Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"...and the Papacy remains."

I.love.this.

I love this.

I love this.

Did I mention that I love this?

I found it excerpted in one of the best books I've ever read, The Spirit of Catholicism, by Karl Adam. It has stayed in my head for well over a decade. It's a description of the Catholic Church, written by 19th century English historian Thomas Macaulay. I thrill to his words. Read them slowly, savor them:
There is not, and there never was on this earth, a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church. 
The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilisation. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre. 
The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. 
The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigour. 
The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila…. 
Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. 
She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. 
And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.
There is no earthly explanation for the fact that the Catholic Church, grounded in the office of the papacy, survives and thrives after 20 centuries.

And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
-- Matthew 16:18

Jesus Christ is a Man of His word.




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40 comments:

  1. This is great. Thanks for doing this!

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  2. Fantastic!!! I remember starting my preparation for confirmation, and our priest, who has a passion for Church history, told us to have lasted for 2000 years and to have endured as much corruption and human weakness as the Catholic Church has, She has to have Divine guidance and protection. There just is no other explanation.

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  3. Megan, exactly!

    This is my favorite part, by the way:

    "Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all."

    Think about that! God is awesome.

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  4. St Peter rock of the church, pray for us!!

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  5. I love it too! I once had a conversation with DH where I said that other denominations can trace the origin of their denomination back to a specific person...Luther, Calvin, etc. I said Catholicism doesn't have something like that--he thought he had me when he said, "Yes it does!" I replied, "Whom then?" He smugly quoted, " 'I call you Peter, my Rock, and on you I will build my church.' St. Peter is the origin of the Catholic faith." I smiled sweetly at my DH and used my English degree to say, "And, dear, in that sentence, WHO is DOING the building?" He was forced to admit--Christ.

    I love that this church which Christ build, on St. Peter the rock, remains, continued on through the papacy. God bless all our popes, esp. Benedict and Blessed JP2!

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  6. Awesome! You've got it Leila, Christ is a man of his word- since he is the Word. I've been chewing on a statement from Pope Benedict "God is speech." (Feast of Faith)

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  7. Hebrews, that is awesome! haha! Yep, God has always delegated His authority to earthly leaders of His Church, even in the Old Testament ecclesia! :)

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  8. This makes me think of the royal wedding this weekend (yes, I did watch it). I watched the wedding ceremony with great interest and wanted to see the similarities/differences of our Catholic weddings. The Anglican Church obviously took a lot from the Catholic Church, particularly during the Oxford Movement. I respect our Anglican brethren but I couldn't help but feel a little bit bothered by it, thinking, "Hey, all of this has its roots in Roman Catholicism!" They sang "God Save The Queen" which I believe is traditional to an Anglican service. I thought of that, too, when I read this line from your post:

    "The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable."

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  9. Lily, excellent observation!!

    I watched the wedding (well, the next day) and while I was entralled by it all, I couldn't also help thinking: "Give us our beautiful church back!!" Ha ha...

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  10. Chasing, great point! I love that the Word of God is not just the Bible (although it includes the Bible), but is Jesus Christ Himself, in the flesh. Wow!

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  11. Wow, this is SO beautiful! I'm so, so grateful to be Catholic! Thank you, sweet Jesus!

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  12. Amen! The existence of the Church and her consistent doctrine over 2000 years of change are amazing signs of God's work in the world. The fact that people don't notice how huge and incredible this is is a sign of the devil's work in the world.

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  13. My husband says this all the time! So true.

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  14. I love our Church because it's so deep, with so many treasures to discover!!! You could spend your whole life studying all of the Church's treasures and never get through everything Catholicism has to offer! God is AMAZING!

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  15. "That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable."

    Beautiful!

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  16. Love it! And I love what Hebrews 11:1 wrote. My husband sort of made that same point to me and it was powerful in my conversion. My eyes popped open!

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  17. Wonderful! Thank you! (Can I steal this?)

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  18. It's so beautiful! How remarkable that God chose Peter, he that denied Jesus thrice, to head His Church!

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  19. I am so proud to be Catholic! I feel so fortunate that I was born into this faith, but I like to think even if I hadn't, I would have been drawn to it over time.

