Wednesday, March 04, 2009

An email from a Reader

I received the following email from a reader who (for some reason) finds his computer does not let him communicate with this blog (perhaps it is a dissenting computer...?). He gave me permission to stick it up here for your comment:
Hi David,

I have been reading some of the posts on your blog and came to a realisation about the theological position of Past Elder.

Prior to the council there were parts of the Church, and this was a particluar problem in America, which didn't sufficently differentiate between the teachings of the Church and the scholastic theology that sought to explain them. The teachings of the Church were not and are not based on the thoughts of St. Thomas, however mighty those thoughts may have been, nor on the thoughts of any other theologian.

To be clear, unlike the situation in the Anglican Church, theologians as theologians have NO teaching authority within the Catholic Church. No theological explaination, however clear or well accepted, becomes part of the teaching of the Church until it is annunciated by the proper teaching authority - the bishops and the Holy Father in communion - and then only to the extent proper to the manner in which it was annunciated: a favorable comment in a pastoral encyclical doesn't really count as an inclusion in the body of faith.

However, scolastic, and particularly Thomistic, theology was so clear and the explainations were so complete that an understandable confusion arose between these wonderful explainations offered by the Church and the actual teachings of the Church. The problem was that all theology is human thought and thus limited. By the 60s it was clear that scolastic theology has ossified into an intellectual straightjacket that could no longer connect with the ordinary experience of christians or express the mystery which is Christ and His Church.

Vatican II changed not one jot of church teaching but updated and revised whole reams of theological explaination. To those raised in the conservative, intellectually rigerous and Thomistic schools of the US this must have seemed like a revolution.

I think it is to this that PE is referring. The post concicular church was no longer exclusively scholastic in its theology. Actually it never was exclusively. The Augustinians had never gone away and the Franciscan School of Bonaventure was another major way of looking at things while both the Benedictines and Carthusians kept their own style.

This then is the problem: if you identify the teachings of the Church with the scholastic explanations then the Church changed at Vatican II and is not the same body. If, however, you see the theology as secondary to the teaching then the church has changed not at all in its fundamentals - even though the liturgical reforms were not well handled.


At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 10:48:00 am , Blogger eulogos said...

It is "rigorous" and "conciliar".

I think most of this comment is true...or this comment is mostly true. But it also makes me nervous. The reason it makes me nervous is that it is an explanation which could be, and I think has been, used condescendingly to dismiss people who were objecting to statements and practices which really were NOT consistent with the teaching of the Church. I also don't like the words "connect with the ordinary experience of Christians." Those words have been used all too often to justify dissent. The teaching of Humanae Vitae is said not to "connect with the experience of Christians regarding the nature of marital sexuality," for instance.
Why, really, should the ordinary experience of Christians be any different now than at some other period, with regard to basic truths? Furthermore, are we going to put "experience" up there with Scripture, Tradition, and Natural Law as a souce of doctrine?

I haven't heard many scholastic formulations from Past Elder.
He seems to me to be more like those Orthodox folks who don't believe in development of doctrine, and who furthermore deny that Orthodoxy ever developed at all, at least, past the time of the 7th Ecumenical council. He isn't comfortable with some real developments in doctrine which are more than changes in what sort of verbal formulation is used to describe the doctrines. He may also, like Orthodox traditionalists, feel that certain liturgical practices and certain cultural aspects of pre VII Catholicism, were part of "The Tradition" when perhaps they were not so essential as they seemed.
This sort of traditionalism has served Orthodoxy well in many ways. But someone whose tradition was the Catholic tradition as embodied in the preVII church, really doesn't have a Church to be traditional about any more. He can belong to the SSPX, but it is hard to pretend that that is The Church. Given his presuppositions, it is really more logical to decide that The Catholic Church never was the Catholic Church. If I were to decide that, I would become Orthodox as soon as they would let me in. I guess Past Elder decided that it wasn't The Church, even pre 1054, or that there wasn't ever a Church in that sense.

I don't think scholasticism per se is the issue. Furthermore I think that if a scholastic formulation of something was a good formulation, it is still true, and if it doesn't express people's "ordinary experience" they have a problem either of the intellect or of the will.

I do think that there are parts of our patristic tradition which didn't make it into scholastic formulation, and that some parts of Vatican II, as written, did attempt to bring some of that tradition back to life for Catholics. I hope this will still bear fruit. It is almost as if we have to start over, and re-do the years after the council, and learn for the first time what is there, rather than what certain folks wanted to have there and decided to tell us was there even though it wasn't.

Susan Peterson

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 10:56:00 am , Blogger Landon DePasquale said...

I think much of what your reader points out is true, though there are a couple gaps.

If we take a view like transubstantiation, a Thomistic conception that the church has included into the body of faith, it becomes clear that this reader's point is more difficult to make.

By accepting transubstantiation into the body of faith, the church has also accepted St. Thomas' metaphysical system upon which that tenet is based. One cannot believe in transubstantiation without accepting St. Thomas' distinctions of substance, matter, accidents, etc...

Thus, while the church has never formally accepted the Thomistic metaphysic as THE one and only way to think as a Catholic Christian, it certainly has embraced the metaphysic foundational to it, or at the very least, the parts that are essential to it.

This may also be seen with the Council of Chalcedon's dogmatic definition of the two natures of Christ. Accepting this tenet of faith: Christ has two natures, also requires accepting the essential pieces of the metaphysical system that allows for that particular concept to have meaning (the view of the human, the body, the soul, etc...)

