Choose a topic from Vol 2:


Proof of God's existence
God's nature
Supreme control over all things and the problem of suffering and evil


Destiny of man
Immortality of man's soul
Pre-existence denied
The human free will
Determinism absurd


Necessity of religion
Salvation of the soul
Voice of science
Religious racketeers
Divine revelation
Revealed mysteries
Existence of miracles

The Religion of the Bible

Gospels historical
Missing Books of the Bible
The Bible inspired
Biblical account of creation
New Testament problems
Supposed contradictions in Sacred Scripture

The Christian Faith

Source of Christian teaching
Jewish rejection of Christ
Christianity a new religion
Rational foundation for belief
Causes of unbelief

A Definite Christian Faith

Divisions amongst Christians
Schisms unjustified
Facing the problem
The wrong approach
Is one religion as good as another?
Obligation of inquiry
Charity and tolerance

The Protestant Reformation

Meaning of "Protestant"
Causes of the Reformation
Catholic reaction
Reformers mistaken
The idealization of Protestantism
The Catholic estimate

The Truth of Catholicism

Meaning of the word "Church"
Origin of the Church
The Catholic claim
The Roman hierarchy
The Pope
The Petrine text
St. Peter's supremacy
St. Peter in Rome
Temporal power
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Apostolicity of the Church
Indefectibility of the Church
Obligation to be a Catholic

The Church and the Bible

Catholic attitude towards the Bible
Is Bible reading forbidden to Catholics?
Protestant Bibles
The Catholic Douay Version
Principle of private interpretation
Need of Tradition
The teaching authority of the Catholic Church

The Dogmas of the Church

Revolt against dogma
Value of a Creed
The divine gift of Faith
Faith and reason
The "Dark Ages"
The claims of science
The Holy Trinity
Creation and evolution
Grace and salvation
The Sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
The Catholic Priesthood
Marriage and divorce
Extreme Unction
The resurrection of the body
The end of the world

The Church and Her Moral Teachings

The Inquisition
Other superstitions
Attendance at Mass
Sex education
Attitude to "Free Love"

The Church in Her Worship

Magnificent edifices
Lavish ritual
Women in Church
Catholics and "Mother's Day"
Liturgical Days
Burial rites
Candles and votive lamps
The rosary
Lourdes water
The Scapular

The Church and Social Welfare

Social influence of the Church
The education question
The Church and world distress
Catholic attitude towards Capitalism
The remedy for social ills
Communism condemned
The Fascist State
Morality of war
May individuals become soldiers?
The Church and peace
Capital punishment
Catholic Action

Comparative Study of Non-Catholic Denominations

Defections from the Catholic Church
Coptic Church
Greek Orthodox Church
Anglican Episcopal Church
The "Free" or "Nonconformist" Churches
Church of Christ
Seventh Day Adventists
Plymouth Brethren
Catholic Apostolic Church or Irvingites
Salvation Army
Christian Science
British Israelism
Liberal Catholics
Witnesses of Jehovah
Buchmanism or the "Oxford Group Movement"
From Protestantism to Catholicism

To and From Rome

Conversion of Cardinal Newman
Why Gladstone refrained
The peculiar case of Lord Halifax
Gibbon the historian
Secession of Father Chiniquy
Father Tyrrell, the modernist
Bishop Garrett's departure
Judgment on lapsed Catholics
Protestant apathy towards conversion of Catholics
Principles for converts to Catholicism
God's will that all should become Catholics

Grace and salvation

697. Does Catholic dogma admit our Protestant doctrine that since Christ has paid the price of man's salvation, man is no longer in danger of losing his soul?

No. And you will find no support for your belief in the Bible. Christ Himself warns us to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation. That is meaningless, if temptation in no way endangers the soul. He said, "Blessed is that man who, when his lord cometh, is found watching." Lk. XII., 37. That implies that it is possible not to be in a fit state when called to judgment. Again and again He warns us of the danger of losing our souls, and puts the question, "What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?" St. Paul tells us to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. Those who think themselves to stand are told to beware lest they fall. Your once saved, always saved idea finds no justification in the Bible.

