Thoughts on the Gospel reading of the 2nd week of Advent.


I was having a conversation which the subject could be described as ecumenical in nature on the blog post on All Along The Watchtower titled: “The Paths We Follow.”

Catholics should certainly advise against sin and warn of wayward paths to sin. However, we must continue to be mindful of not seeing ourselves as the judge.

St. Augustine wrote in his Sermons, “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”

It’s easy to use the above sentiment as a rallying cry against our fellow Protestant Brothers and Sisters in Christ. I often find myself in agreement with Conservative/Orthodox Catholics. I even agree with St. Augustine’s words. However, one issue that seems to bother me is often the temperament of words. Whenever it’s declared on how the Church was prior to Vatican II and that we should reject 818 of the Catechism and its understanding on ecumenism. The faithful should promote the One Church by rejecting Protestantism wholesale and not attend their services when provided the opportunity—where we may learn and pray for God’s will to reunite any fracture. The decree is often without mercy in words and tone.

In this Year of Mercy, let the faithful understand, as the Catechism explains that “they therefore have a right to be called Christians.”

How should we attempt to approach other Christians with theological disagreements? We should avoid an aggressive nature if compelled to rebuke, the faithful should instead rebuke with an invitation to the truth. One should make critiques with evidence, not labels or pejoratives. The faithful should provide the evidence and allow invitations to the truth to be received. Assaults, even in the most subtle ways, will do nothing but build walls against it. St. Augustine also reminds us that it is through the Grace of God that allows us to choose willfully the truth, but that each person must wait for the truth to discover them.

The 2nd Gospel reading of Advent reminds us that all of mankind shall see the Salvation of God:

Lk 3:1-6 RSV

The Proclamation of John the Baptist

3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tibe′ri-us Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Iturae′a and Trachoni′tis, and Lysa′ni-as tetrarch of Abile′ne, 2 in the high-priesthood of Annas and Ca′iaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechari′ah in the wilderness; 3 and he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be brought low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways shall be made smooth;
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”


  1. I think another problem “many Christians” have is when we are not received, shaking the dust off of our feet and going on. So many just want to stand there and go on and on, as you say, making themselves the “judge” of it all.

    God never asked us to be “perfect.” I think many see themselves as such. In doing so they have lost the “Heart of Christ.” When one does that, they lose the ability to love. Even Jesus never pushed Himself or His teachings on anyone. I think we need to remember that.

    Good post and God Bless, SR


    1. Thank you for the comment. You make a great point about “shaking the dust off of our feet and going on.”

      I am reminded of a friend I once had and folks use to ask, “Why do you hang out with her–she’s wild!” I’m pretty reserved in my nature, but she and I had great conversations. I never really discussed my thoughts on the world in great detail to her. However, I used my actions and the way I lived life as an example.

      Now I can tell you, she’s far less wild, and perhaps, better off than most now. Does it always end up like that? Of course, not.

      I almost quoted The Gospel of John Chapter 8 in my explanation. It’s not our job to cast stones; however, we can certainly provide the evidence of Christ who says, Go and Sin no more.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You “used your actions and the way you lived as an example.” To me as Christians that is the very best way to give Christ to others. As you can see, in this case, it has worked and/ or is working.

        Knowing when to quit “verbally” is a gift given to us by the Holy Spirit. I think it is one many fail to use quite frequently! God Bless, SR

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Some excellent points raised – particularly in respect of knowing when to shake the dust off one’s feet.

    However, I strongly believe Catholics won’t convert Protestants if we continue behave towards them as if it is we who have something – doctrinally – to learn from them, and not the other way around. This is, at root, what Traditionalists are against.

    Familiarising oneself with Protestant practice and belief may be useful; but it is not advisable to people with lesser knowledge of their own Faith. The heresy has lost little of its dangerous appeal over time. Apologetics are best left to the learned; there are grave dangers involved for the simple Faithful in the effective indifferentism promoted by these “ecumenical” ventures.


    1. Thanks for the comment, sorry it took so long, I would suspect different time zones had something to do with it.

      The main problem, in my opinion, with many traditionalists is that they more or less become nothing more than Catholic heresy-hunters, attempting to trap the faithful in a gotcha-moment. These are the same folks who tried to place John Henry Newman into their web of heresy-hunting. The same Cardinal that spent his life combating the ideology of Liberalism.

      Many traditional Catholics are romantics about their faith, and their romanticism leads to this need to cast stones, as if they or those who operate within the church are not sinners. The idea is simply absurd.

      It’s important for Catholics to learn the lessons of Cardinal John Henry Newman, and be okay with weakness and flaws of the faith. The Church must examine its conscience as it asks each of us to do so in confession.

      Newman understood that faith is complex and its silly to reduce it to logical deductions. It’s not the same as saying yes to an answer of math problem.

      Ultimately the traditionalists who become nothing more than heresy-hunters, forget the lessons of Christ, and resemble more the Pharisees rather than Christ.