While I agree that the teaching of St. Thomas is not the teaching of the Church, it is not so easy to draw such a sharp distinction between those views the Church has baptized (excuse the metaphor) and the foundational system that makes those views.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 11:09:00 am , Blogger Kiran said...

This is very good, David. I agree, but I would add a caveat. It is about (and this is part of the De Lubac point) that quite a lot of the scholastic thought prior to the Council was ossified in such a way as to be untrue to Thomas himself. There is a famous footnote that Gilson wrote to Thomist Realism and the Critique of Knowledge that traces one particular position from the 20th century all the way back to an 18th century Cartesian. The classic example of this was the post-Renaissance theory of human rights, espoused by Jacques Maritain.

Now, I don't think the Council itself was a positive thing. As I have said before, I wish it simply hadn't happened, like the Holy Week Reforms of Pius XII, or the breviary reform of St. Pius X. It created more problems than it solved. That said, like both of these, there was a positive element to the Council as well as some kind of necessity and some problems to which solutions needed to be found.

I think the crucial thing (and I might be biased, because I am myself a historian) was that the end of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth saw a great deal of historical research, and particular research into medieval and patristic intellectual history, as well as history of mores and rites. This meant that it was no longer tenable to hold certain ideas as patristic or Thomistic, or that Bonaventure and Thomas basically agreed. The work of De Lubac and Gilson in particular tended to make this increasingly and in some cases embarrasingly obvious.

That said, a lot of post-Tridentine scholasticism had something positive to offer, which was also discarded in the rush to move on. Garrigou-Lagrange and Gilson, for instance were correspondents and friends. Likewise, Garrigou was Chenu's teacher, and per The Sacred Monster of Thomism, Garrigou wanted Chenu to be his annointed successor until the forties. Before the Council, it was possible for such friendships to exist, and for syntheses and correspondences to exist between quite disparate "camps." The Council created or fostered divisions between those "camps." Thus after the Council, one was either de Lubacian or thought that Garrigou was all that there was to Thomism. This led to distortions to the thought of the moderni as well. Thus, de Lubac gave way to Balthasar, and Chenu and Congar to Schweeetbix.

preties: things that keep us back

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 11:37:00 am , Anonymous matthias said...

"Theologians as theologians have no teaching authority within the catholic church"
I like that.That has been the problem with some Protestants,in that becasue someone has a BTheol or BDiv or DD that they are all knowing and have authority,nad have led their denominations astray from the Gospel.

syntax: the wages of sin besides death

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 3:34:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Well I'll be died, go to hell.

Wrote a doctoral dissertation on Boethius' model for the organisation of knowledge and missed the Scholastics.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 4:46:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

de Lubac in 1946 was forbidden to publish by the Catholic Church. de Lubac was a peritus at the Council. He was made a cardinal by JPII.

Chenu's book Le Saulchoir was put on the Index of Forbidden Books by Pius XII. Chenu was a peritus at the Council.

Urs von Balthasar in 1950 was banned from teaching by the Catholic Church. JPII named him a cardinal.

Congar wss banned from teaching or publishing by the Catholic Church. After the Council, JPII, greatly influenced by him, made him a cardinal.

All of them, along with Rahner, Kueng, Schillebeeckx, Bouyer, Gilson, and Danielou, were the Nouvelle Theologie, warned against by Pius XII in Humani generis.

Chenu and Congar, along with Rahner, Schillebeeckx and Kueng, were part of the founding of Concilium. Urs von Balthasar and de Lubac, along with Bouyer, Walter Kasper and Joseph Ratzinger, were part of the founding of Communio.

Tweedle dum and tweedle dee. Different points on the same spectrum, liberal dissent from Catholicism.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 7:01:00 pm , Blogger Fraser Pearce said...

'..a reader who (for some reason) finds his computer does not let him communicate with this blog '

I think it's the middle word of your title that may cause problems. Seriously.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 9:35:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, I think you're right, Fraser.

At Wednesday, March 04, 2009 11:22:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, I am going to try from another computer with different firewall settings. If you read this then your e-mailing reader has succeded in leaving a comment. If you consider who was in charge of the Holy Office prior to the council, I think PE's list has just demonstrated the truth of my substantial observation. I certainly agree that Thomistic thought still has much to offer the Church and that a lot of the difficulty with late scholastic theology could have been avoided if Thomas himself had still been around. Although the teaching of the Church uses transsubstantiation as a description of its belief in the real presence, this can not really be taken as evidence that it has brought all of Thomas'metaphysics into its teaching. It is important to be clear about what is teaching, what is explaination and what is theological opinion. Common experience can, of course, be used to justify all sorts of things but in the early 20th century the faithful people of God (a group which hopefully includes the bishops!) were doing what late scholastic theology taught that they could not do - they experienced the saving grace of God in the ordinary events of their lives. Something had to change.


At Thursday, March 05, 2009 12:48:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Yep, now that they've placed the Angelic Doctor on a shelf we can get down to the business of what the RC REALLY teaches.

As defined by the community, of course. That's why we now have breakaway parishes such as Corpus Christi in Rochester, New York (hey, Father Peter Kennedy can use them as a model!)

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 1:01:00 am , Blogger Landon DePasquale said...


While I agree that accepting transubstantiation does not mean the church has accepted, wholesale, Thomistic metaphysics, it has, at the very least, accepted the metaphysics necessary for transubstantiation to have any meaning (or 'work'). One certainly could not have transubstantiation under a Cartesian metaphysic, or a Kantian metaphysic (and certainly not under Bishop Barkley's strange thought system that passed for a metaphysic).

