“This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.” (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 14)

Not a day goes by that I don’t thank Almighty God I am Catholic. Not a year passes where I don’t witness his providential guidance at work in my life through the numinous mysteries of Catholicism — through the Latin Mass, always brimming with ethereal peace and the omnipotence of the Master of the Universe; through the Sacrament of Confession, which never fails to soothe the soul with the ‘Balm of Gilead;’ through the jewel-ridden texts of my 1962 Breviary; through the victorious pleas of the Most Holy Rosary, and so much more.

My domestic church and homeschooling hub is chock full and oozing with Catholic goodies and books, not to mention bustling with five adorable Catholic children. Gregorian Chant is the music of choice at our home, and on my piano rests a funeral candle with the faces of my two beautiful, twin infant girls who were baptized thanks to Catholicism. 

But, I have to say, I shudder to think what both my soul and my house would look like if I hadn’t been rescued from a dreadfully long list of heresies, worldly wanderings and paganistic acrobatics. I had to think what would have happened to me if it hadn’t been for a handful of orthodox, faithful Catholics who savored the more than 2,000-year-old Church teaching, “Extra ecclesiam nulla salus,” (Outside of the Church there exists no salvation).

Along my journey home to Rome, in my relentless search for the Truth of all truths, I trudged through plenty of spiritualized mud. As a young person, I participated in New Age religious ceremonies, and trudged through the cadaverous tunnels of heretical fancies, Shamanism, Green Spirituality, Transcendentalism, and Quakerism. I inquired into joining “counter-cultural” communes, the Hare Krishnas and the Jehovah Witnesses, and went to Greek Orthodox liturgies. Being raised Calvinist Reformed, God’s grace removed its barnacles from my soul, along with the clutches of all of the other Protestant ecclesial communities I visited with interest, like the Missouri Synod Lutherans, non-denominational charismatic “mega churches,” the Pentecostals, the Evangelical Lutherans, the Orthodox Presbyterians and so on. The mere thought of all I went through is exasperating.

And yet, for reasons I will never fully grasp in this life, God’s all-embracing mercy continued to enlighten me, slowly but surely guiding me home to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, at age 21. I am grateful to my few tried-and-true Catholic friends who showed me authentic charity by telling me I needed to become Catholic. In doing so, they showed me great respect as a child of God. By gently pointing out the sin and error I was living in, they loved me and they lived out Catholicism in its fullness.

I am also eternally indebted to the authors who wrote the mounds of “real-deal” Catholic books that were a guiding light on my way home. If these friends and authors had somehow indicated that I was just fine where I was, or that somehow I could just “synchronize” the pagan, heretical or Protestant practices I was embracing along with Catholicism, I would likely still be sinking down into that good ol' muck of confusion and despair. I may have no chance of getting to Heaven, and the precious children I have since borne may not either.

As we are ransacked by so much of the news of the Pan-Amazon Synod and its instrumentum laboris, I am deeply saddened that the Amazonian people are not being treated with the same charity and respect that I once was. I feel outraged that they are being cheated and misled. Each creature God has fashioned deserves a chance to encounter the sublimity of Catholicism, and be radiated by its splendor. As Bishop Athanasius Schneider recently wrote:

The affirmation on the diversity of religions in the Abu Dhabi document and especially the errors in the instrumentum laboris for the coming Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon contribute to a betrayal of the incomparable uniqueness of the Person of Jesus Christ and of the integrity of the Catholic Faith. And this occurs before the eyes of the whole Church and of the world. A similar situation existed in the fourth century, when with the silence of almost the entire episcopate, the consubstantiality of the  of God was betrayed in favor of ambiguous doctrinal affirmations of semi-Arianism, a betrayal in which even Pope Liberius participated for a short time.

As the Synod assembly winds down, we must ask ourselves what has happened to the numerous solemn definitions that the Catholic Church has made, and the clear words the saints have made throughout its history, regarding “Extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

As St. Augustine said:

No man can find salvation except in the Catholic Church. Outside the Catholic Church one can have everything, except salvation. One can have honor, one can have sacraments, one can sing alleluia, one can answer amen, one can have faith in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and preach it too, but never can one find salvation except in the Catholic Church.

To disregard this, especially in this modern age haunted by utter confusion and angst, would be a terrible disservice to all of humankind.

 

Prayer to St. Thérèse of Lisieux

St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, thou who hast been rightly proclaimed the patroness of Catholic missions throughout the world, remember the burning desire which thou didst manifest here on earth to plant the Cross of Christ on every shore and to preach the Gospel even to the consummation of the world; we implore tee, according to thy promise, to assist all priests and missionaries and the whole Church of God. St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, patroness of the missions, pray for us!