Q&A January AD 2013
Our Lady of the Rosary
Why do Catholics Burn Candles in Church?
Must Catholics Accept Vatican II?
Why do Catholics employ
candles in their worship? (M.B., Connecticut)
Answer: An obvious answer, of course,
is "to provide light." In the early Church, Catholics often worshipped in the
underground catacombs or burial vaults where they were protected from
persecution by Roman law. Even when the Church emerged "above ground" in the
fourth century, architectural standards were such that the interiors of most
large buildings were fairly dark. Extensive use of glass windows came only in
the middle ages. With modern lighting, candles are retained as a symbolic link
with earlier ages.
The use of candles also expresses a certain
degree of festivity. They give a cheery glow unmatched by electric light. At
Mass, at least two beeswax candles are required on the altar. Four or six are
used on festive occasions and for high Mass. A seventh is permitted in
pontifical Masses. Four candles are employed at the low Mass of a bishop. An
additional candle may be lit near the altar from the Sanctus to the Communion to
indicate that the canon of the Mass is in progress. Additional candles are
employed when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for veneration. At solemn
functions the acolytes carry candles when not otherwise occupied. Acolytes
receive an unlighted candle (and an empty cruet) in the ceremony of their
Votive candles are burned before the Blessed
Sacrament or images of our Lord and the saints by the faithful. The burning
candle is a sort of sacrificial gift, left to consume itself, and to serve as a
reminder of the donor's prayerful intentions. They are usually enclosed in
colored glasses, adding to the festive aspect of their use.
The Paschal candle is symbolic of the risen
Christ, and religious writers have suggested involved explanations of the
symbolism. The wax made by virgin bees is said to represent the flesh of Christ,
born of the Virgin Mary. The combination of the wick and the wax is seen as a
symbol of the hypostatic union of our Lord's humanity and divinity. The flame is
suggestive of our Lord's divinity, and reminds us of His presence among the
Israelites in a pillar of flame.
Although the sanctuary lamp properly burns olive
oil, a large candle is often employed as a more practical alternative. Together
with the tabernacle veil, it is indicative of the Presence of our Lord in the
Archbishop Müller, the Prefect of the CDF told the Society of Saint Pius X (and
presumably other traditional Catholics) that they must accept Vatican II in
order to be Catholics. How can this be since that Council brought such
unmitigated disaster to the Church?
polite answer is that the Prefect is more confused than usual. His statement
was: “One can only be Catholic if one fully recognizes the faith of the Church.
This includes the Second Vatican Council, which is a particularly important
Ecumenical Councils are,
in fact, capable of defining the belief of the Church. This is covered in canon
law, and worth having a look at the current Code (Canon 1323 of the 1917 Code,
in use at the time of Vatican II, is substantially the same):
Can. 749 §1
In virtue of his office the Supreme Pontiff is infallible in his teaching when,
as chief Shepherd and Teacher of all Christ's faithful, with the duty of
strengthening his brethren in the faith, he proclaims by definitive act a
doctrine to be held concerning faith or morals.
College of Bishops also possesses infallibility in its teaching when the
Bishops, gathered together in an Ecumenical Council and exercising their
magisterium as teachers and judges of faith and morals, definitively declare for
the universal Church a doctrine to be held concerning faith or morals; likewise,
when the Bishops, dispersed throughout the world but maintaining the bond of
union among themselves and with the successor of Peter, together with the same
Roman Pontiff authentically teach matters of faith or morals, and are agreed
that a particular teaching is definitively to be held.
doctrine is understood to be infallibly defined unless this is manifestly
To begin with, infallible
statements of the Faith are, to use the word of Vatican I “irreformable.”
An accurate statement of the Faith is not capable of being changed because it is
a statement of objective truth revealed by God. For example, since it has been
defined that “most blessed Virgin Mary was, in the first instant of her
Conception, preserved ... from any stain of original sin” it would be
impossible for a future Pope or council to declare that Mary was conceived with
original sin. Likewise, it would be impossible for any Pope or council to
redefine the Church’s official teaching on the possibility of salvation outside
of the Church—something which seems to be the chief feature of Vatican II.
One also has to question
Vatican II in the light of “§3 No doctrine is understood to be infallibly
defined unless this is manifestly demonstrated.” A statement that might
be infallible is useless as a guide to the Faith. The long
documents issued by Popes and councils cannot of themselves be said to be
“infallible,” as they generally contain a lot of background information that is
not the subject of the pronouncement. For example, Pope Pius IX’ definition of
the Immaculate Conception alluded to earlier is but one sentence in a multipage
document that explains the history of the doctrine. It is the sentence and not
the document that is infallible, and we know the sentence to be infallible
because the Pope concluded it with:
... is a
doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by
all the faithful."
anyone shall dare—which God forbid!—to think otherwise than as has been defined
by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment;
that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the
unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the
penalties established by law if he should are to express in words or writing or
by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart.
In other cases, where
multiple doctrinal items are defied, the authors will produce a list of
“anathemas.” The list takes the form of correct propositions accompanied by
words to the effect that “If anyone denies that ________ is true, let him be
anathema” (i.e. “let him be damned”).
