Opera Omnia of St. Robert Bellarmine vol. 2: On the Church

De Controversiis Volume 2 On the Church
De Controversiis Volume 2 On the Church
Contains On Councils, On the Church Militant and On the Marks of the Church
$29.00

The first volume on the Church is finally here! We have at last completed the first volume of Bellarmine’s treatise on the Church to accompany the one volume on the Roman Pontiff.
This volume contains Bellarmine’s treatise on Councils, on the Church Militant and on the Marks of the Church. These books constitute a marvelous treatise in Ecclesiology which lays down the principles made use of by all subsequent theologians. The first book is on the nature of Councils, which traces the history of Councils, who calls them, etc. The second book deals with the Authority of Councils, and treats that one essential question of whether a Council is above a Pope. In book three, Bellarmine takes up the question of who constitutes the Church Militant, whether the Church is visible, and whether evil members are still members? Lastly, he takes up the Marks of the Church, expanding the four marks of the Creed into 15 marks discernible in the Church throughout her history which prove the Catholic Church is true and the churches of the Protestants are false.
This tour de force is absolutely necessary for a proper understanding of Catholic ecclesiology. We have attached a sample chapter!

Sample Chapter:

Book 2 ch. 12: Whether the authority of a Council is greater than Scripture

WE spoke on the authority of Councils considered absolutely, now we must speak on the same by a comparison to other principles of faith, i.e. the written word of God (and for traditions the reasoning is the same), and the Pope. The heretics of this time everywhere cry out that we subject Scripture to Councils. Calvin, in the Institutes, book 4, cap. 9 §14, says: “To subject the oracle of God in this manner to the censure of men that it would be ratified because it pleases men is an unworthy blasphemy which is commemorated.” Similar things are discovered everywhere in the writings of the others. Moreover, this is not our blasphemy, but is their strawman. For Catholics do not subject the Sacred Scripture to Councils, but places it before them; nor is there any controversy on this point. But if some Catholics sometimes say scripture depends upon the Church, or a Council, they do not understand this in regard to its authority, or according to what it is, but in regard to the explanation and in regard to us.
Therefore, it must be observed that there is a manifold distinction between Sacred Scripture and the decrees of Councils, from which it is understood that Scripture is put before Councils. 1) Scripture is the true word of God, immediately revealed, and in a certain measure at God’s dictation according to what we read in 2 Peter 1:21 “Inspired by the Holy Spirit the holy men of God spoke,” and in 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is divinely inspired.” Nevertheless, it is not so understood to mean that all the sacred writers had new revelations and wrote things of which they were ignorant beforehand. It is certain that the Evangelists, Matthew and John, wrote those things which they saw while Mark and Luke wrote those things which they heard, as Luke himself declares at the beginning of his gospel: “Just as they handed it down to us who saw from the beginning.” (Luke 1:2).
Therefore, the Sacred Writers are said to have had immediate revelation, and wrote the words of God himself, because either some new and previously unknown things were revealed by God, according to that in Psalm 50 (51):8, “You have made known to me the uncertain and hidden matters of your wisdom”; God immediately inspired and moved the writers to write the things which they saw or heard and directed them so that they would not err in some matter. Just like an epistle may truly said to be of a prince and dictated by the prince, even if he that transcribed the dictation already knew what he was going to write, so it is said to be and really is the immediate word of God which was written by the Evangelists at God’s inspiration and direction, even if they wrote the things which they saw or heard. But Councils do not have, nor write immediate revelations, or the words of God, rather they only declare what indeed the word of God is, written or handed down, and how it ought to be understood; besides, they deduce conclusions from it by reasoning. Consequently, when Councils define what are the canonical and divine books, they do not cause them to be of infallible truth, but only declare that they are such.
So even the Council of Trent, in session 13, c. 1, when it defines that those words: “This is my body” must be understood properly, not figuratively, it did not publish but declared the word of God. And when the Council of Nicaea defined that Christ is homoousion (consubstantial) with the Father, it drew the conclusion from the Scriptures in which it is precisely contained that there is one God, and the Father is God, as well as the Son, from which it necessarily follows that the Father and the Son are of the same substance and divinity. Likewise, in the sixth Council, when it defines that Christ had two wills, divine and human, it drew the conclusion from Scripture in which it is contained that Christ is perfect God and perfect man.
The second distinction arises from this first, and is that the sacred writers ought not labor much in in producing these books; for it was enough if they would labor by writing or dictating if they were giving prophecies; or to the chief point by recalling to memory what they had seen or heard, and thought the words which they should write, if they were writing histories or epistles or something similar. But the Fathers in Councils ought to seek the matter itself, i.e. to investigate conclusions by disputation, reading and reflection. For that reason, we read in Acts 15 in the first Council that there was a great deal of questioning. Ruffinus witnesses about the Council of Nicaea in book 10, cap. 5, hist. Ecclesiasticae, in regards to Acts 15 the fathers of the Council say: “It has been seen by the Holy Spirit and us,” i.e. the Holy Spirit assists our industry and diligence. But the sacred writers only attribute the things which they write to God and this is why the prophets so often repeat: “Thus speaks the Lord.”
