Sunday Gospel: Scorpions, Serpents, Fish, Eggs, Spiritual Fathers and Protestantism
Four times in the Gospels, Christ fed the people with five loaves and two fish. In another passage, he says unto his disciples, “What father would give his child a stone if he asked for bread, or a serpent if asked for a fish? A scorpion for an egg? How much more will the good Father in heaven give you the Spirit if you ask.” Still in another passage, He says to His 72, I have given you power to tread upon scorpions and serpents, and nothing shall harm you. Further, in Apocalypse Chapter 9, at the blowing of the fifth trumpet, frightening creatures emerge that have tails like scorpions, that then go forth and torture those persons without the Seal of God for five months. Later, in the sixth trumpet, another set of ominous creatures kill men with tails like serpents.
Obviously, this imagery is not literal; no, what is meant here is in no wise literal bread, fish, scorpions, or serpents. For in the end, I dare say that if you place a modern bishop or pope, who are themselves “fathers” [spiritual fathers!], into a deep pit filled with literal scorpions and serpents, they will all be bitten and stung untold times, cry out in agony for a while, and then perish. For, certainly, Christ did not come to give bishops, or any other Christian for that matter, protection from physical harms but only spiritual ones.
Indeed, we ask again, does Christ promise to protect us from literal, physical harm (at any age in history)? By no means! For the Roman martyrs were tortured horribly, many times nailed to crosses, reduced to ashes at the stake, or torn apart by brute beasts. And where was the protection of Christ to the Rwandans who died of thirst in the midst of the last decade of the 2nd Millennium of Church history? Were none of them Christians?
Or where was the Christ when so many Catholic soldiers had limbs blown off in WWII? Or where was the Father when so many faithful perished in the Black Plague? Or where was the Spirit when so many countless Irish Christians perished in the Potato famine?
Wherefore do some hypocrites think that the faithful at the end of the world shall not also suffer physical woes, or that God will protect them if they handle serpents or drink Drano? What does the Catechism say, except that the Church herself will follow Her Divine Savior in the Passion?
But then, whatever this power is to trample upon serpents and scorpions, it can in no wise be literal, for, again, Christ did not come to protect us from the physical cross, or even the spiritual cross of the dark night of soul.
However, I will tell you one protection that we know Christ always desires for His disciples, and that He gives to his Apostles’ successors, and that is that they know His Truth in all its fullness in their intellect, which is joined to the human's mind, which in turn lies behind the forehead, which in turn is what is sealed in the same apocalypse before the trumpets, Chapter 7.
For to the degree that men do not know, or worse, reject, Christ's truths, they are harmed in the worst possible way, by heresy, and the fruit of heresy progressively undermines a person's chances of being saved. For, to misunderstand God is harmful. That is, we were meant to love God and know Him. And to the degree that you misunderstand a person,, so to the same degree will it be difficult to love them. But loving God is the source of salvation, since only those who "do the will of the One who Sent [Jesus]" shall attain eternal life; yet, doing the will of the Father is none other than loving the Father.
Therefore, in any world God would create, His ultimate will after He incarnates Himself is to give some share of His disciples a spiritual protection from all error in faith, so that they may not be harmed in what is truly harmful for a person.
But where, then, in this world, will one get a protection in their intellect from the harm, or stain, of unchastity of heresy? Alas, in fullness, only in Peter. But therefore, Christ’s declaration that the disciples would trample upon scorpions and such, if sensible, is not given to all the faithful, but only to the successors of the Apostles gathered under Peter. Why? Because only followers of Peter, who listen to him in full, have this protection. But therefore, the power to trample upon spiritual scorpions and serpents, which are surely heresies and lies of the devil, belongs exclusively to Catholicism, and those that bear it are the ones who listen always, like little children, to the voice of the Church, in all her proclamations.
Hence, therefore, our fishes and bread and scorpions and stones and serpents are spiritual entities.
In fact, to recapture what we have just said, we know as Catholics that whereas countless Christians throughout history have not been spared famine, and plague, and sword, and creatures of prey, faithful Catholics of all ages have been spared spiritual harm of false teaching. Behold, right before the Christ said, I will give you power to tread on scorpions and serpents, He said this:
He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.
This passage is simply referring to the infallible teaching authority of the mediated fatherhood of the Magisterium, the Bishops and the Pope!
Again, whereas our aforementioned bishops and popes in the conjectured pit would perish by the lethal stings and bites from the vile literal scorpions and serpents, nevertheless, if vile heretics send out spiritual scorpions, heresies, to harm the faithful, the mediating “Fathers” will gather together in Council and sift through these little pests to see where the poison is. And when they have found it, by agreement, or by Peter’s solemn stamp of approval, they shall burn up these horrendous small monsters and then cook up eggs, fish, and bread and give them to the humble, docile children that, like lambs, trust the good Fathers that Jesus has given us, to stand in for the ultimate Father of Lights in Heaven!
