Saturday, April 06, 2013

The Living Magisterium

Messy thing the Incarnation: it is all about nappies and bodilly fluids on the part of the Incarnate and worry and misunderstanding on those who love him. If only God became a set of ideas, rather than a person. I have been fascinated by the reaction of a few clerical bloggers and twitterers who either shocked or delighted by finding themselves in the "precarious class", the bottom one, of the BBC's class survey. I have always been amused that there actually exist one or two Catholic institutions that would refuse admittance to Jesus because he wasn't really the right class - not enough quarterings on his Father's side.

At times I am a little horrified by my own reaction to people: would it have been possible that if I lived in first century Palestine that I might have lost the chance of salvation simply because I had a predjudice against Gallilean's wth bad table manners, who had just too much of the odour of the fish market about them? The terrifying thing is that it is possible!

Protestants really have things much better than us, they believe in book, which can be translated, printed, edited and even bound exactly to their taste. We however believe in a person but who rather dangerously is brought to us by other people. "Whoever listens to you listens to me". Frightening!

I knew of a rather "refined" woman who having been received into the Church by a rather charming, well educated, aristocratic Irish priest, she promptly lapsed when he was replaced by a rather boorish and dull English one. She stayed lapsed for thirty years while he was in her parish, coming back only a few months before her death.

Being Catholic is about our relationship with the Church. What unites us to it is the theological virtue of Charity and therefore the recognition that we have no choice but to love - remember Jesus commands us to love, "I give you a New Commandment: Love on another". It is this commandment to love which is at the basis of a Catholic sense of Communion.

I had a conversation with a follower of the SSPX recently, it was late and I wasn't thinking clearly, his concern was that Rome was now demanding Bishop Fellay et al accept the "Living Magisterium". We could both agree on the meaning of "Magisterium". It is after all something tangible it can be found in various catechisms or Denziger, we had a problem with "Living Magisterium".

As important as doctrine is, merely accepting a list of proposition does not make one a Catholic. In fact many good Anglicans, who have not joined the Ordinariate but stayed in the Anglican Communion could do that with more understanding than many Catholics, but evidently they are not Catholics. What makes a person Catholic is communion with Bishops in Communion with the Pope and wanting to be in that Communion for love of Christ.

The precarious nature of Catholicism is that everything depends on an obedient filial love (even if one loathes or disagrees violently with them) of the Pope and those bishops in Communion with him. The Magisterium cannot be treated by Catholics as Protestants treat the Bible. We  must treat it as something which "is being" passed on and therefore something living, rather than something which "was once" passed on and therefore is now dead.

The Apostolic Faith, the Living Magisterium, comes from the Bishops in Communion with the Pope, they and those in Communion with them are the possessors of it, it exists in their communion, rather than as something separate from them. It comes from their Apostolicity, rather than being found on a library shelf in a book.

This is the difference between the Magisterium as some object and something alive within the Church. Thus whether the Pope wears red or black shoes, is ascetic like Pius V or a blackguard like Alexander VI, it is in him and those Bishops in Communion with him where we find the Living Magisterium, apart from him it is something dead, the home of bookworms and experts, beetles and historians.

The problem for the SSPX (and Protestantism) is the objectivaction of the Magisterium and seperating from the life of the Church, it is a heresy that springs from regarding the teaching of Christ as something that can be contained on a printing page rather than something which is lived and living.

In the messiness of the Incarnation the Living Magisterium is to be found in the prejudices, myopia, stupidity, folly, sin, ineffectuality, even infidelity and heresy of the Apostolic college - if I were God I would do things differently but I am not - thank God!


Just another mad Catholic said...

I'm not sure that you understand the SSPX Father.

I don't frequent their Chapel's but I can understand why they see the 'reforms' of V2 as being the prime factor in the demolition of the Faith in the West over the past 50 years, indeed I entirely sympathise with them when they refer to the Mass of Paul the VI as being a protestant Mass that downplays the theology of the Mass as the Sacrifice of Calvery.