Our views of the Trinity, the dual natures of Christ, the Immaculate Conception, and the procession of the Holy Spirit all require a particular metaphysical foundation as well, one the Church has never mandated.

Ultimately, the explanation of how Christ is present must, at the very least, accept a: substance/essence; matter/form; accidents/essence distinction. I do not think it would be hard to extrapolate back, the views necessary for such distinctions. Thus, anyone who accepted transubstantiation would accept those distinctions since they are essential to the explanation. She would also, then, most probably (but not necessarily) accept those views (the metaphysic) which allows St. Thomas to make those distinctions.

Again, this does not mean a wholesale acceptance of the Thomistic metaphysic, but I think it entails accepting more of that metaphysic than your first post implied.

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 2:11:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

God bless me sideways, Scholasticism itself was suspect when it first appeared, using Aristotelian thought rather than the Platonism of the Fathers.

For that matter, the same could be said of Platonism at an earlier date. Indeed, many of the classic rejections of Christianity are variations on the theme that Christianity has very little to do with Jesus and very much to do with the Fathers reworking Jesus according to Platonic dualistic thought. Nietzsche, the only philosopher worth reading, is far and away the best of these, not only in demolishing "Christianity" as Platonism for the people but in thinking through the consequences to a resurrection of the classic Greek values as expressed in the epics and tragedies, all of which came before the era of classic Greek philosophy and represent the decay of real life into thought, much as "Christianity" represents the decay of Jesus into religion -- the evangel becomes the dysangel.

Flying Judas at chapter, who indeed listens to the Angelic Doctor, the most excellent Aquinas, the greatest Benedictine who never was (bleeding friars anyway, shutter the windows and bolt the doors), especially among the Thonists, when he says our theological arguments are for the edification of those who already believe, and not for the demonstration of faith, which must always come from Scripture which is of God and attested to by miracles, whereas our theology in its place should leave the unbleiever more convinced of his unblief than ever, that we believe on the basis of such flimsy arguments.

(contra gentiles in the first few chapters, won't get up to check the reference, would be taken with the need to dance to the dithyramb of Dionysus if I did, in the morning in its glory, to read a book, that I call debased, ressourcement of all resourcement, dance now my Germans, Herr Kappellmeister dann bitte!)

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 4:49:00 am , Blogger eulogos said...


Who on earth ever said that people could not "experience the saving grace of God in the daily events of their lives."??????

Surely on a popular level people were taught about actual grace, the graces God gives us to resist sin and deal with the ordinary problems of life. They were taught about sacramental grace, the forgiveness of sin in confession, and the nourishment for the spiritual life which we recieve through receiving the Eucharist. I don't know what greater experience of God's saving grace one could have than experiencing His mercy in absolution or in recieving his Body and Blood in communion. People back then also spoke many times about answered prayers, wayward children brough back to the fold by years of prayer, checks arriving in the mail for good works at the exact moment and in the exact amount needed.
People were taught that God cared about what they did and thought from moment to moment and that they could work out their salvation through faithfulness in fulfilling the most humble of vocations.

So I cannot understand what you are talking about here.

Please be more clear.
Susan Peterson

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 8:51:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...


The key word is experience. People were certainly taught that they could receive the grace of God but not that they could experience this grace. This is why the mystics were such a problem for the late scholastics - ironic given the life of St. Thomas. BTW I did it! I managed to post.

Joe Leach

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 10:07:00 am , Blogger Kiran said...

PE, once again, you get whole swathes of things wrong and confused. Gilson never was warned against by the Holy See, explicitly or implicitly.

There have been sanctions against many theologians and saints, and there were things which Chenu, de Lubac, and Congar said which were imprudent, and some which were simply wrong. But as much can be said about Tertullian and Origen, not to mention St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, and Bl. Duns Scotus. Look up if you would Peter of Ailly. It is not particularly new that heterodox theologians played important parts in Councils.

Joe, I think the problem is rather with the emotionalism of post-Renaissance thought (and post-Renaissance mysticism) and something of its focus on the individual (Think for instance of the Ignatian Lectio as opposed to the Benedictine Lectio), that presents a problem to scholasticism, not experience. After all, scholasticism did not have a problem with Dante or Catherine of Siena, nor with Bernard of Clairvaux or Augustine. I don't think this is a fault with scholasticism, just a difference in emphasis. Indeed, I myself don't find post-Renaissance thought nearly as resonant with my own experience as that of the medieval and pre-medieval thinkers. Nor am I required to, provided I don't deny their validity and usefulness to others.

hedies: ending of an episode

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 10:39:00 am , Blogger eulogos said...

Joe Leach,

I still don't really know what you are talking about. Sometimes we think something which happens is a result of grace. Sometimes we feel consolations in prayer. But we are to desire the God of consolations, not the consolations of God. When something makes us feel all happy and spiritual...well maybe grace is involved, and maybe there are a lot of natural causes involved. And vice versa, also. Look how long Mother Teresa was faithful without any experience of grace.

I am not sure what you mean, but I am highly suspicious of what I am guessing you might mean. I could be guessing wrong. Why don't you say more?
Susan Peterson
PS and what does it have to do with Vatican II?

