Apart from any off-the-cuff statements or phone calls a little higher but not much would be a letter or elocution.
Yet, popes are entitled to their opinion.
Most coloring book Catholics don't realize that there are different levels of papal teaching.
The highest form is an encylical. It forms a part of the high magisterium of the pope. It may not be infallible but could be if specifically "taught from the chair" and clearly stated as an infallible teaching or proclamation. We see this very often at canonizations of saints and the pope sitting at the chair with miter and feriola states the infallible decree in a clear, concise formulaic way.
Thus Cardinal Burke helps those Catholics who missed papal infallibity 101 and its 99 courses on different levels of papal teachings:
‘Amoris Laetitia’ and the Constant Teaching and Practice of the Church
Posted by CARDINAL RAYMOND BURKE on Monday Apr 11th, 2016 at 11:46 AM
Such a view of the document is both a source of wonder and confusion to the faithful, and potentially a source of scandal not only for the faithful but for others of good will who look to Christ and his Church to teach and reflect in practice the truth regarding marriage and its fruit, family life, the first cell of the life of the Church and of every society.
It is also a disservice to the nature of the document as the fruit of the Synod of Bishops, a meeting of bishops representing the universal Church “to assist the Roman Pontiff with their counsel in the preservation and growth of faith and morals and in the observance and strengthening of ecclesiastical discipline, and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world” (Canon 342). In other words, it would be a contradiction of the work of the Synod of Bishops to set in motion confusion regarding what the Church teaches, and safeguards and fosters by her discipline.
The only key to the correct interpretation of Amoris Laetitia is the constant teaching of the Church and her discipline that safeguards and fosters this teaching. Pope Francis makes clear, from the beginning, that the post-synodal apostolic exhortation is not an act of the magisterium (No. 3). The very form of the document confirms the same. It is written as a reflection of the Holy Father on the work of the last two sessions of the Synod of Bishops. For instance, in Chapter Eight, which some wish to interpret as the proposal of a new discipline with obvious implications for the Church’s doctrine, Pope Francis, citing his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, declares:
I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion. But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a Church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness, a Mother who, while clearly expressing her objective teaching, “always does what good she can, even if in the process, her shoes get soiled by the mud of the street” (No. 308).In other words, the Holy Father is proposing what he personally believes is the will of Christ for His Church, but he does not intend to impose his point of view, nor to condemn those who insist on what he calls “a more rigorous pastoral care.” The personal, that is, non-magisterial, nature of the document is also evident in the fact that the references cited are principally the final report of the 2015 session of the Synod of Bishops, and the addresses and homilies of Pope Francis himself. There is no consistent effort to relate the text, in general, or these citations to the magisterium, the Fathers of the Church and other proven authors.
What is more, as noted above, a document which is the fruit of the Synod of Bishops must always be read in the light of the purpose of the Synod itself, namely, to safeguard and foster what the Church has always taught and practiced in accord with her teaching.
In other words, a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, by its very nature, does not propose new doctrine and discipline but applies the perennial doctrine and discipline to the situation of the world at the time.
How then is the document to be received? First of all, it should be received with the profound respect owed to the Roman Pontiff as the Vicar of Christ, in the words of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity of both the Bishops and of the whole company of the faithful” (Lumen Gentium, 23). Certain commentators confuse such respect with a supposed obligation to “believe with divine and Catholic faith” (Canon 750, § 1) everything contained in the document. But the Catholic Church, while insisting on the respect owed to the Petrine Office as instituted by Our Lord Himself, has never held that every utterance of the Successor of St. Peter should be received as part of her infallible magisterium.
The Church has historically been sensitive to the erroneous tendency to interpret every word of the pope as binding in conscience, which, of course, is absurd. According to a traditional understanding, the pope has two bodies, the body which is his as an individual member of the faithful and is subject to mortality, and the body which is his as Vicar of Christ on earth which, according to Our Lord’s promise, endures until His return in glory. The first body is his mortal body; the second body is the divine institution of the office of St. Peter and his successors.
The liturgical rites and the vesture surrounding the papacy underline the distinction, so that a personal reflection of the Pope, while received with the respect owed to his person, is not confused with the binding faith owed to the exercise of the magisterium. In the exercise of the magisterium, the Roman Pontiff as Vicar of Christ acts in an unbroken communion with his predecessors beginning with St. Peter.
