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Johnboy Musings Part1b

Johnboy Musings Part1b

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Published by John Sobert Sylvest

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Published by: John Sobert Sylvest on Jan 21, 2012
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05/13/2014

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The good order of the soul with which we are concerned here is not simply an ethical or moral perfection. St. John of the Cross is not considering merelythe level of perfection on which men refrain from cheating each other in business, go to Mass on Sundays, give alms now and then to the poor, and lendtheir lawnmower to the people next door without even cursing under their breath.
pg. 163But the very fact that all conversions do not have this experiential element and that, indeed, many conversions are hardheaded and "cold," lends weight to the thomisticargument which distinguishes bare faith from faith illumined by the Gifts. And I may add, parenthetically, that the convert whose faith is emotionally "cold" and is notinflamed with an element of quasi-mystical experience is not therefore less virtuous or less pleasing in the sight of God.
It may, in fact, require great charity to allowoneself to be led, in spite of temperamental or hereditary disinclination, by force of rational demonstration alone, to an unemotional acceptance of thefaith
. pg. 21213) If we do not try to be perfect in what we write, perhaps it is because we are not writing for God after all. In any case it is depressing that those who serve God andlove him sometimes write so badly, when those who do not believe in Him take pains to write so well. I am not talking about grammar and syntax, but about havingsomething to say and saying it in sentences that are not half dead. St. Paul and St. Ignatius Martyr did not bother about grammar but they certainly knew how to write.Imperfection is the penalty of rushing into print. And people who rush into print do so not because they really have anything to say, but because they think it is importantfor something by them to be in print. The fact that your subject may be very important in itself does not necessarily mean that what
 you
have written about it isimportant. A bad book about the love of God remains a bad book ... [another statement re: johnboy? ouch!]Thomas Merton, __The Sign of Jonas__, pg. 5914) In the last book to come to us from the hand of Raissa Maritain, her commentary on the Lord's Prayer, we read the following passage, concerning those whobarely obtain their daily bread, and are deprived of most of the advantages of a decent life on earth by the injustice and thoughtlessness of the privileged: "If there werefewer wars, less thirst to dominate and exploit others, less national egoism, less egoism of class and caste, if man were more concerned for his brother, and reallywanted to collect together, for the good of the human race, all the resources which science places at his disposal especially today, there would be on earth fewerpopulations deprived of their necessary sustenance, there would be fewer children who die or are incurably weakened by undernourishment." ... ... She goes on to ask what obstacles man has placed in the way of the Gospel that this should be so. It is unfortunately true that those who have complacently imagined themselves blessedby God have in fact done more than others to frustrate his will.Thomas Merton, __Contemplative Prayer, pg. 113
Humans journey through life in pursuit of truth, beauty, goodness and unity.
We realize these values through ongoing conversions, respectively,intellectual, affective, moral and social (Cf. Lonergan's thought). Our churches institutionalize these values, respectively, through, creed, cult, code andcommunity.As Catholics, we look for guidance in our value-realization strategies in the light of scripture, tradition, magisterium-sensus fidelium, reason (e.g.philosophy) and experience (e.g. biological & behavioral sciences, individual testimonies).
 
In the old days, both our social justice and sexual morality teachings relied on approaches based in classicism, natural law and legalism. Nowadays, oursocial justice theory employs three new methodologies, respectively, historical consciousness, personalism and relationality-responsibility (Cf. Curran'sthought). Modern Catholic social justice teachings enjoy widespread credibility due to these updated methodologies, which are eminently transparent tohuman reason. There is, however, no such thing as modern Catholic teaching in sexual morality. Neither are there any such things as credibility andtransparency regarding same, neither among the faithful nor in secular society.
 
On the surface, there are value-realization strategies available under the old methodologies that could impart hope to all on many diverse issuespertaining both to gender and to sexual behaviors. For starters, we could more broadly conceive the definitions of such values as procreativity andcomplementarity, such that they are not so physicalistic, realizing that there are manifold other ways to celebrate being created co-creators and torealize unitive values. We could draw a distinction between generative functions and life issues (Cf. Haring's thought) and then establish a parvity ofvalue for sexual moral objects, such that masturbation would not be as serious as murder, for example. We could draw a distinction between ouressentialistic idealizations and their very problematical existential realizations and thus cut homosexuals some "pastoral sensitivity slack" as was donewith married couples vis a vis the rhythm method.The problem is, however, that there needs to be a wholesale paradigm shift from the old methodologies to the new, wherein some old terms anddefinitions and logics will receive new vitality while others will be revealed as meaningless, incommensurable and incoherent. (It is beyond my presentscope to suggest which terms and logics will suffer or enjoy which fate, but I have my sneaking suspicions regarding
intrinsic disorder.
)
 
Accordingly, as we look for guidance in our value-realization strategies pertaining to gender and sexual behavior, employing a much more robusthistorical consciousness, personalism and relationality-responsibility model, I want to know why anyone should turn solely (or even first and foremost) toscripture, tradition and the magisterium?
 