Therefore, when we look at this passage of an intimate father who clearly gives his children the good things rather than the bad, we simply must realize that although Jesus says, How much more will the Heavenly Father give the good Spirit to those who ask, we simply cannot interpret this like Protestants and believe that the Father in Heaven gives all truth and grace directly to his children!
For, for the deeper and more needful truths and graces are given through secondary fathers, mediating fathers. In fact, by these very observations, far from justifying the Protestant position, a deeper analysis will be seen to vindicate the Catholic position.
Hence, now we have a framework for establishing an ecclesiological interpretation of the “fathers” who mediate spiritual food for mind and will.
Toward this end, this creates gradations of fathers, descending in degree of goodness.
The hierarchy is clearly by Catholic measure:
- The Heavenly Father
- The Supreme Apostolic Successor, Peter
- The General Apostolic Successors, Bishops
- Material Heretical Ministers
- Formal Heretical Ministers
- Supernaturally Dead Monotheists [Infidels] [Deists, Rationalists]
- The Father of Lies, the Dragon
Momentarily, we can move through the layers of fathers, but, first let us review the theology of the loaves and fishes as Sacraments:
In the following writing, Sacramental Ecclesiology in the Loaves and Fishes, we saw that the Sacraments are beautifully imaged, by way of theology about Christian Division in the Body of Christ, in the Loaves and Fishes passages of the Gospels. There, we saw that just as there are five loaves and two fish, seven total objects, so there are seven total sacraments, seven ways to be fed spiritually the other-worldly energy of God’s grace, and five of them require a priest, whereas two do not. The two that do not are Baptism and Marriage, and the five that do (and in one case a bishop) are Confession, Eucharist, Confirmation, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick.
More closely, heretics lose these five sacraments and retain only two, Baptism and Marriage, because these other five require Apostolic Succession, or priests, which the heretics lack since they have separated themselves from Apostolic Succession. Further, Apostolic Succession and the Sacred Tradition, which are consummate with it, provide stability to the understanding of Scriptural doctrine. Without this foundation, one flounders about in the sea of doctrinal chaos that is Sola- Scriptura. Hence, that Protestants retain only two sacraments is like two fish: they can only catch two fish in the sea of the tossing of the waves, one doctrine to another. In contrast, the five loaves are made of barely or wheat, which must be grown in the earth. The earth, too, according to St. Paul to Timothy (1 Tim 3:15), is a symbol of the foundation of the Church, which, of course, is in Bishops and Tradition. Hence, since Protestants lack the earth of Bishops and Tradition, they lack stability in doctrine and grace.
We have also seen that Baptism and Marriage are effectively like basic Sacraments, summarizing, in their supreme signs, all that is good. This would then imply that the total antithesis of these sacraments’ signs can be the total lies of the fall. As a consequence, or corollary, mystically, they provide a profound interpretation of Apocalypse 13, where we see the second beast, or the false prophet, as having two horns like Lamb (who has seven).
(See: Sacramental Ecclesiology in the Loaves and Fishes, latter half)
We can then ask, what about these five sacraments? Here, I argue that another mystical meaning is present, an unbelievably profound meaning: if Baptism and Marriage are the most basic Sacraments, the sign of all that is good, the signs of basic Christianity, of the great beginning of Salvation and the hoped-for very end, then the five remaining Sacraments fill in the gaps, fill in the specificities and subtleties of the general journey between the beginning and the end. More to the point, if the heretics lack these five sacraments through their lack of the Episcopate, it would seem to imply that all, or nearly all, of what they disagree upon or are confounded by can be summed up in the full theological implications of these very five sacraments they lack! A powerful case can be made for this.
But first, to prepare for this argumentation, let us return to the hierarchy of “fathers” above and move through the layers of Fathers:
- The Heavenly Father
- The Supreme Apostolic Successor, Peter
- The General Apostolic Successors, Bishops
- Material Heretical Ministers
- Formal Heretical Ministers
- Supernaturally Dead Monotheists [Infidels] [Deists, Rationalists]
- The Father of Lies, the Dragon
The Heavenly Father
First, the Heavenly Father is clearly the ultimate Father, but He does not, again, as we have seen, give all grace and truth directly to the lay Christian. Rather, He desires the more meaningful graces to come through Fathers who stand between Him and the lay Christian.
The Pope is the supreme mediating Father. To him resides the fullness of truth, and, too, like all other bishops, he can give all the seven sacraments.
General Bishops are also formal mediators of infallible truth provided they cling to Peter. Too, they can give all seven sacraments.
Mere priests are not infallible, but they share in the teaching ministry of the Bishops, and they can give up to six of the sacraments, leaving out Holy Orders, which must have a bishop. So, effectively, from our metaphor, priests can give their children four loaves and two fish.
Deacons are good fathers who participate in the teaching ministry, but are not infallible, and can only give the fish, Baptism and Marriage, since they are not ordained to level of confecting the Eucharist or forgiving sins.