I remember the discussion which surrounded the publication of the conversations between Blessed Pope Paul VI and Jean Guitton in 1967. The concern was the danger that the faithful would confuse the Pope’s personal reflections with official Church teaching. While the Roman Pontiff has personal reflections which are interesting and can be inspiring, the Church must be ever attentive to point out that their publication is a personal act and not an exercise of the Papal Magisterium. Otherwise, those who do not understand the distinction, or do not want to understand it, will present such reflections and even anecdotal remarks of the Pope as declarations of a change in the Church’s teaching, to the great confusion of the faithful. Such confusion is harmful to the faithful and weakens the witness of the Church as the Body of Christ in the world.
With the publication of Amoris Laetitia, the task of pastors and other teachers of the faith is to present it within the context of the Church’s teaching and discipline, so that it serves to build up the Body of Christ in its first cell of life, which is marriage and the family. In other words, the post-synodal apostolic exhortation can only be correctly interpreted, as a non-magisterial document, using the key of the Magisterium as it is described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (85-87).
The Church’s official doctrine, in fact, provides the irreplaceable interpretative key to the post-synodal apostolic exhortation, so that it may truly serve the good of all the faithful, uniting them ever more closely to Christ Who alone is our salvation. There can be no opposition or contradiction between the Church’s doctrine and her pastoral practice, since, as the Catechism reminds us, doctrine is inherently pastoral:
The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates (890).The pastoral nature of doctrine is seen, in an eloquent manner, in the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family. Christ Himself shows the deeply pastoral nature of the truth of the faith in his teaching on Holy Matrimony in the Gospel (Matthew 19, 3-12), in which He teaches anew the truth of God’s plan for marriage “from the beginning.”
During the past two years, in which the Church has engaged in an intense discussion of marriage and the family, I have frequently recalled an experience from my childhood. I was raised on a family dairy farm in rural Wisconsin, the youngest of six children of good Catholic parents. Ten o’clock Sunday Mass at our parish church in the nearby town was clearly at the heart of our life of faith. At a certain point, I became aware of a couple, friends of my parents from a neighboring farm, who were always at Holy Mass but never received Holy Communion. When I asked my father why they never received Holy Communion, he explained to me that the husband was married to another woman and, therefore, could not receive the sacraments.
I recall vividly that my father explained to me the Church’s practice, in fidelity to her teaching, in a serene manner. The discipline obviously made sense to him, and it made sense to me. In fact, his explanation was a primary occasion for me to reflect on the nature of marriage as an indissoluble bond between husband and wife. At the same time, I must say that the parish priest always treated the couple involved with the greatest respect, even as they took part in parish life in a manner appropriate to the irregular state of their union. For my part, I always had the impression that, even though it must have been very difficult to be unable to receive the Sacraments, they were at peace in living according to the truth about their marital state.
Over more than 40 years of priestly life and ministry, during 21 of which I have served as a bishop, I have known numerous other couples in an irregular union for whom I or my brother priests have had pastoral care. Even though their suffering would be clear to any compassionate soul, I have seen ever more clearly over the years that the first sign of respect and love for them is to speak the truth to them with love. In that way, the Church’s teaching is not something which further wounds them but, in truth, frees them for the love of God and their neighbor.
It may be helpful to illustrate one example of the need to interpret the text of Amoris Laetitia with the key of the magisterium. There is frequent reference in the document to the “ideal” of marriage. Such a description of marriage can be misleading. It could lead the reader to think of marriage as an eternal idea to which, in the changing historical circumstances, man and woman more or less conform. But Christian marriage is not an idea; it is a sacrament which confers the grace upon a man and woman to live in faithful, permanent and procreative love of each other. Every Christian couple who validly marry receive, from the moment of their consent, the grace to live the love which they pledge to each other.
Because we all suffer the effects of original sin and because the world in which we live advocates a completely different understanding of marriage, the married suffer temptations to betray the objective reality of their love. But Christ always gives the grace for them to remain faithful to that love until death. The only thing that can limit them in their faithful response is their failure to respond to the grace given them in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. In other words, their struggle is not with some idea imposed upon them by the Church. Their struggle is with the forces which would lead them to betray the reality of Christ’s life within them.