Especially regarding moral realities, then, which are transparent to human reason, we must also turn to that aspect of the teaching office known as thesensus fidelium, and also must turn to reason (e.g. philosophy) and to experience (e.g. biological & behavioral sciences, individual testimonies). If we failto make these moves and take these turns, we are failing to be either catholic or Catholic. Also, our arguments will lack normative impetus in the PublicSquare, where we need more than
the Bible tells me so
or the Koran, as the case may be, to urge legislative remedies on the body politic.
 
 
Ormond Rush writes, in Determining Catholic Orthodoxy: Monologue or Dialogue (PACIFICA 12 (JUNE 1999): "The patristic scholar Rowan Williamsspeaks of 'orthodoxy as always lying in the future'".(see http://tinyurl.com/2p5q7w for the article)
 
Rush continues: Mathematicians talk of an asymptotic line that continually approaches a given curve but does not meet it at a finite distance. Somewhatlike those two lines, ressourcement and aggiornamento never meet; the meeting point always lies ahead of the church as it moves forward in history.Orthodoxy, in that sense, lies always in the future. Christian truth is eschatological truth. The church must continually wait on the Holy Spirit to lead it tothe fullness of truth. Ressourcement and aggiornamento will only finally meet at that point when history ends at the fullness of time.
For now we see in amirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
(1 Cor 13:12)To unpack this meaning further, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ressourcement
 
In that Pacifica article, Rush draws distinctions between: 1) revelation as propositional, where faith is primarily assent and revelation as personalist,where faith is the response of the whole person in loving self-surrender to God; 2) verbal orthodoxy and lived orthopraxy; 3) the Christological andpneumatological; 4) hierarchical ecclesiology and communio ecclesiology; and 5) monologic notion of authority evoking passive obedience and dialogicnotion of authority evoking active obedience.
 
Rush then describes the extremes of on one hand,1) dogmatic maximalism, where all beliefs are given equal weight;2) magisterial maximalism, where the ecclesial magisterium, alone, has access to the Holy Spirit;
 
3) dogmatic ahistoricism, where God's meaning and will are fixed and clear to be seen;and, on the other hand,1) dogmatic minimalism, where all dogmatic statements are equally unimportant;2) magisterial minimalism, where communal guidance in interpretation is superfluous;3) dogmatic historicism, with an unmitigated relativist position regarding human knowledge.
 
Rush finally describes and commends a VIA MEDIA between the positions.
 
He notes that the church does not call the faithful that we may believe in dogma, doctrine and disciplines but, rather, to belief in God.He describes how statements vary in relationship to the foundation of faith vis a vis a Hierarchy of Truth and thus have different weight:to be believed as divinely revealed;to be held as definitively proposed;or as nondefinitively taught and requiring obsequium religiosum (see discussion below re: obsequium).The faithful reception of revelation requires interplay between the different "witnesses" of revelation: scripture, tradition, magisterium, sensus fidelium,theological scholarship, including reason (philosophy) and experience (biological & behavioral sciences, personal testimonies, etc).
 
Rush thus asks: "How does the Holy Spirit guarantee orthodox traditioning of the Gospel? According to Dei Verbum, 'the help of the Holy Spirit' ismanifested in the activity of three distinguishable yet overlapping groups of witnesses to the Gospel: the magisterium, the whole people of God, andtheologians. The Holy Spirit guides each group of witnesses in different ways and to different degrees; but no one alone has possession of the Spirit ofTruth."
 
Rush further asks: "The determination of orthodoxy needs to address questions concerning the issue of consensus in each of these three authorities.What constitutes a consensus among theologians and how is it to be ascertained? What constitutes a consensus among the one billion Catholicsthroughout the world and how is it to be ascertained? What constitutes a collegial consensus among the bishops of the world with the pope, and how isthat consensus to be ascertained?"
 
As for obsequium religiosum, from http://www.womenpriests.org/teaching/orsy3_2.aspwhere it is written:
 
"Accordingly, the duty to offer obsequium may bind to respect, or to submission
or to any other attitude between the two."
 
"When the council spoke of religious obsequium it meant an attitude toward the church which is rooted in the virtue of religion, the love of God and thelove of his church. This attitude in every concrete case will be in need of further specification, which could be 'respect', or could be 'submission,'depending on the progress the church has made in clarifying its own beliefs. ... [W]e can speak of obsequium fidei (one with the believing church holdingfirm to a doctrine) ... [or] an obsequium religiosum (one with the searching church, working for clarification)."
 
Thus, on matters of dogma, I give obsequium fidei, and unqualified assent (or submission); this includes the creeds, the sacraments, the approach toscripture. On matters of moral doctrine and church discipline, I give my deference (or respect), even as I dissent, out of loyalty, on many issues: marriedpriests, women's ordination, eucharistic sharing, obligatory confession, various moral teachings re: so-called gravely, intrinsic disorders of humansexuality; artificial contraception, etc.
 