    OT--Time and time again I see you referencing the same books we have on our shelves too. Wish we lived closer. :)

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  20. Leila, this brought to mind a somewhat similar quote from a book I'm reading that reminds me of you! Have you heard of "The Appalling Strangeness of the Mercy of God"? It is about a pro-life convert, wife & mother of 7 who died of cancer at the age of 41. The book is mostly a collection of her letters and talks. If she were still alive, I have no doubt that she'd have a "rather interesting" blog of her own (as she often refers to things as being "rather" something!) Her much more casual way of expressing that the Church must be true was this: "(T)here is no explanation for the Catholic Church's existence except that, in fact, the guy named Jesus from Nazareth really did die and His corpse really did rise from the dead and He really did walk around talking to those rather uninspiring eleven who somehow,after this experience, transformed the course of human history. And for the better."

    I am incredibly grateful to be a cradle Catholic, never having had to wander to find the Truth, and I am equally grateful for the enthusiasm of so many converts! It's a great Church!!!

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  21. Sharon, no, but I'm putting it on my wish list!!

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  22. This is beautiful. It's the first time I've read it, but I thank you for sharing. I am a convert, and moments like these make ever so grateful that God brought me home to His Church.

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  23. Meghan, just read your profile and wow! You should start a blog. :)

    I have a baby boy Matthew, too! :)

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  24. Love it, Leila and yours too Hebrews!

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  25. "Still as the heart of a whirlwind, the heart of the world stood still."

    Thank you for sharing this!! Now I have to add this book to my list...

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  26. Carter, it's an amazing book. One of the best on Catholicism I have ever read.

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  27. Great post! Doesn't look like there are many protestants who read your blog, though. :^) Just Atheists and Catholics. Too bad, I was looking forward to a good fight!

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  28. Giuseppe, I know we have some Protestant readers, but I am not sure why no one jumped in! I wanted to get their take...

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  29. The following description of Christianity is submitted in the spirit of ecumenicism:

    "an old metaphysical fiction, stuffed with miracles, contradictions and absurdities, which was spawned in the fevered imaginations of the Orientals and then spread to our Europe, where some fanatics espoused it, some intriguers pretended to be convinced by it and some imbeciles actually believed it."

    from the Political Testament of 1768 of Frederick the Great of Prussia

    Thanks!

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  30. Anonymous, thanks so much! In the spirit of ecumenism, if you are not trolling, why don't you give yourself a name, and then join the discussion (intelligently, this time) at the current post, about Jesus dying and rising.

    See you there, if you have reasonable things to say backed by facts and logic.

    :)

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  31. Hey, Leila! Here's that Protestant you asked for, though I doubt I'm the Protestant you actually wanted, lol. I'm a cradle Southern Baptist (doesn't have the same ring as cradle Catholic, but there you have it) who, more and more these days, merely identifies as a Christian. I can't say I agree 100% with any established denomination, and I don't mean that in terms of my personal opinions, but in terms of Scripture. I've learned a great deal from Catholicism, but I still don't agree with it 100%. Though there are areas of Catholic faith and practice I could actively debate with you, the papacy really isn't one of them. It remains an area of reservation for me, and we could certainly discuss it, but I prefer discussion to debate in this case. :)

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  32. Hi Cassi! Great to have you on board! I like discussion even more than debate. Much more fun and informal! :)

    And hey, the fact that you are not anti-Catholic is a really nice thing to see! You're my kind of Protestant, ha ha!

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  33. I'm sure that there are several readers that are Protestants but not commenting. That's okay. I think we as Catholics need to understand that some Protestants that have come into the Church had to have been blown away at some point in time during their conversion to realize that all they have been taught about the Church, the lies, the deceptions etc were not true. Imagine being of a particular faith all your life and suddenly you find that it wasn't true? It would be the same for a Catholic to find out somewhere down the road that his or her faith was false. It is not easy to see your particular faith dissolve in light of the Truth. Yes, there are many readers not commenting but that doesn't mean they are not digesting or discerning what they read in Catholic blogs. As once was said, the Church has had many enemies over the last 2000 years and she has also been present at their destruction and burial as she continues on and on and on....

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