Over the years and, in a particular way, during the past two years, I have met many men and women who, for whatever reason, are separated or divorced from their spouse, but who are living in fidelity to the truth of their marriage and continuing to pray daily for the eternal salvation of their spouse, even if he or she has abandoned them. In our conversations, they acknowledge the suffering involved but, above all, the profound peace which is theirs in remaining faithful to their marriage.
Some say that such a response to separation or divorce constitutes a heroism to which the average member of the faithful cannot be held, but, in truth, we are all called, whatever our state in life, to live heroically. Pope St. John Paul II, at the conclusion of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, making reference to the words of Our Lord at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount — “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5, 48) — taught us the heroic nature of our daily life in Christ with these words:
As the [Second Vatican] Council itself explained, this ideal of perfection must not be misunderstood as if it involved some kind of extraordinary existence, possible only for a few “uncommon heroes” of holiness. The ways of holiness are many, according to the vocation of each individual… The time has come to re-propose wholeheartedly to everyone this high standard of ordinary Christian living: the whole life of the Christian community and of Christian families must lead in this direction (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 31).Meeting men and women who, notwithstanding a breakdown in marital life, remain faithful to the grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony, I have witnessed the heroic life which grace makes possible for us daily, every day.
St. Augustine of Hippo, preaching on the feast day of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, in the year 417, used a beautiful image to encourage us in our cooperation with the divine grace which Our Lord has won for us by His Passion and Death. He assures us that in the garden of the Lord there are not only the roses of martyrs but also the lilies of virgins, the ivies of spouses, and the violets of widows. He concludes that, therefore, no one should despair regarding his vocation for “Christ has died for all” (Sermon 304).
May the reception of Amoris Laetitia, in fidelity to the Magisterium, confirm spouses in the grace of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, so that they may be a sacrament of the faithful and enduring love of God for us “from the beginning” which reached its fullest manifestation in the Redemptive Incarnation of God the Son. May the Magisterium as the key to its understanding see to it “that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 890).
Cardinal Raymond Burke is the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
Father, with respect, it wasn't so long ago that you were saying that we had to accept Laudato Si. It was the traditionalists who in fact pointed out that not everything that the Pope says is infallible and so doesn't have to be accepted or followed. Of course no off-the-cuff remark by the Pope is Catholic doctrine but, at the same time, everything the Pope says is published and so one would think the Pope would be careful that his words couldn't be misconstrued. I don't remember anything being misconstrued during the papacies of St John Paul II The Great or Pope Benedict. Why only this papacy? One would think that a smart Jesuit, having been burnt once and his words taken out of context by an atheist journalist, would not give a second or third or fourth interview to such a person.
You have said on several occasions, as have many others, that this Pope has too much to say in public and leaves himself wide open. Many believe that he uses these jesuitical "skills" to skillfully get what he wants. History will decide whether Pope Francis was a bumbler who stumbled in the office or if he was a modernist hellbent on modernising the Church.
What Cardinal Burke is trying to do is shore up the constant teaching of the Church but unfortunately no one is going to listen to Cardinal Burke except traditionalists because the seeds for a change in Church teaching were already sowed by Kasper and friends, helped by the Pope's much publicised comments to a divorcee that there was nothing to stop her receiving communion. And, as regards traditionalists, Father as you know in the words of the Pope "Who are we to judge?"
What we're seeing here is the same regulatory problem we see with modern industrialized society: a proliferation of written authority of various levels. The U.S. Constitution is only a few thousand words, but laws of Congress run to millions of words. Court decisions interpreting the Constitution and congressional laws run to thousands of volumes. Then there are federal regulations, which practically didn't exist until just over a century ago. The first ten years of federal statutes filled one volume; a volume of rather larger size is now published every six months.
The result of this often isn't isn't clarification but confusion. Consider "Ignorance of the law is no excuse." It is literally impossible now for any person or even any corporate group to know all of the law; thus we're all ignorant of it, usually to a great degree, yet we're legally held to know it.
My point is that an attempt to pastorally clarify the teachings of the Church with longer and more frequent writings results in more and more things for priests and laity to have to wade through, and there's a good chance that many contradictions are contained therein. (Consider also that the documents used to clarify the words of Scripture, the words of the Catechism, or some other source also consist of words that have the same fundamental nature as those they purport to clarify, thus in turn not being clear until clarified by still other words. "Progressives" have noted all this and proclaimed it quite readily whenever anything came out under JPII or Benedict that they didn't like, such as the requirements of feeding and hydration for comatose or vegetative patients.
