The Roman Catholic Church: The Absolutely Certain WAY to TRUTH
by Saint Alphonsus de Ligouri
Our Lady of Fatima warned of errors being spread among us in our times. As a special remedy She insisted we pray the Rosary every day. Because many people have not taken the precautions Our Lady told us to take, these errors today are so widespread that even some bishops and a number of priests are in error and confusion. We must pray the Rosary daily and remember that we need more than ever to know where to find the truth so that we too are not deceived. The solution is to know what the Infallible Magesterium (the power and authority to teach in Christ's Name) of the Roman Catholic Church has taught.
St. Alphonsus wrote this article over two hundred years ago but it is still very much to the point and will help us overcome many errors that are spread among us today.
Jesus is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE and He has given us the Infallible Magesterium of the Roman Catholic Church as the absolutely certain WAY to the TRUTH.
"From all we have already written on this subject, we see how confused are all heretics, but especially the so-called Reformers (Protestants and Fundamentalists), with the dogmas of Faith. They are all united in opposing the dogmas taught by the Catholic Church, but they afterwards contradict each other in a thousand points of belief among themselves, and it is difficult to find one who believes the same as another. They say that they are only seeking for and following the truth; but how can they find the truth if they cast away the rule of truth? The truths of the Faith were not manifested of themselves to all men, so that if everyone was bound to believe that what pleased his own judgement best, there would be no end to disputes. Hence Our Lord, to remove all confusion regarding the dogmas of Faith, has given us an infallible judge to put an end to all disputes, and as there is but one God, so there is but one Faith: "One faith, one baptism, one God." (Ephesians 4:5)
Who, then, is this judge who puts an end to all controversies regarding Faith, and tells us what we are to believe? It is the Church established by God as the pillar and ground of truth: "That thou mayest know how thou ought to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and the ground of the truth." ( 1 Timothy 3:15) The voice of the Church, then, is what teaches the truth and distinguishes the Catholic from the heretic, as Our Lord says, speaking of him who scorns the correction of his pastors: "If he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican." (Matthew 18:17)
Perhaps, however, some will say: Among the many churches in the world, which is the true one - which is it we are to believe? I briefly answer - having treated the subject at length in my Work on the Truth of the Faith, and also in the Dogmatic part of this Work - that the only true Church is the Roman Catholic, for this is the one founded by Jesus Christ. It is certain that Our Redeemer founded the Church in which the faithful may find salvation; He it was Who taught us what we should believe and practise to obtain eternal life.
After His death, He committed to the Apostles and their successors the government of His Church, promising to assist them and to be with them all time, "even to the consummation of the world." (Matthew 18: 20) He also promised that the gates of hell should never prevail against it: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16: 18) Now every principal heretic, in founding his church, separated himself from this first Church founded by Jesus Christ; and if this is the true Church of Our Saviour, all the others are necessarily false and heretical.
It will not do to say, as the Donatists did of old, and the Protestants in later times, that they have separated themselves from the Church because, although in the beginning it was the true one, still through the fault of those who governed it, the Doctrine preached by Jesus Christ became corrupted, for He, as we have seen, has promised that the gates of hell shall never prevail against the Church He founded. Neither will it avail them to say that it was only the visible, and not the invisible Church that failed on account of the wickedness of the shepherds, for it is necessary that there should always be a visible and infallible judge in the Church to decide all doubts, that disputes may be quashed and the dogmas of Faith be secure and certain. I wish every Protestant would consider this, and see how he can be certain then, of no salvation outside the Holy Catholic Church.
There can only be one Faith, for as Faith and truth are indivisibly united, and as truth is one, so Faith must be one likewise. Hence we conclude, as we have already shown, that in all controversies regarding the dogmas of Faith, it has always been, and is always necessary to have, an infallible judge, whose decisions all should obey. The reason of this is manifest, for if the judgement of each one of the faithful was to be taken on this matter, as the members of various dissenting sects expect, it would not be only opposed to the Scriptures, as we shall see, but to reason itself, for it would be quite impossible to unite the opinions of all the faithful, and give them a distinct and definitive judgement in dogmas of Faith, and there would be endless disputes, and instead of unity of Faith, there would be as many creeds as persons. (Editor's note: more and more new churches are forming, as St. Alphonsus says)
Neither is the Scripture alone sufficient to assure us of the truth of what we should believe, for several passages of it can be interpreted in different senses, both true and false, so that the Bible will be, for those who take it in a perverse sense, not a rule of Faith, but a fountain of errors; the Gospel, as Saint Jerome says, will become, not the Gospel of Christ, but the Gospel of man or of the devil. ('Non putemus in verbis Scripturarum esse Evangelium sed in sensu, interpretatione enim perversa de Evangelio Christi fit hominis Evangelium aut diaboli.') Where, in fact, can we look for the true sense of the Scriptures, only in the judgement of the Church, "the pillar and the ground of truth", (1 Timothy 3:15) as the Apostle calls it?
That the Roman Catholic Church is the only true Church, and that the others who have separated from it are false churches, is manifest from what we have already seen; for, as the dissenters (Protestants) who have broken away from the Catholic Church admit, the Roman Catholic Church has been certainly first founded by Jesus Christ. He promised to assist it to the end of time, and the gates of hell, that is, as Saint Epiphanius explains it, heretics and founders of heresies, will never prevail against it, as was promised to Saint Peter. Hence in all doubts of Faith, we should bow to the decisions of this Church, subjecting our judgement to her judgement, in obedience to Christ, Who, as Saint Paul tells us, commands us to obey the Church: "Bring into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10: 5)
1. Taken from The History of Heresies and Their Refutation