The Church Cannot Defect or Err

Can the Church defect? Can the Church err? In the third and final part of this three part series on the Church, St. Bellarmine answers these questions as it will be shown that the Church cannot err and that the visible Church cannot defect. Once again, this article will exclusively call upon the monumental book De Controversiis: Tomus II, On The Church, written by Doctor of the Church, St. Robert Bellarmine and translated by Ryan Grant from the original Latin into English. The errors refuted by St. Bellarmine during his time are sorrowfully still pervasive today. The diabolical error of believing and promoting that the Church can defect and err is the focus of this article. These errant ideas, based on private judgement, abysmal theology and ecclesiology are frequently promoted by Protestants and Sedevacantists. St. Bellarmine dissects and dismantles these lamentable errors while providing the good, true, and beautiful teaching of Holy Mother Church. St. Bellarmine applies Sacred Scripture, the writing of the Church Fathers, and reason to solidly make his case. The remainder of this article will consist entirely of excerpts from St. Bellarmine’s De Controversiis: Tomus II, On The Church.

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What Are The Marks Of The Church?

In the first part of this series, St. Robert Bellarmine explained what the Church is and that it is in fact visible. This the second part of the series will focus on The Marks of the Church as taught by St. Bellarmine in His monumental work, De Controversiis: Tomus II On The Church, translated by Ryan Grant from the original Latin into English. In recent times it is commonly taught that there are four marks of the Church and that those marks or notes are that the Church is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. St. Bellarmine expounds upon these four marks/ notes as he delineates fifteen marks of the Church. In the introduction to the chapter On The Marks Of The Church he writes:

“Since we have briefly refuted these ’marks,’ it remains that we should propose the true marks. It must be observed from the beginning, however, that the Catholic Church is as a sun, which diffuses it’s most beautiful rays of light from every side, that it can be recognized very easily through them. Indeed, it has many marks, or testimonies, and signs, which discern her from every false religion of the Pagans, of Jews, and Heretics. Indeed, they do not evidently cause truth: she is the true church of God, but nevertheless they cause it to be evidently believable, for it is not the same thing to be evidently true and evidently believable. 

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The Church, what is it?

The purpose of this life is to know, love, and serve God in order to be happy with Him in the next. To truly know, love, and serve God, one must be a living member of The Body of Christ. A man either lives within in The City of Man or within The City of God. A man is either inside the Ark of the Church or else he is outside of it. The City of God and the Ark of the Church are one in the same, The Holy Catholic Church. What is The Church? Where can this Church be found? Is the Church visible? Who are members of the Church? Who aren’t members of the Church? Are the unbaptized, members of The Mystical Body of Christ? What about heretics and secret heretics? Does the Church have marks by which it may be known? What are The Marks of The Church?

This article, which is part 1 of a series, will address these questions through proclaiming the teaching of St. Robert Bellarmine and The Magisterium of the Church. This article will greatly rely upon and extensively quote from St. Robert Bellarmine’s magnum opus “De Controversiis Christianae Fidei Adversus Huius Temporis Haereticos”, which translated to English means, “On The Controversies Of The Christian Faith Against The Heretics Of This Time”. Particular focus will be given to St. Bellarmine’s “De Controversiis: Tomus II On The Church Vol. 1” translated from the original Latin to English by Ryan Grant. Saint Robert Bellarmine is a Doctor of The Church who was blessed with a photographic memory. He was a great scholar and theologian. Saint Bellarmine’s work “On The Church” is fundamentally important in properly understanding Catholic Ecclesiology.

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Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus, Why Does It Matter?

Why does Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus matter? It matters because it is an infallible Dogma of The Faith which pertains to salvation. A Great Apostasy is unfolding around the globe as many souls and entire nations are tragically abandoning The Ark of The Church. The loss of so many souls is heart wrenching and cause for great sorrow. True Charity demands that the Dogma of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus be proclaimed loudly and universally do to a love of souls for the sake of Christ and His Glory. The Theological Virtue of Charity moves us to love our neighbors for the sake of God. A faithful Catholic’s First Love must always be God. In Matthew 22: 36-40 Our Blessed Lord Teaches:

“[36] Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law? [37] Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. [38] This is the greatest and the first commandment. [39] And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. [40] On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets.”

