Friday, November 05, 2010

Holier than the Church.

I declare that I have no intent to acknowledge, distribute or encourage anything contrary to Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and the Apostolic See. I submit myself and all the contents of this blog to the judgment of the Church.

You can't be holier than the Church.
A Superior of the Little Sisters of the Poor once used that expression after offering me some candy on a Sunday and I refused it, explaining to her I was fasting, she replied,   "That is commendable, but remember one cannot be holier than the Church, and the Church does not fast on Sundays."  She wasn't attempting to correct me - sister let me fast - she was just teaching me that one cannot be above what the Church teaches, one cannot be holier than the Church.  Many people believe they can be more wise or Catholic than the pope, or the bishops, and perhaps they can, but no one can be holier than the Church.  No private devotion is above the prayer of the Church, and to be authentic, it must be united to the Church.  Personal opinion and education cannot be the criteria for discernment in matters of faith and morals.
Today there are many authorities out there, on blogs and Catholic TV and videos - with many qualifying initials behind their names - correcting and instructing bishops and priests and laity alike.  Many promoting their personal and private interpretations of popular piety and even canon law, frequently they refer to the encyclicals of all the popes to defend their positions on the faith.  They are very smart people.  Very smart.
I'm not that smart.  Please keep that in mind when you read this blog that I am just a blogger - not a teacher, not an authority.  I write my opinion on things I know - albeit my knowledge may be limited to personal experience and ordinary education - I am open to correction.  Far be it from me to tell anyone what to believe or how to live their life.  I belong to no groups outside of a couple of confraternities, and a third order - in which I am relatively inactive.  I don't have initials after my name, I'm not an urban hermit, despite the fact people might consider me to be reclusive, I have no canonical religious status - I'm an ordinary Catholic Christian.  And I want nothing more than that.
That said, I have encountered many, many religious people in my life, some of whom must have been saints, but many more who wanted to be but they fell into error - some into serious error.  Why?  I think because some of the curious ones allowed themselves to follow novelties and spiritual recreations that led them away from solid spiritual teaching, venturing off the narrow way; others because they were very impressed by their own intelligence, accomplishments and aspirations.  Some are still alive, convinced they are spiritual masters, mystics, teachers, and so on.  I know of two who have died - one appears to have died a holy  death.  The other died outside the Church.
A few years ago, a group of the more Catholic than the pope types proceeded to exorcise the Cathedral of St. Paul after a group of gay people disrupted the liturgy.  They poured holy oils and exorcism salt around the church while praying exorcism prayers.  (One of the suspects had a restraining order served on him to keep him out of the Basilica of St. Mary.)  Any Roman Catholic can see how absolutely insane that pretend exorcism was, and any Catholic who knows his catechism knows that only a priest, deputed by the local ordinary can perform an exorcism.  Nevertheless these people continue to decry and detract the reputation of local pastors - without authority and without proof - they have set themselves up as a private inquisition, a non-canonical judge and jury.  A couple of the more traditional priests (locally) are sympathetic to these guys, and at least one of them who used to perform deliverance sessions with these rather unstable types, would seem to see the devil behind just about every column in the cathedral. 
BTW:  I just read a blog post by another 'lone-ranger' priest telling bishops how to teach.  Interesting.
So anyway - don't tell me I place personal discernment above the Holy See.   I always defer to the Holy See - but never ever to the blogisterium, irrespective of your academic achievement, lineage of titles, Catholic pedigree, choice of worship, or correctness of attire.


  1. Mr. Terry: I always know that you defer to the authority of Holy Mother Church; you express your opinions, give your insight, and then when something happens to make something you might have said be made clearer by the authority of our Church, you humbly submitted.
    That is why I love you so much; I trust you, as well.
    Thanks be to God for the Holy Spirit working in His Church; our Bishops, successors of the Apostles and our Holy Father, the head of the Apostolic College, are given the grace and ability to discern and rule and guide; and when they are wrong, it all works out.
    Thank you!

  2. That should read: "and EVEN when they are wrong, it all works out."

  3. Benedict XVI in Spain tomorrow. prayers. Thanks

  4. That's why I really like this blog. The humility - I hope I'm not coaxing your ego :)

  5. Anonymous3:57 PM

    Why were you fasting on Sunday? That has never been a custom of the Church.

    Anyway...Fr Kevin Horrigan,+RIP, used to say over and over and over (think Walter Matthau), "Live your faith in a simple and unassuming manner. Keep your feet grounded on God's green Earth, tell the devil to go to hell and keep walking toward Heaven." Still the best advice I've ever heard.

  6. You can find a lot of self-appointed magisteria in the trad blogosphere. AND, they tend to be the most unchristian turds you'll find anywhere.
    You have always impressed me as being a sincere Catholic Christian, and your blog under my favorites button.

