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Tuesday, October 11, 2016
THE ONE TRUE CHURCH by Fr. Damen
THE ONE TRUE CHURCH
By Fr. Arnold Damen S.J.
"He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he
who does not believe shall be condemned."
My Dearly Beloved Christians:
From these words of
our Divine Savior, it has already been proved to you, that Faith is necessary
for Salvation, and without Faith there is no salvation; without Faith there
is eternal damnation. Read your own Protestant Bible, 16th verse of St.
Mark, and you will find it stronger there than in the Catholic Bible.
Now, then, what kind of Faith must a man have to
be saved? Will any Faith do? Why, if any Faith will do, the devil himself
will be saved, for the Bible says the devils believe and tremble.
It is, therefore, not a matter of indifference what
religion a man professes; he must profess the right and true religion,
and without that there is no hope of salvation, for it stands to reason,
my dear people, that if God reveals a thing or teaches a thing, He wants
to be believed. Not to believe is to insult God. Doubting His word, or
believing even with doubt and hesitating, is an insult to God, because
it is doubting His Sacred Word. We must, therefore, believe without doubting,
I have said, out of the Catholic Church there is
not Divine Faith; there can be no Divine Faith out of that Church. Some
of my Protestant friends will be shocked at this, to hear me say that out
of the Catholic Church there is no Divine Faith, and that without Faith
there is no salvation, but damnation. I will prove all I have said.
I have said that out of the Church there can be no
Divine Faith. What is Divine Faith? When we believe a thing upon the authority
of God, and believe it without doubt, without hesitating. Now, all our
separated brethren outside of the Catholic Church take the private interpretation
of the Bible for their guide; but the private interpretation of the Bible
can never give them Divine Faith.
Let me, for instance, suppose for a moment, here
is a Presbyterian; he reads his Bible; from the reading of his Bible he
comes to the conclusion that Jesus Christ is God. Now, you know this is
the most essential of all Christian doctrines, the foundation of all Christianity.
From the reading of his Bible he comes to the conclusion that Jesus Christ
is God; and he is a sensible man, an intelligent man, and not a presumptuous
man. And he says: here is my Unitarian neighbor, who is just as reasonable
and intelligent as I am, as honest, as learned, and as prayerful as I am,
and, from the reading of the Bible, he comes to the conclusion that Christ
is not God at all. "Now," says he, "to the best of my opinion and judgment,
I am right, and my Unitarian neighbor is wrong; but, after all," says he,
"I may be mistaken! Perhaps I have not the right meaning of the text, and
if I am wrong, perhaps he is right, after all; but, to the best of my opinion
and judgment, I am right and he is wrong."
On what does he believe? On what authority? On his
own opinion and judgment. And what is that? A human opinion, human testimony,
and, therefore, a human faith. He cannot say positively, "I am sure, positively
sure, as sure as there is a God in heaven, that this is the meaning of
the text." Therefore, he has no other authority but his own opinion and
judgment, and what his preacher tells him. But the preacher is a smart
man. There are many smart Unitarian preachers, also, but that proves nothing;
it is only human authority, and nothing else, and, therefore, only human
faith. What is human faith? Believing a thing on the testimony of man.
Divine Faith is believing on the testimony of God.
The Catholic has Divine Faith, and why? Because the
Catholic says: "I believe in such and such a thing." Why? "Because the
Church teaches me so." And why do you believe the Church? "Because God
has commanded me to believe the teaching of the Church; and God has threatened
me with damnation if I do not believe the Church, and we are taught by
St. Peter, in his epistle, that there is no private prophecy or interpretation
of the Scriptures, for the unlearned and unstable wrest the very Scriptures,
the Bible, to their own damnation."
That is strong language, my dear people, but that
is the language of St. Peter, the head of the Apostles. The unlearned and
unstable wrest the Bible to their own damnation! And yet, after all, the
Bible is the book of God, the language of inspiration; at least, when you
have a true Bible, as we Catholics have, and you Protestants have not.