The fact is that there is at least a huge multiplicity, if not an actual infinity, of factual scenarios that may present themselves to the pastor, and that even if clear definitive answers could be given for each, the pastor probably couldn't remember them all or even locate them. The "progressive" approach to things is often to attempt to codify all responses, i.e., to "pass another law," but this often exacerbates the problem rather than solving it.
Father McDonald said..."Traditionalists, especially of the faux kind, think that everything a pope says should be taken on the same level. Thus an off-the-cuff interview creates havoc for them. A homily heard out of context makes them apoplectic. A phone call to someone causes hearts to skip beats and blood pressure to rise."
Father McDonald, in fairness to Traditionalists, it has been the Holy See, not Traditionalists, who felt the urgent need to perform damage control for Pope Francis via rushed clarifications that followed several of the Pope's controversial off-the-cuff remarks.
The Holy See recognized on several occasions that Pope Francis had provoked controversies. Traditionalists weren't permitted to have also recognized such occasions?
Was Cardinal Sarah an "apoplectic" "Traditionalist" when he entered into the fray in regard to Pope Francis' controversial remarks about Holy Communion uttered during His Holiness' visit to a Lutheran Church?
The following has been a major Vatican II Era problem for the Church: Rome has all but lost (perhaps has lost) the ability to control the Church's messages offered to the Faithful and world.
That has been the case since the 1960s. Therefore, it isn't surprising that controversy has swirled about the Apostolic Exhortation within minutes of its release last Friday.
Actually, that has been the case in regard to the Synod on the Family beginning with the 2014 A.D. Extraordinary Synod. Day after day during the Extraordinary, various factions within the Church had spun the Extraordinary Synod as having focused upon Holy Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics and the promotion of homosexuality.
Cardinals, bishops, and laymen begged Pope Francis to halt the insanity in question. His Holiness refused to speak expect during the Extraordinary Synod's final day.
Unfortunately, by that time, the narrative had taken root within and without the Church that the Synod would introduce revolutionary changes to Church teaching. Similar controversy as above had dogged the 2015 A.D. Synod.
Pope Francis' style of governance sometimes...ummm...stirs things up within the Church. I don't believe that that benefitted the Church during the Extraordinary and Ordinary Synods on the Family.
Since the close of the Synod, many Catholics had hoped that Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation would prove to be his Humanae Vitae moment. Well, Pope Francis' Humanae Vitae moment is at hand. Unfortunately, that moment is akin to that which Pope Blessed Paul VI experienced in 1968 A.D. That is, a bitter moment.
Amoris Laetitia has been spun as a "game-changer"...revolutionary...no matter how engulfed we are in sin, all are free to receive Holy Communion.
Catholics in 1968 A.D. had been primed by powerful Church factions to believe that the Church would approve the use of contraceptives. In 2016 A.D., Catholics had been primed by powerful Church factions to believe that the Exhortation would revolutionize Church teaching.
I was hopeful a few hours ago that Cardinal Burke's would help to dispel the chaos that has swirled about the Exhortation. Now, I am not as hopeful in that regard.
I fear that we may be on the verge of a 1968 A.D. horrific moment within the Church. Therefore, to salvage the Exhortation, Pope Francis must perform the duty that Cardinal Burke performed a few hours ago. Pope Francis must make Cardinal Burke's words his words.
The lock on the door to "official" Holy Communion may be picked shortly should Pope Francis refuse to take the lead from Cardinal Burke.
For the good of the Church, the controversy and nonsense in regard to the Exhortation has to cease now. Pope Francis has to become Cardinal Burke-like in opposing the factions who are determined to transform the Exhortation into something unholy.
I thought the function of Cardinal Burke's intervention was pretty clear ... until I read Fr. Longenecker's take on it:
'Cardinal Burke ... says clearly that those who set themselves up as critics of the Holy Father and the exhortation are wrong and are causing scandal. The behavior of the Catholic fundamentalists over the weekend has been scandalous. Some who believe themselves to be such good Catholics have used vile and obscene language about the Pope, trumpeted their prognostications of doom and gloom and in doing so have declared themselves not to be the best Catholics of all, but the worst. Cardinal Burke is right to say they have caused scandal because their self righteous, ignorant and arrogant writings have caused others to stumble, lose faith in the church and to question the authority of the Holy Father and the church they say they love.'
