Eaves-Dropping on a Protestant Conversation about Us

I knew my ears were ringing for some reason. HT to my Prebyterian friend David for calling my attention to a discussion string on the Melbourne Anglican Study Group forum. It starts off talking about Wesley and Charles Simeon and then, when David puts in a comment about working with other orthodox Christians despite differences on points of theology, the thing goes off on a tangent about the merits or otherwise of Catholicism. It’s worth reading the whole string, but check this out from “Jareth”:

Heh, heh, my wife and I watched a TV documentary the other week about the life of Pope Benedict, and commented to each other how much we wished we could convert to the Catholic religion (if only they got rid of that Mary stuff and a few other dodgy things ) – at times we felt we had a lot more common ground with the Pope than with Rowan Williams and many other of the Anglican leaders out there… We love what he said just before Christmas about “ecology” (ok I’d better shut up now)

and later:

The doctrinal faults of Catholicism — Mary, the re-sacrificing of Christ in the mass, faith+works, etc. — certainly make our conversion to Catholicism very very unlikely.

However, we have many a time had a genuine heart-felt admiration for and envy of Roman Catholicism, and the 2 popes who have reigned in our lifetime. Unlike the Protestant churches, who keep giving ground to modern culture and ideology, Catholicism seems incredibly resistant to liberalisation — they simply refuse to budge from historic doctrinal positions. They don’t care if that makes them unpopular or an object of popular scorn — faithfulness to orthodoxy (and to God) matters much more to them. We admire, for instance, how the Catholic church keeps giving the finger to the pro-death lobby and gay lobby no matter what the cultural pressure — where others like the Anglicans and Uniting Church simply cave in. Yet Catholicism also cares for all the important global issues like war & peace, the poor, and the environment, about which we are also passionate. Hence Rachel and I have kind of adopted the Pope as a kind of defacto moral spiritual leader to fill the vacuum we have in protestantism (excepting Mark Driscoll of course!!!), and we pray for God to uphold and strengthen his leadership of the Christian world.

It’s not just us BTW — I’ve got a (evangelical protestant) Christian friend in the US with whom I correspond, and 6 months ago when I asked him which presidential candidate he preferred (out of Hillary, Obama and McCain). He said that he had major problems with all 3 of them, and the world leader who most closely aligns with his point of view on everything — is the Pope. (Unfortunately the pope wasn’t running for election :-))

Good stuf, eh? Well, except for the stuff about the “dodgy doctrines”, and that’s what David asked me about in the email in which he drew my attention to this rather candid discussion and appraisal of “the Churches in communion with Rome” (as I am teaching Pastor Weedon to call us).

David wrote as follows:

Hi David,
I’ve been having a conversation with an Anglican layman over at http://www.masg.net.au/MASG/Discussion%20Forum.html – its the “Charles Simeon takes on John Wesley” thread.

If you scroll down to the end I have been in conversation with Jereth on how you square up your Lutheran doctrine of Lord’s Supper and Mary with your Catholic new self. e.g. with Mary and the issue of Jesus’ brothers and sisters and Mary as the go between, my guess is that you affirm your access to God through our Lord Jesus, you don’t pray to Mary, she isn’t “coredemtrix”, but you honour and revere her as Theotokos. Is that right? Do you have any comment and am I correct in my assertion re Lord’s Supper?

It is probably easiest if I take what he said directly from the discussion string and answer these questions in answer to that.

1) “Lutheran doctrine re real presence of body and blood of Christ not all that far from transubstantiation.”

That’s what the Australian Catholic Lutheran Dialogue concluded in their statement a “Sacrament and Sacrifice” (1985). Although Lutherans would never use a scholastic/philosophical word like “transubstantiation” to say what they mean. They prefer the simple “IS” of our Lord’s statements (as in “This [bread] IS my body”), and leave it at that.

2) Not sure about Mary, will have to ask them if they affirm she remained a virgin as per RC doctrine.

Yep. But that was Luther’s take on it too. In fact, the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity was the standard in the Early Church, and no-one ever took the scriptural references to “Jesus’ brothers and sisters” to mean Mary’s children. It is worth checking out St Jerome’s “Against Helvidius: On the Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary.” which makes it quite clear how novel Helvidius’ opinion on this matter was. The best modern explanation (and the most convincing exegesis of scripture on the problem) may be found in Raymond Brown’s commentary on the Gospel of John, in an excursus on the women at the cross/tomb.

3) “and Mary as the go between, my guess is that you affirm your access to God through our Lord Jesus, you don’t pray to Mary, she isn’t “coredemtrix”, but you honour and revere her as Theotokos. Is that right? “

We certainly do affirm our access to God through our Lord Jesus. All liturgical prayer is offered to the Father in the name of and through Jesus Christ his Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. “Prayers to the Saints” are not like prayer to the Father or even to Jesus, but are actually requests for help through their intercession on our behalf (think: ancient imperial court, and you will get the picture). Rather than going to God through the saints, Catholics in fact believe that we only have communion with the Saints through our mutual communion in Christ. We do not believe that we direct access to either Mary or any of the other saints apart from Christ. Prayer is viewed as a communal thing: all the saints, living and dead, joined in one communion of intercession before God.

As for the “co-redemptrix” thing… What is in question is a title, okay? Were the Church to definitely declare that the title “co-redemptrix” is applicable to Mary, she (the Church) would not be inventing new doctrine, but would be saying that the title is in accordance with what we already believe and have always believed. So what do we believe? We believe that Mary was more than just a conduit for the incarnation. In other words, she was not just like a drainpipe through which water flows. She was really involved in the Incarnation of our Lord, body and soul. Thus she had a concrete and real role in God’s plan of redemption. So in that sense she might be properly called “co-redemptrix” – in the sense that (ENTIRELY BY GOD’S GRACE) she was enabled to “cooperate” with the Holy Spirit in being the bearer of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, God the Son. He received his humanity from her. That’s what we mean by Theotokos too: she was the God-bearer. But I don’t think that this title for Mary will be officially defined, because it does create confusion. One misinterpretation of the title would be to regard it as suggesting that Mary’s role in God’s plan of redemption was equal in kind and quality to the role of Christ. That would be utterly false.

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79 responses to “Eaves-Dropping on a Protestant Conversation about Us

  1. Joshua

    From a Catholic POV, I concur with these dear Proddies – in that, did the Catholic Church not have a Pope (per impossibile), you can bet your bottom dollar the whole structure would have gone the same way as the Anglicans, “Uniting” persons, etc., into endless doctrinal fuzziness, indifference, and deviation (both regarding faith and morals).

    “Upon this rock I will build My Church” – and apart from the Rock of Peter’s Faith, there is no promise from the Lord that the gates of hell shall not prevail against those separate from that blessed communion of the churches in union with Peter’s Successor, the true Vicar of Christ on earth.

    The most cogent counter-argument is to point to the Orthodox and say, these have no Pope, they have not changed – that is why to me their witness is far more persuasive than that of any Johnny-come-lately Protestant. I will leave it to others to debate this last issue…

  2. Christine

    the re-sacrificing of Christ in the mass,

    They still don’t get that one, do they?

    As for Mary. I wonder how many Protestants have seriously pondered the fact that if Mary had not given her free consent the Incarnation would not have happened. God knew that Mary would say yes, but Mary didn’t until she was asked. She was not treated as an automaton by the Lord (how mahy times have I heard a Protestant say Mary was “merely” the vessel).

    A further thought — the Blood we receive at Holy Communion, in a very real way, is also Mary’s blood because Jesus had no human father. No, I am not saying Mary’s blood is salvific, it is not. But biologically speaking, her blood flowed through his veins. So yes, Catholics and Orthodox do honor her as Theotokos and the unique privilege that was hers alone.

  3. Past Elder

    You got that right Dave — think ancient imperial court, and you DO get the picture.

    Yeah, the Orthodox have no pope and they haven’t changed, and think you have precisely at the hands of the “popes”.

    That’s the great thing about apostolic succession — those who spout it don’t agree altogether on what it is, how it works, or who has it.

    You got the wrong Rock. It’s the faith, not the man who confesses it. If you want a Rock who’s a man, go for Duane Johnson rather than a functionary of an empire that no longer exists.

