Tag Archives: deposit of faith

Church Teaching Is Not Negotiable!

6 Feb

traffic ticketIn our legal system, if we don’t like a law, we push for new laws and elect new legislators who might listen to us. When it comes to interpreting and applying existing laws, we hire the most skilled attorneys we can afford, whose job is not to seek the truth but to present our side most effectively. Even if we lose at trial, we can still pursue our cause through various avenues of appeal, all the while using the media to put pressure on the government.

We have many “disciplines” in the Church which are “positive law,” meaning that they’re the product of human invention. While Church leaders in general make the best pastoral judgments they can, such disciplines may turn out to be good, bad, or somewhere in between, and they may be in effect for a week or for 100 years or more.

Church disciplines have been subject of “lobbying,” especially in our time, from altar girls and Communion on the hand to a wider, more readily available access to the extraordinary (Tridentine) form of the Roman rite. The laity have the right to be heard on such matters, though in the meantime the current discipline calls forth our obedience and filial respect for the Church.

However, when it comes to the deposit of faith–what the Church teaches in the area of faith and morals–American democratic concepts simply are out of place. No matter how many petitions are signed, no matter how fervently and repeatedly dissent is allowed to foment and lead people astray, what God has revealed through Christ as proclaimed by the Church is not up for grabs.

Some dissenters express frustration that some “celibate old man” in Rome can say that I have to believe and act in a certain way. Clearly there is a misunderstanding of authority here. The Pope does have considerable juridical or legal power, but in matters of faith and morals his authority is that of guardian and mouthpiece, not scriptwriter or legislator.

For example, if someone has a problem with the Immaculate Conception, the problem is not with Pope Pius IX, but with the way God has chosen to come among us to save us. If someone has a problem with the Church’s teaching on contraception, the problem is not with Pope Paul VI, but with the way God has created the human person and human society.

If I were given a speeding ticket and appeared before a judge to contest it, what would happen if my defense proceeded as follows: Continue reading

God’s Life Savings

6 Sep

“O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you” (1 Timothy 6:20).

This sort of language is a recurring theme of St. Paul as he instructs his successor Timothy. St. Paul also tells Timothy that “what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2; see also 2 Timothy 1:14).

But what exactly was entrusted to Timothy?

The Church has always understood these passages as referring to the “deposit of faith” (see Catechism, no. 84). This sacred deposit is the entirety of the body of teaching Christ entrusted to His Apostles and, through them, to the Church. It is the full revelation of Jesus Christ–the Word of God–through Scripture and Tradition, ordered to uniting all mankind into the family of God: the Catholic Church.

If the Word of God is to be understood as a sacred “deposit,” I think it’s fair to understand the Church as the “bank.” Why do we entrust our money or other valuables to a bank? The answer is we want to protect our assets, and we want them to bear interest. Continue reading

Catechetically Speaking

2 Aug

Today we continue our weekly series on the Church’s catechetical mission. The inspiration for this series comes from the Holy Father himself, who desires that we bridge the gap between faith and the everyday lives of believers through sound catechetical formation.

Before going deeper into our series, I think we should define our terms. The glossary at the back of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, defines catechesis as “an education of children, young people, and adults in the faith of the Church through the teaching of Christian doctrine in an organic and systematic way to make them disciples of Jesus Christ. Those who perform the ministry of catechesis in the Church are called ‘catechists.’”

I think the word “catechesis” can be part of the problem when it comes to embracing the Church’s catechetical efforts. It is the ugly step-sister of “evangelization.” Think about it. Evangelization is hip. According to Blessed John Paul II, it’s “new,” upbeat, and capable of energizing the youth. One will expect a lot of “evangelization” at the World Youth Day festivities this month.

After all, evangelization is about proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. Everybody, Catholic and Protestant alike, can get excited about that.

Catechesis, on the other hand, sounds foreign to many people. Continue reading