Cardinal Newman said the Church adopted Pagen Practices?

Confiding then in the power of Christianity to resist the infection of evil, and to transmute the very instruments {372} and appendages of demon-worship to an evangelical use, and feeling also that these usages had originally come from primitive revelations and from the instinct of nature, though they had been corrupted; and that they must invent what they needed, if they did not use what they found; and that they were moreover possessed of the very archetypes, of which paganism attempted the shadows; the rulers of the Church from early times were prepared, should the occasion arise, to adopt, or imitate, or sanction the existing rites and customs of the populace, as well as the philosophy of the educated class.

St. Gregory Thaumaturgus supplies the first instance on record of this economy. He was the Apostle of Pontus, and one of his methods for governing an untoward population is thus related by St. Gregory of Nyssa. “On returning,” he says, “to the city, after revisiting the country round about, he increased the devotion of the people everywhere by instituting festive meetings in honour of those who had fought for the faith. The bodies of the Martyrs were distributed in different places, and the people assembled and made merry, as the year came round, holding festival in their honour. This indeed was a proof of his great wisdom … for, perceiving that the childish and untrained populace were retained in their idolatrous error by creature comforts, in order that what was of first importance should at any rate be secured to them, viz. that they should look to God in place of their vain rites, he allowed them to be merry, jovial, and gay at the monuments of the holy Martyrs, as if their behaviour would in time undergo a spontaneous change into greater seriousness and strictness, since faith would lead them to it; which has actually been the happy issue in that population, all carnal gratification having turned into a spiritual form of rejoicing.” [Note 15] There is no reason to suppose {373} that the licence here spoken of passed the limits of harmless though rude festivity; for it is observable that the same reason, the need of holydays for the multitude, is assigned by Origen, St. Gregory’s master, to explain the establishment of the Lord’s Day also, and the Paschal and the Pentecostal festivals, which have never been viewed as unlawful compliances; and, moreover, the people were in fact eventually reclaimed from their gross habits by his indulgent policy, a successful issue which could not have followed an accommodation to what was sinful.

The example set by St. Gregory in an age of persecution was impetuously followed when a time of peace succeeded. In the course of the fourth century two movements or developments spread over the face of Christendom, with a rapidity characteristic of the Church; the one ascetic, the other ritual or ceremonial. We are told in various ways by Eusebius [Note 16], that Constantine, in order to recommend the new religion to the heathen, transferred into it the outward ornaments to which they had been accustomed in their own. It is not necessary to go into a subject which the diligence of Protestant writers has made familiar to most of us. The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields; sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison [Note 17], are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church. {374}

It has often been charged… that Catholicism is overlaid with many pagan incrustations. Catholicism is ready to accept that accusation and even to make it her boast… the great god Pan is not really dead, he is baptized” — The Story of Catholicism p 37.

“It is interesting to note how often our Church has availed herself of practices which were in common use among pagans … Thus it is true, in a certain sense, that some Catholic rites and ceremonies are a reproduction of those of pagan creeds…” — (The Externals of the Catholic Church, Her Government, Ceremonies, Festivals, Sacramentals and Devotions, by John F. Sullivan, p 156, published by P.J. Kennedy, NY, 1942).

What do you make of this? How accurate are these quotes/claims?

I can address the first block since I have the source right there. There is a considerable amount prior to those quoted texts. For instance.

The principle of the distinction, by which these observances were pious in Christianity and superstitious in paganism, is implied in such passages of Tertullian, Lactantius, and others, as speak of evil spirits lurking under the pagan statues. It is intimated also by Origen, who, after saying that Scripture so strongly “forbids temples, altars, and images,” that Christians are “ready to go to death, if necessary, rather than pollute their notion of the God of all by any such transgression,” assigns as a reason “that, as far as possible, they might not fall into the notion that images were gods.” St. Augustine, in replying to Porphyry, is more express; **“Those,” he says, “who are acquainted with Old and New Testament do not blame in the pagan religion the erection of temples or institution of priesthoods, but that these are done to idols and devils … True religion blames in their superstitions, not so much their sacrificing, for the ancient saints sacrificed to the True God, as their sacrificing to false gods.” **[Note 12] To Faustus the Manichee he answers, “We have some things in common with the gentiles, but our purpose is different.” [Note 13] And St. Jerome asks Vigilantius, who made objections to lights and oil, “Because we once worshipped idols, is that a reason why we should not worship God, for fear of seeming to address him with an honour like that which was paid to idols and then was detestable, whereas this is paid to Martyrs and therefore to be received?” [Note 14]