But, my dearly beloved Protestant friends, do not
be offended at me for saying that. Your own most learned preachers and
bishops tell you that, and some have written whole volumes in order to
prove that the English translation, which you have, is a very faulty and
Now, therefore, I say that the true Bible is as
the Catholics have it, the Latin Vulgate; and the most learned among the
Protestants themselves have agreed that the Latin Vulgate Bible, which
the Catholic Church always makes use of, is the best in existence; and,
therefore, it is, as you may have perceived, that when I preach I give
the text in Latin, because the Latin text of the Vulgate is the best extant.
Now, they may say that Catholics acknowledge the
Word of God, that it is the language of inspiration; and that, therefore,
we are sure that we have the word of God; but, my dear people, the very
best thing may be abused, the very best thing; and, therefore, our Divine
Savior has given us a living teacher, that is to give us the true meaning
of the Bible.
And He has provided a teacher with infallibility;
and this was absolutely necessary, for without this, without infallibility
we could never be sure of our Faith. There must be an infallibility; and
we see that in every well-ordered government, in every government; in England,
in the United States, and in every country, empire and republic, there
is a Constitution and a supreme law.
But you are not at liberty to explain the Constitution
and Supreme Law as you think proper, for then there would be no more law
if every man were allowed to explain the law and Constitution as he should
Therefore, in all governments there is a supreme
judge and supreme court, and to the supreme judge is referred all different
understandings of the law and the Constitution. By the decisions of the
supreme judge all have to abide, and if they did not abide by that decision
why, my dear people, there would be no law any more, but anarchy, disorder
Again, suppose for a moment that the Blessed Savior
has been less wise than human governments, and that He had not provided
for the understanding of His Constitution, and of His Law of the Church
of God. If He had not, my dear people, it would never have stood as it
has stood for the last eighteen hundred and fifty four years. He has then
established a Supreme Court, a Supreme Judge in the Church of the Living
It is admitted on all sides, by Protestants and Catholics
alike acknowledged, that Christ has established a Church; and, strange to say,
all our Protestant friends acknowledge, too, that He has established but one
Church - but one Church - for whenever Christ speaks of His Church,
it is always in the singular. Bible readers, remember that; my Protestant
friends, pay attention. He says: Hear the Church, not "hear the churches"
I have built My Church upon a rock", not My churches.
Whenever He speaks, whether in figures or parables
of His Church, He always conveys to the mind a oneness, a union, a unity.
He speaks of His Church as a sheepfold, in which
there is but one shepherd that is the head of all, and the sheep are made
to follow his voice; "other sheep I have who are not of this fold." One
fold, you see. He speaks of His Church as of a kingdom, in which there
is but one king to rule all; speaks of His Church as a family in which
there is but one father at the head; speaks of His Church as a tree, and
all the branches of that tree are connected to the trunk, and the trunk
with the roots; and Christ is the root, and the trunk is Peter and the
Popes, and the large branches are the bishops, and the smaller branches
the priests, and the fruit upon the tree are the faithful throughout the
world; and the branch, says He, that is cut off from that tree shall wither
away, produce no fruit, and is only fit to be cast into the fire, that
This is plain speaking, my dear people; but there is no use
in covering the Truth. I want to speak the Truth to you, as the Apostles
preached it in their time - no salvation out of the Church of
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Now, which is that Church? There are now three hundred
and fifty different Protestant churches in existence, and almost ever year
one or two more are added; and besides this number there is the Roman Catholic
Now, which of all these varied churches is the one
Church of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? All claim to be the Church
But, my dear beloved people, it is evident no church
can be the Church of Jesus except the one that was established by Jesus.
And when did Jesus establish His Church? When? When He was here upon earth.
And how long ago is it that Christ was on earth? You know our Christian
era dates from Him. He was born many centuries ago. That is an historical
fact admitted by all. He lived on earth thirty-three years. That was about
nineteen centuries before our time. That is the time Christ established
His Church on earth. Any Church, then, that has not existed thus long,
is not the Church of Jesus Christ, but is the institution or invention
of some man or other; not of God, not of Christ, but of man.