698. I say that Christ saved us by His death once and for all.

In other words, no man can be lost, in whatever wickedness he may indulge, and even though he persists in evil dispositions until his last conscious moments! According to your doctrine, therefore, it does not matter whether a man tries to live a good life or not. Whether he wants it or not, he's got to be saved. There is no other alternative. Christ was talking folly, according to you, when He said, "Fear not those who can kill the body, but who cannot kill the soul; but I will tell you whom to fear. Fear ye him who has power to destroy both body and soul in hell." Matt. X., 28. If all men are necessarily saved, there's no need to fear anything at all. Again, why does our Lord tell us that, on the last day, all men will be judged, the good being rewarded, and the wicked sent to the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels? Your ideas do not harmonize with the Bible at all.

699. Our truly Protestant position is that the "just shall live by faith."

If that text is rightly interpreted as meaning that the just man must have faith, and must live in practice according to the requirements of his faith, it expresses the truly Catholic position. But the original Protestant position was that good works were in no way necessary for salvation, and that man is saved by faith alone. I call that the original Protestant position, for not one in a hundred Protestants today accepts it. Where the first Protestants said, "Not what a man does but what a man believes is the test of salvation," the modern Protestant says just the opposite. "Not what a man believes, but what he does," is the slogan among Protestants now. When Protestants say they will never lose their Protestant inheritance, I say they have lost it. The original Reformers, men like Luther, and Calvin, and Knox, would denounce their present position with violent rebuke.

700. Faith alone makes a man good. As soon as the idea arises that we become good and are saved by good works, they become utterly damnable.

If we turn to the real teaching of the New Testament, we find St. James saying, "Faith without works is dead. Do you not see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only?" Jas. II., 20-24. Thus speaks St. James. He taught that both faith and works are required, and that both are taken into account at our judgment. But even if we take, not New Testament teaching, but Protestant teaching, we cannot say that good works fulfilled in order to obtain salvation are today regarded as utterly damnable by Protestants. That was Protestant teaching. It is not now.

701. I very much pity Roman Catholics.

Compassion for those whom you believe to be unfortunate is certainly to your credit. But your belief that Catholics are unfortunate is not justified by anything you urge in your letter. When the women of Jerusalem wept over our Lord during His passion, He said to them gently, "Weep not for Me. Weep for yourselves and your children." Lk. XXIII., 28. And I say the same to you, because, whilst believing in Christ, you pity Catholics precisely because their conduct is in accordance with Christian principles.

702. They always have to be striving to be good Roman Catholics.

That certainly is our doctrine. Surely if one is a Catholic, he ought to strive to be a good one. But your difficulty is concerned with the idea of striving. And you think that all this striving to be good is not in the spirit of Christianity. But did not Christ Himself say, "If you will enter into life, keep the commandments." Matt. XIX., 17; and again, later, "If you love Me, keep My commandments"? Now one who wishes to be a good Catholic is told that he must strive to keep these commandments. And it is not always easy. It is easier to follow temptations opposed to them. Christ said, therefore, "Strive to enter by the narrow gate." Lk. XIII., 24. He evidently believed in striving to be good Christians. St. Paul writes to the Galatians, VI., 7, "Be not deceived. God is not mocked. For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. In doing good, let us not fail. Whilst we have time, let us work good to all men." And as if he had not insisted sufficiently on the necessity of striving to be good, he wrote to the Philippians, II., 12, "With fear and trembling, work out your salvation." To the Corinthians 1, IX., 25, he said, "Know you not that they who run in a race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that you may obtain. And everyone who striveth for the victory, refraineth himself from various things. I run, but not carelessly; I fight, but not as one beating the air. But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection." What is all that but striving! In 1 Timothy VI., 11, he writes, "But thou,O man of God, pursue justice, godliness, faith, charity, patience, mildness. Fight the good fight." Add to all this our Lord's constant warnings to us to be vigilant, to watch and pray, to pray without ceasing, and it is very difficult to see what you can find to condemn in our doctrine that one has always to be striving to be good.

