Ecce Fides: Pillar of Truth Book Summary

Listen to this article

Title: Ecce Fides: Pillar of Truth
Author: Fr. John J. Pasquini

TLDR: This book is a robust defense of the Catholic faith, addressing Protestant critiques and affirming Catholic doctrines using Scripture, Tradition, and Church teachings. It explores the origins of the Bible, the nature of the Church, the sacraments, Mary, end-time issues, salvation, and key moral teachings, ultimately arguing for the Catholic Church as the true Church founded by Jesus Christ.

Chapter I: The Holy Scriptures and Tradition

This chapter dives into the origins of the Bible, challenging the Protestant doctrine of “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture alone). Fr. Pasquini argues that the Bible itself cannot be self-authenticating and relies heavily on the Catholic Church’s role in its formation and interpretation.

The chapter begins by highlighting the plethora of gospels and writings circulating in the early Church, each claiming authenticity. It emphasizes the debate surrounding the inclusion of various books in the New Testament, noting that the canon wasn’t finalized until the fourth century. Moreover, it brings into question the authorship of several New Testament books, casting doubt on the claim that they were all directly written by the apostles.

Fr. Pasquini then underscores the role of Sacred Tradition, defined as the living transmission of the faith within the Church guided by the Holy Spirit. He argues that the apostles and their successors, the bishops, guided the Church in identifying the inspired writings, eventually forming the Bible. He cites early Church Fathers like Tertullian and Irenaeus, who emphasized the importance of the apostolic churches and their traditions in determining the true faith.

The chapter criticizes the “Bible only” approach as a human invention contrary to the historical practices of both Christianity and Judaism. It argues that God speaks through various means, including natural revelation, Jesus’ life and teachings, inspiration, and oral preaching. The Bible itself points to the need for Tradition, with passages like Luke 1:1-4 and 2 Thessalonians 2:15 advocating for adherence to both oral and written traditions.

Furthermore, Fr. Pasquini asserts that the “Bible only” approach leads to confusion and misinterpretations, as seen in the multitude of Protestant denominations. He argues that a teaching office, the Magisterium, consisting of the pope and bishops in union with him, is necessary to provide authoritative interpretations and safeguard against heresies.

Finally, the chapter addresses common Protestant arguments against relying on Tradition, particularly Revelation 22:18-19. Fr. Pasquini argues that Tradition doesn’t “add” to Scripture but clarifies its meaning through the lens of the Church’s historical understanding. He also highlights inconsistencies within the Protestant approach, like their removal of deuterocanonical books from the Old Testament. Ultimately, he concludes that accepting the Bible’s authenticity necessitates accepting the Catholic Church’s authority that established it.

Chapter II: The Church

This chapter focuses on establishing the Catholic Church as the true Church founded by Jesus Christ, refuting arguments against its authenticity and emphasizing the importance of apostolic succession and papal authority.

The chapter opens by examining the multitude of Christian and pseudo-Christian groups, each claiming to possess the true faith. It contrasts the consistent identification of Jesus Christ as the founder of the Catholic Church with the human founders of various Protestant denominations. Citing historical evidence and statements from early Church Fathers like Ignatius of Antioch and Cyril of Jerusalem, the chapter reinforces the Catholic Church’s claim as the authentic Church established by Christ.

Fr. Pasquini then tackles arguments suggesting alternative founders for the Catholic Church, such as Constantine. He points out that Constantine, while instrumental in the Council of Nicaea, ultimately died outside of the Catholic faith, having been baptized by an Arian bishop. He further emphasizes that attributing the Church’s founding to Constantine would necessitate calling the Bible “Constantinian” since it was finalized centuries later by the Catholic Church.

The chapter strongly defends the Church in Rome, refuting claims that Peter wasn’t present in Rome. It cites historical evidence, including the presence of Peter’s bones beneath St. Peter’s Basilica, along with statements from early Christian writers like Eusebius and Tertullian, to affirm the apostolic founding of the Church in Rome by Peter and Paul.

Fr. Pasquini addresses the Protestant arguments against Matthew 16:18-19, where Jesus designates Peter as the “Rock” upon which he will build his Church. He tackles the distinction between “Petros” and “Petra” in the Greek text, emphasizing that Jesus spoke Aramaic, where the word “Kepa” unambiguously means “Rock.” He also highlights the symbolic significance of the “keys of the kingdom” and Peter’s consistent portrayal as the leader of the apostles in Scripture.

The chapter argues that the popes, as successors of Peter, have always exercised supreme authority within Christianity. It cites examples of papal actions throughout history, showcasing their role in safeguarding the faith and clarifying doctrines. Fr. Pasquini refutes claims about popes being antichrists, dissecting the misinterpretations of Revelation 13:18 and highlighting the historical context pointing to Nero as the antichrist.

