Doors to the Sacred

I am reading Joseph Martos’ book “Doors to the Sacred.” Here are some quotes. Do these seem a bit out of line with Catholic teaching?

“Greek-speaking Christians may have already begun to identify the bread and wine with the body and blood of Christ, but it is impossible to prove that Jesus and his Jewish followers ever did so. In fact it is historically more probable that they did not, for he drinking of blood was both culturally repulsive and religiously forbidden to Jews” (241).

“Granted that the rising insistence of women to be admitted to orders in more a product of the women’s liberation movement than the result of abstract theological reflection the fact remains that the scriptural and historical arguments against ordaining women are not that strong and that the major arguments are cultural and psychological” (521).

“It seems probable…that when the younger generation of clergy replaces the present hierarchy, the present restrictions against married and female clergy will be lifted, and that sometime in the future, though not in the very near future, Catholics will have married priests and women priests in their church” (522).

“Contemporary Catholic theologians stress the presence of Christ in the eucharistic celebration rather than in the eucharistic elements…” (527).

“Baptism and membership in the church are no longer regarded as indispensable for getting into heaven. It is hard to specific exactly what difference confirmation makes in a Catholic’s life. The anointing of the sick is no longer performed with the assurance of hidden effects, and man Catholics no longer depend on penance to have all their sins forgiven” (528).

“Catholic worship does not have to be tied to the eucharist…Christian initiation does not have to be restricted to baptism” (529).

“But once the sacraments are understood for what they are – human creations which function as doors to the sacred – there is no intrinsic reason why new sacramental forms could not be invented to reach the same sacred realities that the old forms once revealed” (529).

There is so much here that needs to be said. I’m going to go through each point and briefy show how each one is a fallacy. This isn’t meant to be complete, of course.

The only “proof” that we have of what Christ and his followers thought is recorded in Sacred Scripture. Clearly they thought of the Eucharist as the true Body and Blood of Christ. Yes, drinking blood was(is still) impossible in the Jewish mindset. That’s the point. The New Covenant replaces the Old.

The scriptural and historical arguments against the ordination of women are quite strong. Christ went against the conventions of His time. It is impossible to look at the person of Christ and say that He would have considered Himself to be bound by the conventions of the time with regard to women as priests and thereby do something to which He Himself objected. Can we say that the man who stood up to Pontius Pilate was afraid of offending people by having women apostles? The historical evidence is also overwhelming. One of the objections against the early heresy of Gnosticism was the fact that they did have women as “priests” There is not one single historical recording of a woman being ordained–not one. The scant evidence we have on women being “ordained” as deaconesses actually proves that even though the word itself “ordination” might have been used, the early Church meant something completely distinct from the ordination of bishop/priest/deacon. The deaconess “ordination” ceremony happened outside of the sanctuary (ordinations happened inside it) and the functions of the deaconess were very specifically limited to those outside the sanctuary. The truth is that the arguments for womens ordination are themselves cultural and psychological rather than scriptural and historic.

As for what will happen in the future, we don’t know. It’s possible that there might be more of an openness to married men being ordained priests (no one knows); but since it is impossible to ordain a woman as a priest, it’s safe to say that won’t happen. The author obviously hasn’t seen our “younger generation of clergy” or he would not make the comment that it “seems probable.”

Yes, contemporary Catholic theologians do lean more toward the “community” of the Eucharist rather than the Eucharistic elements. We can’t dispute the fact itself, but that doesn’t make them right.

Baptism and membership in the Church aresn’t regarded as strictly necessary for heaven, but rejection of them is a sure way to go the other direction. Yes, it is hard to specify what difference Confirmation makes. Just because it’s hard to specify and we have some difficulties to overcome in our catechetical programs, that doesn’t mean that the difference isn’t there. Same holds true for confession; statistically, Catholics aren’t going as much, but that doesn’t change the reality of the Sacrament in any way. Anointing of the Sick is certainly seen with the assurance of hidden effects.

Catholic worship must be tied to the Eucharist. See the recent papal encyclicals (for starters)

The Sacraments are not human creations, they are instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church. They are not “doors to the sacred” they are the sacred. Since the Church did not invent the sacraments in the first place, the Church cannot invent new ones.

No evidence besides Acts and the Gospels.

False. The major argument is that women were never admitted to the priestly order, and thus could never be admitted to the episcopal order. The question of Deaconesses being in the Deaconal Order, a separate major order, or a minor order are still debated within Catholicism, but have mostly been settled (Deaconate for the EO, Minor Order of their own for the OO) for the orthodox.

We already have married priests. I know a married man ordained a Roman Catholic priest, and the Eastern Rite Churches generally allow married priests. For the Roman Church, it is unlikely to become normative. For the east, it has never eliminated the Celibate clergy, and it is not universal, either.

Quite obviously he’s citing certain dissidents; the CCC makes it quite clear that both are important.