What the text is saying is that if a culture has a practice of worship that is meant as honor to a false idol or god, that the practice itself is not bad. It is wrong in who is being honored. For that reason, we need not kill part of a cultural identity needlessly - unless it directly goes against what we know to be True and Good (like human sacrifices).

It is important to remember that Catholicism is a Sacramental Faith. Sacraments, and Sacramentals have been a part of Christianity since Apostolic Times. It wasn’t JUST pagan rituals and customs that were adopted and transformed by Christianity, but Jewish rituals and customs as well, and for the same reason.

Jesus Himself made use of sacramentals such as the spittle and mud used to open the eyes of the blind man. Jesus Christ Himself is also a Sacrament, (an outward sign of an inward, spiritual, reality.) Baptism is another obvious examples. A highly Sacramental Faith like Christianity will take what is at hand when it is deemed helpful to the Faith. The parables of Jesus are another example of Sacramentals.

The same thing is observable today. For example Hanukkah, a Jewish holy day has been “Christianized” by it’s close proximity to Christian Christmas. IOW, gifts are exchanged and other similar festive parallels, which if it were not for Christmas, would not exist.

What those quotes are saying is NOT that the pagan rituals are being used, but that they have been adapted (not adopted) for Christian use.

The date set for Christmas (Dec 25th) comes from pagan times. The Church wanted the new religion to be inclusive, so it took over some of the old pagan festivals. The Romans did the same. When they came to Britain they often merged their gods with those of the natives. They didn’t want a rebellion on their hands, and it made good business sense. With the Britons placated it was job done. North of the wall was a different story however…

And whilst on the subject of the Romans, let’s not forget that the pipe organ evolved from the Hydraulus, a water driven instrument used in Roman arenas, and the Hydraulus has its origins in the Syrinx which in turn started out as Pan pipes.

Best wishes,

Not disagreeing with your comments, but this is incorrect. Hanukkah is a minor celebration in Jewish tradition, the gifts and similarities come from Jewish imitation of Christmas practices, not Christians imitating the Jewish practice.

This theory is disputed, as other theories make Dec 25th a logical choice.

There are so many Pagan religions, that any date for Christmas would be overlain with some arguably significant Pagan holiday. However the pagan-origin theory of the is not itself offensive to the faith, but not necessarily accurate either.

A “basilica” was a Roman law court building before we adopted its exact design for churches - to this very day. The papal title “Pontifex Maximus” (supreme bridge-builder) was a title of the emperor of Rome in his role as chief priest of the pagan Roman religion. I believe the stole was a Roman symbol of authority before it became a vestment.

Blessed John Henry Newman is perfectly correct in what he says. The Church does not reject anything that is true and conducive to the gospel message, irrespective of the origin from which it hails. The Church purifies and ‘baptizes’ whatever is good or at least harmless in pagan religion and different cultures, while rejecting only that which is hostile to the truth.

In Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council stated that:

“…Other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing “ways,” comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men…The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men…”

-** Nostra Aetate (1965), Declaration of the Second Vatican Council **

From “Dialogue and Proclamation” a 1991 Vatican document:

A number of Church Fathers take up the sapiential tradition reflected in the New Testament. In particular, writers of the second century and the first part of the third century such as Justin, Iranaeus and Clement of Alexandria, either explicitly or in an equivalent way, speak about the “seeds” sown by the Word of God in the nations(10). Thus it can be said that for them, prior to and outside the Christian dispensation, God has already, in an incomplete way, manifested himself. This manifestation of the Logos is an adumbration of the full revelation in Jesus Christ to which it points…

