The Catholic Defender: Virtues, The Seed for Evangelization

Posted by John Benko - September 6th, 2013

Evangelization is the call of all Christians who follow Christ in their daily walk.

This is central to our call to follow Christ.  This is done primarily in how we live out our lives.

Through our passion to follow Christ, we must live our lives accordingly.

We are known through three basic things.

1.  We are known by what we say.  Our words have impact.

2.  We are known by what we do, does our actions speak our words.

3.  We are known by the things we love.  What is our passion.  If following Christ is our passion, then our lives will reflect what we say and do.

St. Peter writes, “Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:13-17).

My Mother converted to the Catholic Faith through the example of a co-worker when I was very young.  Mom was raised in an anti-Catholic household and she was raised with great bias against Catholics.  She thought of Catholics as like a foreign country.  Through the example of a Catholic friend who worked with her, my Mother became open to investigate the Catholic Faith.  This would ultimately lead to my being Catholic.

In thinking about this, in researching the virtue of our holy Faith, I consider the Catholic Catechism of the Church, (CCC) 1697:
Catechesis has to reveal in all clarity the joy and the demands of the way of Christ.   Catechesis for the “newness of life”23 in him should be: 

a catechesis of the Holy Spirit, the interior Master of life according to Christ, a gentle guest and friend who inspires, guides, corrects, and strengthens this life; 

a catechesis of grace, for it is by grace that we are saved and again it is by grace that our works can bear fruit for eternal life; 

a catechesis of the beatitudes, for the way of Christ is summed up in the beatitudes, the only path that leads to the eternal beatitude for which the human heart longs; 

a catechesis of sin and forgiveness, for unless man acknowledges that he is a sinner he cannot know the truth about himself, which is a condition for acting justly; and without the offer of forgiveness he would not be able to bear this truth; 

a catechesis of the human virtues which causes one to grasp the beauty and attraction of right dispositions towards goodness; 

a catechesis of the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity, generously inspired by the example of the saints; 

- a catechesis of the twofold commandment of charity set forth in the Decalogue; 

an ecclesial catechesis, for it is through the manifold exchanges of “spiritual goods” in the “communion of saints” that Christian life can grow, develop, and be communicated.

In reading this, I became thankful for the witness my Mother received by the example of a faithful Catholic.  That is the heart of Evangelization, we must have a heart for God.  To be his representative in the trenches.  At home, at the workplace, on the ball field, where ever we find ourselves.  Our example is central to our faith.

Romans 6:4 states, “We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life”.  Our new life is not to be buried in the back yard, but it is to be given away that others might find this new life through your witness.

Galatians 5:22-23 states, “In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self control.  Against such there is no law.”  When someone is living such of way of life, people are drawn by the authentic way of faith.  There is a wholesomeness, there is a virtue that inspires people to reach towards.

From the CCC, 25, it states, “The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends.  Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love.”  Through our love for the truth, others will see the love within you.

I love Galatians 6:9 which states, “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up.  So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.”  The Catholic Faith is the family of faith that St. Paul is addressing here.  This is a great example of scripture that calls us to do good works for the glory of God.  This is the heart of Evangelization.

Consider Psalms 1:1-3, “Happy those who do not follow the counsel of the wicked, Nor go the way of sinners, nor sit in company with scoffers.  Rather, the law of the Lord is their joy; God’s law they study day and night.  They are like a tree planted near streams of water, that yields its fruit in season; Its leaves never wither; whatever they do prospers.”  The fruit is speaking of good works that help others, that bring others to the Lord.  Remember, we are known for the things we love.  Let us not sit in the company of those who love evil.  Evil company destroys good morals.  That destroys your witness.

The cardinal virtues are lasting virtues if we center ourselves on the teaching of Christ.  The CCC, 1805 states, “Four virtues play a pivotal role and accordingly are called “cardinal”; all the others are grouped around them.  They are: prudence, justice, fortitude,, and temperance.  ‘If anyone loves righteousness, wisdom labors are virtues; for she teaches temperance and prudence, justice, and courage.’ (Wisdom 8:7)  These virtues are praised under other names in many passages of Scripture”.