Now, where is the Church, and which is the Church
that has existed thus long? All history informs you that it is the Catholic
Church; She, and She only among all Christian denominations on the face
of the earth, has existed so long. All history, I say, bears testimony
to this; not only Catholic history, but Pagan history, Jewish history,
and Protestant history, indirectly.
The history, then, of all nations, of all people,
bears testimony that the Catholic Church is the oldest, the first; is the
one established by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
If there be any Protestant preacher who can prove
that the Catholic Church has come into existence since that time let him
come to see me, and I will give him a thousand dollars. My dear preachers,
here is the chance of making money; a thousand dollars for you.
Not only all history, but all the monuments of antiquity
bear testimony to this, and all nations of the earth proclaim it. Call
on one of your preachers and ask him which was the first church, the first
Christian Church. Was it Presbyterian, the Episcopalian, the Church of
England, the Methodist, the Universalist or the Unitarian? And they will
answer you it was the Catholic Church.
But, my dear friend, if you admit that the Catholic
Church is the first and oldest, the Church established by Christ, why are
you not a Catholic? To this they answer that the Catholic Church has become
corrupted; has fallen into error, and that, therefore, it was necessary
to establish a new church. A new church, a new religion.
And to this we answer: that if the Catholic Church
had been once the True Church, then She is True yet, and shall be the True
Church of God to the end of time, or Jesus Christ has deceived us.
Hear me, Jesus, here what I say! I say that if the
Catholic Church now, in the nineteenth century, is not the True Church
of God as she was 1854 years ago, then I say, Jesus, Thou has deceived
us, and Thou art an impostor! And if I do not speak the truth, Jesus, strike
me dead in this pulpit, let me fall dead in this pulpit, for I do not want
to be a preacher of a false religion!
I will prove what I have said. If the Catholic Church
has been once the True Church of God, as is admitted by all, then She is
the True Church yet, and shall be the True Church of God until the end
of time, for Christ has promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail
against the Church. He says that He has built it upon a rock, and that
the gates of hell shall never prevail against it.
Now, my dear people, if the Catholic Church has
fallen into error, then the gates of hell have prevailed against her; and
if the gates of hell have prevailed against her, the Christ has not kept
His promise, then He has deceived us, and if He has deceived us, the He
is an impostor! If He be an impostor, then He is not God, and if He be
not God, then all Christianity is a cheat and in imposition.
Again, in St. Matthew, 28th chapter and verses 19
and 20, our Divine Savior says to His Apostles: "Go ye, therefore,
and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of
the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever
I have commanded you." "Lo," says He, "I, Jesus, the Son of the Living
God, I, the Infinite Wisdom, the Eternal Truth, am with you all days, even
until the end of the world."
Christ, then, solemnly swears that He shall be with
His Church all days to the end of time, to the consummation of the world.
But Christ cannot remain with the Church that teaches error, or falsehood,
or corruption. If, therefore, the Catholic Church has fallen into error
and corruption, as our Protestant friends say She has, then Christ must
have abandoned Her; if so, He has broken His oath; if He has broken His
oath He is a perjurer, and there is no Christianity at all. Again, our
Divine Savior (St. John, 14th chapter), has promised that He would send
to His Church the Spirit of truth, to abide with Her forever. If, then,
the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Truth, teaches the Church all Truth, and
teaches her all Truth forever, then there never has been, and never can
be, one single error in the Church of God, for where there is all Truth,
there is no error whatsoever.
Christ has solemnly promised that He will send to
the Church the Spirit of Truth, who shall teach all Truth forever; therefore,
there has never been a single error in the Church of God, or Christ has
failed in His promise if there has.
Again, Christ commands us to hear and believe the
teachings of the Church in all things; at all times and in all places.