The third is that in the Scripture there is no error whether it is treated on faith or on morals, and whether some general thing is affirmed, even common to the whole Church, or some particular thing pertaining to one man. But it is both certain and of the faith that without the grace of the Holy Spirit no man is saved, and Peter, Paul, Stephan and certain others truly had the Holy Spirit and were saved, seeing that the same Scripture witnesses that both are most true, but Councils can err in particular judgments.
The fourth is that in Scripture not only teachings, but even each and every word pertains to faith. We believe no word in Scripture is in vain or not correctly placed, but in Councils the greater part of the acts does not pertain to faith. For disputations that are prefaced, or reasons which are added, or the things that are advanced to explain and illustrate matters are not de fide, rather only the bare decrees and not even all of these, but only those which are proposed as de fide. Sometimes Councils define something not as a decree but as probable, such as when the Council of Vienne decreed that it must be held as more probable that grace and the virtues are infused into infants at Baptism, as it is contained in Clem. uni. de Summa Trinitate et fide Catholica. But when a decree is proposed as de fide, it is easily discerned from the words of the Council because they usually say they explain the Catholic faith or they must be held as heretics who think the contrary; or what is most common, they say anathema and exclude anyone from the Church that thinks the contrary. But when they say none of these, the matter is not certain de fide.
Next, in the very decrees on faith, not the words but only the sense pertains to faith. It is not heretical to say that in canons of Councils some word is superfluous or not correctly placed, except perhaps the decree were formed from the word itself, such as when in the Council of Nicaea they decreed the word o`moou,sion must be received, and in Ephesus the word Qeoto,kon.
The fifth is, that Scripture does not need the approval of the Pope to be authentic, but only that its authority would be known; but Councils, even legitimate and general ones, are not ratified until they are confirmed by the Pope, as we showed in a previous question.
But certain men object. Gratian, in d. 19, can. In canonicis, affirms the decretal epistles of Popes ought to be numbered among the canonical Scriptures, and in d. 20, can. Decretales, says the canons of Councils are of the same authority with the decretal epistles, therefore even the canons of Councils are numbered among the canonical Scriptures; consequently the Scriptures are not placed before Councils. Besides, St. Gregory says that he venerates the first four Councils as the four books of the Gospels (lib. 1 epist. 24).
I respond twofold to Gratian.
Firstly, he was deceived from a corrupted codex which he held to be of St. Augustine, for he attributed that canon to Augustine (lib. 2 doct. Christiana, cap. 8); but the true and corrected codices of St. Augustine do not have what Gratian relates but differ by far. Augustine does not say that the epistles that the Apostolic See usually gives or receives are canonical Scripture, as Gratian read, but a judgment on holy writings that pertain to the Churches and chiefly to those which are Apostolic Sees or merit to receive epistles, such as are Rome, in which Peter sat and to which Paul wrote; Ephesus, in which John sat and to which the same Paul wrote, and certain others.
I say secondly, with this error posited, Gratian did not mean to say that decrees of the Popes are properly sacred and canonical Scriptures like the Gospels or the Psalms, but that they are holy writings so as to distinguish them from profane writings, and canonical so as to distinguish them from the sacred writings of the Fathers, which are not rules nor have the authority to oblige. Although the canons of Popes and Councils are distinguished and placed after the divine Scripture, nevertheless they may and must be called sacred writings as well as canonical, just as the seventh Council, in act. 3, calls decrees of Councils divinely inspired constitutions. Nay more, Innocent, cap Cum Marthae extra de celebratione Missarum, calls the teaching of St. Augustine a sacred writing: “He does a martyr an injury that prays for him,” serm. 17, from the words of the Apostle. Moreover, that Gratian felt the decrees of Councils must not be equated with the divine scriptures properly so called, is clear from 36 caussa, quaest. 2 can. Placuit, where he placed the opinion of Jerome, because it was fortified with the testimony of divine Scripture, ahead of a decree of a Council.
I respond to that of Gregory: it sounds like a similitude, not equating, as that of Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect just as your heavenly father is perfect.” Or if it would sound like equating, it will need to be said that Gregory does not compare the Councils with the Gospels in all things, but only in the same certitude whereby it is spoken of in the Scriptures as well as in the decrees of Councils. Since both are of infallible truth, they can be said to be equally certain; but just as Councils are not of a greater authority than the Scripture, it remains that we explain at least whether the authority of an ecumenical Council were greater than that of the Supreme Pontiff.