  4. Fr. Timothy D. May, SSP

    This is an opportunity for me to ask a question regarding the Catholic position on the Mass. While the “re-sacrifice” of the Mass is often brought up against Catholics my understanding based on reading Catholic theology and theologians and talking with Catholic laity is that they see the Mass not as a “re-sacrifice” but as a participation in the one and only eternal sacrifice of the Son of God on the cross. That is the Mass is a reminder to God of His Son’s sacrifice and at the same time brings the benefits of His sacrifice to those who participate. Please correct me if I misunderstand or have mistated this. Also, please share any resources that describe well the Catholic position (I have the CCC). Thank you.

  5. Christine

    You are exactly right, Father May.

    Amazes me how other Christians who nevertheless believe that an almighty God could “speak” the universe into being is powerless to “make present” throughout space and time the one, unique Sacrifice of the Cross.

  6. Past Elder

    Ditto. Rome teaches enough error without ascribing to them error it does not teach.

    Actually, it aooears God set up His Creation so this could happen. We now understand that matter and energy are different states of the same thing related across a temporal measurement, the speed of light. Therefore, a massive disruption in the ordinary operations of matter — a Death and Resurrection and Ascension, say — would as part of the same thing entail a massive disruption in the ordinary operations of time — its union with a Passover seder, say.

    Therefore, Relativity not only accounts for the Real Presence, it predicts it.

  7. Fr. Timothy D. May, SSP

    Thank you, Christine. Then there is one Sacrifice and this Sacrifice which has eternal consequence is also present in space and time in the Mass.

  8. Christine

    Precisely, Father May. This is the true treasure of the Church which is the Lord’s gift to her until that high feast of the Lamb where we will see him in his unveiled glory.

  9. Fr. Timothy D. May, SSP

    “the true treasure of the Church” “the Lord’s gift to her” and then later on “his unveiled glory.” Wonderful. Thank you.

  10. Past Elder

    Catholics have never said anything else about the Eucharist. The problem is some of the rest of what they say about the Eucharist, and a part of that is, we don’t have it.

  11. Schütz

    PE,

    The problem is some of the rest of what they say about the Eucharist, and a part of that is, we don’t have it.

    It would be simplistic to say that is is simply because Lutheran Churches do not have valid priestly orders. A far deeper understanding of Eucharistic validity comes with a deeper understanding of “communio ecclesiology” – that the valid Eucharist is that which is celebrated in the communion of the Church. The Orthodox have developed this (also called a “Eucharistic Ecclesiology”) quite extensively.

    Yeah, the Orthodox have no pope and they haven’t changed, and think you have precisely at the hands of the “popes”.

    Joshua’s admiration may be a little overstated, as we see the effects of not being in communion with the primal partriarchal see among the Orthodox almost as clearly as we do among the Anglicans and other protestants. We see this in two ways:

    1) It is true to say that their doctrine has not changed – but it is equally true to say that it has not developed. PE would say this is a good thing, but I think we must admit that some development of doctrine is essential if we are to answer modern problems, eg. contraception, divorce, same sex marriage, IVF etc. The lack of a unified magisterium among the Orthodox makes this difficult.

    2) The other difficulty for the Orthodox Churches is the question of unity. While most Orthodox Churches recognise all the rest as true Orthodox Churches, nevertheless there is a great deal of disunity and disagreement about matters of primacy, honour, authority, juridiction etc. The fact that the great hope of a Pan-Orthodox Council is practically an eschatological hope illustrates this.

    You got the wrong Rock. It’s the faith, not the man who confesses it.

    And that’s precisely the difficulty we are all in, PE. The circle goes like this:

    You are right to say we should judge a Church by the Faith it proclaims. But how do we know what the True Faith is? It is that faith which is proclaimed by the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, as has been taught from St Paul (“the Church is the pillar of truth”) and St Ignatius onward. But how are we to know what the True Church is? You must judge it by whether it proclaims the faith of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. It all gets rather circular, as I think we can all honestly admit.

    The Catholic solution to this merry-go-round is to accept the history of the Church as it happened. This is the way the Church started, and, through a series of continuous, connected events, this is the Church we have today. The historical society of human beings that goes by the name Catholic Church today and which always has gone by this name is the Catholic Church. Listen to her.

    Of course, there are obviously other solutions. I just don’t find them as theologically or historically or rationally honest.

  12. Athanasius

    It fascinates me to see this Protestant nostalgia for the ministry of Peter and the resort to it by those who formally reject it. I guess it shows that a ministry doesn’t need to be recognised in order to be pastorally exercised.

    Regarding PE’s point about the Orthodox, it’s important to remember that the Orthodox churches haven’t yet fully confronted liberal modernity. Once they do, the consequences of their separation from the Petrine Office will become much more apparent. As it clearly has in the Protestant churches.

  13. Louise

    We admire, for instance, how the Catholic church keeps giving the finger to the pro-death lobby and gay lobby no matter what the cultural pressure

    Best line in the conversation we are eaves-dropping on!

  14. matthias

    Good point Louise .Francis Schaeffer -Presbyterian theologian and philosopher- who died in 1984,and C Everett Koop ,one time Surgeon General in the USA,were the only Protestant voices raised against abortion ,infanticide and euthanasia. they were largely on their own,because the perception i think in proddy land-my heritage- was that these were catholic things.As a consequence and as Schaeffer pointed out in his book “The great evangelical disaster” ,this perhaps. has led to the domination of the prodeath lobby.
    I remember reading a tract in st patrick’s ,where the writer ,a dominican priest,made the point that the Low Church Anglicans had more in common with catholics than High Church Anglicans.His views were that many of the latter held to pro-choice views,reincarnation and other practices that were questionable. Perhaps he had in mind the line from Brideshead revisited where Charles Ryder’s cousin -a graduate,tells him to not mix with Anglo-Catholics at oxford as “they are all a bunch of sodomites”

  15. Past Elder

    Well I gotta make dinner for the crew before I get on to Rant All Night, so for now I’ll say this:

    those of us who might be designated Protestant have lost a lot out of the “too Catholic” thing, and that is not in the least because of the loss of a Petrine Ministry, which doesn’t exist, but because of the obscuring by that “Petrine Ministry” and its minions of Catholic with catholic.

    IOW, there’s a lot of what is catholic that is Catholic too, and too many of us think that if something is Catholic it’s a priori (there it is again) wrong and we throw out what is actually catholic.

  16. Chris Jones

    it is equally true to say that [Orthodox doctrine] has not developed

    That is not a bug, but a feature. Dealing with “modern problems” doesn’t require new (or “developed”) doctrine; it requires wisdom and discernment in the application of the same old doctrine to new situations.

    there is a great deal of disunity and disagreement about matters of primacy, honour, authority, juridiction etc.

    Fallen human nature being what it is, a certain amount of squabbling cannot be avoided (and don’t try to tell me that the Catholic Church is one big happy family, either). But when the most contentious issue in a Church body is the calendar, that is a sort of witness to the impressive unity on the weightier and more central matters of faith and practice.

    the Orthodox churches haven’t yet fully confronted liberal modernity

    This is a patent falsehood. The Orthodox were on the front lines against the most monstrous manifestation of modernity ever, for seventy years, and have martyrs in their hundreds of thousands to show for it. It is a dishonour to the memory of those martyrs to speak as if the Orthodox have somehow been isolated in a sort of mediaeval cocoon.

  17. John Weidner

    Great post and comments. Reminds me of what Chesterton wrote:

    …It is impossible to be just to the Catholic Church. The moment men cease to pull against it they feel a tug towards it. The moment they cease to shout it down they begin to listen to it with pleasure. The moment they try to be fair to it they begin to be fond of it. But when that affection has passed a certain point it begins to take on the tragic and menacing grandeur of a great love affair…

    We are seeing a lot of this these days. Protestants becoming intrigued, captivated by the Church. By JPII and B-16. By sacraments. By the Splendor of Truth.

    Perhaps God allowed Protestantism for the Protestants’ splendid energy in evangelization. They win souls for Jesus, who will be the catholics of the future…

  18. Past Elder

    OK, Rant All Night is on the air!