Good Protestant Ministers
From here, we leave the Catholic boundaries into Protestantism (the Orthodox have Bishops and priests and so have all the seven sacraments but lack the fullness of truth; like Catholic Bishops and the Pope, still they have Tradition which renders them far more stable than the heretical Protestant sects that are tossed all over).
Now, there are good heretics and there are bad heretics, that is, material or formal, respectively. Material heretics are those who are not fully culpable for their errors. They may innocently not know of the Catholic Church, or have misinformation about it. Either way, a good heretic is someone who wants to do the will of Christ as best as he understands it and seeks to know and love God with his assistance, so help him God. Ministers of this type, though they are not actually formally men of God, nevertheless are like men of God subjectively. Because they are not priests, like deacons, they cannot give the five loaves, but they can give the two fish, Baptism and Marriage. Why? Because the Church defines from antiquity, “the Baptism of heretics is valid, de fide.” And then, if they have valid Baptism, Marriage is also a valid sacrament for them since, any baptized man and woman that come together in true sincerity, capacity and consummation form a sacramental marriage.
Bad Protestants Ministers
Now, however, we must digress to a frightening condition, the formal heretical minister. This is a man who is culpable for his separation from Rome. He is usually angry and bitter at the Church and hates it! He is self-righteous and takes out his spiritual wrath on innocent heretics. And what is that wrath? Why not the instabilities that come from the five lost sacraments!
Hence, in place of loaves, he gives stones: Has Rome said these five are sacramental graces?! They are not! I have none to give but a heart of stone!
Too, the theological, doctrinal, and salvific implications of these sacraments that are lacking leave one in uncertainty and, therefore, fear, even torture, spiritually. More specifically, we seek to examine, what might the scorpion in place of the egg be? Well, here, an egg is, literally, the fruit developed from the fowl, who stands upon the earth heralding the light of day, orally, by crowing. Moreover, this creature that orally proclaims the dawn is, again, standing upon the earth, which we have seen to be the foundation of truth—the bishops, who themselves disseminate the same tradition. Hence, we can see, if it were a long shot, the egg as the fruit of the Oral Word of God [the crowing to herald the light of truth, which pierces the darkness of sin and ignorance] proclaimed upon the foundation of the bishops! The fruit of the Oral Word of God pronounced by the church is none other than doctrinal development, which itself gives a surer, infallible understanding of the Written Word of God, and of all doctrinal questions. Indeed, too, doctrinal development is not done merely by the Bishops but, dare we say, in consultation with the laity [It has been said, “In times of distress, the Church is saved by the laity”]. Toward this end, we note that, specifically, the egg is the product of intercourse between the male fowl, who declares the day, and the female fowl, which receives the seed of the cock and conceives the embryo within her womb. Does this not echoe the reality of the mystery of sexuality in holy orders: the bishops are male since they stand in the place of Christ, proactively inseminating the faithful laity, the “Woman,” their bride, with truth and grace, yet not without the “sense of the faithful.”
Hence, precisely because the heretical sects lack the stability of infallible teaching, of inerrant doctrines, the cold heretical minister gives the poor innocent children scorpions, which are spiritual torture: false doctrines in place of the true “egg.”
Here, the apocalypse passage, chapter 9, can apply above: those with the Seal of God, protected from harm, are good Catholics, who listen to Mother Church when she blows the trumpets of announcement of her teachings. But the Protestants did not listen or did not trust. The hard, cold, angry heretics then became creatures with scorpions for tails that torture poor heretics. They do this, again, for five months.
Now, here there is pause for reflection. What of five months?
Well, in the futurist mode of common modern Fundamentalist Protestantism, the creatures are helicopters that attempt to issue fire towards Jewish persons, and the five months are literal. Obviously this is absurd, since, whatever interpretation will ultimately be sanctioned by Rome, it must be in the confines of existing dogma, namely, the Creed and catechetical teaching. For this reason, any literal things, specific personages, or time, is not the subject of divine revelation. “It is not for you to know times or seasons.”
On the other hand, the typical Catholic view doesn’t help too much either: here, in preterism, the book is addressing the immediate audience of the first century. Toward this end, the temple is being destroyed by Roman soldiers, and it takes five literal months. Again, if the time to destroy this would be five months, or seven months, or two months, or seventeen months, in the end, the result is the same, and there is no consequence for larger human history.
Consequently, literal time is out the door. Therefore, we need spiritual time. Well, in fact, there is “sacramental time.” As we grow from a babe, to an adolescent, to adulthood, to maturity, we pass through sacramental moments: baptism, confession, eucharist, confirmation, marriage, anointing. Therefore, why not view these five months, as the figurative instants of frustration of grace, of anti-sacramental torture of the heretic. Indeed, this will prove to be powerfully appropriate theology, five dimensions of spiritual time that span between beginning salvation [Baptism] and the heavenly home [the eschatological Marriage].