I don't think I have ever read a papal document where the pope writing quotes himself so extensively as Francis. It is kind of weird.
James those of us who love tradition and our Catholic Faith now see how the neo traditionalists, many converts to Catholicism but totally imbued with the raw rhetoric of their former fundamentalism simply are not authentically orthodox or traditional Catholics. Thus when I say that allowing a loving fornicator to receive Holy Communion is less of a sacrilege than allowing one of these harsh, divisive and hateful neo traditionalists to receive is not hyperbole! I think Cardinal Burkes gets it too!
It seems to this commenter that a fundamental problem today is that the magisterium has been redefined at/after Vatican 2 to mean to be the reining Pope and who ever that Pope entrusts to speak for him. This is a direct challange to Tradition as defined by the Council of Trent. Trent limited the magisterial authority very clearly at the highest level, infallibility, to defending Tradition not to redefining it.
Can any one honestly say that the current Pontiff accepts Trent and Tradition as the basis for interpreting the faith? If he does not, than what is the Catholic Church to teach? How is this new teaching church any different from Martin Luther et al? Is this why Pope Francis feels comfortable to participate in celebrating the anniversary of the 16th century tragedy? Just saying, because if Tradition (the deposit of faith written and unwritten), means now what ever the magisterium of the moment tells me what it is and not what it has always been, than the problem is much greater than we say it is. To wit, are we saying Pilot was right and Jesus was naive?
(Pilot: What is truth?)
I am comfortable with ecumenical relations and having friends who are not Catholic, be they clergy or laity. Many Protestants disagree wholeheartedly with Catholic positions on birth control, homosexuality and marriage in general.
When I befriend a ministers who is an activist in the gay marriage movement, it does not mean that I support him and his friendship with me doesn't me he supports my beliefs.
Judging the Holy Father in this regard and even his willingness to "commemorate" the Reformation, which by the way, the pope at the time and the bishops along with corrupt priests and laity inspired, is not a sign that he accepts the bad fruits of that epochal change, but that in many ways the Catholic Church was responsible for it and if not for the Reformation, there would not have been a counter-reformation. So who knows how the Holy Spirit was at work in this whole affair!
Fr. McDonald, re your 7:26:
I know what you're getting at; I have many times heard a fundamentalist say with utter conviction that X or Y (or whole groups of Xx and Ys) are in hell, or going to hell. The problem with that is it's the type of judging that we're prohibited from doing, i.e., judging the state of other people's souls.
But in a Catholic context, let's ask why these people continue to do so (assuming arguendo they do). I can think of two understandable reasons why they do. 1) They are displaying charity, not hate--they are genuinely worried for the fate of those who, based on twenty centuries of Catholic teaching and moral theology, receive Communion unworthily. 2) They are displaying fear that the Church is contradicting herself on a doctrinal matter of faith or morals and so revealing herself not to be the True Church, which calls into question their own faith (and consequently the state of their own souls).
The answer to the second can't be that they should simply have more faith in the Church. That courts Pelagianism and ignores the witness of the Gospels that one legitimate struggle Christians have is lack of faith ("Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.")
In short, we must keep in mind that a lot of the reaction to Francis that some characterize in hate is, instead, fear--fear for the loss of souls, whether one's own or someone else's.
I agree with you and Fr Longenecker that the behaviour of the neo-trads over the last few days has been awful. I just don't think that they're the main target of Cardinal Burke's criticisms (isn't it clear from his first paragraph that he's talking about liberal attempts to portray the exhortation as revolutionary?). If his aim was to criticize neo-trads, then he should have been clearer.
Yes, the progressives since Vatican II have done this, but it doesn't justify the so-called traditionalists doing the same thing but simply in the opposite direction.
I believe as a priest that I must try to save my soul and the souls of others. But we don't do that ourselves and in fact we have no control over our salvation or damnation apart from rejecting or striving to accept the graces God give us.
It really boils down to control and the Adam and Eve syndrome. If anyone, though, is in heaven or hell, it is God's doing and God doesn't make mistakes in this regard.
Sad to say, but Cardinal Burke is right, and Santita is wrong. Burke is an intellectual heavyweight, Francis is a featherduster. Although Francis will not undermine my Faith (neither did Paul VI), the damage he is causing will take decades to repair. His most recent lunacy is having Bernie "Commie" Sanders over to chat about economic justice. It is a supreme irony that Francis and Bernie will miss, is that the "progressive" economic policies deeply harm the people they claim to love. I will wake up after this Pontificate is over.