    Among the many holes in the above:

    1) We no more know history as it happened than we do what is the true faith apart from some authority we accept. History is the version of what happened written by the winners. You do not see history as it happened. You accept what the RCC says happened. Other churches, Protestant and Orthodox, look at the same things and do not see altogether the same “as it happened”. So, “as it happened” is as citcular as “what is the True Faith” and “what is the True Church”. You accept the RCC as the True Church because it, the True Church, says it is. Likewise with its “True Faith” and “as it happened”.

    2. The words of the creed re the church are descriptions, not names. All Christians believe in the holy catholic church. Only Catholics think the holy Catholic Church is an equivalent expression.

    3. The Orthodox indeed have a deep communio, or eucharistic ecclesiology — on the basis of which they look at the claims of the RCC to be the True Church or at least a part of it with them, and say “We can’t tell”.

    4. No development of doctrine is essential. In fact, none is allowed. We are neither to add to nor take from. End of story. Yet the RCC does this under the guise of “development” for centuries, thinking as the True Church it can and must, thereby proving it is not the True Church by the very effort it exerts thinking it is. Chris Jones aptly distinguishes above the application of the same doctrine, which is essential, from the development of doctrine, which is forbidden.

    5. Related to which, that due to a lack of magisterium and therefore development there is therefore lack of engagement with liberal modernity in EO is, also as Chris Jones points out, outrageous. The ground is soaked with the blood of its engagement with liberal modernity, and which is around to-day, the Soviet Union or the Russian Orthodox Church. The East has more to say to us re confronting liberal modernity than we in the West to them.

    6. Church history is a series of continuous, connected events. It is only by dismissing those events not connected to the RCC, and considering only those connected to the RCC, that the RCC comes out the result to present.

    There’s more, but I’ll stop here for now.

  19. Schütz

    Just a comment regarding Orthodox martyrs – absolutely, no dishonour intended. They faced the hell fire of atheism and gave their lives for it.

    But what we are talking about here is something a little different. The Catholic Church has by no means been impervious to it either. It is when the evil seems benign, when it seems loving and caring, when it because the accepted mores of society that it does the greatest damage to the Church. It gets in under the church carpet, and seeps up through the soles of the worshippers feet. It is the culture of death which is all around us, and which is everywhere and by everyone trumpeted as “the light”.

    Many Catholics in the Western World have fallen for the lies of this “under the carpet” evil, and I do not doubt that many Orthodox and Protestant have fallen for it too. The thing is that while the leadership of many Protestant mainline Churches have accomodated themselves with the new evil, the Catholic Church magisterium has been a constant witness against it.

    The Orthodox in the Western World are also facing this challenge – and it is of entirely a different order to the challenge of Communist atheism. The question is, will the leadership of the Orthodox Churches be able to speak clearly and with one voice so as to lead their people to stand against this darkness?

    I hope and pray they can. I can only say that I am personally thankful to God that in our communion there is “one voice” who speaks with the voice of the One Shepherd to guide us in these dark times.

  20. Lucian

    David dearest,

    the poroblem here is that some of the Catholics believe not only that her role and ‘Amen’ in the Incarnation is important, or that she redeems us by praying and interceding in front of God on our behalf … they also say that she suffered with Christ at Calvary in an substitutionary-atoning manner (and she could also, since she had not inherited the Original Sin from her parents). Now, THAT is NOT a very Orthodox thing to say. See the problem now, David? 😦

  21. Christine

    Lucian,

    Some Catholics don’t get it either. I ride to work with a lady who belongs to an SSPX Chapel. Her attachment to the Fatima apparition seems to be way out of proportion. I gently tried to remind her that orthodox Catholic teaching doesn’t require any Catholic to believe in private revelations, Fatima being one of them.

    Same for the folks who confuse Mary’s place in the scheme of salvation history.

    When I became Catholic I discovered that my birthday falls on the feast of our Lady of Sorrows. I can certainly relate to Mary’s human and spiritual suffering as she faithfully stood by her divine Son’s cross. Suffering comes to every human being at some point in life. But substitutionary? Nope. Jesus alone, being true God and true man could make that awesome sacrifice.

    Yep, some Catholics don’t get it.

    But Pope Benedict does and will continue to point it out.

    Have I ever mentioned that “At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing” is one of my favorite hymns 🙂

  22. Christine

    The problem is some of the rest of what they say about the Eucharist, and a part of that is, we don’t have it.

    Well, Lutherans have to first come together and unify around some other issues here. Is Christ present only to the communicant when he/she receives him? After all have received, is the presence now gone in any of the remaining elements?

    That never made sense to me. A wise priest once said “God does not take back his gifts.”

    And if the presence remains, sorry, but the use of disposable plastic “shot glasses” that may still contain the Precious Blood just doesn’t work for me. Can’t go there.

    And there’s the matter of the Sacrificial part of the Mass. There’s simply no use in saying that it’s the same for Lutherans as it is for Catholics and the Orthodox. Some Lutheran churches are so Word-oriented now that Holy Communion almost seems an afterthought.

    It ain’t just about “apostolic succession.”

  23. Chris Jones

    Mr Schütz,

    what we are talking about here is something a little different

    True — and I thought about that when I made my comment. But the root is the same (modernity), and the spiritual strength to combat it comes from the same place. A Church which has shown well-nigh miraculous fortitude in the face of the one form of modernity might be expected to show fortitude in the face of the other form as well.

    It seems to me that “Athanasius’s” comment displayed an ignorance of Orthodoxy on a spiritual level (not just a doctrinal or historical level), resulting in a condescending attitude that is unwarranted and, frankly, outrageous.

    will the leadership of the Orthodox Churches be able to speak clearly and with one voice so as to lead their people to stand against this darkness?

    “The leadership” of the Orthodox Church that counts in such matters is not only, or even primarily, the hierarchy, but the parish pastors who are on “the front lines” and the monastics who bear constant witness to the fact that the Church is not of this world. The principal weapons in the battle are not the public pronouncements of Patriarchs and Metropolitans (or Popes, as much as I respect and admire Benedict XVI), but the counsel given and the discipline applied in the confessional, the steady participation in the liturgical and sacramental life, and the ascetic discipline of prayer and fasting. These day-to-day weapons in the spiritual warfare are much more alive and much more in use in the Orthodox Churches (even in the relatively lax and liberal Western jurisdictions) than they are in Catholicism or any other Western Church body. It is a lack which cannot be made up by the public teaching of a Pope, be he never so orthodox and eloquent.

  24. Lucian

    Scott Hahn is hardly “some Catholic”, and his arguments actually make sense within current Roman Catholicism: re-interpretation of biblical, scriptural, traditional, historical, patristical texts (which speak of Marry’s suffering; or her Immaculate Conception) fits very well with the whole of Newman’s set of ideas regarding organical developement or evolution of dogma or doctrine, which view is espoused by almost all Catholics today. — That’s the problem. I’m very worried… 😦

  25. Christine

    Lucian,

    Scott Hahn? I wouldn’t give him more credit than is his due. He is a writer of popular Catholic works and fills a decidedly limited niche.

    Personally, I prefer to get my patristic commentary from the Office of Readings in the Roman LOH. The reading today from St. Augustine was most edifying.

  26. Christine

    Far better, in my estimation, is Thomas Howard, author of “Evangelical Is Not Enough” and “On Being Catholic”, published by Ignatius Press. His grasp of Catholic sensibility is superb.

  27. Lucian

    Hahn is not exactly unimportant or unsignifficant. Nor is his little niche. NOR ARE HIS ARGUMENTS, which have power regardless of who speaks them. Within the latest Marian dogmas, such as the Immaculate Conception, and within the mental frame-work of doctrinal and dogmatical development, what he’s saying makes perfect sense: that’s the really scary part.

  28. Joshua

    What’s so scary?

    This is all a misunderstanding of what the terms mediatrix and coredemptrix signify.

