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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Catholic Truth in Other Religions

For reasons beyond my ken, the memes and quotes below have been popping up in my newsfeed. These quotes do not mean what many Catholics think they mean.

“Further, whilst Jesus was kind to sinners and to those who went astray, He did not respect their false ideas, however sincere they might have appeared. He loved them all, but He instructed them in order to convert them and save them. Whilst He called to Himself in order to comfort them, those who toiled and suffered, it was not to preach to them the jealousy of a chimerical equality. Whilst He lifted up the lowly, it was not to instill in them the sentiment of a dignity independent from, and rebellious against, the duty of obedience. Whilst His heart overflowed with gentleness for the souls of good-will, He could also arm Himself with holy indignation against the profaners of the House of God, against the wretched men who scandalized the little ones, against the authorities who crush the people with the weight of heavy burdens without putting out a hand to lift them.” ~ Pope St. Pius X, Encyclical Notre Charge Apostolique, 1910:
The Magisterium cannot be broken. Whether we are discussing papal decrees, conciliar decrees or Scripture, we need to spend a long time thinking about how to reconcile all the different statements of the Magisterium so they do not contradict one another.

While composing the Summa Theologica, the greatest non-Scriptural work the Church has ever produced, St. Thomas Aquinas reportedly spent hours in contemplation before the Blessed Sacrament, sometimes beating his head against the floor in frustration as he tried to work out how to reconcile all the different statements in the Magisterium.

If this were easy, If the Catholic Faith could be meme'd this way, if statements could be taken at face value without any deeper contemplation, we wouldn't need Fathers or Doctors of the Church. As it is, we do.

Every religion is attractive to men ONLY because every religion has some seed of truth. Since God is Truth, insofar as any system has some seed of truth, that seed of truth is a reflection of God's glory and therefore must be respected to at least that degree.

That is a fact.
None of the facts represented in this article are in contradiction.
All of the facts in this article must be read in such a way that they do not contradict.
Only when you have succeeded in doing that can you say that you have arrived at Catholic Truth.


Confitebor said...

It may be so that none of the "facts" presented in your post are in contradiction. Nevertheless, this --

"While composing the Summa Theologica, the greatest non-Scriptural work the Church has ever produced, St. Thomas Aquinas reportedly spent hours in contemplation before the Blessed Sacrament, sometimes beating his head against the floor in frustration as he tried to work out how to reconcile all the different statements in the Magisterium."

-- is not a fact. Perhaps you are vaguely recalling what Pope Pius XI said in his 1923 encyclical on the preeminence of Thomist theology and Scholasticism, entitled "Studiorum Ducem," no. 6:

"This humility, therefore, combined with the purity of heart We have mentioned, and sedulous devotion to prayer, disposed the mind of Thomas to docility in receiving the inspirations of the Holy Ghost and following His illuminations, which are the first principles of contemplation. To obtain them from above, he would frequently fast, spend whole nights in prayer, lean his head in the fervor of his unaffected piety against the tabernacle containing the august Sacrament, constantly turn his eyes and mind in sorrow to the image of the crucified Jesus; and he confessed to his intimate friend St. Bonaventura that it was from that Book especially that he derived all his learning. It may, therefore, be truly said of Thomas what is commonly reported of St. Dominic, Father and Lawgiver, that in his conversation he never spoke but about God or with God."

Nothing about "beating his head against the floor in frustration," but rather leaning his head in the fervor of his unaffected piety against the Tabernacle in which the Blessed Sacrament was reserved. Nor was he wrestling in the attempt to reconcile all the different statements in the Magisterium. You and many Catholics are no doubt wrestling in desperation as you try to reconcile all the different utterances, whether magisterial or not, that have come forth from recent Vicars of Christ, but that wasn't why St. Thomas leaned his head against the Tabernacle. He was seeking to docilely receive the inspirations of the Holy Ghost and to follow His illuminations, not, say, trying to figure out how the ancient and perennial doctrine and discipline that those living in a state of adultery may under no circumstances receive Holy Communion until they confess and cease their adultery can be reconciled with the advice and opinions expressed in the reigning pontiff's recent exhortation.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

It is, indeed, an enormous pity that you are capable of reading Magisterial documents, but incapable of understanding their contents.

