Okay, dear Reader, we’re going to have a go at interactive essay writing.
In this exercise, I stick up ideas for inclusion in my essay to be published in Catholica Australia defending the attitude of “Sentire Cum Ecclesia” and you give me your reactions. I then incorporate these ideas and criticisms into the ongoing compilation of the defence. What do you think? Ready to have a go? Here is the first installment.
God alone knows why I chose the title “Sentire Cum Ecclesia” for my blog. These things are done on a whim and a prayer. But over the years since, I have been very happy with my choice. Sort of like hand me down clothes that I find I actually like…
A quick web search will tell you that “Sentire Cum Ecclesia” is actually a Jesuit motto, from St Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, “Rules for Thinking with the Church”. I never thought of myself as a Jesuit, but maybe there is something in that.
Rule number one is:
Always to be ready to obey with mind and heart, setting aside all judgement of one’s own, the true spouse of Jesus Christ, our holy mother, our infallible and orthodox mistress, the Catholic Church, whose authority is exercised over us by the hierarchy.
Honestly, I couldn’t have put it better myself. This is the attitude that Brian Coyne contends is “obsequious”. But that only expounds what the phrase “Sentire Cum Ecclesia” means. It is not in itself a defence of the attitude.
A couple of other key rules from St Ignatius:
9. To uphold especially all the precepts of the Church, and not censure them in any manner; but, on the contrary, to defend them promptly, with reasons drawn from all sources, against those who criticize them.
10. To be eager to commend the decrees, mandates, traditions, rites and customs of the Fathers in the Faith or our superiors. As to their conduct; although there may not always be the uprightness of conduct that there ought to be, yet to attack or revile them in private or in public tends to scandal and disorder [Take note, Brian!]. Such attacks set the people against their princes and pastors; we must avoid such reproaches and never attack superiors before inferiors. The best course is to make private approach to those who have power to remedy the evil. [ie. no public petitions...]
And most astonishingly:
13. That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity with the Church herself, if she shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black. For we must undoubtedly believe, that the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of the Orthodox Church His Spouse, by which Spirit we are governed and directed to Salvation, is the same;…
I propose that I will embark upon a definition of the term, followed by a explanation of the positive reasons for adopting such a position, and then answering the negative objections that Brian and others have raised. Your contributions will be very welcome.