And this really is the lot of the innocent heretics. Fearfully, and quite frankly, rightly, the heretics ask the deeper questions: What should I believe? What must I do to be saved? Where is the true church? Who really speaks for God?... and the torture goes on and on. Yes, the heretic knows the very basic message, as we have seen, from the two fish he has:
Baptism: I am called to faith and repentance.
Heavenly Marriage: My goal is the heavenly marriage, to be with God in union forever
But everything in between? No certitude! And we will see that these five sacraments they lose, truly in their full theological implications, summarize the near totality of what Protestants confound. For now, however, the full theology of these will be deferred until we complete the “father’s list.”
Deists and Rationalists
Now, we may digress even further—below the bad, or formal heretical ministers, who, despite their spiritual torture, nevertheless do not “kill” their victims but only frustrate and scare them. Indeed, as the apocalypse 9 scripture testifies, “and in those days, men shall seek death, and will not find it…,” so the innocent heretics, with great anxiety regarding what to believe and how to avoid hell, are still supernaturally alive, seeing as they have baptism and most likely marriage to sustain them. They are still breathing in the way of sanctifying grace. But they wish that they could “die,” supernaturally, that they did not have to worry about what Divine Revelation really means.
But now, in succession to a Christendom severely wounded by division and chaos and fear, the result is, historically, what can be called, a great supernatural death, a radical rejection of the other-worldly truths, life and assistance that emanates from organized religion. It is a state of mere natural goodness, supernaturally dead infidelity, or base natural religionists. Here, the Gospel was terribly confounded and confused, so it was rejected in favor of mere Reason alone. The warriors of this battle killed a great portion of man in their souls. These men, too, are fathers, but their message is deadly! It is no longer a scorpion, as in the fifth trumpet, or Protestantism, but a serpent, or the sixth trumpet, the age of “enlightenment”, worldly naturalism, and solo ratio (reason alone). Here, again, disillusioned by incomprehensible confounding of supernatural religion by Protestantism, and its associated hatreds and bloodshed, man rejected elevated religion and fell into merely natural goodness, reason alone, the final vestige of truth. So then, the rationalists and the deists, while still believing, rightly, in a Creator, or Supreme Being, and some sense of natural law, or the ethical principles of the Decalogue, nevertheless rejected any conception of a God who supernaturally involves himself with man, meaning, there is no Divine Revelation, nor any Divine Intervention. And so whereas the deists and rationalists will still call one of their children to seek to know God and do what is right, because they say it can be done on one’s own natural power and faculties, they have set the child on path to hell, since, “With man [natural power], it is impossible [to be saved]! But with GOD, all things are possible [with grace and revelation we can be saved]”. Since, therefore, their message is deadly, it is a serpent, just as the tails of the creatures in the sixth trumpet are not scorpions, like the fifth trumpet, but serpents.
In other words, per our analogies, the child asks the deist or rationalist: Should I have the two fish:
Baptismal Disposition: to have faith in what can be known of God, his Revelation, and to repent, seeking His help?
Marital Disposition toward God: Should I seek a happiness beyond this world that transcends the merely natural, marriage to God?
And the deist or rationalist, a bad father, will give him some food that has some truth, but not enough to save, and so serpents:
Dead Baptism: Seek to know God, but you can find his truths with just your mind; you don’t need him to tell you; and seek to do good, yes, but you can be good on your own power; you don’t need grace!
Dead Marital Disposition toward God: Too, the afterlife suggested by many deists and rationalists, since it is not Trinitarian, is many times just a reflection of natural happiness on earth.
The Dragon, the Father of Lies
Finally, the last Father is the diabolical one himself, the Father of Lies, who gives the ultimate serpents in place of the fish:
Hence, as above, the child comes before the father of lies and asks:
Should we seek to know and love God in this life and marry Him forever in the next? And the dragon gives the utter antithesis and counterfeit through the false prophet, the second beast of Apocalypse 13, who has “two horns like a Lamb, but [speaks] as a dragon [that vile and Ancient SERPENT, Apocalypse 12]”:
Anti-Baptismal Spirit - “Have no regard for the Baptismal disposition—no faith, no repentance: believe what you want and do what you want, you will be better off, more satisfied, and there will be no consequences, whether in this life or any presumed afterlife.”
Anti-Marital Spirit - The second lie is like it: don't live for the Marriage with God in the next life but live for superficial "intercourse", or fornication, figuratively, with the world, the counterpart to God. That is, seek not to marry the Creator in the next life, but spiritually fornicate with the Creation in this life, MATERIALISM. Seek your fulfillment not in the Uncreated goods of love, truth, beauty, and gift, but in the merely brute created goods: pleasures, possessions, and egotistical accomplishments.
So we revisit the Scriptures we have seen:
And which of you, if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone? or a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he reach him a scorpion?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask him?
Again, Luke 10:
He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.  And the seventy-two returned with joy, saying: Lord, the devils also are subject to us in thy name.  And he said to them: I saw Satan like lightning falling from heaven.  Behold, I have given you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall hurt you.