He then emphasizes the crucial role of apostolic succession, tracing the unbroken line of popes from Peter to the present day. He argues that without the successors of the apostles, the bishops in union with the pope, Christianity would be mired in confusion and subjective interpretations. This apostolic lineage serves as a safeguard against heresies and ensures the faithful transmission of the deposit of faith.

The chapter concludes by highlighting the numerous heresies throughout history that sought to undermine the Church, underscoring that despite these challenges, the gates of hell have not prevailed against it. It reiterates Christ’s promises to remain with his Church always and protect it from error, concluding that the Catholic Church, with its unbroken apostolic succession and papal leadership, stands as the true and authentic Church established by Jesus Christ.

Chapter III: Sacraments

This chapter delves into the nature of sacraments as efficacious signs of God’s grace, focusing on the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church and responding to Protestant objections regarding their validity and significance.

The chapter starts by emphasizing the efficacy of sacraments, meaning they produce what they signify and impart grace upon the recipient. It highlights the foreshadowing of the seven sacraments in the Old Testament signs and symbols of the covenant, illustrating how they find their fulfillment in the New Covenant.

Fr. Pasquini then addresses the understanding of “being born again” and the practice of infant baptism. He contrasts the fundamentalist view of baptism as a mere symbol signifying a prior decision to accept Christ with the Catholic understanding of baptism as the sacrament that brings about the “new birth” through water and the Spirit. He cites passages like John 3:5 and Titus 3:5-7 to support the Catholic view and refutes the argument that infant baptism lacks scriptural basis.

The chapter argues that denying infants baptism is denying them the precious gifts it bestows, including cleansing from original sin, incorporation into Christ’s death and resurrection, and becoming a temple of the Holy Spirit. It cites early Church Fathers like Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and Augustine, who strongly advocated for infant baptism. It also points to passages like Acts 16:15 and 1 Corinthians 1:16, where “whole households” were baptized, indicating the likely inclusion of infants.

Fr. Pasquini then explains the concepts of “baptism by blood” and “baptism by desire,” whereby individuals who die for the faith or sincerely desire baptism receive its fruits even without the sacrament. He cites the Holy Innocents massacred by Herod and the repentant thief on the cross as examples.

The chapter clarifies that while immersion was the traditional mode of baptism, the early Church recognized pouring water over the head as equally valid. It references the Didache, which allows for both methods, and cites theologians like Justin Martyr and Tertullian, who affirmed the validity of immersion, infusion, and aspersion.

Fr. Pasquini tackles the Mormon practice of “baptism for the dead,” refuting its scriptural basis and emphasizing that salvation is determined during this lifetime, not in the afterlife. He interprets 1 Corinthians 15:29 within its historical context, arguing that Paul was using a flawed Corinthian practice to argue for the resurrection of the body.

The chapter then explores the Sacrament of Confirmation, highlighting its scriptural basis in Acts 8:14-17 and Acts 19:5-7, where the apostles “laid hands” on the baptized, invoking the Holy Spirit. It emphasizes that Confirmation perfects baptismal grace, strengthening individuals to be witnesses for Christ and imprinting an indelible mark on the soul.

Fr. Pasquini dedicates a significant portion of the chapter to defending the Catholic belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. He analyzes John 6:52-58, emphasizing the literal language used by Jesus and the disciples’ reactions, which indicate that they understood his words as more than symbolic. He cites early Church Fathers like Ignatius of Antioch and Justin Martyr, who unambiguously affirmed the Real Presence, and addresses common Protestant arguments that attempt to downplay the literal meaning of Jesus’ words.

He then defends the Mass as a true sacrifice, prefigured in the Old Testament sacrifices and instituted by Christ at the Last Supper. He analyzes Luke 22:14-20 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, arguing that the expressions “This is my body, this is my blood” indicate Jesus offering himself as the true and ultimate sacrifice. He cites early Christian practices and writings, particularly Justin Martyr’s description of the Mass in 150 AD, to demonstrate the Church’s long-standing understanding of the Mass as a sacrificial re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

The chapter addresses the shift of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, arguing that the apostles, under the guidance of Peter, moved the Lord’s Day to commemorate Christ’s resurrection. It cites the Didache, which refers to Sunday as the “Lord’s Day,” and emphasizes the Church’s authority, given by Christ, to adapt practices in accordance with the Spirit’s guidance.

Fr. Pasquini then provides a detailed breakdown of the Mass, illustrating its biblical foundation. He analyzes each part of the Mass, from the Introductory Rites to the Dismissal, showcasing how every prayer and action is rooted in Scripture.

The chapter explains the Catholic understanding of mortal and venial sins, citing 1 John 5:16-17 and emphasizing that some sins are more serious than others. It defends the need for confessing mortal sins to a priest, citing John 20:21-23, where Jesus gives the apostles the authority to forgive sins. It clarifies that the priest acts in the “person of Christ,” conveying God’s forgiveness and bringing healing to the sinner’s relationship with God, the community, and themselves.

