Skip to main content

Sentire Cum Ecclesia

A fascinating series of posts has developed over at Mirror of Justice. This is one of my favorite blogs. A group of Catholic lawyers explore and develop the concept of Catholic Legal Theory. For a doctor to say she loves reading what a bunch of lawyers has to say is high praise indeed! Doctors and lawyers usually get along like cats and dogs. You can start with this post and then scroll forward for a whole variety of posts discussing conservatives, liberals, progressives, traditionalist, institutionalists, and a few other labels. I would say that most of the lawyers seem pretty faithful to the Magisterium. There are a few who openly dissent from Church teachings. The discussion going on over there has to do with whether or not there are enough “dissenting views” to provide adequate balance.Father Araujo offers an excellent discussion of this.

As a priest, without modifier liberal/conservative or orthodox/heterodox, I, too must counsel those who seek my pastoral advice. Moreover, I must be satisfied that the advice and teaching I relate is sound. It cannot be what I think or feel is right. In providing this ministry, I must think with the Church, and explain, as best I can, what she teaches with mercy and tenderness, surely, but also with clarity. To be “truly diverse” is not the question about what is needed for God’s people. What is truly needed is objective and moral truth that is not mine or yours but God’s which can be known and conveyed with prayer, with discernment, and with union with the Church in thinking with rather than against her. I will not call someone else sexist, homophobic, or corrupt knowing that I, too, am a sinner who seeks fidelity for me and for others and God’s mercy and forgiveness. But I must not be paralyzed in failing to convey what the Church teaches and why it teaches when my responsibilities as priest, teacher, and disciple are exercised. This is the challenge of discipleship that is not open to some but to all in occasions appropriate to their calling as followers of Jesus Christ. However, if “progressives” conclude that they do not need the Roman Catholic Church to be Catholic and seek my response to what they have concluded, I will accept the summons and argue respectfully why the Church considers such conclusions erroneous.

If I may be so bold as to offer advice to lawyers, I think there has been a loss of the distinction between dissenting from the Church and struggling with a Church teaching. It is common for a Catholic to struggle with one or more of the Church teachings. Each of us will find at least one teaching of the Church that is difficult to fully appreciate or understand. It doesn’t seem intuitive. The easy thing to do at this point is to become a dissenter. We decide that we will disagree with the Church and reject this teaching. We then spend our time trying to bolster our arguments for why we are right and the Church is wrong. Doesn’t that seem a bit arrogant? After all, as Catholics we believe the Church is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church, founded by Christ, and protected by the Holy Spirit from error in matters of faith and morals. To say we are right and the Church is wrong in matters of faith and morals is in effect to say we are smarter than the Holy Spirit.

The more difficult path, but the one we are called to take, is to embrace the struggle we have with a given teaching. We must pray about it. We must study it. We must reflect on it. We must not reject it! With God’s grace the teaching will grow clearer. This often doesn’t happen easily or quickly. Believe me. I have struggled and still struggle to accept several teachings. It is definitely an exercise in humility. However, I can also say that honest, faithful study with a truly open mind and heart always leads me to the wisdom of the Church. Therefore, rather than expending energy to defend dissent, it is much more valuable to seek to think with the Church. Sentire cum Eccesia.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Parent Letter from a Catechist

I am going to be teaching seventh grade CCD this year. We do most of the preparation for confirmation during this year since Confirmation is usually scheduled for the fall of the eighth grade year.I have composed a letter to the parents to try and keep them active in their children's religious education. I thought I would post it here and get your feedback before I send it out in a couple of weeks.

I am privileged to be your child’s seventh grade CCD teacher for the 2006-2007 school year. This is a very important year. We will focus on your child’s preparation for confirmation. Of course, you have already been preparing your child for this sacrament for many years. You are the primary catechist for your child. You show how important your Faith is by making Mass attendance a top priority and by family prayer.

Confirmation is one of the Sacraments of Initiation. It is a beginning. It is not a graduation. This year we will work to solidify the foundation of your child’s Catholic Faith.…

United Breaks Guitars

This guy is really talented and what a creative way to get your message across. I think he captured the "indifferent employee" perfectly. They don't just work for airlines. I think I ran into them at Walmart on Friday!

Dispelling the Myth of the Travel Dispensation

One of the fun things about having a site meter on my blog is I can see which posts garner the most attention. I can also see how people find my blog. One of the most read posts from my two years of blogging is this one that discusses finding Mass while traveling. I would like to think this post is so popular because it is so well written. The truth of the matter is that it generates so much traffic because I use the words “travel dispensation for Mass”—as in “There is no such thing as a travel dispensation for Mass.” I would guess that nearly a dozen times every week, someone googles “travel dispensation for Mass” and finds my blog. I wonder how many of these folks are poor souls trying to assuage their Catholic guilt with evidence of a justification for missing Mass while on the road.

I know that when I tell my seventh grade CCD students that attending Mass every Sunday is a commandment (one of the top ten!) and not just a pretty good idea they are amazed. Missing Mass has become so …