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 1:01:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no idea of what you think I might mean but I am highly suspicious of what you are guessing I might mean. Simply this, there are events which happen in the course of ordinary life which represent a profound encounter with God. These are experiential moments of grace. While grace itself may "ëscape our experience" its immediate effects can be, and are, experienced so that we can indeed speak of an experience of grace. This is not a matter of emotion much less of sentiment. It is not even a matter of consolation. These are all extremely unreliable. If you go to any group of Christians and ask them to tell you about times in their life when they have experienced God's grace, you will come away with a long list. Did they experience grace directly? No, but they felt its effects in the deepest part of their heart in a way that only grace could bring about - they knew themselves experientialy to be in the presence of God. The understanding of grace is only an illustration of a broader problem. Late scholastic theology, 19th to early 20th centuary, was so concerned to protect the transcendant, essential character of God (an idea that comes from Greek philosophy - just an observation, nothing bad) that they made it essentially impossible for it to be a force in the highly contingent reality of peoples lives. In theory this meant that people (and this includes clergy and religious)were thus left with the law and no hope of experiencing God's love and grace in this life. This led to a gap between the offical theology (not teaching)of the Church and the private devotional life of her people where, of course, God's love and grace was known and experienced. The council, returned to a more patristic understanding of grace and its action.

Joe Leach

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 1:48:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

I thought after I wrote my last post that I owe more of an explanation for my stance on Congar, and Chenu. It is simply this, that as a historian of medieval philosophy, I don't think what I do would even begin to be possible without their work. Chenu's understanding of theology as the universal criterion of history is enormously influential and inspirational. Congar's tracing of the way in which words changed meaning over the course of the High Middle Ages is also instructive, even if one sometimes is inclined to quarrel with some of the conclusions drawn therefrom. De Lubac and Gilson are on a different plane. There critique is directed against a particular way of reading Thomas. Broadly, I think they are simply right - that Cajetan's or Vittoria's reading of Thomas imports into Thomas, concepts and ideas which are not only not in Thomas, but are alien and opposed to Thomas' own thought. Thus, the monodic subjective rights theory of Vittoria is simply opposed to Thomas' communal understanding of the human person. There is a general tendency also to over-Aristotelianise Thomas. Besides all this, there is another problem which arises from the general poverty of post-Renaissance philosophy - simplification. Thus, the fifth way is read as a Design Argument along the lines of Paley's watchmaker, which it clearly is not. Thomas' writing on the Eternity of the World is almost forgotten. I think reading Gilson on the fact that creation was supposed to work vertically, not just horizontally was the closest thing to an epiphany that I have ever had in my philosophical life (The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas).

Joe, as far as spirituality is concerned I think you are a little off. I don't think one could describe (say) Garrigou's spirituality as divorced from the reality of life, or impractical. And what little I have read of pre-conciliar writings (Knox, Chesterton, Baring, McNabb) shows no sign of being scholastic in the pejorative sense of dry. I also wish people would stop talking about the Council as the point at which the Church became aware of the Fathers. This was already happening at least a hundred years before with Migne's Patrologia, and the English (Anglican) translations of the Fathers. Most of the major work on it is pre-Conciliar. Indeed, I would say that the Second Vatican Council only got in the way of genuine progress in Catholic theology, by changing its direction. One could say much the same thing of liturgy. The liturgical movement (with all its faults) was chugging along quite nicely when the deluge happened. There was a creative tension in the pre-Conciliar Church, which was destroyed by the Council. If one could get back to that, to having both De Lubac and Garrigou, to reviving the liturgical movement of Beauduin, we would be much better off.

beles: What some people ought to have on their legs.

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 4:54:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Did I list Gilson among those I listed against whom specific pronouncements were made? No.

Did I say Gilson was named in Humani generis? No.

Humani generis does not name Gilson or anyone else. It does clearly warn, not by name, against the school of thought known as nouvelle theologie, of which Gilson was a part.

In fact the same document quite clearly references that the philosophical basis used to help with understanding of matters of faith is neither static nor finished, nor bound thereby to any of the schools from which it borrows.

You want me to look up Petrus de Alliaco and not Gerson? Holy crap. Did you think he was writing horoscopes or something?

It's nonsense to point to the many theologians who have been variously regarded over time as an excuse for Vatican II. Here is a case of a school of thought warned against, in fact whose future precise effects were laid out, in humani generis, and most of whose members were specifically stomped on by the Catholic Church.

The argument that Vatican II rescued the church from its Babylonian Captivity to scholasticism and returned it to a more pure and patristic foundation is pure mouvelle theologie. Vatican II neither destroyed nor let loose a deluge upon any of the non-Catholic movements afoot in the Catholic Church before the Council, but made them Catholicism itself, with the red hat and now the papacy itself to some of their proponents.

Judas, nobody brought up Copleston yet? And I'm still waiting for someone to launch the "with the work especially in patristics and liturgy or recent times, we are much more able to fulfill the objective of the restoration of the liturgy and with it the church that was the intent of the Mass of Pius V and indeed the Mass of Paul VI is indeed the fulfillment of the ideals of the Mass of Pius V in a way impossible at that time."

Great Judas prancing in the chancel, ain't nobody gonna bring up the Bugman, the great Hannibal Lector of the Liturgy, by which you have Bugman 1962 for your EF and Bugman 1970 for your OF, and in neither case the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass of the Roman Catholic Church.

At Thursday, March 05, 2009 7:00:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Excellent and deep commentary from all - except PE.

PE, how can you say that the 1962 Missal is not the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as Catholics accept it? That's nuts - after all, the very small changes (a feast demoted here, the third Confiteor removed there) in the '62 are minuscule!!! Come on, be real!