Fr. Pasquini then explains the concept of excommunication, emphasizing its purpose as a call to repentance and a warning about one’s eternal destiny. He cites examples from Scripture, like 1 Corinthians 5:3-5 and 2 Thessalonians 3:6, where individuals are excluded from the community for their actions.

He defends the practice of indulgences, arguing that they draw from the “Treasury of the Church,” a reservoir of merits accumulated by Christ, Mary, and the saints, which can be applied to remit temporal punishments for sins. He cites passages like Colossians 1:24 and Romans 12:4-8 to support the idea of sharing in Christ’s redemptive work and the interconnectedness of the Church on earth, in purgatory, and in heaven. He addresses historical abuses related to indulgences, noting that they were primarily issues of misuse rather than flaws in the doctrine itself.

The chapter defends the Sacrament of Holy Orders, arguing that it’s essential for ensuring apostolic succession and maintaining the Church’s connection to Christ. It distinguishes between the common priesthood of all believers and the ordained priesthood, highlighting the roles of bishops, priests, and deacons in teaching, leading worship, and meeting the pastoral needs of the faithful. Fr. Pasquini cites passages like 1 Timothy 3:1-8 and Titus 1:7 to support the distinct roles of ordained ministers and draws on early Church writings to demonstrate the long-standing practice of apostolic succession and the importance of ordained ministry.

He then addresses the practice of celibacy for priests, arguing that it’s a discipline rather than a doctrine of the faith, while highlighting its practical and spiritual benefits. He cites examples of married priests in the Eastern rites, acknowledging the validity of both approaches. He argues that celibacy frees priests to devote themselves fully to serving the Church and reflects Jesus’ own celibacy, which he praises in Matthew 19:12.

Fr. Pasquini defends the practice of calling priests “Father,” addressing the apparent contradiction with Matthew 23:9. He argues that Jesus was condemning the abuse of titles rather than their legitimate use, citing passages like 1 Corinthians 4:15 and 1 John 2:12f, where Paul and John refer to themselves as “fathers” in a spiritual sense.

He then addresses the issue of women’s ordination, emphasizing that it’s not a matter of “allowing” or “disallowing” but rather an issue of fidelity to the deposit of faith. He argues that Jesus, despite his cultural context, never chose women to be apostles and that the Church has consistently upheld this practice throughout history. He cites Catechism of the Catholic Church 1577, which states that the Church is “bound by this choice made by the Lord himself” and that “the ordination of women is not possible.”

Fr. Pasquini concludes the chapter by defending the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, citing James 5:13-15 and emphasizing its power to impart grace and bring healing to those suffering from illness or old age. He encourages the use of medical treatment alongside prayer, noting that God often works through doctors and medicine.

Throughout the chapter, Fr. Pasquini emphasizes that the sacraments are real signs of God’s grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church. He defends each sacrament against common Protestant objections, drawing heavily on Scripture, Tradition, and the teachings of the Magisterium to affirm their validity and importance.

Chapter IV: The Trinity and the Communion of Saints

This chapter delves into the mystery of the Trinity, arguing for the divinity of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit while exploring the implications of the communion of saints for the Christian life.

The chapter begins by examining scriptural evidence for the Trinity, citing passages like Genesis 1:26 and the accounts of Jesus’ baptism and Transfiguration. It analyzes the Hebrew word “Elohim” for God, highlighting its plural form as indicative of a plurality within the one God. Fr. Pasquini then discusses the manifestation of the three Persons of the Trinity at Jesus’ baptism and Transfiguration, emphasizing the presence of the Father’s voice, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.

He then delves into the divinity of Jesus Christ, citing numerous scriptural passages that support his claim. He analyzes titles attributed to Jesus, like “Emmanuel” (God is with us), “I AM,” and “Lord,” arguing that they unequivocally identify him as God. He explores the Incarnation, highlighting the union of Jesus’ human and divine natures without confusion, change, division, or separation. He further examines the roles of Jesus as Creator, Lord of Glory, King of Kings, Savior, and Judge, arguing that they point to his divine nature.

Fr. Pasquini addresses the challenges posed by groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons who deny Jesus’ full divinity. He analyzes the hymn to the Philippians (2:5-7), explaining the concept of “kenosis” (emptying) to understand the Incarnation. He further emphasizes the distinction between Jesus’ human will and divine will, highlighting their perfect harmony.

The chapter then explores the person of the Holy Spirit, citing scriptural passages that affirm his divinity and oneness with the Father and the Son. It analyzes John 15:26, where the Holy Spirit is described as “proceeding from the Father,” and examines the Holy Spirit’s role in the Incarnation, forgiveness of sins, justification and sanctification, and the imparting of charity. Fr. Pasquini further discusses the Holy Spirit’s gifts and fruits, highlighting their significance for the Christian life.