Christian Doctrine: The Timeless Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine – Now available!

Christian Doctrine:
The Timeless Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine

Translated from the Latin edition and revised according to the original Italian by
Ryan Grant
With a foreword by His Excellency
Bishop Athanasius Schneider

$20.00 (+shipping)

 

Doctrina Christiana: The Timeless Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine
Translated by Ryan Grant
With a new Introduction by Bishop Athanasius Schneider

Kindle $9.00 (Purchase on Amazon)

Doctrina Christiana: The Timeless Catechism of St. Robert Bellarmine
(Hardcover)
St. Robert Bellarmine
Translated by Ryan Grant
With a foreword by his excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider

ISBN: 978-1-365-42981-1
$40.00

This catechism can be considered as a valid and effective catechetical tool for the work of the evangelization, a work which has to be realized with a new missionary zeal towards those who don’t know the Catholic faith and as well towards those who know it defectively and insufficiently.

May those who will read this catechism and those who will use it in the noble and meritorious work of teaching Christian doctrine, may be equipped with the sure and sacred doctrine of the Catholic faith, in order to stand, having their loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  and their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  above all, they shall take the shield of faith, wherewith they shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked (cf. Eph 6: 14-16). In this way they will be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks them the reason of their hope, with meekness and fear (cf. 1 Peter 3: 15-16).
-Bishop Athanasius Schneider
From the Foreword

For the first time, St. Robert Bellarmine’s long Catechism, written in the form of a dialogue, has been made available in the English Language.

This Catechism was composed by St. Robert Bellarmine in 1598 and received Papal approbation from several Popes, most notably Pope Clement VIII and one of the greatest theologians to ever sit on the throne of St. Peter, Pope Benedict XIV. It was translated into Latin for use throughout the Church and has run through a number of editions throughout the centuries. Being written as a dialogue, it goes beyond the rote memorization of other catechisms (including that of Baltimore) by giving a deep explanation of the teachings of the faith with comparisons and parables.

What is wholesome about this Catechism is not only the soundness of its doctrine, but the warmth that a great theologian that was accustomed to dealing with complicated matters of theology descends to lovingly explain the basic truths of faith in a manner that average laity can easily understand. It is not for nothing that St. Robert was made the Patron of all Catechists! Order today!

A preview:

bellarmine_catechism_frong

Student. Now that we have covered that, I am eager to know how the Mass is a compendium of the whole life of Christ; is it because I am so moved to devotion and attention when it happens that I am present there?

Teacher. I will say it briefly. The Introit of the Mass signifies the desire which the Holy Fathers had for the coming of Christ. The Kyrie eleison signifies the words of these Patriarchs and Prophets who sought from God the desired coming of the Messiah at such a time. The Gloria in excelsis means the Lord’s Birth. The subsequent Oratio or Collect signifies His presentation and offering in the Temple. The Epistle, customarily said at the left side of the altar (right to us) signifies the preaching of St. John the Baptist, inviting men to Christ. The Gradual, or response to the Epistle, signifies the life arising from the preaching of St. John. The Gospel, customarily read at the right side of the altar (our left), signifies the preaching of Our Lord whereby we move from the left to the right, i.e. from temporal things to eternal ones, and from sin to grace, where the lights are carried and the incense is enkindled and the Holy Gospel illumines the whole world, and it was filled with the sweet odor of Divine glory. The Creed signifies the conversion of the Holy Apostles and of the other disciples of Christ. The Secret, which immediately follows the Creed, signifies the secret plots of the Jews against Christ. The Preface, sung in a high voice, customarily ends with the Hosanna in excelsis, and it signifies the solemn entry of Christ into Jerusalem which He made on Palm Sunday. The Canon which comes after the Preface, represents the Passion of our Lord. The Elevation of the host teaches that Christ was lifted up on the Cross. The Pater noster, the prayer of Christ hanging on the cross. The fraction of the Host shows the wound that was made upon Him by the lance. The Angus Dei signifies the weeping of Mary when Christ was taken down from the cross. The Communion of the priest signifies the burial of Christ. The chant which follows with great joy shows the Lord’s Resurrection. The Ite Missa est, signifies the Ascension. The Final Blessing of the priest relates the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Last Gospel that is read at the end of Mass, signifies the preaching of the Holy Apostles when, filled with the Holy Spirit, they began to preach the Gospel through the whole world, and began the conversion of the nations.

S. I would like to know whether the honor that we show to saints and their relics and images is opposed to this Divine Commandment, because it seems that we worship all these things, seeing that we genuflect before them and pray to them just as in the presence of God?