The cardinal virtues are important to evangelization because they keep us centered to always doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do.  

We need to train ourselves to strengthen ourselves.  It is a discipline we place on ourselves to ensure that everyone is given respect, compassion, endurance with dedication and commitment.  

In my experience, the light bulb might turn on in an instant, or the light bulb might take a long time.  Some people seem to take forever, a work in progress.

The CCC speaks a lot on the Theological Virtues stating, 1822 states, “Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.” 

1842 states, “By faith, we believe in God and believe all that he has revealed to us and that Holy Church proposes for our belief.”

1843 states, “By hope we desire, and with steadfast trust await from God, eternal life and the graces to merit it.”

Faith, hope, and love are the three theological virtues that if we apply this in our life, you will be a great witness for the faith.  This requires continued growth, prayer, and commitment.  St Paul addresses  this best:

1 Corinthians 13 states,Though I command languages both human and angelic — if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.    And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains — if I am without love, I am nothing.  Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned — if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever.  Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited,  it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances.   Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth.   It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes.   Love never comes to an end. But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if tongues, they will fall silent; and if knowledge, it will be done away with.   For we know only imperfectly, and we prophesy imperfectly;  but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will be done away with.   When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see things as a child does, and think like a child; but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways.   Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known.   As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love.” 
Let is put on the whole armor God in our lives so that we might be able to evangelize to others using the virtues given us by the grace of God.

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*BEST OF DTB #191* Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus

Posted by John Benko - June 4th, 2012

Earlier today, I got dressed down pretty good on Facebook by a good friend of mine who happens to be a non-catholic Christian. Did it tick me off? of course! These kind of things always do.

Yet, after a few moments of cooling down, I came to accept the fact that I probably deserved it- at least partly.

No one wants to look at the ugliness inside them, least of all me. Depending on who I am talking to, there are times when I find myself explaining what things mean and there are times that I find myself just being mean. There are times that I strive to be insightful and times that I strive to only be inciteful. There are times when I contend for the faith and other times when I am just being contentious.

This ugly streak all boils down to the deadliest of the deadly sins- pride. Pride is one of those sins that will always blow up in your face, sooner or later and that is exactly what happened to me tonight, as my own provocative words came back to haunt me.

Me and this friend go back about a decade and he has witnessed some of my most unfortunate outbursts firsthand, so I was a little taken aback that he didn’t automatically know what my little game was but I digress.

I grew up a White, Catholic, Conservative which means that I am hated by about 1/4 of the Country for my race, 1/4 for my faith and 1/4 for my politics. Instead of running from it, I learned to embrace it. I learned how to take my enemies venom and use it against them.

In a left-wing chat room,I used to go on and on about how George W Bush was the greatest President in the history of the world. I even used to call him King George the 43rd. Did I truly believe this? Of course not! However, I did get hours of intense pleasure watching the reaction. In minutes, I was able to drive a dozen or so hippie left-wingers into a frothing frenzy. I enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I actually went much further in my provocations and said things that I would not care to repeat here.

Again, my friend witnessed these things as well.

How does that bring us to where we are today?

Well, there are those things I say that are part of the large library of public material that is Deeper Truth Blog- that is, articles, videos, shows debates….. and then there are the occasional tussle with an online idiot. I am, unfortunately, not unlike anyone else in that I can reach my breaking point. Sometimes, the latter can spill over into the former and that is exactly what happened here.