    Our Lady is mediatrix, first, because she (as all the saints) intercedes for us, in Christ, Who is the One Mediator – we all intercede for each other (I hope) but can only do so through Christ – hence we are subsidiary mediators in the One Mediator. Her title is special, because she is the greatest of the saints, for the obvious reason that she is the Mother of God – that is, through her cooperation, her flesh, her whole person, body and soul, the Word was made flesh to come and save us: and as God gave us the Author of grace and salvation through the Blessed Virgin, it seems probable (as St Bernard taught) that God delights to grant graces at her maternal prayer for us sinners; and of course, being in heaven, she only prays for what is in accord with the Divine Will, which desires that all should pray through Christ for the salvation of the human race. When one thinks about it, there’s nothing scary in this, only what is most reasonable: God commands us to pray always, obviously the saints above never cease from praise and prayer, and obviously they, and above all the Holy Mother of God, intercede for us that we be saved by God’s gifts to us: this is what mediatrix signifies.

    Coredemptrix is a term that it seems will be overhauled, since it does give rather the wrong impression. It doesn’t mean that Mary saved mankind along with Christ as if that meant that He did half the saving and she the rest – that would be monstrously heretical, as well as contrary to Scripture. No, the co- ( from “cum” meaning “with”) is meant to signify that Our Lady cooperated, insofar as a creature can, with the work of our redemption. Of course Christ is the one Redeemer; does this mean that no one shares in the work of redemption? Well, St Paul unblushingly speaks of filling up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His Body the Church (Col. i, 24), and so it is said that we are to work as co-redeemers with Christ, or, better, in, with and under Him (in, cum et sub Christo), to play our part in God’s plan of salvation. Again, if this is true of mortal men, how much the more so of the saints made perfect, and of the Holy Mother of God, who stood stedfast beneath the Cross of her Son? There, by her faith and suffering and prayer, she united herself as much as she could to the Sacrifice of her Son, beseeching God to save the human race. Obviously, only the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus could merit salvation de condigno (meaning, in strict justice), since, as St Anselm taught, only the sacrifice of God-made-Man could appease the Divine Justice; the merits and prayers of a creature, even the most perfect (as Our Lady was, being free of sin and specially graced for to be the Mother of God), could not in strict justice appease God, but rather in a fitting manner proper to a mere creature attempt by every suffering endured to beg mercy (this is what is called “de congruo”, in congruous fashion – so meaning what St Paul mentioned as quoted above, or, by analogy with hyperdulia, it may be said that Mary begged our salvation de supercongruo, in a fitting manner above that of other lesser saints). So if the Blessed Virgin be called coredemptrix, she can be so named de congruo. Because of the confusion this title tends to elicit (since it can appear scandalous), more recent Papal pronouncements have preferred to speak, as St Augustine did, of her singular cooperation in the work of our redemption, which emphasises her special role without appearing to magnify it in a confusing manner.

    (I have blogged about this – a search of my blog should turn up relevant entries.)

  29. Joshua

    And the Orthodox by the very prayers of their Divine Liturgy shew that they believe most robustly in Our Lady as mediatrix (μεςῖτις) – a word that occurs in countless troparia and so forth! For instance, the following kontakion is chanted in the Greek Liturgy directly before the Trisagion from the Sunday of All Saints to 27th of July and again from the 22nd of September until the 8th of November:

    “O never-failing protection of Christians and ever-present mediation [μεσιτεία… ἀμετάθετε] before the Creator, despise not the prayers of us sinners, but by thy goodness extend thy help to us, who in faith call upon thee: hasten, O Mother of God, to intercede for us and make speed to supplicate for us, thou who ever protecteth those who honour thee.”

    And how about those Byzantine Rite prayers imploring “Mother of God, save us”?

    It always surprises me when Protestant converts to Orthodoxy seek to downplay the Marian theology of their Church, when if anything the Easterners are greater devotees of Our Lady the Theotokos than we Western Catholics!

  30. Lucian

    Josh, Christine, and Schutz,

    I’m happy to see Y’all so orthodox in Your understanding of these theological terms; the problem is that Yours is not the only understanding offered; Josh says and I concur:

    It doesn’t mean that Mary saved mankind along with Christ … There, by her faith and suffering and prayer, she united herself as much as she could to the Sacrifice of her Son, beseeching God to save the human race. Obviously, only the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus could merit salvation de condigno (meaning, in strict justice), since, as St Anselm taught, only the sacrifice of God-made-Man could appease the Divine Justice; the merits and prayers of a creature, even the most perfect (as Our Lady was, being free of sin and specially graced for to be the Mother of God), could not in strict justice appease God, but rather in a fitting manner proper to a mere creature attempt by every suffering endured to beg mercy (this is what is called “de congruo”, in congruous fashion – so meaning what St Paul mentioned as quoted above, or, by analogy with hyperdulia, it may be said that Mary begged our salvation de supercongruo, in a fitting manner above that of other lesser saints). So if the Blessed Virgin be called coredemptrix, she can be so named de congruo.

    … and yet, that’s *precisely* what Scott Hahn and others think and believe to be the case. See my problem now?

    (And no, I’m not a convert).

  31. David Palmer

    My dear Catholic friends, brothers and sisters in Christ,

    I make these comments not having worked through all the most recent.

    I generally liked what Jereth had to say about the resistance of Catholicism to liberalisation thou I think Catholics know there has been far too much drift in Catholicism as well, thou’ thankfully that is changing, witness this blog.

    Jereth is a member of a church in the Melbourne Anglican Diocese, a bit of a disaster for orthodoxy in an overall sense, a spineless wonder certainly as far as pro life issues are concerned (though there are a number of well attended evangelical Parishes with very fine Christians such as the one Jereth and his wife attend). If Jereth and his wife lived in Sydney and attended a Sydney Anglican Church or was a Presbyterian says he modestly, he would have a very different story to tell.

    Regarding the real presence of our Lord in the celebration of Lord’s Supper or Mass as you would say, a Calvinist such as myself affirms a true spiritual partaking of the body and blood of Christ who remains at all times in His glorified body at the right hand of His Father in glory. Calvin said that the Holy Supper was spiritual medicine for poor sick souls like me. I like that.

    I find it fascinating that Catholics fault Protestants for “spiritualising”, “this is”, yet themselves explain away the straightforward reading of Mark 6:3

    I am greatly encouraged by David’s and others’ comments about access to and acceptance with God through our Lord Jesus alone (love those “alone”s!). However re prayers, why bring Mary and the saints into play when Jesus our Lord, and Saviour gave so many gracious invitations to pray in His name? I’ve still not exhausted His invitations and I was converted 50 years ago, this year. I can’t imagine that there has ever been a day that I did not pray in Jesus’ name.

    I think a problem for Catholics (I don’t mean to offend, simply to explain my thinking, but if I do offend, please forgive me) was the notion so prevalent in the Middle Ages of so fixating on Christ as Judge ready to consign you to hell or long stretches in purgatory that you had no other recourse than to go elsewhere. And to whom could you go? Why, Mary of course, and the favoured local town saints as well!

    For a Calvinist, devotion to our Lord Jesus is the beginning and the end and all the bits in between, and we will not detract from His glory by diverting our gaze and devotion elsewhere, not even to the BVM.

    There is so much thoughtful engaging material in the above 27 comments that I would love to discuss further and I do feel a strong kinship and even affection (!) toward confessional conservative Catholics, yet I have other pressing matters.

    However one last thing.

    Re Christine and Mary,

    Yes Mary was no “mere vessel” just as none of us are “a mere child of God”. However, do not overplay Mary’s hand. The true import of the incarnation was that God of His own volition “at just the right time while we were still lost in our sin”, Mary included, entered human history choosing Mary to be the theotokos. Yes, she demonstrated beautiful qualities in response to the Angel’s announcement, but that she did so was due first of all to that secret inner working of the Holy Spirit, enabling her to do so.