He addresses attempts to understand the mystery of the Trinity through analogies, acknowledging their limitations while recognizing their value in grasping this divine reality. He quotes Marius Victorinus, who wrote about the inadequacy of human language to fully describe God, emphasizing that our understanding of the Trinity is ultimately based on faith and revelation.

Fr. Pasquini then delves into the concept of the communion of saints, emphasizing that while Catholics honor and venerate saints, they do not worship them. He defends the practice of asking for the intercession of saints, citing scriptural examples like Tobit 12:12 and Revelation 5:8, where angels and elders offer the prayers of the holy ones to God. He also highlights the scriptural basis for the belief that saints are in heaven with Christ before the general resurrection, referencing passages like Mark 12:26-27 and 2 Corinthians 5:1.

He clarifies the distinction between veneration and worship, emphasizing that only God is worthy of worship. He defends the practice of honoring saints, citing scriptural examples like the Transfiguration, where Peter, James, and John venerated Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. He argues that honoring saints is a way of honoring God, as they reflect their Creator’s image and likeness.

Fr. Pasquini emphasizes that while Christ is the one true mediator, Christians participate in his mediation by sharing in his sufferings and imitating his life. He cites passages like Colossians 1:24, where Paul describes “filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ,” and argues that the lives of the faithful are a living sacrifice to God.

He concludes the chapter by highlighting the interconnectedness of the Church on earth, in purgatory, and in heaven, emphasizing that our relationships with loved ones continue into eternity. He encourages invoking the saints, recognizing their role in interceding for us and assisting us on our journey toward holiness.

Chapter V: Mary

This chapter focuses on defending the Catholic teachings regarding Mary, particularly her role as the Mother of God, the Immaculate Conception, her perpetual virginity, and her Assumption into heaven.

The chapter opens by affirming Mary’s role as the Mother of God, citing Matthew 1:23 and Luke 1:43 as scriptural evidence. Fr. Pasquini argues that since Jesus is God, Mary, as his mother, is rightfully called the Mother of God. He points out the significance of the title “Lord” in Luke 1:43, emphasizing that it’s a title reserved for God in both the Old and New Testaments. He also highlights the Old Testament practice of honoring the Queen Mother, drawing a parallel to Mary’s role as the New Testament Queen Mother.

He then addresses Protestant objections to this title, analyzing the arguments put forth by the founders of Protestantism: Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli. He cites their own writings, which affirm Mary’s role as the Mother of God, showcasing the consistency of this teaching within early Protestantism.

Fr. Pasquini defends the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, explaining that it means Mary was preserved from original sin from the moment of her conception. He argues that this teaching is implicitly present in Luke 1:28, where Mary is hailed as “full of grace.” He reasons that being “full of grace” implies the absence of sin, as Jesus, who is also “full of grace,” is sinless. He further supports this doctrine by drawing parallels between Mary and the Ark of the Covenant, emphasizing that both were prepared to be dwelling places for God.

He then tackles the issue of Mary’s perpetual virginity, arguing that she remained a virgin throughout her life. He analyzes the scriptural passages that refer to Jesus’ “brothers and sisters,” arguing that the term “brother” was used broadly in the Hebrew and Aramaic languages to denote close relatives, not necessarily blood siblings. He provides examples from both the Old and New Testaments where “brother” is used to refer to nephews, uncles, cousins, and even close friends.

Fr. Pasquini analyzes the use of the term “firstborn” in Luke 2:7, arguing that it carried a legal significance related to rights and privileges rather than implying the existence of other children. He further cites instances from the Old Testament where individuals are called “firstborn” even though they are not the eldest child.

He analyzes the significance of John 19:26-27, where Jesus entrusts his mother to John, arguing that this act wouldn’t have been necessary if Mary had other children. He reinforces this point by referencing Matthew 15, where Jesus condemns the Pharisees for allowing children to neglect their parents, arguing that Jesus would not have allowed his own siblings to abandon their mother.

Fr. Pasquini then defends the doctrine of the Assumption, which states that Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven at the end of her earthly life. He argues that Mary, as the perfect disciple, imitated her Son in all things, including her freedom from sin and her bodily ascension. He cites scriptural examples of individuals being “taken up” to God, like Enoch and Elijah, and draws parallels between Mary’s Assumption and the preservation of the Ark of the Covenant.

He emphasizes that original sin and personal sin prevent entry into heaven, but Mary, being “full of grace” and without sin, was worthy of heaven. He concludes the chapter by emphasizing the importance of honoring Mary, arguing that it’s a way of honoring Jesus, who bestowed upon her all her privileges. He encourages Catholics to study at the “school of Mary,” recognizing that she can lead us to a deeper understanding of her Son.