He does not say hear the Church for a thousand years or for fifteen hundred
years, but hear the Church, without any limitation, without any reservation,
or any restriction of time whatever. That is, at all times; in all things
until the end of time, and he that does not hear the Church let him be
unto thee, says Christ, as a heathen and as a publican. Therefore, Christ
says that those who refuse to hear the Church must be looked upon as heathens;
and what is a heathen? One that does not worship the True God; and a publican
is a public sinner. This is strong language. Could Christ command me to
believe the Church if the Church could have lead me astray could lead me
into error? If the teaching of the Church be corrupt, could He, the God
of Truth, command me without any restriction or limitation to hear and
believe the teachings of the Church which He established?
Again: Our Divine Savior commands me to hear and
believe the teachings of the Church in the same manner as if He Himself
were to speak to us. "He that heareth you," says He, in His charge to the
Apostles, "heareth Me, and he that despiseth you despiseth Me." So then,
when I believe what the Church teaches I believe what God teaches.
If I refuse what the Church teaches I refuse what
God teaches. So that Christ has made the Church the organ by which He speaks
to man, and tells us positively that we must believe the teaching of the
Church as if He Himself were to speak to us.
Therefore, says St. Paul, in his Epistle to Timothy,
"the Church is the ground", that is, the strong foundation "and pillar
of the Truth." Take the ground or foundation of this edifice away, and
it crumbles down; so with regard to these pillars upon which the roof rests;
take them away and the roof will fall in; so St. Paul says, "The Church
is the ground and the pillar of Truth," and the moment you take away the
authority of the Church of God you induce all kinds of errors and blasphemous
doctrines. Do we not see it?
In the sixteenth century Protestantism did away with
the authority of the Church and constituted every man his own judge of
the Bible, and what was the consequence? Religion upon religion, church
upon church, sprang into existence, and has never stopped springing up
new churches to this day. When I gave my mission in Flint, Michigan, I
invited, as I have done here, my Protestant friends to come and see me.
A good and intelligent man came to me and said:
"I will avail myself of this opportunity to converse
"What Church do you belong to, my friend," said I.
"To the Church of the Twelve Apostles," said he.
"Ha! ha!" said I, "I belong to that Church, too.
But, tell me, my friend, where was your Church started?"
"In Terre Haute, Indiana," says he.
"Who started the Church, and who were the Twelve
Apostles, my friend?" said I.
"They were twelve farmers," said he; "we all belonged
to the same Church, the Presbyterian, but we quarreled with our preacher,
separated from him, and started a Church of our own."
"And that," said I, "is the Twelve Apostles you
belonged to, twelve farmers of Indiana! The Church came into existence
about thirty years ago."
A few years ago, When I was in Terre Haute, I asked
to be shown the Church of the Twelve Apostles. I was taken to a window
and it was pointed out to me, "but it is not in existence any more," said
my informant, "it is used as a wagon maker's shop now."
Again, St. Paul, in his Epistles to the Galatians,
says: "Though we Apostles, or even an angel of light were to come and preach
to you a different Gospel from what we have preached, let him be anathema."
That is the language of St. Paul, because, my dearly beloved people, religion
must come from God, not from man. No man has a right to establish a religion;
no man has a right to dictate to his fellow man what he shall believe and
what he shall do to save his soul. Religion must come from God, and any
religion that is not established by God is a false religion, and a human
institution, and not an institution of God; and therefore did St. Paul
say in his Epistles to the Galatians, "Though we Apostles, or even an angel
of light were to come and preach to you a different Gospel from what we
have preached, let him be anathema."
You see, then, my dearly beloved people, from the
text of the Scripture I have quoted that, if the Catholic Church has once
been the True Church, then She is yet the True Church.
You have also seen from what I have said that the
Catholic Church is the institution of God, and not of man, and this is
a fact, a fact of history, and no fact of history is so well supported,
so well proved, as that the Catholic Church is the first, the Church established
by Jesus Christ.
So, in like manner, it is an historical fact that
all the Protestant churches are the institutions of man, every one of them.
And I will give you their dates, and the names of their founders or instituters.
In the year 1520, 368 years ago, the first Protestant
came into the world. Before that one there was not a Protestant in the
world, not one on the face of the whole earth; and that one, as all history
tells us, was Martin Luther, who was a Catholic Priest, who fell away from
the Church through pride, and married a nun. He was excommunicated from
the Church, cut off, banished, and made a new religion of his own.