And of course the 1969 expresses the Sacrifice (albeit it in its first edition it had that outrageous and disingenous preface that was so offensive to pious ears that it had to be quickly reedited) - it still has the Roman Canon (with a few words amended - but only crazies get obsessed with "pro multis" in the vernacular or moving "mysterium fidei" that mysterious expresion), and for example E.P. IV says baldly "we offer you his Body and Blood, the acceptable sacrifice that brings salvation to the whole world"; while one of the E.P.'s for Reconciliation speaks of "this one sacrifice" (sorry, my missal's in the car), obviously identifying the offering being made as a making present the one sacrifice on Calvary!

At Friday, March 06, 2009 2:36:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Well holy crap, Joshua, Pastor laid out on another thread on this blog how we too identify Calvary with the Eucharist. So perhaps you won't mind our "very small changes".

At Friday, March 06, 2009 7:36:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Sorry fellas, I was serving Mass before either the what you now call OF or even EF existed.

I remember when the "1962 Mass" was the "new" Mass, and something like the novus ordo would have been unimaginable.

I remember when the approach of the "new theologians" was suspect at best, and that because it was consistently warned against by the magisterium, where not specifically silenced in its authors, where not on the Index itself.

The novus ordo is nouvelle theologie at worship, nothing more, nothing less. The utter contempt they had for anything between themselves and a supposed pristine patristic past with which they are supposedly resourcing and reconnecting is palpable.

Which for me was not a matter of this "helpful" article or that "seminal" book, but an atmosphere in which these guys were my teachers and the circle in which my teachers ran.

In my head indeed.

At Friday, March 06, 2009 11:26:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

By the way, try this on for size:

The Church's approval of "transubstantiation" as a "most apt" way to refer to the change that takes place in the bread and wine of the Eucharist is no more than an endorsement of the use of Aristotelian/Thomistic philosophy to explicate the Church's dogmas. It does not commit the Church to the use of this philosophical system in the explication of her dogmas.

In other words,

IF you are using the philosophical system of Aristotle/Thomas, THEN the most appropriate way to describe the eucharistic change is "transubstantiation".

IF you are NOT using the philosophical system of Aristotle/Thomas, THEN the categories you use to describe the eucharistic change will have to have an significance within the philosophical sytem of your choice which is analogous to the the significance that the category "transubstantiantion" has in the Aristotelian/Thomistic system.

How's that?

At Friday, March 06, 2009 11:42:00 am , Blogger Kiran said...

PE, your position makes no sense whatsoever. You (and this is you I am addressing, not someone like WW or Christine) have put yourself in the same situation as the Donatists. You have to want to get out of your Donatist dungeon, before debating with anyone else. Otherwise, you are wasting our time and your own. Also, your reading of Humani Generis to include everybody and everything connected to the twentieth century might serve you indeed, but it won't get you anywhere. Nobody within or without the Church can work with a wholesale rejection of Gilson, De Lubac, Chenu, and Congar, no matter how much they disagree with the details. Garrigou himself wouldn't have gone that far, and indeed didn't. Nor do I see where your offensive and quaint exclamations are helpful to the debate.

prolu: In favour of Louise, whoever she might be.

At Friday, March 06, 2009 11:45:00 am , Blogger Kiran said...

Schutz, I am unconvinced. I think one is committed at least to some extent to the Aristotelian/Thomistic synthesis, as a basic condition of living our Faith intelligently.

Which is not to say that I would consider someone who holds this view to be a heretic, just that I would think them wrong.

At Friday, March 06, 2009 2:52:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good grief! Talk about people who won't listen to anything else others are saying!

We might be "The Catholic Church, The Catholic Church, The Catholic Church," but PE is "PE, PE, PE" although I suppose he thinks he's "Scripture, Scripture, Scripture." Yeah, right. Like other Christians don't hold their doctrine before their Bible study.

According to PE we can't possibly be right because none of us existed or were Catholic before 1962!

At Friday, March 06, 2009 8:51:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

If you think I am wasting your time, may I suggest the sliding bar to the right of the combox to skip over my comments, or even better, a wheel mouse.

Re the Donatists, there are traditores in our time, yes, but unlike those of old, they have not handed over Scripture to Roman Imperial authorities who outlawed them, but handed over Catholic doctrine and worship to history and outlawed it, being the only Imperial functionaries extant now, though lately allowing, in good Imperial custom, its local observance so long as one does not deny their religion.

As there has been no repentance from this apostacy, and as the papacies of JPII and the current pope make quite clear there never will be, the question of their valid status has yet to, and will not, come up.

Nonetheless you do retain an echo of the old ex opere operantis, thinking the objection is really a matter of the "excesses" or "spirit" of Vatican II to be healed by a "reform of the reform", instead of understanding that, as I have repeatedly said, the objection is not based on excesses etc but on that of which they are excessive, namely, a reform that was no reform at all. Your analogy fails completely.

Next, re humani generis, perhaps first you will decide whether you think I think it names names it doesn't, or in not naming names names everybody. In absolutely no way do I maintain the humani generis rejects everyone and anything in C20. Rather, it contains specific warnings about, among other things, a school of thought often called nouvelle theologie, which it identifies as an "intellectual infection" which not only undermines the magisterium but even the natural reasoning ability of man and warns that if allowed to grow it will undermine Catholic teaching and lead to un-Catholic intellectual trends, behaviours, and general public mood.

This is the school of "Gilson, De Lubac, Chenu, and Congar" not to mention Joseph Ratzinger and all of my teachers, who knew these men. A school once foreign to the mind of the church, now it is the mind of the church.

Next, it is beyond pitiful to imagine I think that no-one can be right who did not exist or wasn't Catholic before 1962. My point rather is, if you cannot or will not in 2009 see the metamorphosis from its records, I add that I saw the metamorphosis unfold as the records were being made.