For my money, John Jalsevac gets the right angle on Cardinal Burke's article here:
Re: Anonymous at 8:57 - YES!
I consider myself one of those traditionalists who is deeply frustrated with this exhortation. We must go further than just filling the pews with unrepentant sinners. There must be the call to conversion, repentance, and taking up one's cross. Otherwise, what's the point? Loving the sinner demands confrontation. Without this, the field hospital heals no one and only numbs the senses of the dying.
Anonymous, the letter explicitly calls people to conversion by painting the ideal in clear, beautiful colors. Only if you grasp the treasure that rules are meant to protect will you obey the rules.
If I love the King, because I've come to experience the King's mercy and love and beauty, then I'll care about the King's rules. But if instead all I get are the rules without a relationship to the King and/or an appreciation of the beauty of the treasure the rules serve to protect I will be tempted to consider the rules arbitrary impositions of social force alone.
I'd hazard a guess that most liberal progressives see all rules as MERELY social constructs, of mere force over other people -which is how they see government and the Church and their own interpersonal dealings with people: a power struggle. I'd hazard to guess that many Traditionalists also see God as an almost Zeus like character who imposes rules for the hell of it. So we grimly white knuckle it in this life so as to "get" into heaven.
but Heaven is not a place where we can be ourselves...it's the state of intimate union with God.
What do all the great missionaries do first? They introduce pagan people to the King, Jesus Christ and the story....and only THEN about rules. First experience the plagues of Egypt, then the flight into the desert, the pillar of fire and cloud and finally the Red Sea crossing...before you experience the 10 commandment covenant. First see what God does for us and then we'll see what we ought to do with respect to God and neighbor.
For all the Latin Mass hype there seems precious little inter-personal engagement either within the "traditional" movement or with outsiders. Instead EVERYONE is weaponized - people fighting each other within the movement and fighting with evil outsiders.
It's very unedifying and can't be very fun.
"I'd hazard to guess that many Traditionalists also see God as an almost Zeus like character who imposes rules for the hell of it."
There may be some that do this, but none that I have known and become acquainted with.
My kind of traditionalist is Cardinal Burke.
Jusad - there's a lot to disagree with here. Painting a picture of beauty, while nice, is not an explicit call to repentance. If a soul is darkened by sin, it will not see the treasure. This is explicit in the writings of many saints.
How does one love the King or Father that one doesn't know? If I get home from work every day and have crazy fun playtime with my kids but leave all instruction, formation and discipline to their mother, my children really do not KNOW me. Mercy uncoupled from instruction and a demand (i.e. go and sin no more) is like 100% CRAZY FUNTIME. To really know the Father, you have to know AND love His Law.
"The Word (also to be construed as Law) was made flesh..."
And he said, "17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." Matt 5
That is pretty hard to misconstrue.
God is not Zeus. Only parodies of traditionalists believe as you say. But of course we all "white-knuckle" it due to our own darkened souls. We all in some way "like" our sins otherwise we wouldn't keep falling into them. Everyone has that sense at some point of begrudgingly following the law, but as St Francis de Sales says (paraphrasing) "help me to love what You love." Through God's grace and the cooperation of our free will strengthened by frequent recourse to the sacraments (Confession and Communion, in that order) we can properly order our desires to His will. Intimate union with God requires union of the will to His.
As far as your Latin Mass hype comment, I find it hurtful and deeply offensive given the immediate personal sacrifice and selflessness I have experienced from those welcoming my family despite the fidgety distracting 1-2 year old in the pew and our sporadic attendance, clear unfamiliarity with the stand sit kneel, where are we in the missal? - and the fact that living 2 hours away in another diocese, there is really nothing I can offer them in return. "Those" people have been good to my family and asked for nothing.
It's a major challenge for my family to spend 4 hours in the car on Sunday. But we get to worship in reverence and attend Mass in the same form that was edifying for so many saints. So is it fun? Hardly, but it has been a pivotal blessing in my family's spiritual life.
The use of the "ars laudandi" or "panegyric" style - painting a picture of beauty - is an ancient style of evangelization used efgectively by many Church Fathers. I suspect this style is more likely to attract people, including those darkened by sin, that a catena of anathemas. The latter make the self-righteous feel safe and secure; they, of course are not among the dark souls being condemned and vast out.
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