Thursday, October 04, 2012

Catholic stuff some Catholics may not know or remember.

Or why we used to memorize the catechism.

Some Catholics don't know everything, and if they did, they may have forgotten it.

Which is why we have a catechism to guide us, and explains why the Church instructs the faithful by way of encyclicals and Apostolic exhortations and such -  documents conveniently found online at the Vatican website BTW.

For instance, questions about what does the Church really say about same sex marriage can be answered with a Google search for Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith on same sex marriage... voila!  You have a clear, concise answer:
Homosexuality is a troubling moral and social phenomenon, even in those countries where it does not present significant legal issues. It gives rise to greater concern in those countries that have granted or intend to grant – legal recognition to homosexual unions, which may include the possibility of adopting children.

... and then:

6. To understand why it is necessary to oppose legal recognition of homosexual unions, ethical considerations of different orders need to be taken into consideration. ... etc.
Now wasn't that simple, and special.

So anyway.  When you go to the sources of actual teaching, and not some pastoral interpretation on a blog or in a bulletin, you get the truth and the facts.  Yet we hear, "I don't get it though!  I don't understand how the Church can say this or that or tell people how to live their lives?"  or, "If this is the case, then who can be saved?"  (The disciples asked that.)  In other words, if you still don't get it, you don't get it.  God will enlighten you.  Really, he will.  Or as Christ said to the disciples, "What is impossible for man is possible for God."  Too simplistic for you?  Then maybe you can't handle the truth, or maybe you just aren't ready to accept it.  That's normal.

A friend asked me about indulgences and the forgiveness of sins and God forgetting our sins and yet we have to atone for them and what about the death of Christ - wherein he thought all of that was taken care of. For me to answer that stuff is beyond my expertise.  But our friends ask such questions and charity obliges a considerate reply. Doctrinally, it is all answered for us in the catechism and in the 1968 document explaining all the rules concerning indulgences, Enchiridion of Indulgences
An indulgence is the remission before God of the temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven as far as their guilt is concerned. This remission the faithful with the proper dispositions and under certain determined conditions acquire through the intervention of the Church which, as minister of the Redemption, authoritatively dispenses and applies the treasury of the satisfaction won by Christ and the Saints. -Enchiridion

For doctrinal questions on the forgiveness of sins and the satisfaction due to them, check out the CCC:
1459 Many sins wrong our neighbor. One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries). Simple justice requires as much. But sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God and neighbor. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused.62 Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must "make satisfaction for" or "expiate" his sins. This satisfaction is also called "penance."  
1460 The penance the confessor imposes must take into account the penitents personal situation and must seek his spiritual good. It must correspond as far as possible with the gravity and nature of the sins committed. It can consist of prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, and above all the patient acceptance of the cross we must bear. Such penances help configure us to Christ, who alone expiated our sins once for all. They allow us to become co-heirs with the risen Christ, "provided we suffer with him."63
The satisfaction that we make for our sins, however, is not so much ours as though it were not done through Jesus Christ. We who can do nothing ourselves, as if just by ourselves, can do all things with the cooperation of "him who strengthens" us. Thus man has nothing of which to boast, but all our boasting is in Christ . . . in whom we make satisfaction by bringing forth "fruits that befit repentance." These fruits have their efficacy from him, by him they are offered to the Father, and through him they are accepted by the Father.64 - CCC
So you see, we Catholics have authoritative sources to go to in order to form our consciences by.  If some celebrity mystic or online Catholic personality wrote something you think is odd or strange or scary or too good to be true - check your sources.  Talk to a good priest.  If you are plagued with doubts, pray.  I mean really pray - use words.  Many of the saints prayed acts of faith, hope and love when they were assailed with doubts or temptations against the faith.  Today formula prayers are snubbed for prayers from the heart - prayers in your own words - it's more contemplative, they say.  St. Therese made acts of faith at the height of her union with God!  Popular mystics, not unlike the rest of us, can miss such human foibles in the lives of great saints. 

Truth is, we don't always know how to pray.  How can we pray with our own words, especially if we do not always know or understand the fundamentals of the faith - which begs the question; what makes us so sure we can pray properly?  None of us can, thus the Spirit intercedes for us - and we sometimes need to fall back on acts of faith and other formula prayers when we don't know how to pray as we ought.. . or when we just can't find our navel during centering prayer.  Moreover, traditional prayers contain doctrine, in addition to instructing us as to how we ought to pray and what to ask for.

Another reason plain teaching doesn't always work for us is that we remain attached to a particular sin or way of life, or a perception of how spiritual life ought to be.  Sometimes we become deluded in our spiritual combat and prefer our own opinion to Church teaching - doctrine.  Not to worry too much.  Why?  Because that wrestling, that questioning, that preference for our own will and self-opinion, can lead to a great fall, great humiliations, or even greater confusion - which can bring us to a profound sense of our own powerlessness.  Thus, if we are so blessed to find our self so spiritually poor, it is then that we can finally be open to the truth - but only if we want to be.

So don't try to be smarter or holier than the Church.  Just, allow yourself to be taught, as St. John of the Cross wrote.
Act of Faith

O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I believe that your divine Son became man, died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because you have revealed them, Who can neither deceive nor be deceived. Amen.

Editor's note:  Blogger was impossible today - I lost whole sentences during editing and publishing, and had to go back and rewrite.  I hate the new Blogger.  I hate it!  All this time wasted on writing and rewriting for phantoms.

1 comment:

  1. As always, thank you.

    There are some posts of yours I really should print :)


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