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Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus, What Is It?

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus is a Latin phrase which means, Outside The Church, There Is No Salvation. It is an infallible Dogma of The Catholic Church which The Church has taught always and everywhere. The Church has always taught that Noah’s Ark was a type of The Holy Catholic Church. The online Catholic Encyclopedia defines a biblical type as: “a type is a person or thing prefiguring a future person or thing, the connection between the two terms is intended by Him who foresees and arranges the course of history.”

Just as in the days of Noah, there was no salvation outside of his Ark, so too there is no salvation outside of The Catholic Church, which is The Ark of Salvation as willed by Almighty God. Some people, either ignorantly or maliciously, assert that this Church Dogma is merely a Medieval invention. Such an assertion is demonstrably false. The antiquity and universality of this fundamental Truth is without doubt because it has been clearly taught by Doctors of The Church, Saints, Popes, and Ecumenical Councils since the earliest days of The Church. The Holy Catholic Church Authoritatively and Perennially Teaches Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus as follows:

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The Crowning With Thorns: Sin And The Soul

The first instance in which The Lord God was mocked was when Lucifer and his angels rebelled and refused to serve He who created them. The creature revolted against The Creator. With full knowledge that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, Satan and his angels chose disobedience and instantly fell from grace. They chose their will instead of God’s Will. Thus, war broke out in heaven. St. Michael the archangel answered the call to lead the good angels against Lucifer and his fallen angels. In Hebrew, Michael means “Who is like unto God?” This was the banner that St. Michael and the good angels raised as they fought the fallen angels and cast them, by the power of God, down from heaven. The second instance that God was mocked was when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate of the apple from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Having allowed themselves to be seduced by the Ancient Serpent, they sought to become as gods and ascribed to themselves that which only can be ascribed to God. This is The Original Sin which led to humanity’s expulsion from The Garden of Eden.

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The Scourging At The Pillar: Sin And The Soul

Our Blessed Lord suffered the effects of our sins in His Sacred Flesh. Looking upon Our Blessed Lord during His scourging at the pillar we contemplate also the very real effects of sin on our souls. Each time the sadistic whip tore the Sacred flesh of Jesus, we see in all of it’s terror the effect each sin has on our souls. Traditionally, Catholics especially consider sins of impurity while meditating upon the scourging at the pillar. In atonement for our sins and the sins of the whole world, Jesus allowed Himself, although sinless, to take the weight of our sins upon Himself. 

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The Agony In The Garden: Sin And The Soul

In the first sorrowful mystery, we find Jesus suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane. Within the Sacred Humanity of our Blessed Lord, we see the visceral effects of sin as He who is without sin allows Himself to bare the enormity of the sins of the whole world. Our first parents, Adam and Eve sinned and fell from grace in the Garden of Eden. Fittingly Jesus begins His Passion and Redemptive Hour in a garden. Sin entered the world in a garden and sin is undone in a garden. Adam and Eve disobeyed The Lord God and they found themselves naked and condemned to death. Jesus Christ is obedient to The Father’s Will, even to death on a cross and from Him and through Him, death itself is condemned. As Jesus endures His Passion for us, we can see as if in an inversion, the effects of sin on our souls manifested in the Sacred Flesh of Our Lord.

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Types of Extraordinary Diabolical Activity

The Church teaches that there are two categories of demonic activity, ordinary and extraordinary diabolical activity. Ordinary diabolical activity generally pertains to temptation and is a lifelong battle. Temptation is deadly serious when it leads to mortal sin and as such it shouldn't be scoffed at. The great majority of instances of extraordinary diabolical activity first began as ordinary diabolical activity. Extraordinary diabolical activity receives it’s title not merely because it is sensational (it often is) but more accurately because it is “out of the ordinary”. Extraordinary diabolical activity is far less common than ordinary diabolical activity and thanks be to God for that fact! Renowned exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth, explains the types of extraordinary diabolical activity in his excellent book “An Exorcist Explains The Demonic” as follows:

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