As for their claim of of supplied Jurisidiction I find it plausable yet problematic, no one can deny the fact that many Bishops are the hirelings spoken of in the parable of the Good Shepherd if not outright wolves, yet the supreme lawgivers Paul VI, JP2 and BXVI declared their Priets suspended.

What do we do when Peter does not act as Peter should? I speak not of the papal wardrobe but of the fact that whilst Paul VI and JP2 were busy persecuting the SSPX and standing by whilst Priests who wanted to be Traditional Priests who wanted to they were incrediablly lax in dealing with the likes of + Weakland, + Trautman, Cardinal Kasper, Cardinal Mahoney, heretical religious etc who have lead countless Catholcs into silent apostasy.

viterbo said...

"Protestants really have things much better than us, they believe in book, which can be translated, printed, edited and even bound exactly to their taste." they should teach this as the standard definition of Protestantism in schools - brilliant.

"What makes a person Catholic is communion with Bishops in Communion with the Pope and wanting to be in that Communion for love of Christ." What happens when your parish and your priest loves other 'ways of truth' as much as Christ, and teaches this from the pulpit, and in its actions and missives? sometimes blatantly, sometimes more subtley. What is one supposed to make of 'communion for the love of Christ'? The idea becomes empty when your local 'communion' presents Christ as one among many - Christ really is a concept, not an incarnation; there really are parishes that are so un-catholic as to begger belief in their Catholicism. In such a case what does communion mean? Must one enter an imaginary happy place each week at Mass, ignoring to the best of one's ability what is being done and said?

Sister Lucy once said, there will be a time when all the faithful have left is the sign of the cross and the Rosary. If one decides that having to become the blind, deaf and dumb monkey in order to participate in 'communion' is getting a bit much, then for alot of parishes we're already there.

JARay said...

You may be pleased to read that I am with you on this one Father. By the way, I do have a Denzinger. Not the one I originally had in Latin but I now have its translation into English....The Sources of Catholic Dogma published by Loreto Publications.

viterbo said...

p.s. the Church should feed our hope. Christ warned us that unless we become 'childlike', we won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So what's childlike? Most people assume it's blind trust. Anyone whose spent enough time around kids knows that are radically untrusting; they test, demand, question and query like nobody's business. What they are full of is hope. They are 90% unconscious and unadulterated hope; this is the resiliance of children. It was hope that the Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Word Incarnate gave us. Hope lives on the Altar of Our Lord. The Hope that is poured out from heaven every time the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is raised up. When you get to a certain age - different for everyone - hope becomes the issue of life, or perhaps hopelessness. I was drawn to Catholicism because of hope. When I encounter too much that is called Catholic on Sunday telling me I need not have bothered, the hopelessness kicks in again, because the other 'ways' was why I 'found' the Church in the first place. as it is Yom HaShoah, here's a true tale of a boy who lived a long life because of that unadulterated hope: a polish boy, Max, was herded into the cattle cars on a train headed for Treblinka - no one returned from there. He was with his father and his brother. On the train, his father prayed over the boys and said to them, "say your evening prayers. Malach ha mavet (the angel of death) is on this train." He told them that when the train slowed down they should both of them jump. he told them the nazis would shoot at them, and that only one of them would live, but that God had promised one of them would live. They kissed their father goodbye and jumped. they didn't jump because they trusted that they would be the one who lived, but hoped they would be the one who lived. When the train slowed they jumped - sure enough Max's brother was shot dead. Max escaped into the woods. He was kept by a good hearted farmer until things became too dangerous - then another plan was devised. There was a shallow grave nearby. Max lay in a coffin and a couple of times a week the farmer would bring him food and water when it was safe. He survived this way for two months. Long and short, the war ended and he went to London. Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks recounted Max's story in a book, saying that he knew Max who attended Synagogue every day and gave much to charity. The Rabbi only learned after Max's death from his son, what he had been through.

Long-Skirts said...

Fr. Blake said:

"...of the SSPX recently,...his concern was that Rome was now demanding Bishop Fellay et al accept the "Living Magisterium". We could both agree on the meaning of "Magisterium". It is after all something tangible it can be found in various catechisms or Denziger, we had a problem with "Living Magisterium"."