  32. David Palmer

    By the way, you may be interested in this slugfest – I’ve stayed out of it.

    http://www.sydneyanglicans.net/forums/viewthread/3762/P630/#97424

  33. Lucian

    Mr. Palmer,

    the word brother is one of the most polysemantic and meaning-rich words in the Bible: the stupidity of the Protestant argument insisting mindlessly on one sense and one sense alone was and still is mind-buggling to me. Not to mention the implications, which are simply blasphemous: remember what happened to the greet King Nebuchadnezzar when he re-utilised the holy and sacred vessels of the Temple at a party? Or what happened to the man who touched the Ark for the well-intended purpose of offering it some support, so that it might not fall down from the chart carrying it? Or Ezekiel’s prophecy about the door of the Temple through which no-one else save the Prince ever entered, and which was shut and which remained shut? I know Youse guys like have worship spaces which transform into basket-ball fields afterwards, but in my opinion Y’all should get a grip.

    As for Your attempt at explaining away the mediation of the saints by alluding to the Middle Ages, what can I say save that such petitions are to be found from the first few centuries, and they continue until today in places as untouched by Roman developements such as Eastern Europe, Russia, Nord-Africa, East-Asia, and even India?

    why bring Mary and the saints into play when Jesus our Lord, and Saviour gave so many gracious invitations to pray in His name

    There are two things constantly brought up in the Liturgy when praying to God: His mercy, and the prayers of His holy ones; NEVER ourselves, our faith, our deeds, or any such aberrations. Lucifer fell because of pride, though there was nothing for him to be proud about, since he was not the Image; Christ, though He was the Image, descended because of meekness (Matthew 11:29), emptying Himself (Philippians 2:6-11), and asking us to do the same (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; 10:21; Luke 9:23)

  34. Joshua

    Dear Lucian,

    Sorry, I thought you may have been a convert!

    I’ve just opened up Juniper Carol’s Fundamentals of Mariology (1956), and there he says, inter alia, to summarize, that the Virgin Mary is Christ’s associate in the Redemption: Christ alone is our Redeemer, because of his primary, universal, and self-sufficient causality in the redemptive process, but this doesn’t exclude Mary having a completely secondary and subordinate cooperative role, deriving all its efficacy from the superabundant merits of her Divine Son; obviously Mary could not have cooperated in her own redemption, but she did cooperate in the redemption of others in the above subordinate manner, not that Christ’s merits and satisfactions needed any supplementation whatever (being infinite), but that God was pleased to accept Our Lady’s cooperation according to His plan – for as Adam effectually ruined our race by his sin, yet in this had the effective secondary help of Eve, so it is fitting that Christ, the New Adam, fully redeem us all, and yet have also a close partner in the New Eve, Mary. So in virtue of Christ’s power and subject to Him, she so offered up prayer and entreaty, merit and satisfaction (always by right of Christ’s winning of grace that makes any sacrifice alone supernaturally pleasing to God), and above all begged God to accept the sacrifice of her Son and His on Calvary for us sinners, that God cancelled the sentence of damnation that was against us – not that there was an absolute need for this, since Christ’s offering was all-availing, but that such a close cooperation was supremely fitting.

    This is an example of a late pre-Conciliar theologian’s reasoning about this title, and, he being a Franciscan, it is probably to be on the maximalist side (historically, Dominicans tend to be more minimalist I think, though not one whit less devoted to Christ and His dear Mother).

    I’m not familiar with Scott Hahn’s teachings about these ideas – I would suspect he’s quite reasonable in what he says. Note how easy it is to cause confusion and scandal when talking about mediation and cooperation in redemption? It can sound like a Protestant’s worst nightmare!

  35. matthias

    Lucian ,
    I suggest that your comments perhaps be a more charitable and Christlike.In relation to Protestant churches becomming sporting fields after service,not necessarily true unless they are an Emergent Church perhaps.The Sanctuary is still “off limits” for anything other than worship in a great many denominations. Pity the Greek and Armenian orthodox did not observe that when they came to blows at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre recently and had to be separated by the Israeli Army.
    Mr Palmer I think the comment of ‘spinelessness’regarding Anglicans here in Melbourne should be more directed towards the UCA .The anglicanwebsite that Schutz has linked this dicussion from has documents pertaining to the Anglican position on abortion and the law reform.I think the Denomination that should be tagged ‘spineless’ is more the UCA.
    They are the denomination of disasters-gutless re pro life issues as a whole,aside from the Assembly of Confessing Congregations that did identify with the RCC position.
    Lucian’s comments regarding the method of prayers within the Liturgy-Orthodox I presume-has caused me to reflect upon my own prayer life.

  36. Joshua

    Here’s something I’d originally written as part of an essay some years back; the full essay is available on my blog, at:

    http://psallitesapienter.blogspot.com/2008/11/maria-mediatrix.html

    “In the 1990’s renewed calls were made by some Marian devotees for Our Lady to be defined as Mediatrix of all graces, even as Coredemptrix. The Holy See requested the 1996 Mariological Congress to establish a commission to inquire if this were opportune; it reported in the negative. Since by deliberate act Vatican II avoided a definition of Mary as Mediatrix of all graces, despite calls for this from several hundred bishops prior to the Council, and since there seemed no substantial advance in ecclesiology, theology or exegesis that would support the proposal, it was felt that it remained a quæstio disputata. Our Lady was defined as having a universal motherhood in the order of grace in Lumen gentium, and her maternal mediation has been shown (as in Redemptoris Mater) to be consequent upon this; it was considered that the Magisterium had prudently spoken of all that was necessary in this area. The same view was expressed with regard to the other proposed term “Coredemptrix”, which the Magisterium had avoided in all its major pronouncements for 50 years, preferring instead the more uncontroversial term “cooperator in the work of salvation”. While the proposed terms of course can be understood in conformity with the faith, they would occasion disquiet and possible misunderstanding, particularly among the separated brethren. The Holy See, having received this report, has so far taken no action on the requests for the use of the two controverted terms, and it appears that none is likely.”

  37. Lucian

    Yes, but I’m not a Protestant, and when I first read their words of complaint I just took it as simply a continuation of their unability or handicap in comprehending these things. Until I listened to Hahn. His discourse began OK, and it continued relatively all right … UNTIL! 😐 See here for more:

    airmaria.com/tag/conference

  38. David Palmer

    My apologies for intruding.

    This is clearly a blogsite where some at least do not appreciate a Protestant appearing.

    The Church I attend was built in the 1870’s has stain glass windows, hardly a sports stadium!

  39. Athanasius

    I notice that Chris had a very strong reaction to my concerns about the impact of liberal modernity on the Orthodox churches. I certainly didn’t mean to sound patronising. Nor did I comment at all on the heroic resistance of Orthodox churches to communism, nor are any of us here unaware of the shared assumptions of liberal modernity and Marxism. Therefore the strength of the reaction seems perplexing.

    Nevertheless, I stand by my comment. Liberal modernity is a much more insidious enemy than Marxism. At least under communism, you generally know who your enemies are. In liberal modernity (or rather post-modernity) you are your own enemy, as you unconsciously adopt the prevailing relativism and utilitarianism (contradictory though they be).

    This is a different challenge, one that attacks the roots rather than the branches of faith. I don’t doubt that the Orthodox have resources to deploy against it (though I am not as sanguine as Chris about the extent of prayer and liturgical practice in the East, though it’s better than the West). Perhaps a good test case for the future would be the Greek Orthodox Church, which is undergoing trials at the moment, and is increasingly marginalised.

    Of course, the Orthodox can also learn from Catholic mistakes in the wake of Vatican II (I am thinking of Tracey Rowland’s thesis that VII lacked a critical approach to modernity). But if they want to learn these lessons, it’s West that they had better look, not just to the problems but also to the response of Peter. As I said, the Petrine Office doesn’t have to be recognised to be exercised – or even exploited.

  40. Lucian

    David,

    don’t go, I’m not done whipping You yet. Stay here and suffer for Your beliefs, and quit being such a drama-queen. You don’t turn Your precious 1870 church building into a disco or a stadium, but You’re willing to do that with our Lady’s body, who is the Temple of God par excellence, she of whom the Temple itself (not to mention Your 140 year old church) is but a type, whereas she is their fulfillment.

  41. matthias

    Sorry Lucian but your comments give Mary the glory that should rightfully belong to Christ.

  42. eulogos

    Is the David Palmer commenting here the David of whom Herr Schultz was speaking in the post? I wouldn’t like to think we had alienated him. However one does have to expect to run into all sorts of comments on blogs including people form whom one is a heretic or a philistine, no matter from which traditions point of view one is commenting.