It was to this early Christian vision of history that the Second Vatican Council made reference. After the Council, the Church’s Magisterium, especially that of Pope John Paul II, has proceeded further in the same direction. First the Pope gives explicit recognition to the operative presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the members of other religious traditions, as when in Redemptor Hominis he speaks of their “firm belief” as being “an effect of the Spirit of truth operating outside the visible confines of the Mystical Body” (No. 6). In Dominum et Vivificantem, he takes a further step, affirming the universal action of the Holy Spirit in the world before the Christian dispensation, to which it was ordained, and referring to the universal action of the same Spirit today, even outside the visible body of the Church (cf. No. 53)…

Finally, there needs to be mentioned the active presence of the Holy Spirit in the religious life of the members of the other religious traditions. From all this the Pope concludes to a “mystery of unity” which was manifested clearly at Assisi, “in spite of the differences between religious professions.”

Here is more from Blessed Cardinal Newman on this topic:

"…We must confess, on the authority of the Bible itself, that all knowledge of religion is from God, and not only that which the Bible has transmitted to us. There never was a time when God had not spoken to man, and told him to a certain extent his duty. His injunctions to Noah, the common father of all mankind, is the first recorded fact of the sacred history after the deluge. Accordingly, we are expressly told in the New Testament, that at no time He left Himself without witness in the world, and that in every nation He accepts those who fear and obey Him. It would seem, then, that there is something true and divinely revealed, in every religion all over the earth…

The word and the Sacraments are the characteristic of the elect people of God; but all men have had more or less the guidance of Tradition, in addition to those internal notions of right and wrong which the Spirit has put into the heart of each individual.

This vague and uncertain family of religious truths, originally from God, but sojourning without the sanction of miracle, or a definite home, as pilgrims up and down the world, and discernible…may be called the Dispensation of Paganism, after the example of the learned Father already quoted. And further, Scripture gives us reason to believe that the traditions, thus originally delivered to mankind at large, have been secretly reanimated and enforced by new communications from the unseen world…

Accordingly, there is nothing unreasonable in the notion, that there may have been heathen poets and sages, or sibyls again, in a certain extent divinely illuminated, and organs through whom religious and moral truth was conveyed to their countrymen…

These were based on the mystical or sacramental principle, and spoke of the various Economies or Dispensations of the Eternal. I understood these passages to mean that the exterior world, physical and historical, was but the manifestation to our senses of realities greater than itself. Nature was a parable: Scripture was an allegory: pagan literature, philosophy, and mythology, properly understood, were but a preparation for the Gospel. The Greek poets and sages were in a certain sense prophets; for “thoughts beyond their thought to those high bards were given.” There had been a directly divine dispensation granted to the Jews; but there had been in some sense a dispensation carried on in favour of the Gentiles.

He who had taken the seed of Jacob for His elect people had not therefore cast the rest of mankind out of His sight. In the fulness of time both Judaism and Paganism had come to nought; the outward framework, which concealed yet suggested the Living Truth, had never been intended to last, and it was dissolving under the beams of the Sun of Justice which shone behind it and through it. The process of change had been slow; it had been done not rashly, but by rule and measure, “at sundry times and in divers manners,” first one disclosure and then another, till the whole evangelical doctrine was brought into full manifestation. And thus room was made for the anticipation of further and deeper disclosures, of truths still under the veil of the letter, and in their season to be revealed. The visible world still remains without its divine interpretation; Holy Church in her sacraments and her hierarchical appointments, will remain, even to the end of the world, after all but a symbol of those heavenly facts which fill eternity. Her mysteries are but the expressions in human language of truths to which the human mind is unequal…"

- Blessed John Henry Newman (circa. 1845-65), cardinal & theologian of the Catholic Church

That WAS the point I was making. :wink:

…just as words like protest and indulge had different meanings?

There is a person in my locality ,Person X. he is a contractor,carpenter and architect. he is also called supreme bridge builder, lol. actually the term got a new meaing, friend.

Before margaret thatcher became pm, it was a male only post.

Wedding rings was a pagan tradition.

What is the difference?

Now I see why you are having trouble with John Henry Newman. He can be far more difficult to follow than my simple comments.

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