We are St. Joan,
Philomena, Campion
The Faith in its whole
Is what we do champion.

We are St. Margaret,
Pearl of York
Where the bowels of the Faith
They tried to torque.

We are Sir More,
That's Thomas the Saint
Whose reputation
They could not taint.

We are vocations
In Tradition kneeling
Adoring His presence
It's not just a feeling.

We are descendents
Of Tradition and beggin'
To stop all the men
Who are turning us pagan!

We are the poor,
Uneducated ones
But in faith well-informed
The heretic shuns.

And when we are told,
"Don't kneel anymore."
Since we don't hold doctorates...
We kneel and IGNORE!!

Savonarola said...

"The Mass of Paul the VI as being a protestant Mass that downplays the theology of the Mass as the Sacrifice of Calvary" - it might be more accurate to say that the Novus Ordo does not downplay the sacrifice of Calvary so much as bring out better the true Paschal character of the Mass, as being an anamnesis of the whole Paschal Mystery, not just Calvary. The body of Christ we receive is after all the body of the risen Lord, not the crucified man.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I agree "Communion" is messy.

I agree it has become arbitary.
I agree I would rather not be in Communion with those who have shown themselves enemies and destroyers of the faith.

For a Catholic there is no choice, God's ways are not our ways. For those who lived under Alexander VI or Julius II, the Protestant said leave but the Faithful stayed hoping against hope, holding onto virtue when the Pope and many of the clergy were wallowing in sin.

Nicolas Bellord said...

"What makes a person Catholic is communion with Bishops in Communion with the Pope and wanting to be in that Communion for love of Christ."

Okay but what does that mean in practice when I read this week's Catholic Herald:

Bishop Kieran: "So for us gay marriage is not a live issue"


Bishop Longley: "The Government's legislation for same sex marriage will further undermine this view of the family"

Fr Ray Blake said...

I am not quite sure.

I don't know what I would do if I was a subject of Abp Weakland, or a priest at the court of the Borgia Pope.

Long Skirts says we carry on kneeling, holding on to the truth, reading everything through the lens of orthodoxy, arguing, persuading, teaching those who will listen. Do penance.

What one cannot do is to place oneself outside the Church, or place one's own judgement over the Church. Humility and docility are more important for salvation than pride and obstinancy, even if it means admitting we do not understand.

Lazarus said...

When I was an Anglican, it was very easy to construct a fantasy Church. You'd imagine some sort of Laudian paradise with dignified worship and Catholic teaching, and ignore the fact that the actual Anglican communion was nothing like that.(And never had been.)

Catholicism isn't a fantasy but a lived reality. It's full of annoying people who challenge me for the good of my soul.(And I return the favour!) Christ didn't found a Church which consists of me retreating into my room to meditate on how wise and wonderful I am and how everything would be all right if people just agreed with me.

That's not an excuse for tolerating heresy or error in the Church: we're certainly called on to struggle against that. But it's quite clear from Scripture if from nothing else, that even at its best, living with other Christians is both uncomfortable and necessary for our salvation.

Catholic Mission said...

Development of doctrine or living Magisterium.

The Grand Secret : Vatican Council II says all Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Protestants etc are lost

Vatican Council II says all Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims and Protestants are lost but this is a secret in the Church and no one is talking about it.

Ad Gentes 7 says all need faith and baptism for salvation. We cannot name any one saved in invincible ignorance (LG 16) tc for them to be known exceptions to Ad Gentes 7.

If you keep the text of Ad Gentes 7 and Lumen Gentium 14 before you Vatican Council II is saying all need to convert into the Catholic Church.All need to be formal, visible members of the Catholic Church.Visible Catholic Faith and the baptism of water is needed.Outside the Church there is no salvation.

Vatican Council II is traditional on other religions and salvation.It is in agreement with the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

It is in agreement with the Society of St.Pius X (SSPX), the St.Benedict Centers,USA,the popes, Church Councils,saints and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (846,845,1257).

While those saved in invincible ignorance and a good conscience (LG 16) are only possibilities which we accept, these cases are not exceptions to AG 7 and LG 14. They are not exceptions since they are known only to God.They are not known to us in 2013.We cannot see these persons who are now in Heaven.