Last, Herr Blogmeister, no, it is not a matter of "if". That too is pure newspeak, the nouvelle theologie, the new theology of which this blog and the new church reeks. Pius mad clear that yes it is true that the church over time has employed philosophy to explain its faith, and this cumulative effort over centuries has resulted in an undertanding of dogma which through the magisterium of the church enlightens the mind of man, from which it is wrong to depart and if we do we collapse the organic advancement of that understanding with the effects noted above.

So it's not "if", it's "when".

Damn near a prophet that Pius. Oh I forgot, no "offensive and quaint exclamations" that are not "helpful" -- helpful in church newspeak meaning leading to agreement with church newspeak. Gott hilf mir what a dour bunch. Maybe Vatican III should be held in Geneva. Or in Dour itself, in Belgium. Nouvelle theologie would be right at home.

At Friday, March 06, 2009 9:28:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you think I am wasting your time, may I suggest the sliding bar to the right of the combox to skip over my comments, or even better, a wheel mouse.

Trust me, mate, what I read of your commentary is entirely by accident these days.

At Friday, March 06, 2009 9:52:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

That's obvious from what you think I am saying.

At Friday, March 06, 2009 9:57:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Well, PE, can you not see that you're like a broken record?

How about telling us something new and interesting - I'm sure there must be intriguing points of comparison that strike you about all manner of curious things, and which don't have a continually trollish tone...


habsch - a German word as slurred by a drunkard.

At Friday, March 06, 2009 11:04:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Hmm. The Catholic Church, the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church is not a broken record? The continual refrain that its new message is actually the same as its old message is not a broken record? Odd indeed to be called a broken record from someone thinking the same record has been playing for two millennia in the Catholic Church which therefore validates it.

proper: no bull, that was the word verification, an actual word!

At Saturday, March 07, 2009 4:18:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

(and this is you I am addressing, not someone like WW or Christine)

Someone ???

Gott hilf mir, my European childhood, lived in the shadows of the great Cathedrals including the one at Aachen, which houses the remains of the Most Holy Roman Emperor Carolus Magnus, left me sooooo unequipped to understand the Catholic Church. Especially the way she WAS, and no longer IS!

Still not using Pastor Weedon's title? That's rude.


At Saturday, March 07, 2009 4:25:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or in Dour itself, in Belgium. Nouvelle theologie would be right at home.

What???? Did someone summon the beloved and august Cardinals Suenens and Danneels??

The "Spirit of Vatican II" lives on!


At Saturday, March 07, 2009 5:40:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

I wonder if he got that gold nose job fixed. Wait till he comes out ready to rule like they found him the first time! Is he gonna be ticked off or what? Then you'll see an Aachen Pilgrimage hell yes, and not just once every seven years!

At Saturday, March 07, 2009 7:07:00 am , Blogger Lee Faber said...

For the record, Duns Scotus is neither heterodox nor has he ever been censured by the Church (unlike Thomas).

I would say the "ossification" problem resulted because the scholasticism was purely thomist, treating all dissenters, modernists, nominalists and Scotists as bogeymen in an authoritarian manner.

I'm pretty sure the '92 catechism requires belief in eucharistic accidents, though one could have a scotistic as well as thomistic understanding of them.

interesting post

At Saturday, March 07, 2009 8:52:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

Good point, Lee - indeed, he's now Blessed John Scotus (if you trawl through the archives over at Fr Finigan's blog "The Hermeneutic of Continuity", you'll find a link through to the Archdiocese of Cologne's website, where they give the proper readings and prayers for his Mass and Office).

This reminds me of a Dominican I know: he told me that when he was in Cologne (not for WYD), he visited their Priory there, and as a special privilege was allowed to wear at his Mass a chasuble originally used by St Albert the Great, 800 years earlier.

And in an adjacent church were the tongues of the Maccabeean martyrs - an interesting class of relics, tongues; at St Anthony of Padua's shrine at Bologna, where he died, there are two side chapels, containing the only incorrupt parts of his body: his tongue and his vocal chords, whereby he did preach the pure word of God, the veracity of his doctrine being attested to by this standing miracle of their preservation.

I've never heard of a Lutheran working a miracle, or being the beneficiary of one.

At Saturday, March 07, 2009 11:39:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

That's what Christ promised all right -- you'll know they were teaching right if I preserve their tongue and vocal chords

At Saturday, March 07, 2009 1:31:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never heard of a Lutheran working a miracle, or being the beneficiary of one.

We fully accept the miracles that the Lord worked. But we now walk by faith, not by sight. Remember what He told those who clamored for signs in the New Testament. None would be given save for the sign of Jonah.

Tongues of the Maccabees indeed. And probably my left foot!

We experience a miracle in every Holy Baptism and every Holy Communion.

The credulity of Catholics is simply amazing. I am so glad to leave all this behind.


At Monday, March 09, 2009 10:07:00 am , Blogger Kiran said...

PE, the problem is that you clog up a lot of space on someone else's blog. So, one feels on the one hand bound to respond to you, and wishes one didn't have to do so. It is like having someone yelling abuse at you in front of your own home. One can't walk away.

At Monday, March 09, 2009 11:57:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Kiran, if the someone else whose blog this is wants me not to comment here, he will say so and I will not comment here.

It is his "home", not yours. As to your finding the things to which I have referred, pointing to that what is now normative Catholicism was considered foreign to Catholicism by the RCC or to that the Donatist controversy is not at all comparable to the RCC's current situation, like abuse, that is a problem whose answer may lie in yourself.