Chapter VI: End-Time Issues

This chapter delves into various end-time concepts, including the reality of hell, the doctrine of purgatory, the nature of judgment, and the interpretation of biblical prophecy, while refuting alternative views held by some groups.

The chapter opens by affirming the reality of hell, refuting the notion that an all-loving God would not condemn anyone to eternal suffering. Fr. Pasquini argues that love is inseparable from justice, and justice demands that those who reject God’s grace receive the consequences of their choice, which is eternal separation from God. He cites numerous scriptural passages that depict hell as a place of eternal punishment, emphasizing the everlasting nature of both heaven and hell.

He then defends the doctrine of purgatory, a state of purification after death for those who die in God’s grace but still have temporal punishments to satisfy. He analyzes 2 Maccabees 12:39-46, where Judas Maccabee prays for the dead and offers expiatory sacrifices for their sins, arguing that this passage supports the existence of a state of purification after death. He also cites passages that refer to a “cleansing fire” and the necessity of paying debts, even after forgiveness, arguing that they allude to purgatory.

Fr. Pasquini explores the concept of temporal punishment, explaining that it refers to the consequences of sin that remain even after forgiveness. He cites 2 Samuel 12:13-14, where David, despite being forgiven, still experiences the death of his child as a consequence of his sin. He argues that temporal punishment is an expression of God’s fatherly love, intended to purify and draw us closer to him.

He tackles the view held by some groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists that the souls of the wicked are annihilated after death. He argues that this view contradicts the scriptural understanding of the soul as immortal and eternal. He cites passages like Matthew 25:41 and Revelation 20:10, which depict hell as a place of eternal torment, and emphasizes the distinction between the particular judgment at death and the general judgment at the end of time.

Fr. Pasquini then delves into various interpretations of Revelation 20 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, discussing premillennialism, postmillennialism, amillennialism, and the rapture. He argues that the Catholic Church adheres to amillennialism, which interprets the thousand-year reign in Revelation 20 symbolically as the period between Christ’s first coming and his Second Coming. He explains that the Catholic understanding of the rapture involves the resurrection of the dead at the Second Coming and the gathering of the faithful to meet Christ in glory.

He refutes the literal interpretation of the 144,000 in Revelation 7 and 14 as the only ones saved, arguing that it’s a symbolic number representing the fullness of the Church gathered from all nations. He cites passages like Revelation 7:9, which describes a “great multitude which no one could count” in heaven, to support this interpretation.

Fr. Pasquini addresses the Mormon concept of “celestial marriages,” refuting its scriptural basis and emphasizing that there is no marriage or procreation in heaven, as stated in Matthew 22:29. He analyzes 1 Corinthians 15:40-42, which Mormons use to support their belief, arguing that Paul was using imagery common in Jewish tradition to describe the transformation of the body after the resurrection.

He concludes the chapter by cautioning against using biblical prophecy to predict the end times. He reminds readers that only God knows the day and hour of Christ’s return and emphasizes the importance of focusing on living in the present moment with God rather than obsessing over future events.

Chapter VII: Salvation

This chapter explores the Catholic understanding of salvation, contrasting it with the Protestant view, and addresses the roles of grace, faith, works, and free will in the process.

The chapter begins by highlighting the difference between the Catholic and Protestant understanding of the human person, specifically in relation to the effects of original sin. Fr. Pasquini argues that while Catholics believe original sin wounded human nature, Protestants believe it completely destroyed and perverted human nature, leading to the loss of free will and the inability to rely on reason. This fundamental difference, he argues, forms the basis for the contrasting views on salvation.

He explains the Catholic position, emphasizing that while original sin deprived humanity of original holiness and justice, it did not completely destroy human nature. Humans retain free will and the capacity for reason, albeit wounded and inclined to sin. Therefore, Catholics believe in the possibility of cooperating with God’s grace through faith and works.

Fr. Pasquini contrasts this with the Protestant view, which emphasizes the total depravity of human nature and the inability to contribute to one’s salvation. This leads to the doctrines of “Sola Fides” (faith alone) and predestination, whereby salvation is seen as entirely dependent on God’s predetermined choice.

He then addresses the question of whether salvation is assured, refuting the Protestant doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” He argues that while Catholics believe they are currently saved if they are in a state of grace, they also recognize the possibility of losing their salvation through mortal sin. He cites numerous scriptural passages that warn against complacency and emphasize the need for perseverance, good works, and continual repentance.

Fr. Pasquini emphasizes the Catholic understanding of salvation as a process that requires ongoing cooperation with God’s grace. He argues that true love for God implies free will and that the assurance of salvation negates the freedom to choose or reject God.

He then delves into the relationship between faith and works, refuting the Protestant doctrine of “Sola Fides” while emphasizing the inseparability of faith and works in the Catholic tradition. He analyzes James 2:14-26, a passage that directly challenges the “faith alone” doctrine, arguing that authentic faith is always expressed through love and good works.

