The Devolution of Man (Part 4) … Delegitimize WordOctober 13, 2008
The Devolution of Man (Part 3) … The Secular War on the SupernaturalOctober 13, 2008
I can remember, like it was yesterday, the day I knelt before my bishop. On the day of my priestly ordination, I promised my bishop respect and obedience. Thanks be to God I have never perceived this obligation as a juridical bond, but as a hierarchical communion willed by Jesus, Eternal High Priest, in the relationship of the priest with his own bishop. In such a way, I consider myself a participant ontologically in the priesthood and ministry of Christ.
By submission to this authority I am better equipped to live the words of St. John the Baptist: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John3:30).
Here’s where I see the root of the tension stems from today: We are experiencing a secular war on the supernatural and it is being played out in many different arenas.
Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand put it best: “Now let us abolish the terms “conservative” or “liberal”, the terms “left” and “right” which are secularistic. I suggest that we say from now on “those who have kept the sense of the supernatural and those who have lost it”. That is the great divide, that is the essence.”
She goes on to say:
“Do you look at the Church and her teaching, whether dogmatic or moral, with a supernatural eye, or do you look at it with secular lenses? That is the divide. Left and right confuses the issue. Let us re-discover the greatness and the beauty of the supernatural and I claim that it is so difficult in the polluted world in which we live, that if we don’t pray for it every single day, we are going to be infected. It is the air that you breathe, the newspaper that you read, the television show that you see, time and again you will see this is a fight and attack on the supernatural.”
The Devolution of Man (Part 2) … The Church Isn’t a DemocracyOctober 13, 2008
“Some contemporary Catholics, however, would prefer to hijack the Church. They can’t credit the Holy Spirit talking to the Pope, but for some reason have no trouble crediting that the Holy Spirit talks to them.”
By George Jonas:
This non-Catholic writer seems to have grasped what a surprising number of modern Catholics have failed to understand, that the Roman Catholic church is neither a debating society, nor is it a democracy.
I’m not a Catholic, either by cradle or conversion. I certainly don’t feel entitled to comment on the latest of the Pope’s great encyclicals which has created such a controversy in recent weeks, especially in North America.
I am, however, puzzled by the stance of some of the Pope’s critics. It is a stance that has puzzled me before. Although I rarely write about religious matters—for the simple reason that I’m not religious—I have written about the reaction of some Catholics to their spiritual leader because they give rise to some general questions of plain logic.
I remember reading a newspaper piece by someone four or five years ago who was outraged at one or another of the Pope’s edicts. He was a Catholic, but he didn’t want to be told how to live. He didn’t think it was “democratic.” He asked, rhetorically, whether the Pope realized that Canada was a free country.
I wouldn’t presume to speak for His Holiness, but I suspect that the Pope has always known that Canada is free. But I wonder if the writer who asked the question realized that he was supposed to be a Roman Catholic.
The trick about being a Catholic, as I understand it, is that you don’t quite have the burden of figuring out right and wrong for yourself. The Church does not discourage you to think about these matters if you’re so inclined, but just in case you get lost in the complexity of spiritual and metaphysical affairs, it offers you some guideposts. It sets up a pretty solid beacon for you in the institution (among others) of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The Catholic Church is there to mediate between your conscience and God. It is, I suppose, a kind of compulsory arbitration. When you become a member of the faith you undertake to abide by it.
If you don’t go in for that kind of stuff; if you’d rather have your conscience plugged in directly to God, what you do is become a Protestant. You will, of course, have preachers interpreting the Bible for you even then, but if you don’t agree with one of them, you can always go to another. There are a lot of Protestant churches or sects and you’re almost sure to find one that suits your individual conscience.
If you find even this too structured for your taste, you can become a God-fearing individual who belongs to no organized church. Or you become an agnostic, like me.
But if you are a Catholic, you listen to God through the Holy Father in Rome. That’s the deal. You can ask questions, you can ask for guidance, and you can certainly pray, but you needn’t be your own theologian. The Church has never pretended to be a debating society, not is it a “democracy.” The Pope does not count votes on matters of doctrine and faith.
This doesn’t mean that the Pope wants to restrict anyone’s freedom as a citizen of a secular state. The Pope has no divisions (to borrow a phrase from the late and unlamented J. V. Stalin). All he has is moral authority, voluntarily acceded to him by millions of the faithful, based on two millennia of history.
The Pope is doing what he has been anointed to do. My opinion about this or that particular of his teaching is immaterial. It would be just as immaterial if I were a Catholic columnist. My job would still not be to teach him, but to accept his teaching.
If I couldn’t, I’d have another choice, of course. I could leave the Church.
Some contemporary Catholics, however, would prefer to hijack the Church. They can’t credit the Holy Spirit talking to the Pope, but for some reason have no trouble crediting that the Holy Spirit talks to them.
They want to convert the Vatican to their own views (which, incidentally, tend to be social rather than spiritual views) not caring that in the process they might destroy the Church they profess to love. My sympathy for such people is nil—whether or not I happen to agree with them on the issues of contraception or abortion.