Before Martin Luther there was not a Protestant
in the world; he was the first to raise the standard of rebellion and revolt
against the Church of God. He said to his disciples that they should take
the Bible for their guide, and they did so. But they soon quarreled with
him, Zwingli, and a number of others, and every one of them started a new
religion of his own.
After the disciples of Martin Luther came John Calvin,
who in Geneva established the Presbyterian religion, and hence, almost
all of those religions go by the name of their founder.
I ask the Protestant, "Why are you a Lutheran, my
"Well, says he, "because I believe in the doctrine
of Martin Luther."
Hence, not of Christ, but of man, Martin Luther.
And what kind of man was he? A man who had broken the solemn oath he had
made at the altar of God, at his ordination, ever to lead a pure, single,
and virginal life. He broke that solemn oath, and married a Sister Catherine,
who had also taken the same oath of chastity and virtue. And this was the
first founder of Protestantism in the world. The very name by which they
are known tells you they came from Martin Luther.
So. The Presbyterians are sometimes called Calvinists
because they come from, or profess to believe in, John Calvin.
After them came Henry VIII. He was a Catholic, and
defended the Catholic religion; he wrote a book against Martin Luther in
defense of the Catholic doctrine. That book I have myself seen in the library
of the Vatican at Rome a few years ago. Henry VIII defended the religion,
and for doing so was titled by the Pope "Defender of the Faith." It came
down with his successors, and Queen Victoria inherits it today. He was
married to Catherine of Aragon; but there was at his court a maid of honor
to the Queen, named Ann Boleyn, who was a beautiful woman, and captivating
in appearance. Henry was determined to have her. But he was a married man.
He put in a petition to the Pope to be allowed to marry her; and a foolish
petition it was, for the Pope had no power to grant the prayer of it. The
Pope and all the bishops of the world cannot go against the will of God.
Christ says: "If a man putteth away his wife and marrieth another, he committeth
adultery, and he that marrieth her who is put away committeth adultery
As the Pope would not grant the prayer of Henry's
petition he took Ann Boleyn anyhow, and was excommunicated from the Church.
After awhile there was another maid of honor prettier
than the first, more beautiful and charming in the eyes of Henry, and he
said he must have her, too. He took the third wife, and a fourth, fifth
and sixth followed. Now this is the founder of the Anglican Church, the
Church of England; and, therefore, it is that it goes by the name of the
Church of England.
Our Episcopalian friends are making great efforts
nowadays to call themselves Catholic, but they shall never come to it.
They own that the name Catholic is a glorious one, and they would like
to possess it. The Apostles said: "I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy
Catholic Church"; they never said, in the Anglican Church. The Anglicans
deny their religion, for they say they believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy
Catholic Church. Ask them if they are Catholics, and they say, "Yes, but
not Roman Catholics; we are English Catholics." What is the meaning of
the word Catholic? It comes from the Greek word Catholicus; universal,
spread all over the earth, and everywhere the same. Now, first of all,
the Anglican Church is not spread all over the earth; it only exists in
a few countries, and chiefly only where the English language is spoken.
Secondly, they are not the same all over the earth, for there are now four
different Anglican churches; the Low Church, the High Church, the Ritualist
Church and the Puseyite Church. Catholicus means more than this, not only
spread all over the earth and everywhere the same, but it means, moreover,
at all times the same, from Christ up to the present day. Now, then, they
have not been in existence from the time of Christ. There never was an
Episcopalian Church or an Anglican Church before Henry VIII. The Catholic
Church had already existed fifteen hundred years before the Episcopal came
into the world.
After Episcopalianism different other churches sprang
up. Next came the Methodist, about one hundred and fifty years ago. It
was started by John Wesley, who was at first a member of the Episcopalian
Church; subsequently he joined the Moravian Brethren, but not liking them,
he made a religion of his own, the Methodist Church.