And from the smoke of the pit there came out locusts upon the earth. And power was given to them, as the scorpions of the earth have power:  And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree: but only the men who have not the sign of God on their foreheads.  And it was given unto them that they should not kill them; but that they should torment them five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion when he striketh a man. …And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses … And they had tails like to scorpions, and there were stings in their tails; and their power was to hurt men five months…
As stated earier, the five months can be seen as the mystical five dimensions of sacramental time, and the torture is spiritual: scorpions of heresy, deriving from the implications of the five sacraments the heretics lack. We are now in position to argue the natures of these tortures and instabilities:
A Theology of the Five Sacraments that Heretics Lack
We recall, again, that there are five sacraments that no Protestant can have while Protestant. These five absolutely require the priests and, in one case, a bishop, effectively the Episcopate. They are:
- Anointing of Sick
- Holy Orders
- Holy Communion
Each of these five sacraments firmly grounds the Catholic child between the extremes of presumption and scrupulosity. Without them, only either presumption or unnecessary fear can react to the deprivation. Let us probe it:
- Confession: requires forgiveness of sins, which only a priest can do
- Anointing: ditto
- Confirmation: only a priest or bishop can confirm
- Eucharist: only a priest can transform bread and wine into God
- Holy Orders: only a valid bishop can ordain priests or other bishops
The Forgiveness of Sins and Justification
The first set of sacraments that form the theological basis of a great portion of debated doctrine in Protestantism is the sacraments of confession and anointing of the sick. The reason is because they entail the issue of the forgiveness of sins. We will see this involves the question of whether grace can be resisted, whether justification can be lost, whether there is unforgivable sin prior to death, and related issues. Let us start with Confession.
The true doctrines implied by Confession are these, among others:
- any grace is resistible
- the grace of justification can be lost and is lost through grievous sin
- there is non-grievous sin
- grievous sin has clear defined parameters: grave matter, full culpability in intellect and will
- grace of justification can be restored through confession with at least imperfect contrition
- perfect contrition restores justification if penitent intends confession asap
- one must die in charity to be saved
- charity necessitates proactive acts of love [in what I have done, and in what I have FAILED TO DO]
- grave sins of omission of charity result in loss of justification
- charitable acts are signs of grace, but are not guaranteed since grace is resistible
Protestants confound these truths ad infinitum. Half of Protestant Christendom believes that grace is resistible, and half [Calvinists] does not. Consequently, Calvinists do not believe that justification can be lost. They believe that positive movement in grace is guaranteed if one is elect, since grace is irresistible. Most Calvinists would say that if someone who seemed elect fell into serious sin, it would mean that that person never knew God to begin with. Protestants seem to have aversion to the doctrine that distinguishes mortal sin from venial sin.
On the other side, of those Protestants who believe that grace is resistible, there is no clear agreement as to how justification can be lost. For many, it would involve a grave sin, but probably not as clearly defined as by Rome. Some might just have conditions like, stop believing, stop trying, stop trusting in Jesus to cover you, and so forth. For them also, to get it back is not clear. It almost never involves confession to a priest or minister. Repentance would be common as a condition for reinstatement but not necessarily as defined as imperfect or perfect contrition. Sometimes it might just mean, as per above, resuming in fiducial trust in the merits of Christ, possibly starting trying again, or having faith again.
Works as necessary for salvation might be believed by some on the resistible side, but obviously, for the irresistible side, works are guaranteed from irresistible grace and so are not salvific, being just a manifestation of a salvation already attained by initial conversion.
The heresy of imputation also comes in. The notion that there can be a contradiction between the actual state of one’s soul and actions and what God “considers” the reality to be is absurd. Catholicism is very realistic: God sees the soul as it is, whether there is divine love within it or not. This reality translates by way of implication into confession: confession presupposes that God is seeing the true state of the heart of the person. If they have cast Him aside by grave sin, then God can see it and renders the person an enemy as regards charity. If the person is in God’s friendship, that is, is in grace and has no stain of unrepentant grievous sin, then God sees that and is overall pleased with the soul. If these realities were not implied, confession would make no sense.
Let us move on to the Anointing:
Anointing of the Sick
The main true doctrines implied are:
- God will pursue the soul unto the bitter end. Mercy is possible right up until the moment before death.
- consequently, there is no unforgivable sin before death
- suffering is part of the Christian experience and can be united to Jesus’ pains on the cross to purify the soul and to add to the redemption of other souls
- through anointing, the soul’s sufferings are sanctified, and one is strengthened in the evening of life to suffer with patience, charity, and longsuffering, and to prepare for the ultimate union with God at death
- suffering does not necessarily represent that the soul has fallen out of favor with God, but rather, God calls all of us, at various times, to participate with Christ in the cross
Protestantism confounds many of these things. For example, with regards to unforgivable sins, Scripture seems to suggest at least these in several places:
- Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, Matthew 12
- Apostasy from the faith, Hebrews 6
- Swearing before God and breaking the promise [James, but whoever swears is damned]
- The mark of the beast
If a Protestant sect has a more conservative bent of eisegesis, then they may have no other choice than to take these frightening passages literally. Consider the fate, then, of souls who are told that they are unforgivable, or who have come to believe they are unforgivable. This would be incomprehensible torture. It could be an “anointing unto damnation”: “Well, since you are now damned beyond relief, you may as well take up what pathetic time you have left before death, and eat, drink, fornicate, and be merry, for when it is through, you go into eternal fire!” This would then be the antithesis of the anointing of the sick, in that whereas the sacrament strengthens one in one’s suffering out of love, to prepare for ultimate salvation, the other, on the other hand, is a diabolical christening of pleasures to prepare for an irreversible damnation. Too, I have seen sects that claim that if any Christian sins seriously, his salvation is lost permanently. This fits here as well.
