Book review of, "That They All May Be One" by Father Charles A. Hough III
Father Charles Hough III
Chapter 1. The Second Vatican Council in Historical Context
Chapter 1 begins describing the "People of God" who are personified by those who were born into the Twelve Hebrew Tribes which were carried out of Egypt into the promised land. "People of God" was translated in a more inclusive way in the New Testament. The Twelve Hebrew Tribes were called to the teachings of the Covenant and given special status of creating a bridge to God's preparations for His presence and Word to be spread to the whole world. God's plan for salvation began with Abraham, the formation of the Hebrew Covenant. p. 1.
Note: All people are, "People of God." No group has special status above another. Abraham married a Canaanite as did many other Hebrews. The term "Hebrew" is cultural, not racial. "Hebrews" are a mixed race as are we all.
The underlying issues Jesus had with the Pharisees indicate the Pharisees took the teachings of the Covenant and perverted them. The Pharisees took the teachings meant for the whole world and made them exclusive for the Hebrews only. p. 1.
Note: in future editions the word, "misunderstood" should be used instead of, "perverted." This is because of the Catholic sexual abuse crisis in the Archdiocese of Boston. Further, if an agreement is perverted or misunderstood it is void due to the lack of understanding. Therefore the Covenant did not exist.
St. Paul presented the concept of God's love being manifested to the Hebrew people into the greater concept of God's love for the entire world. This occurred in the First Council of the Church known as the Council of Jerusalem. The Council was presided over by St. James, the Apostle and the Council agreed. Jesus was a bonafide Jew, but He was living out the true essence and meaning of the Covenant, which is for everyone. p. 2.
Note: By the word, "Jew" is Father Hough III referring to race or religion? We are all of one race and the teachings of Jesus were contrary to the teachings of the Rabbis. Contrary teaching is why the Rabbis wanted to kill Him. Therefore Jesus was not Jewish.
There were movements in the Church to address the issues of Papal authority, ecumenical issues (furthering the Church as a Whole) and infallibility. p. 4. So Vatican II embraced both the infallibility of the Papacy and a Church which excludes no one. p. 5. Our relationship to the Pope elevates us, because he is our direct connection to Jesus Christ. Protestant Denominations lack this direct connection to Jesus Christ through the See of Peter. p. 6-7.
Is a resurrection a Near Death Experience?
Chapter 2. What it means to be Catholic
Chapter 2 of "The Constitutions" focuses on what it means to be Catholic. Catholic means universal, but it also means, that which is part of the whole. The Gospel is not just for part of the world, but for the entire world. p. 9.
The Catholic Church teaches us first and foremost we have dignity because God has placed the stamp of his image on each and every one of us. Our dignity comes from God's image. The second connection we have with Jesus is that we share our human nature with Him, as Jesus is fully divine and fully human. Thus we are to take care of God's creation. We share the capacity to embrace or reject the Truth. p. 10.
Jesus was raised from the dead, body and soul not just His ideas and so He is with us today. He is the Risen Lord. We do not remember Him for his great teachings as we do of Socrates or Aristotle. We remember Him as existential reality, i.e. He lives and is among us right now. That is different from Socrates. p. 11.
Note: Is a Near Death Experience (NDE) a resurrection? NDEs begin with a clinical death and end up with the person regaining consciousness. Did Jesus have an NDE? See books by Raymond A. Moody, Jr., M.D.
"God's Reign, however, is not like an earthly one." Notice the word, Reign is not a democratic word. The Church is not a democracy nor is God's Kingdom. p. 11. There is a moral truth regarding the People of God in terms of the way we live our lives. When we are not meeting those standards, we have a way back in the Kingdom through the Sacrament of Reconciliation which heals us. The Magisterium, the repository of the truth in the Church, guides us as well. What connects us with the Truth which we all share, is the Catholic church. p. 12.
For those called to be Catholic, the Church is necessary for salvation according to Scripture and Tradition. This clearly means that if one is not Catholic, he or she may still go to Heaven. We Catholics do not have a monopoly on salvation. That said, for us Catholics the Church is necessary for our salvation. p. 13.
Protestants stress: "Solo Scripture". Where is that in Scripture, a Protestant would ask. Scripture took its form within the Tradition of the People of God. The Bible is the product of the Church with God's guidance and not the other way around. p. 14.
Note: "Scripture" is what one believes it to be. The Vedas are scripture for the Hindus and The Quran is scripture for Islam and The Book of Mormon is scripture for the Mormons. Religions are approaching the same thing. Religions should make a list of points on which they agree and state, "I don't know" on matters they dispute.
We believe that for the Catholic faithful, the Church is necessary for salvation because it is in the church that we encounter Christ who is "the way." WE KNOW. Any Catholic who knows this and freely chooses to leave or reject the Church may ultimately be choosing to reject salvation. p. 14.