A misinterpretation and a stretch. The Church acknowledges that Baptism by the proper formula does unite one to the church. The church acknowledges the probability of Christ’s Mercy on those who wish to be united but can not be. The Church recognizes that the EO, OO, and ACE are still visibly united with us in faith, but not in ecclesiology.

And it never has been restricted to those elements. The sacraments of initiation are Baptism, Confirmation/Chrismation, and First Eucharist; in the Eastern Churches, First Confession is also treated as the final sacrament of initiation, due to infants being communed.

and the process the church recognizes is slow, organic change, which does not abrogate the extant sacramentality.

Oh dear ! Typos! I kinda doubt you got them from his book!



Hrm. I have this book, but I haven’t read it yet. I’ll need to have two colors of highlighter with me when I do so, I suppose…

The book does not have an Imprimatur, so it’s contents must be viewed carefully.

Yes they are from this book.

Yep. Typos are mine.

We had to read this book as one of our texts in diaconate formation for our classes on Sacramental Theology. I found it a facsinating read that provided an easy to understand historical development of the sacraments.

The instructor told us that the author did an excellent job describing the history and development of the sacraments and the theology surrounding them. However, he cautioned us that the author’s discussions and projections on the future development of the sacraments were “whacky”. Good to read to understand that those theories are out there but not an orthodox treatment on future developments.

This quote seems to contradict that Martos is “excellent” on the history of the sacraments:

“Greek-speaking Christians may have already begun to identify the bread and wine with the body and blood of Christ, but it is impossible to prove that Jesus and his Jewish followers ever did so. In fact it is historically more probable that they did not, for he drinking of blood was both culturally repulsive and religiously forbidden to Jews” (241).

I agree with your instructor.

But I have to wonder why men who are in formation to be ministers in the Church would be subject to any thing that is not strictly orthodox.

This book was pulled from our Parish library as it puts forth false teaching.

Throw it out.

Guess we got some folks out there ready to stoke up the bonfire so they can burn some books.

The instructor who assigned us this book is extremely orthodox and cautioned us against the projections of the future that Martros makes. We are getting very orthodox instruction in our diaconate formation program. A year ago our Archbishop banned a visiting instructor from the archdiocese for teaching unorthodox material in one of our classes.

I think we are all in agreement that Martos has an extremely liberal and unorthodox view of the future. Especially in the final chapter of his book…which is a small part of the total work.

However, I still think he does an excellent job describing the development and evolution of sacramental theology. Lets be honest here that it took centuries to get where we are at today in terms of our understanding of the meanings and effects of the sacraments. The teaching on transubstantiation was not even dogmatically defined by the Church until the Council of Trent in the 16th Century.

The only quote that has been objected to from the main part of the book has been this one so far:

“Greek-speaking Christians may have already begun to identify the bread and wine with the body and blood of Christ, but it is impossible to prove that Jesus and his Jewish followers ever did so. In fact it is historically more probable that they did not, for the drinking of blood was both culturally repulsive and religiously forbidden to Jews” (241).

Looking at this paragraph today it is hard to accept that Jesus and his Jewish followers did not believe in the real presence. Martos is wrong. Clearly, Jesus knew what he meant and it seems ridiculous to question that based on the Gospels.

But, I do believe that Martos is correct that for a first century Jew this would have been a very hard teaching to accept and understand due to the religious and cultural taboos dealing with blood. The rest of Martos’ discussion on the development of our understanding of the Eucharist is very orthodox.

How did the Archbishop find out that unorthodox material was being taught?

Read pg 173, what he says about Baptism.

One of my brother candidates reported her to the Archbishop. :thumbsup:

However, he didn’t go through the Director of Deacons which resulted in us getting a class on the proper chain of command.:bowdown:

I should like to quote from Fr. Groeschel’s book In the Presence of Our Lord: “One group must be identified and that is those who simply deny any enduring dogmatic structure of the Church. Frequently they call the enduring nature of dogma into question, and usually this is done in such a way that it is not explicitly heretical. This group is very influential, and their effect is seen in Catholic education and in the decisions of local diocesan officials. An example of this kind of thinking is the popular book Doors to the Sacred by Joseph Martos. Without every directly challenging the dogmas of the Church he calls them into question, and presents his view as part of the historical tide of the Church claiming as his allies theologians who would most certainly have rejected his conclusions–in this case the Benedictine monks who began the liturgical reform movement of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.”

Doors to the Sacred was one book required in my course “Introduction to Sacramental Theology.” I did not like the book at all and complained to the priest-professor that I found Martos’ writing to be sloppy.

God bless you. Please pray for me. I’m going to try and go to Mass every day for Advent.



There are many wonderful Catholic books out there- enough to last a lifetime. Why waste time on this filth? Reading it would be like going into a banquet hall full of good food, and eating whatever you dig out of the trashcan. I wouldn’t waste any more time with the book- in fact, I would destroy it so nobody else will have to see it.

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