Moving on to suffering, there are definite poles. On the one hand, because the Pharisaical sects have separated themselves from the Incarnational and Eucharistic reality of the Gospel, where the Church on earth is intimately intertwined with the Christ and the Churches suffering and triumphant, they do not have a strong conception of the Christian who suffers in and through Christ and by His strength. Consequently, suffering is a sign of loss of favor with God. We must repent and get our life back in order if we wish to escape our misfortune. This then victimizes the suffering soul with spiritual torture like the anointing unto damnation. The suffering soul searches his heart for sin, for what he is doing wrong, and begins to despair. Too, some Calvinists have a teaching that if you are not overcoming some sin despite all efforts, it may be a sign that you are damned.
Election, Predestination, and the Charisms
The next set of errors flows from Confirmation. Here, the implications include election, predestination, gifts and charisms, and the divine resolve to save all men.
- God has predestined the elect positively and the damned negatively; the elect were chosen from all eternity but not without consideration of their free will and good deeds. Similarly, God has foreseen and allowed that some men will not make it, but it is merely in consideration of future sins, merely allowed and not positively willed, that this is so, and noting that God will have offered salvation to the soul at multiple intervals, unto the bitter end.
- Confirmation is to strengthen the soul for the mature fight for salvation; it is available to all Catholics who desire it and are properly prepared and disposed; it implies a positive Divine resolve to save all men
- charisms are gifts to the soul that are not for the soul but for the Church; God gives some unique subset of them to all the faithful.; no one charism or set of charisms are necessary for salvation
The Protestants confound all these issues. Firstly, there are extremes in predestination. On the right, in Calvinism, God not only knows the future, but positively chooses persons to save, and passes over the others. This effectively means that God does not will the salvation of all men but only “the chosen.” Signs of being elect can include, amongst the sects: holiness, worldly favor, materialistic blessings, or charisms, eg. for Pentecostals, one must have tongues to be saved. On a personal note, I once came across a sect that believed that unless you had all of the charisms, you will not be saved.
The tortured souls are then, again, those who are struggling to maintain holiness, those who are in destitution, those who are not blessed in the way of material things, or ones who don’t have “charisms,” or at least the right ones. When God does not desire to save all men, being in the downside group becomes this spiritual torture.
The opposite extreme is an assault on the omniscience of God: Open Theism. This heresy takes beginning Scriptures that use anthropomorphic language and that seem to suggest a God that is “caught off-guard,” and extrapolates them to the erroneous notion that God is operating in time and is therefore as surprised by history as we are. He is not adapting His activity to what He knows is coming down the pike, but rather reacting to things He did not know were advancing.
The final set of errors in this section are the conundrums of Holy Orders and Eucharist. Both of these sacraments are intimately tied to the notion of the “true communion,” or, that is, which men truly speak for God.
Holy Orders, Eucharist
- the only true men of God, who are guaranteed to speak the truth and mediate the authentic graces formally are the men who have holy orders in union with the Pope: deacons, priests, and bishops. This is the sure sign of faith and right doctrine.
- Grave scandal and sin in ordained men of God does not invalidate their function in ministry. God can use wicked men to mediate truth and grace [Donatism, Novatianism]
- Holy orders inaugurates a sacramental economy of rituals and mysticism
- Where the Eucharist is, there is the true Church
Protestants have no stable, centralized authority but only countless men with Bibles in their hands, all mutually conflicting and preaching that the Holy Spirit has shown them the fullness of truth. And which of them really speaks for God? This is because they believe, like the Donatists and Novatianists above, if holy orders men fail gravely in their morality, it must necessarily invalidate the exercise of their orders and render their teachings mute. This, in fact, was the primary basis of the Great Heretical Rebellion: “ third” of the luminaries were darkened, as in fourth trumpet, Apocalypse 8, and so they were rejected in the subsequent trumpet, or at least, this is a way to look at it.