703. Good works will never save anyone.

Natural good works, performed without any motive of love for God, and by one not in God's grace and friendship, will save no one. That is why St. Paul says, "If I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." 1 Cor. XIII., 3. But good works inspired by love of God and performed by one in God's grace and friendship do contribute towards one's salvation. That is why the New Testament, in James II., 24, says, "By works a man is justified, and not by faith only." In fact, such good works are necessary for salvation, for St. James says in V., 26, "For even as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead."

704. St. Paul says, "Not of works, lest any man should boast." Eph. II., 9.

St. Paul excludes works performed by one's own efforts, independently of God's grace. No man will be able to boast that he saved himself by his own efforts, and that he did not need the grace of Christ. But St. Paul did not contradict St. James who declared that, "By works a man is justified, and not by faith only." And this is the teaching of Christ who said, "If any man love Me, he will keep My commandments," and the keeping of Christ's commands means good works. We do need, besides good works, both faith and charity, and in the text you quote St. Paul is insisting upon faith as one necessary condition, a faith which is a gratuitous gift from God. But not for a moment does St. Paul mean that a man is saved by faith only, to the exclusion of good works.

705. As Christ died He said, "It is finished." He completed our salvation, and we believe in His finished work.

Christ's words, "It is finished," do not show that our salvation is completed in one glorious act. They indicate that He had fulfilled His part in the essential work of our redemption. But our part still remains. He has paid the price, but we shall be saved only if we fulfill the conditions necessary to profit by His death for us. And it is not enough to believe in the finished work of Christ by simple faith in order to secure eternal salvation in heaven with Him. Christ said to the Apostles, "Teach men to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Matt. XXVIII., 20.

706. Did not St. Peter champion salvation by works of the Jewish Law, whilst St. Paul demanded salvation by faith?

Both St. Peter and St. Paul insisted upon salvation both by faith and good works. Did St. Peter insist on salvation by works only, when he wrote, "There is an inheritance reserved in heaven for you who, by the power of God, are kept by faith unto salvation"? I. Peter 1, 5. And how can people say that St. Paul championed salvation by faith to the exclusion of good works, when he wrote to the Galatians, "Be not deceived. God is not mocked. What things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. For he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh also shall reap corruption. But he that soweth in the spirit, of the spirit shall reap life everlasting. In doing good let us not fail. Whilst we have time, let us work good to all men." Galatians VI., 8. He is a very shallow reader of Scripture who would confine St. Peter's teaching of salvation to works, and St. Paul's to faith. But, above all, it is a mystery how anyone can say that St. Peter based salvation on works of the Jewish Law, when we find him writing in his first epistle, I., 18, "You were not redeemed by your vain mode of living and the tradition of your fathers, but by the precious blood of Christ."

707. God must know beforehand whether a soul is born to be damned or otherwise.

No soul is born to be damned. God sincerely wills the salvation of all men, and gives all men sufficient grace to be saved. In fact He warns us all by conscience and by His commandments against the very things that could destroy our eternal happiness. He would not warn us against the things that take us to hell if He wanted us to go there. He would keep silent about them and let us go over the precipice.

708. If God knows a soul is to be damned, it is useless for that soul to try to attain salvation.

There is no predestination for damnation. Nor is it futile for an individual to endeavor to save his soul. God says even to the worst sinners, "Repent, and if your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow." Isaiah I., 18. If a man is lost, it will be solely through his own fault. God may know that certain souls will choose to damn themselves, but He knows they have not got to do so, nor does His knowledge make them do so. Knowledge doesn't cause an event, the event causes knowledge. Because Jack is running I know that he is running. But he certainly isn't running because I know it. God knows that a man will choose to lose his soul only because that man will so choose. There is no need for him to choose so disastrously. He receives sufficient grace for his conversion. Let him correspond with the voice of God and of conscience, repenting of his sins, and he will be saved. It is not futile for him to endeavor to save his soul, and if he is lost it will be precisely because he did not endeavor to do so. Just imagine a farmer who says: God knows whether I'm going to have a crop or not. If He knows, I'll have it, whatever I do. If He knows that I won't have it, I won't have it, whatever I do. So I won't plough, I won't sow any seed, it's futile. Such a man is working on the absurd idea that knowledge causes the event instead of realizing that the event causes knowledge of it. Let us all do our best in the service of God, the practice of extra virtue, the avoiding of sin and the desire of holiness. If we do, the practical result will be our salvation. The solution of the speculative problems can safely be left to God.