      1. I would agree with that final analysis.

        I think this “calcification” of orthodoxy in some quarters is just one symptom of a much broader problem.

        And I do not think Traditionalists are to blame for it; though you would tend to think otherwise, if you took the words of Pope Francis et al. as gospel.

        One thing that the people you refer to have grasped, which many others have failed to grasp, is that in the Church we have a Mother of whom we can be very proud.

        Yes, we Catholics individually must repent and introspect; and yes, not all periods in the Church’s history have been equally glorious.

        But to identify the Church Herself with the transgressions of Her members, is blasphemous. It springs from, and leads to, an unhealthy self-loathing – which only encourages those eager to destroy us.


      2. I would certainly say I am a moderate, listening to the teachings of tradition while being a Vatican II Catholic as I was brought up and grew up in the Vatican II Church, therein lies my bias.

        I was attempting to edit my comment to clarify and you replied. So I will do so now. I think there’s wisdom in the St. Augustine’s Confessions expressing that God’s Grace is what must be supplied for any who could convert. When God presents his grace, then it is still up to the will of the individual to seize it.

        I think we probably understand the above lesson, we merely disagree on the role we and the Church must play in being instruments for God’s Grace.


      3. If you are orthodox, then you are my brother; there is no “moderate” or “immoderate” in doctrine – only right and wrong!

        I am a convert. I was raised in an atheist home.

        I discovered the traditional faith and practice of the Church when I was put off by everything that seemed so protestant (I converted, proximately, from Anglicanism) in the Novus Ordo rites.

        My quest for the true Church took me to the Church’s official teachings, to the Tridentine Mass, and traditional devotions; all alive and well, though significantly marginalised.

        I do not attend Novus Ordo masses; though I do go to a priest for confession, who uses the NO rite.


      4. Yes.

        The contrary case is, however, speculatively possible. But it would be possible to act on it, without some sort of definite act by the Church; probably by a subsequent Pope. But both of these are fraught, even in the hypothesis, with difficulties.


      5. Only right and wrong? Yes, which is determined by God, but not man. Even you claimed to have submitted to the authority of the Church. You may be weary of what appears to be Protestant; however, the language in the Pauline mass was changed by said authority that you’ve claimed to have submitted:

        “4. Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.” (

        Furthermore, Let’s examine the truth. Is it true that you could probably provide documents from the 16th to 19th century in support of your traditional Tridentine mass, certainly, I’ve seen them cited in abundant from traditionalists. (Canon IX the most common) However, ‘Official teachings’ Is a strange phrase, in the respect that the The Church was the one who called the Vatican II council together and produced the above cited document.

        But again, let’s examine the truth.

        Latin was not the language of Jesus Christ, these are not words, but truth.

        Latin was not the language of his Apostles. Christ disciples spoke Aramaic in their native tongue and familiar with Latin, of course, being official language of Rome. They and also later Apostles were also familiar with Greek. These are not words, but the truth.

        The Gospels were not originally written in Latin. These are not words but the truth.

        Only when the Roman Empire was dividing culturally and the west was becoming unfamiliar with the Greek language did St. Jerome ( Who came after St. Augustine) create the Vulgate (Vulgar tongue) Latin Bible. In fact, the original language of the liturgy prior to Jerome for over three hundred years was Greek, the native language of many Christians. When Ambrose of Milan and Damsus sought to translate an earlier rough Latin liturgy–this was considered Liberal at the time. These are not words, but the truth.

        In many ways, according to Apostolic tradition of those who knew Christ and those who knew his disciples they professed the faith by their native language either Latin, Greek, Aramaic, etc. The language of the common man. These are not words but truth.

        Many traditionalists will claim that the change in the liturgy has caused the Church to suffer in some form or manner. They will blamed the change for the shortage of priest or empty pews. However, this is most certainly a correlation fallacy, built on a macro-generalization.

        Also to further expound the point, let us consider the the Tridentine Mass still exists. Several Parishes in the diocese that I belong to celebrate the Tridentine Mass. These Masses are not overly popular in comparison to the Pauline Mass, by many traditionalists standards the former mass should be single handily resolving all of the problems of the Church. Traditionalists will, of course, claim that they are doing just that even in the same breathe telling all that the Church is on the road to ruin.

        A Contradiction? Indeed so, not words, but the truth.

        I’m thankful that you have found God in the Tridentine Mass, but leave me to my Pauline Mass, if I so desire it. I may agree with the stresses of rejecting modernism within our moral understanding of society with the teaching of the Church; however, I also agree with the teaching of Church in regards to the celebrations of the Mass. In comparison to you, this does make me a moderate, which is nothing more than syntactical label.


      6. You appear to be conflating doctrine and discipline.

        I have no desire to malign or discredit people who attend the NO out of (in my view misplaced) obedience; it is the position many good friends of mine take.

        Nor do I dispute that the NO was legislated for, apparently in due order (though Benedict XVI’s legal fiction, that the old mass had never been abrogated, muddies the waters considerably) by the competent authority.