Consequently, returning the chaotic army of fiery preachers, these heretics say, if you call them on their claim to truth in the midst of 100 other conflicting brothers, “Don’t take my word for it, read the Bible for yourself.” This means that, as in Steve Ray’s story, once you become a bible-believer, you have an enormous task on your shoulders: to develop the correct doctrines over the rest of your life through painstaking, humble and sincere Bible-study. This is obviously absurd, since you are not a full-time bible scholar and noting that there are full-time bible scholars in every denomination who have accepted Jesus into their heart, and are sincere, and who really repent every day, and who take everything in context, and who have read Scripture 40 times over; and no two of which can agree on all doctrinal issues. And you are not even a bible scholar, yet you have a 40-hour work week, wife, kids, chores, and so forth. How the hell are you supposed to solve Scripture when the full-time people cannot?!
The presumptuous one says, I just know because I am holy and learned, or they say, most of those questions are not essential doctrine. Just repent and follow Jesus. On the other hand, the fearful one who believes that he needs to get all doctrine correct, can only cower before the myriads of hell-fire “men of God” and try to sort out what the truth is. All with a full-time job (not a religious job), family, kids, and so forth.
As for sacraments, Protestantism has divisions across issues of what degree of ritual should be present. Modern evangelicals have a largely absent sacramental and ritual-based worship. Older, but more liberal sects, retain sacramental nature to varying degrees. Indeed, if it was true that in the OT, the Pharisees had physical rituals and no inner renewal, then we can say modern Pharisees have inner renewal but no physical rituals. The Catholic Church has the balance.
The sister doctrine is the Eucharist: the true Communion. This is a corollary problem from just above: you cannot find the true Church unless you figure out which of the 1000+ Bible-thumpers has the fullness of truth. In Calvin’s view, if you don’t find the exact one, you are toast. Today, in light of the confusion, the Protestants usually just shuffle off the doctrinal issues, as above, to non-essential categorization, get into a generic “bible-believing” Church, and consider it good.
The Catholic Balance
In response to the confusion above, we reiterate that each of these five sacraments, when possessed in validity, firmly grounds the Catholic child between the extremes of presumption and scrupulosity. Now, the dragon twists and mocks the sacraments. He therefore twists these sacraments into these same extremities of presumption and scrupulosity, very appropriately imaged in the contrasting set of characters in the aforementioned Apocalypse 9: the frightening and ominous creatures being the presumptuous ones, or formal heretics, and the afflicted ones without the Seal of God in their foreheads, the seal of Catholic infallibility of doctrine, the scrupulous or material ones.
Let us look at the first extreme deeper, presumption; a firmer, self-assuming disposition with five dimensions of haughtiness. The presumptuous persons are hard headed, which is good, but they have also hardened their hearts, which is bad. This is the hard right: They are the Pharisees, the haughty heretic who presumes immunity from the five:
The Presumptuous Heretic
Confession: I have no need of it, for no true believer can fall from grace. If they do, they never knew God to begin with. Or else, I can sin with impunity.
Anointing of the Sick: Modified perseverance: here, the hardened heretic admits that fall from grace might be possible temporarily, but believes that, in the end, God will guarantee his restoration and save him. In effect, this nullifies the Anointing of the Sick.
Confirmation: The hardened heretic presumes that God wants him saved, regardless of anything else, and that it is guaranteed. He assumes that he is chosen and elect and hence deemss he needs no special graces like Confirmation to persevere. That is, he considers himself "confirmed in righteousness" and therefore does not retain healthy fear of necessity to persevere, that salvation is not guaranteed. He scoffs at Catholic confirmation.
Holy Orders: The haughty heretic is certain Rome is an impostor yet has no cowering fear as he reads the frightening Scriptures. He thinks with exaggerated pride and confidence that the Spirit truly leads him privately to understand all Scripture and so proceeds to go out into the field and sow the word, assuming that he is a man of God for sure; casually, he dismisses any doubt that he is in fact only one of many sola-scripturists who think they understand Scripture in all fullness, yet no two of which, including himself in the mix, can fully agree on all questions of doctrine.
Holy Communion: Ditto, he assumes his particular community must be the true church, while ignoring that no objective formal criterion can really distinguish it from the myriads of other such communities that altogether, again, mutually disagree on a whole host of doctrinal issues. Or else, he assumes, like a pluralist, that what church you belong, too, is not that imperative, only that it be Bible-based.
Let us look at the other extreme: the scared heretic, the overly scrupulous, who is not culpable.
The Innocent, Scrupulous Heretic
This is the innocent heretic. His heart is soft, so he realizes perpetual need for repentance and dependence on God. But the Scriptures, without Rome's stable Tradition, have left fearful uncertain answers by their harsh hyperbole to the five dimensions above, as follows:
Confession: On the one hand, the heretic fears that if you fall from grace, there is no remedy; you are lost forever. Some heretics believe this. Others say, you can fall from grace but can get it back, but their opinions differ as to precisely how you might lose grace, much less how to get it back. Some say, it is not so much sin but lack of faith. Others, a lesser group, say any wrongdoing, even minor, cuts you off. Others say, you have to stop trying to follow God but are not specific. To get it back, some say, just resume fiducial trust in Christ to cover you. Others say, start trying again. Others say, you must also turn away from the wrong doing. Some are tortured, “have I really, really, really repented, or am I fooling myself?” Others deny you can fall from grace but say that if you ever do, you never knew God to begin with. This can lead to despair and abandonment of faith, thinking, “If all that time, I seemed to love God, and yet I didn’t, then what is true love and faith?”