He clarifies that while Catholics do not believe they are saved by their works alone, they recognize that works are a necessary expression of genuine faith. He cites numerous scriptural passages that emphasize the importance of good works in attaining salvation, highlighting the principle that we will be judged according to our actions. He concludes the chapter by emphasizing the importance of living out our faith through concrete actions, striving for holiness, and avoiding the sin of presumption, which boasts in a false sense of assured salvation.

Chapter VIII: Miscellaneous Issues

This chapter tackles various accusations and criticisms leveled against the Catholic Church, defending its practices and beliefs while exposing the flaws in the arguments of its detractors.

Fr. Pasquini begins by addressing the accusation that Catholics practice idol worship. He analyzes Exodus 20:4-5, the commandment forbidding the making of graven images, arguing that it’s directed against worshipping created things as gods, not against using images as aids for prayer and devotion. He cites numerous examples from the Old Testament where God commanded the making of images, such as the cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant and the bronze serpent on a pole. He also highlights the use of images in Jewish synagogues and Christian catacombs, emphasizing their role in teaching the faith to those who were illiterate.

He then defends the Catholic use of relics, arguing that they are intended to inspire devotion and remind the faithful of the holiness attainable through Christ. He cites scriptural passages like 2 Kings 13:21 and Acts 5:15-16, which describe miracles associated with the relics of Elisha and the shadow of Peter, respectively. He emphasizes that Catholics do not worship relics but venerate them as reminders of the saints’ lives and their connection to God.

Fr. Pasquini tackles the accusation that Catholics are pagans, exposing the flawed logic employed by those who make this claim. He argues that simply finding similarities between Catholic practices and pagan customs does not prove that the former originated from the latter. He provides numerous examples of how this approach can be manipulated to paint any belief system as “pagan,” highlighting the absurdity of such arguments.

He clarifies that while the Church has adopted certain practices from other cultures, it has always purified them and given them Christian meaning. He cites the example of exchanging rings in marriage, a pagan custom that now symbolizes the indissoluble bond between husband and wife in the sacrament of Matrimony.

Fr. Pasquini addresses the question of why some Catholics believe in the theory of evolution, arguing that it’s not inherently contradictory to the faith. He distinguishes between atheistic evolution, which denies God’s role in creation, and theistic evolution, which recognizes God’s creative power and providential guidance in the evolutionary process. He emphasizes that Catholics can hold either a form of creationism or theistic evolution, but not atheistic evolution.

He explains that the creation account in Genesis is not a literal historical account but a theological account that emphasizes God’s role as Creator and the consequences of human sin. He argues that Genesis teaches about the eternal truths of God’s love, mercy, and the possibility of redemption, not about the scientific details of how the universe came into being.

Fr. Pasquini then defends the Catholic Church against the accusation that its doctrines are invented. He argues that just because a doctrine is formally defined at a particular council does not mean it wasn’t always believed. He cites examples like the title “Mother of God” and papal infallibility, demonstrating that they were widely accepted long before their formal definitions at the Council of Ephesus and Vatican I, respectively. He emphasizes that councils clarify and define teachings that are already present in the deposit of faith, not invent new ones.

He concludes the chapter by addressing the notion of heresy, explaining that it involves a deliberate denial of an infallibly defined teaching of the Church. He distinguishes between the theological explorations of early Church Fathers, who were seeking to understand the faith more deeply, and the actions of those who reject the Church’s authoritative teachings.

Chapter IX: Understanding the Religion of Secularism

This chapter analyzes the rise and consequences of secularism, identifying its philosophical roots and exploring its impact on modern society.

Fr. Pasquini begins by tracing the philosophical origins of secularism, starting with the rise of nominalism in the Middle Ages. He explains that nominalism rejected the belief in universal essences, emphasizing the subjective nature of intellectual concepts and prioritizing the observable over the abstract. This, he argues, paved the way for a shift towards subjectivism and a rejection of absolutes, contributing to the decline of belief in a transcendent God.

He then examines the influence of Rene Descartes and Immanuel Kant, both believers in God, but whose philosophical systems, Fr. Pasquini argues, ultimately contributed to the rise of secularism. Descartes’ emphasis on doubt and skepticism, along with his focus on the individual mind as the primary source of knowledge, further fostered subjectivism. Kant’s philosophy, with its emphasis on the limits of human reason and the unknowability of things-in-themselves, further separated faith from reason and limited knowledge to the realm of experience, ultimately leading to a reliance on faith alone, which could easily be abandoned.

Fr. Pasquini analyzes the shift towards the self, exploring the ethical theories that emerged as a consequence of nominalism and the philosophies of Descartes and Kant. He discusses Thomas Hobbes’ egoistic morality, which viewed all human actions as motivated by self-preservation and the pursuit of pleasure, making morality relative to individual desires and societal rules. He examines David Hume’s ethical theory, which based morality on feelings and majority opinion, making right and wrong relative to cultural acceptance.

