Saturday, 10 December 2016

A View From The Pew...

I am not a theologian. I am just a laywoman attempting to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church, and thereby get to heaven. I have no doubt that, should I attain my goal, this will be via a lengthy stint in Purgatory, and by the grace of God, through the intercession of our Lady and the assistance of my Guardian Angel and the saints.

The uncertainty about whether I attain the heavenly realm is in no way due to any doubts about the mercy of God. Rather it is due to my own knowledge of my sinful tendencies, and the possibility, through God-given free will, that I might commit a mortal sin. I have, as we say, "got form." This year I celebrated the 24th anniversary of my reversion to the faith, but it has been a long spiritual route-march with many falls and stumbles along the way rather than an instantaneous and complete conversion of life, and I haven't finished the journey yet.

The spirit is willing, and all that, but... well, you know the rest!

However, since my reversion, no matter whether I stumbled on my path to holiness (or even walked in completely the wrong direction), I knew that there was a correct way that I should be trying to follow, and I knew that this direction was signposted clearly through the teachings of the Church.

These teachings are clear. They have been based on what our Lord Jesus Christ said and did and on the teachings and traditions passed on by the successors to the Apostles, particularly the successor to St. Peter. It was to St. Peter that our Lord Jesus Christ gave the keys of the kingdom of heaven and the mission to strengthen and confirm his brethren in the faith. The teachings are so clear that it was possible to put them into a little Penny Catechism, in simple question and answer form so that pew-fodder such as myself could understand it. We were later given the Catechism of the Catholic Church, less easily digested, perhaps, but still clear. You can look stuff up. In the index. And it can all be traced back to the beginning - the teachings of Christ - although some of it had to be thrashed out in Councils and Papal documents to make it absolutely clear.

Hopefully, despite my waffling, you can see where I'm going with this...

The current lack of clarity in Amoris Laetitia is profoundly distressing. Papal pronouncements are not meant to be ambiguous starting points for discussion - rather, they are meant to explain the teachings the Church has held since the beginning. The fact that four Cardinals of the Church felt that the Apostolic Exhortation needed clarification is disturbing enough. The silence of the Holy Father on the questions raised is even worse. The Pope is meant to teach us, not leave us to figure it out for ourselves. Mankind is fallible, and is expert at rationalising, excusing and explaining failure to follow the moral law. What he needs is encouragement to strive to keep that law, safe in the knowledge that there is a right path.

Otherwise, why bother even to try?

(The photo above is one I took of Cardinal Burke and Fr. Timothy Finigan, on the occasion of the Cardinal's visit to the Shrine of St. Augustine in February 2015. Cardinal Burke was one of the four Cardinals who submitted the five dubia to Pope Francis.)


Joe said...


I believe the Church grants a plenary indulgence to those who, in danger of death, receive the Apostolic Blessing from a priest.

Or, in the absence of a priest, if the person has been in the habit of saying some prayers during the course of their life, the Church herself makes up the conditions that would otherwise be expected for the gaining of the said plenary indulgence.

Can you hope not to be spending all that time in purgatory?

Mulier Fortis said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Joe. But St. Bernadette was conscious of the very real possibility of going to Purgatory, and I'm no saint!

Ruari said...

Mulier -

Which bits of Amoris Laetitiae do you have issues with?

I sincerely hope it isn't paragraphs 10 and 11, for example, because that would indicate really huge problems. On your part.

Actually, that applies much all of it. But if you would specifically highlight those parts f the PapalExhortation, written by the Pope, that you think maybe either contradict doctrine or somehow muddy the waters of caritas, faith or clinging tithe rock that is the Barque of Peter, then we'll see what we can do to help.

Best wishes


pattif said...

Brava, Mac. Beautifully put.

Eccles said...

Paragraphs 10 and 11 are pretty anodyne and the pope (or whoever wrote this bit) hasn't said anything new.

Amoris Laetitia taken as a whole leaves (at least) 5 imperfectly answered questions, the dubia; or at least it allows the mischievous to claim that the answers to the questions are not those that have been accepted Catholic doctrine for 2000 years. Asking for a clear re-affirmation of the eternal verities doesn't seem too be too unreasonable.

Deacon Augustine said...

Ruari, 19 problematic parts are referred to by specific paragraph number in the letter which 45 theologians recently sent to the Holy Father - I suggest you read those if you want to know why it is controversial.

But, even if the ambiguities in the document can all be reconciled with traditional doctrine (which I believe they can be when interpreted by the normal theological methods) the fact that the director of Civilta Cattolica could openly assert that AL teaches that adultery is a moral imperative for some people suggests that there is a huge problem in the different interpretations that are going on in the real world. The fact that a class of people has been created who can now receive Communion in the Philipines, but cannot in England & Wales suggests that there are problems with the interpretation of AL. Technically a schism has already been created.

The Pope needs to clear up the ambiguities before the problems get worse. Not to do so is a reckless neglect of his office.

Zephyrinus said...

Dear Ruari.

Next Question.

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