After John Wesley several others sprang up; and
finally came the Campbellites, about sixty years ago. This Church was established
by Alexander Campbell, a Scotchman.
Well, now, my dear beloved people, you may think
that the act of the "twelve apostles" of Indiana was a ridiculous one,
but they had as much right to establish a church as had Henry VIII, or
Martin Luther, or John Calvin. They had no right at all, and neither had
Henry VIII, or the rest of them any right whatsoever.
Christ had established His Church and given His
solemn oath that His Church should stand to the end of time: He promised
that He had built it upon a rock, and that the gates of hell should never
prevail against it; hence, my dear people, all those different denominations
of religion are the invention of man; and I ask you can a man save the
soul of his fellow man by any institution he can make? Must not religion
come from God?
And, therefore, my dearly beloved separated brethren,
think over it seriously. You have a soul to be saved, and that soul must
be saved or damned; either one or the other, it will dwell with God in
heaven or with the devil in hell; therefore, seriously meditate upon it.
When I gave my Mission in Brooklyn several Protestants
became Catholics. Among them there was a very highly educated and intelligent
Virginian. He was a Presbyterian. After he had listened to my lecture he
went to see his minister, and he asked him to be kind enough to explain
a text of the Bible. The minister gave him the meaning. "Well, now," said
the gentleman, "are you positive and sure that is the meaning of the text,
for several other Protestants explain it differently?" "Why, my dear young
man," says the preacher, "we never can be certain of our faith." "Well,
then," says the young man, "good-bye to you: If I cannot be sure of my
faith in the Protestant church, I will go where I can." And he became a
We are sure of our Faith in the Catholic Church,
and if our Faith is not true, Christ has deceived us. I would, therefore,
beg you, my separated brethren, to procure for yourselves Catholic Books.
You have read a great deal against the Catholic Church, now read something
in favor of it. You can never pass an impartial sentence if you do not
hear both sides of the question.
What would you think of a judge before whom a policeman
would bring a poor offender, and who on the charge of the policeman, without
hearing the prisoner, would order him to be hung? "Give me a hearing,"
says the poor man, "and I will prove my innocence. I am not guilty," says
he. The policeman says he is guilty. "Well, hang him anyhow," says the
judge. What would you say of that judge? Criminal judge! Unfair man; you
are guilty of the blood of the innocent! Would not you say that? Of course
Well now, my dearly beloved Protestant friends,
that is what you have been doing all along; you have been hearing one side
of the question and condemning us Catholics as a superstitious lot of people,
going and telling their sins to the priest; and what, after all, is the
priest more than any other man? My dear friends, have you examined the
other side of the question?
No, you do not think it worth your while; but this
is the way the Jews dealt with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; and this
is the way the Pagans and Jews dealt with the Apostles, the ministers of
the Church, and with the primitive Christians.
Allow me to tell you, my friends, that you have
been treating us precisely in the same way the Jews and Pagans treated
Jesus Christ and His Apostles. I have said this evening hard things, but
if St. Paul were here tonight, in this pulpit, he would have said harder
things still. I have said them, however, not through a spirit of unkindness,
but through a spirit of love, and a spirit of charity, in the hope of opening
your eyes that your souls my be saved. It is love for your salvation, my
dearly beloved Protestant brethren, for which I would gladly give my heart's
blood; my love for your salvation that has made me preach to you as I have
"Well," say my Protestant friends, "if a man thinks
he is right would he not be right?" Let us suppose now a man in Ottawa,
who wants to go to Chicago, but takes a car for New York; the conductor
asks for his ticket; and he at once says: "You are in the wrong car; your
ticket is for Chicago, but you are going to New York." "Well, what of that?"
Says the passenger. "I mean well." "Your meaning will not go well with
you in the end," says the conductor, "for you will come out at New York
instead of Chicago."
You say you mean well, my dear friends; your meaning
will not take you to heaven; you must do well also. "He that doeth the
will of My Father," says Jesus, "he alone shall be saved." There are millions
in hell who meant well.
You must do well, and be sure you are doing well, to be saved.