He further explores hedonistic utilitarianism, which prioritizes pleasure as the ultimate good, and ideal utilitarianism, which expands the definition of good to include knowledge, virtue, and beauty, but still bases morality on the consequences of actions. He examines Benedictus de Spinoza’s emphasis on natural reason as the guide for human enlightenment and Immanuel Kant’s focus on duty as the sole unconditionally good motive. He critiques these theories for their emphasis on subjectivism, the relativity of morals, and their failure to recognize absolute truths.

Fr. Pasquini then analyzes the influence of evolutionism and progressivism on morality, critiquing their application of Darwin’s theory of evolution to ethical principles. He criticizes Friedrich Nietzsche’s radical individualism and his emphasis on the “will to power” as the ultimate driving force in human behavior.

He then delves into ethical relativity, arguing that it undermines the foundations of objective morality and leads to a society where right and wrong are determined by individual preferences or cultural norms. He critiques the pragmatism of John Dewey, which views truth as that which works or satisfies needs, arguing that it reduces truth to a matter of personal or social convenience.

Fr. Pasquini concludes the chapter by exploring the consequences of secularism for society, highlighting the decline of metaphysics, the natural law, and the sense of reverence. He argues that the rejection of transcendent realities has led to a distorted understanding of human nature, resulting in the devaluation of personhood and the prioritization of efficiency and achievement over virtue and character. He critiques the secular obsession with the “cult of the body” and the “cult of self-abuse,” driven by the media’s relentless pursuit of youth, beauty, and pleasure.

He argues that secularism has fostered a culture of passivity, where individuals are bombarded with information and entertainment but lack the critical thinking skills to engage with it meaningfully. This, he argues, has led to the “dummying down” of society, a decline in empathy, and a loss of connection to community.

Chapter X: Moral Doctrines under Attack

This chapter focuses on defending the Catholic Church’s moral teachings, particularly those that are frequently challenged in contemporary society, and highlights the biblical and philosophical foundations for these teachings.

Fr. Pasquini begins by outlining the Ten Commandments and their implications for Catholics, emphasizing their enduring relevance as expressions of God’s will and the natural law. He argues that the Commandments are not arbitrary rules but reflect the fundamental principles of love for God and neighbor, providing a roadmap for living a virtuous life.

He then defends the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, arguing that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and contrary to the natural law. He analyzes scriptural passages like Genesis 19 (Sodom and Gomorrah), Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-27, and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, arguing that they clearly condemn homosexual acts as sinful. He clarifies that the Church does not condemn homosexual orientation but calls all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, to chastity. He also emphasizes that same-sex marriages are contrary to God’s plan for marriage, which is based on the complementarity of the sexes.

Fr. Pasquini then addresses the issue of abortion, arguing that it’s intrinsically evil and that there is no such thing as a “pro-choice Catholic.” He cites numerous scriptural passages that affirm the sanctity of life from conception, including Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:13-16, and Luke 1:41-44. He also cites early Church writings that consistently condemn abortion, emphasizing the Church’s unwavering stance on this issue throughout history. He argues that abortion is a grave offense against God, as it destroys the image and likeness of God present in the unborn child.

He defends the Church’s opposition to contraception, arguing that it violates the unitive and procreative dimensions of the sexual act, which are inseparable in God’s plan for marriage. He analyzes Genesis 38:9-10 (Onan), citing it as scriptural evidence against contraception. He argues that contraceptives distort the true meaning of conjugal love, which involves total self-giving, and prevent the act of love from being procreative.

Fr. Pasquini contrasts contraception with Natural Family Planning (NFP), arguing that NFP respects the natural cycles of fertility and infertility, fostering communication, tenderness, and a deeper understanding of the spouses’ bodies. He highlights the higher success rate of NFP in maintaining marital unity compared to contraception, arguing that it strengthens the bond between husband and wife by encouraging respect and self-control.

He then defends the Church’s teaching on just war, arguing that while Christians are called to be peacemakers, there are instances where war is morally permissible as a last resort to defend innocent life and protect the common good. He outlines the conditions for a just war, including a just cause, the exhaustion of all peaceful means, the proportionality of force used, and the protection of non-combatants. He emphasizes the importance of seeking peace and promoting solidarity among nations while recognizing the right to self-defense when necessary.

Fr. Pasquini addresses the death penalty, arguing that while it was once considered morally acceptable as a means of protecting society, advancements in the penal system have made it practically unnecessary. He cites the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2267, which states that “if nonlethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means.” He argues that imprisonment can now adequately protect society from dangerous criminals, making the death penalty unnecessary and eliminating its moral justification.