We cannot name anyone saved with the baptism of desire or elements of sanctification (LG 8).We personally do not know any exceptions, since those who are dead are not visible to us.

Yet for many Catholics, those saved in imperfect communion with the Church (UR), seeds of the Word etc are visible and known.So Vatican Council II for them is a break with the past.

No where in Nostra Aetate is it said that non Catholics do not have to convert in their religion or that they are saved in general in their religion.We cannot name any 'good and holy '(NA) non Catholic, who is saved and is an exception to all needing 'faith and baptism' in 2013 to go to Heaven and avoid the fires of Hell.

Vatican Council II is traditional. This is a grand secret.
-Lionel Andrades

Vincent said...

I think it's rather a shame that even on these high class blogs, there really is a misunderstanding of the position of SSPX. I'll preface this comment with the caveat that I have been brought up going to Mass at SSPX churches all my life.
Their position is that the Liturgy is the highest expression of our Faith, the re-enactment of Calvary, the Risen Christ in all His glory. It is right, then, that the Mass should take primary importance. It is easy for us to say, now, that they are wrong. But never forget, that they protected the Tridentine Mass when it could have died. Regardless of what they do now, I rather think people should be thankful for that.
BXVI would not have been in a position to give us the Motu Proprio had it not been for SSPX.
Finally, I have been to Masses (in the form of Paul VI) where women pronounce the Pater Noster, where the confetior is avoided, where the Gospel is read whilst the people sit.
SSPX have a point, the apostasy of the clergy is sacrilegious and the causes need to be looked at. The documents of VII are almost unimportant, as BXVI said, when a good number of priests and religious believe that VII was something other than its reality. SSPX need to learn to compromise, but they are not heretics, their concern is for the Church, even if not everything they say or do is right.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Salvation is point of our faith, we are saved through Jesus Christ, we can only know him through Communion with his Church, anything which damages that Communion damages the chance of Salvation.

I do not underestimate the debt the Church owes to Abp Lefebvre but ultimately it is Communion with Peter and the Apostle which is the will of Christ, continued willful seperation damages souls.

George said...

It's such a strong temptation (one of the strongest, I think) to place an intellectual limit on our Charity.

"I can endure a lot, but if he/she/they ever do *(fill in the blank)* that's it! I'm putting my foot down. That I cannot endure."

It happens within marriages, that mysterious image of the Church. It happens, of course, within the Church itself.

How we can so easily lose sight of one of the central tenants of the Faith: be as generous with our love toward others as we would like God to be with us.

Herein also lies the spiritual risk of acceding to the demands of traditionalists. Certainly a wider availability of the traditional Mass is a noble and good thing for the Church. However, inasmuch as the establishment of traditional Mass venues separates the Church, and reinforces the sentiment of many traditionalists that "I will not endure communion with you!" it's then a potential grave spiritual danger. In this regard, even as a traditional Catholic myself, I can see why a bishop *may* be reticent to establish traditionalist outposts within his diocese.

JARay said...

I can agree with "Catholic Mission" to an extent, but not entirely!
I have in my posession a book called "The Latin Letters of C.S.Lewis". These are a series of letters written by C.S. Lewis to Father Giovanni Calabria, who is now Saint Giovanni Calabria. The only drawback to the book is that the letters written by Dom Giovanni have largely been destroyed so we have only a rather on-sided view of their correspondence.
Now, C.S.Lewis was an Anglican and yet the depth and beauty of his writings speak volumes. This book is a record of the harmony between two deeply Christian souls. Dom Giovanni has been raised by the Church to that of sanctification. C.S. Lewis never will be so raised....and yet....there is such harmony between the two!
I must hesitate to claim that "extra ecclesiam nullus salvus". I have a strong suspicion that those of us who get to heaven will find Mr. Lewis there.

Pablo the Mexican said...

Dear Padre,

I am sorry to hear you had to suffer a member of the SSPX.

In my choices, were I to be offered a conversation with a SSPX Trad or a can filled with Rattlesnakes, the snakes win every time.