    I wanted to suggest that the Protestants Herr Schultz was describing who basically like everything about the Pope except his Catholicism, might consider asking themselves whether a fundamentally flawed theology would produce such an admirable set of beliefs on the issues of the day.

    Susan Peterson

  43. Joshua

    Lucian,

    I just don’t have the time to listen to streaming audio – is there some text I could read of Hahn’s that would cover these issues?

    Also, I didn’t quite understand what you said above referring to Our Lady’s body – could you explain?

  44. Joshua

    Also, Lucian, remember that in theology one can quite reasonably expect a diversity of opinions – until one side or another goes too far and is condemned for heresy, the cut and thrust of theological debate goes on… Franciscans, especially those of the Immaculate, are extremely devoted to Our Lady and love to sing her praises, and I’m glad they do – but that doesn’t mean that their legitimate theological speculations are to be equated with the solemn Magisterium of the Catholic Church. See my own self-quotation above!

  45. Louise

    It is when the evil seems benign, when it seems loving and caring, when it because the accepted mores of society that it does the greatest damage to the Church.

    So true, David. And why I hate secularism so much.

  46. Louise

    Where the hell is PE? Says he’s going to Rant All Night and then disappears!

    Piker!

  47. Past Elder

    What, and interrupt such a magnificent display of the unity of witness and faith coming from churches conserved by the unbroken apostolic witness of their bishops?

    Did I come here to settle Mariology?

    Why don’t you let Mary settle your Mariology and listen to her — do whatever he tells you.

    That’s how to honour her, since you asked.

  48. Lucian

    Josh,

    sorry, I don’t; and the streams don’t work either. But the idea was that since she was conceived immaculately AND suffered together with Christ at Golgota, she was able to unite her own suffering with that of Christ in an atoning Anselmian manner. (Luke 2:35; Stabat Mater Dolorosa)

    And yes, I’m fully aware that neither Newman’s “Ecclesia semper evoluanda”, nor Coredemptrix, are officially and authoritatively promulgated by the Vatican… yet! But given the historical graphic of the situation, I wouldn’t be surprised if they will eventually, whether by Ratzinger himself (which I frankly doubt, given his orthodoxy and traditionalism), or by a future Pope.

  49. Past Elder

    Stabat Mater? Stabat Mater? Bring it on.

    Fac ut ardeat cor meum
    in amando Christum Deum
    ut sibi complaceam.

    Unto Christ with pure emotion,
    Raise my contrite heart’s devotion,
    Love to read in every wound.

    Sancta Mater istud agas
    crucifixi fige plagas
    cordi meo valide.

    Those five wounds on Jesus smitten,
    Mother! in my heart be written,
    Deep as in thine own they be.

    ….

    Fac me plagis vulnerari
    Fac me Cruce inebriari
    et cruore Filii.

    May His wounds transfix me wholly,
    May His Cross and Life Blood holy,
    Ebriate my heart and mind.

    Hey, I just got an idea for a multimedia devotion. Howzabout this — let’s put images of the central acts of Jesus’ Passion all around the walls of the church, stop at each one for prayer and meditation on it, and sing a bit of this sequence as we go.

  50. Joshua

    It is a nice hymn, isn’t it, PE!

    I assume that the Stations of the Cross are not per se bad from a Lutheran POV (as long as one isn’t so literal-minded as to object to a few of the Stations, e.g. the 2nd Fall, not being mentioned verbatim in the Gospels).

    ******

    Impious thought of the day:

    At least there aren’t any Catholics nutty enough to ask that Our Lady be declared Archaeopteryx.

  51. Past Elder

    Well I dunno Josh — visual aids in the church, people moving around, not in the sanctuary, sounds too undignified, too trendy and emerging church like, to ever catch on in the church, dontcha think?

  52. Tony Bartel

    David, you said that there is disunity among the Orthodox.

    However, I would have to say from my experience there is a far greater unity in the Orthodox Church than in any other.

    Yes I have experienced the various ethnic groups having a go at each other. I also know that the various national hierarchies have their disputes.

    Nevertheless underneath these squabbles lies a unity more profound than many realise – a unity in worship and a unity in faith.

    When a person attends the Divine Liturgy, they know what the worship will be like. While there are a few small ethnic peculiarities and the language may vary, by and large the Liturgy is the Liturgy and it is celebrated as it is. Even when a different rite is used – such as the Western Rite – the Liturgy is celebrated as it is.

    My experience of Western Christianity is very different – the label above the door is no guarantee that the liturgical rites will be celebrated as the Church intends them. For example, my wife has been to a Roman Catholic “Mass” in which there was no reading from Scripture and no Eucharistic Prayer (just a little chat about what Jesus did as the last supper).

    This is not to mention the various number of services, Roman and otherwise, that I have attended and been asked to sing hymns which are either little ditties about me and Jesus or else undermine the teaching of the faith.

    Now I know that these are abuses and in no way represent what the western churches believe or teach. But my point is that such abuses simply do not occur in the Orthodox Church.

    If Proper of Aquitaine is right, as the Orthodox would no doubt say that he is, then the law of prayer determines the law of belief. We are how we pray. The unity of the Orthodox Church, in particular her doctrinal unity, rests upon her unity of prayer.

    By this I do not means that the Rite must be the same (although in the Orthodox Church the right is almost universally the Byzantine Rite). Instead, it is that the very meaning of Orthodox is “right glory” and because the Orthodox Church gives right glory in her liturgies she gives right glory in her belief.

    So I would have to respectfully disagree with you David and say that I have experienced far more unity in the Orthodox Church than I have ever known or seen in the West.

  53. Lucian

    Convert from Catholicism to Orthodoxy FINALLY admits the TRUE (carnal) reasons for (cowardly) deserting the former and joining the later!!! Hear it all here!

  54. Tony Bartel

    Lucian,

    I listened to the podcast and I heard one of the best definitions of the permanent diaconate at the end.

    At the start I heard his mother’s reasons for leaving the Roman Catholic Church, which had to do with birth control. I presume that you would not hold the deacon responsible in a real sense for this as he was still a boy at the time.

    The good deacon’s real break with the Roman Catholic Church came when he was a teenager, when he became an evangelical Christian. Perhaps the true and carnal reason you refer to for his conversion away from Rome was the fact that protestant youth camps were more fun than Roman Catholic ones.

    In any case, he ended up as one of the evangelicals who became Orthodox after searching for the Church of the Fathers. There is a book by Peter Gilchrist, “Becoming Orthodox: A journey to the Ancient Christian Faith” which is a fascinating account of their journey.

    I came away from the podcast with the sense of hearing a man who admits his own shortcomings and lack of theological education but has a vocation to the diaconate and serves God faithfully where has been placed.

  55. Louise

    Did I come here to settle Mariology?

    I just thought you were going to Rant All Night. Since when did you ever stick on topic?

  56. Schütz

    Tony, say what you like about Orthodox unity, but I have never known a case where a Catholic bishop has walked out of an ecumenical meeting and refused to take part because another Catholic bishop was present.

    That is what happened in the most recent Catholic-Orthodox dialogue – the Russians refused to take part – not because of a disagreement with Rome, but because of objection to the presence of a representative of a fellow Orthodox Church.

    Unity?

  57. Schütz

    Lucian said…

    our Lady…is the Temple of God par excellence, she of whom the Temple itself…is but a type

    Matthias objected…
    Sorry Lucian but your comments give Mary the glory that should rightfully belong to Christ.

    I adjudicate:

    Matthias is correct. Lucian goes to far. Mary is the Ark. Jesus is the Temple that contains the Ark and simultaneously he is the one whom the Ark contains.

    Neat, isn’t it?

    Nevertheless, we forgive Lucian his enthusiasm. Just shows Scott Hahn is not the only one who can err in his love for Our Lady.

  58. Past Elder

    “Rant All Night” was the topic? Do you guys EVER have fun?

    Actually, it was a joke on myself. The first word, rant, was to take what my postings are generally considered over here as self-satire. The title itself was to joke on not only the time difference between the US ans Oz, but also that I tend to post at all kinds of hours, which even other US bloggers have mentioned. Also it was a play on a former USA cable network late night movie show, hosted by the magnificent and incomparable Rhonda Shear, Up All Night.