Discipline, Doctrine & Dogma
 
I once strongly considered converting from Roman to Anglican Catholic, likely agonizing as much as Newman, who converted in the opposite direction. Howmany times have progressive Roman Catholics been sarcastically urged to go ahead and convert by various fundamentalistic traditionalists since our
 
beliefs were "not in keeping with the faith?"After all, while there has never been an infallible papal pronouncement to which I could not give my wholehearted assent, I otherwise do adamantly disagreewith many hierarchical positions such as regarding a married priesthood, women priests, obligatory confession, eucharistic sharing, divorce andremarriage, artificial contraception, various so-called grave & intrinsic moral disorders of human sexuality or any indubitable and a priori definitionsemployed vis a vis human personhood and theological anthropology.
 
At times, I truly have wondered if I belonged to Rome or Canterbury, and I suspect many of you have, too, and, perhaps, still do? My short answer is: You'realready home; take a look around ...
 
In other words, for example, take a look, below, at some excerpts from the September 2007 report of the International Anglican - Roman CatholicCommission for Unity and Mission: Growing Together in Unity and Mission: Building on 40 years of Anglican - Roman Catholic Dialogue.
 
Does anyone see any differences in essential dogma? Are some of you not rather surprised at the extent of agreement, especially given the nature ofsame?
 
Are our differences not rather located in such accidentals as matters of church discipline or in such moral teachings where Catholics can exerciselegitimate choices in their moral decision-making? (To be sure, therehas been a creeping infallibility in such differences but there have never been infallible pronouncements regarding same.)
 
"As we shall see, reputable theologians defend positions on moral issues contrary to the official teaching of the Roman magisterium. If Catholics have theright to follow such options, they must have the right to know that the options exist. It is wrong to attempt to conceal such knowledge from Catholics. It iswrong to present the official teachings, in Rahner's words, as though there were no doubt whatever about their definitive correctnessand as though further discussion about the matter by Catholic theologians would be inappropriate....To deprive Catholics of the knowledge of legitimatechoices in their moral decision-making, to insist that moral issues are closed when actually they are still open, is itself immoral." See:
Probabilism: TheRight to Know of Moral Options
, which is the third chapter of __Why You Can Disagree and Remain a Faithful Catholic__ and available online athttp://www.saintjohnsabbey.org/kaufman/chapter3.html
 
For those who have neither the time nor inclination for a long post, you can safely consider the above as an executive summary. My conclusion is that webelong neither to Rome nor Canterbury, but to the Perfector and Finisher of our faith. And I'm going to submit toever-ongoing finishing by blooming where I was planted among my family, friends and co-religionists, enjoying the very special communion between ourAnglican, Roman and Orthodox traditions, the special fellowship of all my Christian sisters and brothers, and the general fellowship of all persons ofgoodwill.
 
Respectfully,JB
 
I gathered these excerpts together to highlight and summarize the report but recognize these affirmations should not be taken out of context. So, I made thisurl where the entire document can be accessed: http://tinyurl.com/35p69hto foster the wide study of these agreed statements.Below is my heavily redacted summary.
 
In reflecting on our faith together it is vital that all bishops ensure that the Agreed Statements of ARCIC are widely studied in both Communions.
 
The constitutive elements of ecclesial communion include: one faith, one baptism, the one Eucharist, acceptance of basic moral values, a ministry ofoversight entrusted to the episcopate with collegial and primatial dimensions, and the episcopal ministry of a universal primate as the visible focus of unity.
 
God desires the visible unity of all Christian people and that such unity is itself part of our witness.Through this theological dialogue over forty years Anglicans and Roman Catholics have grown closer together and have come to see that what they hold incommon is far greater than those things in which they differ.
 
In liturgical celebrations, we regularly make the same trinitarian profession of faith in the form of the Apostles
Creed or the Nicene-ConstantinopolitanCreed.
 
In approaching Scripture, the Christian faithful draw upon the rich diversity of methods of reading and interpretation used throughout the Church
s history(e.g. historical-critical, exegetical, typological, spiritual, sociological, canonical). These methods, which all havevalue, have been developed in many different contexts of the Church
s life, which need to be recalled and respected.
 
The Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church recognise the baptism each confers.
 
Anglicans and Catholics agree that the full participation in the Eucharist, together with Baptism and Confirmation, completes the sacramental process ofChristian initiation.
 
We agree that the Eucharist is the memorial (anamnesis) of the crucified and risen Christ, of the entire work of reconciliation God has accomplished in him.
 
Anglicans and Catholics believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
 
While Christ is present and active in a variety of ways in the entire eucharistic celebration, so that his presence is not limited to the consecrated elements,the bread and wine are not empty signs: Christ
s body and blood become really present and are really given in theseelements.
 
We agree that the Eucharist is the
meal of the Kingdom
, in which the Church gives thanks for all the signs of the coming Kingdom.
 
We agree that those who are ordained have responsibility for the ministry of Word and Sacrament.
 
Roman Catholics and Anglicans share this agreement concerning the ministry of the whole people of God, the distinctive ministry of the ordained, thethreefold ordering of the ministry, its apostolic origins, character and succession, and the ministry of oversight.
 
Anglicans and Roman Catholics agree that councils can be recognised as authoritative when they express the common faith and mind of the Church,consonant with Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition.
 

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