luke 6:46-47; cf. Matt, 7:21-23). This includes believing in all that He and the Apostles taught. And that includes the truth of Mary’s perpetual virginity. You see, all of revelation is connected. One cannot say, for example, I’m willing to accept this doctrine but I won’t accept that one. That’s completely  contrary to Christ’s will. Your friend’s point of view is common among Protestants, who have a tendency to reduce “faith in Christ” to simply the belief that He is our Savior. But let's remember what “Savior” means. It means that Christ is saving us from something, He is saving us for something, His salvation comes to us in a certain way and under certain conditions (e.g. believe, repent, be baptized, etc.). This also tells us who He is: God Himself. You see what a wealth of doctrinal implications are contained in  the word “savior”: sin, death, and hell, the commandments, grace, heaven, sacrifice, merit, sacraments, the Church, the Trinity, the Incarnation, His death, Resurrection, and Second Coming.

    For those who know and love Christ, there is nothing about Him, His life, His friends, His teachings that is not of interest or help to them.

    Christ came to “bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37) and to reveal many supernatural mysteries about God and the kingdom of God which we could never have known by the power of unaided human reason. Believing the truths about Christ contained in Sacred Scripture are part of having faith in Him. We can’t separate faith in the person of Christ from faith in His life and message, in the prophets who preceded Him, and the Apostles and their successors who followed after Him. These Apostles, “the early Church magisterium,” proclaimed the truth with the teaching authority Christ gave them: “He who hears you, hears Me” (Luke 10:16; cf.  Matt. 16:18, 18:18).

    And remember what Christ commanded the magisterium of His Church to do: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). Christ wants Christians to assent to and profess all the doctrines contained in the Deposit of Faith, including the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity. He reminds us that, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in Heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

  • 08/08/2012 11:39 AM | James Doan

    By Fr. Hugh Barbour, O. Praem, Ph.D. (Ad Veritatem July 2007)

    QUESTION: A home-schooling mom told me that “American-style” steady dating between young persons who are not yet able to marry is actually “sinful and against Catholic moral teaching.” Is this so? I've never heard this. 

    ANSWER:  In days gone by, priests used an old Latin rhyme: “Solus cum sola non dicunt Ave Maria.” It means: “When he and she are alone, they’re not saying ‘Hail Mary.’” It's a good way to remind ourselves of the moral danger young men and women put themselves into when they don't follow the Church's wisdom on love and courtship.

    Catholic moral teaching is clear that we are never allowed to place ourselves

    deliberately in a "proximate occasion of sin," meaning a circumstance where we're likely or almost certain to sin. If steady dating is an occasion for sins against purity, then it is sinful. Human nature being what it is, and the sex drive being as powerful as it is, if a young dating couple see each other constantly and without supervision, they're likely to fall into some sin against purity. It's reasonable to say that dating as it is generally practiced in this country is morally unacceptable. Dating should take place in a context where there is a clearly established time for getting home, supervision by parents or chaperones. The couple should try to be part of a larger group and only go on dates in public places, where there is no likelihood of becoming secluded and falling into illicit sexual actions. Young people who are not old enough to marry should have a wide circle of friends of their own and of the opposite sex; steady dating places an unreasonable emotional demand for exclusivity on both the boy and the girl at a time when they most need to develop greater social skills and virtues. Usually steady dating ends in the emotional trauma of being "dumped" for someone else; more often than not the girl is the wounded party, and the boy can develop a cavalier attitude toward relationships - a very unhealthy attitude for a future husband to adopt. Clubs, sports teams, chaperoned dances, and youth groups, are all good places for young people to meet and make friends. They should be encouraged to socialize without having to pair off.

    When the young man and woman are old enough and mature enough, and marriage becomes a possibility, then steady dating leading up to engagement is reasonable. Yet even here, the couple should avoid prolonged physical contact (e.g., unchaste, intimate kissing and hugging), and should always avoid situations where they are completely alone. The more the couple grow to love each other, the more difficult it will become for them to resist their natural impulse for physical union. That's why vigilance in chastity is crucial.

    Parents have a grave obligation to protect the virtue of their children as much as they can. They will be responsible before God for the sins of their children, if they have not taken reasonable, consistent measures to keep their children out of occasions of sin. Fear of provoking a child's anger over dating rules is hardly a reason to put his or her soul at risk.  As Christ said, “Perfect love casts out fear.” 

  • 08/06/2012 12:23 PM | James Doan

    The entire legal community is cordially invited to the St. Thomas More Society of Orange County’s Annual Red Mass, scheduled for Monday, October 1, 6:00 p.m.  The Most Reverend Tod David Brown, Bishop of Orange, will celebrate the Mass at Holy Family Cathedral.

    With your help, we will join jurists, clergy, legal professionals, their families and friends and clergy from throughout Southern California in prayer and worship, featuring the de Aneglis Vocal Ensemble.  Mass will be followed, as always, by a delicious catered buffet dinner, at no charge to those attending.  All are welcome!  We will once again offer sponsorships at the Gold ($1000), Silver ($500) and Bronze($250) levels.  For those able to provide a higher level of support we also offer the Platinum ($2500) sponsorship and a single Event ($5000+) sponsorship.  

    Benefits of sponsorship, depending on the date confirmed, may include recognition in the Orange County Lawyer, OC Catholic, the Ad Veritatem newsletter,, event signage, mailed invitations, Mass worship aid, STMS meetings, and a sponsor plaque.  The St. Thomas More Society of Orange County is a California Non-Profit Corporation (ID# 33-0915452) tax exempt per IRS code 501(3).  Please consult your tax advisor.  A receipt will be provided to all sponsors.  Please mail your check, payable to St. Thomas More Society to: William E. Malecki, 74 Salton, Irvine, CA 92602. Please also indicate how you would like your sponsorship to be recognized. One or two lines are available; you may list your individual name and your firm name.

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The St. Thomas More Society of Orange County, California, is an independent organization sponsored by lawyers and judges who are practicing members of the Roman Catholic Church. Its purpose is to encourage Catholic lawyers to live out their Christian vocation by sanctifying their daily work.

The St. Thomas More Society of Orange County is a California Non-Profit Corporation and tax exempt under IRS 501(c)(3).

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