Sunday, November 22, 2009

Servant of the King

Catholics see the Church as the servant of Christ the King and of His Kingdom. We only have what He has given us, nothing more. His Kingdom is not of this world, therefore the Church cannot take the values of the world and dilute the precious Truth He has left with us. The Church cannot change Christ's message but only re-present it to subsequent generations. We have nothing of ourselves to offer mankind, all that we have is his.
He has promised not to leave us orphans but to send us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all Truth.
So Pilate said to him, "Then you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the Truth. Everyone who belongs to the Truth listens to my voice."
Christ's Kingship is intimately bound up with the Truth. His followers are charged with teaching and passing on this Truth.
Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."
Doctrine, teaching, is part of Christ's commission to the disciples. It is not any doctrine, it is the authentic doctrine of Christ.
He said,  "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
It is not an arbitary power that Peter is given but one founded directly on Peter's declaration that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the Living God" which "was revealed not by flesh and blood but by the Power of the Most High".
The nature of the Catholic faith is always about looking back, looking back to Christ, like a good servant it has its eyes constantly on him, its ears constantly straining to hear His voice. Novelty is not the nature of Catholicism - or Orthodoxy for that matter - yes, we believe in the development of doctrine, but that is like leaven in the lump, or the seed growing in the ground, it is the action of the Holy Spirit, working silently, gently, it is never a violent revolution.

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The ordination of women by the Anglican Communion is something new, not found either in scripture nor in that which has been handed onto us. The Apostolic Churches cannot ordain women, despite all the dignity the New Covenant gives to them, simply because we are servants and Jesus, the King has given us no authority, and we dare not presume to take that authority to ourselves. Anglicans and Protestantism, generally, claims that authority, because it understands authority as consensus of opininion, rather than being of God. We dare not make that presumption, lest we prove to be unfaithful servants, doing our own will rather than continually praying that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.


Michael Petek said...

I'd put the last point differently.

Protestantism holds that nothing is to be held as divinely revealed unless proven by the most certain warrant of Holy Scripture (only), irrespective of consensus.

Anglicanism's approach to ecclesiastical authority is that the civil authorities are supreme.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Beautiful Sermon Father

Anagnostis said...

Novelty is not the nature of Catholicism - or Orthodoxy for that matter - yes, we believe in the development of doctrine...

- but the Orthodox don't; certainly not according to the sapling/tree analogy.

gemoftheocean said...

I think you could go even further, Father. The church is so careful in important matters (like the sacraments) that if there's the least bit of doubt or uncertainty - you DON'T do it.

I.E. the argument comes up: 1) back then no one would have believed a woman placed in position of authority, wouldn't He have women amongst his 12 chosen had He come in our time.

Well, maybe He would, but maybe He wouldn't.

How far can you fool around with form and matter? Is it enough to be simply human, or "a man" specifically.

--that is the argument --

But then look at form/matter from the angle of other sacraments.

Had he come in another time, could he have used tortillas and red cream soda? What about even bread with raisins and currants? Would the bread be any less bread?

What if water was not available for baptism -- but club soda?

I wouldn't want to "go there." Now it may be that He wouldn't have minded Moishe the baker throwing in egg whites and sugar into the bread mix, but He might have -- and on that score alone - I say no.]

[I wouldn't cast a woman to play Hamlet, either.]

Fr Ray Blake said...

Moretben, True, there is a danger of giving modern Eastern theology more intellectual subtlety than it should have.

Geoff Callister said...

A truly inspired and incisive analysis, if I may say so, Father.
As a former Anglican, it is very clear to me now that Anglicans 'mull over' Divine Revelation, and then THEY - as individuals -make the final decision as to what stays, and what goes, following their abiding doctrine that 'the customer is always right'! Thus, humans become the final arbiters, OVER God, and that is HUMANISM - and the most arrogant form it - merely masquerading as Christianity.

Michael Petek said...

The key point here is the term "consensus of opinion" which is not the same as "consensus fidei".

As Bill Ledwich said in "The Durham Affair" you choose in Anglicanism what to believe as you choose your congregation. It is the individual's choice, his private opinion. Yet (he continues) to believe a doctrine is to do so not because it is your own private opinion, but because it is the revealed doctrine of the Church.

The point I want to make now that I've finished quoting Ledwich is that we ought to reason as follows: Given that the Catholic religion alone has all the truth Christ has revealed and all the means of grace, what is it that Anglicanism lacks for not being in possession of the true Eucharist in the Body and Blood of Christ?

The answer is, surely, to be found in the Lord's admomition: "unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man you will have no life in you."

Let us assume that He was not speaking specifically of sanctifying or beatific grace, for this can be present in non-Catholics in good faith.

The life He was speaking of specifically, was His own life as reflected in the common life of the faithful made visible in the Church socially constituted.

Anonymous said...

Well put Father,

They deny the Infallablity of the Pope to decide matters of faith and morals and then procced to do so themselves based on there personable intepertation of the Bible. Although the Gay union mess can hardly be seen as acceptable in the light of Scripture.

They are in a sea of contradiction without the bark of Peter.

What they need is the German Shepard.


JARay said...

Father, I liked your added comment:-
"Moretben, True, there is a danger of giving modern Eastern theology more intellectual subtlety than it should have."
I would add that, since they cannot accord St Thomas Aquinas the respect he is due for his philosophical underpinning of Theology, they are stuck in a time warp and, hence, cannot see that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. They have Him proceeding from the Father only. Certainly this is true of His essence....but then...they don't know what "essence" is either.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I was thinking more in terms of adressing such issues as the historical context of doctrine, of the relationship of scripture to Tradition. More Newman than Aquinas.

Anagnostis said...


I'm puzzled as to the origins of your animus against the Orthodox - a contempt which, as you never tire of demonstrating, owes nothing whatsoever to familiarity.


I was thinking more in terms of adressing such issues as the historical context of doctrine, of the relationship of scripture to Tradition. More Newman than Aquinas.

Have you read any of Father John Behr? This is precisely the theme of much of his work, notably The Mystery of Christ, which is a kind of introduction to his study of the "establishment of normative Christianity on the basis of the tradition and canon of the gospel". Following Florovsky, he is concerned with the patristic, Orthodox understanding of Tradition not as something separate from scripture, but in fact nothing other than "scripture as read and realised in the Church".

JARay is undoubtedly oblivious of the great twentieth century rennaissance in Orthodox theology, following a period of captivity to the Western schools, generally recognised to be one of the bleakest in the Church's history. The inane "stuck in a time warp" gibe certainly reveals as much, as well as a the manifest inability of some "conservative" Catholics to extricate themselves from a Modernist mindset.

Anagnostis said...

As Fr Sean Finnegan puts it:

Catholic (and indeed Orthodox) Church doesn't ask what divergent views it can live with. It asks is this the faith that we have received from the Apostles?

If JARay would consent genuinely to engage the Orthodox critique of scholasticism (and indeed of "doctrinal development") as a more constructive alternative to posting daft howlers, he'd get an inkling of how it cuts to the heart of why it's the Catholics who are having to erect a "hermeneutic of continuity", and not the Orthodox.

JARay said...

I've read your comments.

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