Thursday, May 30, 2019

Do You Not Yet Have Faith?

85 “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.” This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.

86 “Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication, and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church 

One element of the rebellion within the Church is the attempt to set paragraph 85 at odds with the beginning of paragraph 86. “Yes,” they say, “the Church has this authority. But the Church is not superior to the Word of God. So, when the Church teaches contrary to the Word of God, I must not obey.” Unfortunately, this way of thinking—sincere as it might be—is leading people astray.

This is because they have used the wrong emphasis in paragraph 86. It is not intended to be used as a means to pass judgment on when to obey the Church. It is intended to declare that the Church teaching cannot and does not change what God has taught, so we can trust the teaching of the Church with confidence regardless of the sins of . We can see this in the often overlooked paragraph 87:

87 Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles: “He who hears you, hears me,” the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.

There’s no place for interpreting paragraph 86 as setting oneself up to judge whether or not to accept the teachings of the magisterium as valid. (See also Canon 752, Humani Generis #20, Lumen Gentium #25). It is part of the Church teaching that we trust and obey the Church as if we were trusting and obeying Christ (cf. Luke 10:16). Not because of the holiness of the men who serve as Pope and bishops, but because we believe that Christ always protects His Church. 

Remember, it makes no sense to profess that you trust God to protect His Church from error in the extremely rare case of ex cathedra definitions while thinking He allows error to pour into the Church through the Ordinary Magisterium. But that is what the anti-Vatican II and anti-Francis attacks from within the Church are effectively saying.

There will always be trials and tribulations in the Church. They will be more than we can handle on our own. We will need Our Lord to save us from them. But we should always remember the Gospel account of crossing over the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35-41). When His terror stricken disciples woke Him, he calmed the storm and told them: “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” (Mark 4:40).

Yes, the Church is in the midst of a storm, as she was countless times before. Yes, it can look like the worst storm ever. But God is in charge of His Church. The Barque of Peter will not sink. Yes, we must strive to do His will, but in the end, things are not under our control. They are under His.

That is why we must abandon the fear that the Church will fail or become corrupted. Not because Popes are sinless, but because God always protects His Church.

2 comments:

  1. Bingo. One reason I became a Catholic is that no bishop, pope or council can repeal - say - part of the Decalogue. **And** that we're not locked into the customs of folks in some past time and place.

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  2. So good. thank you for this article.

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