709. Was not St. Augustine, an orthodox Catholic bishop, author of the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination to hell?

No. Calvin certainly did not get that doctrine from St. Augustine, though he may have pretended to do so. G. P. Fisher, Protestant professor of Ecclesiastical History at Yale University, in his standard work "The History of the Christian Church," page 321, says that Calvin, in his "Institutes," went further than Augustine, declaring that sin, and consequently damnation, are the effect of an efficient decree of God. Now St. Augustine could not have taught that doctrine, if Calvin had to go further than Augustine in order to teach it! But let us go to St. Augustine himself. A man who believed that some men are predestined to hell no matter what they might do, could not possibly write as follows. In his book on "Catechizing the Ignorant," St. Augustine writes, "The merciful God wishes to liberate men from eternal ruin, if they are not enemies to themselves, and do not resist the mercy of their Creator. For this purpose He sent His only-begotten Son." Again he writes in his book "On the Spirit and the Letter," "God wills all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth; but not in such a way as to take away their free will, according to the good or bad use of which they will be most justly judged." No man who believed that God predestines some men to hell could write those words. Those who claim St. Augustine as the author of Calvinistic predestination to hell have never understood St. Augustine; and perhaps have never made anything like a serious study of his works. The Pelagian heretics denied the necessity of grace for salvation. St. Augustine insisted that man cannot save himself without the grace of God. He insisted, too, that grace, being grace, must be a gratuitous gift of God which, though given to all men, could not be due under any title of justice to them. Calvinists made the unwarranted conclusion for themselves that, because it was not due in justice, therefore it was not given to some; and that God therefore created some souls intending them for hell. But St. Augustine never taught that.

710. Why should a good-living Catholic go to hell because he dies without repentance after committing mortal sin, whilst a bad Catholic, sinful all his life, repents at the last moment, and goes to heaven?

Take the good Catholic first. To live his good life he kept the commandments of God. But no observance of God's commandments gives any subsequent right to break them. If he breaks God's commandments by later mortal sin and refuses to repent, he dies in a state of mortal sin and at enmity with God. He necessarily goes to hell, though he need not necessarily have fallen into a state of sin, and further, need not necessarily have remained in such a state. A previous good life in no way justifies later sins. If a man commits murder on Wednesday, is it any defense that he did not commit adultery on the preceding Tuesday? Now take your poor sinner, who, after living a bad life, repents and saves his soul. By repentance, he recovers God's grace. And he is saved, because he availed himself of God's mercy, asked for forgiveness, and died in God's friendship. The one-time good man is not lost because of his previous good life, and this man is not saved because of his previous bad life. There would be injustice if that were the case. But it is not. The one-time good man is lost because he nullified his good life by subsequent sin; the bad man is saved because he nullified his bad life by subsequent repentance and a request to share in the merits of Christ.

711. What value has a deathbed repentancewhen a soul has steadfastly refused to submit to God's will during life?

If there be a sincere deathbed repentance the soul would be saved, provided the sorrow were perfect, or, if imperfect, it had the assistance of the Sacraments of the Church. But steadfast refusal during life to do God's will does not give much hope of a deathbed repentance. Firstly, God has promised forgiveness to those who do repent. But He has never promised time to repent. He says Himself that death may come to us at any moment and blessed is the one who is found to be watching. That does not augur well for the unprepared. Secondly, even granted some form of regret, the ingrained dispositions of a soul which has steadfastly refused to do God's will during life do not give much hope of suddenly attaining to a perfect love of God and perfect sorrow for past sins. And if such a soul dies without the Sacraments, it is lost. Yet such a soul has done nothing to deserve the happiness of the Sacraments. We are warned over and over again by God against the presumption of delay in our conversion to Him. To carry on in sinful dispositions, determined to go on with them, is the conduct of a fool. The only safe preparation for a good death is a good life.