    A word-dance. I’d say a Nietzschean word dance, but that would involve bringing up yet more fun based on Nietzsche, the only philosopher worth reading, so I won’t. Now that is itself a word dance, which I got from Cicero, who used to bring things up by talking about what he wasn’t going to bring up all the time back in the Senate in the good old days when pontifex maximus was pontifex maximus.

    Judas, I hope you guys didn’t run off that nice Calvinist guy. Hell, I agree with the Calvinists less than with you, but it would be nice for a strong Reformed voice to be here instead of just Lutherans, let alone a Lutheran not really here to be Lutheran but to say what you have isn’t really Catholic.

    Although, if he does ever come back, he’ll probably get the usual “You’ll be Catholic once you understand, everybody wants to be Catholic but some don’t know it yet” thing, the old Borg “Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated” all prettied up.

    What’s wrong with Lucian? Rock on.

  59. Lucian

    There is a book by Peter Gilchrist, “Becoming Orthodox: A journey to the Ancient Christian Faith”

    Uhm, I think it’s Peter Gilquist. (As I see, Pentecostals aren’t the only ones idolizing their c/Charismatic leaders…) :-\

    the old Borg “Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated”

    And why do You think that these two Orthodox guys over here, Photios Jones and Perry Robinson, have Star Trek characters as their avatars? :-\ Hmmm? I mean, let’s face it, the [Byzantine] Empire strikes back

    Schutz,

    both metaphors (Ark & Temple) work for both Christ and His mother.

  60. Past Elder

    The [Byzantine] Empire Strikes Back! Love it! Rock on!

  61. Lucian

    What’s wrong with Lucian? Rock on.

    Love it! Rock on!

    Is the shell or residue of Your former Roman Catholic self trying to sub-consciously communicate something to me here, P.E.? 😀

  62. Tony Bartel

    David,

    Yes, the delegates from the Russian Orthodox Church did walk out of the dialogue, because it has a profound disagreement with the Ecumenical Patriarchate concerning the Church in Estonia.

    What I was trying to say is that disunity at this level does not really matter too much. These problems will work themselves out without having any great impact on the lives of faithful Orthodox Christians – probably even in Estonia.

    What is far more destructive is the type of disunity which infects so many of the western churches, where every parish has their own doctrinal and liturgical standards. This disunity has a profound impact on the soul and therefore should be of far greater concern.

    So I guess you really have to pick your poison.

  63. Past Elder

    Well, Lucian, the second post you quote was to avoid misunderstanding of the first. English is really an imprecise language, but it’s the one everyone here speaks.

    “What’s wrong with Lucian” can be taken two different ways: I see something wrong with Lucian and I’m wondering what it is; you see something wrong with Lucisn and I don’t so I’m wondering what you saw.

    I don’t think our fellowship is founded on my former church so much as our shared present indentity as commenters here regularly characterised as semi-intelligible to not at all, but you make perfect sense to me. Maybe I’m really Romanian and got someone else’s birth certificate by mistake.

    And right on Tony, too!

  64. Lucian

    P.E.,

    what I meant was: does “Rock on!” have some sort of Petrine/Mathean (16:18) catch to it, coming from the abysmal depths of Your own sub-conscious, like an awakened reflex of Your former identity? :-\ 😀 😉

  65. Joshua

    Tony’s point, David, is really very much to the point – it is an absolute scandal, and a danger to souls, to have the present situation in Catholic parishes where every sort of doctrinal and liturgical standard can be found depending on what the parish priest does or doesn’t do… it really does remind me in a sick way of the old Catholic jibe that each Protestant (pastor/whatever) is his own Pope.

    PE, your own viewpoint largely derives from your rightful horror at this festering heterodoxy – it certainly does seem that for the past 40 years, anything goes – except for traditionalists, who have endured decades of persecution (only now ending) for the simple right to worship God and hear right doctrine taught about Him in accordance with the ways of their forefathers.

    This all reminds me of one of the condemned Jansenist heresies or opinions, that important elements of the Faith had become obscured in teaching down the ages – they thought that the strict near-Calvinist notions they held were truly those of St Augustine, and that, while never ruled out, they had become hidden from the knowledge of many in the Church.

    One almost wonders if this is the case today.

    Yes, I do recognize that if one puts in the effort one can learn the holy teachings of the Catholic Faith in true continuity (contra PE), and one can find parishes where God is worshipped in a pious and reverent manner according to the liturgical books prescribed; converts – such as David and myself – tend to fall into the first category, those who’ve taken the time to sound out what the Church teaches, and increasingly those of the younger generations who rediscover their faith do the same, because their earlier instruction in the Faith was so poor as to be nugatory; and many others as well as myself fall into the second category, those who have discovered the beauty and doctrinal richness of the Traditional Latin Mass. Recent groups of seminarians and young priests likewise fall into both categories, of those rediscovering the doctrine and liturgy of the Church.

    But for many in the parishes, as opposed to bishops and priests, Rome seems alien and what they have served up is a confused and unnourishing diet, liturgically and doctrinally. The results are evident. Worse still, I do fear that many of these people, when brought face to face with zealous young priests and people, are not reenergized as one would hope, but actually put off or repulsed.

    As one bishop put it to me, back some decades ago too many Catholics were in the position of a bushwalker who notices that the track he’s following is narrowing and getting harder to see – they plunged ahead irregardless, whereas in such a case the prudent thing to do is to stop and perhaps retrace one’s steps, to check that one hasn’t deviated from the main track (which is the right path to one’s goal) and followed a kangaroo track instead (which could lead anywhere or nowhere).

    I do believe that priests, parishes and people will get back on track; but perhaps two generations and countless souls will have been lost before the Church restores herself by the grace of Christ, and by renewed fidelity to Him. As the Pope said while he was still a Cardinal, the Church of the future will be smaller, but purer and more fervent.

  66. Lucian

    … an ecumenical meeting … That is what happened in the most recent Catholic-Orthodox dialogue …

    Yeah, … right … `bout that

  67. Schütz

    I do believe that priests, parishes and people will get back on track; but perhaps two generations and countless souls will have been lost before the Church restores herself by the grace of Christ, and by renewed fidelity to Him.

    Yes, I don’t want to down play this aspect of things, Josh and Tony (aka “Lopez”, as we used to call him). After all, it was exactly this lack of unity in worship that scandalised me as a Lutheran.

    There are all kinds of ways you can take your unity.

    1) Unity in Worship.

    This was the classic Anglican way. Believe what you like, as long as you use the Book of Common Prayer. Still today, Anglican priests sign a piece of paper at their induction saying they will only use authorised liturgical rites. Of course, all that has now changed, but it was because the “anything goes” approach to doctrine finally undid the uniform worship.

    2) Unity in Doctrine.

    The defacto Lutheran approach. Unity in Doctrine is essential, but matters of liturgy are adiaphora. This doesn’t work any better than the Anglican approach, because heterodox forms of liturgy are a fertile seed-bed for heterodox doctrines.

    3) Unity in Doctrine and Worship.

    This is, of course, the paradigm of both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The idea is that the whole Church is One in Faith and One in the Liturgy. But of course human reality comes into it. And so, as Tony (Lopez) point out, you end up with a choice between two sorts of failure to live up to the ideal of Christian unity. A lack of Charity, or a lack of Discipline (to call both kinds of disunity currently manifesting themselves in the Orthodox and Catholic worlds respectively by what they actually are).

    It is not a happy choice to have to make. But at least what I see in the Catholic Church can truthfully be called a lack of Discipline (on the part of the bishops) and a lack of Obedience (on the part of priests and theologians). The Catholic Church HAS unified liturgy and it HAS firm doctrinal standards. When these are ignored the error and sin is with the individual committing it, not with the Church as a whole. Thus, such error can be rectified by “purification”. And in this great work of purification our dear Papa Benny, now gloriously reigning, is leading the way.