Note: If we violate what we know to be true we are hypocrites, but how do we know?
God does not condemn, we judge ourselves in a mirror held by God.
Chapter 3. Everyone on Earth is Welcomed into this Unity
Everyone on earth is welcomed into this unity and each is called in a unique way. For those called to be Catholic, the Church is necessary for salvation (The Constitutions, p. 36). Simply put, the Catholic church is the Church that Jesus established, and He is forever present in the Church. It retains His authority and His continuing ministry of Salvation to the world. p. 16.
Note: If Jesus is forever present in the Church was He present during the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the Catholic sex scandal? What would Jesus have done in those situations?
We believe that upon death we will be given what has been described as the Beatific Vision. We will see the beauty of God and His Truth. At that moment, we will indeed be given the continuing opportunity to see that God's Truth ... is to be found in the Catholic Magisterium. p. 17.
Note: Based on NDEs, at death we will meet our maker who is always loving and not condemning. We will judge ourselves based on our own negative emotions. Do what Jesus said, "Condemn not." See books by Raymond A. Moody, Jr., M.D.
If one is not in union with the See of Peter then one is by definition in a reality that is not full in "communion" with what is described as the fullness of the faith. p. 17. We believe that for the Catholic faithful the Church is necessary for salvation because it is in the Church that we encounter Christ who is the Way. p. 18.
Any Catholic who knows this and freely chooses to reject or leave the Church may ultimately also be choosing to reject salvation. p. 19. (Marriage outside of the Church is leaving the Church).
Note: So, do not be a hypocrite.
It is possible to worship God on your own. But to fall into that trap diminishes the greatest treasure God has to share with us, His perfect love. One can only experience that kind of love in community. p. 20.
In this called community we also encounter His authority, the Magisterium. The Magisterium is the unique authority of the Catholic Church. What the church teaches is what God reveals. The Church is not a democracy. p. 20. The Bible did not produce the Church, God produced the Bible through the Church, through the People of God, including the Jews, who are also the people of God as well. p 21.
Note: At one time the Church taught an earth centric solar system and persecuted Galileo who proposed a sun centric solar system. The revelation of the Church was not correct.
Does anyone want to join a church which is not a democracy?
Forgiveness removes sin, NOT blood sacrifice.
Chapter 4. The Authority of the Catholic Church
The Church has always existed, as long as the Trinity has existed and the Trinity is eternal. p. 24. The concept of Church (community or gathering) began to manifest itself on earth with Abraham and the call of Abraham by God who called him out of Uhr along with Sarah (a Canaanite) his wife and followers to the Promised Land, Israel. p. 25-26.
What the Holy Spirit was endowing Abraham with was authority to gather together what we would later call the People of God in the Catholic Church. Remember, the Church already had life eternally in the Trinity. God's authority is given to St. Peter and his successors with the Holy See, the See of Peter. p. 26.
Without union with Peter's successors, and now Pope Francis there is no union. The Holy Trinity brought the Church into being. The Church is an extension of the life of the Trinity itself. p. 27. The Holy Trinity abides with the church always, creatively and providentially (God is guiding the Church). The Church's on-going process, second by second is God's creativity. God is continually thinking about His Church. We are His thoughts. p. 28.
Note: If The Holy Trinity abides with the church always and the church is His thoughts, was The Trinity present during the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the Catholic sex scandal? What would Jesus have done in those situations? Renounce archaic Rabbinic thought and embrace what Jesus taught. Do not confuse the two.
There was a gradual formation of God's family through a series of events described in the Old Testament, God's covenant with Abraham as the father of a great people, the liberation of ancient Israel from slavery and their establishment in the Promised Land and their solidification as a nation through the kingship of David. p. 29.
Note: Israel established itself in land occupied by the Canaanites. The Israelites were related to the Canaanites, but the Israelites killed them anyway. The Israelites killed women and children! This idea conflicts with the statement of Pope Francis, "Violence by man against man is in contradiction with any religion worthy of that name." Pope Francis is in line with Jesus, the Rabbis are not.
The Church is born primarily of Christ's total self-giving for our salvation and fulfilled on the cross. The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water from the side of the crucified Jesus. The Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross. That is a complete reversal of the Fall of Adam. p. 30.
Note: Blood sacrifice is an ancient belief which has no place in religion today. Forgiveness removes sin, Not Sacrifice. The purpose of the cross was the eventual resurrection. The resurrection is proof of an afterlife. He could not come back from nothing. A place or condition must first exist before there can be a return. A NDE is proof of an afterlife on which to base our belief system.
Conclusion, Chapters 1-4
It is good for all churches to cooperate. This is the work of Pope Francis. Adopt the statement: "Violence by man against man is in contradiction with any religion worthy of that name," Pope Francis January 18, 2016. Read the Bible with this principle in mind.