One finds nothing like
the words of Pius IX, and no list of propositions that must be believed in the
entirety of the Vatican II documents. Throughout the Council, we were assured
that the Church was defining nothing new—merely restating the truths of the
Faith in modern language. One clearly understood that the Council Fathers
thought modern man was too mature to be told what he must believe—and, indeed
they left no canons or lists of things which Catholics must believe, and no
lists of penalties for those who do not believe:
generations give rise to varying errors, and these often vanish as quickly as
they came, like mist before the sun.
has always opposed these errors, and often condemned them with the utmost
severity. Today, however, Christ's Bride prefers the balm of mercy to the arm of
severity. She believes that, present needs are best served by explaining more
fully the purport of her doctrines, rather than by publishing condemnations.
There was no threat of
expulsion from the Church. Preposterously, all sorts of non-Catholics would be
welcomed as “honorary” members during and after the Council:
I spoke of
the Jews as our elder brothers in the faith. These words were an
expression both of the Council's teaching, and a profound conviction on the part
of the Church.
The plan of
salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator in the first place
amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and
together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last
Hinduism men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an unspent
fruitfulness of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry.... Buddhism
in its multiple forms acknowledges the radical insufficiency of this shifting
world. It teaches a path by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, can
either reach a state of absolute freedom or attain supreme enlightenment by
their own efforts or by higher assistance.
The Council was very
ambiguous. The Constitution Lumen Gentium, told us that “this Church, [of
Christ] constituted and organized as a society in this present, world,
subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, governed by the
Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him...” but something
can subsist in various forms and places, either simultaneously or sequentially.
Given this definition, the Church of Christ might subsist in a number of bodies,
and perhaps stop subsisting in the body governed by the Successor of Peter. It
is said that the term was recommended by one of the Protestant observers at the
Council—perhaps one of the Protestant ministers employed to make Pope Paul’s new
“Mass” more acceptable to Protestants.
“Ecumenism” has led many
Catholics to engage in false worship of the true God, as well as the worship of
false “gods.” Pouring out libations to the snake god in the forest of Togo,
and allowing a statue of the Buddha to be placed on top of the tabernacle on a
may be okay by Vatican II standards—they certainly do not comport with the First
Commandment of God.
Implied ,although not
explicitly written in the Council documents, the underlying error of Vatican II
is the denial of objective truth—the idea that truth can change over time
through a dialectical process—that by a “dialogue” of the “acting persons” we
can arrive at a consensus that represents today’s “truth.” The obvious problem
is that such “truth” would be continuously changing, depending on who is a party
to the “dialogue” at any given moment. If it seems far-fetched that anyone
could hold such a notion of “flexible truth,” consider that it has spilled over
into other disciplines, even those concerned with the physical world.
We can agree that the
truth is sometimes difficult to know, and that the human intellect is not always
capable of discovering the truth about the world around it, and may go from
theory to theory as it approaches objective truth—man’s scientific understanding
of fire is a good case in point.
But theology is not dependent on observation like the natural sciences—theology
is based on God’s revelation, and the theologian doesn’t need to worry about
whether or not he observed all of the relevant variables. When God tells us
that something is true we do not need to ask whether it is true at all
temperatures, pressures, and levels of radioactivity!
Yet, in 1995, in the
encyclical Ut unum sint, Pope John Paul II released an incredible list of
doctrines that were up for “dialogue”:
relationship between Sacred Scripture, as the highest authority in matters of
faith, and Sacred Tradition, as indispensable to the interpretation of the Word
of God; 2) the Eucharist, as the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, an
offering of praise to the Father, the sacrificial memorial and Real Presence of
Christ and the sanctifying outpouring of the Holy Spirit; 3) Ordination as a
Sacrament, to the threefold ministry of the episcopate, presbyterate and
diaconate; 4) the Magisterium of the Church , entrusted to the Pope and the
Bishops in communion with him, understood as a responsibility and an authority
exercised in the name of Christ for teaching and safeguarding the faith; 5) the
Virgin Mary, as Mother of God and Icon of the Church, the spiritual mother who
intercedes for Christ's disciples and all humanity."(#79)
In #95, the Pope calls
for dialog about the nature of the Papacy itself!
circumstances, ecumenical councils are called only when needed to deal with some
pressing matter of the current time (e.g. Nicaea to deal with the Arian heresy;
Trent to deal with the Protestant heresy). The most important heresies of the
twentieth century were Marxism and Modernism. Not only did Marxism go
un-condemned, but a Vatican-Moscow agreement was made,
and a former Prefect of the CDF praised the conciliar document Gaudium et
spes, saying that it “represents, on the part of the Church, an attempt at
an official reconciliation with the new era inaugurated in 1789.” He identified
1789 with the French Revolution—the first great socialist revolution, in which
may Catholic people, clergy, and religious were put to death for the Faith.
The current Prefect is well known for his involvement in “liberation theology,”
a futile but dangerous attempt to “baptize” the class struggle of Karl Marx.
Today, we repeatedly
receive endorsements of the Godless
United Nations world government from Vatican and other high Church officials.
From Pope Paul VI who called the U.N., “the obligatory path of modern
civilization and of world peace ... the last hope of concord and peace”
to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger who yearned for an armed international peacekeeping
and who as Pope demands redistribution of wealth and “a reform of the United
Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and
international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can
acquire real teeth.”
Shortly after Vatican II,
the Oath against Modernism was eliminated by Pope Paul VI. Required from 1910
until 1967, the Oath kept Catholic clergy and professors from teaching that
religious truth is derived from the sentiment and opinion evolving over time.
The doctrinal confusion and moral relativism of our time is the direct result of
this capitulation to Modernism.
Archbishop Müller remains
Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope (NY: Knopf, 1994)