  68. Past Elder

    Ah Lucian, I get so accustomed to the verbal arthritis here that I missed it entirely! Good one! Actually David pulled off a fairly good one lately, parodying my “Nietsche, the only philosopher worth reading” as “Past Elder, the only commenter worth reading”.

    Joshua, no, none of what I say derives from horror at the festering heterodoxy. The horror is at the “orthodoxy” in the Documents of Vatican II that if you are right will eventually win out. That “Catholicism” is as removed from Catholicism as the “spirit of Vatican II” stuff. Both Vatican II and its “spirit” are liberal dissent from Catholicism.

    Or as I like to put it, the only thing worse than bad novus ordo is good novus ordo. To do the real thing under the Motu is to dishonour the real thing completely since the Motu requires accepting the novus ordo as equally valid, which if it were, there would be no need to retain anything else.

  69. Joshua

    As I’ve said before, the Novus Ordo is a valid liturgy – it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is valid and orthodox. I have looked deeply into this! I would have very grave reasons to reject Catholicism if it did appear invalid!!!

    Ditto for Vatican II – I’ve read the documents, note that the reigning Pope approved its documents and the vast majority of the world’s bishops voted in favour of them, and, knowing that these men were orthodox, and given my own reading of these works and of good theology (much of it preconciliar), again I cannot see it as heterodox or opposed to the Church’s solemn teachings prior to the Council.

    The lack of discipline and obedience is the basic problem, as David has put it above.

    PE, I just don’t accept your rusted-on position that the Council et al. betrayed the Church prior to it, and that therefore the Church pre, mid, and post must be false.

    We will, as they say, agree to differ.

    And the safe conduct pass still stands, and I promise not to have you burnt for heresy while that safe-conduct stands…

  70. Past Elder

    Hell Joshua, half of the stinking Communio crowd was under censure by the RCC before the palace coup of Vatican II, likewise the seminal theologians that went into the Documents. And the result couldn’t be more clear in the writings of later converts like the late Neuhaus.

  71. Joshua

    Don’t be stupid, PE, everyone knows that the late 1950’s rather overplayed fear of heresy, to the extent that theologians who were sentire-ing cum Ecclesia were treated quite shabbily. Those suspected, then rehabilitated had nothing in common with the real heretics that cropped up later!

    Which reminds me of one of the best dead-pan jokes I ever heard told: a very learned and very orthodox Jesuit was asked by me, Was Rahner a heretic? – and the Jesuit responded, He never _denied_ a doctrine of the Faith. (I wish I could represent in writing the exact intonation of “denied”, LOL!)

    And how mad to attack the Communio crowd, let alone have the bad taste and lack of good manners to speak ill of the recently departed Fr Neuhaus. No wonder your country deserves its latest pseudo-Messiah.

  72. Louise

    Do you guys EVER have fun?

    Only when you’re not around, PE.

    btw, what makes you think I didn’t get your little joke against yourself? I thought it was rather sweet (self-deprecating humour has that effect on me).

    Anyway, Rant All Night (or not) as you choose…

  73. Past Elder

    No-one is speaking ill of Neuhaus. His writings are not the man. About the man I have nothing to say. The positions taken in the writings are the issue, and it could not be clearer from things like “Catholic Moment” or “How I Became The Catholic I Was” that the religion to which he fell victim is based upon a thorough caricature of anything before Vatican II and a joy that it is overthrown. How ironic that this religion speaks of a reform of a reform, decries a false “spirit” of Vatican II and the real thing simultaneous in the Church, when it itself is based upon a mistake of a “spirit” of Trent, an excess which existed no less than the excesses now, for Trent itself.

    But I suppose if one somehow connects the next president of the US with all this, one may miss that to attack a position is not a personal attack on the man who holds it.

    Let me locate it a little more exactly, in my case. Urs von Balthasar, banned from teaching. de Lubac, forbidden to publish. (For our Protestant friends, this means only in a Catholic context; they are welcome to their views, what they may not do is teach or publish them under the name Catholic or in a position to which the Catholic Church has appointed them.) Bouyer, whose “Decomposition of Catholicism” is not even restrained in its glee over the death of what we held to be the real Reformation. On and on.

    All of it liberal dissent from Catholicism, only differing in how far and by what means.

    Overplayed, shabby treatment — nothing compared to th Reign of Terror unleashed by these power mad revolutionaries now in power, shouting their churchy version of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity while joyfully chopping off the heads of anyone or anything who stood in their way.

    Nor were these men a matter of just academics for me, but living realities. Not a matter of the endless round of chattering academics, must read this, have you read that, this says that about this, that says this about that, as Nietzsche, the only philosopher worth reading, so well described, they themselves no longer thing, they only think about what others have thought. I was taught, once the Revolution was afoot, by men in these same circles, colleagues and friends all, and no I don’t mean just Fr Godfrey.

    For me, it was 1972/3 academic year, once out of the toxic environment that is anything called “Catholic education”. I determined to read all of the documents, read the novus ordo in Latin — which is when the full horror of what had happened became crystal clear. The Church was simply gone.

  74. Joshua

    So you would say that things went wrong at Trent?

    I grant you that von B. and de L. have their downsides, but I don’t believe them to be heretics – well, maybe what von B. wrote about hoping that no-one’s in hell is a bit dubious, since one assumes that unfortunately (but most justly) many are…

    I’ve always liked Bouyer, God rest him; yes, he criticised the state of liturgy prior to the Council (it must be said, with reasoned arguments), but he certainly hated the deluge that followed.

    My point is that these fellows and their fellow proponents of ressourcement were not I believe heretics, and they were treated poorly and with too much suspicion – whereas the real heretics, like that dreadful charlatan de Chardin (no good at science, no good at religion either, but a la Velikovsky mixed them all together and fooled everyone), suffered almost less than they did, rather than getting the excommunication he deserved, the wretch!

    I still don’t get why the Novus Ordo to you appears invalid – it’s still got the Roman Canon for Pete’s sake, and there is still abundant expression of correct doctrine about the Mass; its not my idea of perfect worship, but it’ll do.

    One thing I often regret is that once one becomes keen on the Trad. Mass, one can offend and scandalize the many pious Catholics who attend the N.O. (done well) and there worship God and receive Him in Holy Communion devoutly, and find it upsetting to hear the way of Mass criticized.

  75. Past Elder

    Now as a Lutheran I have no problem with pious post-conciliar Catholics at a well done novus ordo worshipping God and receiving Communion devoutly.

    It’s a nice start. Maybe in a few hundred more years the RCC will get the rest of the picture.

    It’s as a Catholic, when I was still trying to be, that the novus ordo is such a clear standing on its head of Catholic worship.

    Btw, now as a Lutheran I don’t have a problem with Catholics at a “Tridentine Rite” mass worshipping God and devoutly receiving Communion either.

    Maybe in a few hundred more years … well, you know.

  76. Joshua

    PE, I just can’t understand you!

    God bless.

  77. Louise

    It’s as a Catholic, when I was still trying to be, that the novus ordo is such a clear standing on its head of Catholic worship.

    Why? My spiritual director says there’s not much difference between the NO in Latin and the Tridentine Mass.

    I have not looked into it deeply, myself, but I’m just wondering if you can tell me what some of these disastrous changes were?

  78. Past Elder

    I assume he means the “Roman Canon” or EP1 of the novus ordo, since the other three EPs are not even there, being entirely new, though cut and pasted from early material here and there.

    The links on the sidebar of my blog are a good place to start — the “For Tiber Swimmers” element.

    There are more exhaustive studies, but these are quite good, and certainly better than I can do, especially in a combox.

  79. orrologion

    …say what you like about Orthodox unity, but I have never known a case where a Catholic bishop has walked out of an ecumenical meeting and refused to take part because another Catholic bishop was present.

    This situation is more similar to the interactions of the old local churches of the West when there was less centralization, e.g., Carthage and North Africa relative to Rome. In olden days one would see the same kind of ecclesiastical wrangling and maneuvering as is seen between Constantinople and Moscow regarding Estonia, Ukraine, North America, etc. While the Russian delegation left that meeting, the Patriarch of Constantinople was given the first seat when he arrived in Moscow for the funeral of and Liturgy for Vl. Alexey II. Unity where it counts.