Simply put, Archbishop Lefebvre saved the Deposit of Faith.

The SSPX was established to contain that Deposit.

Many SSPXers consider themselves the Holy of Holies.

There are, however, many righteous, pious people in the SSPX.

As well in the Novus Ordo.

They are just not as evident as those SSPXers that would confront you and your perceived by them, apostasy and heresy.

The SSPX is currently in crisis.

From His Excellency Bishop Bernard Fellay down to some in the lowest ranks has come a Freemasonic infiltration.

Those Priests that refuse to bow before Lucifer have broken ranks with Bishop Fellay and his 'Office Help'.

They are known as 'The Resistance'.

The Smoke of Satan has entered the SSPX.

As a Padre recently said:

"Only God converts"

Our prayer for you and all of us will be:

May God our Lord in His infinite and supreme goodness be pleased to give us His abundant grace, that we may know His most holy will, and entirely fulfill it.


Physiocrat said...

It isn't the Pope I have a problem with, it is priests and musicians who foist appalling liturgy on the people in the name of Vatican Two, and the likelihood that they are an obstacle in the way of the salvation of others, in particular, non-Catholics.

Catholic Mission said...


Even though the Church Councils defined the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus they did not rule out a person being saved in invincible ignorance, baptism of desire etc.
Since these cases would only be known to God they are not exceptions or relevant to the literal interpretation of the dogma as it was known for centuries.

So it is possible for an Anglican to be saved or another non Catholic.

It still means every one in 2013 needs Catholics Faith and the baptism of water (Ad Gentes 7) to go to Heaven and avoid Hell and we cannot meet any exceptions.

There is a lot of confusion in the media regarding the Fr.Leonard Feeney case. If Fr.Leonard Feeney accepted or rejected the baptism of desire for instance, it is irrelevant to his literal interpretation of the dogma.

Catholic Mission said...

Catechism of the Catholic Church can be interpreted in two ways. Choose one in Sydney

We can interpret passages in agreement with the literal interpretation of the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus and Vatican Council II (AG 7) or as a break with the dogma and Vatican Council II.Choose one.
We can interpret passages rationally, knowing that we cannot see the dead on earth. Or irrationally, we can assume the dead are visible.Which one do you choose in Sydney ? Ask the Archbishop.

Supertradmum said...

"For a Catholic there is no choice, God's ways are not our ways. For those who lived under Alexander VI or Julius II, the Protestant said leave but the Faithful stayed hoping against hope, holding onto virtue when the Pope and many of the clergy were wallowing in sin."

A big AMEN to this....

Peter Richardson said...

Dear Catholic Mission
I think your interpretation of the 'Vatican 2 secret' is too easy to make.
Vatican 2 is a nuanced piece of theology, and it is rather easy to find a text to suit a particular need.

The thrust of Vatican 2 moves us away from the thinking of Leonard Feeney SJ, who himself was excommunicated in the 50's for is extreme ideology of 'No Salvation Outside the Church'.
Eisegesis is not helpful with the documents of the church, but could Boniface 8 ever imagined that the short para below could have been written

"Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation"

viterbo said...

it's wierd for a convert...the world teaches you that Christliness is only real as a concept. God draws you in and you start to believe that Christ is the Word, the Resurrection and the Life...the only way to the Father, and you begin to believe that the Church is the one means whereby the Resurrection and the Life created grace affording salvation. in my first RCIA course I was told I was welcome to attend but that I wouldn't be permitted to enter the Church in that country in which I had residence but was not a citizen - I must seek to do so whenever, if ever, I returned to my own country, which I did a few years later. I was shocked, and so were others in the was a pretty big class. This taught me something strange about salvation in some minds of the Church...the Church may or may not be necessary, which I tried to ignore. Adult converts, depending on where you live in my own country, can be considered a waste of parish conversion as a waste of time and money is another thing I learned can exists in some minds of the Church. What most people's comments are saying, I think, is that one must accept that there are minds of Catholicism that may act and speak in a variety of different ways, sometimes living Christ as a concept, sometimes as something more real, but that the saving factor is the word Catholic. If it is diocesanly approved 'Catholic', then it is. so the idea of communion is grafting oneself onto a tendon connected to Peter by whatever clear or knotted way.