At Monday, March 09, 2009 1:52:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

PE, you asked me why I respond to you, and I have told you. More than that, I can't be expected to do. Your donatism lies in the fact that you have separated yourself from the Church, and believe yourself to be in the right, nor that the Church persists or can be recovered.

berid: What PE ought to be in relation to evidence.

At Monday, March 09, 2009 5:00:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

No, I did not ask you why you respond to me. I was you who said I was wasting your time, to which I suggested two easy ways to avoid my comments, and you who said that due to the extent of my comments you feel bound to address them as you would abuse shouted in front of your house, to which I commented that if you find it abuse to point out how the RCC regarded with suspicion, to say the very least, what it now regards as normative, the answer to that may lie within yourself. I did not ask what that answer is, nor speculate upon it.

Separating oneself from the Church -- whether "the Church" is the RCC as implied being another question -- is hardly unique to or characteristic of Donatism, nor are there any parallels between the reasons the Donatists did and said what they did and what is happening to-day.

Oh well.

At Monday, March 09, 2009 6:13:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Good riddance to skeptics and suspicious types too!

At Tuesday, March 10, 2009 12:45:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kiran, a little refresher (and you are a "medieval historian", right?)

Donatism was the error taught by Donatus, bishop of Casae Nigrae that the effectiveness of the sacraments depends on the moral character of the minister. So if a minister who was involved in a serious enough sin were to baptize a person, that baptism would be considered invalid.

Your definition is a tad off.

PE and I have been posting here far longer than you, Kiran. If David wants us to stop I'm sure he'll let us know.

At Tuesday, March 10, 2009 9:17:00 am , Blogger Kiran said...

Christine, I didn't ask you not to post here, I was asked why I responded ("If you think I am wasting your time, may I suggest the sliding bar to the right of the combox to skip over my comments, or even better, a wheel mouse."), and I responded back. The thing is that I don't in the least mind a heated argument, or an exchange of texts. What I do dislike is going round and round in the same circle of self-justification, which I can do just as well as anybody else, but which is particularly pointless. At any rate, I wasn't speaking to you.

Donatism (and I wrote an honours thesis on Augustine's theology of Grace, and so ought to know a thing or two about it as does this webpage, spelling-mistakes and all) is quite a complicated thing containing many strands. Mainly, it was a group of people (mostly in Northern Africa) claiming the invalidity of sacramental ministrations by ministers descended from a particular Bishop who was accused (by people who were themselves guilty of what they accused Felix of Apthunga who was probably not himself guilty of anything more than being a little clever - but that is a different story for a different time) of being a traditor - one who handed over the sacred books. Hence they concluded the invalidity of sacramental Holy Orders descended from Felix. Now, as the fourth century wore on, the issues were rendered even more complicated. What it amounted to, and what Augustine objected in them was a separation from the Church of God, in a false conviction of their own purity. This is part of the background too, for the writing of the City of God, and Augustine's ecclesiology. Now, the analogy between PE and the Donatists is as good as any analogy ever was. He holds himself justified in being separated from the Church of God because (he claims) the Church has somehow moved away from itself. I don't know how much more Donatist one can get without holding to the necessity of rebaptism.

predram: What one ought to have before one engages in needless argumentation.

At Tuesday, March 10, 2009 11:56:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

What you completely leave out of acoount, for which your analogy fails, is why there was opposition to the ordination of Caecilianus by Felix, and then by extension, any validity to any sacramental action by traditores who repent.

As I hold nothing remotely like that Why against the bishops and popes of Vatican II or since, the analogy becomes, to borrow a term, needless argumentation.

At Wednesday, March 11, 2009 1:19:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

PE, you hold it against an extension of their sacramental ministry. Or rather, you do until you are pushed at which point you go back and attack the concept of Church. If only you would stick to arguing for the invalidity of Catholic ecclesiology without throwing imputations against Vatican II, then one could argue with you on a different basis. If you continue speaking about Vatican II as some kind of great apostacy, one would be justified in calling you a Donatist.

At Wednesday, March 11, 2009 2:16:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Do you have the slightest idea what Donatism is?

At Wednesday, March 11, 2009 5:24:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

PE, see above.

At Thursday, March 12, 2009 12:28:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

I did. That's why I wonder if you understand what the issues were re Donatism, since you seem to find them comparable to why I am not Roman Catholic.

At Thursday, March 12, 2009 12:42:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

I shall restrain myself to quoting:

"there are traditores in our time, yes, but unlike those of old, they have not handed over Scripture to Roman Imperial authorities who outlawed them, but handed over Catholic doctrine and worship to history and outlawed it, being the only Imperial functionaries extant now, though lately allowing, in good Imperial custom, its local observance so long as one does not deny their religion."

At Thursday, March 12, 2009 12:43:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

My point, PE, is that if you disagree with Catholics because they are not the Church, that is fine by me. Or at least, I can disagree validly. If you keep attacking the post-conciliar Church, then you are in quite a different position.

At Thursday, March 12, 2009 12:48:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

I am sorry for being petulant, PE, but sometimes you are more than a bit provocative. I don't mind even if you call me not a catholic, i.e. not a member of God's Church, but being told that the Sacrifice is no longer valid within the Church (as you did in your comments regarding the EF and the NO) is a bit much.

At Friday, March 13, 2009 2:52:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

What? Past Elder more than a bit provocative? Great Judas in the forum, am I not known throughout my home turf, the Lutheran blogosphere, for my placid and altogether irenic tone! Just ask Pastor Weedon!