It all started with a blog post and corresponding show stating 25 reasons why you can stake your eternal salvation on Catholicism. My friend took issue with this statement, I stand by it, without reservation. In a 2 hour show, we covered the 25 topics;

  1. The Church is ONE (unified).
  2. The Church is HOLY (set apart)
  3. The Church is CATHOLIC (universal)
  4. The Church is APOSTOLIC (descended from the apostles)
  5. The Church is EUCHARISTIC (understands the truth of Jesus’ body, blood, soul & divinity)
  6. The Church is SACRAMENTAL (following the Scriptural model)
  7. The Church is COMMUNAL (countering the ‘me alone’ nonsense)
  8. The Church understands DENIAL OF SELF (as a cost of discipleship)
  9. The Church is the only one that makes sense of SUFFERING (again, as a cost of discipleship)
  10. The Church is HISTORICAL (it is impossible to support any other church historically).
  11. The Church has a long history of MIRACLES (a proof of it’s veracity that scripture requires)
  12. Detractors lie about it’s TEACHINGS (a proof of it’s veracity that scripture requires)
  13. Detractors lie about it’s HISTORY (a proof of it’s veracity that scripture requires)
  14. Opponents of it’s INFALLIBILITY have searched in vain to find a contradiction in teaching.
  15. The Church passes the GAMALIEL test like no other in history.
  16. Only the Catholic church fulfills the PERPETUAL PRIESTHOOD.
  17. Only the Catholic church gave us THE BIBLE.
  18. Only the Catholic church is HATED BY THE WHOLE WORLD.
  19. Only the Catholic church understands MARY.
  20. Only the Catholic church gets the COMMUNION OF SAINTS.
  21. Only the Church can claim people like ST LAWRENCE, ST FRANCIS and JOHN PAUL II
  22. Only Peter was given the KEYS TO THE KINGDOM
  23. Only Catholicism can fulfill JOHN 20:23
  24. Only a Catholic Priest can perform an EXORCISM
  25. Jesus meant what He said in LUKE 10:16 and MATTHEW 18:18

Do I believe any other church fulfills these 25 attributes? I do not. Do I believe that any other church was founded by Jesus Christ? I do not. I affirm- and always have- that the Catholic Church is the one and only fullness of truth as established by Jesus Christ.

Fullness of truth is the key. The Catholic Church is the only church on earth that is 100% right in doctrines of faith and morals. 100% right, 100% of the time. I am saying it boldly lest I be accused of talking out of both sides of my mouth. All other Christian churches are inferior to Catholicism. All have an inferior worship, all have an inferior deposit of truth and faith. None are the perfection of truth Jesus Christ gave us. All of them are man-made and contain false doctrines. That is a fact and I won’t apologize for saying so. In fact, I put churches in italics because I am in agreement with Pope Benedict XVI that only Catholic Churches are truly Churches because a Church is a place of worship and only in a Catholic Church does genuine Christian worship take place. Non-Catholic Christian churches are not really churches at all, but faith communities. We can deal with that in another article.

The leaders of the church- the ministers-are dispensers of Grace (Ephesians 3:2). Therefore the idea of Sola Fide, Sola Christus, Sola Scriptura is Sola Bologna.

Does God want you to become a Catholic? Absolutely. Is it possible to be saved without being a Catholic?
Yes, I can say with certainty that it is possible for some non-catholics to be saved. How many? Which ones? That is impossible for me to answer because I have to know the condition of the soul. There are some who obviously cannot- murderers, adulterers, homosexuals and those who revile the Catholic church, cutting off the possibility of grace. These are just a few examples.

Let’s deal with the last group, because that is the entire point of this piece.

As I said before, there is only one Church. That is the Catholic (or Universal ) Church. If you have a valid baptism (in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit), you are a member of the Catholic church, whether you like it or not. Even if you are a non-Christian who, given the opportunity would have chosen to join the Universal church, you are inside that Church by a Baptism of desire. Those who, through their own reasonable efforts, can come to know the truth of Catholicism and stubbornly refuse to do so, will be lost. Those who persist towards the truth humbly, all their lives, will be saved according to the amount of light within them and the level of effort they put forth.