Anointing: Scripture seems to suggest unforgivable sins:
- Hebrews 6: There is no remedy for apostasy. “For it is impossible for those who have once tasted...if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance...”
- Apocalypse: The mark of the beast, “And the smoke of their torment shall rise forever and ever!”
- Matthew: Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit: many Christian counselors must have a training for this, for fearful despairing souls who come in because they think they have committed the unforgivable sin.
- James: St James says, whoever swears is damned if he breaks it. No supplemental info is given.
Then, in this horror, if a soul believes that he is unforgivable, the rest of his life is now an evening waiting for damnation, no matter how hard he pleads with God. It is, in a certain sense, an “anointing unto damnation” rather than anointing of the sick. Hence, some Calvinists who have presumed election have said to a poor soul, “Well, since you are now damned with no hope, perhaps you should take up your anointing unto damnation and eat, drink, fornicate, and be merry, for when you die, you go into eternal fire!”
Confirmation: Calvinism argues that God does not want all men saved. Hence, God would not offer the Sacrament of Confirmation since, as it is available to all members of the Church who are ready for it and desire it, and it is a gracious gift of God to strengthen the person for the ultimate calls of faith, even martyrdom, it would clearly imply a Divine resolve to save all men. Consequently, the terrible torture of an innocent Calvinist is to suspect that God doesn't desire their election, that they are damned. This can arise especially if they are struggling with some sin or sins and failing, a sign that God is not with them and is abandoning them to reprobation. Think of the horror of being told by an "elect" Calvinist that you are not elect, tough luck, God didn't choose you!
Holy Orders: The innocent heretic does not trust Rome or her other Bishops because of their sins and laxity. So he fears Rome; he cannot go there; they are imposters, the whore, the beast; they are the antichrist. But now, then, without them, and the stability of Tradition, the heretic enters the arena of myriads of competing men and factions, all hell-fire and brimstone, claiming to speak for God, but all mutually conflicting. What must he do? He must search the Scriptures in fear, shaking in humility until he thinks he has found all truth. But pray, for if you misinterpret because of your sins, you will perish! That is torture. That is the fearful reality of not knowing for sure who really is a man of God and who isn’t!
Holy Communion: Ditto, Calvin taught that at any age of history, there is guaranteed to be at least one community that fully correctly interprets the Word, but where it is, no one knows! You can only hope you find it. But if you don’t and join even a partially erroneous community, you will perish!
Here, the heretic is soft in heart, humble, having fear of God, but also soft and weak in mind; they are tossed from one extreme to another, having a gravity of fear Christ does not will; for He desires all of His Father’s children to have the stability of the Church, that their hearts may rest, not fully presumptuously, but in loving trust, balance, and certitude of belief.
Recapping: there are five loaves—loaves require barley—which are grown in the earth. The earth is the ground of truth, the church of the living God. The Bishops and Tradition are this ground, for they preserve the truth through their Apostolic Tradition. Too, five sacraments require their Episcopate.
Now, loaves sometimes also need eggs. Jesus said, what father would give you a stone for a bread, or a scorpion for an egg. In these five sacraments, if a fearful heretic asks a presumptuous heretic for one of these five loaves, they will be given a heart of stone, “Rome invented them; there are no such sacraments.” The innocent heretics too petitions them for eggs, graces and truth related to the five sacraments. They are given scorpions of torture, heresies, frustration of grace.
Profound this is, if we look once again at Apocalypse 9, the first great woe, trumpet five, the first half of chapter 9:
Creatures like locusts have tails like scorpions that torture those without the Seal of God for five months. They are not killed, but they approach death. This is highly reminiscent of the presumptuous heretics of Protestantism that tortured innocent heretics in five dimensions, for each of the five sacraments they deprived their innocent victims of.
But Catholics who are faithful have always been sealed in the forehead; behind their forehead is the mind, the intellect of the soul, which is preserved from harm by false doctrine, the infallibility of the Catholic Church in her teaching! She cannot be harmed by false doctrine!
He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.
I have given you power to tread upon scorpions and serpents, and nothing shall harm you.
After these things, I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that they should not blow upon the earth, nor upon the sea, nor on any tree.  And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the sign of the living God; and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,  Saying: Hurt not the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, till we sign the servants of our God in their foreheads.
And the fifth angel sounded the trumpet, and I saw a star fall from heaven upon the earth, and there was given to him the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit: and the smoke of the pit arose, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke of the pit.  And from the smoke of the pit there came out locustsupon the earth. And power was given to them, as the scorpions of the earth have power:  And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree: but only the men who have not the sign of God on their foreheads.  And it was given unto them that they should not kill them; but that they should torment them five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion when he striketh a man.