But, that seems to be a standard "traditionalist Catholic" position. The primary difference between you and a Protestant is that the Protestant limits his lack of understanding to Scriptural matters, while the "traditionalist" proof-texts and mis-understands huge chunks of other Magisterial documents as well.

Confitebor said...

Regardless of my capability or incapability of understanding the contents of magisterial documents, and regardless of what you personally think the standard traditional Catholic position is (on that score, your jab is quite silly, as the primary difference between Protestants and Catholics obviously isn't as you say -- Trent's canons or Leo X's Exsurge Domine don't even hint at what you claim), as far as I have been able to determine your anecdote of St. Thomas purportedly smacking his head against the floor in frustration as he tried to reconcile contradictory or apparently contradictory Magisterial statements never happened. As I said, given our current circumstances in the Church, I can well understand why you and others would feel frustration or might feel like bashing your head against a wall in trying to figure out how to reconcile various magisterial or apparently magisterial statements of the contemporary Church. That wasn't part of the experience of St. Thomas, though, or at least it's not something that was recorded about him. If you have evidence to the contrary, please produce it. I think your anecdote is spurious -- it doesn't sound anything at all like St. Thomas' psychological dispositions.

Unknown said...

Second to last paragraph-- spoken as a true modernisthat. Congratulations. Go ahead and keep believing this. If you had a glass with 9 parts rum and 1 part poison, would you drink it? So too with the false religions out there!

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Ok, well, you two seem fixated on Aquinas' head instead of the content of the Faith. I understand why you don't want to engage the substance of the article. If I were you, I would bob and weave as well. I am done here.

Because you are the junior partners in this conversation, feel free to have the last word.

MilfordHaven said...

"Every religion is attractive to men ONLY because every religion has some seed of truth."
Not true. It's because God has instilled in every soul the inclination to worship a higher power that propels the soul to seek truth. The pagans had the same propensity but instead of seeking truth, satiated it in polytheism. There is no "seed of truth" in paganism. And even if there were some small blurb of truth in it, so what? Does finding a gold piece in a heaping pile of dung validate the dung hill?

Ryan Goff said...

Every Religion has truth is like saying a glass of water only has some poison in it.

Mike said...

So are you saying that we can' be sure of anything the Church teaches, because no one can possibly understand it or read it in context?

Mike said...


Steve Kellmeyer said...

Mike, I have no idea how you got that idea out of the above essay.
When you are reading older documents, you don't generally have the context necessary to fully understand what problem they were dealing with.

If an older document looks like it contradicts a newer statement, that contradiction is an illusion generated by the fact that we understand today's contextual statement a lot better than we understand the context of statements made for previous generations. So, by the very fact that we have a statement made today, we should not suffer from the illusion that the Magisterium has contradicted itself or that today's pronouncement is somehow "wrong" or "different."

Rather, we should understand that both statements can and SHOULD be reconciled. We should spend our time working to reconcile them, not working to show they are in contradiction to one another.

By the same token, we should read the statements themselves, not the MSM's (mis)representation of those statements. If someone - ANYONE - tells us that the today's statement is at variance with earlier Church statements, we should IMMEDIATELY reject that interpretation of today's statement because we KNOW that such an interpretation has to be wrong.

MilfordHaven said...

Christ Himself commands (Matthew 7 15-20) that we use our God given reason to compare His doctrine with that of new doctrine that will be presented down the centuries in order to deduce whether or not it be good fruit or bad fruit. If one doctrine is at variance with a previous doctrine then you have Christ's guarantee that it's not the interpretation that is bad, but the fruit. Christ is warning of a time when fruit alone will be the indicative element since the source will then be disguised by the “clothing of sheep”.

J said...

Men are attracted to false religions "ONLY" by the truth that is in them? Seriously? I suppose, then, that deflowering a flock of virgins in the afterlife has no appeal whatsoever?

Jim Donovan said...

False religions, if they contain truth, have stolen and perverted Catholic truth. For this reason, they are especially dangerous to the unlearned. Good shepherds will defend against them all the more vigorously in the same way that he would more so defend his flock from nearby wolves than those far off.