Matthew 25

14 For it is as when a man, going into another country, called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 
15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one; to each according to his several ability; and he went on his journey. 
16 Straightway he that received the five talents went and traded with them, and made other five talents.
17 In like manner he also that received the two gained other two. 
18 But he that received the one went away and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
19 Now after a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and maketh a reckoning with them. 
20 And he that received the five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: lo, I have gained other five talents. 
21 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things,
 I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 
22 And he also that received the two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents:  lo, I have gained other two talents. 
23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful
 over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
24 And he also that had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping  where thou didst not sow, and gathering where thou didst not scatter; 
25 and I was afraid, and went away and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, thou hast thine own. 
26 But his lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I did not scatter; 
27 thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back mine own with interest. 
28 Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath the ten talents. 
29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away. 
30 And cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.

Thus, the path of salvation is more difficult for the one with more knowledge because more is expected of Him. Nevertheless, there are certain truths taught in the Scriptures about Salvation. According to the ordinary means, the Eucharist is necessary for Salvation (John 6, 1 Corinthians 10, 1 Corinthians 11), confession of sins to a Priest is as well (John 20:23) as is Baptism (John 3:5, 1 Peter 3:21).

Since these are ministered by the Church, it can be said (and has been) Extra Ecclesium Nulla Salus (There is no salvation outside the church). However, there is a caveat and that is where I, frankly, have been a little less than forthcoming to some of our more rabid detractors.

You see, I am well aware that the catholic haters have heard this term and decided that it means that all catholics believe all non-catholics are automatically going to hell. Since some of these people are so hate-filled as to defy reason, I am sometimes provoked into using this phrase as a club to bludgeon them.

In other words, I toss out the phrase and watch them twist and spin. I know what it means….. I just don’t tell them. Is this a nice thing to do? No, it isn’t. I’m really working on avoiding this tactic.

Nevertheless, what does Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus really mean?

The Church’s understanding of the significance of the phrase: “Outside the Church there is no salvation” is expressed in its Catechism of the Catholic Church, 846-848, 851 as follows:
“Outside the Church there is no salvation” – How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:
“Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it” (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 14).
This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and His Church:
“Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience — those too may achieve eternal salvation” (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 16).
“Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him (Hebrews 11:6), the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men” (Second Vatican Council, Ad Gentes, 1).
Missionary Motivation. It is from God’s love for all men that the Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigor of her missionary dynamism, “for the love of Christ urges us on,” (2 Corinthians 5:14; cf. Apostolicam actuositatem 6, Roman Missal 11). Indeed, God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4); that is, God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God’s universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary.
This conjunction of statements in the Catechism makes it clear that the Catholic Church sees the dogma “outside of the Church there is no salvation” as the basis for the missionary activity of the Church, because those who are innocently outside the Church but are also seeking to follow the will of God are thus the proper object of the Church’s missionary activity – so as to bring them explicitly the saving truths of the Christian Faith which they are seeking, and by which God desires to effect their salvation through the knowledge of Jesus Christ. “And this is life everlasting that they know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent.” (John 17.3), “And there is not salvation in any other. For neither is there any other name under heaven given to men, wherein we must be saved.” (Acts 4.12)
The Catechism explicitly affirms this interpretation in paragraph 161 by insisting upon the necessity of actual faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.

Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One Who sent Him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation (cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:36; 6:40; et al.). “Since ‘without faith it is impossible to please [God]‘ and to attain to the fellowship of His sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life `but he who endures to the end,’” (Vatican I, Dei Fillius 3; cf. Matthew 10:22; 24:13 and Hebrews 11:6; Council of Trent Decree on Justification, 8)

The Popes quoted above as stating that outside of the Church there is no salvation did not see this statement as contradicting their other statements that salvation is possible for those who, while not knowing the Church as necessary for salvation and thus not explicitly entering the Church, nevertheless accept whatever grace Christ gives them and thus receive what the Council of Trent called Baptism of Desire.

There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace since God who clearly beholds, searches, and knows the minds, souls, thoughts, and habits of all men, because of His great goodness and mercy, will by no means suffer anyone to be punished with eternal torment who has not the guilt of deliberate sin.

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