        What I would dispute in your presentation – which is too lengthy for me to address in every point in one response – is the underlying assumption that because the Church (or, more exactly, the Pope) has ordered a thing it must be good and right to follow it. It usually is; but sometimes it isn’t.

        It goes without saying that solemn dogmatic definitions are infallible. But there has not been one of those since 1950.

        In addition I allow that all rites and disciplines of the Church are negatively infallible, according to the consensus of theologians. This means, so far as I understand it, that they cannot provide explicitly for heresy or other sin. But it emphatically does not mean they are always beneficial; sometimes they can be (quite by accident) gravely harmful, or come to be harmful because of some unforeseen consequence.

        The NO rite was designed by a disgraced freemason and Protestant sympathiser, Annibale Bugnini, with the explicit intention to de-Catholicise the Church. Pope Paul VI reluctantly authorised the most outrageous reforms, believing they had the full support of the committee – when in fact this support only subsisted because Annibale had primed the committee in advance to the effect that this or that reform was the express will of the Pope (an outright lie).

        It is symbolically confused, and favourable to heresy, not because explicitly heretical itself, but because it neglects to profess precisely those articles of faith which remain uniquely and authentically Catholic. If you will say that is merely one person’s reading of it, I answer that you should read the official preamble that was published with it.

        The supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls.

        Now, the NO rites damn souls, by confirming them in the errors they have imbibed from the Protestants, mediated in many cases through secular culture, and failing to provide an adequate formation in the theology of the Eucharist and the Priesthood.

        Therefore it is my belief that it is a Catholic’s duty to avoid these rites, and cleave to the old rites, which are tried and tested, for the sake of his soul.


      7. Confused about Doctrine and Discipline? I would say a typical response from one of a more traditional position. Well, just for good measure, I reread what I wrote and it appears I never said that Paul VI sat on the throne of St. Peter and declared his mass as doctrine of the Church….

        You have simply dipped your hands in the waters of hyperbole.

        As I studied Latin in college, let’s look at the language as an example shall we then?

        It’s Damning Souls? It really boils down to the consecration of the Eucharist and the mystery of faith.

        “For you and for all?” The Latin is pro multis–which traditionalists will say means “many” not “all.” Of course, this understanding would be built on semipelagianism. In other parts of scripture when referring for the need of salvation the Latin uses the same language, so am I to presume that only many need salvation? Of course not! The whole premise is absurd.

        The changes in the words of the form in the Latin original, although certainly unprecedented in the history of the Church, do not alter the substance of its meaning, and consequently do not invalidate the Mass. In many ways, a lot of the former objections have been revised recently. So ask yourself when Christ instituted the Eucharist, did he do it in Latin? For the first 300 years of Christianity did they practice it in Latin?

        Paul VI addresses this: “No one should think, however, that this revision of the Roman Missal has come out of nowhere. The progress in liturgical studies during the last four centuries has certainly prepared the way. Just after the Council of Trent, the study “of ancient manuscripts in the Vatican library and elsewhere,” as St. Pius V attests in the Apostolic Constitution “Quo primum,” helped greatly in the correction of the Roman Missal. Since then, however, other ancient sources have been discovered and published and liturgical formularies of the Eastern Church have been studied. Accordingly many have had the desire for these doctrinal and spiritual riches not to be stored away in the dark, but to be put into use for the enlightenment of the mind of Christians and for the nurture of their spirit.”

        The formula in the Pauline Mass is completely catholic and traditional in every way.

        The remainder of your comment is filled with unsubstantiated assertions. It reads like a conspiracy theorists website.

        Also, strange how you know the findings of a report on Bugnini about his alleged Freemasonry that was never made public. Many would presume that his continued work as a diplomat under JP II would acknowledge a lack of evidence.


      8. I believe Michael Davies’ account of the investigation into Bugnini.

        The fact that Bugnini ended his career in a far flung middle-eastern province suggests to me that Paul VI was hardly well-enamoured of him by the finish.

        I don’t maintain that the NO mass is invalid.

        If a validly ordained priest says the NO Mass, he effects the consecration, provided he intends to do what the Church does (which is taken as read, unless there are obvious external indicators which might cause us to doubt this).

        I only maintain it is gravely harmful, favourable to heresy, and should be avoided.

        I am prepared to defend everything I have asserted; I only produced my assertions in summary to clarify my position.

        I cannot possibly be expected to answer in detail at length to all the points you raise at once in this small comments box.

        Please take one issue at a time.


      9. Q, I’ve been reading a few blogs on AATWT and seeing some comments between you and Dave gave me some reflection. Dave and I have usually agreed on moral teachings of the Church.

        You’re free to respond to my last rebuttal; however, reviewing my conscience, I would imagine ultimately our disagreement is simply on the mass and the method to bring people back to the Church.

        We can argue on Church documents all day. Ultimately, I don’t wish to be Catholic adversaries and apologize for any snark remarks.


      10. This was handsomely said.

        I did not detect any snarkiness, in any case.

        I am happy to continue the debate, but please let us narrow in on one point at a time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s