 

T. The Church is the spouse of God and the Holy Ghost her teacher;[1] for that reason there is no danger that she would deceive or would do anything or teach that something must be done that is opposed to the Commandments of God.[2] Moreover, that I might respond to you in this particular matter, we honor and invoke the saints as friends of God who can be an assistance to us by their prayers and merits; still, we do not hold them as Gods, nor do we adore them as Gods. It is also not against this commandment that we genuflect in their presence, because that worship is not proper to God alone, but even to creatures, especially if it is offered to loftier ones, such as to the Supreme Pontiff and to kings. In fact, it is in common use in many places for religious to genuflect in the presence of their superiors; for this reason, it is no wonder if we show such worship to the saints reigning with Christ in Heaven, such as we show to certain men abiding here on earth.

 

S. Therefore, why do we say, in regard to the relics of the saints, that even though they exert no influence, nevertheless we pray and genuflect to them?

 

T. By no means do we direct prayers to relics, which we rightly know are without sense; rather, we honor them because they were the instruments of those holy souls by which they sent forth both excellent works of virtues and merits of life, and the living and glorious bodies existed in their own times, but now are a precious pledge of the love which they bear toward us even now.[3] Consequently, we pour forth prayers before the relics of the saints, praying to those very saints so that through those very sweet pledges, which we hold, we might remember to call to our minds as we show that we have called to mind the honor expended to them.

 

S. Can the same be shown about images?

 

T. It is like this: because we in no way hold the images of our Lord, of the Blessed Virgin and the saints as Gods,[4] for that reason they cannot be called idols like those of the Gentiles, for they are merely images which call to our mind Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints and to the extent that they are in place of books for those who do not read, because from these many Mysteries of the Catholic Faith are learned, as well as the life and death of many saints.[5] Nor do we do them honor because the images are merely made from paper, or some metal, or however skillfully they are made, rather because they represent Christ, the Blessed Virgin or other saints. And because we know these images lack all life and sense, since they were made by human hands, we ask nothing from them. Still, while praying before them, we implore the help of those whom they depict, namely, the help of Christ, the Blessed Virgin and other Saints.

[1] Ephesians 5:23.

[2] Augustine, Contra Faustum, c. 12.

[3] Ambrose, de vid. Hieron. cont. Vigil.

[4] Council of Nicaea, 11.

[5] St. Gregory I, ep. ad Serenum.

 

On the Church Militant

On the Church Militant
St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J.
Translated by Ryan Grant
With a foreword by Dr. Michael Sirilla

ISBN-13: 978-0692736760
ISBN-10: 069273676X
178 pages

$18.00

Mediatrix Press continues its publication of St. Robert Bellarmine’s De Controversiis with his work “On the Church Militant.” In this work, Bellarmine lays out the principles that will ground the discussion of the Church throughout his remaining treatises on the subject. He begins with the notion of Church, the Catholic teaching of what the Church is, then a discussion of those who are and are not in the Church, as well as whether great sinners and secret heretics might be in the Church, concluding with a discussion of whether the Church is visible and whether it could defect. Bellarmine makes use first of Scripture, then the Fathers and finally logic and reason to refute the first Protestants who lived in his time and draw together all the teachings of ancient heretics and their refutations, resulting in clearly demonstrating that the Catholic Church’s Ecclesiology has never changed.

St. Robert Bellarmine’s theological writings on the Church of Christ constitute an invaluable treasure not only for Catholics, but for the commonweal and eternal salvation of humanity itself. This is no slight exaggeration. His is the very first independent theological and dogmatic treatise on the Church. Patristic and medieval Catholic authors treated on the mystery of the Church, to be sure; but they provided no free-standing treatment de ecclesia. Bellarmine’s is the first and the best of its kind.

-Dr. Mike Sirilla

 

On the Church Militant – Pre-order

On_the_church_militant

On the Church Militant
St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J.
200 pages
$14.99 Pre-Order

Mediatrix Press continues its publication of St. Robert Bellarmine’s De Controversiis with his work “On the Church Militant.” In this work, Bellarmine lays out the principles that will ground the discussion of the Church throughout his remaining treatises on the subject. He begins with the notion of Church, the Catholic teaching of what the Church is, then a discussion of those who are and are not in the Church, as well as whether great sinners and secret heretics might be in the Church, concluding with a discussion of whether the Church is visible and whether it could defect. Bellarmine makes use first of Scripture, then the Fathers and finally logic and reason to refute the first Protestants who lived in his time and draw together all the teachings of ancient heretics and their refutations, resulting in clearly demonstrating that the Catholic Church’s Ecclesiology has never changed.

Pre-order today, this work is expected in May 2016.