  7. The Holiest of Holies is the only ONE Holier than the Church.

  8. I wish all the commentators of your blog (not excluding myself) think the same way,

  9. I wonder out loud if someone was unhappy with your post about the priest who likes to say mass in the nude and perhaps this person beat you with their staff.

    I think it's interesting how religious people tend to not cut anyone any slack for being human but yet they clammer for "understanding" for themselves.

    You Wrote, "No private devotion is above the prayer of the Church," I would like to add that no private revelation or "Word of knowledge" is above the church's authority either.

    In all things we submit ourselves to Christ and his church.

  10. Maybe I'm missing the spirit of this post but when you have children who are subject to the teachings of priests who are misleading them, it is every parent's duty to speak up about it and if it doesn't stop, to warn other parents.

    If there was a teacher at a local school teaching kids the world was flat or the Holocaust never happened, you'd march into school and ask what in Sam Hill was going on.

    If the principal agreed with the teacher, you'd go to the superintendent of schools. If they agreed with the teacher, you'd go to the school council. If they agreed with the teacher, you'd pull your children out of that school and warn other parents.

    This is scriptural and should be done zealously when it is about matters of the soul.

    It is not matters of ego or humility, it is evangelism.

  11. Hi Carol - you are absolutely correct about everything you say - you do an excellent job I might ad.

    This post was more about a general misunderstanding about my blog and what I have written. sadly. in many cases lately, people seem not to understand where I am coming from in a few of my posts. I seem to be stepping on toes I wasn't aware were there.

  12. Anonymous3:24 PM

    I think all blogging activities run the risk of degenerating into exercises in pride. I spent 20 minutes in the Confessional last night discussing just this subject with a great young (very young) priest at a parish I go to. I got some hard looks when I exited the Confessional - sorry folks, I am sorry to hog but I will take spiritual direction when I can get it. It's difficult to comment without knowing specifically what good TN is talking about. Sometimes, I think he reads a post on my blog, then has to vent here at all the terrible lack of humility he's just seen....It's quite likely, and I'm sorry.

    I do agree, there is a great deal going on in the Church that I think many of us wish weren't, and there is much we wish were going on that isn't. Should we just stay silent? I don't think so, so long as we're willing to apologize if we're wrong on some point or other. And, as TN says, very few, if any, of us are experts. I can't say that I am, although there is that temptation to pride that says I know more than 98% (or whatever) of Catholics, and so I'm priviledged to speak, or something like that.

    I was reading in Divine Intimacy earlier this week a recommendation to just let people run over you. Let them be unchartibale, mean, abusive, let them do wrong things in the Church, etc., and just take it, just let your humility and meekness grow as a result of being sharpened by the failings of others. That's really good for me, but don't I have a responsibility to correct my brother, in charity?

    As I said, you can literally drive yourself insane constantly second guessing yourself. Examination of conscience is critical and a constant need, but at some point we also have to trust in our sensus fidei and that we are following God's Will. Maybe it's because I'm recent convert and much of this is new, don't know. I don't pretend to have all the answers, I may not have any, but I pray constantly that I may do God's Will and never turn anyone away from the Truth in my actions.

    One final thing - is the Church in the state it is today, whatever you feel that state is, because of too many people trying to make the Church more orthodox, doctrinally correct, etc., or because of too many people just following the culture and 'going along to get along?'

  13. Terry,

    I wasn't sure what you meant but I have seen your charism of a beautiful blend of humility and gentleness but unwavering faithfulness to truth be misinterpreted.

    You were not stepping on my toes at all. I can see your faithfulness and I know where you are coming from. Besides, I rather like my toes to be stepped on by people whose judgment I respect if it's called for because it's about the Lord, not me. I don't want to be with the crowd that's above reproach. Feel free to step away, will you, if you think I am getting in the way of the work for the House of the Lord?

    This is how we learn and grow.

    I just wanted to set the path straight in the comments section.

    (Thanks for your supportive words to me, btw.)

  14. "veneremurcernui" - wow, nicely said.

    I think there's a difference between letting people run all over you and letting them trample the pearls of wisdom that is the conduit of souls salvation.

    I tend to use pithy humor to keep the troops from being demoralized (and defusing situations in my own personal life). When talking about people like Pelosi, Obama or theological and liturgical madness, I can't claim a flawless record.

    When I get piled on by people who have sat quietly for 40 years as this schism has been erected under the radar and our family, friends, children have been led astray, there's room for apology, but at the end of the day, I cut myself some slack because I like the way I said it better than the way they haven't for the past 40 years.

  15. Golly, I get away from the blogosphere for a day or so and it's everything as usual.

    Sorry you're having a rough go of it Terry. You're a good man. Sounds familiar in a way

    I wish I could contribute something as profound and helpful as the folks above, good stuff there, but I'm to lazy these days and tired of getting flamed myself so I more or less draw.

    Brotherly love in Christ.


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