712. What value has repentance when a soul decides to conform to God's will only when this life offers no further hopes of self-indulgence. The only motive is expediency and fear of the fate awaiting the wicked.

If such repentance proceeds from a purely natural dread it is not really repentance at all, and has no value whatever. If it proceeds solely from a supernatural fear based upon faith in the revealed doctrine of hell, it would have sufficient value to save a soul provided the Sacraments were received. Otherwise it would not save the soul. And there is no guarantee that a priest could be obtained in time for the administration of the Sacraments. We do not know whether we are to die of a slow illness, giving us plenty of time to prepare to meet God, or suddenly of heart failure. God could take me as I am talking to you at this moment, and without the slightest warning. Mere fear of what will happen to us will not of itself save us. Perfect sorrow without the Sacraments will save us. Imperfect sorrow with the Sacraments will save us. But imperfect sorrow without the Sacraments is powerless to do so. The persistent and habitual sinner cannot rely on salvation except by taking it for granted that he will have the opportunity to receive the Sacraments, or that he will suddenly attain to perfect dispositions of love and sorrow which are absolutely alien to his distorted and warped nature. It is clear that there is no justification for his taking these things for granted. The only real security is the security of a good conscience, and the only possible advice to the man who is not running straight with God is that he should square up, repent sincerely of the past, and begin to serve God. Let us remember the words of Christ, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee," Lk. XII., 20, and His estimate, "What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul." Matt. XVI., 26. Our Lord made both. And He ought to know. To risk one's soul for anything this life can offer is to be a fool. To be prepared to make any sacrifice rather than jeopardize one's eternal salvation is wisdom.

713. I heard a Missioner say that God is not satisfied with the last miserable year of a sinner's life. That is, it is no use accepting Christ in the last year of life.

You are making the priest say more than he did say. He did not say that it was no use repenting of one's sins at the end of life. God has promised forgiveness whenever a man sincerely repents of his sins, even though it be with his very last breath. A man who thus repents will at least save his soul, and God is more satisfied with that than He would be, did the man not repent at all. The mission priest you heard was trying to bring home the fact that, if God is worth serving in the last year of a man's life, He is worth serving throughout life. Scripture itself says that it is indeed good to have served God from one's youth. Nobility of soul rebels against the thought of spending all one's best years in sin, and offering God the dregs of one's life. And that is certainly not the way to serve God as God must wish. But we cannot conclude from that that it is no use turning to God at the last. If one has not served God as he should, it is of the utmost use to die at least repenting of one's sins; and the more one's sins the greater one's obligation to repent of them.

714. According to Catholic doctrine a murderer can repent and save his soul. But what of his victim, killed with no time to repent? That does not seem fair to me.

It is certain that the murderer can repent and save his soul, though he will have to expiate in Purgatory the injustice of taking his neighbor's life, so much greater than the mere taking of his property. Meantime we have to remember that if the victim were in a state of mortal sin at the moment of the tragedy, the murderer was not responsible for his being in such a state. Death may come to a man in any one of many ways, whether slowly by disease, or suddenly by accident, or even by the ill will of some fellow human being. But whenever death comes, and however it comes, no man has a right to be in a state of sin at that decisive moment. Every man has the obligation to be ready to meet God just when God takes him, and by whatever means he is taken. So Christ warns us, "Watch ye, therefore, because you know not what hour your Lord will come." Matt. XXIV., 42. And again, "If the householder did know at what hour the thief would come, he would surely watch and not suffer his house to be broken open. Be ye then also ready, for at what hour you think not the Son of man will come." Lk. XII., 39. In actual practice, of course, we cannot say that any man has been killed with no time for repentance. In a flash, quicker than the speed of any bullet, God could offer a man all the graces necessary for a complete reconciliation with Him. We cannot therefore form any certain judgment concerning the actual fate of any soul, and must leave that question to God. He alone knows the interior dispositions of each soul as He recalls it to Himself. Of one thing we are sure. Every soul receives sufficient grace for its salvation. Of one thing we are ignorant—of the manner in which God dispenses that grace. And we must leave each soul to God, refusing to judge concerning its eternal destiny.



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