Now, as to your not being catholic, ie not a member of God's church, I say no such thing at all. Not that God, you, or anyone else should give a royal, noble, or commoner crap what I think in that regard, just since it came up. From your background as stated in these comments, it would seem you were either baptised by water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost with the intent of joining you to Christ's church by the Roman Catholic Church or in their judgement another body which correctly baptises (it would seem a part of the Anglican Communion). Therefore I would have no reason to question that you are a member of God's church.

As to the Sacrifice no longer being valid within the Church -- by "Church" you would seem to mean the Catholic Church -- that is not what I said.

What is now called the Tridentine Rite is hardly the only possible ordo missae in the (Catholic) Church. Its chief virtue is that it corrects the valid objections of the Reformers to the liturgical laxity of their time by ensuring that matter, form and intent will be present in each and every Mass rather than the laxity cited or the subsequent errors of the Reformers re the nature of the Mass.

Or so I was taught, before I was taught that it was a late mediaeval straight-jacket into which the "Church" cast the Mass in an extreme reaction to the situation of the time, regretable then and unnecesary now, from which, coupled with the advances since in knowledge of apostolic and patristic worship, we are now thankfully delivered by a novus ordo missae, more fully in harmony with the nature of the Mass and indeed accomplishing the desired reform of the Mass of Pius V more fully than was possible at that time.

Sound good? I tried to buy it for a long time, until, tired of constantly having to look past the "excesses" nearly universal and impose this Platonic ideal on nearly every reality one experiences, I studied the typical Latin of the novus ordo itself.

Whereupon it revealed itself as a high church Protestant service in full retreat from what specifically the "Church" had intended to make inescapable, whose only validity could be in that it was celebrated by clergy properly ordained to confect it.

So, in a Catholic context, I do not say the movus ordo is sacramentally invalid, but rather that it is impossible due to its revisionism to state with certainty that intent is present when it is celebrated. And therefore, assuming one understands this, full animadversion being necessary, a sin in which to participate -- to which I add immediately, full animadversion apparently hardly ever the case, or even possible due to the similarly faulty catechesis from the nouvelle theologie revisionists who crafted this new lex orandi to effect in worship what their new lex credendi did in teaching.

These latter-day traditores have not repented of their deeds, and indeed (that was fun -- deed, indeed!) persist in them, most recently in the outrageous motu which proclaims a thing and its denial two forms of the same thing, the former being allowed on condition of recognising the latter. Therewith the comparison with the Donatists ends, the traditores of that time having repented and seeking reintegration, the traditores of our time completely unrepentant, handing over to history Catholic faith and teaching and handing on to us a most foul parody of it.

I will stop there, to divorce this point from my later faith history and underscore that if I were to lose my "Lutheran" faith entirely -- because of which Faith I might add I am now able to see Christ's church present in both the post and pre Vatican II Catholic Church -- I would still hold to what is expressed above, which preceded my current faith by years, and in no case involve myself with the post-conciliar "Catholic Church".

inchally: measured by inches, as opposed to feetally or yardally.

At Friday, March 13, 2009 7:34:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...


Many, many thanks - I think I now understand you!

So it's a question (you wearing your former Catholic hat for the moment) of intent: the N.O. in your view (qua former Catholic) requiring a much greater degree of formal intent on the part of the celebrating priest.

(Praying, say, the old Formula of Intention before Mass - would that suffice? Ego volo celebrare Missam, etc.?)

I get this, but I thought that the only needed intent was/is "to do as the Church does" - so a priest who didn't believe in transsubstantiation (golly, imagine that) would still confect the Sacrament, however unworthily on his part, since by his going to the altar, etc. he would be doing as the Church does.

Again, qua Catholic, what's wrong with that as a very basic intent?

At Friday, March 13, 2009 4:00:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

"it is impossible due to its revisionism to state with certainty that intent is present when it is celebrated. And therefore, assuming one understands this, full animadversion being necessary, a sin in which to participate."

I know someone else who holds this (though a little more consistent being a Catholic). But I am yet to see a why either from him or from you. Whatever the original intention of the reformers has been (and I should say here, as an indication of where I stand, that I attend Mass said according to the Missal of Bl. John XXIII, which you attack elsewhere, every day so far as I can), why should that necessarily and so profoundly affect the intentionality of the actions of the priest?

epurbi: over the city

At Friday, March 13, 2009 4:25:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

The intent to do what the Church does, even if what the Church does is imperfectly understood by the intender, is sufficient re intent in sacramental validity.

Thus, the novus ordo does not, because no rite can, require a greater degree of intent on the part of the priest.

Again, what I am saying has nothing to do with what is going on with the priest.

At Friday, March 13, 2009 4:51:00 pm , Blogger Kiran said...

So, what are you saying when you claim the intent can't be there? That the form militates against the possibility of such an intention? I don't think so, and if you want to maintain that, you would have to go further and say why you say that.

And by the way, keep in mind you have said this against both the Novus Ordo and the Extraordinary Form.

At Friday, March 13, 2009 7:05:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...


Now I'm more confused than ever! I thought you were saying that the intent was the issue?

Please, I would appreciate it much if you could clarify this (and of your charity omit the "Judas H. Pope's" and whatever other perfervid exclamations you would otherwise tourettishly interject).

At Saturday, March 14, 2009 2:39:00 am , Blogger Past Elder said...

Flying Judas in the aviary, oh, holy living cheeseballs, I wasn't to do that, pardon me all to hell, is it not standard that the CELEBRANT of a sacrament need only intend to do what the Church does even if he isn't altogether clear on what that is?

It's about the text, not the priest.


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