George said...

I had heard that Fr. Feeney's period of excommunication due to disciplinary matters, not theological.

Rod George said...

I have been attending SSPX mass centres for nearly thirty years and am puzzled to as to why I am not in full communion with the catholic church. The mass I attend and the teaching I receive is the same as my father received and his father before him and his before etc. etc. etc. As an alternative I can go locally to the Novus Ordo every Saturday, receive communion from a eucharistic minister and never go near a church on Sunday and never receive communion from the consecrated hands of a priest.If I do this then I am in full communion.All the while this liturgical anarchy exists I prefer to stay in the safe hands of the SSPX.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I am sure if I were a layman, I might be inclined to join you but for one thing: I would be in an "impaired" Communion with the Pope and those Bishops in Communion with him.
It is very tempting, it always has been, to withdraw from the messiness of the Church but the Catholic Church only exists in its messiness, that your forefathers presumably understood.
Communion is not only about doctrine and liturgy, it is about being at one with today's Pope and bishops in communion with him, and those who he recognises as being in communion with him.

Rod George said...

Father, thank you for your reply. It was a great dissapointment when Pope Benedict and Bishop Fellay did not come to an agreement. Most people I know who attend SSPX mass centres do not do so in a spirit of rebellion but it is where they feel at home. We all know that there are problems besides the liturgy so let us hope they can be resolved sooner rather than later but I think the debate about the living magisterium will be with us for some time yet.

Jacobi said...

The SSPX, unlike Protestants, are not heretics, although they are technically in separation. Their sin, now that the matter of unauthorised bishops is sorted out, appears to be the technical, one of misinterpretation. For instance Vatican 11 did not define any new doctrine or binding teaching, as they fear. And, they see implicit fault in the current versions of the Pauline Mass – well don’t we all.

On the other hand there are many, perhaps a majority within the Church, who ARE in heretical separation i.e., the majority according to the recent USA poll, who do not accept the Real Presence. I assume the figure is roughly the same in the UK.

Successive Popes have sought to avoid a doctrinal split, as occurred after the Protestant Reformation, and this latter group are retained. The SSPX seem to be the fall guys in all this. Clearly this state of affairs cannot go on, and Pope Francis 1 will have to sort this out.

In the meantime the Holy Father has rightly reminded all of us, of our many other obligations, such as to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit the sick, etc.

Fred Brown said...

That was absolutely brilliant!

Catholic Mission said...

Peter Richardson consider this.

Liberal Australian priest calls an interpretation of Vatican Council II fundamentalist

Rejects Vatican Council II as 'fundo'.

Fr.John George 92 on the forum True Catholic has to choose between two interpretations of Vatican Council II. One in which LG 16 (invincible ignorance) is considered visible to us in the present times, i.e we can physically see people now in Heaven who are saved and the second, that these cases are invisible to us and known only to God.

If invincible ignorance etc is visible to us in 2013 then it means Vatican Council II is a break with the past.LG 16 etc contradicts Ad Gentes 7 whichs says all need 'faith and baptism' for salvation.

In this case there are known exceptions to AG 7.The exceptions are those saved in invincible ignorance etc who are allegedly visible to us.

The second interpretation is those saved in invincible ignorance etc are not known to us and so they are not exceptions to AG 7 and the traditional teaching on other religions. So Vatican Council II is not a break with the past. It means all non Catholics in Sydney, Australia need Catholic Faith and the baptism of water for salvation.

The second interpretation is rejected by Fr.John George as fundamentalist.He prefers to say that he can see the dead who are exceptions and so for him this is the teaching of the Church on non Catholics and salvation.

He does not use the rational visible-invisible, explicit-implicit, in fact-in principle analysis of Church document. This analysis was used in the Introduction to Dominus Iesus (defacto-dejure). -Lionel Andrades

Paul Danon said...

The piece speaks of "[t]he precarious nature of Catholicism" yet the faith isn't precarious but safe and reliable.