Monday, October 31, 2011

Celebrating Community

As we draw near to the implementation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal (already I have heard moanings…), we would do well to recall that in their response to Vatican II’s call for better understanding and more effective presentation of the truths of the faith those assigned responsibility for the implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium were led astray by the ideas and dispositions of modernity. As Paul VI had warned, the Faith is endangered when modern secular thinking begins to determine the Church’s understanding and transmission of the gospel message. For example — today it is possible for a Catholic to encounter in a popular Catholic magazine a theological de-emphasis on Our Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross for our salvation:

….the concept of atonement—that God and humanity have been reconciled through Jesus—hasn’t always focused so exclusively on Jesus’ death as a sacrifice and payment for sin. Like most teachings, it has evolved over the past 20 centuries of Christian thought, and today is being critiqued by some as problematic, not only for what is says about God, but also for what it may mean for victims of violence [emphasis added].

It would seem that the author is unaware that doctrine does not evolve (change meaning) but develops in stages over time, resulting in a clearer presentation of the doctrine by the Church, toward a more profound understanding of truth. It does not present new doctrine or revelation. Again, Paul VI warned that those who do not think with the mind of the Church may be exposed to “the influence of ‘the mystery of iniquity” in evidence when “the spirit of the Gospel is watered down or rejected…” The reason behind this disregard of the authority of the documents of divine revelation was the reformers’ assimilation of the principles of modernity.