He then defends the Church’s opposition to euthanasia, arguing that it violates the sanctity of life and is a grave offense against God. He cites Evangelium Vitae, where Pope John Paul II condemns euthanasia as “a violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a person.” Fr. Pasquini emphasizes the importance of palliative care, which seeks to alleviate pain and suffering, while upholding the inherent dignity of human life and recognizing the redemptive value of suffering. He argues that euthanasia deprives individuals of the opportunity for repentance and robs them of a peaceful and hopeful death.

He explores the moral complexities of genetic engineering and assisted reproduction, arguing that they must be used ethically and in accordance with the dignity of the human person. He condemns techniques that separate the unitive and procreative aspects of the sexual act, such as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, arguing that they violate the natural order and distort the meaning of conjugal love. He clarifies that the Church supports research aimed at overcoming sterility as long as it respects the integrity of marriage and the dignity of human life.

Fr. Pasquini critiques the concept of “designer babies,” arguing that manipulating embryos to select desired traits reduces human beings to products and undermines the unique and unrepeatable nature of each person. He warns against the potential for genetic discrimination and the creation of a society where individuals are valued based on their genetic makeup rather than their inherent dignity.

He then addresses the ethical implications of cloning, arguing that it violates the dignity of human life and undermines the natural order of creation. He cites the document “Reflections on Cloning” by the Pontifical Academy for Life, which highlights the detrimental effects of cloning on human reproduction, family structure, and personal identity. He argues that cloning reduces human beings to objects to be manufactured and manipulated, violating their inherent right to be born from the loving union of a husband and wife.

Finally, Fr. Pasquini delves into the issue of embryonic stem cell research, arguing that it’s morally unacceptable because it involves the destruction of human embryos. He contrasts it with adult stem cell research, which has proven to be successful in treating various diseases without the ethical concerns associated with embryonic stem cells. He argues that embryonic stem cell research prioritizes scientific advancement over the sanctity of human life and encourages a utilitarian approach to treating human beings as means to an end.

Chapter XI: Concluding Remarks

This chapter offers final reflections on the nature of the Catholic faith and its relevance for the future of Christianity, encouraging readers to remain steadfast in their belief and embrace the fullness of truth offered by the Church.

Fr. Pasquini begins by assuring readers that there are no new questions or challenges to the faith. He argues that the Church, in its 2000-year history, has encountered and responded to every conceivable objection and that answers to contemporary questions can be found in the Church’s rich tradition and teachings. He encourages Catholics to seek knowledge and understanding, emphasizing the importance of studying the Scriptures, Tradition, and the teachings of the Magisterium.

He then offers his perspective on the future of Christianity, predicting a growing convergence towards the Catholic Church. He argues that the Eastern Orthodox Churches, which already recognize the primacy of honor of the Pope, will eventually reunite with Rome, restoring full communion and bringing all the successors of the apostles under one roof. He also predicts the decline of Protestantism, arguing that its lack of apostolic succession will inevitably lead to further fragmentation and a gradual disintegration into a faith based on personal opinion and relativistic values.

Fr. Pasquini concludes by comparing the Church to a ship sailing towards heaven, inviting readers to embark on this journey and remain on board even amidst storms and challenges. He emphasizes that the ship will continue moving forward, with or without individual passengers, and encourages Catholics to stay the course, trusting in Christ’s promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against his Church. He reiterates the importance of living in the present moment with God, striving for holiness, and embracing the fullness of truth offered by the Catholic faith.

Appendix: An Apologetics Debate Handbook

The appendix serves as a concise reference guide for defending the Catholic faith, offering a compilation of scriptural passages and traditional teachings on various doctrinal points. It’s organized thematically, covering topics like the Word of God, the nature of the Church, the Trinity, the sacraments, Mary, the last things, salvation, and morality.

This handbook provides a quick and easy way for Catholics to access relevant scriptural support and traditional arguments when engaging in discussions or debates about the faith. It reinforces the core teachings of the book, equipping readers with the tools to confidently articulate and defend their beliefs.

Overall Summary

“Ecce Fides: Pillar of Truth” serves as a comprehensive defense of the Catholic faith, addressing common Protestant objections, clarifying doctrinal points, and highlighting the biblical and historical foundations for Catholic beliefs and practices. Fr. Pasquini employs a reasoned and systematic approach, drawing heavily on Scripture, Tradition, and the teachings of the Magisterium to present a compelling case for the Catholic Church as the true Church established by Jesus Christ.

The book aims to strengthen the faith of Catholics, encourage those who have strayed to return, and invite those seeking the fullness of truth to discover a home within the Catholic Church.


🙏 Your PayPal Donation Appreciated

Select a Donation Option (USD)

Enter Donation Amount (USD)


As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you.

Note: While content aims to align with Catholic teachings, any inconsistencies or errors are unintended. For precise understanding, always refer to authoritative sources like the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Always double-check any quotes for word-for-word accuracy with the Bible or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Scroll to Top